Thursday, January 6, 2011

Let me be kind

Yesterday I commented on a blog I'd read about a mother and a daughter. This morning, JTY at Two Shoes in Texas commented and I found the source of, a) the beautiful thoughts I'd read on mother/daughter relationships; b) the inspiration for my writing yesterday; and c) a wonderful Woman of Wonder -- a real WOW. (I also found out when I'd read her post -- it was late Tuesday night. Whew! Mystery solved. Memory restored.)

In reading back through a few of JTY's posts, I found one from New Year's day that intriqued me. JTY writes about that delicate and sensitive subject, New Year's Resolutions (did you make any? have you kept them still? -- I know it's only six days into the New Year but I've already undone one of mine -- mostly because, yeah you guessed it, I forgot I made it until after I'd broken it!)

Referring to a post from Selma at Selma in the City, JTY looks at the year past from the viewpoint of the character traits that made a difference in her life throughout the year, and the ones she'd like to keep polished throughout this year.

It's an interesting viewpoint. Selma quotes Henrik Ibsen who wrote, "A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm." With kindness, compassion and tolerance of others as guiding lights, she writes, "We can get through the rough waters."

Years ago a friend asked me, "If there were one word on your headstone that completed this sentence, "She was a........ woman", what would you want it to be?"

Kind, I replied. Definitely kind.

When I look back on my year I look for where kindness has cast ripples outward, creating gentle sailing for those around me. Amidst their smooth waters I see currents where discord arose because of something I did or said. I choose forgiveness and keep moving into my heart. As I move into the moment, casting my thoughts to the year ahead, I whisper a prayer of gratitude for so many opportunities to learn and grow and make a plea for courage and strength to carry me forward. Let kindness to be my treadmark. Let kindness be my ripple effect.

From kindness, acts of courage, of compassion, or greatness evolve. Joy rises, within me and around me. Love radiates from me and through me and all around me

From kindness, I soften my heart, gentle my words and smooth my spirits journey. When I look more kindly upon myself, I see the world as a kinder place.

From kindness, I step softly into the world, conscious of where my footprints tread, conscious of the footprints I leave behind. May my footprints disturb no one with ripples of discord.

Ah but, you say. In this world, how can you tread anywhere without disturbing someone? Don't you have to be a 'yes girl' to not disturb anyone? Doesn't that make you weak?

Not when I stand true to my beliefs. To my values. Not when I express my truth, in Love, without fearing the outcome.

but... Isn't that like not leaving your mark on life? On the world? Don't you want to make a difference?

Yes. I do. Want to make a difference.

And I want my difference to be remembered in how people feel about themselves, their lives, their possibilities. Not about me.

Working at a homeless shelter I am greeted with countless opportunities everyday to be kind. To be caring. To be compassionate and tolerant and fair.

With those we serve.

Where I am not so kind and caring and compassionate and tolerant is with the people on 'the other-side of the street'. On mainstreet. The world 'out there'. With those I consider, in my judgement and not so kind viewpoint, should know better.

When we know better we do better.

And sometimes, I view some of those I meet on 'mainstreet' as lacking in the knowing they need to do better.

And sometimes, in my determination of what 'they lack', I am less than kind, less than compassionate, less than tolerant.

Hello? Who am I kidding? Who am I to criticize?

I cannot be kind with some, and not with others and think of myself as a woman of integrity. I cannot create compassion in some corners of my world and carry discord in others without jeopardizing my peace of mind. And when I am intolerant with some, including myself, I am creating a world of discord around me.

It is the 100% accountability factor.

To be a woman of integrity. To radiate joy and peace and harmony throughout my world, I must move through myself and every moment, every encounter in Love, creating a ripple effect of kindness, compassion and tolerance all around me.

It is the way to happiness. To peace of mind. To calmness of spirit and soul. It is the way.

Because, no matter how much I might think I'm fooling myself that what I am saying is 'the truth' when I speak disrespectfully of someone else or treat them with little care or thought of the impact of my words or actions, I am acting without integrity. I am not being kind.

And so, I turn the mirror back to me. I face myself in the cloudy perfection of its reflection and ask myself, Where am I not being kind to me by being unkind about or to others?

