The importance of mattering.

rsz screen shot 2014 04 05 at 72940 am The importance of mattering.

This is my favorite photo of my friend, Sue.

Captured mid-laugh, unaware photo was taken, doing the double hand grab.

(Ive absolutely no idea why I’m wearing that expression.)

The you matter to me. I’m present with you. double hand grab is a perfect metaphor for Sue’s life.

The first time we met I was newly a Texan, completely friend-free and trying to find where I fit in the land of BBQ and cowboy boots.

I’d been invited by a stranger I met in a checkout line (there are no accidents) to join a new group Sue was organizing.

All women.

All varying stages of life and career.

All coming together in an effort to figure it out (whatever our current *it* was).

We each departed that initial meeting feeling heard.

Only later did we realize Sue possessed the gift of making everyone feel understood.

It wasn’t so much she just listened without distraction—when you spoke she was wholly and utterly PRESENT.

The type of person about whom *everyone* said:

Oh you know Sue, too? She’s my best friend!

We all assumed we were her dearest friend because in every interaction she made us feel as though we mattered.

Toward the end of her life—-though we’d no idea it was coming—-Sue began to focus her work around the concept of mattering.

 

rsz 11screen shot 2014 04 06 at 42500 am The importance of mattering.

She lived her final bio-sentence.

 

She was my friend so I encouraged her. 

She was my friend so I listened as she explained and defined her new venture. 

She inspired me so I, too, tried to define mattering as it applied to my existence.

For me mattering was the extent to which we felt we made an impact on or are important to the world around us.

I strive daily to show others they ‘matter’ to me.

For Sue it just came naturally.  Like a reflex.

Sue taught me our perception of how we ‘matter’ impacts everything we do.

  • For some “mattering” is how important we believe we are to others/if we’d be missed if we went away.  I hear talk of this in social media. Phrases such as “I didn’t tweet for a week and no one noticed” or “I put on Facebook I was struggling and no one commented.”
  • For others “mattering” is measured by whether people listen to/act on what we say. I think many bloggers/vloggers can relate to this concept. Do we have influence?  Are we making an impact?
  • For many being depended upon is an indicator of “mattering.”  I see this already in the Tornado. She defines herself as a nurturer and feels she matters when others allow her to help and care for them.

 

rsz 2screen shot 2014 04 06 at 45803 am The importance of mattering.

My daughter needs to be needed to know she matters.

 

Mattering has been on my mind the past few months.

I still make a daily effort to show the Tornado she matters.

I still consciously—with Sue in mind—place her in situations where she has opportunity to ‘matter’ as I’ve seen how it bolsters her self-confidence.

It was only recently, however, I fully grasped what Sue had talked about for so many years.

I’d understood what she meant, yet having always been blessed with an abundance of the sense I mattered, I didn’t really know what I had until it was gone.

  • Lately I’ve struggled with feeling as though I don’t matter.
  • Lately I’ve been on the receiving end of texts, phone calls and emails from women-friends struggling with the same thing.

Whether we call it feeling irrelevant, not feeling important, feeling unheard it all returns to Sue’s assertion of the importance of feeling as though we matter.

Mattering and her BFF Hope are crucial components to living a full and happy life.

And, since this misery loathes company (yet loves her some helper’s high), that’s my challenge to you today.

Assignment as a pay it forward tribute to my friend Sue’s life-mission cut short.

  • Reflect on a time when you felt you mattered.  An experience where you knew you were valued. 
  • After reminding yourself how fantastic mattering feels— go forth and let someone else know s/he matters to you.

 

 

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Comments

  1. says

    There’s almost nothing more important. Everyone wants to feel as though they matter and are important. Thank you for sharing Sue with us. We should all be so blessed as to have a friend like that!

  2. says

    What a rare gift Sue was. Thank you for sharing her legacy with us. Very thought provoking stuff here. As I age the feelings of ‘irrelevance’ creep in as far as being dated and not of the younger generation. You’re so right though. Everyone, even us super-independent types, need to feel needed in some capacity.

