Kindness and Compassion

Kindness and compassion are two traits that I personally value high up on the proverbial moral list. I have the great fortune to be close to many individuals who posses both of these, and the absolute honor to work with children with disabilities and among their communities where they are found in spades.

I sincerely believe that each generation has seen the progression of our species and discovered with it an innate and creeping fear – we manage to embark on new territory with frightening (and seemingly increasing) speed. As a Martial Artist part of me feels that the world has become more dangerous, and there is ever more opportunity to abuse and to bully – the forums are countless, whereas…once upon a time…they did not exist. (Think social media, internet chat rooms, cell phones etc…) It’s hard not to see the glaring negatives.

But…my mind is admittedly wired to be overly optimistic. That doesn’t mean I am not based in reality, or that I don’t take life seriously (whether it be bills or the threat of being car jacked.) But I see the immense value in keeping a positive outlook as much as is humanly possible because I have seen the tangible impact it can have. This week I am completely down for the count with a kidney infection – couldn’t say where it came from, but I confess it has been quite painful and body-rocking. I’m a dreadful bore to be around, slow-moving, and probably not smiling a ton… But I feel thankful. I see the good.

For one thing, I feel blessed to have the help and care that I do from my husband and appreciate feeling love from my family. As importantly, I recognize that I’m not terminally ill! I have all my limbs. I have all my senses. I haven’t been jumping for joy, certainly, but I have not lost sight of the fact that this is a short bout. I have nothing to complain about, and certainly no right to be yelling at anyone, nor taking out my frustration in a negative way. This was an out-of-the-blue lesson, as often they seem to be.

I also think sometimes the Universe wants to say, “I really think you need to slow down for a minute because YOU won’t on your own!” Frustrating that may be for a personality type like mine, I have to accept it. It’s not a fun stroll in the park, but there is value in having to slow down (or flat out rest.) There is an additional benefit in that it reminds me that I need to be kind and compassionate to myself – it’s okay to rest.

Even when I feel horrendous, I know how blessed I am. It’s important to say thank you to my loved ones to express my gratitude for the kindness they show me, or others along the way. For instance, I appreciated that the ladies at the blood lab were as sweet as they were – it was a little thing, but they were kind, and I noticed. I even appreciate the people who make the amazing whole wheat english muffins I’m eating.

The world is a tough place – whether more or less so than the past, who knows… I think each era comes with some pretty challenging circumstances. But we don’t have to be bitter, or treat others unkindly. We don’t have to abort compassion to buffer ourselves, or lash out in response to someone else’s poor understanding of proper human interaction. Lofty it may sound, and perhaps also unrealistically utopian, I truly believe that the more compassion and kindness people show one another, the better off we all would be.

I live in a tough town. Some days I really notice the effect… My DNA defaults to seeing the world from someone else’s lens (or trying to), and to coloring everything with an empathetic heart. But there are days I feel like an angered animal in my own skin and I sincerely chalk it up to the environment (40 years of living with me gives me good insights when engrained M.O.s are changing.) It’s an interesting experiment in a way – incredibly enlightening, and I’ve welcomed the learning. It has taught me just how valuable it is to maintain my own standard of airing on the side of kindness. Why? I don’t want to contribute to the downfall I see around me (and I don’t want to be pulled further into the depths with it.) 

My recent travel was also quite a fiasco, between cancellations, unexpected delays, missing connections… I was tired and frustrated but yelling doesn’t help anyone in a situation like that – it wasn’t the gate agents at the airport who were responsible. It wasn’t the pilot or stewardesses… Various people kept asking why I was smiling and it occurred to me that I guess most people don’t (a fact that actually made me feel sad.)

I didn’t really know who was to be held accountable in all cases (two planes themselves for breaking? A mechanic long gone who maybe could have done a better job? A supervisor who should have triple checked the panel work?) But would it matter if I did know who was at fault? Not really… There was no sense in getting crazy because at that moment all I could do was be resourceful and figure out my next move. I couldn’t control the external circumstances, only how I was going to react to it. I wasn’t trying to catch a flight to Tokyo, I wasn’t stuck in a hostile territory (well…that can be debated!), and I knew I’d figure out a way to get to my destination at least in 24 hours.

Having compassion and kindness for the players involved encouraged them, also, to have the same for me. And they did. They took care of a lot for me, including arranging a long drive to get me to my destination and sending me a credit for inconvenience – I saw them feverishly trying to get my bag pulled at one point… They were legitimately putting in the effort (which we should be honest doesn’t always happen these days even if it is at the common core of a job description.)

