Browsing Tag

kindness

Guest Posts, love, Self Love

Love Letters

February 14, 2018
letters

By Molly Krause

My first husband’s handwritten earnest love notes to me are gone; Don’s barely legible nonsense letters taunt me from the manila file folder that I scrawled his name on the edge with a sharpie marker.

Don stumbled in daily to the deli where I worked making lattes and dishing up curry chicken salad. I was twenty-three, freshly divorced and spent the first half of my shifts reapplying lipstick and shaking off a perpetual hangover. Don was middle aged in sloppy slacks and stained shirts and half of his face pinched up as if stuck mid-sneeze. He sometimes drooled and drank more ice tea than I thought humanly possible, adding fake sugar packets that littered the table and floor.

One day he left without paying but came stumbling back in an hour later and left two wadded up dollar bills in front of me on the counter. “Sorry, Molly,” he said. A beam of sunshine came from the smile on the relaxed half of his face. I was surprised he knew my name. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, love

How to Love Everyone in 8 Simple Steps

May 29, 2017
mother

By Michelle Riddell

“Simple, but not easy…” –The Big Book

Step 1: Love yourself. Love your strengths, love your flaws, love your effort when you fail and your giant streak of procrastination. Love your body at its fattest, its sickest, its weakest. Love your worst decisions, your selfish twenties, your break-ups and divorces. Love thirteen-year-old you whom nobody else could; love addicted you, promiscuous you, you at rock bottom. Love pregnant you, anxious you, infertile you—and do it so fiercely that self-protection is reflexive.

Step 2: Love your parents. Love what they gave you—be it twenty-three unmated chromosomes or the bounty of a happy and secure life. Love them whether they abandoned you, adopted you, or stayed and made it worse; love what they sacrificed for you, or took from you, or promised disingenuously. Love them because they’re frail and old and can’t hurt you ever again. Love them because they died before you had the chance to make things right. Love them because they’re here right now, supporting you as always. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Kindness, The Hard Stuff

When You See Her, Be Kind

February 17, 2017
real

By Kimberly Valzania

I know what makes her tick. I know how she is, and better yet, who she is. And I know all her secrets and what she did to keep them. How she locked them away in a box for years, and kept the key just beyond her own reach.

We’ve always been close. Pushing her out the door each day takes all the strength I have. But resisting her familiar charms helps me gather and sort out my true self instead, the only self I was meant to be.

In letting her go, I let go of her burdensome habits. No more quiet tip-toe up the stairs, shutting the bathroom door, knees to the floor.

Still, when I feel her panic creeping, a few smaller habits return. Sometimes, her leg shakes and she twirls her hair, pulling a long piece around her cheek and into her mouth, turning it on her tongue, creating a wet and pointy tip. Her fingers get in there too. Her nails, stubby nubs. Always something in her mouth. Her mouth remains the vessel that bears her rolling waves of worry and cope.

Before…before now, I always knew when she was empty, void. And when she was full, stuffed. Empty, hungry. Full, packed. And, as it was, I always knew the very moment the fullness was just too much. When she wanted, more than anything else, the blessed emptiness back. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, self-loathing

The Opposite of Mean is Human

May 13, 2016

By Meredith Broome

I am sitting at the dinner table at my best friend, Annemarie’s, house. Annemarie and I are in the third grade and have been best friends since kindergarten. Tonight we are eating spaghetti and meatballs with her mom, dad and two little sisters, and I remember a joke my father told me about balls, which seems relevant to the meatballs we’re eating. I stab a meatball onto my fork and hold it up in the air in front of me as a prop, not understanding that the ‘balls’ in the joke refer to testicles. I clear my throat and shout over the conversation.

“Speaking of balls…” I tell the joke, hit the punch line and look around, expecting a big laugh. Instead, Annemarie’s mother and father are frozen in what looks to me like fear. Then Annemarie’s mother’s face reshapes itself into steeled hatred, and she points it at me like a sword.

“Get up from the table,” she hisses. “You are excused.”

