Am I ready to retire? Should I move to another city? Should I stay at this unfulfilling job or stay in this abusive relationship? Should I travel? Should I stop allowing my friend to disrespect me? Should I write my book? Should I keep loaning money to people? Should I take that class? Should I trust and date again after such a painful divorce? Should I leave my church where I am no longer growing?” Should I start my own business? Should I forgive and let go? Should I move to a new city? There are many difficult issues and choices to cope with…it’s called “life”. When I am not emotionally present or healthy…I sometimes choose; don’t think about it, don’t want to feel it and I feel like a failure or fraud. But I know there are consequences if I ignore these issues, if I live in denial, pretend, and hide behind my “fake up” (e.g., smile, default responses, busyness, excuses or blame).
For some people, their childhood and youth were full of hardships and then life smoothes itself out and they find contentment and acceptance in their later years. For me, it is the reverse. My childhood and youth (summer and spring) were less problematic than my “winter” season of life. I have learned the art of truth telling vs. self-betrayal. I have learned that glazing over my heartaches or hardships with easy answers so that the people around me wouldn’t be uncomfortable…is no longer a healthy coping skill. I’m learning to live with the mystery of life. I’m learning that “hard, scary and pain” are not a life sentence. I’m learning to breathe through the regrets, sorrow, heaviness and call back my power and peace even while in my storms of “why now!!!…when will it stop?…make it stop Jesus!…help me Lord…how long must I wait?…the pain is unbearable…I can’t breathe.”
Admitting that life is hard or that you don’t have it all together yet… doesn’t make you a failure. It doesn’t mean you are negative. It doesn’t mean you are defeated. It doesn’t mean you don’t believe in God. Admitting where you are emotionally, financially, spiritually, mentally, in your habits, lifestyle, career or your in relationships…makes you courageous. Yes it is a vulnerable place, but a place of freedom, discovery, recovery and exhaling.
One of my greatest joys and purpose is to create a safe place and events for women to feel safe. I like to build bridges of hope, faith, guidance and support for women to cross over her feelings of loneliness, stress, shame, loss, anger, procrastination, delays, low self-esteem, depression, disappointments, and dysfunction …to a place where she doesn’t feel alone.
The storm she is going through may continue to rage, but she can find some calm in the storm. She can create positive coping skills of resiliency, faith, courage, connections, wisdom, a new perspective and even some humor.
I want to be a transformative resource to her so she can take off any masks and step out of her shell of fear, intimidation, isolation, guilt and shame.
I created a new site to celebrate what is going right in this world. In an effort to focus on the goodness and kindness of people I see all around me, I created a new blog…”A.O.K.” Acts of Kindness.
If you have given, received or seen random acts of kindness, please share your comments, story or pictures at this site. http://aokindness.wordpress.com/
Whatever we focus on increases. Acts of kindness can be contagious.
How to have compassion
Compassion is essentially the wish that beings not suffer – from subtle physical and emotional discomfort to agony and anguish – combined with feelings of sympathetic concern.
You could have compassion for an individual (a friend in the hospital, a co-worker passed over for a promotion), groups of people (victims of crime, those displaced by a hurricane, refugee children), animals (your pet, livestock heading for the slaughterhouse), and yourself.
Compassion is not pity, agreement, or a waiving of your rights. You can have compassion for people who’ve wronged you while also insisting that they treat you better.
Compassion by itself opens your heart and nourishes people you care about. Those who receive your compassion are more likely to be patient, forgiving, and compassionate with you. Compassion reflects the wisdom that everything is related to everything else, and it naturally draws you into feeling more connected with all things.
Additionally, compassion can incline you to helpful action. For example, one study showed that motor circuits in the brain lit up when people were feeling compassionate, as if they were getting ready to do something about the suffering they were sensing.
How do we cultivate compassion? Compassion is natural; you don’t have to force it; just open to the difficulty, the struggle, the stress, the impact of events, the sorrow and strain in the other person; open your heart, let yourself be moved, and let compassion flow through you.
Feel what compassion’s like in your body – in your chest, throat, and face. Sense the way it softens your thoughts, gentles your reactions. Know it so you can find your way back again.
Moments of compassion come in the flow of life – maybe a friend tells you about a loss, or you can see the hurt behind someone’s angry face, or a hungry child looks out at you from the pages of a newspaper.
Also, you can deliberately call in compassion a minute (or more), perhaps each day; here are a few suggestions:
- Relax and tune into your body.
- Remember the feeling of being with someone who cares about you.
- Bring to mind someone it is easy to feel compassion for.
- Perhaps put your compassion into words, softly heard in the back of your mind, such as: “May you not suffer . . . may this hard time pass . . . may things be alright for you.”
- Expand your circle of compassion to include others; consider a benefactor (someone who has been kind to you), friend, neutral person, difficult person (a challenge, certainly), and yourself (sometimes the hardest person of all).
- Going further, extend compassion to all the beings in your family . . . neighborhood . . . city . . . state . . . country . . . world. All beings, known or unknown, liked or disliked. Humans, animals, plants, even microbes. Beings great or small, in the air, on the ground, under water. Including all, omitting none.
Going through your day, open to compassion from time to time for people you don’t know: someone in a deli, a stranger on a bus, crowds moving down the sidewalk.
Let compassion settle into the background of your mind and body. ~ by Rick Hanson
1. Plant a tree to help the planet.
2. Rescue a pet.
3. Volunteer as a teacher’s assistant.
4. Donate sturdy shoes, thick socks and winter coats.
5. Give warm biscuits to people living on the street.
6. Start a food drive with your family and friends.
7. Donate blood, plasma, and/or platelets.
8. Join or create a support group.
9. Console someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one.
10. Help someone find a job.
11. Help clean or cover-up graffiti.
12. Volunteer as Santa or an elf.
13. Read books to children at your local library or bookstore.
14. Bring your pet to visit the elderly or disabled.
15. Donate books to the library.
16. Contact a homeless shelter to see what assistance you can provide.
17. Volunteer to comfort sick people in the hospital.
18. Smile and speak to people you don’t know.
19. Forgive someone you’ve held a grudge against.
20. “Adopt” a senior citizen to visit at a nursing home.
21. Say “I love you” more often.
22. Use canvas grocery bags instead of paper or plastic.
23. Offer to babysit for friends so they can enjoy a break.
24. Be kind to someone who makes kindness difficult.
25. Help a senior citizen with household chores and errands.
27. Send E-Cards to friends just because.
28. Bake homemade cookies for local volunteers or service workers.
29. Sign up to be an organ donor.
30. Switch to natural cleaning products.
31. Teach love and respect to your children by example.
32. Use a water canteen instead of purchasing bottled water.
33. Send Get Well balloons to a children’s hospital.
34. Acknowledge and respect the homeless, even if you have no money to give.
35. Be a sounding board for someone who needs to vent.
36. Send a letter or care package to a soldier.
37. Help an illiterate adult learn to read.
38. Hug as many people as you can each day.
39. Write a Thank You card to someone who touched your life in some way.
40. Encourage young people to help out in their community instead.