Category Archives: Virtues

Thankful

I am thankful for every relationship in my life that has come and gone. Be they joyful, toxic, or a mixture of both. Each person who has come into my life has been a masterful teacher to me on some level, at some time.

I am grateful for the chance to receive rejection with grace and humility and serve it in the same manner. For the knowledge and wisdom of when it was time to move on. For the strength and courage to act with maturity and kindness when doing so. For taking the brave steps of walking away from a cycle of pain and towards a cycle of support.

I am thankful…

For new beginnings.

For the adventure of having lived in an RV for 18 months and the places it took our family, the freedom it gave us, the minimalism it introduced to us, and the memories we made.

For having the safety, security, and conveniences of a home, once again. For a room of my own to write, read, and create in. For a large playroom for my daughter. For a space for my husband to work and create. For my cozy hospital bed. For hot water, power, central air & heat, showers, a large refrigerator, two bathrooms, a washer & dryer, and wifi, at our disposal 24/7-365 (which were not always available while we traveled for a year and a half.)

For the community we so loved and had to say goodbye to.

For our Angel Naomi for showing up at the eleventh hour, in a heat wave, with people to help move and doing physical labor herself.

For Jennie watching our daughter all week while I had infusions and we packed the storage space. For Austin and his friends from his church that helped load the truck on the final day and who we never would have made it out of there without.

For Jen & Daniel and their sustaining friendship and the hearty meal. For Brooke providing her home for us to housesit while we said our goodbyes to the community and loved ones. For Cher’e for being sweet and loving.

For all the doctors and nurses I care about so much that I had to say good bye to.

For everything our old home town was for us while we were there: a nature’s paradise, a safe, liberal, hippie bubble, a wonderful, supportive community.

For learning how to be more compassionate and giving by being on the receiving end of so much compassion and giving.

For my closest, longest, most enduring friendships that sustain, lift, support, and hold space for me on a consistent weekly basis, year after year: Lisa, Richard, Katrina, Ken, Perry & G, Tracy & C, Jeff/Sist, and Hollie (how about that, five women and five men. The yin and the yang create completeness. I feel so balanced. HA.)

You will never know how much your regular texts, emails, phone calls, and visits lift my spirits and carry me forward. The kindness of your loyalty moves me deeply. I pray that I am as much a support for you as you are for me, so that you too, may know the gift of feeling truly loved, cared for, and thought of as special and important in the heart of another, year after consistent year. Our friendship continues to flourish in part because of the work we do on ourselves to be loving, kind, and loyal to ourselves, each other, and the world around us, and I appreciate that so very much.

For the support of my immediate and extended in-laws and the joy, laughter, and love my nephews bring me every time I hear from them or see their beautiful faces.

For the love and support of more recent or more casual friends who may flourish into deeper friendships as the years go by.

For support of the #WeAreOne campaign.

For creative friends who inspire me.

For the chance to really get settled again and help my daughter, my husband, and myself live our dreams.

For the opportunity, time, and space to create again: publish the books I’ve been writing, create the art I’ve been dreaming, and design and make real the private, peaceful, simple life I’ve always imagined.

For every day that I am alive, that I have the mental acuity and physical stamina to be present for myself, my family, my friends, and the world around me.

For the simple pleasures of a daily ritual with tea, and books, two of my most treasured long time companions.

For having access to watching Jeopardy as a family again. 

Most of all, I am so thankful for my husband and daughter and the love and joy they bring me. Without their devotion, it’s difficult to imagine that I’d still be alive and kicking. Their beautiful smiling faces light up my entire world anew, each and every day. Their laughter lifts my spirit, like Charlie and his grandpa floating in Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. (Perfect set up for the pun: my family is a gas!)

Bliss really is an untapped energy source. It fills our new home with music, creative expression, and intellectual pursuits that abound.

I love my family. I love my friends. I love my life.

I am thankful for it all.

 

 

We Are One

We are one. When you, your child, your parent, or someone you love is in need of a blood transfusion, an organ transplant, or a helping hand; I promise you that the color of my skin, the religion I was born into or the people I love, will not matter. We are one.

I read an article on Kveller, about a pregnant woman who was menaced by anti-semites; all of whom shared something in common: they are all school teachers.

This is the world we are living in today, in 2017. September is back-to-school month. When I think about all the children going back to school around the country knowing there are open anti-semites out there as teachers, who had so much hate for Jews they felt justified in menacing a pregnant woman and openly admitting their hate, I know that the time is now that we must have a plan of action for standing up to this.

I have a plan.

Ever since I began to notice an increased resurgence in anti-semitism, I have asked myself, “What can I or others effectively do to stop this?”

There may come a time when someone you know is being threatened. What will you do in the face of that fear and threat?

