Tag Archives: kind

The Caretaker Of Broken Dreams

The Caretaker Of Broken Dreams..

“We’ve buried dreams, laid them deep into the earth behind us. Said our goodbyes at the grave, yet everything reminds us. God knows we ache, but he asks us to go on… how do we go on?”

~Ellie Holcomb

I’d been wandering through the same leaves, the same graves… struggling to remember exactly where he was. It had been years since I’d placed my hands on the earth that held what remained of a brother I never got the chance to know.

The caretaker must have seen my wandering. He gently approached me and asked who I was looking for. I couldn’t help but notice the kindness in his eyes… his voice. He didn’t ask me what grave I was looking for, he asked me who I was looking for. I told him my brother’s name and he gently led me over to his grave… mere feet away from where I was standing. And isn’t that the thing… so often when we feel utterly lost, we’re closer than we know to finding what we need?

I traced his name with my fingers, brushed leaves off his grave. Funny how we want to tend and take care of things for people we love who are gone. I think sometimes these small, tender acts simply remind us of what once existed, remind us of what’s been lost.

I never used to visit the cemetery. When they put up a memorial for children who’d died in a local park and my brother’s name was etched into the stone, I didn’t want to attend the ceremony. Who wants to feel the weight of that loss again and again? For many years, I’d it pushed down, held it at bay, the pain and grief of loss. I thought that maybe if I held it down, swallowed it deep, maybe I could avoid the crushing ache of it.

And for many years… that worked. Or it worked as well as it can when your body is holding onto an aching sadness. Because the thing is, you don’t just lose a person, you lose the way it feels like your life should have gone. You lose what you thought would be your life. And you can only hold that for so long until it comes busting out.

25 years after losing my first brother, I lost the only other brother I’d known. And his loss was sudden, traumatic, and crushing. What was the last thing I said to him? Did he know how deeply I loved him? Was there something, anything I could have done to save him? That loss sent me reeling, and yet I quietly pushed it down. How do you put words to grief that shakes the foundation of what you thought you knew?

Three weeks after losing him, two surgeons took out my womb, and my hope for carrying more children ended more abruptly than I was ready for.

Although, who is ever really ready to bury a dream?

And in the months that followed, it felt like I dug a grave of loss so deep I’d never climb out.
I buried a brother, then the dream for more babies, a job I loved, a place I loved, a marriage, the life I’d known for the last decade of my life. All buried in quick succession. And in burying those dreams you bury other things. You bury relationships, spaces, and places that you once fit, things you used to be sure of, your sense of worth and belonging.

And again, I pushed it down, held it at bay… Until I couldn’t anymore. One morning several months later, I woke up and the tears came and wouldn’t stop. They bubbled over until my body trembled at the weight of what they meant. I was fully feeling the loss. And they’ve been coming ever since.

And at first that scared me. I felt ashamed. Was I falling apart? Was I weak? Why couldn’t I keep it together? Why couldn’t I just put my chin up and move on? Life is hard for everyone, and my trauma is small in comparison to other people’s. So why was it a struggle just to get out of bed and face the day?

The caretaker told me there was someone with the same name as my brother and asked who he was to me. I told him that was my grandfather. I thanked him for helping me find my way and watched him go about the care of a place that holds many buried dreams. My eyes scanned the sea of graves and I wondered… How much care and compassion must he have to know the names on gravestones? My breath caught at the nature of his work. But more than that my eyes welled at his kindness.

I knelt next to the grave, raked my fingers through the ground, rolled up my sleeve and laid the tattooed ashes of one brother alongside the grave of another. And my heart broke at the beauty and devastation of that moment.

It had taken 27 years… but I was fully feeling the loss. I was acknowledging that it mattered. Sometimes we need to say their names. We need to speak about the broken places. We need to dig our hands in the earth where our dreams have been buried. We need to allow grief to be part of our story instead of trying to move forward as if we are the same. Because we aren’t.

