Kindness Rocks

Recently my kids and I made a crude, economic version of the behavioral “marble jar”- often seen in classrooms- good behavior, add a marble. Optional- bad behavior, remove a marble. We made ours with rocks and a milk jug.

In the process of gathering rocks, we plucked several from wherever we went. In the parking lot of my daughter’s karate studio I picked up a smooth, round rock. A good one for painting (we painted our rocks), I thought to myself. I added this one to a little bag in my trunk, filled with rocks and pebbles of all shapes and sizes. As I looked them over, I was suddenly bothered. This isn’t going to work- they need to be the same. Otherwise, the act of kindness won’t match the size of the rock added (meaning it won’t take up as much space in the jug as it should, given the magnitude of the kindness). And the same vice-versa; if the act is tiny, it hardly seems fair to add a giant rock that takes up tons of room– my thoughts went something like that. Aside from the obvious fact that I was way over-thinking this project- my kids just want to paint rocks and earn treats- it also occurred to me that the quality of this project that I’m citing as flawed is actually very life-like. It’s actually kind of perfect.

In life, it’s impossible to really measure how far the effects of any act of kindness will ripple. A “thank you” to an under-appreciated server could be the thing that changes his day. It could be the impetus that reminds him that he’s doing something real and valuable and worthy of “thank you,” and that he in general is a worthy, valuable human being (you never know!). While it may not contribute to a literal “Kindness Rocks” jug, all kindness, no matter how small, matters. It all counts. It all contributes to a greater good.

Can you imagine…

…if we all chose eye contact with people serving us, instead of our screens?

…if everyone gave the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming the worst?

…if everyone always held the door? and respected right-of-ways? and drove safely because who knows who’s in the cars around them? and left the last bite for their partner? and loved on their kids despite their being little shits? and decided to get curious instead of judgmental when faced with people different than us? Or maybe if we didn’t even reach this far and we all simply decided to say “please” and “thank you”?

All. Kindness. Counts

My Dog the Manifesting Machine

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Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

The movie is set. The popcorn is popped. The kids are pj-ed. Bruno, my dog, is prepped in his usual spot, back to the tv, sitting before the couch, staring adamantly at me.

He’s poised. Focused. He’s certain of his coming treat. And as I sit there munching on the popcorn that Bruno is so eagerly awaiting bits of, it occurs to me…this dog is a manifesting machine.

I’ve been listening to life gurus and reading the self-help books for years. Manifest. Source energy. The secret. Your vibrations. I get it; I hear what they’re saying and on a very superficial level, I get it. But to live it? I’m still on that journey. And yet, here before me, day in and day out, is this manifesting master; my dog.

He knows exactly what he wants; Popcorn bits tossed up which he can nab out of the air and swallow whole. He’s certain of it’s coming; so certain in fact, that every move I make, he flinches, prepared to leap. He’s doing everything in his doggy-trick-arsenal to get his goal. He sits- and that’s all he can do, so he sits and sits and sits. When one path (Mommy throwing popcorn) seems to be becoming stale, he tries others! He sits and stares at Daddy, then kid 1, then kid 2, and then he starts all over again. And perhaps most animalistic, least human-like, and so very vital and powerful- he has no concept of worthiness. He doesn’t spend hours and days and years toiling over being worthy of treats. He has no concern of being “not enough”. He just shows up, knowing exactly what he wants, and does what he can do with certainty!

Can you imagine if we chased our own desires this way?

Can you… can I… Focus on our goal(s) the way my dog focuses on flying popcorn treats? Can you see them (your goals) with assurance of their fulfillment? Can you commit to doing anything and everything in your power to achieve it? Can you follow through on that? Can you change course when prompted to do so? Can you not judge what you want?

Can you believe it? Can you live it?