  3. says

    I know a few people who, like Sue, do the double hand grab. I never thought about it till you said it but that grab makes me feel like I matter. Who knew something that simple can do the trick? I think I might need to start using that on others. Because we all matter.

  4. Runner Girl says

    I hadn’t thought about the fact I need people to need me (I’m like your daughter that way) as needing to feel I matter.

  5. says

    I am lucky that I definitely feel that I matter in my work. And to my husband. And even to my kids now that they have made it through the teen years. I need to work more on letting others know they matter to me.

  6. says

    It sounds like Sue had a true gift – what a great friend to have had in your life. Thank you for sharing a little bit of her with us. Everyone wants to feel heard…truly heard…to know they matter. Sometimes it is too easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, that you can lose sight of the importance of being fully present in every encounter with others.

  7. Janet says

    I have experienced what you mention in terms of social media.
    I’ve stopped tweeting for a few days and no one did notice. :/

  8. says

    What a lovely tribute to your dear friend.
    I will make a few people feel like they matter today. For your friend Sue and for my friend Joelle, who was also everyone’s best friend.

  9. says

    Wow, it is astounding – the photo, your descriptions, I already feel like she’s made ME feel like I mattered! The way you describe her, I’ve heard people say similar things about Oprah, how she makes you feel like the only person in the world when you’re with her.

    Meaningful assignment, and one I certainly plan to pass on. As a teacher, I’ve seen ups and downs in how much I feel I matter, but at the end of the day, when they come to me for help about something non-academic, I know how important is the role I play. As a teacher and also as a friend, I find I matter most not necessarily in what I set out to do, but rather in how I respond when others are in need. Lately, I’ve been getting better at emulating Sue’s qualities of listening, of caring, of making OTHERS feel they matter. In my recent birthday resolutions, I wrote “practice listening,” and this is why. Thank you and Sue for the reminder to keep at it!

  10. says

    This came at a very deep tine for me & needed to read it. Thank you Carla. Yup, like you & others – struggling. Taking the week off from blogging to think about things.. feeling like I am “not mattered” a lot lately … need to get out & make others know they matter & I try to do that to things I read in the IG posts of people I follow… i READ them & respond when someone is hurting… they have helped me to to know I matter & love them for that.. just so much at once being thrown at me lately & sometimes we do need to know we are needed

    Greta post Carla & hugs on Sue. I recall all the posts you write about her.

  11. says

    Carla, I think you said so beautifully what we all need. Of course, it’s love – but it’s also that feeling of making a difference in other people’s lives. So sorry about losing such a special person and friend.

  12. Ida says

    Oh yes, Carla.
    It is about feeling I matter here as well.

    I have had positions where I’ve made fabulous money but felt I wasn’t doing the work that mattered.

  13. says

    i wish i met sue. But you speak of her as if i knew her. SO thank you. ANd thank you for making me read this 2x today.. to matter. Keep up the good work mama, tornado surely matters and feels mattered.

  14. says

    Thank you for this! I really needed to read it. I struggle A LOT with feelings that I don’t matter or that I have very little impact. Even when I read comments on my blog where people tell me that sharing my experiences means a lot to them…I feel dismissive of them, because they don’t really know me and maybe I just got lucky and arranged some words in a way that meant something to them on accident.

    I do want to matter. I think everyone does.

    And you matter bunches. Big huge bunches of matter…that’s what you are.

    Well, in a nice way. Not that you’re just a big bunch of matter..which in a way we all are.

    I could keep rambling on like this, but it would just get silly. :)

  15. Valerie says

    Your friend Sue sounds so amazing. Thank you for sharing her with us.

    This is an issue I have struggled with as well, and it sounds like I’m far from alone. That, in itself, helps.

    It’s so hard to ask for this – “show me I matter! Show me I’m important to you!” I haven’t figured out a way, yet, so I just try to focus on letting others know they do. I figure I’m leading by example and it will come around eventually. :-)

    And by the way, Carla, you matter. You matter so, so much. I can’t tell you how often I feel as though you are the only person I know who completely “gets it”. Watching you find a way helps me keep looking for one. I know your life isn’t perfect, but you keep going and you keep inspiring and giving and putting forth that effort. Some days, that’s what I cling to, to help me keep putting one foot in front of the other.

