Kindness Week Day 7: Charge Your Inner Light

Today’s Kindness Prompt: Be kind to yourself.

When I began “Kindness Week,” I knew the prompt for the last post would focus on kindness to self. The words were in my spirit, but tonight as I was typing them, I realized the words felt familiar because I’d already written the post a year ago! I started to scrap the topic, but decided the words bear repeating.  After all, even the kindest among us has difficulty being kind to ourselves.

Here are the words from last summer’s post:

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.  —Pics and Posts, June 20, 2017

Kindness to ourselves often requires changing the language we use to speak to ourselves. It requires taking care of our minds, our bodies, and our spirits.

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. Just recently I encountered a young blogger, a college student, who features a self-care post almost every Sunday. You might want to check out her blog too: The Introvert’s Escape Maneuver.

Earlier this week my son suggested that I close out the seven days of kindness with the message, “be kind to everyone.” It really is that simple.

I encourage you to live with a spirit of kindness. Walk with it. Breathe it. Look for the good in people. Help people in need, including the disheveled stranger who asks for a dollar or two. Drive with courtesy. Give the benefit of the doubt. Forgive easily. Love freely.

Make kindness more than a habit. Make it part of your character.  And remember–we can be heart and light to others only if the inner light is glowing.

 

Note on today’s image: The postcard above was made by Terry L. who participates in both Love Notes and the Global heART Exchange. She sent the card in April, shortly after receiving happy heART mail from me. Her message is clear: “Be kind to yourself. You are amazing! You’re good enough. You are worth it!”

Previous “Kindness Week” posts:

Have a “kind” week!

Kindness Week Day 4: Save the Planet

Today’s Kindness Prompt: Take care of Mother Earth.

The first job given to mankind–after populating the earth–was to take care of it. As we’ve advanced, we’ve found more ways to damage the earth than to maintain it. Let’s do our part to change that.

One of the things I absolutely loved about my son’s Montessori School is that the school focused on the development of the whole person as a citizen of the world. The children were taught how to care about all people and how to care for the earth. Ziploc bags, disposable utensils and containers were not allowed. Lunches, including yogurt, milk and juice, had to be placed in reusable containers. There was a no waste policy. The director and teachers taught the children to conserve water when washing their hands and brushing their teeth and many other tips for saving the environment. The children learned that the little things we do as individuals add up to a world of difference.

Through my son’s early education, I became more intentional about my role in taking care of the earth. The idea of single-handedly conquering the varied “earth” issues is absurd, but there are many little things we can do to preserve our planet for future generations.

Starting today, let’s be kind to the earth. If you don’t know where to begin, here are a few simple suggestions:

  • Use reusable containers, including water bottles and coffee cups
  • Unplug small appliances and phone chargers when they are not in use
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or lathering up
  • Use reusable grocery bags for shopping
  • Keep a trash bag in your car, so when you see litter you can pick it up. This also minimizes the temptation to toss the “beer can” out the window
  • Recycle and upcycle
  • Plant a tree, a shrub, flowers

If you already do these things, kudos! Now, it’s time to step up your game. There’s always more that can be done.

Note about today’s image: The gorgeous painting above was created by Lori-Anne C, one of my Love Notes pals. She created this for the latest Global heART Exchange. The theme was “Nature Quotes.” The back of the painting is just as beautiful as the front.

Just joining Kindness Week? Be sure to check out the previous posts:

Jusqu’à demain…

Time to Make Art!

It’s almost time for Louise Gale’s next Global heART Exchange, so get your paintbrushes, distress inks, watercolors, and/or camera ready!

I last participated in the swap in February. I think there was an April swap, but I had too much going on to participate. I received three cards from the February swap, and they’ve been craving some attention:

“Sun Flower,” by Lucile

Lucine, of the Netherlands, re-purposed a postcard and doodled me a sunny postcard.  If you look closely, you can see the design of the postcard beneath the white paint. It adds a little something to the doodles. Doesn’t it?

“You Are Enough.” Made by Maria R.

“You Are Enough” comes from Maria R. of Richmond, New Hampshire. She made the card with watercolor and cutouts. Her message on the back solidifies the theme illustrated on the front:

Write your own story! Love yourself!