Nobody else moves. Annemarie’s ears turn red. She doesn’t look up from her plate. Shame weighs me down like a hot blanket as I walk heavily into the living room and sit down on the couch. I wait for what seems like hours listening to Annemarie’s family finish their dinner in silence. I can hear forks scraping plates. I try to listen even harder, until I think I can hear the sound of a cloth napkin being placed on the table, or the sound of Annemarie’s father, finally blinking his eyes. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts, motherhood

Mother’s Day.

May 10, 2015

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By Leza Lowitz

The celebration brings up the immense gratitude I have for my mother, but it is also tinged with grief. For ten years I’ve longed to have a child, but haven’t been so blessed. Thankfully, my yoga practice has helped me look at this challenge as a kind of practice in itself–I have no other choice. My Japanese husband and I have applied to adopt, but our chances are slim. At 43, my age makes adoption even more difficult in a country where adoption is rare and bloodlines are almost feudal in their importance. I have to face it: my long road to motherhood might be at an end.

As the years have passed, I’ve had to ask myself questions many mothers never consider. Why do I want to be a mother anyway?  I meditate on the answer. I want to experience another kind of love, something beyond what I know or can even imagine. Mother love.

But I’m not there yet, not at all. All the effort, pain, and disappointment of infertlity has gotten too much to bear, and I haven’t been loving myself. So while we wait for a placement from the orphanage, which looks unlikely, my husband suggests I go on a pilgrimage to the motherland—India. If I can’t have a child, can I discover another way to experience motherhood?  If not, can I let go, and find contentment with life as it is?

Nothing to lose. So I pack my bags and head to India, hoping it will be the perfect place to heal and to find the mother within. Continue Reading…

Compassion, Guest Posts, Inspiration

Grace Notes

April 20, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Melodye Shore

As I rounded the last corner on my morning walk, I stopped to admire a flowering pink azalea. Dainty pink blossoms fluttered on graceful stems, lifted like ballerinas on the morning breeze. Winter was being nudged back into hibernation, and spring was doing one last dress rehearsal before taking center stage.

But my reverie was cut short.

The air was filled with the unmistakable whine of chainsaws, and the frantic chattering of displaced birds.

I raced toward my house, chased after the disembodied sounds until I found their source.

An army of gardeners surrounded the pepper trees in my neighbor’s yard, right behind my own. They stood sentry along our common fence, weapons raised, until my neighbor called out to them in broken Spanish. Chainsaws bit into bark–a steady, grinding noise–as one after another, amputated trees limbs crashed to the ground at the workmen’s feet.

My heart sank. Planted in the wrong spot, Brazilian pepper trees can be a bit unruly. Without pruning, they grow impossibly tall and unruly. They litter the ground with seedpods, and their gnarled trunks shed bark. They’re not indigenous to our area, and it shows. Even so, I love them. They provide shade during the hottest part of summer, and they offer sanctuary to the countless birds that, moments earlier, had taken to the sky, voicing their displeasure.

Hummingbirds patrolled the wooden fence, wings whirring as they dive-bombed the intruders. Mockingbirds hovered above emptied nests, and house finches fought in vain to protect their hatchlings. Homeless now, a pair of orioles took wing, a blur of sunshine that disappeared when they vanished.

I stared at a bald patch of sky, where leafy branches used to be, and I was overcome by a naked sense of vulnerability.  My heart ached for the birds—their sanctuary was being destroyed! But when the hacked-off branches teetered on the fence, and then collapsed into my yard like fallen corpses, my fingers tightened around my phone.

Now what? I asked myself. My neighbor and I were strangers— the fence, the trees that divided our properties also separated us from one another. I wouldn’t recognize his face, were I to bump into him at our local market, and I didn’t have his phone number.

So I called my sister, who lives 1000 miles away. “He’s killing them,” I sobbed.

“Wha–” The panic in her voice was palpable. But as I related the situation, blubbered on and on about dismembered trees and murderous gardeners, the urgency in her voice dissolved into relieved laughter, followed by sighs of relief.

“What can you do?” she said. “His property, his trees…I’m sorry, but I don’t know what I can do to make you feel better.”

