Kindness: Part Two


If you have been following my written work, you’ll recall that it’s been a difficult year. Our family has experienced great loss, and many losses. I’ve had a health scare, and will have an unrelated surgery scheduled in the coming months. It’s by all suspicion a minor, routine procedure. Still, this latest turn of events merely adds another level of burdening weight to my shoulders.

I am tired. I don’t have the endurance to complete my ever growing list of  self given chores. I have been lax with so many areas of life. In each instance, I criticize myself with every incomplete task. Each run I don’t get in, each social engagement I don’t attend, each basket of laundry that doesn’t get put away, I grow increasingly resentful of myself.

If I were my friend, I would not be so critical. I would offer sweet words of understanding, empathy, and encouragement. I would tell my dear friend that we are all our worst critics, and the last year has brought more than its share of challenges and hurt. Healing takes time. Often much longer than what we first expect. I would go on by telling her, “You are doing well. You are still working, still a loving mom, and you are taking care of what is important. All of the other stuff is just stuff. You are taking care of your family and believe it or not, yourself. Be kind to yourself. It is long over due.”

And there is it is. As kind as I may be to everyone else, my kindness is incomplete. I truly can not deliver true kindness if I can not offer it to myself. I can not be considered a kind person, unless I offer compassion to everyone. I am an equal to everyone I encounter; no less deserving.

I’m cynical enough to believe that most people are more challenged to offer kindness to others than themselves. Sometimes it can be a challenge, especially when there is disagreement. As I stated in my previous post, it is in disagreement that we can profit in learning from one another and learn how to extend care for one another. I am learning how to care for myself.


Kindness: Part One

It’s funny how lessons, themes, and ideas present themselves. I’m overly attentive, so I notice the commonality of situations, signs, and discussions when they  simultaneously culminate.  Lately “kindness” has presented itself.

By all current, western societal standards I am indeed a kind person. I never intentionally do harm. Do I make mistakes, become impatient, sharply retort? Yes, indeed I do. I rationalize all of those, by my intent.

I determined when I was young, through a period of high school angst, that I never wanted to be the cause of anyone’s pain. During that time I felt deep insult, loneliness, and fear. As a result, I vowed to never purposely inflict that on another being. Again, I never mean to hurt feelings, insult, exclude, but I’m sure there is a fair number of individuals who would agree that I have done just that.  Misunderstandings do happen. I truly believe this is how we learn perspective, humility, and care. I can honestly say that I am genuinely sorry for any pain that I have brought to anyone. I often will carry guilt for those mistakes, unable to forgive myself for my sins. So my first objective is to correct my behavior.

The local school district, of which I reside, presented, “Rachel’s Challenge.” Rachel’s Challenge is a program striving to carry out the life’s mission of Rachel Joy Scott. Rachel was a remarkable young lady, who’s life was tragically taken by young gunmen at Columbine High School. Rachel lived by the Golden Rule. She not only spread kindness and joy, she challenged others to do the same as to create a chain reaction of kindness. This powerful story of Rachel and her legacy brought about an honest discussion at home. I encourage you to visit the website, to learn more and share with your community.

The evening of the assemblies, I sat with my husband and children to discuss our personal kindness challenge. Each of us verbally pledged to show more kindness in situations that we had previously been lacking to generate.  Mine is to be more patient and kind at home.

As I said before, I’m by all present day standards a kind person, but after I come home from an exhausting day of work, I often fail to demonstrate that same level of kindness. I realized that my children do not see my actions away from them, they only see what I display before their very own, highly impressionable eyes. Children learn by example, so they say. If that’s the case, we are in trouble! Much as I did when I was younger, I resolved to be gentler, more loving, and kinder at home. I was pleasantly surprised to witness my children’s thoughtful attention as we talked. Not only did my children agree, but they understood my exhaustion and appreciated my honesty. I am so proud of their understanding and their own honest self awareness as they set their goals. I am also very pleased to mention that all of us have held up our resolutions. Our home is more relaxed and less stressful. Healthier, kinder family chains are forming. Rachel, I do hope, is also proud of us. In honor of you, Rachel. Our family thanks you.

Acknowledgments: Thank you to Rachel and her family. Many thanks to her family for sharing their loving daughter with the world. I send my sympathy for your most incredible loss. Thank you to school districts and their parent teacher organizations for accepting Rachel’s Challenge and serving as a link in the chain.

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