Kindness is Contagious-Pass It On

I love that the moment I woke up this morning, and asked How shall we play today?, an answer was given. I was reminded that today is the beginning of Random Acts of Kindness Week. I had not consciously recalled that fact until I asked the question. 

I first discovered this week long event in 2014, during my Year of Firsts. It has been my practice since, and my joy and privilege, to participate each year. 

Kindness is Contagious-Pass It On
What I did differently this year was that I registered on the Random Acts of Kindness website. They have an interactive site with daily challenges and stories and a way to track my actions, for my own benefit. 

I was delighted to see that one of the challenges was to practice self kindness. What a great way to kick off the week. Sunday is normally my self care day. And in the same way that loving myself overflows into loving others, being kind to myself naturally flows into kindness toward another. 

Kindness is Contagious-Pass It On
I prepared my simple morning meal…warm lemon water and a fruit smoothie…and had breakfast in bed. Gathering colored pencils and my altered book, I further practiced self kindness by creating another page in my art journal, all from the comfort of my cozy bed, with brilliant sunshine streaming in through the windows. Bliss. Tenderness. Creativity. Kindness. And I was prepared for a week of conscious kindness. 

Kindness is Contagious-Pass It On

Kindness is Contagious-Pass It OnToday’s challenge during Random Acts of Kindness Week. 

I am excited to participate in this week of random kindness. Not all of it will be geared toward strangers. Kindness is appropriate to offer to everyone, including friends and family and animals. However, it is fun to do something kind for someone I don’t know, and remain anonymous in the act. 

It is not a coincidence that Valentine’s Day is celebrated during this week as well. For many people, this is a difficult holiday. Rather than focusing on the lack of a romantic relationship, or a relationship that disappoints or is complicated or is less than desired, how amazing if more people focused on showing kindness, and love, toward others. 

Kindness is Contagious-Pass It On
Kindness is Contagious-Pass It On
During this chaotic time, in our country and in the world, what if there was less talk and more action? Less divisiveness and more unity? Less hostility and more kindness? Doing acts of kindness without taking credit for it bypasses the ego and lets the heart take the lead. There is no need to keep score, for these genuine acts are not done for the sake of reciprocity, but done to send positive, loving energy out into the world. 

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. 

What a perfect way to make life a little more tender. Won’t you join me this week, in being kind?

Kindness is Contagious-Pass It On

Happy, Happy Birthday Son

Today is my son’s birthday. He and his family are off on an adventure, celebrating him with a fun weekend. I am celebrating Nate, my middle child, my son, with words and a full and grateful heart. 

Happy Happy Birthday Son
I looked up Nate’s name for his birthday post, using his full name. 

“Nathanael, you have a bright mind and a vivid imagination enabling you to create and offer inspired messages to the world. You enjoy an active life. By nature you are restless, people-oriented, a lover of change, and a seeker of adventures and new thrills. You are bold, independent and curious. You know what you want and understand why you want it.

Dependable, very down-to-earth and well grounded, you have sought meaningful work, a career where you can take pride in what you do and do the best job you are capable of. Your prime desire is to protect and secure your environment, both at home and at work. You do well achieving goals and gaining objectives. You can be very detailed and possess great organizational skills. At times you may appear stubborn and overly critical to others, but your practical approach to life, your creativity, and your productivity make you one of society’s most outstanding members.” 

Happy, Happy Birthday Son

Happy, Happy Birthday Son

True words that describe Nate well! He does have a bright, inquisitive, imaginative mind. Since boyhood he has lived creatively, drawing, building, using raw materials such as cardboard, paint and a glue gun to create whatever his mind could visualize. The boy was gifted with the ability to birth ideas into reality. The man still enjoys that artistic challenge. 

Nate has known since the age of eight what he wanted to do as an adult, and why. He started down the path of law enforcement at that time and has never wavered from his plan. His desire to “serve and protect” not only applies to his family, it guides him in serving and protecting his community. 

I’ve ridden with my son in his police car as he patrols his city, full of pride for the way he does his job, respecting people, offering assistance, enforcing the law without breaking the spirit of the offender. And I have to admit to delight when my son instructed me, with a grin, to tighten my seatbelt and hold on securely as he flipped on lights and sirens and responded to an urgent call. 

