This is one of my favorite quotes. I think it is also an excellent example of being compassionate as well. We often feel we have to be all in on something. This says different. This says it is okay not to be perfect. It is okay to not hit the mark. This says that we can try again tomorrow and that is still courage to reach our ideals. I used to feel beaten down and defeated at the end of the day because people were so mean, and all I wanted to do was be nice. I felt bad about being cynical and jaded about people. Even still though, there was always a small part of me that continued to try. I didn’t really understand it. How can I keep doing this to myself. Why did I keep doing this to myself. Why couldn’t I make the switch from Optimistic to Pessimistic. It seemed to be pessimistic was a lot less hurtful. I wouldn’t expect people to be kind, empathetic or compassionate.
At my lowest, I loathed the fact that I still had that seed of optimism in people; in humanity. Why could I not just let it go. I had been hurt badly by someone I had tried to believe only the best about. I tried over and over, day after day to deal with this person. In the end always feeling trampled down, insignificant and worthless. I have a tendency when hurt to do a lot of self-analysis. Sometimes that includes reading books. I can’t tell you what book I was reading at the time. Sometimes I think we are drawn to a book for just one sentence we need in our life at that exact moment. In this book I had stumbled upon a Nelson Mandela quote that just seemed to breathe optimism right back in me. It was renewed with a strong steady flame.
I wasn’t excusing this persons behavior but I was no longer taking on the hurt they caused either. I could change. I could embrace who I felt I really wanted to be a kind, compassionate caring person. I would not live up to this others idea of who I was, manipulative controlling and cruel. I would prove them wrong day by day by having the courage to practice being compassionate anew each day. It wasn’t until I realized being compassionate was a practice, not just who you are, that I seemed to get anywhere. It first had to start with being compassionate to me. WHAT? I had to be gentle with myself? I had to forgive myself for not always having compassionate thoughts and behavior? I didn’t know how to do that. This was when I really put that first quote into daily practice. I would tell myself, ” So I didn’t roar today, tomorrow I will try again. I am doing the best I can. Tomorrow is another day.” I didn’t realize what I was doing was basically positive affirmations. I just knew it was working. Slowly but surely the hurt from people being mean stung less and less.
My appetite drenched for more, I read more and more books about compassion, love and kindness. I read Buddha. I read Nawang Khechog. I delved more into Tibetan Buddhism and reached deep into Native American culture. Sitting Bull, Black Elk, Chief Seattle and ate up ideas from the Dakota and Lakota nations. I was slowly learning that I could piece together what and how I wanted to believe and thus behave. These books, these words, these people fed and fanned the flame inside me. The flame that wanted and needed to believe in compassion, empathy, love and kindness.
I am not saying the hate and the heartache that is going on in the world today is not affecting me. It is. In fact, I am fairly sure it has been hindering my writing as I can not wrap my head around this kind of hate. Where as the me of several years ago would have hardly been surprised by the hate of today. The only difference from the several years ago me and now is, I will try again tomorrow. I will try again the tomorrow after that and continue on trying again. Because I know, the courage to be compassionate does not always have to be loud and flashy. I will continue to hunt the news and media for kindness, compassion and empathy. I will continue to share that! If it has rekindled the flame in one person to be more compassionate, it has been worth it. I myself may not be able to make humanity turn back to being compassionate but I can cast the first stone of kindness. I can toss compassion to those around me. I can disperse empathy as the medication it truly is.
It is an excruciatingly slow process. I can wish it is not such a slow process. I can. However, I can’t let that hold me back. I can’t let that keep me from showing love and compassion. If you look back over the past several years you can see it. Love has made some huge wins. Hate tries to fire back. It is up to us if we want to feed that hate or refuse it. I am not saying let people off the hook for their actions. No, I am saying though meet their actions with love. Take the time to see why and how they got to this point. LISTEN to them. Have empathy for their position but rebuke the hate and smother it in love and caring. As a Mother, I do this. I listen to my daughter when she is so angry and upset. When she feels a deep injustice has been dealt to her. It won’t get her out of trouble for her actions but it lets her know I care. I hear her and that is all any one ever wants, to be heard. To be seen. It is past time we start doing this with our neighbors, our friends, and yes even strangers.
Join us. Read, Share, Write. 1000 Voices of Compassion Speak is just that. Voices crying out for compassion to be heard. To be practiced. We are just one big village asking other villages to listen. To not drowned in the hate and intolerance and injustice of this world but to see the positive.
These last six months , seven months, they have been tough. I am still not feeling settled and I know it is going to take several months for that to happen. I want it to happen now. Right now. I guesss I should have the patience to trust the universe by now.