    So thank you. :-)

  16. says

    Just yesterday I was talking about this with my mother, who recently retired as a psychotherapist. She still misses very much that daily affirmation from her clients that she mattered to them. Everyone needs that reinforcement.

    So sorry you lost your friend, clearly too soon.

  17. says

    And you are soooo much like Sue in your ability to make others feel like they matter and that you’re their best friend !
    xo

  18. says

    Reading this, and the posts you’ve done before, I wish I knew your friend Sue. And I hope to impact people as much as she did some day. Clearly, she was amazing.

  19. says

    Sue sounds like a truly incredible person!!
    I have always wanted to be a Sue and yet I know that I don’t put enough of myself out there to make that happen.
    My hope for today is that I will show at least one person how much they matter and tomorrow another person and…..So important to let show people that they really do matter!!

  20. says

    Love this post Carla and love being reminded of you friend Sue. For me mattering is often recognizing how much other people matter. Much love to you Carla!!!

  21. says

    LOL, I was afraid this would be comments closed!
    So much food for thought. I think I want to feel like my life has left an impact. Like it’s meant something. What exactly that means I can’t put my finger on. Food for thought…

    I hope you know you ‘matter’ to me!!

  22. Carla says

    TOTALLY LAUGHING as I opened them only at the last minute.
    These days I wanna close all comments and send people OUT INTO THE WORLD to make a difference!

  23. says

    The double hand, the eye contact, the body posture that says I am really listening to every word you say is wonderful to feel and give. I have many friends that are outdoorsy and a hike or walk is time spent with friends and often the connection of sharing your heart is missed without that eye contact. I have figured out to stop, shoe issue, saw something in the distance, to just acknowledge I hear you or let me say this to you, then we can resume our motion.

  24. John Cullen says

    Carla, I can’t thank you enough for your kind and loving post. She was an amazing woman, a great friend and an amazing partner. Enough time has passed for me to reflect on our life together with gratitude rather than grief. I now delight seeing photos and hearing reflections. Love to you and to yours, john

  25. says

    Hi Carla! What a great reminder that we all need to feel that we matter. Your friend Sue was such a gift to you and others while she was here and hopefully we can all touch others in such a powerful way. And while there is probably not one of us who doesn’t recognize how important this is after reading your post, the actual doing of it TODAY is where the magic will happen. Thank you for inspiring me today! ~Kathy

  26. says

    For a long time I didn’t feel like I mattered because my parents don’t wear their emotions on their sleeves. They never really told me that they were proud of me, or that they loved me – of course I knew they did, because they treated me well, but saying I love you, truly means the world to me. Thankfully though, as I have gotten older, my parents have been more open with their feels and they make me feel like I matter in this world :)

  27. Jessica @EatSleepBe says

    I just started to write a book on this very topic, Carla. You are not alone in this feeling. Good for you to make a point of letting others know how very much they matter to you.

  28. says

    Thank you for sharing this story. It is so, unfortunately, rare to meet people like her, and so rewarding when we do.

  29. says

    Funny you post this today — there are no accidents. Today, i leave to go help a friend who lives in another state. She cried out for help, and i arranged to get to go help her. She matters, and i want her to know it.

  30. says

    Carla, Thank you for the beautiful tribute to my sister, Sue! You mattered to her just as much as she mattered to all of us and hearing your touching words and seeing her smiling face again has made my day. Thanks for inspiring so many & I hope to see you soon!

  31. says

    Beautiful message! I wish everyone could read this and realize they matter too. A local woman to me started “I matter, You matter” day several years ago and created caring coins to give out to people that say “I matter, you matter.” She’s sent them to military troops, children with parents in jails, and given them out in other places.
    My sister wrote a blog on that day recently too – http://mindfulmealsblog.com/2014/03/26/matter-matter/

  32. says

    You do a great job letting people know they matter. It seems natural that you and Sue became friends.

