“We Need a Little Silence”

We have had far too much tossed at us the last several days–natural disasters, the escalating rhetoric on race in the U.S., the criticism of peaceful protest while validating violent protest, the invalidation of one the most basic rights of U.S. citizenry, dangerous political venom spewing from heads of state. In response to all of this, Larry K, one of my former students, wrote in the middle of a semi-lengthy Facebook post–

The world needs a little silence.

I feel this need with every fiber of my being as I am struggling to navigate the chaos.

We are assaulted with a barrage of traditional media and social media commentary all day long and we are not filtering and processing. This leaves us burdened. And weary. And (maybe) cowering in a corner.

In my writing courses, I tell my students that whenever we read an article, a social media post, a work of fiction–anything–we are entering a conversation, and with all conversations we must hear/listen, ask questions, respond, and add to the conversation. Conversations should be healthy and productive and should lead to growth in some way, no matter how small. The problem lately is that there’s been a lot of noise but little listening. We’re all talking at the same time and few are hearing the unspoken. And we’re just becoming more and more angry and frustrated. We’re screaming at each other. And the earth is mad and screaming too–through hurricanes, earthquakes , wildfires, and everything else.

We “need a little silence,” Larry says, “like when you’re angry at your mate and you just retreat to your corner.”

We do. We need to walk away from the fight. Retreat–in both senses of the word.

I urge you to take care of your mind and spirit and tune out the noise, regroup, and take strategic steps to filter what is unnecessary, what is not beneficial to your soul.

“Charming” Postcards with Gandhi

It’s been about a month since I posted my response to the final prompt of Love Notes 20, so it’s time to make good on my promise to share the cards I received for the prompt. As you might recall, the prompt was “Be the change.”

I received four beautiful postcards from some of my Love Notes penfriends.

Connie F played a little scrabble and then crafted this cute card. ūüėČ

“Scrabble: Be the Change,” Postcard made by Connie F.

Expounding on the theme, Connie writes,

“Change in our hearts, minds, and actions start with us for sure.”

She closed her greeting with the greeting found on Christine B’s gorgeous butterfly postcard:

“Butterfly Peace,” Photo by Christine

Be the change…and remember without change there would be no butterflies.¬† FLY HIGH.

Eileen V cited Robin Sharma and¬†cautioned that, “change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.”

“Deep Meditation”

The back was just as artistic as the front with pretty (and neat) handwriting that I can only dream of emulating.

Andrea F, ever unique in her approach to the prompts, sent a recipe, ‘How to be the Change.”

“Recipe for Change,” postcard and charm crafted by Andrea F

Ingredients:

  • You
  • Your passion
  • Lots of love, patience
  • A hint of craftiness

Directions: Believe in yourself. Believe in others. Dream big and go for your dreams. Inspire others and spread your love.

As you can see, Andrea also crafted and placed a wine glass charm on the card. This added a “charming” feature to the card.¬† I’ve attached the charm to my Gidan Nodza Traveler’s Notebook, so I get to see it every day!

My “Charmed” Traveler’s Notebook

Here’s a close up of the charm:

Charm made by Andrea

See how it honors our snail mail relationship. ūüôā

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” is a quote typically attributed to Gandhi. However, that is simply a pithy “reduction” of Gandhi’s full statement:

We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do. ‚Äď Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi underscores the interactive nature of transformation between the world and us. We, alone, do not create change in the world, rather we respond to the world’s need, a need that is also within us.¬†As we change, the world is transformed and vice versa.¬†

Are you tuning in? Listening for what the world needs? And what you need?

The Ripple Effect: Sharing Kindness with Our Words

Last week ended with my feeling “less than kind,” so I’m happy to revisit the postcards I received for¬†prompt two of Love Notes 20¬†to increase and fortify my kindness quotient. The prompt was “Share kindness…” I know. I know. I’ve done a number of kindness posts recently–eight, to be exact–but¬†there’s so much more to share on the topic.

My partner,¬†Jenni P,¬†sent another postcard from the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site.¬†I’m convinced someone had a talk with her about my postcard “likes.”

Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site

She loves Mother Teresa, so she wrote a MT quote as her message:

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.¬† –Mother Teresa

Christine must have been peeking over her shoulder because their messages “echo” each other!

“Share Kindness,” postcard crafted by Christine B.

Connie F sent photo inspiration, featuring another favorite–trees.

“Roots in All Direction,” photo by Connie F.

A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions and the roots spring up and make trees. –Amelia Earhart

I love how Connie completed the prompt:

Sharing kindness has a ripple effect. We never know how far a kind word or gesture will go.

Lastly, my Austrian postcard pal, Andrea F, crafted a tag postcard featuring a photo of a quirky mailbox. I’m slightly amazed that she sent it “naked” (with no envelope) and it¬†made it to me in almost pristine condition.

“Kindness and Confetti,” postcard made by Andrea F.

She reminded me to “throw kindness like confetti”¬†and to¬†toss a little in the direction of myself–which¬†is the sentiment¬†written on the back of the¬†postcards I sent.