I haven’t known how to start. Where to start. A friend was able to give me some prompting questions. I have been sitting with them and trying to answer them. Perhaps I could sit with them some more. However I think they are as complete as they can be right now. Perhaps in six months I can come back to them and sit with them for a while longer.
I am going to post them all at once but answer them one at a time. Not sure what my time table is for it but I will try to keep it to at least one a week. I think I need this for my own steps in healing.
Why? Why do we have to spread so much hate? Why are we using the fact that we have had enough bad things happening as an excuse to spread hate? Why are we allowing ourselves to make assumptions and then make judgements based on those assumptions? Whatever happened to asking questions? What happened to no question is a stupid question?
I think it happened very slowly. It has been building and I see it reaching critical mass. I think it is important to state what we will and won’t tolerate. However, sacrificing the inherit worth and dignity of each person is not the way to go. Insults are only hurtful. Name calling to get your point across is hate. Yet we are grappling with it because PEOPLE are BEING killed. The people we are name calling are stupid and causing the trouble to begin with. I have heard it explained away a thousand times. Often people even bring their religious beliefs into it. I have even seen people use the quote “If your religion requires you to hate then you need a new religion” against Muslims. They are the problem. What is wrong with this though is that it is just as hateful. It is actually not only hateful but ignorant. We are judging an entire religion based on the actions of a few. I am pretty sure if the Jesus you believed in were here, he would call foul on that.
Really you could blanket that to make it apply to just about every hateful situation I have heard in the news lately. We are judging an entire groups of people: Race, Religion, Gender and even Parenting by the actions of a few.
Haven’t we learned that it starts out so slow. People who have gotten fet up with the way things are and want change or don’t want change. People that don’t agree with the government and start protesting. The KKK were resisting change, The Nazi’s wanted change. The KKK started as a social club. A SOCIAL CLUB fueled by hate and the results were horrendous.A social club that elevated themselves over other people because of a difference in RACE. When are we going to learn that meeting hate with hate only gets us more hate and death?
Okay put that on hold for a minute and let me take a little side track.
Recently I have been listening to Brene Brown on Audible. She makes a valid point and one that I have been trying to implement in my daily life. What if you had it on the highest authority that you believe in that every person you met was doing the best they could. Not just the best but the very best. If that doesn’t convict your feelings about a situation I am pretty sure nothing will. That person who took forever in the line in front of you? The very best they could. That person that cut you off? Yup they were doing the best they could. This was very hard for me to understand at first. It wasn’t until later in the book it became more clear. I can’t judge their best based on my standards. However great I feel my standards are they are not the other person’s standards. Huh. Well shit. Look at me being a judgmental bastard. How would I feel if someone judged me based on one of my worst moments, when I was barely hanging on? When I was so stressed out I didn’t even have patience for myself let alone anyone else. DAMN! now I feel bad. So I need to change that.
Now take that and add love. Stir in some U.U. principles ( The inherent worth and dignity of every person;Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;) .
Take a deep breath and tell yourself they are doing the best they can.
This is all great but how can we apply this to daily life?
Instead of judging people and being put out that they are taking so long in the line, I am trying to remember to make eye contact(that’s an important way to value people) and smile. You don’t have to say a word. Smiles project love. Especially when you let it show in your eyes. Which kind of happens when you stop and think they are doing the best they can. It might be just the smile they need that day to keep going.
I have found myself smiling more, enjoying myself more. It is not like I never held a door for someone or helped someone. It has just become almost a basic instinct reaction. Even when I think I don’t have time. The moment I think that, I take a deep breath. This is what works for me. Time is so precious am I really going to waste it being upset someone was in my way for thirty seconds longer than necessary? Oops there it is again. To me it is thirty seconds longer than necessary, if they are doing the best they can then is it really longer then necessary?
I am trying to make my basic instinct reaction one of love. What if everyone, everywhere started thinking like this? What if instead of name calling and demeaning people- we helped raise them up? We helped them improve on being the very best they can. When you look back there is always someone somewhere that helped you be the very best you can be. What if we made that our morning mantra.
I am doing the very best I can.
They are doing the very best they can.
Time is precious, embrace love.
I don’t even want to put the word hate in there. I don’t want to even say it, let alone think it.
This entire post was inspired by something I saw on Facebook. Shocking I know. It started from a pledge that I believe came from the 1000 Voices of Compassion speak
I made this pledge as well. I shared it on my facebook page. For a few days I kept it in mind.
Then Lo and behold Facebook steps in again, mainly because I am picky about what is allowed in my feed to begin with.