Numbing/Nourishing Tips & Ideas

After yesterday’s post, I kept thinking about all this numbing/nourishing stuff. For me, the discovery that so many of my “resting” activities were not at all nourishing and largely learned from my upbringing was hugely eye-opening. And for some time, when I’d find myself plastered to the couch with a chocolate mug cake because I’m tired and stressed, my mind would flicker to the truth that I wasn’t really fixing anything or helping myself, but then I’d ignore it and do my thing. The stress-inducing issues and fatigue were still present but now with the added guilt that I knew I was resisting growth. Pre-empting my nourishment needs has proven to be very helpful for me. Here are some ways I do that.

Tip #1- Make a list of what makes you feel good. These could be anything! Then when you’re feeling whatever it is that drives you to numb, you can refer to your list and choose what fits the moment instead of falling back on your numbing habits. Here are some items on my list:

  • a really great cup of coffee
  • the smell of lavender (I use essential oils or lavender scented candles)
  • a thought-provoking movie
  • short stories I can enjoy over a sitting
  • flipping through my favorite magazine
  • laughing (usually from old faithful movies that always crack me up)
  • face masks
  • oily bubble baths
  • using my face roller
  • walking in nature
  • long drives
  • cat memes
  • dumb jokes
  • good wine
  • icy, cold milk
  • puzzles
  • sudoku
  • candles
  • arts and crafts
  • pinning travel destinations on pinterest
  • baking
  • talking to a real friend

Most of these things are free and fairly quick. I keep my list in my phone notes so it’s always handy. Make a list of what feels good for you!

Tip #2- Plan your recharge time in advance. When you’re planning your week, give yourself a morning, maybe an evening, even just an hour if thats all you can swing. Devote that time to making yourself feel good and recharging. Don’t pencil it in. Its important- permanent marker that date with yourself into your week! Plan what you’ll do, prep what you need in advance, and take that time whether you feel you need it or not. For me, I give myself Friday movie night, all by my glorious lonesome, to watch whatever I want (almost, see next tip).

Tip #3- If TV or music is part of your recharging time, be considerate of what you watch/hear. For example, if watching Keeping up with the Kardashians makes you feel like a fat slob, choose something else. Basically don’t watch or listen to what makes you feel bad. What you feed your mind is part of who and how you are.

Tip #4- If booze, sweets, or other specific food is part of your relax time, don’t binge. And if you’re struggling not to eat the whole carton, take the time and think about why. Satisfying a sweet tooth craving and filling yourself up in response to stress, shame, fears or insecurity are not the same thing.

Tip #5- Embrace your preferences! So what if taking a 10 mile jog is not your preferred method of relaxation? No yoga in there? It’s ok. Don’t overthink this. And if jogging and yoga are a part of your relaxation methods, that’s great too! My point- honor your own preferences without judgement of how they differ from someone else’s or what you think your preferences “should” be.

 

Numbing VS Nourishing

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Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

When you’re tired, down, defeated, sad, alone, lost…do you nourish your mind, body, and spirit? Or do you numb it?

So often when we’re experiencing any of the above emotions (and many others) instead of feeding ourselves what we need, we fill up on junk that may give a moment of release, but ultimately robs you of the opportunity to truly find a sense of replenishment and energy. I’m not just talking about diet here- we are what we eat. But we are also what we watch, read, think, how we sleep, what we believe in, who we spend time with…we are a culmination of many habits, preferences, and circumstances.

To make matters of numbing vs nourishing all the more confusing, we’re bombarded with messages on social media, tv, movies, music, everywhere really, with false information about what will make us feel better.

But the reality is that chugging Fanta in the street will never be as exciting as it appears in the ad. Binge-watching Seinfeld for the millionth time (it’s a classic, I agree), because you just need to zone out for a bit, will not give your mind the peace it craves. Eating the entire cake will not make the stressful situation in your life any less stressful or any more dealt with. And that impromptu shopping spree? It’ll only disguise the inferiority and fears you feel for a hot second. But we all know this, right?