Happy, Happy Birthday Son
Happy, Happy Birthday Son
Nate is an exemplary and outstanding police officer, a sergeant with his department, always learning and growing and training and helping others. And yet where he shines is as a husband and dad, a brother and son. It makes my heart sing when I see this tall, handsome man laughing and playing with his kids or holding his lovely wife’s hand or teasing his sisters. 

He is present with his family, making the time to show up for the kids’ sporting events and awards. Nate knows that his time is the most important gift he can give to Joey, Oliver and Aubrey, and to Megan. They all play games together, take fun trips to Kansas City, Branson and Florida, create projects and go for walks. The time invested reaps smiles and laughter now…and boundless love, respect and appreciation for a lifetime. 

Happy, Happy Birthday Son

Nathanael…Son…thank you for living your dream and showing me that determination and hard work pays off. Thank you for listening to your heart and intuition, along with your mind, and for allowing your creativity outlets through art, music and play.  Thank you for loving so deeply and so well your wife and children, your sisters and parents and the rest of your extended family. Most of all, thank you for the gift of your presence, your time, and your focused attention. Your family flourishes because of your care and devotion. 

Happy, happy birthday Son. I am blessed to be your mom. I love you!

Happy, Happy Birthday Son

Loving Shy Boy

My artistic plans for the evening changed as soon as I walked through my front door. One of my cats, Shy Boy, wasn’t his usual self this morning. Although I couldn’t find an injury, he seems to have a tender hip. He has rested most of the day, following his own innate wisdom for healing. 

Loving on Shy Boy
He seemed better when I got home. However, he has craved attention and closeness. This big male cat followed me into the bedroom and wanted to be held. I let him stretch out on my lap as I sat on the bed, checking texts and emails, and then gently transferred him to rest atop the quilt. 

But that’s not what he wanted. As I reclined in my chair in the living room, he crawled back onto my lap, relaxing with a deep sigh. 

Loving on Shy Boy
Shy Boy is one of my original rescue cats. Seeking refuge from the cold, his momma brought him and his two sisters to me when they were kittens. Marco came along a year later. Shy Boy is aptly named. He is the most timid of the cats, fearful of people he doesn’t know, the garbage truck that drives by every Thursday, and ceiling fans in motion. 

He isn’t typically a lap cat. Tonight, he is. And that’s okay. We are both going with the flow. My creative project can wait. Everything else can wait for a bit. Shy Boy needs cuddling and loving right now and this is the perfect time for such tenderness. I’ll hold him until he decides otherwise. 

“Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want.”   Joseph Wood

Loving on Shy Boy

Happy Birthday Josh

Today is the birthday of my son-in-law Josh. Married to my older daughter, Elissa, Josh officially joined our family a couple of years ago, when these two first borns said I do during their November wedding. However, I’ve known Josh his entire life. I was thrilled by Elissa’s and Josh’s union, and also by the journey of the Adams and the Moores, beyond friendship to family. 

Happy Birthday Josh
Celebrating my son-in-law, I am happy for the opportunity to look up his name. I began this practice as part of the birthday blog posts last April, missing the family members born in January, February and March. 

“Joshua, you are honest, benevolent, brilliant and often inventive. You are courageous, honest, determined, original and creative. You have leadership characteristics, especially when you feel passionately about a cause. Sometimes you do not care to finish what you start, or may leave details to others. You do well in positions of authority, and prosper when you take charge. You are dependable, methodical and believe in law, system and order.

You look for opportunities to achieve financial and emotional security for yourself and others. You are a peacemaker. You understand the law of harmony and desire balance in your life and with those around you. You may feel incomplete without someone to share your love, ideals, wealth or work with. You can be sensitive and may appear a bit reserved to those who don’t know you well. You have developed intuition, patience and the ability to nurture others. Contentment is yours as you accept who you are and live in harmonious relationships with others.” 