Well Shit, I think to myself I did it again. I had been losing my patience and bemoaning certain people to my friends. The good news is I can choose love. I can choose love not just for others but for myself too. I slipped. I am human. It is going to happen. I need to be just as gentle and loving with myself as I aim to be with others. So, even if I made a mistake and chose annoyance, I will choose love next.
If this speaks to you and makes you think, please share it. Share the love. Share the thoughts about love. Take the pledge yourself. Make it your phone wallpaper if you must to remember it. (I have done that before it is a very useful tool). BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY: LOVE.
Thankfuls one to ten.
Recently I have not been as active in Ten Things of Thankful as I would like to be. It wasn’t because I lacked things to be thankful for. There is a plethora. I was missing something. I was missing that link to being thankful to actually feeling thankful. I had gotten to the point where I was like yeah yeah I have this and that and those to be thankful for but really, I am not FEELING thankful. That deep down in the bottom of your heart true feeling of ……….gratitude. Ooooooohhh maybe I need to change the word. Maybe it’s a word thing holding me up. Getting me all tangled and discombobulated.
Here enters in Dr. Rebecca Ray, and her instagram account that somehow I started following and I believe she followed me back and then that was it for a while. Here is someone who is putting out a similar vibe as what I am aiming for and sharing it!!!! Often it happens this innocently , for me anyway, where someone likes a photo. The next thing I know I am on their instagram and then on their website and before you know it I had found and downloaded her gratitude journal. I can’t remember my exact thought process but it followed the line of maybe I need to stop thinking of what I am thankful for. Maybe I need prompts. Oh how I really hate prompts. I really, really do. Don’t tell me what to write about. Don’t give me IDEAS!!!! What if that is not how I am feeling that day? WHAT IF I AM AVOIDING THAT AREA OF MY LIFE?
So I downloaded the journal. I can do this. Sure I can do this. Oh I like that quote. Um. Eh. OHHH that is sticky. Well another thing I absolutely abhor is useless written things. If I write, I want to share. If it helps someone, great. It helps me to share so I share. Some of these though? Oh yeah that word vulnerable came to mind.
Enter in Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong which I had been listening to for, I don’t know a week?. I had long ago decided I was okay with being vulnerable to also have compassion and empathy. Her book was speaking to the whole-hearted living I wanted but also how to deal with the tired of being hurt.
These two things percolated and collided and percolated and collided until I realized the only thing I could do.
I had to post my gratitude journal daily on Instagram. I like Instagram the most because photos say so much more then words but then you can add in words. Poetry words, rhyme words, words in general.
So for my Ten Things of Thankful Post I have included the first five days of my journal. If you are on instagram; sorry for the repeat but now you know the process of how it came to be as well.
Day one of gratitude journal I downloaded from@happihabits
Today I am grateful for the following sounds in my day.
Coffee done brewing dinging
Mockingbirds and hawks
Gratitude journal day two
…..wowzer. I am grateful for my strengths.
On a day where I am not feeling very strong….. I am grateful for my strength to always try again.
I am grateful for my strength to always look for beauty
I am grateful for my strength to believe in good.
I am grateful for my strength to keep going
I am grateful for my strength to live in the now
I am grateful for my strength to function despite depression
I am grateful for my strength to be there for others
I am grateful for my strength to laugh during hardship.
I am grateful for my strength to spread love through the hate
I am grateful for my strength to write about my issues
I don’t even know if these are strengths but I am counting them as such.
Gratitude journal day three
….I am grateful for the simple things in life.
Today’s simple things that I am so incredibly grateful for.
Sun peaking out from behind clouds
Walking in the park with kid and dog
Lunch out with friend
Friends who love on my kid
People who drop and send light/prayers/vibes at the drop of a hat
A car to drive me to appointments
A phone and internet to search for housing
Friends who send me housing ideas
So much more that I can’t even put into words.
Day four of gratitude journal
Wow this is one I struggle with daily often hourly or minute by minute.
I am grateful for my health.
I am grateful for a body that produced such a gorgeous daughter.
I am grateful for a body that provided for my daughter’s needs.
I am grateful for my eye health
I am grateful for the health of my hair.
I am grateful for my health issues as they have made me slow down and look at life differently.Gratitude journal day five
Gratitude Journal day Five:
Today I am grateful for my basic needs being met.
A car to drive
A job to go to
Food to eat
Time to relax
Shelter from the storms
A place to sleep
I don’t know what it is but this has been working and what lays in store is exciting. I am positive it is going to blow my mind. I am positive this is the right track. I am positive this is the grateful that has been missing.
