Me in the Middle of Being Grateful 2019

November Grid

A Dozen Gratitudes for 2019

(This Dozen Gratitudes List was originally written for 2017. It still remains a very meaningful list for 2019. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! )

  1.  For the cup of hot coffee I’m holding in hand while I ponder about this year and how quickly it’s flown by.  Grateful for still being here!

  2. For the ability to distance myself from the noise and drama of this year’s political events.

  3. For the hope that still swells up in my heart with a belief in the goodness and kindness of most people.

  4. For a safe dwelling and a supportive community that recognizes the needs of those of us who are aging.  I’m grateful to those who have filled a need for me this past year. 

  5. For my ‘young-at-heart’ mind that continues to love being creative in my retirement years.  Here’s to more watercolor sketching and creative writing.

  6. For our ‘genius’ system of government which continues to weather through all sorts of abuses yet, hopefully, continues to survive and thrive.  “The presidency is bigger than one man.” ~ President G. W Bush

  7. For the knowledge that my life on this earth is drawing to a close and I’m leaving behind five children, and their families, who strive to make this a better world.

  8. For a stronger sense of resilience and knowledge that I have it within me to face anything that comes my way with strength and grace.  No one is going to rescue me.

  9. For lessons learned this past year about myself, about where some people deserve to be in my life and setting healthy boundaries.     

  10. For the present moment because it is truly a precious gift.  Be aware!  Know what works for you in keeping you grounded and seeking the middle ground.

  11. For the higher power, whatever each person sees that to be, that holds me in unconditional Love through it all.  “You’ve always had the power, my dear.” ~ Glinda (Wizard of Oz)

  12. For the courage I’ve found this year to hold on to my convictions and faith within a very complex culture and society.  Trust your intuition.  You’re the best friend you’ll ever have.

Watercolor sketch © Mary Lou

Me in the Middle ~ Kindness Without Expectation

Kindness Canva Diana

 

Diana, Princess of Wales, was one of my kindness role models.  Her life was lived by ‘daring greatly’.  The royal family was forever changed by the way she chose to live her life within the role of princess.  A favorite role model of Diana’s was Mother Teresa.  It was that inspiration that puts the most meaning into the above quote.   Both of them seemed to have mastered the art of making kindness a way of life.  If you read anything about their lives you realize that not always was their kindness returned or appreciated.  They seemed to have developed an ability to shake off these negatives and not let it influence their commitment to act with compassion and let go of expectation.  Not an easy thing to do.  Lessons learned ~ move on.

In my own life, I think sometimes kindness was a mixture of doing kind things in hopes of reaping some of the rewards that comes with the acts along with a desire to be there for others at a time of need.  “One hand washes the other.” ….. “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”  …….. “What goes round comes round.”  ….. “One good turn deserves another.”  This, in turn, had me focusing a bit more on what I might be getting out of the encounter instead of ‘random acts of kindness’ and letting go.  

Then I realized I didn’t like what was going on inside me when this happened.  It was taking away the joy and goodwill that I felt when I did something for someone.  I’ve found that through making a decision to act out of kindness and then letting go of whether it was reciprocated or not I’ve gained a sense of freedom.  The freedom to dare greatly and live greatly without being hindered by the tendency to judge others.

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

~ Mother Teresa ~

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“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.” ~Samuel Johnson

~ 20 ways to give without expectations ~ The Tiny Buddha

buddha pixabay

Images by Pixabay

Me in the Middle ~ Kindness Role Model

 

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

(Albert Schweitzer, 1875 – 1965)

Row_of_candles

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So many down through the years have been kindness role models for me.  It’s hard to single out just one person.  It’s difficult to be the one and only kindness role model for others because, inevitably, we won’t always measure up to that role because we are human.  Sometimes we need to be unkind in order to be kind and sometimes others need to be unkind to us in order to be kind.  (Do I really mean that? 😉 )  

My earliest and forever kindness role model would be my mother.  I am blessed to have had her example.  My father was also a man of kindness and gentleness.  I don’t recall either of them treating anyone in a overtly nasty or unkind way.  They had strong principles and beliefs, and definitely drew the line on others who might think and believe differently yet I never heard them express their disapproval in hurtful and ugly ways.  It was mostly done in thoughtful ways.

One memory of kindness that stands out was when I messed up at my piano recital and couldn’t remember the rest of the song.  I must have been about nine or ten.  When we returned home my father sat down with me and encouraged me to play the song all the way through so I’d know that I could do it.  I felt supported by his kindness.

Down through the years there were many who displayed kindness along the way. There was one time when I was walking home from Brownies when it was beginning to get dark outside.  A dog ran up to me and blocked my way, growling and barking.  I was paralyzed by fear.  A teenage boy rode up to me on his bicycle and chased the dog away.  I didn’t know who he was, and just rushed on home, relieved he was there to help.  A kind act I still remember!