TV is not inherently evil. Fanta and sodas probably are not either. Shopping can be pretty fun. And I, for one, really love chocolate cake. But when we use decadence, laziness, sugar, caffeine, booze, among tons of other stimulants and numbing-agents, to keep us from feeling what we’re going through, we’re losing out. Instead, is it possible to set these indulgences in our lives aside as just that? To enjoy them in a way that honors our growth? Is it possible to look into the behaviors that we’ve called “resting” and call them out for what they really are? Hiding. Procrastinating. Numbing. 

How do you respond to your body’s call for rest? For nourishment? What are some ways we can replenish ourselves without the boozing, the bingeing, and the self-loathing?

 

The Myth of “Starting Over” and Why it Matters.

“Numb the dark and you numb the light.” Brene Brown

    In the midst of new surroundings, schedules, jobs, and relationships, the topic of “new starts” is popular. Perhaps because it’s a new school year, and I live in a college town, I feel like I’m hearing hopeful sentiments for new starts all around me. If these sentiments are expressed the way I’ve expressed this desire, it’s usually with the imagined hope of being this brand-spankin’ new person who does all the things they didn’t before, who never falls behind, who suddenly makes better decisions, and all the troubles and habits and issues from the past are mysteriously gone from the present. I’ve done this. I still do this.

   A desire to “start over” shows there’s awareness of things not serving our best selves and purposes. And that’s noble. But to shove those parts of ourselves and our lives into our past and bury them there, indulging in the shame we carry over these things, that’s not moving forward. That is not growth. In fact, it’s hiding. Its numbing ourselves from the discomfort we’d feel if we really face these things head-on. Ultimately, it diverts us from the work that needs to be done to become these “best selves” that we’re imagining we’re going to be. When we get that desire to “start over” in our lives, and I’m looking at myself here too, we need to ask why.

    Why do you feel the need to “start over”? What about your experiences and life causes you so much guilt, shame, or fear that you feel like it can’t be any part of this new self you’re creating? Letting things die, part of ourselves, experiences, is an important part of growing. But we must face our shame, feel it, and choose to give ourselves grace and love despite failings, imperfections, and discomfort; that’s where healing and real growth, real change, begins. This is not to suggest that we’ll then tote our pains with us through life. Everywhere you’ve been, people you’ve known, things you’ve done, they’ll be with you forever; BUT you get to choose at what capacity they affect, if at all, your life. 

    Every part of our lives has value even if looking back over it makes you cringe. Accepting the cringe-worthy, a vital part of self-acceptance, allows us to put those events, habits, and relationships aside. We can leave them in the past with a sense of peace because we know that they are not shameful or embarrassing; they’re a vital part of who we are now. For myself and others who seek to “start over” when life isn’t looking the way we want, who sometimes want to hide away who and how we’ve been, I challenge you to not. Instead of “starting over,” offer up a hefty dose of grace and self-love, feel what you feel, and simply move forward with what you are, how you are, who you are right now. 

The Power of Rejection

Recently I’ve been faced with several rejections, all having to do with my work in one way or another. While I did feel well…rejected, the way I instinctively reacted to one versus another struck me as interesting.

In one situation, while there was still the sting of rejection, I wasn’t surprised and I wasn’t deeply wounded. In another, I was totally bummed out for days. And as I contemplated this it occurred to me that these rejections were revealing my priorities to me. They were showing me what I care about. 

Rejection can be painful. Seriously painful in some circumstances. But it is also necessary. The chains of rejection in our lives have the power to reveal what we really care about, to highlight the chances we do and do not take, and ultimately to call us to evolve; to evolve how we think, how we work, how and why we make the decisions we do, how we submit resumes, audition, present ourselves to the world, and how we shoulder feelings of defeat. Rejection, if soberly felt and utilized wisely, has the power to pointedly guide you back to your inner compass. That’s some powerful stuff!

In short, rejection is a gift. 

As I wade through the rejections in my life, clumsily attempting to learn the lessons they offer, I’d love to hear from you. What rejections have guided you (small and big), brought you back, pushed you forward?