Oh where to begin, where to begin. That has been half my problem of actually hitting the publish button on my writing. My posts don’t really seem to have a begining. It just launches into whatever is in my head at the time and right now that is a freaking lot.
I am so grateful for the people who reach out and say, ” I am thinking of you. I am praying for you. I saw this and thought of you. I am so sorry I wish I could help. ” It means a lot to know I am not in this uphill battle alone.
Uphill battle? , you ask. Oh yes. See for the past several months I have been trying to work with several different agencies that help with housing. The problem has been I am several meetings in with them before they either : A. Refer me to someone else or B. Tell me they can not help me. Our main issue is finding a place in our price range. One we can afford. We have the funds to cover moving in costs, with one stipulation. It has to be a sustainable housing option. Meaning that we can afford the monthly payments and foreseeable can for twelve months. That is the crux of the problem. There is no reasonably priced housing to rent. Between needing two bedrooms, having a child and having a service animal, the no’s have been frequent. When they actually say no and don’t just start laughing.
What about section eight housing you say? Well , I am on the wait list to be notified when the waitlist is actually open and accepting applications again. Habitat for humanity has already disqualified us because we have a judgement against my husband. So we have been in a shelter. One we are so very grateful that we have. There are no scary drug addicts hanging out in the same room as us. It is a cozy little efficiencie but our time there is running out.
At the base of all this is , I am tired. I am tired of searching daily for housing and finding no matches for your search, even when I double what we can afford. I am tired of being judged. I am not working hard enough. I need to give up this, or that, or both of those. I am tired of being told I am lazy. Or that we don’t rent to people like you. I am tired of being told this is my fault.
Not one of those people has any idea what I do every day. Not one of them has asked to see. Not one of them has checked my web history to see that I am searching daily, multiple times a day. Not one of them has driven around , almost aimlessly, Looking for , for rent signs.Not one of them has printed out and provided every scrap and piece of their budget and their private lives to the scrutiny of an agency. I have a tendency to give way more information than they are looking for. Shocking them because , I am so honest. Here it is, this is who we are. Not one of them have fended off questions from their eleven year old of what did you do today? Did you find a house? Do you think we will have a home by……. or by…… or when…. Not one of them are ready to fall into bed at four pm completely devoid of hope and faith in humanity. Not one of them are being questioned about the necessity of every purchase they make, not realizing that I am focusing on the good that is in my life. I don’t make all those purchases, mainly because I have freaking amazing friends. I am focusing on the good but trying not to embarras my friends by also including. P.S. I didn’t buy thing my friend so and so did. Our relationships are rarely about money or who has the money. That is really truly difficult for some people to comprehend. I know this because I have started using my frustrated anger to ask them. To throw these questions at them. To tell them in vivid and explict detail just exactly how hard I am looking and working. Thanks but this is exactly what my anxiety whispers to me when I try to take some selfcare. I don’t need it from you as well.
This is not the world or the economy that it was twenty years ago when I moved out of my parents house. Which is truly a shame.
There are so many rules about housing. I get it. I truly do. We owned a house. I know how expensive that is. When you add in renters insurance and maintance , I get it. The thing I don’t get? Why can’t people see the homeless problem for what it is. At it’s core there is a lack of empathy. It is all about making money, not helping our fellow neighbor. It is looking out for only yourself. Some people here won’t even admit there IS a homeless problem. We are a society that loves to deny the problem, even when it stares us in the face. We are so sure there must be an answer out there, this person obviously has not problem solved enough. Again it traces back to compassion and empathy.
My writing has turned into more like journalling. It is helpful but not what I want to be doing. I am not sure this even would not be called a journal entry. It is what it is and it is exactly what has been on my mind on a daily bases for almost six months now. I could add so much about the next time you assume, or make a judgement…….however, that really doesn’t do anyone any good. Let’s just call this food for thought.
I am not sure how this happened. Well, that is not technically true, I do know. All hell broke loose. That is what happened. It has indeed been a month since I wrote, what better way then to start back with a Ten Things of Thankful post.
If you don’t know we are now in Emergency Shelter our animals are not with us and we have to find housing by June 22nd. The houses/apartments I have found have been at least two to three hundred out of our monthly price range.But Don’t worry Florida, you don’t have a homeless problem.
Seriously, don’t ask me how I stay positive. I don’t, I can fake it though and they say fake it until you make it. So…… Coffee, chocolate, beer and really good friends is getting me through. The really good friends is one of the reasons we don’t move. Support systems are important.
It is getting me through the daily punch in the gut when I wake up and look on my phone to see what has been posted for rent and find nothing in our price range.
