Kindness

Cliche but…truth. And a nice reminder.

Someone very close to me actually can’t see that well anymore – and it isn’t a result of age.  To be robbed of sight before 40 – pronounced legally blind as the result of an undefined virus – feels so criminal. He’s vastly more talented than he’ll ever know as an artist, and yet he will never again be able to create as he once did. 

In his world, colors have faded, leaving a bleak landscape flanked only by peripherals of deadened black. Values constantly bleed into one another, making objects difficult to define.  Bright lights, even a subtle glare, render an ever greater “blindness” than the already tunneled, spot-like field of view that remains.

So while I’ve seen this quotation hundreds of times, over many years, it has an even more valuable quality now. . . I saw it.  And I paused with a heavy breath.

Womanista.com

Womanista.com

When has to ask for help because he cannot see whether his food is safely prepared, or because he cannot make out a number that he needs on the computer screen…I feel my heart bleeding.  He takes it in good stride, thankful for the blessings he does have…and in that, are we all reminded yet again…

He once crossed paths with an angry man in the street – one well under the influence.  Having thought he was being stared down – not realizing the man looking at him in fact could not see – this man became engaged, aggressive, and approached. But – perhaps from some subconscious knowing – he backed away before becoming violent. . .leaving a nearly-blind man, resigned to being beaten, thankfully (unexpectedly) untouched.

The thing is…you wouldn’t know he cannot see.  He doesn’t walk around with a cane, able to see SOMEthing, and reluctant to give up what freedom he has left.  

You wouldn’t know that the center vision is pristine, but so much else is lost that he is, truly, disabled, and fully unable to see the breadth of what is going on around him.  

When kindness is spoken among all, we include those who may in fact be suffering, though we cannot – ourselves – necessarily perceive it.  

The world is a sometimes a violent, cruel, and inhospitable place – we have the ability to offer kindness regardless of circumstance.  To do so – difficult it may feel at times – is a gift we are all capable of giving, and one that might go wildly farther than we dream. 

It is easy to forget the blessings we do have, and to take life, and health, for granted.  So I – for one – appreciate seeing familiar words from a newer perspective.  

I appreciate being reminded without the severity that some reminders may come with.  

I appreciate the example of perseverance that those in adversity demonstrate.  

And I appreciate the kindness that people offer. . .because you might cross his path one day too. . .and your kindness will not fall on deaf ears, nor blinded eyes – it will be received with gratitude, and far more of it than you’ll know.

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No Excuses

I’m not always up for doing my activities every day – I do seven Martial Arts classes a week, and go to the gym, and do cardio…  So honestly, I’m downright exhausted sometimes! 

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But for me, the end result is the important thing – if I truly don’t feel up for training, I give myself a break…  But generally, what I really need is to buck up and push through the sticky “ugh! Do I have to?!”s.  Yep, just a swift kick in the ass, folks!

There IS something to be said for overtraining – having been in that zone far too many times, particularly when training for a competition or event, I know my body…AND when I need to stop.  It is important to recognize that fine “overtraining” line, but ALSO to recognize when you are making excuses.  Be HONEST with yourself – your goals are your own, so the only person you hold back is yourself.

People often ask what I do to get through the tougher days…  My answer?  

  1. I take BABY steps…
  2. I change my language…
  3. And I focus on the goal.

1. BABY STEPS

I tell myself I only have to start.  I don’t think about the fact that I’d like to do eight HIIT sprints, incline walking, and jogs (which add up to about 40 to 50 minutes.) Instead, I tell myself that I just need to hop on, do one or two and see how I feel.  It WORKS.  I take the pressure off myself by not envisioning beyond the moment. Usually once I start, I feel up for more.  And, once I’m done, I am thankful (and thrilled!) that I pushed through.

2. CHANGE YOUR LANGUAGE

Instead of focusing on the tougher aspects of the activity…

  • It’s exhausting
  • I’m tired
  • I don’t feel like it
  • I’m already sore

I choose to focus on the positive.  I change those “negative” comments, whether internally or outwardly verbalized, to the reverse…  

  • I’m going to feel great once I get this done
  • I’m great at pushing through even when it feels tough
  • I know I can do it 
  • This is a perfect opportunity to remind myself I can do anything I put my mind to
  • I GOT this!