I ran into a dear acquaintance at the grocery store recently who looked into my eyes and genuinely asked me how I was. The care and compassion on her face was evident. And as we embraced she said something I will never forget “I’m on your side… no, there are no sides… I’m in your corner.” I looked at her and nodded “No, there are no sides…” I repeated. She told me how she’d read an article recently about how no one brings casseroles to people going through divorce. And she reminded me that it’s okay to gather up your people and weather the storm with them, without explaining where you went. She reminded me that sometimes the places and spaces we so desperately wish were a safe place for our pain, simply aren’t. And that maybe the beauty in all of this is that we can be a safe place for someone else walking a similar road someday. Because there is nothing quite as healing as knowing you aren’t alone.

So how do we go on…? How do we put one foot in front of the other in this life that now feels new and unfamiliar? How do we make sense of the loss, acknowledge it, feel it, and yet still move forward? How do we live it and not lose ourselves in it? My deeply insightful answer is this: I don’t know. I don’t know how to do this well. Maybe none of us do. There is no manual for this. No one can tell you how to bury dreams and carry loss well. We just find our way, wrack our hands through the dirt that carries our loss, and attempt to wrap our arms around people walking a similar road… letting them know they aren’t alone.

And cemetery caretakers and women in grocery stores may just be balm to our wounds, if we let them. What I find deeply beautiful about pain… is the way it brings out compassion.

So might I say something? Today, be the cemetery caretaker and help someone who is a little lost find their way…. Be the woman in the grocery store and stand in someone’s corner without needing to know the story. Be the balm to someone’s wounds. Err on the side of compassion and write the note, send the flowers, make the casserole, pay for the coffee of the person behind you, wrap your arms around someone. Give them the balm of your kindness, help them find their way. Or, kneel next to them in the dirt, ask them how they really are, and trace the pain of their losses. It’s what will help them go on.

Death, loss, divorce, the estranged family member, illness, childlessness, financial crisis… the list goes on. We’ve all buried dreams. We’ve all racked our hands in some kind of dirt and whispered “this wasn’t how it was supposed to go.”

I sat there for awhile, arm stretched out, brother next to brother, fingers etching a grave, hands feeling the dirt. And then I looked up to see the caretaker tenderly digging in the earth. I don’t know why. I do know it felt an awful lot like love watching a man carefully shovel dirt and tending to loss in such a profoundly intimate way. Maybe we could all learn a thing or two from the caretaker who spends his days carrying losses and helping people find their way.

-Michaela

Spread The Love

Spread The Love.

Recently, I’ve suffered from a little lack of inspiration. For someone that spends most of their time writing, this issue can become a little concerning.

My days have been full of mostly schoolwork and student government duties, which basically left my brain little space for creativity. (The struggle is real).

The other day, however, one of my teachers made a very simple statement that once again got my creative juices flowing. The words, “Spread the love”, stuck with me for the remainder of the day.

I’d repeat the statement over, and over again in my mind. There was something about the simplicity of those three words–yet the strong impact that it could have on so many people–that inspired me. The phrase itself could have so many meanings, but all of them have a kind purpose.

“Spread the Love” is something we should follow every day, especially in today’s world, where kindness is not always our number one priority. This made me ponder on how the phrase could be used in my everyday life. I don’t necessarily think that it means you always need to be happy.  That is obviously not realistic, since all of us struggle with the ups and downs of life.

What I do think it means is to be mindful of how you treat others during those ups and downs. It’s never okay to treat those around you with anything less than kindness. Our goal should always be to raise people up, not put them down for the purpose of trying to feel better ourselves. I know that growing up in a world of social media has made many teens think that it’s ok to say negative things. It’s especially easy when you’re hiding behind a computer screen. I encourage everyone reading this to practice spreading the love. Whether its behind a screen, or in person.

As a society we must spread positivity, spread kindness, and, most importantly, SPREAD THE LOVE!

-Dani <3

Operation: Kindness

I didn’t think up this idea by myself. A friend challenged me to put my positivity on paper. I have always been a gal who thrives on spreading kindness. Ever since I was little girl, that was my goal to make others feel important. But we all have had a plot twist moment. You know, that moment where you can picture everything about that moment, no matter how old you grow?