My family ~ my siblings ~ my children ~ my grandchildren …….. so many acts of kindness I couldn’t even begin to list them.  Many, many friends and acquaintances down through the years who offered a kind and supportive hand during good times and bad, offering words of inspiration just at the right time to give me hope.

I’m going to risk treading into an area that’s a hot-button issue right now only because I strive to look for the goodness and kindness during times when these issues rise up.

For the last ten years I’ve had neighbors across the way who have offered me kindness and support.  They are a Muslim family who have reached out to me and I was privileged to get to know.  I was invited to their home when each child was welcomed into the world.  We would share customary foods with each other during our traditional holidays.  When I had surgery the children would bring over offerings of food to cheer me up.  I was truly blessed with knowing them and learning from them.  Recently they’ve returned to Indonesia to live near relatives.  They have dual-citizenship.  They never said an unkind word about what was happening politically here in our country yet the father shared with me their fear of what was developing.  I think of them often now and hope they are happy in their new home.

 

 

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“We could actually soothe our fearful, angry culture if each of us were more mindful of being kind.  Kindness is not easy.  It takes thought and a commitment to watching how we treat each other.”

Always Model Kindness, Especially to Children

 

Kindness ~ Pass It On

 

Me in the Middle ~ Choose Kindness

 

smilies-1607165__340

Image by Pixabay

Social Media is becoming a real threat to choosing kindness.  Unless you choose wisely we can find ourselves drawn into the nasty ugly side of social media.  I’ve done a pretty good job of steering clear of hot-button issues that draw out the mean-spirited ugly side of human nature.  Just recently I had a lapse of common sense and decided to weigh in on a viral video.  I was immediately reminded of all the reasons why it’s best to choose kindness when it comes to social media.  Next time I see Facebook friends jumping on the bandwagon of a viral video I’ll choose kindness and scroll on by. 

” “I mean, in hindsight, I wish we could’ve walked away and avoided the whole thing,” ..

(Covington Catholic High School Student)  

Best video I’ve seen on this.

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Sometimes when making a commitment to choose kindness, especially during these tense political times, we can be perceived negatively.  Choosing kindness is seen as a cop out from joining the fray in both personal misunderstandings and political misunderstandings…….  Kindness and setting healthy boundaries can be seen as being weak or ‘passive-aggressive’ instead being seen as an attempt to show tact and diplomacy while standing up for your opinions.  I’ve decided not to be swayed from my choice not to join the fray and instead to choose kindness.   Others will choose to see you in a certain way no matter how you present yourself.  Choosing to be kind over needing to be right takes a self-acceptance and an ability to let go of control.  Choosing to be kind over needing to be right recognizes when there’s no longer an openness and respect for differing opinions.  Choosing kindness really requires a maturity and strength.

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“Sometimes I lay under the moon and thank God I’m breathing ~

Then I pray don’t take me soon cause I’m here for a reason.”

Spread Kindness ~ It’s not about win or lose

“i want to be so kind it echoes backwards in time and undoes the things that hurt you.  i want to be so kind it radiates from me.  i want to be so kind that i make someone else find faith in humanity again.   There’s not much i can do,  i’m small and weak and i only know so many words. but i know i can be kind. and sometimes, i believe, that changes the world.”

~ inkskinned ~

Me in the Middle ~ Self-Compassion

 

Self-Compassion

Compassion ~ Brene Brown

One Mother’s Day I went to the church service at my son and daughter-in-law’s place of worship.  We were a group of eight so getting ready in the morning and getting out the door was a bit of a challenge.  My son was ready before all of us and just smiled and said “It’s an exercise in patience.”  When we arrived for the service, we were late and had to tip-toe in during the Mother’s Day sermon.  It was a sermon on ‘Patience’.  😀  As we made our way to our seats, the pastor was saying “And if we find ourselves always arriving late, we need to have patience with ourselves.”  It really gave us all a laugh!  😀  It helped to give us ‘self-compassion’ and lightened up the moment.

What I took away from that sermon was the message on a photo on the huge overhead screen.  The pastor was sharing the story of what was written on Ruth Bell Graham’s tombstone.  It was a message of Self-Compassion and Humility.  It was a reminder that we’re all ‘under construction’ in this life.

“End of Construction – Thank you for your patience.”

Ruth Bell Graham

 

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I remember those times when things were particularly stressful in my life and I felt I wasn’t measuring up to my expectations for myself.  I was being my own worst critic and definitely much too hard on myself.  Then I read the quote below in a book I was reading for inspiration.  It was such a kind and compassionate image of God being there with us through it all.

“Please be patient. God isn’t finished with me yet….”

Self-Compassion Meditation

~ Chinese Symbol sketch by Mary Lou ~