Category Archives: Kindness

Life is Fragile, Be Gentle

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I don’t know the origin story for this sign. I can only imagine that it was something someone made back in the early 70’s and gave to my parents. I just remember it hanging on the fiberboard walls of my dad’s beloved garage while I was growing up. I can only assume that my mom couldn’t find quite the right place to display it in our house. Or she found it tacky.

But my dad had an appreciation for this sign. It meant something to him. It was hung on those fiberboard walls next to scribblings from family and friends from near and far who were visiting our house for one celebration or another. Dad got a big kick out of having guests sign the wall in the garage to commemorate various celebrations. He was quite the sentimental guy.

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Yes, I christened myself the cutest “chic” that ever came here.  I was a brat that apparently couldn’t spell.

I think first and foremost, this sentiment, these words, apply to the important concept of self-care. I think it’s easy to go through our days mentally haranguing ourselves about how we could have done “this”  better, or how we shouldn’t have said “that” to whomever, or that we should have reacted differently in a particular situation. Something I’m trying to do lately is to put my self-defeating thoughts on pause for a moment and ask myself if the negative thoughts about myself would be something I would actually say out loud (or even under my breath) to a close friend. The answer is always, emphatically, “no”.  I think this sign is an excellent reminder to be gentle (aka kind) to oneself.

I also believe if we have any hope of ushering in a kinder, less dysfunctional, society, not only for the benefit of  those of us living in the here and now, but for the generations coming up behind us, we should endeavor to heed these words in our day to day interactions with others, whether they be strangers or friends.

What does this look like for me? I think it’s more what it sounds like, in my case. When I am frustrated with another person because they are jumping on my last nerve, if I’m being honest, these not-so-positive feelings are evident in my tone of voice. If I can be cognizant of this fact, in the moment, I can hit the pause button for a hot second and make the necessary adjustments. I think one simple tool is to slap a smile on my face. Then when I open my mouth to speak again, the words cannot help but come out in a kinder, gentler way.

Tell me, kind and gentle readers, do you think this sentiment has value as I do? If so, what does it look like in your life?

A taste of Colorado this weekend

Notes made to myself prior to embarking on a weekend exploring a part of Colorado we had yet to visit: Grand Junction!

The title of this blog post could just as well be “We make plans, and God laughs”. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. Nothing completely horrible happened. It’s just that, because this is life, my plans didn’t fully pan out. Not complaining here, just reflecting.

Ahem…now onto my so called “plans” vs. reality:

Experiences to manifest this weekend in Grand Junction:

Morning coffee at a local coffee shop.

This was a super simple intention that didn’t materialize. No good reason why, other than the coffee at the hotel hit the spot good enough for me. 

A hike or two.

Check-big check, in fact! We hiked the Cap Trail, which was truly spectacular. We encountered different terrain, various members of the lizard family, and outstanding views of the mesas. Hubs got some great shots with his Nikon, too. Like this one. And we encountered 3 different types of lizards (see above). 

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Brew pub and winery and buying swag there

I didn’t come across any swag worthy of purchasing, but we sampled a couple of new beers at area brew pubs and enjoyed a lovely chardonnay at Two Rivers Winery following our hike. 

Hot tub:

Damn stinking kids were piled into the hot tub- that was about half the size of your typical hotel hot tub, mind you-every single time we tried to use it. So that made me a little grumpy. 

Lavender farm/store:

Not what I expected. But what did I expect? Turns out the place was a distillery too. Should visit again. Have a cocktail next time. Amongst the myriad lavender infused products was a full bar serving bloody mary’s and the like. 

Peach Distillery:

So this was “planned” for the second day, on our way home. Unfortunately, Hubs caught food poisoning somewhere along the way so peach infused alcohol and other peach what-nots were not exactly appealing to him, so we hightailed it home, enjoying the stunning views of rock formations and the Colorado River along the way. We decided to visit the area again, when it’s actually peach season. That’d be a better deal anyway. 

Shopping/keep my eyes out for:

Hats and bow ties.

I know, weird things to be looking for, right?! To explain, Hubs and I will be attending a church fundraiser on 5/5 called “Cinco de Derby”. It’s a combo of a Mexican shindig and Kentucky derby party. We discussed it and decided to forage for these items later in the week at Target and the Michael’s craft store that is conveniently located next to it. I’m sure we’ll come up with something. 

Greeting cards.

Ding Ding Ding! I scored 4 awesome ones for $1 each at a downtown book store. Lord knows who I will be sending them to, but no doubt figuring that out will be fun for me.  I felt good about spending money at this independent book store on “Independent Book Store Day”. I also snagged a book there entitled “The Kindness of Strangers”. Thought it may provide inspiration for my “Kindness Jar” project.

Visit the hotel bar.

Why, yes we did. And we got some great advice there from Annette Bening. Lemme explain: She was approximately the same age as Ms. Bening, dressed casually in denim, drinking a beer and wearing reading glasses. She was situated at the end of the bar, but not the very last seat; the one next to that one. So she had two empty seats on either side of her. She motioned for us to come and sit, scooching down a seat to allow us to sit side by side. She then engaged us in a lively conversation of all things Colorado. She laughed easily and urged us to check out Mount Princeton for our next Anniversary celebration. She shared that it’s pricey, but there are awesome views of the mountains and wonderful hot springs to soak in. She also enthusiastically encouraged us to check out Telluride for their music festivals and good vibes. She spoke lovingly of her son, who was playing in La Crosse tournaments in Grand Junction this weekend. Hence the reason she was chilling at the bar for a bit. Such a cool lady. 

Interesting that earlier in the day,  I had purchased the book about the kindness of strangers, no?