I remember flying to London in high school. As we rounded a corner in I saw someone homeless with a sign and a tattered blanket. I watched men in what looked like million-dollar suits walk by him, with painted looks of disgust. How? Sure, I was young and naive, but when did a person lose their worth? I knew I came from a close-knit small town, but it didn’t make sense. I walked over, handed him the money I had, and thrust the words that trembled on my tongue “You matter sir, and I hope you never forget that” He eyes welled with tears, and it broke my heart. How did so many people walk by him, but yet he felt invisible. I promised myself that I would make it my mission to see people. In whatever state of their life, to do my best not to judge, but to lift them up and remind them of their worth.

I had been blessed with a family who always did that, and my love bucket was filled. I wanted to make sure others were filled too! Now that I’m raising my own 3 kids, and am married, I have made it my mission to fill their buckets daily, as well as anyone I encounter. It is not often big ways, I’m lucky if I remember to bring the cup of coffee I brewed to work, verse leaving it on the counter. But in world I can be anything, I want to be kind. I want to make people smile and remember that they are capable of happiness. Since London, I have done it, and it has made me the happiest woman alive.

 

Stay Positive and Kind,

Rah- Rah Rachel

Be Better In The Middle Of Your Grief

What on earth? How many tears can one body produce? How many boxes of tissues must you go through? And what’s up with the mad… sad… content… tears… misery… anger… denial… tears… happy….. anxiety… pissed off… acceptance and back to sad again? Welcome to the “Stages of GRIEF”.

Can you hear yourself.… “Really? Can’t I just go back to sleep and then it will all go away? What about a therapist, won’t that cure the crabbiness? I know, I know…. chocolate. That always makes me feel better? Waaaaaah.

You have good days and bad days. And the triggers come out of nowhere and at the most obscure times let alone when you’re not expecting it. And the rollercoaster ride of Grrrrrief seems to be going and going and going. When will it stop?

And not for nothing but…..

You want your life back the way it was. You want the to-do’s back in order and the schedule back on track. You really want a do-over. Why is going through the Stages of Grief so hard? Well it JUST IS. Seriously. Nobody wants to be the one left behind, nobody plans to lose a loved one, and nobody knows what its like until they experience it. Nobody can judge the length of time it takes you, nobody can heal your heart and nobody can wipe the tears to stop. Just you. If you trust God, like I do, turn to Him in your sadness and ask for healing. Do what you have to do and press on with joy in the sadness.

Maybe just maybe, when you’re on the other side of this, you can be a smile in someone else’s grief, share a hug, speak a kind word, offer a nice gesture. Do something to ease their pain because you remember how hard it was for you. But for now…..be a better you in the middle of your grief.

 

Your God Girl,

Tracy xoxo

It Could Be You

It could be you….Picture it.  You’re late for work and the driver in front of you is going…so…slow.  I mean – molasses in January in Maine slow.  You want to honk.  You want to scream.  You’re literally losing your mind. Am I right?  Why are people so self-absorbed and inconsiderate? You just want to get where you need to be!

Now imagine you’ve had a super long day and you’ve run into the grocery store to grab a few things.  You’ve beat the crowds and you’re next in line, when some lady saunters up and sets her stuff down in front of you.  Did she really just cut in line?  What do you say to her?  How do you feel?  Wow.  The audacity!

Typical stuff in modern life when out and about.  We’ve all experienced one of these things – or something like them.  And we probably all felt a little outraged, angry or indignant.  Maybe you even said something to the person – a cutting remark meant to remind them of their horrible behavior and put them in their place.  “Hey buddy – gas pedal is on the right!” or “What the hell?” C’mon – we’ve all done it.  They deserved it, right?

Maybe not.

What do you know about the slow driver or the line cutter?  Truly.  What do you know about them other than the fact that they seem to be oblivious to others?  Probably nothing.  You don’t need to know anything to know that they’re rude, do you?

Actually, you do.