So I called my husband. “You should see this!” I wailed. My eyes were blurred by tears, but I tried valiantly to describe for him the massacre as it continued to unfold.

Awkward silence.

“I wish I could help you,” he eventually said, “but by the time I get home from work, the damage will already be done.”

We ended our conversation, and in that hollow space between knowing and not believing the situation in which I found myself, I heard a still, small voice. It called me out of my panic, whispered the answer I needed to hear.

Share your concerns with the right person, it said. Speak up, while you still can. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Letting Go, Life, motherhood

A Sweet Ride.

January 7, 2015

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By Liz Campbell.

One of the things I love about getting older is my ability to not give a #$@! when it comes to certain things. Don’t get me wrong, I still care about a whole lotta stuff, the big stuff, but finally I am reaching a place where I don’t sweat the small stuff. I knew that I had been inching my way towards this space, particularly since becoming a parent. Add to that some huge life events over the past several years, and you’ve got a nifty recipe with which to bake yourself a big fat humble pie.

In my younger years, how things looked was pretty high on my list. My appearance, my home, my car, all things that I felt needed to look ship shape. To have pretty things really was quite important to me. If I take the time to reflect on this, it probably came from a place of simply wanting to fit in and to look, and therefore feel, just like the others. It took some time for the penny to drop that striving for material things in order to keep up with the Jones’s, does not make for a satisfying existence.

As I got older, and life started to throw me some curve balls, worrying about how things looked began to fall by the way side. There were much bigger things that needed my energy and attention – sustaining meaningful relationships, overcoming loss, starting a family, raising children – all big grown up things…things that really mattered. And if I’m honest with myself, I think that getting to the space of not giving a #$@! about stuff came about partly because I was getting to be all grown up, but mainly because I had no time! Who’s got the time or the head space to worry about what car you drive or the latest fashion trend, when you are grieving the loss of a loved one, or running on 2 hours sleep a night for months on end with not 1 but TWO colicky babies??! Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts, Kindness

Grief Walkers.

December 30, 2014

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By Mark Liebenow.

There is a deep need for kindness in the world, especially for those who are grieving.

This is not the kindness I first knew, which was really politeness or good manners — asking how you are and expecting you to say something positive, or holding the door open for you to go through. I am speaking of the deeper kindness that comes from concern for someone and responds to that person’s need, what comes from the heart. I am speaking of love unbidden that demands nothing of the one it is offered to, love that seeks only to help the one who stands in front of me. It asks, then listens when the hard stuff spills out, and it stays around to help with the other person’s struggles.

It is also the kindness of how I treat myself. When I grieve, when I feel defeated and unworthy of being loved, when I feel guilty for enjoying life again when my wife no longer can because she’s dead, it’s kindness for myself that is able to reach through my sorrow. It’s kindness for myself that allows me to care about others again.

Until grief placed me on a mountain of solitude, and I saw nothing but burnt earth and ashes around me, I did not understand the power of your hand reaching down to help me up.

Continue Reading…

Addiction, Beating Fear with a Stick, Guest Posts

What Happens When You Live Next To Your Worst Nightmare?

September 22, 2014

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By Renata Youngblood.

I had a good conversation with my meth-addict neighbor the other day.

You see, something switched in me when there was yet-another raid next door last Thursday. I’ve seen the tweakers come and go for a while and at times it bothered me, but for the most part I felt only a compassionate sadness for the lives wasted in addiction. I’m even guilty of finding humor in some of the characters we’ve witness showing up in broad daylight barely able to walk to the door of this partially painted, infinitely haunted, next door monstrosity.

But something definitely switched inside me at 5 am last Thursday when I was up with my hungry baby and heard the visiting tweakers rifling through their car right in front of my house.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts

Remembering How To Be Human by Erin Telford.

June 5, 2013

Remembering How To Be Human

I had a glorious, profound experience this past weekend.  I flew to Oregon to surprise my amazing mama for Mother’s Day.  Since my visit was unexpected, she was already on schedule to volunteer at Occupy Medical in the center of downtown Eugene.  We decided that I would come with her and volunteer my acupuncture services.