I now can’t wait for our next Colorado adventure! Maybe a George Clooney look alike will make an appearance at a winery or distillery.  You never know…..

On Birthdays

For whatever reason, I’ve got a mind that remembers numbers, which is exemplified by my ability to recall almost everyone I’ve ever known’s birthdays each year. The only one that always tripped me up was my two best girlfriends from college. Both have (had-one sadly has passed away) birthdays in September, just three days apart. I often got them mixed up. I always remember that May 1st is my nephew’s birthday as well as my best friend from childhood’s birthday. I always remember my sister’s birthday coincides with the anniversary of the Edmund Fitzgerald (the shipwreck that occurred on Lake Superior on my sister’s sweet 16). I always remember my former housemate and college friend’s birthday, which is on 12/22. And I always remember my high school boyfriend’s birthday is on 12/31. Unlike many people, I don’t need to rely on Facebook to remind me of upcoming birthdays. I guess it’s kind of a weird talent.

I will be turning 51 later this month. I’ve been hemming and hawing about how to mark the occasion. Growing up, my dad’s approach to his birthday every year was a shrug and him saying “Ah, it’s just another day”. Hubs has a similar approach. Neither want to be fussed over. They are humble men.

While I believe it’s admirable to be humble, I feel a weird sense of possibly displaced disappointment when people I care about don’t wish to garner attention on the anniversary of their births. Because I want to lavish them with attention and I want others to lavish attention on them, because dammit, they deserve it!  Your birthday only comes around once a year, right? I think no matter who you are, it’s worth celebrating making it through another year on this planet.

I’ve always had conflicting feelings as my birthday approaches each year. Without a doubt, I always want to celebrate the occasion, as I am a “good time Charlie” who is always up for a party.  Yet, calling attention to myself by reminding others of my impending birthday feels kind of yucky to me (hence the reason I’m not divulging the actual date of my birthday here).  I worry that people will think I am self-absorbed, attention-seeking, and conceited. That maybe they won’t give a rat’s ass but will feel nonetheless obligated to send me a card or wish me a Happy Birthday because I made sure that they were aware it was coming up.

I am not going to throw myself a birthday party. That would be obnoxious. On the other hand, I would also never in a million years discourage a loved one from throwing me a party on my birthday.

I appreciated the strategy some of my former social work colleagues employed on their birthdays: they baked treats and put them in the break room, making sure to send an email to invite everyone in the office to come and enjoy a treat to celebrate their birthdays. I’ve only been in my job for two months now, meaning I’m still under that 90 day ‘probationary period’ so perhaps I should tread carefully and focus on doing the best job I can instead of calling attention to myself just because it’s my birthday and I just so happen to be at work that day. Plus, my boss recently had her 31st birthday (yes, it feels weird that my boss is actually young enough to be my kid), and no fuss whatsoever was made by her or our co-workers that day because she’s humble like my Dad and Hubs. Yes, I work for a humble millennial. They do exist, people!

However, I very much enjoy baking and I am striving to be as kind as humanly possibly every day (see my last post about my new fangled Kindness Jar ), so maybe I should bake something and bring it in to work. It’s not like I’m going to waltz into the office that morning wearing a tiara and a “birthday girl” sash, right?

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About my jar

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As I talked about here, in 2017 I kept a Happiness Jar. It helped me stay positive each day as it forced me to notice all the little and sometimes big things that brought me happiness.  I’m glad I did it. Reading all of my scribbled notes from my Happiness Jar on 12/31 brought back to mind moments that I had forgotten about. Doing this gave me a healthy dose of the warm fuzzies and made me realize what a great year overall it had been for me.

In this post, I grandly proclaimed that 2018 was going to be the year of the “Goodness Jar”.  I thought it would be fun to keep this jar thing going, just in a new way.  My plan was, at the end of each day, I would jot down something I did or said that exemplified “goodness” to me. I started this practice in earnest on 1/1. After a few days, I came to the conclusion that the “Goodness Jar” was not meant to be. It felt like everything I came up with was, for lack of a better descriptor, lame. I found myself obsessing about what “goodness” looks like in my day to day life. The word “goodness” quickly became meaningless. I mean, who am I to determine what “goodness” is? It was all just too much for my 50 year old brain. While I certainly had good intentions, I simply didn’t take enough time to think it through before leaping into it.

So I’m scrapping this idea. Perhaps my jar would be better put to use by using my creative culinary skills to make homemade “hootch” to store in this jar. Perhaps I could bedazzle my jar, stick a candle in it and set it out somewhere as home decor. Perhaps I could fill it with skittles and send it to one of my most favorite bloggers. I think it would help her to get through whatever time is left on the Trump presidency.

As worthy as those ideas may be, I have instead decided to re-christen my former Happiness/Goodness Jar the “Kindness Jar”.  The thing is, the Happiness/Goodness Jar was really all about me. What made me happy. I think it’s time to focus more on others. Like doing something to bring a smile to someone’s face. Or clearly conveying to someone that I see them and hear them and believe they have value in this world.   As long as I resist the urge to overthink it, this might work.

To make this more doable interesting, I’m going to include not just what acts of kindness I believe I bestowed upon others, but the kindnesses that were gifted to me by others. I like the idea of documenting kindnesses both given and received. And while I’m at it, I think I’ll jot down acts of kindness that I simply witness in my every day life, whether it be between co-workers and clients, strangers on the bus, or folks out shopping at the grocery store. The setting matters not, while the actions will.  With this three pronged approach, I figure that I have no option other than to be hyper focused on kindness each and every day.

I recently saw this clip below, and it really resonates with me. I believe my blogging community is chock full of kind-hearted people who just might agree with me.

 

Cheers to kindness, people!