Happy Birthday Josh

Happy Birthday Josh

I recognize and appreciate these characteristics about Josh. He has an amazing heart, full of patience, kindness and love for others. He is a wonderful husband to Elissa, and a fun and attentive dad to Jonathan and Dayan. Family is important to him, and his quiet wisdom and strength are vital. 

In this past year, he has stepped into a leadership role, and an entrepreneurial one, starting his own pest control company. He is diligent, and methodical, about building his business and offering exceptional customer service. 

Happy Birthday Josh

Happy Birthday Josh

Josh is most definitely a peacemaker. He listens. He offers sincere and heartfelt advice after considering options. I believe Josh does desire harmony with others and seeks benevolent ways to accomplish that in all of his relationships…with his wife and family, with friends, and with clients. Josh is the kind of person whose presence brings peace and the sense that all is well. 

His steady and consistent nature includes a delightful sense of humor. Josh knows how to have fun and laughs easily. I love watching my children and grandchildren interact. Josh is typically there in the midst of them, joking or striking a humorous pose.

Happy Birthday Josh
Happy Birthday Josh

Thank you, Josh, for all that you contribute to our family…for showing such love and devotion to Elissa, Jonathan and Dayan…for giving so selflessly from your heart. Thank you for joining in wholeheartedly at family gatherings and getting your license so you could officiate at Adriel and Nate’s wedding and being a peacemaker. Thank you for listening and sharing and going above and beyond in carrying out your responsibilities to your family. Thank you for making us laugh. 

I am grateful for you, who you are and who you are becoming. Happy birthday, Josh! I love you. 

Happy Birthday Josh

How Can I Make Life a Little More Tender?

I asked my usual morning question, How shall we play today?, as I was brushing my teeth. Immediately, another question arose within me. How can I make life a little more tender? That seemed to be the question that was foremost in my heart today. Making life a little more tender is foundational to my journey this year. During this time, when I barely look at social media sites because of all of the fear expressed there, and the anger, and the name calling, what can I do to share love and peace, compassion and tenderness?  

How can I make life a little more tender?
I found the answer in my journey today.

It is easy for me to offer compassion, making life a little more tender, to people who are similar to me. And I don’t mean that they look like me. I mean they have similar beliefs and comparable views about the world. We are naturally drawn to one another and journey together companionably.

I showed property to a new client today, someone I met for the first time over the weekend. We liked each other the moment we said hello. She is warm, friendly, and authentic. We chat like old friends, as we walk through houses together. She has an adorable little girl who makes me laugh and holds my hand and invites me to go to lunch at McDonalds. 

I observe that as I work diligently to make sure this family finds the right house, and has the smoothest transaction possible, I am feeling very compassionate toward them and sympathetic about their life situations and the challenges they are facing. By offering from my deep heart, I am making their lives a little more tender. And it is effortless to do so. 

How can I make life a little more tender?
Then, there is another client. We have worked together previously. Is it a coincidence that she showed up in my life again, on a day when I asked How can I make life a little more tender?

In great contrast to my earlier client, this woman has a belief system that is very different from mine. She annoys me. She loves to express her own opinions, totally unaware that I may perceive life differently. While she is happy to be working together again, I am not. I observe myself closing down, becoming guarded, predicting her future actions based on past behaviors. I consider not accepting her invitation to work together. 

Wait…wait. Sigh. 

How can I make life a little more tender? 

I observe that I shift, a fraction. My heart does not close. I keep communication open between us. I listen, really listen, to her. There is pain in her, just beneath the bravado. And loss. And the tiniest bit of new hope. 

Can I journey with her, and make life a little more tender? 

How can I make life a little more tender?
I shared my thoughts with Greg this afternoon, as I delved into the tender places within my heart. He offered profound wisdom. He suggested that perhaps, just perhaps, I could let go of the story I was creating about my client. 

Ah. The truth of that statement resonated deeply. Who would I be, with my client, if I let go of my stories about her? If I saw her with fresh eyes? If I, who am in a different place in my journey, offered tenderness and compassion to the person she is now? Not the woman I have known before. Not the woman my mind wants to create stories about. The woman she is now, further along in her own journey, becoming who she is. 

