October 21, 2014

A Different View of Kindness

My dad recently had heart surgery. It was successful and he's healing beautifully. Yet those days at Mayo Clinic were intense--long hours, rolling emotions, and bedside caretaking. Amid the intensity, I still noticed kindness. The hotel worker who warmly checked me in. The locals who smiled and said, "hello." The nurse who found me black pepper for dad's dinner. 

In the words of Mary Webb: "If you stop to be kind, you must swerve often from your path." Kindness comes in different flavors. Most of us prefer not to swerve from our path. We don't like changing our schedules or plans. We want to be kind while we hold our course. I love Webb's quote because it shakes me up. It re-frames life. The kindness I practice is often convenient. Here's the real question: do I choose kindness when the action takes me out of my way? (Sometimes, not always.) And when I make that choice, does kindness remain or does it shift to annoyance? (Depends.)

I want to be truly kind. I want to swerve, always. The swerves are great teachers. When I'm my best self, I remember. Other times I forget. But now I'm curious. And curiosity leads to growth; curiosity leads to new paths.

October 1, 2014

Our Stories

We hold our stories in our bones, in our very existence. Stories of sadness, trauma, and hardship. The telling of these stories is important. Saying the words out loud, unearthing the secrets--these actions honor and empower us. They declare: my life matters.

I've written my stories. I've spoken my stories. I've owned my stories. And now it's time to let go. Freedom came when I told these stories. Prison remains when I live in them. When I think, "I wasn't nurtured enough as a child" or "I felt unseen" or "I sacrificed too much for academia," I enter a box--an identity that no longer fits. Wholeness exists when I nurture, see, and stay true to myself

It's an act of kindness to honor my past yet live in the present. I'll continue to tell my stories as they occur. It's how I learn and grow. But the tired stories, they can return to the earth. I don't need them anymore.