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Kindness

we learn kindness, be kind, live with gratitude, give forgiveness, forgive, kindness

Ever had someone cut you off on the road or honk at you and it really irritated you? Ever find yourself cursing someone out and flipping them off in the car because they did something stupid? Maybe you’ve let someone else’s loud, obnoxious opinion make you feel less than and make you angry. I mean, seriously, who among us hasn’t? I’m not saying you have to be the bigger person but we never know what someone else is going through. But we can choose to live with gratitude and forgiveness and we can learn kindness.

The thing is you end up upset and they don’t give a shit. Honestly, they have no idea and no concern about how their actions affected you. You have just given someone who probably doesn’t matter in the least in your life, power over your happiness. Now, if you saw your friend do the same exact thing, you would stop them and talk them out of it but it’s not so easy when we’re caught up in the moment ourselves. Be gentle and kind to yourself. It’s hard to step back and just take it in before reacting.

Stop, breathe, forgive and be kind

I’m not judging. I’ve gotten angry, been judgemental and reacted poorly and/or aggressively many times throughout my life. In fact, I’m kind of notorious for it in my family and I’m a little embarrassed by my quick temper. I’ve always had this sense of justice that demands that I let people know that they’ve wronged me. Maybe it’s naiveté or maybe I just have to have the last word, I’m not sure anymore but, with age comes wisdom (or so I’d like to think) and my perspective has altered since having kids and again, more recently, once I started to forgive myself. It is now infinitely easier to forgive others.

READ ALSO: You’ve got to Do Right Woman

For years, I have been giving people’s bad behavior the benefit of the doubt. I gave birth and then suddenly, I shifted from “must chase this person who cut me off and almost killed me” to “maybe they have diarrhea”, “Maybe they’re on their way to the hospital”, “maybe they’re late for their wedding.” You can call it making excuses for people, and maybe I am, but I feel like it’s looking for the good in people. I don’t want to believe that all people are jerks. I think, mostly, people are good. Well, except for the racists, misogynists, bigots and homophobes, they need God. But other than that, I think most people want to make good choices.

You can choose to live with gratitude and kindness

You guys, my readers, my followers, my friends, you have made me a better person. Many times you have soothed my hurting heart, shared in my celebrations, loved my children, encouraged and supported our family on our journey from the beginning. You’ve been with me every step of the way on my health journey, my pregnancy loss and all the ups and downs that life has thrown my way over the past decade. I see you. I appreciate you and you’ve renewed my faith in humankind. You’ve opened my eyes and shown me alternate perspectives. You’ve given me hope when I thought there was none. Thank you. And yesterday, you held me in your optimism one more time.

READ ALSO: How I Reversed My Type 2 Diabetes

Yesterday, many of you commented on a post that I had on social media about how I’ve worked really hard to reverse a terrifying diagnosis. I didn’t share it to brag. I shared it to let others know that there is hope. There is a way and if I can do it, so can you. I was proud of the work and the results. You did not fail to once again lift me up. I felt it. The support and encouragement were humbling but you wrapped me in it like a warm, cozy blanket and lifted my heart to a place of impenetrable gratitude. That’s a beautiful place to be in the world.

After a walk where I nearly wept at the beauty all around me (I told you it was a day of gratitude), I could feel life’s blessings falling all around me. I literally walked counting blessings and praying for everyone I know. I like to pray using people’s names. I want blessings for everyone. Anyways, after my walk and a day of exhaling after months of holding my breath, I drove to pick Bella up from school for a doctor’s appointment. A typical day in the neighborhood over here.

Consideration and respect is a small kindness that we can all offer

I was in a great mood. I had a hilarious texting mishap with my sister-in-law and we were both laughing. I was whole body laughing. Serotonin was everywhere. It was glorious. There I was in the pick-up line at school, singing my heart out to The Spirit of Christmas by Ray Charles (you know from that scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold is sitting up in the attic watching old home videos? Yep, gets me in the feels every damn time) when suddenly but what at my door did appear? A very angry woman.

READ ALSO: Permission to be Ourselves

A mom behind me in the pick-up line had, literally, jumped out of her car, ran up to my window and proceeded to beat on my car window while I was lowering it to see what she wanted. She looked so angry. I met her irrationality with calm. She was yelling and her hands were flying around (I’m not talking shit, I am a proud Mexican hand talker), she was clearly angry but I couldn’t understand what I did to warrant such a reaction.

As she screamed at me that I needed to move because I was “holding up the entire pick-up line” (clearly she doesn’t understand how the front of the pick-up line works. We were all waiting), she screamed, “Do you understand that you are holding up the line?” Then I was completely confused because in pick-up line (especially at the beginning when school is letting out) everyone is holding up the line at one point or another. I could see that whatever was really bothering her clearly went way beyond me and where I was parked. So, I calmly (completely out of character for me) said, “I’m also waiting to pick up my daughter who has a doctor’s appointment now. She’s coming out in a few seconds.”

Choosing kindness is not always easy

She continued to scream that I was blocking her and I began to worry that maybe she had a bleeding body in the back of her SUV that needed to get to the ER. She was so urgent. Her arms were flailing and her face was red and I saw that this woman needed the win of me moving more than I needed to rationalize any of this or win the argument. I quietly and calmly let her finish her say and I said, “OK, I’ll move.” She responded with annoyance. I think she wanted me to be as upset as her but I just wasn’t. I wouldn’t allow myself to be. Then I chuckled because another text from my sister-in-law popped up and I thought this poor woman’s head was going to explode. I wished her a blessed day. I meant it.

READ ALSO: Do you suffer from “other shoe” syndrome?