Jackqulynn W. of  Columbia Falls, Montana cloaked her postcard in an envelope that was almost as beautiful as the contents inside:

Envelope Front, Made by Jackqulynn W.

Envelope Back, Made by Jackqulynn W.

You really have to see the card in person for the full impact of its beauty.

“Heartful.” Made by Jackqulynn W.

Jackqulynn included a quote she found on the Facebook page, Butterflies and Pebbles–something to keep in my heart:

Just a reminder in case your mind is playing tricks on you today. You matter. You are loved. Your laughter is a beautiful thing. And your presence on this earth makes a difference whether you see it or not.

The theme, as you’ve guessed by now, was “love.”  I’m thrilled that even though none of the senders had a clue about who I am or what I like, they all sent favorites–sunflowers, typewriters, hearts, words, and music.

The signup deadline for the next heART exchange is May 27, so step out of your comfort zone, be a kid again–as my colleague suggests–get messy, make something, and show it off!

Here’s the link: Global heART Swap.

 

Thankful.

“Thankful” made for the Global Art Swap/heART Exchange by Lori K.

What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude. –Brene Brown

A couple of posts on Instagram resonated with me this morning. One, I might share another time, but the post by my IG friend, @gallionista, bears repeating today. We live in a world where people feel they are “entitled” to this and that, so her message is timely.

[…] To be content is a privilege and a delicate matter that must be curated and planned and protected.  Show gratitude for all the [stuff] that makes you happy: say thank  you; tell a person; write about it; paint a mural; cook a meal; hug for five seconds longer.  Just show that you understand the complexity of what is temporary, fragile, or gifted.  [Emphasis mine].

When we realize NONE of our comforts are guaranteed–none of them are ours by “right,” that all of them are privilege and fortune and gift and blessing and grace, that “here today, gone tomorrow” is a reality for many and can be for us too–we’ll begin to grasp what it means to be thankful, to be grateful for ALL we have.

Take a moment today and begin a list of all your privileges and whisper a prayer of gratitude for each.and.every.one.

The Global heART Swap: More Love and Laughter

It’s time again to sign up for the Global heART/heART Exchange swap! The theme for November is “Thankful,” perfect for the last weeks of the year when many of us are counting our blessings and working on gratitude lists.

The card below was made by Connie F for the August round. I received it some time after I’d blogged about the other postcards, but I was happy to add this fanciful piece to my “Live-Laugh-Love” collection. I also appreciated the note Connie included about her recent trip to South Africa and its impact on her life.

“Live-Laugh-Love,” Art by Connie F.

Louise Gale, the swap coordinator, inspires artists, collects and coordinates participants’ information, and assigns partners.  For the exchange, participants create art based on the assigned theme and send to three partners; they also receive art from three different partners. The art can take any form–drawing, collage, sketch, photography, mixed media, coloring, watercolor, stamping, and so much more.

The only rule is that you create with your heart open and include a positive note for the recipients on the back of your postcard or as a little love note inside. –Louise Gale

The swap provides an excellent opportunity to exercise creativity and share a heartfelt message. If you’re worried about your art skills, take it from me, this swap is about heart, not about masterpieces.

What are you waiting for? Head on over to Louise Gale’s site for the details. Sign up ends November 12, so hop to it!

Live Well. Laugh Triple. Love Without Measure.

The secret to living well and longer is: eat half, walk double, laugh triple and love without measure.Tibetan Proverb

We’ve reached the last of our “Live-Laugh-Love” posts. I mentioned earlier this week that I would explain later why the theme is significant to me. “Live, Laugh, Love” was my sister Karlette’s mantra. If you’ve been following my blog for a few years, you know that we lost her to breast cancer in 2013. I still miss her terribly and think about her every single day. The theme of the latest Global Art Swap provided an opportunity to honor her memory.

It is significant that I’m posting what I sent for the swap today because today is Karlette’s birthday, and as I struggle to move past deep sadness, I find it necessary to revisit the words I shared with pen friends regarding the significance of the theme to me.

Live-Laugh-Love

Karlette lived as much as she could during her short sojourn on this earth; she loved to laugh and she loved so deeply that she was “everybody’s” best friend. Her middle school students and their parents adored her because she poured so much life, love, and laughter into her students. I learned so much from her and came to so many realizations because of how she handled her many rounds with cancer.