This is a fantastic setup to provide free medical care and a myriad of services to the underserved population in Eugene.  They have doctors, nurses, fresh food, an herbalist, and even a person to cut your hair!  It was a gorgeous warm day and I had a nice little line-up of people to treat.

I have never worked with underserved populations.  Underserved by my definition are people who don’t get enough.  They don’t get enough food, they don’t get enough medical treatment, they don’t get enough comfort, warmth, nurturing, empathy or love.

My second patient of the day was a transsexual prostitute who was afraid to be homeless on the street because of her sexual identity.  She told me a lot of stories, most of which left me slightly stunned and sad.  I usually feel like I have some things to say when I’m working with patients.  Some pretty reasonable, helpful, relatable things to say.

I like to have a golden nugget here and there that someone can take away and feel uplifted by.  It might be ego-y but I feel good making other people feel good.  So when this fellow human says to me, I sell myself for money when I’m depressed, I’m stumped.

I felt kind of like a jerk.  I don’t have a pretty bow to put on this one.  I can’t say, “Yeah, we’ve all been there” and have a laugh because we haven’t.  I had nothing.  Nothing.  I started and stopped.  Silence.  Awkward?  A teeny bit.  But then we just looked at each other.

Okay, I thought.  Let’s just be here.  Because THIS is what is happening right now.  This is her reality.  I didn’t need to make it better or make it different.  My reality and her reality were crossing over and we were just being humans together.  So we just sat for a minute or two looking into each other’s eyes.  I’m saying I hear you, I understand you, that sucks and I love you in my mind.  I hope she felt that.  I think she did.

I treated a young woman who was kicking a speed addiction and was grieving three babies gone on Mother’s Day.  I treated a woman with a painful bunion who was craving more connection with her family of origin.  I treated a very sweet man who wanted to propose to me with a ring made of a pinecone and string.  All were in heavy transition with very loose foundations, all were very anxious, all really, really needed to tell their stories.

The Dalai Lama had just been in Eugene the day before and everyone was quoting him.  It was a bit surreal.  The major theme of his talk seemed to be around compassion, nurturing and the responsibility and power of the feminine.  We were putting these teachings into direct action on this day.

My mother is a registered nurse so she was camped out on the bus checking vital signs and taking care of wounds.  I’m in my own little section of an outdoor tent with just a few battered folding chairs and a metal table that we pulled off her deck and covered with a pretty cloth to use for a workspace.  There was no glamour.  No flannel sheets, no table warmer, no aromatherapy, no music.

It was still perfect and functional.  When you strip away all the bells and whistles, there is just the work.  You just give everything you have to give.  Nothing else is necessary.

Mother Theresa said that the problem of the world was that we have forgotten that we belong to each other.   We are humans.  We are all doing this together.  It makes no difference if I live in a 2 million dollar apartment on Park Avenue or I sleep on cement steps with my dog to protect me.

We will all take hits in this life.  You will never know by looking at someone what kind of trauma they have had to endure.  It does not matter.  We all deserve to give and receive each other’s kindness and utter humanity.

It’s easy to see other humans as annoying, frustrating obstacles.  They are in your way.  They aren’t giving you what you want.  They are frustrating, shady, slow, entitled, etc.

It’s a choice to remember that we are all made of the same stuff.  We all need warmth and touch and sweetness.  Be in it together-even with “strangers.”

Connect and serve.

photo_about

Erin Telford, MSTOM, L.Ac.

Radiant Heart Acupuncture PC
Licensed Acupuncturist | Certified Herbalist
radiantheartacupuncture.com | Phone: 646.266.4019
214 W. 29th Street, Suite 901 | NY, NY 10001

Follow Erin on Twitter!

Erin Telford holds a Masters of Science degree from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in New York City-a rigorous four-year program that included acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, anatomy and physiology, nutrition, Western disease diagnosis, and treatment of over 300 patients. She is a licensed acupuncturist, board certified herbalist and is trained in Constitutional Facial Acupuncture RenewalTM. She has a private practice at the Classical Wellness Center as well as a practice at Yin & Tonic Acupuncture, a clinic focused on women’s health and infertility.

