This weeks challenge was to be grateful for the kindness in our life; kindness witnessed, experienced or given. Another thought was to think before going to sleep at night about the kindness we witnessed and experienced during the day and perhaps say a prayer for or send good thoughts to the people who were kind. While thinking about what I would write about for this seventh week of the challenge I had a wake up call of sorts. I had a surprise…I didn’t like what I woke up to; light was shined on a couple of things I don’t like about myself.
It seems it is easier for me to remember the not so kind and ugly things I witness or experience than it is to remember the kind and beautiful things. When I think back on the day I tend to find criticism and judgment are the first thoughts to come to mind. I quickly think sarcastic and disrespectful things about the day and its happenings. After I get past the ugly then I see the beauty. That’s not very kind of me, is it? Should I not see the beauty the ugly tries to hide? Should I not see the beauty first?
I am truly grateful for the kindness all around me in this world that can be cold and mean. But this week it has been a gratefulness that had to be dug out from under world’s less than wonderful atmosphere. I don’t know, maybe this week with it’s not so stellar days simply got to me and I let negativity take hold. Whatever the reason it saddens me to know that the week though filled with kindness seen and experienced I allowed the good to be overshadowed by the not so good.
Last week is over and done and cannot be changed. Lessons were learned and I am humbled. This week is just beginning and I am grateful for the new days. New days to witness, experience, and give kindness; new days to see beauty even when it is hidden or disguised; new days to bow my head and say thank you.
There are times I extend kindness without expecting anything in return. If I open a door or hold the elevator for someone, let the UPS or Fedex driver or mail carrier in the building so they don’t have wait to be let in I just do it because I am there and it’s something I can do. If I am pleasant to people who are being rude it’s because I don’t know what is going on in that person’s life and I know that sometimes it’s just a bad day, I have those days, too. The kindness given is really done without thought or expectation.
There are kindnesses that I extend that though I would not be hurt or angry if I didn’t get a thank you I would be surprised. Truthfully, I can’t think of a time that I have done something for someone, taking a meal to them, helping with a chore, listening when they need to be heard, assisting them with something they can’t do themselves, that I didn’t get a thank you and a smile in return.
I have so many people in my life that give so much to me and make my life so full of happiness and joy. I have found that the best way to share those gifts is to give to others. It’s a wonderful endless circle of kindness without expectation.
My life has been filled with kindness role models and while thinking about them two came to mind right away. Two very different women who have kind caring hearts. One who tries very hard to make people believe she is rough and tough but she is kind hearted and gentle. The other who shows her softer side to all but is stronger than most people I know.
The first is young, I could be her mother, and in many ways has an old soul. I worked with her for many years and we experienced many life events together. There were her marriage and births of her children. We each had surgery. There were illnesses and deaths in our families. The great company we worked for went out of business. We didn’t always agree but we did always get past the disagreements and didn’t let them come between us.
There were many kindnesses she gave to me but the one that stands out strongest was during the time of my brother’s illness. It was a very difficult time and I wasn’t always doing my share at work and emotionally I was a mess. One day I just fell apart at work and had to leave. The next day I stayed home and she came to see me. While I cried she sat next to me and said just what I needed to hear. Her words encouraged me and filled my heart with hope. I will never forget this kindness.
The second role model is a woman with a servant’s heart. After the first time we met, she texted me saying she enjoyed our chat and would I like to have lunch. That text made me so happy! Because I, too, enjoyed our chat and also because I was finding it difficult connecting with anyone at the time.
She has given me the gift of her time over and over. I know that I can call her anytime day or night and she will help any way she can. She has taken me to the doctor and sat with me when I had surgery. She takes me to the grocery store and on errands. If I am not feeling well she does the shopping and brings the groceries to me. She is a wonderful cook and shares her good food with me. She listens to me grumble and complain then makes me see the absurdity of it all and makes me laugh. She is more than a friend she is like a sister.
I have learned what kindness is from these women
and hope that I grow up to be just like them.
I think we all struggle to some extent with self-love. I think we are often taught that loving yourself is not a good thing and that loving yourself is thinking you are better than others. True self-love is not an ego trip. It is simply allowing yourself to be who you are, accepting all the bits and pieces that make you real.
I did not have much in the way of self-love as a child and young woman. I was raised not to make waves, to be quiet and keep what I thought and my opinions to myself. I really didn’t allow myself to be me. I did whatever I could to be like everyone else, to fit in. When I realized I wasn’t ever going to be like everyone else there was some serious rebellion that happened. That didn’t work either. I was miserable.
I didn’t like myself. I certainly didn’t love myself. What I did know was that things had to change. It took time, a lot of work and tears…and a good bit of laughter. I learned that I am a little different in some ways and a lot different in others and it’s okay. I am not worthless. I am a good person.
This week while pondering self-love I realized I still have times when I really don’t love myself. Those are the days when I tell myself lies about myself. I tell myself I am stupid, ugly, have no talent, no friends, no one cares about me…all lies! This kind of thinking doesn’t happen often and when it does it is usually when I am not feeling well and dealing with chronic issues that are troublesome and tiring. Of course, this is when self-love is most needed and is most often denied.
I didn’t think I had a mantra but while pondering self-love I realized I do have one. When I start telling myself lies about myself I look in the mirror and say;
You are who you are and that is something to celebrate. The little part of the world you inhabit needs you. Go be who you are and do what only you can do. That is why You are here.
I have always liked the couple of days after Christmas. The craziness of the days before Christmas are over and now there is a time of simple quiet. Oh, it’s a quiet that won’t last more than a day or two; but they are welcome days after the rush and busy schedules of the holiday.
I find the days between Christmas and the New Year a time of little, if any, stress. There is not much to do during this in between time. These few days are a time of reflection and rest before the beginning of the new year and all the plans and expectations and resolutions made at the end of the old year.
Me? I have no great plans for next year, I don’t know what to expect, and I won’t make New Year’s resolutions. What I know from experience is that things will happen, planned or not, expect the unexpected because there are always surprises, and making resolutions is a waste of time, they are sure to be forgotten. This mindset may seem unwise and unexciting and non-productive to all the type A personality people, driven to do more, get more, and be more. But it works for me.