Positive language goes a very long way, and it acts as a bit of a hand-hold while you are struggling.  

3. FOCUS ON THE GOALS

I regularly remind myself why I do my sports and activities…  

  1. It’s my PASSION 
  2. I love feeling fit and staying in shape
  3. I love feeling strong, particularly since “strong” includes not just the physical, but the strength of my will and spirit, as well as command of my mindset, and my attitude
  4. I love that I don’t get sick and, on the rare occasion that I do, I bounce back quickly
  5. I feel sexier in my skin
  6. I feel proud of what I can achieve, and love that sense of accomplishment
  7. ….

There are so many great reasons to take up activities, and taking a moment to appreciate why I do what I do…even when the going gets tough…helps me to stick to my plan.

So when you are having one of those tougher moments, and struggling to motivate yourself…try the steps above.  They really DO help…I’m walking proof! You will amaze yourself with what you actually CAN do when you put your mind to it, and your feet where you mouth is. 😉

Excuses are like little devilish phrases that try to commandeer our attitude and mindset – don’t allow it!  They only have power over you if you let them!

For more Fit Jazz…

You Chance Of Success

There is one thing that can make or break you in Life.  It can alter the reality of your circumstances when the hand has already been dealt…

Your ATTITUDE.

Attitude is everything.  

Human beings are flawed and fragile – some days will be tougher than others, rendering us ill-tempered and apprehensive.  Negative emotions can easily spiral into the doom-and-gloom of the spectrum, inciting a wave of debilitating self-doubt, unhealthy anger, or worse…  

But if we take a step back (no, it isn’t always easy, but it IS possible), we might just find our breath.  That peaceful cadence, which we can control when everything else feels unpredictable.  After a few controlled ins and outs, it’s just possible that you will find yourself a great deal calmer and grounded (you know, less likely to go bananas at the person in front of you at the supermarket taking out the pennies one by one…or the guy in front of you going half the speed limit (I can always do with some improvement myself!) 😉 )

When we ground ourselves, we have a greater capacity to change our thought patterns – being in tune with our breath is being in tune with our rhythm, and that’s exactly where you need to be.  Our mindfulness can take crippling self-skepticism and turn it into curiosity, excitement, faith even!  

My skating coach used to say “can’t is a four letter word” and she was SO correct – we manifest the way we speak to ourselves, so there is NOTHING more important than the conversation we are having WITH ourselves or PROJECTING about ourselves. 

There are plenty of skeptics out there, and certainly they are entitled… But I’d challenge those people to try something a little different…

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Changing the words we use is like walking around with a magic wand – you really DO have that power.  

The Way You Speak Matters

I passed by this quote the other day, and it resonated for me…

“The Way We Talk To Our Children Becomes Their Inner Voice.”

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I recently took a road trip and at a rest stop, I saw a father really yelling at his son… It was not only the angry tone used, but the words, that alarmed me.  I was really taken aback and noticed that I was actually staring (fortunately he didn’t notice!)  I watched the child, who not only separated a distance from his father, in somewhat of a fear response, but also the way he slumped his shoulders and crossed his arms, as if to protect himself (not only physically…but also because the words HURT.  It was obvious.)

I have certainly have my moments with my parents over the last three plus decades…but I grew up realizing that we all contribute to the equation – it’s never just them being upset with me, I have a role to play as well.  That said, it was instilled in us that respect, care, kindness, and apologies when owed, are of vital importance.  Support of one another, communication, accountability…those things matter.  

We are going to make mistakes, and we will therefore have “moments” here and there – humans will always go head to head a times, whether because of a personal experience (bad day at work, someone cut us off etc) or because we disagree on something (it happens, we don’t all have to agree on everything!) etc, BUT…it is important how we speak to each other.