That slow driver might have just said goodbye to their mom or dad for the last time.  Maybe they’re driving home after having just received a terminal diagnosis.  Perhaps that line cutter was distracted because those pads she’s buying are because she’s currently miscarrying.  Or maybe she’s in the middle of a divorce and rushing home to her kids who are home alone for the first time.  You don’t know.

Maybe you don’t care.  I mean after all – they’re still being rude, right?

But here’s the thing.  They could be you.  Someday you’ll be old, and you might struggle to drive.  Someday you will lose a loved one and, in your grief, you might do something you didn’t intend to do.  Someday your world may come crashing down and you will be them without even realizing it.

I tell you this from experience.  I’ve run a stop sign during a time of grief.  I’ve snapped at a cashier during a miscarriage.  I’ve lost my shit during a divorce and I’ve been the slow driver after I was told my baby might not survive.  But do you know what?  If you ask my friends and family, I probably say please and thank you more than anyone I know and I’m typically pretty considerate.  Those actions were not me.  One less honk, one less middle finger and one more wave of “it’s ok – it happens to the best of us” would have meant the world in those moments.

When things happen we often jump to conclusions, assuming the worst motives and assigning blame.  But that doesn’t make the world a kinder place.  Maybe those people are just rude.  But maybe they’re not.  Maybe they’re sick, hurting, distracted or afraid.  And maybe, in a year or five or ten, they will be you or your loved one.  And when that time comes, I guarantee that you will be grateful for the stranger who gives you the benefit of the doubt.  So please, be kind.  Judge less.  Care more.  Remember what you don’t know.  And never forget that someday, it could be you.

 

~Cassandra

Lessons and Changes Within Leadership

I was listening to a T.D. Jakes sermon this morning while on the treadmill and he said that “with new levels come new devils.”  He went on to explain that success and leadership are actually very painful and arrive with a whole new set of things to overcome.  When God has placed a calling on your life He sets out to equip you for it.  This usually involves challenges and circumstances that will bring you to your knees.   When you are in God’s leadership training you don’t actually know it at first, you don’t get a letter in the mail, no email comes, no memo, no warnings.  Life just starts to kick the crap out of you, challenges come at you, people betray you, and relationships disappoint you. You navigate each situation and you get stronger.  Every time you pick yourself up, you keep going and you never quit.  Then one day you look back and see that there was a reason for all of those things

Success is often viewed as leadership.  People in positions of leadership are seen as having ‘made it’ in some way.  They are thought to be the winners, the ones that have reached their goals and achieved some modicum of prosperity.

A lot of people want to be Leaders; they envision that being a Leader is important, filled with glory and has a lot of perks…perhaps they even think that being a Leader is where the ‘money’ is.  The truth?  Being a Leader, is in fact, more difficult than any other task. Being a good or great Leader?  That requires more work than most people can even fathom.

In order to lead you must be able to follow…happily and humbly.  You must be able to take direction and work within someone else’s framework even if you think you could do it better. If you can’t follow someone else then NOBODY will ever follow you, no matter how amazing you perceive yourself to be.  This is an important skill to instill in young people, the act of following happily and humbly.  I promise you that every great Leader began by following someone else first.

To lead successfully you must also lead by example, you must first have done the task that you now wish to entrust to someone else.  You must have executed that task to fully learn how to do it with excellence and to understand what it feels like to do that particular thing.  If you want to order people around then you better be coming from a place that includes already doing that work, otherwise people will not do as you ask and they will resent you.  If you think you are too good to clean windows or toilets or empty trash, then I suggest you remember where you came from and I suggest that you don’t imagine that someone “beneath” you should do those things.

I don’t care who you are or who you think you are—nobody is beneath you and you are not better than anyone else on this planet.  You may be different and you may have more advanced skills and you may make more money, however you are not ‘better’ than any other human being.  God created all of us equal and to be a great Leader you will do well to remember this and to treat people accordingly.

Real Leaders want to build people up and help them get to the next level in their lives; Leaders know that their job is to leave this planet better than they found it.  They make it their business to INSPIRE other people, not make fun of them or put them down.