No joke, I prayed for her. I hope her day got better. I don’t know what was going on in her life yesterday but it must have been massive. It must have felt overwhelming and for that I’m sorry for her. I wish I could make it all better.

I moved my car. I ended up at the front of the line. Everybody saw what had just transpired, no one gave me any issues for pulling right up to the front door as my daughter walked out. Bella got in the car, I gave her a smile and a kiss hello and we went on our way to the doctor. Meanwhile, that same very angry woman was still waiting for her daughter, behind someone else. I didn’t see anything on the news about her yanking anyone from their car and beating them, so I’m assuming everything turned out ok.

We don’t always know what others are going through

I’m telling you this not to make fun of this woman or to marginalize her suffering, whatever it may be, but to remind you to not give others space in your heart, mind and soul. Like most people these days, I have a lot on my plate and I simply don’t have that much space to give. In fact, I’m trying to do a deep purge of my life to eliminate negative things and people who are taking up too much space already. I’m all for saving space in my life for loved ones but life’s too short to let strangers or even toxic friends and family take up valuable space in my heart with negativity and hurt.

READ ALSO: How Grinch almost stole Mommy

All this to say, especially as a reminder this holiday season, we cannot choose how people behave and we do not know the circumstance in which others are existing (life can be hard for so many reasons) but we can control how we move through the world and how we react to other people’s actions. Be kind to everyone. It’s free and requires minimum effort. A random smile or a kind gesture can go a long way to quell someone having a bad day but also, it’s not your responsibility to worry about the entire world. Be patient and tolerant but be mindful and forgiving of others and yourself. If none of that works, walk away. You’ve done your best.

Most importantly, be joyful and grateful in all that you do and your heart will be full and your load will be lighter.

Thank you for reminding me of the power of people with your interactions and remember, you never know what someone else is going through. It could be the worst day of their life. So next time someone flips you off, cuts you off or mumbles something mean under their breath, just smile and move along because you can’t change their bad behavior (you have no control, you are not the boss of them) but maybe your kindness can knock them off guard just enough to snap them out of whatever is worrying, scaring or angering them. Go forward and be blessed.

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karma,Starbucks, starbucks effect, random acts of kindness,kindness

Have you ever heard of the Starbucks effect?

I’m not referring to the theory that Starbucks will boost the price of your home, but that is a thing. I’m talking about the kindness of strangers.

“Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you,” it’s the Golden rule. I’ve heard it since I was a little child. It boils down to this… put out into the world what you want to get back. It’s karma for those so inclined.

In my 20’s I was self-centered, everything was about me. When I got married, I had my first experience of occasionally putting someone else’s needs and wants before my own. Then I had children and putting others before myself has become my full-time job.

Over the years, I’ve found myself doing more good but still that selfish little voice in my head kept asking, “When’s it my turn? When will someone do something nice for me?” I just sort of got tired of always giving of myself. Now that I think of it, I wasn’t giving so much as having it taken. I did nice things because I felt it was expected.

Then my perspective of the world changed, we moved to Chesterfield, VA and I was on the receiving end of several random acts of kindness from complete strangers. These women changed my perception of the world. For the first time, aside from my parents, someone was doing something kind for me with absolutely no expectation. It was so out of my ordinary that at first, I was suspicious. What did they really want?

I decided, then and there, that while I cannot control how someone else responds or reacts to my kindness or goodwill, I would live by the good rule because I’m responsible for my behavior. I can put all the good I want into the world but I had to let go of my expectation that the others would reciprocate, care or even appreciate my act.

Then, I had an epiphany. Who cares if they don’t appreciate it? I feel good when I do good so I’m doing good. I let go of the whole idea of putting good out there so good would come back to me and then it did.

I believe that our simple acts of kindness that we do throughout the day, they cause ripples and eventually we get caught in the tide of our own ripples so next time you find yourself deciding whether you should take an extra second to hold the door for a stranger, smile back at someone for no reason at all, give a dollar to a homeless person or share on an opportunity or helpful advice with someone who you think might be a good fit or need it, just do it. Don’t over think it. You can’t control what others do with the gifts you give but you can take joy in knowing you cared enough to give the gift and tried to help someone else.

I know everyone says this and I know many of us don’t immediately see the effects of our good deeds and that may leave you wondering, why bother? Let me tell you a little story.

I once received a cup of coffee in one of those Starbucks lines, when the person ahead of me paid for my latte. It was the first time this had ever happened to me and I had no idea this was a “thing” or that there was a “protocol”, so I took my latte, said thank you and was happy for the rest of the day. The more I thought of it, I realized that I should have paid it forward and bought the person’s behind me. It was what was probably expected.

Last week, I finally paid it forward. I ordered my Oprah Chia Latte, pulled up to pay and then said, “ I’d like to pay for the person behind me too!” Then I looked in my rearview mirror, and saw it was another mom. She looked exhausted and I saw myself in her. I pulled away feeling good. I felt good for rest of my day and it only cost me $4.50. I mean, who knew happiness was so damn cheap? I’m hoping that my simple gesture brightened her day, at the very least I saved her $5.00, right?

The thing is last week I got 3 new freelance jobs and scheduled an interview for another job. Maybe it was coincidence but I’d like to think that my little ripple has caught me in its tide. I put out into the world what I wanted so, guess what I did this morning (what I will be doing every Monday morning)? I bought another person a cup of coffee and I saw her smile in my rearview mirror when she pulled up to the window and she didn’t have to pay and THAT made my day. If I can brighten someone else’s day by such a simple gesture, why wouldn’t I do it every single time I can?

What random acts of kindness do you do when no one is looking?

I get that buying Starbucks for someone won’t change the world,  but it might change someone’s day and that’s enough reason for me.

 

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