Sarcasm was always hard for me…maybe because I have had some ugly relationships where people used it FAR too often.  A friend of mine recently posted an article about how sarcasm can injure a relationship (of any kind) – it can be hurtful even if not intended that way, so imagine a little one hearing it!  With children it is especially tough because they definitely won’t understand the nuances, or the jest!  Yelling is another toughie – we have all done it, but it can hurt…especially a child who probably already knows he or she did something wrong.  We can express disappointment without yelling (in fact, it may impress the point more so without it!)

This quotation also falls in line with this, and I find it to be incredibly true much of the time…

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I couldn’t speak to the nature of the conflict with this gentleman and his little one…but it was in a public place, it was loud, the tone was harsh, and the words were not appropriate for a child of maybe eight or so.  It wasn’t my business, and still isn’t, but I felt sad because SO much was said in the body language.  Consequences are important, no doubt…but we do have to be mindful of the words and tone we use because that can carry forward as the child grows older.

I was most definitely NOT perfect as a child…and I’m still far from it…but what I CAN say is that my parents were always incredibly supportive.  

I may not have fit the mold (evident early on!), but they loved and supported me anyway – they always made me feel strong, beautiful and talented. 

I may not have loved the same subjects, and have focused more on sports than school, but they would help me when I needed it, and encourage me when I was having a hard time – they made me believe I had the ability even when I doubted.  

They would say how proud they were of my athletic accomplishments, and that it was okay not to like exactly the same things as everyone else, so long as I followed my heart…and my heart was happy.

When I was out of line, I also had consequences.  We had as many tiffs as the next family…but I never, EVER questioned my safety, nor that I was loved.  Never.  To see a child respond in a way that suggests he or she might, breaks my heart.  Not everyone realizes that words and tone can injure.  

Words can ALSO give a child wings...and I hope that more air on the side of feeling encouraged, beautiful and safe, than not.  It is possible for that to happen even with “learning as we go” and “timeouts.”

 

 

The Language of Dance

There are times in Life in which language fails us, whether in great triumph, or devastating loss.  Words can express only so much meaning as they have been endowed with by humankind…

So when I saw this quotation, I lit up, understanding fully what it means to “speak” in movement…

Her Movements

 

Dancing and skating were as much my first language as English, in many ways...  I didn’t know I was an Empath as early on, only that I was different in the way I processed.  I saw the beauty and good in everything, but I also felt like words were sometimes NOT enough.

Skating and dancing were ways in which I could cope with Life, and I realized that I was “speaking” just as loudly…and effectively…through my movement.

When I was about 15 or 16, a childhood classmate…the first boy who ever expressed interest in me and asked me out…was killed as the result of a car crash.  I can still feel the sadness in my chest when I write about it, these many, many years later.  I was scheduled to do a performance at a skating show only weeks later, and so I let his mother know that I was going to perform in his honor. 

I still remember it…

I remember the sound of rain falling in the beginning of the song, and how I opened the program.

I remember the dress I wore and how the cool air felt, and smelled…and what it was like to glide through the program from start to finish.  For me, those few minutes afforded me the “words” with which to say “I miss you.  I’m so sad.  I don’t understand…  But I know you’ve transcended this physical for a Life eternal, for a reason only you know…  We cannot fathom, those of us left behind…”

There were no words to express how I felt, especially with respect to seeing his mother upstairs behind the glass watching me…

When I finished, I came off the ice, and she greeted me with a smile and tears.  She hugged me and gave me an angel that he had on his dresser.  I still have it on mine.  

I knew that my sentiments came through in my movement – so much more clearly than if I had called, or written, or shown up at her door.  And it meant everything to me that she knew he was in my thoughts too.

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Words don’t always delve deeply enough…  

Letters of an alphabet we created are stitched together, glued in place with meanings we have given them…and in that, I feel the confines are too great.  

Words are bound by limitations, where movement is free to “BE”…  

And so, for me, movement IS the pen with which I write…  My story, my feelings, the depths of my heart…  The expression is as infinite as the stars in the Night sky.