    The older kid is graduating from college next month, and he has been letting me know a lot lately that I matter and how he has heard me and I have mattered all along… (I have always striven to let him know he matters.) It feels nice. And I’m determined to remember this when the kid is a teenager in a few years and may not be the greatest at letting me know I matter… ;)

  33. says

    Thanks for the thinky post (and sharing about Sue, she sounds like she was an amazing person). I’m going on a tangent here.

    I’ve been incredibly busy lately, and while I whine about being tired and needing a break from the chaos, I matter a lot right now. I matter to my job. I matter to my husband. I matter to my friends. I matter to myself, with the triathlon improvements I’ve made. And apparently these matter more to me than peace and quiet and a relaxing life. :)

    That’s really important. And while I hadn’t quite thought of it this way, I really try to make sure my team at work knows they matter a lot too, we couldn’t do what we do without any of them.

    And also, if you type matter enough, it sort of looks like one of those words that don’t make sense, if that makes ANY sense at all.

  34. Christie Barany says

    In tears and smiling all in one seeing this picture that does capture Mom so well…What a beautiful post, thank you for sharing your memories and carrying on her mission. YOU mattered to her and do to so many others. We miss you in ATX and are sending love to you and your whole crew!

  35. cherhl says

    I know I ‘matter’ daily with the smiles I get from kids at my preschool, along with the knee hugs and kisses. I know I make a difference now and have made a difference in hundreds of children’s and parent’s lives by helping their children communicate when at one time they could not.
    I know I matter to my parents, daughter, husband and family as they tell me on a daily basis how much I mean to them.
    I know I matter to my co-workers who tell me that they would quit their jobs if I happened to retire fully next year.
    I know I matter to try friends that I have known since 6th grade as we still keep in touch.
    I know I matter to my kitties as they are truly happy to see me when I arrive home.
    I know I matter to my Relay for Life team for organizing fund raisers and going to meetings so that we can walk all night to remember and honor those who have survived cancer or those we have lost to cancer.
    These are all REAL contacts – no Facebook, twitter, social media stuff. Get out there and get involved face to face. There’s plenty to do to make one feel needed, wanted, and I guess “matter”. Life is too short to even second guess if you matter to someone….

  36. says

    I feel like Sue is that wonderful friend we wish we all could have known – and now we do a little bit, through you. I accept your challenge gratefully and in memory of Sue.

  37. says

    Women like Sue….they are such gifts, aren’t they? I’ve always admired those of that ilk. To me, if I could go out knowing I made people feel as if they mattered, I would feel pretty satisfied.

    This post is timely for me–your words mattered. Thank you.

  38. says

    I love when you post about your dear friend Sue…

    As I departed from the social media scene, for a much needed break, it has been such a blessing. I have gone out into the world, fulfilling what matters most…..and when I need my oxygen mask re-filled I visit a few select blogs to remind me ….I DO matter….offline mostly…but YES I do matter, and those chance daily meetings at work, in the grocery line, or on a walk have more substance for me than “joining in” on a computer screen…..

    Much love, as you are one that *matters* xoxo

  39. says

    There are so many things I love on this one page of your Carla. For instance, love the graffiti on your header, really like you being unapologetically yourself, I’m gushing over that sweet handwritten note by your daughter and of course, this story of your friend Sue is so inspiring! Thank you for sharing all this loveliness. Visiting via #SITSShareSaturday

  40. says

    Your friend Sue sounds wonderful. And it sounds like you have carried on her legacy in a most thoughtful way.
    I love how you are so conscious with how you teach and love on your daughter. It is inspiring to know that there are mothers who are so selfless out there.
    I too have come to know that I do matter- most of the time, although I didn’t come to that conclusion because of being taught so. Somehow I just know it inside.
    I hope that I have passed on this idea to kids whose lives I’ve touched and even just any people I meet. It is certainly an honorable use of ones life.
    There are/have been a few people I know/have known that are like your Sue in many ways. Concentrating on and emulating people like that is what life is really for.

  41. says

    This is a beautiful tribute to your friend Sue. There is so much importance in knowing that we matter–not just to each other but to ourselves as well. We can all hope to touch another person’s life as she had.

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