In the Kveller article, the woman who was menaced says, “Now is not the time for neutrality, or blindness, or turning the other cheek. It’s time to stand up on our bar stools—whatever platform we have—and make a scene.”

And yet, she was so struck with fear, that she wasn’t able to speak, even though she wanted to. She was pregnant and vulnerable. I don’t blame her. If I were in her shoes, I likely would have remained silent too because it was probably the safest thing she could do in that moment.

What we know about the Holocaust was that most of the Jews did not fight. Some hid but few were able to fight. How could they have fought? How do we fight now? What could the pregnant woman have said?

We read, the words of Elie Wiesel,  “The lesson of the Holocaust is always believe the threats of your enemies, over the promises of your friends.” But we can change that by making a conscious choice to show up for others on a daily basis, in whatever capacity or to whichever degree is possible. (And let me say, as someone who is disabled and lives with debilitating pain, if I can make time and find ways to show up for others, anyone can.)

When we chant, “Never Again!” We have to do so with a plan of action that will prevent that. Do you have a plan?

I have a plan.

Courage is not something that magically appears when you need it most. Courage is a muscle. You have to use it every day in order to have the confidence that it will be there for you when you need it most.

One of the best ways to use courage is through the daily use of compassion.

You will be more likely to find the courage you need for the big battles if you practice compassion for the day-to-day battles. 

What happens to some people when they try and access compassion is an internal voice that says, “Does that person even deserve my compassion?”

Judgmental thoughts abound: “If they didn’t want to struggle, they shouldn’t have had so many children.” “That homeless drug addict brought his troubles on himself, why should I give him my loose change, he will only spend it on drugs or booze.” “Unemployed and disabled people are just lazy and mooching off the government.” And it goes on and on. The stories people make up in order to justify their beliefs.

If a person has yet to learn how to be loving, gentle, and compassionate with themselves, it is not likely they will be able to be loving, gentle, and compassionate toward others who they may judge as unworthy of anyone’s compassion.

Our compassion extends, only as far, as our perception of oneness. The less you see yourself in another, the easier it becomes to discount that person’s needs.

To have compassion for racists seems almost sacrilegious, but if you hate the haters, you are judging them as inherently different from you, just as they are judging Jews, Muslims, people of color, or anyone from the LGBTQ community, as inherently different from them.

We are not “inherently different,” we merely make different choices to different degrees. Everyone makes judgments and categorizes people as less or more superior than others. What separates an average person’s judgments from a Nazi or Klan member is the degree to which their judgments drive them.

My judgment is that Nazis and the KKK are vile, deplorable, and reprehensible. Their judgments are more harsh, violent, and come with a greater consequence than those of the average person. And yet, they are still human beings made of flesh and bone and hating them isn’t going to stop them; but resistance, solidarity, and education might.

All people have the capacity for the same spectrum of emotions that range from love to hate. Logic and compassion are what keep most people’s judgments in a range that’s nonviolent. If our goal is to end violence, we must employ logic, resistance, and compassion against those who are violent.

Compassion, especially for perceived enemies, takes a great deal of courage. Compassion, like forgiveness, doesn’t mean we invite the people (enemies) who cause hurt, pain, and harm, into our homes and hearts to hurt us more. Compassion is not a statement of approval for poor behavior.

Compassion is the act of caring about the suffering of others.

I guarantee  you that anyone who hates, is suffering; and if we don’t care, how do we expect to change anything?

“The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” – Abraham Lincoln

To have compassion for anyone, is to take heed to understand how they came to be and where they are now in an effort to prevent them from continuing to hurt themselves or others. Compassion is both selfless and selfish, as it’s a tool for self-preservation.

We rise to action most often from a place of compassion when we see another being in our presence who is suffering. If we choose not to see the suffering of others, who will choose to see us when we suffer? 

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

-Martin Niemöller

If we have been using our compassion muscle to help those in need around us, on a regular basis, then when the time comes that a complete stranger or someone we know and love, is being threatened, we will have built up the resources and tools for knowing how to step forward with courage, remain safe, and still help another person to survive. 

We will not stand idly by or turn a blind eye. We will come to see and know our oneness. 

Do you have a plan if you are in a public place and you see an injustice occur? How will you defend your friend, neighbor or self against an anti-semantic, religious, racist or attack against someone in the LGBTQ community if you are with your family and children, feeling particularly vulnerable, are disabled, or are alone?

These are hard questions, I know. I have spent many a sleepless night, praying and asking for guidance about what we, as individuals, can do to fight the rising threat of hate, and this is what came to me: We have to have something short and concise that is a factual truth which we can memorize and repeat and stand in solidarity to speak:

“We are one. When you, your child, your parent, or someone you love is in need of a blood transfusion, an organ transplant or a helping hand; I promise you that the color of my skin, the religion I was born into or the people I love, will not matter. We are one.”