As for my part, I “crafted” a “minimalist” postcard.¬†That’s what I’m calling it, at least.¬†I cut leftover white¬†cardstock down to 4×6, printed a kindness scripture onto the cards, used the¬†Cricut to transform miscellaneous scrapbook paper into hearts, and glued the heart to the cardstock.

“Be Compassionate,” handmade postcard by Me!

Interestingly,¬†within the context–just a few verses before Ephesians 4:32–the instruction is given to:

Let no harmful language come from your mouth, only words that are helpful in meeting the need, words that benefit those who hear them.¬† –Ephesians 4:29

The compatibility of our messages¬†is uncanny, almost¬†as if we’re¬†sharing one¬†mind on the matter of kindness.

So¬†much unkindness is (typically) rooted in our speech that we must be reminded to be kind with our words and to speak only what “benefits those who hear them.”¬†It takes nothing from us to speak a tender¬†word or encourage someone along the way, but often we behave as if giving to someone takes something from us.¬†Actually, the effect is just the opposite–treating each other with compassion makes¬†room in our hearts to give more¬†and make¬†our world a better place.

It took very little work and very little effort to make my postcard. Likewise, kindness takes little, if any, work and effort.

I’ve made a conscious¬†decision¬†to share kindness¬†with my words and¬†“be generous” with my love to¬†increase my kindness quotient this week.¬†Want to join me?

Encore? Let Kindness Bloom!

My little “sister” Brittany of OrdinarilyExtraordinaryMom requested an “encore” of¬†Kindness Week. I don’t think that will happen anytime soon, but maybe, this bit of kindness will satisfy for now.

Chante Marie, one of my (now former) students and recent college graduate, was “inspired” by the kindness week posts too! She posted a time-lapse video of her creation¬†“Let Kindness Bloom” on Instagram.

Here’s the finished product. [Click the image to view the short video].

“Let Kindness Bloom,” by Chante Marie

The message is sweet and to the point. ¬†As we¬†watch the tree blossom¬†and come to life at Chante’s hands, we understand better the import of the words: Kindness grows and enhances life’s color and brilliance. Give it freely. Let it bloom.

Chante is a¬†singer, composer, writer,¬†artist, and minimalist who is on her way to grand places! More importantly, she is “quite simply” an intelligent, witty, beautiful person whom the world needs to know. ¬†If you¬†want¬†to know more about Chante Marie, check out Quite Simply Minimal, her minimalist blog, or her website which provides links to her art, poetry, YouTube channel, Facebook page and more.

Be sure to sow some seeds of kindness this week!

Soaring Like a Mountain Eagle

Eagle’s Wings: Photo captured at Brechtel Park in Algiers (Westbank New Orleans, Louisiana), 2011

…and there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he forever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than the other birds upon the plain, even though they soar. –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Kindness Matters. Period.

We wrap up our seven days of kindness posts with the postcard I crafted for¬†Louise Gale’s¬†Global¬†heART¬†Swap. ¬†And we end where we began.

Kindness matters.

“Kindness Matters. Period.”

However, Jewel’s song was not the inspiration for the postcard. Instead, I was inspired by the many, many expressions of kindess I’ve witnessed either directly or indirectly and the¬†powerful impact(s) they have made.

Many of us are familiar with the¬†Ian McClaren’s¬†quote (often attributed to Plato), “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” We¬†read this so much that it has descended into the realm of cliche. We no longer “hear” the import of the words, but the reality is that most, if not all, of us are coping with something tragic, challenging, or traumatic.

We convince ourselves that we can do nothing to help, that our small efforts don’t and won’t make much difference, but they really do and will. Our acts of¬†kindness may change someone’s mood from desperate to hopeful and may even make the difference between life and death.

So…

Extend a little kindness in whatever form it needs to take for the situation–smile at strangers,¬†wish someone¬†a nice day, drive with courtesy, pay it forward, forgive, agree to disagree, or walk away.¬†During the particular interaction with you–no matter how brief–an individual may be dealing with something that is much heavier, much more trying, so give that person a momentary break from his or her madness.

Kindness matters. Period.

Just in case you’ve missed any of the earlier posts, they’re listed below for your convenience.

Have a kind week!

Throw It Like Confetti!

There’s something about confetti that makes us all happy, giddy even. The laughter is infectious and we spread it around without even thinking about it. ¬†That’s how we should practice kindness.

Today’s post features a kindness postcard¬†crafted by a “newish” penfriend, Connie F. of South Carolina.

“Confetti” by Connie F.

“Throw kindness around like confetti.”

I giggled with glee when I retrieved this postcard from my post office box. The confetti is so cheering! ¬†Notice the purple and pink flying hearts? Connie sees hearts everywhere (there’s proof in her Instagram feed). And though she says the inspiration for the winged hearts was the line from Jewel’s “Hands”¬†(see Monday’s post), the hearts carry another message: When we freely exercise kindness, we are giving love wings and tossing it “like confetti” throughout the world.