I see so many people trying to succeed and trying to lead and they just seem to keep forgetting the source of true leadership which is to lead by example.  You must first FOLLOW the disciplines that you wish to teach, you must walk the walk and succeed there before anyone will listen to you.  Sure, you can lead without doing this and whatever you are trying to do will not hold water, eventually it will collapse on top of you and you won’t prosper to your full ability.

You can’t sleep late, live like a pig, be rude, make fun of people, and lack self-discipline and then get dressed up and go and tell people how to be a success.  People may look like they are listening, yet you will lack the authenticity needed to produce results.  You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.  You can even put eye shadow and a dress on it, but it is still a pig.

Gandhi said “be the change in the world that you want to see”, that is really good advice.

Be authentic and don’t try to teach people things that you haven’t already walked through.

~Noelle

Innocence of Children

Our 7 year old approached us last night in complete disgust complaining that someone in her class had made fun of the inside of her nose. Yep, you read that correctly..lol. Not because she was picking her nose but those ridges inside your nose?-Yeah those. Just the presence of them. I looked at my husband with disgust in the fact that kids now resort to making fun of something everyone has and trying to hide my laughter after seeing my daughters face while she was explaining to us, knowing full well that she cannot possibly fathom why people make “fun” of each other.

She’s in the 1st grade, we have to talk to her almost weekly about how not to treat others that way, since she started pre-school at 3.  As you all know we have 2 older children, whom I do not recall all the teasing and poking fun happening with them at such an early age.  It’s absurd!

She is not a girlie girl and doesn’t care to dress in “fancy” clothes, and quite honestly if I didn’t intervene she would go to school and out in public looking like a mis-matched, outdated, rag muffin.  Jeans, sweatpants, sweatshirts, and t-shirts are her preference and when it comes to shoes, she would rather not wear any.  Occasionally she will come downstairs in a dress that my grandmother sent her styled and popular in 1972 and think it is the most beautiful thing she has ever seen. Her sense of “style” is crazy and I am perfectly ok with that but most kids her age are not.  Breaks my heart for her.

She is our wild child and loves to sing, dance, paint, draw, and write songs! She loves to fish, kayak, swim, camp, bugs, snakes, animals and the dirtier she is the happier she is! It’s a daily struggle to get her to go to school-although, she loves it when she gets there-and she’s super smart, she just has things to tend to -school gets in the way 🙂

You try to help your children not “mold” in to what others think they should be. You want them to stay as innocent and perfectly themselves, forever. And no matter how hard you try to keep them true to who they are, there is no denying it’s a struggle. Outside influences have a lot of power, and at any age it’s difficult. I struggle with what others think or say about me, not to the degree that I lose sleep over it or let it control my day, but it’s still there.

Kindness and Compassion are virtues that have become less and less. Remember-it costs absolutely NOTHING to be kind to one another.

Love to All-

Kim

Kill Them With Kindness

About a month ago Noelle asked me to help with content on the blog-and if you remember I stated that I was terrified! I am not a strong writer, and rather think my life is dull most days. In order to inspire me on topics and subjects I started the 30 day writing challenge and asked you to join me.

Today- we are asked to write about something we feel strongly about. I am highly opinionated so for once my writing assignment is a struggle to narrow down 🙂 Generally, I have difficulties deciding on where or what-not this time!

With all that being said one thing is for certain that I do not waiver on and that is kindness. It’s free, it’s simple, and it means more than most can possibly imagine. We have taught our children to be kind to EVERYONE. Even more so to the ones who are not kind to you. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to chase them down and put up with their selfish and cruel behavior. But it does mean “kill them with kindness”, when meeting them in the hallway, street, playground. A simple “Hello” goes a long ways. I have lost many opportunities to be kind to someone only to find later that on that particular day they needed the kindness more than they quite possibly needed air. I do not believe people are purposely cruel and mean. I believe something has led them to become that. And if kindness can help just a bit-I can do that!

 

Love to All-Kim