Resistance against ignorance requires education, enlightenment, and truth. We can look to the past, to the civil rights movement, to other movements where people were divided, in how to address hate and to extract what worked and find new ways for what might work better.

Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in passive resistance, “weapons of love.”

Malcom X was known for the slogan, “by any means necessary.”

When I think about MLK and Malcom X and how to enlighten the minds of racists today, I think about parenting styles through the years.

We have evolved as a society from the days when most parents used spanking as a form of discipline – corporal punishment. Research has repeatedly shown that hitting a child, teaches a child to hit. This is why as intelligent and creative beings we are still solving conflict through war and violence. There are better ways.

Then we moved on to the days of  putting a child’s nose in the corner (an act of public shaming) or making them sit in a “time-out chair” which is a great practice for prison: go in the same way you come out: unchanged. Except now you might feel resentful, angry, bitter, untrusting, and vengeful for being punished for either not having known any better, or having yet to learn impulse control to do better with that which you do know. Neither of these disciplines teaches and corrects the behavior.

The main thing punishment teaches, is how to not get caught. 

Whereas enlightment provides tools and the support and compassion to learn a new way of being.

Today, many parents discipline through empathy and education; through compassionate reasoning (natural consequence meets the broken record technique).

Please keep in mind, your children will likely be your caregivers when you are elderly. Do you want them to treat you with kindness, dignity, and patience? Or with frustration, irritation, and control? 

The simplicity of life is the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Your child is going to remember how you treated her and how you treated yourself, and how you treated those around you, and these will be the guide posts for how she treats you, herself, and others when she is an adult. 

I know that different children have different needs but all children respond to love. 

To become a racist, or a sociopath, or any other type of menace to society,  it seems to me that some part of the emotional understanding in the brain, has yet to be activated. 

Perhaps racists have an arrested emotional development; in which case, they would need to be spoken to with the same confident conviction we use to speak to children, when using reasoning as a form of discipline.

We do that by repeating the same message of love and truth over and over again without engaging with an emotional reaction.

Parents are, at times, called to be broken records. It is in calmly, yet firmly, repeating a message to a child with love in our hearts and voices, such as, “I will not allow you to hurt yourself or others” that they learn to stop hurting themselves and others. 

Parents of particularly violent children have to restrain their child, not with violence, but by holding them in an embrace, sometimes sitting cross legged behind their child, with their legs over the child’s legs and holding them in a tight, restraining (back to chest) hug with love, while repeating over and over again, “I will not allow you to hurt yourself or others.” Until the child calms down and through behavioral modification repetition and modeling of healthier ways of conflict resolution, learns a new way of engaging with the world around him.

Is this not the simple act of resistance without violence? 

Children do not learn to stop hitting by having a “caregiver’s” hand swatting their rearend while saying through clenched teeth, “Hitting. Is. Wrong! Don’t. Do. It. Again! Or there will be more where this came from!”

Neither, I imagine, do violent people learn to stop being violent, by being met with violence. 

If you came from a large family or rowdy neighborhood, you have likely had to break up a fight or two. The person who comes in swinging to break up a fight, only instigates the violence. The person who comes in restraining, sets an example that those around them act on, and helps to end the fighting.

It takes someone calm to remain calm and if we allow ourselves to be consumed with anger it fuels the desire within us to be violent ourselves. 

How do we douse the flames of anger to find our stillness in the storm? Through practice.

The peaceful warrior is not complacent. We practice daily through compassion for the self and others. Through resourcing via meditation, mindfulness, inspiration, support, hydration, nutrition, rest, creative expression, and act, upon act, upon act of loving kindness.

Here is my plan and my answer to those who ask, “What can I do?”

1. Take care of your needs. Practice staying calm in the midst of chaos. Manage your vulnerabilities.

2. Have a plan. Know what you will say in the face of an attack. Use the broken record technique to repeat your own version (or borrow mine), of the We Are One speech

3. Make compassion a mantra. Use restraint in the midst of violence, whenever possible.

4. Resist the mob mentality which can sweep you away. Stop feeding your anger. It only fuels you in the way that alcohol gives someone liquid courage: short term and with impaired judgment. Anger burns off and leaves one burnt-out. Anger helps prevent apathy but can also be counter productive to compassion; which you need for yourself and others if you are going to continue to survive and help others to do the same. Stay grounded by standing your ground. Know the truth, and repeat it often. Be an angel if you can, or at least not an “anger devil.”

5. If you are already comfortable with your image on the internet, you have your picture on Facebook and/or other social media sites, please record and post a video of yourself saying the following message and invite everyone you know to do the same. Share this post. Together, we can create a WE ARE ONE movement that’s similar to the IT GETS BETTER campaign or the ALS ICE BUCKET challenge that will give people a plan, a way to manage their vulnerabilities and something to do that can make a difference.