We were designed to LIVE abundantly—to fill life with all the good things we can hold. Yet many of us have trouble with “living” a good life because we allow worries, the past, unforgiveness, and so many annoying trifles to get in the way. Problems–struggles–are inevitable, but we don’t have to make such strife central in our lives. In spite of all the trauma and drama, we can choose joy and squeeze every ounce of the good stuff out of life. When we live in the fullness of joy, those “other things” don’t gain much of our attention and we can embrace the good life.

After my sister’s passing–like many who experience the death of a loved one–grief had me in a slow, tightening grip. Although I knew the process was necessary, I still needed to be present and functional. In an effort to shake myself out of the darkness, I called an aunt–a trained counselor–and she encouraged me to laugh. She told me to simply find some funny television shows or movies and LAUGH out loud.  That was the best advice she could have offered at the time. I had forgotten how to smile. I’d forgotten that the most basic thing that makes us feel alive is laughter. And—the bonus—I felt so connected to my sister because she loved to laugh. My aunt’s advice has come in handy quite frequently over the last four years as I found the grief of losing my sister intertwined with other losses.

Laughter also has a way of bridging gaps and mending broken fences, so take it into those relationships that are strained. Find the humor in what may have created a rift. Try not to take life so seriously and make it a point to laugh often—even at yourself. It is certainly medicine for the soul.

LOVE is the most complex part of the theme.  Love is easy when people are loving and loveable, but the journey to becoming a truly loving human is beautifully painful. We have to learn to love those who are mean, hateful, and abusive and those who don’t love us. It takes a tremendous amount of soul work to love in this way, but the beauty it creates in us and in the world is without measure. Please note that “love” does not equal acceptance or tolerance of abuse in any form.

I recently watched a video on the protests in Charlottesville, VA, filmed to capture the perspective of the white nationalists who organized the event. Though repulsed by the faulty reasoning, the language and attitudes against non-Whites, Jews, and homosexuals, I felt a huge wave of compassion for the protesters. How sad it is to live with such hatred and willingness to harm others! How inhumane to wish to annihilate others or strip them of human rights!

No matter our vast differences, true love knows no bounds. We must do the hard work and learn to love those who hate us. Kahlil Gibran’s “On Love” captures this far better than I can.

The card I originally created (above) is very pink because that was Karlette’s favorite color. I designed it in a few other colors to appeal to the tastes of family members who will be receiving the card soon.

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If you or someone you know is dealing with breast cancer, visit the Karle’s Wings link (above), and a bit of light and joy will wing its way soon…

Flowers, Feathers, and Butterflies: Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much

When I lamented in the Global Postcard Art Swap/heart Exchange group that I missed the signup deadline for the swap, Sharon R., with whom I had no previous interaction, immediately offered to send me a postcard. When I received her gorgeous postcard, my jaw dropped.

It is simply stunning! The colors, multiple layers, and textures offer a visual feast. The scan does little justice to this handmade postcard. You’d have to see it in person, touch it and hold it to fully appreciate its beauty.

“Live, Laugh, Love.” Handmade postcard by Sharon R.

Live-Laugh-Love is one of those phrases we hear (and see) often, but most of us don’t know where it originated. It has been misattributed to many others–including Hitler (?!) and Ralph Waldo Emerson (doesn’t even sound like him to me); however, the phrase actually comes from the first lines of a poem written in 1904 by writer Bessie Anderson Stanley.  [Note: the year the poem was written explains the gendered language, and we won’t go into what “pure women” might mean].

He has achieved success
who has lived well,
laughed often, and loved much;

who has enjoyed the trust of
pure women,

the respect of intelligent men and
the love of little children;

who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;

who has left the world better than he found it
whether by an improved poppy,
a perfect poem or a rescued soul;

who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty
or failed to express it;

who has always looked for the best in others and
given them the best he had;

whose life was an inspiration;
whose memory a benediction.

When you are tempted to measure success by dollars and things, revisit this poem and take a look at the treasures stored up in your soul. When it comes to the things that really matter in life, you will find that you are richer and way more successful than you think!