Erin believes in the powerful healing dynamic between patient and practitioner and the body’s innate ability to move towards balance. She uses a blend of traditional Chinese Medicine and 5 Element techniques to gently bring patients into harmony within their body, mind and spirit. Erin believes her role as a practitioner is to nourish life and relieve suffering of the body as well as the heart.

 

And So It Is, Forgiveness, Inspiration, Owning It!

How Kindness Works.

February 8, 2013

I got in a car accident the other night.

I was driving to teach my yoga class and just short of making it there I saw a car in front of me stopped. I stopped in time so as not to hit the car. The car in back of me however, slammed into me. The first word out of my mouth was Fuck and then my body shook.. My phone flew under the brake and the car got stuck in reverse and started rolling backward and tapped the car that had smashed into me and then a pretty woman cop was at my passenger window and mouthing something as she mimed a motion that probably said Roll down your window or Calm down. I shook harder. She came over to my side and got in (I must have gotten out at some point) and she got the car unstuck and moved it to the side of the road and the other drivers and I congregated on the curb. I was trying to call Equinox to tell them I had been in an accident and couldn’t get there to teach my yoga class but the guy cop was yelling at me to get off my phone and that he had been doing this too long or something like that. I couldn’t hear. I could hear but I couldn’t listen rather. I was gone. Somewhere else.

When she slammed into me maybe I died or maybe I floated away but when the cop said that no one was injured so he wouldn’t take a police report but that we had to get each other’s information I just nodded Uh-huh and shook. I was the only one panicking. And I kept saying I am sorry because we had all been in an accident and wasn’t that the polite thing to do? No one else said I am sorry so when I came home and told my husband I started to obsess that once again I had screwed up. I had opened my big mouth and because of being a people pleaser I was going to be at fault. I was going to jail. I was wrong. I messed up. Someone crashes into me and I apologize?

I haven’t been able to get out of bed for two days. I was depressed and my back hurt terribly from the impact. I was feeling sorry for myself and vulnerable and terrified to drive. Something this small rocked me so hard I thought. What exactly am I made of?

Why did I apologize? Apologizing denotes guilt. I was the only one that said I am sorry. I also noted that night the irony that I was the yoga teacher and the most freaked out. They were both so calm as if they’d had many car accidents and this was just another rung on the bedpost. The girl who hit me, her hood was smashed badly, and yet she seemed bored and un-phased. Me? I drifted into oblivion when she crashed into me and headed straight for my bed where I have yet to emerge.

It takes such little to shake me. My iPad gets lost or stolen (I will never know) and I have an accident and poof! I am bed-ridden, lost, scared of my shadow as well as the rain and the cars on the road and the idea of waking up in the morning, of being up with the lark.

While I was lying in bed yesterday and feeling this overwhelming sense of what’s it all for anyway? I posted on my Facebook the following question:

What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?

I don’t know why I asked it. I was in a foul people-hating mood. Maybe that is precisely why I asked it. Maybe I needed a reminder of kindness.

So I am laying in bed and the heat is blasting even though it wasn’t cold and I live in Southern California, and I am sweating and freezing and I start to cry reading the responses from my Tribe on Facebook.

Here’s one:

Nicole Markardt I was in a horrible car accident when I was 18. My back broke in 2 places, lying on a beach after the car rolled off of a bridge. A man ran through traffic… ran down rocks to the beach and back into traffic to flag down anyone that could call an ambulance ( pre cell phone). He gave me CPR. He even brought me flowers in the hospital. His name was Gabriel. Like the archangel. He cried when he saw I survived. I believe in the kindness of strangers.

I wanted to believe in the kindness of people again. Someone used my iPad on Monday so it obviously wasn’t coming back. Someone crashed into me and whether it was an accident or not did not say I am sorry. So many crap things happening and if I keep looking I will keep finding them. 

We find what we look for.

I broke into my ex-boyfriend’s apartment once. I used a credit card to unlock his door and let myself in.