The message:

“We are one. When you, your child, your parent, or someone you love is in need of a blood transfusion, an organ transplant or a helping hand; I promise you that the color of my skin, the religion I was born into or the people I love, will not matter. We are one.”

The more you hear the message and repeat it the more comfortable you will be with it and the more readily available it will be to you when you need it most. A musician doesn’t practice her playing to reach perfection but rather, she practices to make playing easier when it’s time to perform.

Part of how we prevent ourselves from being victims in society of anything, be it identity theft, harassment, burglary, or physical attack, is by managing our vulnerabilities. Notice I used the word manage versus the word hide. I think our vulnerabilities can be a strength; hiding them might be akin to staying silent.

Managing vulnerabilities is being vulnerable with protection; mindfulness and discretion. We can manage the vulnerabilities we feel by having a plan and knowing what to say in the face of an attack. We say it once, twice, as many times as necessary: We. Are. One.

It’s time to take back the sheets and the streets and resist with the aide of Angels.

When the Westboro Baptist Church, aka the church of hate, protested funerals of victims who were gay, like Matthew Sheppard, volunteers used white sheets in a new way, as angel wings, as they stood together, with arms lifted to protect.

Photo credit 

You can make your own peaceful protest Angel Action Wings here. 

I want to put this message out there to support the woman from the Kveller article and those around her, for all to become so familiar with the simplicity of this message, of this truth, that people have at least a tiny, tangible plan of action for if/when hate erupts in their presence.

My request to you is simple: keep repeating the message, we are one, to yourself and others. This is a way for people all over the world to come together in solidarity. To Have a plan. To be an angel.

Please post your video to your Facebook, twitter #WeAreOneInfinitely, and other social media accounts and send me a copy as well. Thanks.

Sage-living.org

WeAreOneInfinitely@gmail.com

“We are one. When you, your child, your parent, or someone you love is in need of a blood transfusion, an organ transplant or a helping hand; I promise you that the color of my skin, the religion I was born into or the people I love, will not matter. We are one.”

#WeAreOne Videos:

Melody Strong Grace IMG_1959

Www.AndrewEffingHicks.com

 

 

Grace

As I christen yet another emergency room hospital bed, I’m presented with a menu of thought options.

At the top of the menu is: Victimhood.

These are the “Why Me Appetizers.”

There’s the “Why Have You Forsaken Me Tears?”

And the, “What Did I Do to Deserve this Body that is Broken, in Pain, and Creating a Chain Reaction of Despair to Every Facet of My Life, Angst?”

Our culture has been serving these as traditional fair for millennia.

I pass on those empty calories and move on.

The middle section of the menu lists: Resentments. They tell me that if I am interested in these I better order soon because resentments are so popular that everyday by 5pm, they usually sell out.

These include standards like, “If you are giving up on me, I am giving up on you.” And the more punishing and aggressive, yet spiced very similarly, “If I can’t control you, then you do not exist in my world.”

I see these ordered a lot.

Sometimes, when the emotionally arrested developed, feel their body is betraying them, they start to betray it first. They overeat, stop moving and threaten suicide whenever they do not feel loved, appreciated, needed, or valued enough. It’s similar to children who threaten to run away when they don’t get their way. It’s basically an adult temper tantrum.

Resentments are sometimes a deadly combination of fear and anger and they can poison the body.

Another common reaction to resentment, is control.

If a person feels betrayed, they might retaliate through control. It becomes a competition of strength and will. They will control every calorie in and every calorie out and every action of yours and theirs as a means of not feeling victimized, as a way of self-defense.

It’s an honorable attempt and certainly takes more work than simply giving up, but in the end, the efforts are largely futile as the act and need to control is likely as much the poison causing their disease as they think it is the cure.

Now, resentments can provide temporary satisfaction but they are impossible to digest, the body just keeps bringing them up. In the end, they tend to cause me more harm than good so I avoid them as much as possible.

There were other options like Surrender & Acceptance, but I’m so full of those I couldn’t possibly absorb anymore than I already have.

I scan the entire menu and nothing looks palatable.

The nurse says to me with a bit of kitsch in his voice, “My personal favorite is Denial. They disguise it like broccoli in lasagna so that you can’t even taste the bitterness of ignorance. It’s very filling. Are you sure I can’t get that for you?”

I smile and try to hide the confetti of bemused judgment falling all around me, as I gently reply, “No, Thank You.”

I bow my head and my eyes fall to the very bottom of the menu.

In small print, I see the word “Grace,” although it’s masked as Gratuity, as giving thanks.

I choose that.

“I’d like an order of Gratuity please.”

The doctor and nurses look confused.

The doctor says, “We don’t offer Gratuity, it’s something the patients usually offer us.”