I spent 20 minutes on the phone after the fact waiting for a manager so I could commend the key people who helped – I could tell that acknowledgement and appreciation would matter to them, and a kind word can go a long way. I sent an e-mail doing the same just to be sure it got to the right people. Will I ever see those agents again? Probably not. Does it matter? Absolutely not. To spread kindness and compassion doesn’t take a lot – in fact, I’d argue it takes less than to hate, to be angry, and to yell. But it changes lives. It makes people want to return the favor, to work hard…it helps them to feel good about their contribution and to, therefore, continue making a positive one.

If everyone could do the same, the environment would shift dramatically. Though it isn’t realistic to expect everyone to eagerly jump on board with a “love more, hate less!” hippie-like mantra, it doesn’t hurt to live that example as much as we can. And it doesn’t mean we can’t seek out environments which are more in tune with these principles – it is impossible not to feel the shift when compassion and kindness are blooming in spades around you, and when you recognize that there is a choice about what we do with what’s presented to us. 

Rest Days

Some days, we just need a little extra self-love and rest. As an active person, sitting around makes me nuts (and ugly!) but if I don’t listen to my body, things will get worse...fast.

We all need to tune in to what our bodies are saying, and to give ourselves the rest we might need from time to time. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve needed more of it…and that’s okay!

It’s important not to beat ourselves up for wanting or needing the respite – as a dear friend once said to me “once I’ve made the choice to rest on a given day, I embrace it and let go of the guilt.” It’s easy to feel like we are doing something wrong but as she – and ancient wisdom (or Gandalf if you’re a Tolkien fan!) points out – we only have the time given to us. To accept and appreciate our decision means we are free to enjoy the present, allowing our body and mind to get what it so richly deserves.

Fitness Humor – Apparently Not Fit For Stairs!

There’s an irony to this scenario, especially if you are an active person. This happens to me ALL THE TIME! Weirdest phenomenon, positively hysterical in some ways (a little disheartening in others)…and I think more common than people like to let on.

If you feel badly about having trouble with stairs…don’t! You aren’t alone.

Thanksgiving 2016

I’m not a huge “holiday person” (save for Halloween, which I daresay is highly evident given my posts!), but it’s always a treat to be with family…and to be forced to relax (admittedly hard for me BUT…much needed.)

img_8927

I’m grateful for so much, but of those many things…I’m especially thankful for those closest to me.  Food-centric gatherings are not really my thing – I am incredibly boring with my nutrition (though I enjoy my foods immensely!) so there is always extra care involved.  

My husband always makes sure that I have things I’ll like – always.  He’s never not aware , and will make certain clean foods are available for me (believe it or not, finding someone who wouldn’t think I was crazy for the way eat (like a zoo animal!) was a major source of anxiety for me.  For a decade at least!)  This year he made lobster and he made a few extra for me with nothing on them – at all.  Super clean, and wildly delicious! 😀

img_8925

As for the rest, we always have yummy sides – I have a few intolerances, so I stick to what I know works…and it never disappoints. 🙂  Once upon a time I had a really difficult time portioning, and feeling obligated to have everything – after a few bouts of making myself sick in the past, I’ve learned NOT to do that! *LOL*

img_8924

It was a wonderful few days…as I hope it was for everyone. ❤  

Everything Changes, And That’s Okay

I definitely am not in the shape I was in when I was competitive figure skating as a child and teen… Nor am I in the shape I was in during college (when I hardly worked out, and ate like a horse!) Nor, again, am I the “fit” I maintained while competitive dancing…

But at 38 (and a half!), I feel really thankful, and incredibly healthy.  My muscle tone fluctuates, and I don’t necessarily look the way I did when I was training full-bore (“cut” is generally softer these days)…but my schedule and training load has also changed, and doing too much is more of a bad idea than a good one.

I woke up this morning feeling under the weather – not “sick” per se, but like I’ve done too much and need a break. (This happens more frequently in my 30’s than it did in the past.) I skipped my cardio, went to physical therapy, and I’m going easy.  Part of me plays that “I’m being lazy”game – the holidays are coming up and I won’t be able to necessarily get in as much exercise as I’d like to.  But sometimes that’s what we need most – REST.

My nutrition stays clean all year round – I stick to the foods that make me feel good, not only what keeps weight off.  Protein and veggies always help me feel full, and keep me from going haywire when I’m craving something less healthy.  High quality foods also help balance the days that I am not as “peak” and can’t do as hard a workout (if one at all.)

img_8739

I also try to get in some cardio, or lifting when I can – it isn’t as frequent as it once was, and (as with today) I  sometimes have to take the day off…and NOT beat myself up about it.  It is easy to forget that when we make healthy living a priority (it is a “lifestyle,” after all) there is room for taking the breaks we need.  

img_8696

So do what you can, and allow yourself a little room for when your body is saying “hello!?  I’d like a day off…or a few, please?!”  

You are perfect the way you are – a little fluctuation is not only normal, but healthy AND okay. ❤