Tag Archives: kindness

Teaching People How To Treat You

Teaching people how to treat you….

If you have any friends worth their salt, you have heard the phrase “you deserve better than that.” But here is my question, when it was said, did you believe it? Did you believe it on a soul level? And if you did, what did you do about it?

In my life, I have been terrible at believing I deserve the bad things that have happened. There were disturbing things that happened to me in childhood that I always felt I somehow invited. There was the high school boyfriend who cheated on me and I believed that I somehow neglected him into the action. The same boyfriend who was jealous and controlling and I thought that was somehow okay. Looking at it through eyes that are very removed from the situation, it is easy to see that people who cheat, often project. 

There were bosses who didn’t see my worth. I see now they were so concerned with their own worth, they did not know how to mold and develop their employees. There were friends who saw me as a different person than I am. I thought I deserved it because I did make some mistakes (because I’m human). There was an ex-husband who did not treat me like a woman, but rather someone to take care of him. I thought, I made the choice to marry him, and that’s that. I made my bed, and now I live in it. 

But here’s the truth; I had some responsibility in all of those things. Truly. It just wasn’t the way I saw it at the time. With that high school boyfriend, I should have refused to be treated that way. I should have told him to deal with his own feelings of guilt and stop projecting on me, or we were finished. In the workplace, I should have been more confident in my abilities and more forceful with my ideas. And if I couldn’t be in that company, I should have been willing to leave for other opportunities. With friends, it is difficult because the easiest thing to do is walk away, which is essentially what I did. But I should have let them know why and how I saw the things they were doing and saying behind my back and their attitudes toward me. Maybe then I could have ended things with cleaner conscience. 

The marriage is harder. I thought I was clear about how I wouldn’t be treated. There were several times I refused to be treated certain ways. In the beginning of our relationship, he got jealous for no reason and I told him that it was his problem and he was going to have to get it figured out, and he did. And he never threw another jealous fit again in 17 years. I stood up for myself when he told me to shut up, and he never did it again. But I don’t think I told him what I needed enough, but it is also possible he just wasn’t capable, and sometimes we have to be smart enough to know that too, and to accept that and walk away.  

But when you find the people you know you want in your life, you have to be willing to teach them what you need and what you will not put up with. You have to be willing to say, when I act like this, I need a little extra patience. You need to be able to say, I will not be spoken to like that, I don’t deserve it. But most importantly, you really have to believe that you deserve it. It boils down to you really having to believe you are WORTH it. And you are. 

Stronger Than Yesterday,

Alice

The Tao of Mr. Rogers

The Tao of Mr. Rogers….

While I am not a fan of resolutions I have been trying really hard to make both my 48th year and 2020 the year I am kinder to myself.

It started by not filtering my photos.

It’s a small step but if I can’t embrace and love who I am, how can I possibly expect anyone else to?

A lot of this shift started with Mr. Rogers.

I work with the under five set and I grew up on Mr. Rogers, so when the Tom Hanks movie came out, I started visiting with my favorite cardigan wearing sage again.

Secret: I would change my shoes and put on a sweater when I would watch the show when I was little.

Now you know that about me.

ANYWAY…

One of my favorite quotes from my man is:

“There is no person in the whole world like you and I like you just the way you are.”

Another absolutely fantastic one:

“There isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.”

Yet we live in a world that tells us to hide our true selves away.

As I write this I am snuggled under a blanket that looks like a tortilla because I love tacos.

Obsessively so.

I am a taco snob.

For real.

I fly that flag- high.

As I should. 

But along the way I’ve been teased, questioned, gotten an eye roll.

Why?

That’s a teeny example. A random kinda silly one.

But a bigger secret. A deeper, harder one to share. I am incredibly shy. I have a hard time showing my true self to people I care about. See people I’m dating. Yes we are going there, just a little for now. I worry about being too much. Not enough. I have had a bad habit of comparing myself to other people.

Boy, Mr. Rogers would be disappointed in me for that one.

There isn’t a magic switch to make that stop. But, I have changed my environment. I’m working on changing my mindset.

I have edited out the people who thrive on being negative cheerleaders. Here’s the thing. I appreciate honesty. I don’t appreciate cruel. Backhanded compliments. People who feed my insecurities.

We all have had those people… “I’m your honest friend.”

Are you?

A blog for never.

Forty eight may be the year of no filter, but it’s also the year I let certain things go.

Even if they’re people.

Somewhere along the way we forgot the lessons from our childhood. Being yourself is amazing. People who really, truly love you will love you. Even if you have a really unhealthy obsession with tacos.

Trust me.

I am also wearing taco socks right now. Yup, also a gift.

I know it’s hard. Being yourself. Not comparing. But did you forget who you are?

You’re a Momma and there is absolutely no one like you, and that makes you amazing.

 

Much love Mommas

<3 Caprise

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

Gratitude Is Like A Birthday Present

Is it my birthday

Gratitude is like birthday presents. It comes in all different sizes & packages. It comes from places you expect and places that surprise you. Some gifts rock your world while others look like they were a re-gift from the 80’s. Some are given with the fullness of authentic love while others are backed up with an obligation attitude.