I respond with direct eye contact and a quiet confidence, “There’s a first time for everything.”

The nurse, writing this all down, clarifies, “You’d like to offer gratuity even though you didn’t order or accept anything on the thought menu we have provided?”

The state of grace is often a simultaneous offering and acceptance of gratuity.

Their subtext is clear. They are wondering, “Why? How does that serve you?”

I’ve already been told about the lesions on my brain, the evidence of a past stroke, that my body is severely dehydrated from having to move to a warmer climate that my POTS can’t seem to regulate, that I am bleeding internally, that there is no cure for EDS and that their goal is to simply make me comfortable. There is nothing they can do to heal, or save me.

They look resigned. My empathy is picking up that they feel useless. I actually feel a pang for their pang that they can’t soften my pang. This makes me laugh a little, albeit inside. On the outside, I’m calm, as I make the conscious shift from feeling resigned into feeling content. It’s a subtle, but significant shift.

Their training has not prepared them for this exchange.

They give one more feeble attempt at healing via masking and they ask, “Would you like a pain medication?”

I tell them, “No thank you. I manage pain daily, usually without any medication at all, and today is no worse than usual. I’m just incredibly weak, I lean to the right when I try to walk and something has already made me feel drugged, maybe the dehydration. The last thing I want is medication. I’m going to stick with mindfulness for now.”

“But why gratuity?” They ask in unison as they turn to each other and both say, “Jinx!” Who knew a doctor and her nurses could be so entertaining?

My mind is too cloudy to articulate and my vision is too blurry to read anymore. I say, “Please Google the word Grace and tell me what it says.”

The doctor pulls up Wikipedia and reads to me, “Grace as a Verb, ‘Do honor, or credit, [with dignity] to (someone or something) by one’s presence.’

She continues, Grace as a Noun, ‘Elegance, refinement, poise, finesse’”

The nurse chimes in, “ ‘Grace as a virtue, operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses,’”

I breathe deeply.

He continues, “and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation;…”

“Yes!” I tell him, in a weakened stage whisper, of sorts. “When I am grateful for that which I do possess in abundant supply: love, no matter how painful, no matter how confounding the rest of the world or my body might be, my mind can begin to regenerate and remind me of what is important.”

At that moment, my daughter climbed into the hospital bed with me. My husband stood up and put his hand upon my shoulder. I held my daughter close and placed my hand upon my husband’s. I allowed myself to feel the love of my family, and my small circle of loved ones who were only a text and prayer away.

I expanded that love bubble to fill the entire room, then the city, state, country, continent, and entire world. I breathed in the pulse of that expanding love, and as I did, I could feel tiny earthquakes and shifts occurring within. My body was breaking from the mold of limitations into the expansion of possibilities.

I then embraced grace as a verb by offering my presence to myself, to my family, and to the situation. I allowed myself to begin to vibrate with love and the noun of grace, to possess refined poise of gratitude and gratefulness; not for the suffering, pain, discomfort, and fear, all of which will continue to exists in life to varying degrees, for all people, but grateful rather for the love in my life.

These opposites are always coexisting: life and death, good and evil, light and dark. We need not deny one in order to feel the other. We merely need to choose which one we are going to focus on the most, which one are we going to raise (or lower) our frequency to?

I choose love. I’ve always chosen love. I will continue to choose love again and again and again.

A week after the hospital visit, I lay on the mattress on the floor of our new home, still waiting for our furniture to arrive, which won’t be for another 10 days or so, and the pain rushes back.

It’s as if I am in a 136 degree attic in Phoenix, Arizona. A thick weight is sucking the life out of me. I feel my body go limp, my breath become shallow and despair start to hover like a vulture over a dying bird.

I do not panic. I do not rush back to the hospital. I breathe. I use all my physical strength to roll over and gaze into the sleeping face of my daughter. I make a conscious choice to resonate with love instead of fear.

I’ve already been to the hospital. There is nothing they can do but make me comfortable and no place is more comfortable than being where I already am.

I have years now of knowing that these “waves of suffering” will pass. And while they may erode and redefine the shore line in the process, I will continue to survive, until I don’t; and that my friends, is the story of everyone’s life.

Choosing negative thoughts from the menu of life, like fear, victimization, resentment, anger, retaliation, control, etc. does not, has not, and will not serve me. I doubt it serves anyone.

I choose gratuity. I choose the quality of grace. For grace regenerates and imparts strength to endure trials. I choose: love.

In that frequency of love, I gently let go and allow my vibration to rise and for light to enter all the corners of darkness. I breathe in light and love. I breathe out joy and contentment.

I see my daughter smile in her sleep. It’s a mirror; for my face automatically smiles when she smiles. I close my eyes and I imagine her laughter, her sweet voice singing, her happy spirit that hums and whistles through every day and I become filled with gratitude that I am blessed to be loved by a being who is filed with so much love, light, magic, and joy.