Who would I be, to her, if I let go of my stories about who she is, and how she is supposed to be? I would be compassion. I would be kindness. I would be making her life, and mine, a little more tender. 

How can I make life a little more tender?
I am grateful for the answer I was given, to my sincere question. I am grateful that the Divine responds and moves to meet me where I am, inviting me to go further and deeper. 

How can I make life a little more tender? 

I make life a little more tender by offering compassion and empathy and love and joy and peace from a heart that is open and overflowing. I make life a little more tender by accepting what is unfolding, for therein lies an invitation to grow, and by living from compassion, empathy, love, joy and peace. 

I asked a question. I know the answer now. I was asked a question in return. And I have an answer. Yes. Yes, I will walk with my client and make her life a little more tender. 

How can I make life a little more tender?

Inspiration Disguised as Synchronicity

I love when something unusual happens. It gets my attention, causing my intuitive antenna to go on alert as I hone in on the message for me. When I opened my iPhone to Google this morning, the day’s quirky holidays were listed. I have yet to celebrate one of these unique days this year. But today’s list caught my interest. 

Inspiration Disguised as Synchronicity

Three of the holidays jumped out at me: Artist as Outlaw Day, Tenderness Toward Existence Day, and Women’s Healthy Weight Day. Robust art, tender life, and health are the focus of my journey this year. What are the odds that these three have special days, all on the same date? 

I didn’t calculate the odds. However, I accepted the invitation inspiration offered, to spend time thinking on the holidays and how my life intersects with each one. Please read about Weighing in on Ideal Weight on my other blog. 

Inspiration Disguised as Synchronicity
I couldn’t discover any information about this holiday. It seemed a strange pairing, artist and outlaw, until I looked at an alternative meaning for the word outlaw. 

Rather than seeing an outlaw as a criminal on the run, a law breaker, I considered the term outcast instead. The word originates from the Old Norse utlagr, meaning banished. Banished, relegated to the fringes of society, viewed as different, a little scary, living by his or her own rules. I could begin to relate!

And certainly, not all artists are viewed as pariahs, as outcasts. But their very creative souls allow them to perceive the world, and life, differently. From that tilted or expanded or deepened perspective flows astonishing music, eyebrow raising art, and powerful words that can change a life. 

I don’t know what the original intent was for this strange holiday, but I no longer care. I appreciate what rose within me today as I contemplated the artist as outlaw, as I thought about myself as living happily on the fringes. I am making art more robust by allowing creativity to occupy a larger part of my heart and life. Art is at the forefront of my awareness, growing stronger and more vigorous. 

Inspiration Disguised as Synchronicity
I couldn’t locate the origins of this unique holiday either, which is an unusual occurrence in itself. I’ve never clicked on a link for one of these celebrations, and not found some info. It happened twice today. 

Perhaps the personal message to me was to see where my thoughts led me. Existence is another word for life, for the state of living. Its origins are from the Latin ex – out, sistere – take a stand. Existence literally means out taking a stand or out, being. 

Tenderness is a feeling of sympathy, of compassion, toward someone or something. Kindness is another synonym. This holiday, then, could be interpreted to be a day of expressing kindness and compassion toward all living things, toward all who are out, being. 

I suddenly recalled this evening, another definition for tenderness. The word can mean a sensitivity to pain. 

How powerful this bizarre little holiday became for me. Tenderness toward existence, resulting in compassion and a sensitivity to the pain of others…ALL others. 

My heart is wide open. I want love, compassion and sensitivity to the pain of others to flow to all of existence, regardless of race, skin color, gender, orientation, economic circumstances, age, intelligence…beyond any perceived differences or imagined barriers. Compassion toward all life, all people, whether they are like me or very different, agree with me or disagree, love me or dislike me. All people. 

All life. 

A couple of nights ago, one of the possums I feed on the front porch, found his way to the back door, and into the utility room by way of a cat door. Fortunately, the utility room door opening into the kitchen was closed. But what a surprise, to have a possum indoors. 

Even though the back door was opened so he could exit, he chose not to. He was happy in the corner, beside the washer. I checked on him numerous times. There was a broom nearby. I could have attempted to chase him out. 