When I speak without thought, when I criticize, condemn or complain about another, when I act without integrity, my unkindness begins with me.

I do not strive for perfection. I strive to create a reflection of the values I hold to be true in my heart -- radiating Love which is perfect in all its dimensions. I strive to create a world of love and joy and beauty all around me.

And so, in everything I do, I must ask myself -- Will this create more of what I want in my life or less?

I want to feel good about me. I want to love me, exactly as I am, without chastising myself for being a perfectly imperfect human being. Without feeling less than because I tripped up, or fell down on my human doing.

I want to love myself in all I do. All I am.

Today, I choose the Way. I choose to love me, just the way I am.

To sow seeds of harmony. Rows of forgiveness and gardens of gratitude in everything I do. Everywhere I go.

And the only way I know to do that, is to be kind, compassionate and tolerant of myself and the world around me.


May you love yourself in all your perfectly human imperfections. May you walk lightly through your day.


Maureen said...

Kindness sometimes seems like the hardest thing to pull off, considering all the negativity that fills our world, and yet we can see how kindness ripples out, defuses, brings a smile, creates opportunity and turns the impossible into the possible.

Joyceann Wycoff said...

You can wear the word "kindness" with pride. It ripples through every post you write and I'm sure it radiates off of you as you walk through your day. You are a kind and compassionate woman. Own it.

Anonymous said...


gag me .... too much sweetness, too much honey, too much kindness

why are you so focused on being kind? you are kind

why are you so focused on being nice? you are nice

we are NOT these qualities; we are people

people have diverse qualities - and frailties; strengths and weaknesses

every day, you do good

it is the 'Louise you are' who does that good work, not some idealized Louise you might wish you were

I like the one I know - the one you are, but each time I read about the one you want to be, my 'that's too sappy sweet and idealized' for my taste gag reflex wants to kick in

there is darkness behind all our light

the more real you are, the more you draw me in

the more idealized you who you write about, you dis-engage me with the un-reality of it

my two pennies worth . . .



Anonymous said...

This came at such a perfect time for me. I've thought about this concept so much lately. Working in an office full of women, there always is so much gossip and backstabbing. I try so hard to stay out of it, but I also do it at times. I know those are the times when I'm not feeling the best about my self.

I heard Oprah say once "why as women do we tear each other down, instead of building each other up".

In the book The Four Agreements, the first agreement is: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

I love your blog, and once again, loved what you wrote. It always makes me strive to be a better person.


Anonymous said...

the guy that put my groceries into bags today was being kind today.

there are so many things in life that are mental and physical and spiritual that can keep us from kindness.

yet, Love is very strong.

beyond our complete knowledge, yet, the truth of our hearts.

JTS said...

So often the universe has a way of dropping exactly the message you need right into your hands via special messenger. This was one of those moments for me. Powerful... and convicting! I think "she was kind" would be an awesome way to be remembered, but I had to note how unlikely it is to be the first word that would come to mind when people think of me. It sure got me thinking. Especially when it comes to rationalizing my somewhat unkind behavior toward others who aren't measuring up to my expectations. IT is said that the true test of something you are wanting to say is...Is it true, is it necessary, is it kind. I know I need to back off the intensity level a bit and forcus a little more on the kind part across the board, not just to the folks that are easy to treat kindly! Excellent, excellent post. I honestly don't see you being syrupy here as one commenter suggested, I see you being introspective and honest and aspiring to be more. So often we use the excuse of being "human" to be less than we really can be if we try, and if it is important to us! I'll definitely be linking back to this post, I want to share the discovery of your blog with my friends! :-)

M.L. Gallagher said...

thanks everyone for your encouragement and comments.

I find when what I write triggers someone -- or I am triggered by something someone writes, the best place for me to go is the mirror -- it is there I find the source of my discomfort -- it is there I have the most room to grow.


S. Etole said...

you always give us much to ponder ...

Loz said...

JTS is a long time blog friend of mine and I came here via her blog. Sure there are times when we can be better than we are but sometimes being kind is not being right. Great post and I'll be back :)