This little light of mine, is a contagious disease well spread; I’m going to let it shine.

Fear is a stalker. It is relentless. It will attack you with it’s pals: pain, and despair, when you are at you most vulnerable. When that happens, please hear my voice in your head, “Choose love. Choose gratuity. Choose Grace.”

Grace will trump fear each and every time.

You are not alone.

 

Truth, Kindness, and Trust-Letters to My Daughter

My Luv,

There is no truth, only perception.

A truth not based in fact is merely a story we tell ourselves. The fault in the stories we tell ourselves and others is that every story has at least two sides and the vast majority of the time we only hear or tell one of those sides. Each side of a story is only a half truth and as the old Yiddish saying goes, “A half truth is a whole lie.”

There are varied perceptions of truth and then there are facts. People use fact as a synonym for truth but they rarely use the same yard stick to measure truth as they do to measure facts.

You cannot be truthful without facts, but you can always be honest. Honesty is the act of telling your personal truth. But, before we can be honest in telling our truth, we have to ask ourselves, “Is this true?” Is whatever you are about to say, true? How do we discern if something is true? Through facts not feelings. If we have a feeling about an experience, that alone does not equate a truth. Feelings are not facts.

Therefore, when we tell someone that we are going to be honest with them, and our honesty is not based on factual findings, we should do so with the awareness that what we are about to say could be false and it could also be hurtful. If you want to be honest with someone, do so with the humility that you could be wrong and with the kindness that you are taking their feelings into consideration, not just your own.

There is no truth without kindness and no kindness without truth.

I like truth. I like honesty. I also like kindness.

Kindness:

Kindness matters more to me than just about anything, because for me it incorporates truth, integrity, honesty, trust, and love. Kindness is sensitivity, it is compassion. When I was pregnant with you I prayed for only two things: That you would be healthy and that you would be kind. I am so very grateful and proud to say that you are the kindest person I have ever known.

Your heart weeps for the sadness in others and celebrates even the most minimal observations worth acknowledging. You never miss an opportunity to be kind. You compliment everyone from a sincere place of reflecting the beauty that you see in them. I am in awe of your kind heart. You my darling daughter, have always had a kind word for every person who has crossed your path.

Being a kind person is looking for opportunities to lift the spirits of others through honest expression with loving words. Kindness is nurturing the light within so much so, that it can’t help but shine out unto the rest of the world.

Kindness is being thoughtful, considerate, generous, and a gracious host who shows hospitality. Kindness is benevolence and altruism, it’s the act of being charitable and magnanimous. When we are kind to others, we are being kind to ourselves. kindness is the best soul food on the planet.

Kindness can also be a form of manner and politeness, but it should never be confused as being submissive or subservient. Any person who mistakes kindness for weakness is nothing less than a fool. Remember this, my daughter, “A wise {wo}man can learn more from a fool than a fool from a wise {wo}man.” Your kindness makes you strong. Let those who think otherwise…think otherwise. It’s not your concern when someone has a belief about you be it true or false; that’s not your cross to bear, it’s theirs. Your own beliefs are your only burden and other people’s beliefs about you are their burden.

Kindness is warmth, a gentle hug, a comforting hand upon a sulking shoulder. To be kind is to care about another person’s heart. To be kind is to be helpful, to open a door for someone who can’t easily do so on their own, to make eye contact with someone with a disability and smile, to be friendly to a person providing service. Kindness is reflecting all the beauty and goodness you see in others. It’s being a cheerleader and a support system.

Kindness cost nothing and yet is priceless. It’s what makes the world a place I want to be a part of. An act of kindness can change the course of another person’s life forever. I truly believe that all we leave behind in this world once we are dead and gone are the acts of kindness we have given to others.

“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” -Henry James

Kindness matters. When someone has an opportunity to act with kindness and chooses not to, it tells you everything you need to know about who they are and at what distance you should hold them.

The greatest challenge with kindness is that sometimes you have to choose between being kind to someone else or being kind to yourself. This struggle always breaks my heart. I can’t instruct you on when to put others before yourself and when to put yourself above others, as it will vary. I can only say, my dearest daughter, SPEAK. YOUR. TRUTH! Speak it with kindness, fact check your truth and trust yourself. The only sword a kind woman carries is her truth, don’t be afraid to use it.

Trust:

“Whether it’s a friendship or [a] relationship, all bonds are built on trust. Without it, you have nothing.”

Trust is an odd concept. It is not an absolute. It waxes and wanes even amongst the most trust worthy. You can trust various people to various degrees for various time periods. I have found however, that the only true trust comes from someone who loves you unconditionally and with that unconditional love comes a loyalty.