He forgave me eventually. We had a big fight and he called me crazy and told me to get out but, eventually, we made up and went on to have about 2 years of more of the same, minus the “breaking in” with the credit card.

I didn’t think of it as breaking in at the time. He’d never use keys to let himself in his own apartment. We would come back to his place and he would slide a credit card through the space between the doorjamb and the door and voila! The door would open. It made him proud how easy it would be to rob his place. 

I had never thought of it as breaking in until he said that. I simply thought I was being cute. How could it be breaking in when the credit card was the way we always got in the door? The credit car was the key!

Except I knew. I knew he would be upset. I knew he never wanted me to stop by un-announced or call him my “boyfriend” but I did it anyway. I had such an adrenaline rush as I was sliding that card through the crack in the door that my whole body shook  like it did in the accident but worse.

Find what you are looking for.

I knew I could possibly catch him cheating. He was in bed though when I slid the credit car through the door and walked in. Asleep. He jumped up when I crawled in next to him and called me crazy and said that I broke in and that I needed to get out.

Look for someone to disappoint you hard enough and they will.

On some level, I knew he would react exactly how he did, but, since there are always two of us (at least) I ignored Voice #1 and went instead with Voice #2 in hopes I would catch him fucking someone else or doing something awful and I could say Uh-huh! People suck. You let me down. I knew it! People will fail you. See?

But he was asleep and he kicked me out and eventually we made up and went on to have a disastrous coupe of years but I think back on how I really let him down. His rules may have stank and he may have been a jerk but who was I to let myself in when he never gave me that permission, no matter how cute I thought it would be?

I wanted to fail.

I wanted to prove that people suck. Even me.

Yesterday I laid in my bed and posted that question on Facebook because I needed a reminder of the good in the world.

That’s why I said I was sorry when I was in the middle of the accident sandwich. I wasn’t at fault but I thought it was the human thing to do. The kind thing to do.

I don’t know. I don’t know if kindness counts much in the legal system but I stand by why I said it. Not all people suck. Some do. Can I say that as a yoga teacher? ( I just did, so I guess so.)

I don’t suck. 

I am kind. 

And there is a lot of kindness around us. It moved me to read about the things people posted on my Facebook and it reminded me how all we have to do is hear about it, read about, witness it, and kindness will live inside us. We don’t even have to be the one the kindness is meant for specifically, and yet and still, it will live somewhere within us as if it was meant for us specifically. That’s how it works.

BTCLOGOfinal

Guest Posts

Manifest-Station Message of the Day.

July 17, 2012

Manifest-Station message of the day for 7/17/12

Before every breath you take,
before every pose you attempt in yoga class,
before you speak,
before you cut someone off in traffic,
before you post on Facebook,
before you do or be,
Pause,
and ask yourself:
What Would Kindness Do?
 

Jenni Creatives, my partner in crime, makes another great poster!

Tweet me #WWKD by clicking here and tell me how you are being kind TODAY

How To, Inspiration

15 Rules To Live By. Debut Post on MindBodyGreen.

April 15, 2012

I am thrilled to now be a regular contributor to MindBodyGreen.

My first post went up yesterday which was titled 15 Rules To Live By.

My friend Karen Salmansohn made me this poster to go with the article.

Click here to read the full post on MindBodyGreen and as always, feel free to comment.

Each post will delve into one of my 15 rules.

1. Be Kind.
2. Have a sense of humor especially when it comes to YOU.
3. Write poems, even if only in your head.
4. Sing out loud, even if badly.
5. Dance, even with no rhythm.
6. If you don’t have anything nice to say… you know the deal.
7. Find things to be in awe of.
8. Be grateful for what you have right now.
9. Watch Modern Family, read Wayne Dyer, and end every complaint with “But I’m so blessed!”
10. Duh, do yoga.
11. Don’t worry. Everyone on Facebook seems like they have happier and funner lives. They don’t.
12. Tell someone you love that you love them. Right now.
13.Take more pictures.
14. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. No such thing.
15. Thank the Universe in advance.