To express gratitude takes effort. To stop in your tracks and have the thought is good, but then to speak the words… that takes a conscious act of the heart.

It could look like this:

A small size gratitude could look like a 20 second thanks while you’re running between errands and someone held the door for you.

A medium gratitude might look like a surprise as someone gives you a treat you never would’ve imagined, & you blurt out a laughter within the Thank You.

A large size gratitude comes from deep within your soul where truthful thanks exist. You take a minute to give an honest word of thanksgiving, you look the person in the eyes & you let them know you mean what you say.

The true spirit comes from a thankful heart. A heart who knows things could be worse, acknowledges it is exactly how it is supposed to be right now and it is GOOD. How do you do that you may ask….. What is there possibly to be grateful for in your tragic drama-full life.” You say. An attitude of gratitude can be practiced every day starting with little things, meaningful details, acceptance of mediocrity. A good way to get yourself in the mood is to start a journal and write down 3 things your grateful for every day and see where it takes you

Start here: ….. toothbrush & toothpaste, a hot cup of coffee, clean clothes, hot shower.

It could take you to a happy place you never knew existed.

Your God Girl,

Tracy

Cut Yourself A Break

Cut yourself a break.

Why is it that we are mean to ourselves? Not just rude, but down right mean. Since I was little everyone called me Rah-Rah Rachel. Lifting other people up was and well…. still is my entire identity. How did I insert a light switch into the way I talk to others, verses myself? I spend my days crafting ways to lift others up. Do they need a card with reasons why they are important, should I pay for their heating fuel with all my taxes, should I drop off flowers because they posted they had a rough week? I search.   I search day in and day out for how to help lift others, and yet I drop myself.

I do a nightly routine of squeezing my mama chunk roles, and self-loathing. I never even noticed I was doing it each night until my husband told me to stop, and I was perfect the way I was. I would grab my rolls and squeeze them tight, huffing and puffing about how unhappy with my body I was. I wouldn’t sit down and eat a warm meal, I was racing around to clean the dishes verses just stopping and putting me before a pile of stationary dishes. They weren’t going anywhere…. But I couldn’t stop myself or love myself enough to give myself a moment break.

My fellow mamas, I’m sure you’re in the same spot. You equate the price of shirt your looking at for yourself, into bottles of formula, day care costs, kid activities, laundry detergent. The shirt never makes it home because you don’t rank on the importance scale in your head.  YOU ARE IMPORTANT. You DO matter!  It’s not about the shirt. It’s about the concept!

Self-care isn’t all about bubble baths, and new clothing. Sometimes it’s not pinching your belly chunk or leaving the dishes. Sometimes its talking to yourself like you would a friend. It’s blasting a song, singing silly in the car with the windows down not caring who is watching, or sipping a cup of coffee in 5 minutes peace. Make yourself important. Put your needs first even once a day. If it is leaving the laundry till tomorrow. Leave it. It won’t go anywhere, but you deserve kindness. You deserve a moment to just yourself, however you choose to use it.

Stay Positive and Kind,

Rah- Rah Rachel

“Your trauma is valid. Even if other people have experienced “worse”. Even if someone else who went through the same experience doesn’t feel debilitated by it. Even if it “could have been avoided”. Even if it happened a long time ago. Even if no one knows. Your trauma is real and valid, and you deserve a space to talk about it. It isn’t desperate or pathetic or attention-seeking. It’s self-care. It’s inconceivably brave. And regardless of the magnitude of your struggle, you’re allowed to take care of yourself by processing and unloading some of the pain you carry. Your pain matters. Your experience matters, and your healing matters. Nothing and no one can take that away.” — Daniell Koepke

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

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

Finding Benevolence In Chaos

When you are a single mother, most of the time you are fearful that you won’t be able to make ends meet. Trying to hail mary a check at the grocery because your pantry is empty. I have been there so many times. We are constantly reminded, “the struggle is real”.

Lucky enough, I was able to find a job at a local trauma hospital. Watch out local market, here we come!

I saw things that  will not settle in my psyche for a long time. Along with severe accidents, there were things that were amusing. A nice balance of good and bad.

Over time, I was able to somewhat shield myself from the chaos. After this, I realized that I was going to be given a huge life lesson.

Originally, I thought I was not able to feel compassion for others. I was too involved in my own life to pay attention. It was then that my heart opened up and my lessons were about to be learned.

Most of the reps would take the easy cases. They would shy away from the others. Since I had a job to do, I took the ones that they didn’t want. Compassion 101.

While a family was waiting for their person, I checked and offered what could be done to make them comfortable. Tissues? Ice water? A warm blanket? It was only 2 minutes of my time. Later in the night, they had thanked me for being so sweet.

I took the unruly kids to the snack drawer and loaded them with treats. They were thrilled!

Eventually,I scouted out the patient’s that needed kind words or special treats. It was my lesson because I began to see the blessings of kindness. My little ole heart had started to open. Indeed, not everyone was a jerk.

Compassion and kindness are free. Most people appreciate small gestures. Take the time to smile. Practice, practice, practice. Go thru the lesson to get the reward. At the end of the day, embrace your blessing. You won’t be disappointed.

Striving for exceptional – Tristen Ahlsey