The problem is that very few people are capable of unconditional love, especially if they have an ego that wounds easily. People who have control issues and low self-worth, are often working very diligently to create an image of themselves for others that will reflect worthiness back to them. If they think you see them as anything less than perfect, it crushes them. It’s as if you are saying they are evil.

“Relationships never dies a natural death… They are murdered by Ego, Attitude and ignorance.”

I see all people as flawed and fabulous but some people can’t bear to have their flaws seen, even if they are impossible to hide, even if you show them yours. If you place your trust with someone like this, they will betray you the first moment they think that you think less of them then they expect you to. There’s this old book called, “What You Think of Me is None of My Business.” It should be required reading for a healthy psyche, especially for people with low self-worth.

“I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me, ‘I love you.’ There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.” -Maya Angelou

Sometimes you don’t know how much of a hot mess someone is until their hot mess has burned you. Not every lion befriends the mouse that removes the thorn. Some lions nurse their pain and feed the anger and resentment that their pain causes them by lashing out at their nearest and dearest.

The simplest advice I can give you about discerning who you can and can’t trust is this: trust your intuition and know that people will disappoint you. When they do, cut your losses and move on. If they betray your trust once, they will do it again and again in a million tiny paper cut ways that can lead to infections that take years to heal. No one is perfect but betrayl is beyond imperfection, it will wound you and leave a scar. Avoid it if you can.

“The most damaging aspect of abuse is the trauma to our hearts and souls from being betrayed by the people that we love and trust.” -quoteideas.com

One test of trust is revealing your kryptonite weakness to another, and watching how they react. Either they protect and guard you against it or they quickly use it to hurt you. That’s when you know that you are dealing with someone who is very broken.

You might have a person passionately exclaim, “You’re so honest and direct that it makes me feel so connected to you. I love you so much!” And then a few weeks later, that same person might say, “You’re so honest and direct that it makes me feel that you are intense and it freaks me out. I need space.”

These people damage trust not for what they say, which may or may not be true, and not because they are untrustworthy, per say, but because their own internal turmoil prevents them from being grounded and consistent. You can’t trust where you stand with them at any given moment. They are reactive, unsettled and can go to extremes in how they take in the world around them. Be kind to these people, for they need compassion, and because your kindness to others serves your highest self. Be kind to yourself by realizing these are not safe people with whom to place your trust; for you also deserve compassion.

“When I give you my time, I’m giving you a portion of my life that I will never get back. Please don’t make me regret it.”

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” – Pema Chödrön

Unfortunately, not all people who have known their own darkness have the courage or ability to be present with it, so they certainly won’t be able to be present with yours. This is why it’s so important to find equals when building trust in friendship. If someone is not your equal, they cannot show up for you in the way you show up for them. It’s no one’s fault, although they may lash out at you as a way of surviving their own inner self-recrimination. There is nothing you can do but return to your center of peace. Say a prayer for them and then move on to the business of caring for yourself.

There are whole and loving people who will make you feel so good when they come into your life, that you will feel like opening your heart up to trusting the entire world. Then there are those who are cracked with sharp edges who will come into your life and cause so much heartache that you will never feel like trusting anyone again.

If this were a Hallmark card, the next line would be, “Trust anyway.” But it’s not. This is your mother speaking. I’m coming to you from the perspective of wanting to protect you from having your trust betrayed. When it comes to trust, or most anything in life, when in doubt, don’t.

Find a trustworthy therapist, a loyal friend and a family member who loves you unconditionally and trust only these people, implicitly. With everyone else: trust to varying degrees and take caution. Trusting the wrong person is not worth the temporary false bond. Trusting someone who never had the capacity to be trustworthy in the first place is a hard and painful experience that I wish I could spare you.

“Love all,

Trust a few.

Do wrong to none.”

I originally wrote this piece for a now defunct online magazine back when you were just a baby. I was still in an oxytocin haze filled with love for you and the entire world every time I nursed and released those feel good hormones. I feel as if I have lived through a few world wars since then. I’m covered in battle scars hidden only by those who are blind. The way I see the world now is a little different. It’s still bright and beautiful but with the day comes the night and I no longer focus on one over the other.

I still believe that life is an incredible journey, that most people are basically good and that kindness may be the most important virtue of all, to others as well as yourself. But I’ve learned more about the ego than ever before and those three little letters e.g.o. can kill love, truth, kindness and trust faster than anything else in its path.

I was just a teenager when I started studying Buddhism and ego. I had an idealistic belief that the deeply ingrained survival mechanisms of ego that caused separation and made people hurtful, could be softened by love and time, essentially: maturity. I was mistaken. Unless people are actively engaged, on a regular and diligent basis, on ego awareness, the ego only grows more and more obstinate. I have watched certain elderly people revert back to children and I have seen others grow with grace, wisdom, depth, and enlightenment. I believe that much of the work of the soul, is work with the ego which begins with love. Yet, there is no love without truth and truth is a kind of mirror that most people do not want to gaze into.