Instead, I spoke calmly to him each time I checked on him. I told him it was okay. He was safe. He could leave whenever he wanted. I would not hurt him. Whenever I spoke to him, he would raise his head and watch me, listening, blinking his eyes as if he understood. He never showed fear, nor did he bare his teeth or hiss. He also didn’t play dead! I’ve yet to see a possum, “play possum”. He was calm and alert. And so was I. We didn’t speak the same language, so different were we, but we connected in our mutual respect for each other. 

Sometime in the night, he returned to the outdoors. 

I thought about that possum a lot today. He offered me lessons in acceptance, grace and compassion, and in communicating beyond spoken words. He allowed me to exhibit tenderness. I am grateful. I am making life a little more tender by being aware of the sacredness of all life, of all of existence. 

If only I had grabbed a sketch book and created a quick possum portrait. I would have been celebrating Artist as Outlaw Day and Tenderness Toward Existence Day, a little early. 

Inspiration Disguised as Synchronicity

Orange You Glad

A simple blog post tonight, reflecting a simple pleasure today and a simple kindness that inspired me. My friend Garen took me to lunch to celebrate my birthday, which was Monday. This is a yearly tradition that I enjoy, as Garen and I catch up on each others’ journeys and lives.

Orange You Glad, Simple Kindness of Others

We went to the M&M Bistro, a Mediterranean cafe in downtown Joplin. The bistro is a beautiful little place, with a friendly staff and a great selection on their menu, including vegetarian fare. Garen and I chatted as we dined. I savored the Vegetable Platter, with grilled squash, mushrooms and eggplant, over a bed of greens, tomatoes and olives. Hummus was included, and so was pita bread, which I did not eat. It was a lovely meal and a lovely lunch. I so appreciate my friend. We have known each other for almost a decade, and we have walked together through many joys and life challenges. I always appreciate Garen’s ability to listen well and respond with valuable insights. His kindness, his way of making life more tender for others, inspires me and encourages me.

MandM Bistro Making Life a Little More Tender

As we concluded our meal, Garen mentioned to our waiter, who is also the gracious owner of M&M Bistro, that we were celebrating my birthday. Our host offered a dessert, and made several delicious suggestions. I thanked him, and explained that I don’t eat sweets, just fruits and vegetables. He asked me what fruits I enjoy.

A few minutes later, he placed a small plate before us, containing a perfect blood orange. With delight, I scored it, peeled it, and Garen and I shared it, going halfsies. It was a wonderful finish to a fun meal.

I thought about that kind gesture the rest of the afternoon. The owner, who so attentively waited on us, keeping our water glasses filled, asking often if we needed anything, didn’t need to go beyond the offer of a sweet dessert. When I declined, he could have said, “Very good.” and brought the tab. Instead, he brought an orange, something he knew I would enjoy. Garen and I suspected the orange might have come from his own lunch or dinner, which made the gesture even more beautiful.

I looked up oranges in my Life Changing Foods book, by Anthony William, when I got home this evening. It is full of benefits, healing the body from a host of viruses and alleviating symptoms such as aches and pains, acid reflux, mood swings and allergies. What caught my attention was that oranges are considered a ray of sunshine, helping to chase away sadness and weariness. They shine a light into our lives, warming us and reminding us of what is important in life…things like kindness, tenderness and friendship.

As I was thinking about the day, and oranges, preparing to write my blog post, I remembered a knock knock joke from my childhood. “Knock knock.” ” Who’s there?” “Banana.” “Banana who?” This is repeated several times, until at last… “Knock knock.” “Who’s there?” “Orange.” “Orange who?” “Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?” It still makes me smile! Orange you glad?

Yes, yes I am glad. I am glad and grateful for a friend who takes the time for a leisurely lunch and fun conversations. I am glad and grateful for the M&M Bistro and a truly kind and gracious host, who embodied making life a little more tender today. I am glad and grateful for the simple and delicious orange, a very satisfying and healthy dessert.

I am glad. Orange you glad?

Orange You Glad, Life a Little More Tender