Friday, August 28, 2015

choosing kindness

I was having one of those mornings.

Truth be told, I've been having a week or more of such mornings.

Part of it is readjusting to waking with an alarm. There is just no way any of us in this family will wake up in time for school without setting the clock radio alarm and somehow, that onerous duty falls upon me. Which means not only do I have to pry myself out of bed, but then I have the joy of waking up two other grumpy and ungrateful non-morning people. All before I brew the coffee.  Yeah, good times.

Factor in the fact that I am currently menopausal hormonally challenged. What that means is I tend to wake up around 4 am needing to pee (sorry, if that is TMI) and then I realize what really woke me was a hot flush. I call these power surges flushes as they aren't as extreme as what other women have described to me. And I hope by speaking nicely about them, they will be nice to me.

Not yet anyway. 

So now I have to cool off (ah, a dab of peppermint oil on the back of my neck works wonders!) but am fairly alert now (due to activity of getting out of bed, peeing, finding peppermint oil) so then I lay in bed and watch the rabid squirrels tear up the stuffing that is my mind.

The only thing that helps is to wander downstairs, turn on the living room lamp and read for awhile. I wake the dog up doing this, but he is the only one pleasant about waking up (probably because he averages 22 hours of sleep a day but none-the-less he is always pleasant about keeping me company). 

So I had been up at 4 a.m. reading and was feeling all manner of crusty edgy by breakfast time. Oh, and another important detail: that previous evening Cowgirl came home from playing with the neighborhood kids, slumped over the kitchen island and wailed. She had been hit in the face by a ball. It was a "soft" ball she explained, BUT the Rule was no throwing it into people's faces AND even though it was soft, it bumped her glasses which - she pointed out in case I wasn't understanding the severity of the injury - are not soft

But more than her physical injury, it was the fact that the injuring party "didn't care" and merely shrugged her shoulders when Cowgirl explained that IT HURT. (Poor Cowgirl is ever frustrated by the fact that most people do not mind the rules and notions of fairness that she champions.) Now, what my mother never told me was that when you parent, you have the added option of re-living all your childhood woes and traumas through the lens of your child. It is an option not to, but like waving a biscuit in front of a dog, I cannot help but take a wee nibble. (Which is progress over snatching, gulping, consuming without batting an eye.

So I struggle in these situations with separating my own fears and experiences from those of my daughter's. And while I have learned the wisdom of listening, acknowledging, and holding space for whatever my girl is going through, my impulse is still to find some finger-hold of hope for forward movement. I want to help her feel empowered to make choices other than giving up.

Too often I confuse doing nothing with giving up. Slowly I am figuring out that resting in the moment - waiting, relaxing, "doing nothing" - is actually the best way to allow solutions, answers or options to present themselves. The emotions of the moment make everything cloudy and confused. It is best to attend to the feelings and allow time to work its magic.

Okay, so back to my morning. I was still ruminating up the previous evening, frustrated by my inability to find the right words (read: Wise Words HA!) to support my girl and yes, swallowing all kinds of bitterness and anger at the offender (her only crime being an aggressive and competitive nature) along with sadness over what I perceive to be a decline in kindness brought about by what feels like an increase in hostility and aggression in our world.

Then my doorbell rang. As I neared my front door, I realized  that the two shadowy figures on the other side were Jehovah's Witnesses. Too late to retreat, I opened the door and prepared myself for the attack. Two women stood there smiling, the older one with her Bible at the ready, a copy of their newsletter (my Good News I sarcastically thought) extended towards me.  I honestly heard little of what was said, I was busy in my head constructing my blistering rebuttal for whatever hokum they might offer me. But I caught myself.

Okay, I cried. And I'm not sure why? But I suspect it had to do with the earnestness with which they addressed me, their clean and formal clothes, their plain and scrubbed faces, the way they looked at me right in my eyes. They seemed so proper and from another era, as if coming out to talk to me was deserving of their best (pressed and pleated) dress. As if I was deserving of this attention and care. And I was immediately brought up by the ugliness in my knee-jerk reaction to them, my desire to put them in their place, my intention to show my intellectual and spiritual sophistication and yes, to squash theirs.

I blathered something about having a hard day and apologized for my distractedness. As I reached for their newsletter, the older of the two gently took hold of my wrist and told me she was sorry for my day. They both looked genuinely concerned for me, and that unsettled me even more. I hastily thanked them and retreated behind my front door. 

"Good grief," I thought, "I've really lost it!" But here's what I realized: I could choose to be right, or I could choose to be kind. And I could choose to accept kindness even if it isn't in a form that I had wanted nor expected. I wasn't going to change their spiritual beliefs and they weren't going to change mine. But I could accept the energy behind the offering of scripture and interpretation; I could accept the care and kindness. 

This epiphany lead to another crumb of insight. When Cowgirl came home that afternoon, I told her about my visitors and I told her about choosing kindness over needing to be right. As gracefully as a waddling goose, I immediately brought up the previous evening's events and how we always have the option to align ourselves with kindness but then to extend to ourselves. Sometimes self-kindness is knowing when to walk away, when to acknowledge we cannot fix, alter or amend a situation.

But we can ask for support. And so then we talked about turning over our frustrations, turning over our not-knowing-what-to-do to God and ask that she help us to see and accept a solution when it is ready or when we are ready for it. Until that time, we can continue to seek out and support kindness beginning with ourselves. 

I recently heard author Caroline Myss explain Every thought is a prayer.  

I'm awake now.


  1. I am new to your blog. Lovely post! Hope you are feeling a bit better now. xx

  2. if i were to have a guru [i have a rule - no gurus] then my guru would be you. [ see what i did there?]

    i've had a Struggly sort of week too and have finally just caved in and accepted that certain things will remain undone while i sit and rest my weary self.

    i know exactly what you mean about the instinct to swoop in and Solve Everything -- i have the same compulsion. thankfully, due mostly to a tired and befuddled brain, it takes me longer to process things these days and often in the span of my inner castings-about-for-wisdom, girl-child manages to think/talk her way through things. it makes me look like a genius -- all calm and space-holdy...when mostly i'm just sluggish. ;) the key though, is my hindsight AHA -- so it's not all a sham. :)

    i find that genuine kindness is such a delight --- probably [and sadly] because it's not something i come across often - people are so rude and hurried for the most part. so it's very noticeable, and quite un-doing to be blessed with the gift of warmth and care from a stranger.


    lots to mull over here -- i know i can do better. i think maybe my slug-brain will work in my favour....slowing down my naturally snarky snap-back, y'know? ;)


  3. An interesting post Lisa which I read carefully and slowly. The trick is to know when to let things take their time and when to chivvy them along a bit. Not always clear at the time. x

  4. Such wise words. Knowing when to let go and just accept what is. I know that I have knee-jerk reactions when it comes to religious folk, especially the witnesses (but I have family history with that group). We so want to be right and make our point to others. Though it is wiser, as you did, to recognize that what you say can't make them change nor what they say can make you change. xoxo