For all of my life I was told by family, teachers and peers that I was special and an exception, especially in regard to intuition and how open and honest I am. I didn’t particularly like this. It felt like it went against my belief that we are one. I didn’t want to see myself as separate from anyone else and to me, ”special” meant “separate.” I didn’t want to believe that I was special because that felt like being told, “Because of this, you will always be alone.” I replaced the words in my mind. When someone called me special, I transposed it to: “different.” When someone said that my intuition was a gift, I transposed it to: “an ability.”

This served me in some ways, for I never saw myself as above anyone and I never saw myself below anyone. It hurt me in other ways because I expected people to be more than they could, I expected them to have the capacity to love as deeply as I do. I love most everyone as if they were a child or sibling: wholly, unconditionally and affectionately. I like to call my friends: beautiful, gorgeous, or my luv, because that is how I see them. It’s a good detector of who is capable of self-love and who isn’t. The more love you give someone who only has a shallow, narcissistic self-love and has yet to learn how to love themselves unconditionally, the less they will be able to tolerate your sincere love. It overwhelms them. Deep inside on some unconscious level, there might be this thought, “If they love me, something must be wrong with them.” Eventually they will attack you because you are threatening their illusion of reality and denial of the truth.

My darling daughter, never place all your bets on the “potential” for anything. Do not become friends with someone for the potential you see in them to love themselves, do not fall in love with a man for his potential. Do not take a job for its potential (take the job for what it is in the moment), Do not buy a home for it’s potential unless you are willing to do all the work to discover both the beauty that it might become and the unknown pitfalls that you might discover. Engaging with anyone or anything based on potential, is engaging with a dream that may or may not come true. Instead, meet people, places and opportunities, right where they are.

We are empaths and intuitives and people open up to us and trust us almost immediately. We show up open and accessible and that makes others feel safe to do the same, as much as they are capable of doing. This gives us the false impression that because they can trust us that we too can trust them. People can be trust worthy but only insofar as they have come to know themselves.

“You cannot make everyone think and feel as deeply as you do. This is your tragedy, Because you understand them, But they do not understand you.” –Daniel  Saint

There is a saying, “You can only meet people as deeply as they have met themselves.” This may be your best measuring stick as to whom to trust and to what degree. Trust others as deeply as they have come, not to trust themselves, but to face the truth in themselves. This is where the real struggle begins because few people are brave enough to see their truth and either accept it or transform it.

We live in a world that supports manufacturing lies from the most banal of wearing makeup, and heels to taking selfies in the best possible lighting and angles. People plaster Facebook with all their fun and exciting brag worthy experiences while keeping their struggles and challenges behind closed doors. They paint a false reality to depict their life. They convince themselves that they are the attractive selfie, not the imperfect reflection in the mirror. That they are the one smiling in a vacation photo, not the one isolating from pain. Their lives are no more real than sets and scenery in a play. Real is wholeness. It’s not hiding your fears but sharing them and illuminating them. It’s not denying the challenges, it’s learning to make poetry from the painful truths of reality in addition to celebrating the joys. An authentic person is a whole person.

Never water down who you are to meet someone else’s tastes and comfort level. Be you, wholly, completely, fully. Be as deep and passionate as you want or need to be. Look who I met being fully me: your father and look what that led to: beautiful, amazing YOU! Being my fullest, most whole and complete, true-to-me, authentic self is what led to me performing at Madison Square Garden, it’s what brought me my most fulfilling relationships and my truest friends.

“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”- unknown

“I finally know the difference between pleasing and loving, obeying and respecting. It has taken me so many years to be okay with being different, and with being this alive, this intense.”

-Eve Ensler, I am an Emotional Creature

You are being homeschooled. You may be criticized for being different. Mean girls might call you weird, crazy or intense. Wear those labels like the badges of honor that they are. Weird means interesting. Crazy is unique. Intense is passionate. As our friend Chips says, “Intensity is what makes things extraordinary.”

Never deny or defend that which you are just because someone else acts like who you are is something you need to apologize for. People who do that have issues with fear, safety, and control. They can’t see all of you because they can’t see all of themselves. Let them be who they are: shadows of themselves and you be who you are: a beacon of complete light and love.

When you make yourself less than in order to make someone else comfortable, you. will. always. lose. No one, no thing, is ever worth being less than you are.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel uncomfortable around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”-Marianne Williamson

Be true to you. Be kind to you. Trust in you. When you start with yourself, you are including everyone else.

Always remember how very proud I am of you and how much I love you!

Mommy

 

(Quotes are given credit whenever credit can be found. Sometimes they are from internet memes, fortune cookies, or random discoveries.)