Isn’t that what kindness is all about?

Be sure to throw some kindness around this weekend. Your small part has exponential potential to heal the world.

Guard Well That Treasure, Kindness…

Many years ago one of my good friends warned me that I was too kind and admitted that she was worried people would abuse my kindness and that would forever change me.  Though I thought this would never happen, I recalled her statement more than a decade later when I looked in the mirror and did not recognize the person I saw. A light was missing. The spark had dimmed.  The unkindness of others had taken a toll on my spirit and was beginning to affect how I interacted with everyone.

That moment in the mirror was a wake-up call.

I had an acquaintance who operated from the belief that few could be trusted and it was “better to get them before they get you.”¬† Even when she could plainly see (and admitted so) that she was wrong about a person’s motives, she found it difficult to change her approach.¬†She was always in self-protective mode, and it was clear (to me, at least) that her defensiveness and abrasiveness were¬†the result of people’s taking advantage of her kindness.

I did not want to become this person.  I did not want to assume the worst before I expected the best. I wanted (to continue) to treat people with kindness.

Today’s kindness card,¬†designed by Cricket, reminded me of¬†my mirror experience¬†and underscored the lesson I learned in “guarding kindness.”

Cricket, who¬†designs¬†simple and elegant cards,¬†posted a “sneak peek” of the card on Facebook,¬†and I admired the card before I knew it was on its way to me.¬†The bright green and¬†the red hearts in place of fingernails were visually appealing, but I loved the words which were typed on the card¬†using a vintage typewriter.

“Guard Well…” by Cricket

Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.¬† –George Sand (Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dudevant, n√©e Dupin)

Kindness is a treasure that should be protected–given without hesitation and with no regrets.¬†It is indeed a gift that changes the giver, even if it doesn’t change the receiver. But kindness doesn’t mean answering “yes” to every request or becoming a doormat.¬† As I suggested in an earlier post, one can be compassionate while saying “no,”¬†and kindness shouldn’t cost anything.

Sometimes, people have other motives. Sometimes, people are mean. Sometimes, people are so wounded from past experiences that they know of no other way than to take advantage or hurt others.

Their behavior should not determine how we treat them, but we must learn there is kindness in walking away.

“Do Your Random Acts…”

For Lorelei, December 31, 1954 – June 15, 2017

Today, Lorelei C., one of my postcard pals was laid to rest. She was a kind soul who generously and randomly sent postcards that would arrive just when I needed a pick-me-up. Tributes on her Facebook page and the Love Notes page reveal that everyone had that experience with her.

Just hours before her passing, one of her daughters¬†urged¬†us all¬†via a FB post, “Do your random acts of kindness. She loves that stuff.”¬†I can think of no better way to honor her memory than by doing just that.

***   ***   ***

Today’s Global HeART kindness¬†postcard features minimalist¬†art by Christine B., the person who introduced me to the¬†Global Art Exchange, the Love Notes community,¬†and (indirectly) to Lorelei.¬† Christine sends dozens of “random” postcards every week; she clearly exemplifies “random acts of kindness.”

“Kindness,” by Christine B.

On the back of the postcard, Christine penned:

It is just too simple–be kind!

Her placing¬†cutouts of the letters that form the word “kindness” against a¬†plain white background makes her¬†intent is clear.¬†Kindness, plain and simple, is where we should place our focus in our daily interactions.

The card seems to encourage us to do our acts of kindness–without noise, without distraction, without motive or promise of reward, acknowledgement or applause.¬†And sometimes, as Christine points out in her note, the kindness may be in “one word [that] can change someone’s entire day.”

She ends the card with the admonition:

Be kind whenever possible.¬†It is always possible.¬† –Dalai Lama

Mere days before her passing, Lorelei was still sending¬†postcards.¬†“It is always possible.”

Be Kind to You!

Be gentle first with yourself if you wish to be gentle with others. –Lama Yeshe

Today’s kindness¬†postcard features¬†a mixed media piece by Colette K. of Pennsylvania.

“Count Yourself In” by Colette K.

Colette sent her artwork with a piece of advice worth heeding:

Next time, when you think of beautiful things, don’t forget to count yourself in.

The common misconception is that loving ourselves is self-centered and weak, so we pour all our energies and kindness into others and leave little or nothing for ourselves.¬†Many of us typically miss that¬†the fine point in the “second great commandment” is to love others¬†as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31). If we¬†reserve only scraps, disapproval, and unkindness for ourselves, eventually this starvation of self-love will¬†manifest¬†in our acts toward others.

Hollow and mechanical acts of kindness don’t always feel like kindness.¬†So love yourself. Be kind to yourself and you will find that¬†the kindness naturally¬†spills over into your interactions with others.

If you’re looking for some ideas, Marelisa¬†of Daring to Live Fully offers a list of ways to get started: 17 Ways to Be Kind To Yourself.

You can also find a lot of ideas on my self-care board on Pinterest:  Take Care!

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out yesterday’s post: Be Kind.

Until tomorrow…