It is getting me through the day after some really really bad news about help I was hoping we would get. Day Drinking. It seemed like a good idea. The day of I couldn’t remember why I don’t do this more often. The next morning, Oh yes this is why. I can’t do that anymore. I also think getting two beers once a month, maybe at that is not too much either.
It is getting me through the separation of me and my dog.
It is getting me out of bed to even be able to see anything good in the day. Baby ducks, little caterpillars, just born calves.
It is getting me through to see that the little things in life really do help. Like a hot bath at the end of the day.
It is getting me through most of this without gaining too much weight because my stomach rebels and nothing stays in my system for long. Stress? What stress? This could not possibly be stress induced.
It is choosing every day after my coffee that today I will be positive and look for the good. Sometimes it is an hourly decision. Sometimes not even hourly.
It is deciding to be sarcastic and laugh so that I don’t cry and curl up in the fetal position.
Many of you know we have been going through some difficult times. It reached critical mass on Thursday and we had to seek emergency shelter. Friends paid for our dog to be at the kennel for a week and another friend started a gofundme account. I have found over the last four days it is the littlest things that matter the most to me. A text to say I am thinking of you. One friend said she wished she could do more than pray for us. I believe positive thoughts, vibes, prayers all help. It makes a difference. It provides something to hold on to during the difficult times. The biggest thing I have learned is that even though I thought I was humble, you can always be more humble. It never hurts to ask and all anyone can do is say no if they can’t help. I firmly believe you never know until you ask and sometimes it doesn’t occur to you that you can help until someone asks. It flows both ways. We can help each other out bit by bit.
This is the link to the gofundme page if you so choose. Sharing it commenting on it are just as important to me so please do not see this as a plea for money. Things will work out the way they are suppose to work out.
Sincerest Thank you’s to the people who have held my hand through this all, near and far.
We have been exploring the depths of compassion this past year with 1000 voices of compassion speak. We have looked at so many factors. What remains in my mind is that we have to have connection; in order to have compassion. Connection to the people and places and things around us. We spent a month looking at connection and how it interconnects to compassion. This month we are looking at compassion and vulnerability.
Webster dictionary states vulnerability is being capable of being physically or emotionally wounded. Vulnerability is being open to attack or damage. It is not something that when put that way anyone would choose. However, we also know that often the reason we don’t like something is it makes us uncomfortable. We do all we can to remain in our comfort zone. It is a big deal when we feel we are stepping outside of that zone. Really though what does that all stem from? The first thing that comes to my mind is fear. We fear the unknown. Will they still like me when they see who I really am? Will I still like me when I see who I really am? It is at it’s base the fear of being disconnected from everyone and everything around you. Hmm, there is that connection word again. Eventually, we realize that in order to truly connect with people we have to let them see the real us. The raw us, the part of us that we sometimes hide even from ourselves. We have to be vulnerable to have a true connection. Connection, on some level, is what we all strive for. Lizzi talked about it in We ALL need The Village.
When someone says they have compassion, often we don’t think of them as vulnerable. Sometimes we are amazed they can have compassion for that person or situation. Sometimes we admire them. Sometimes we think they are being stupid. If they get hurt at the end of that situation we often think they deserved it. They opened themselves up to it. They were vulnerable.
I think all too often society imparts this fear of being vulnerable. If you are vulnerable you are weak. It is shameful to be vulnerable. We don’t talk about any of the good parts of being vulnerable. We treat it as if it is the worst thing in the world to be. When in reality when we are open and vulnerable to others we often form lasting, important, life-sustaining friendships.
However, I think in order for us to have true genuine compassion we have to be vulnerable. We have to wear our heart on our sleeve so to speak.If we are saying we are compassionate but are not vulnerable we are not being truly authentic. I realize full well this is hard. It is hard to continually put yourself out there and chance being hurt. It does happen. There have been times I have done so and then berated myself for being so freaking stupid. Oh, but there are times that my heart has been on my sleeve and it was worth every second of putting myself out there. The good always outweighs the bad. I am not sugar coating it, sometimes the bad is really, really, evil bad. It is. I know that.
We need to break these walls down we have built. We need to sit with our discomforts and really embrace them. We need to be okay with being open and honest individuals. That is the only way I can see us going forward towards anything worthwhile. We need enough people to tell society that they are wrong. They can not have true compassion without being vulnerable and that being vulnerable is not a bad thing. Letting ourselves be vulnerable and having authentic compassion is what is going to make the village good again. It is what the village needs.
Join us!! Write, Comment, Share. Spread the goodness everywhere for goodness ripples outwards faster and farther than bad ever will.
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