Archive for the ‘Kindness’ Category

I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU (The Rembrandts)
December 9, 2019

We’re closing our 6th day of pretty much living at Children’s Hospital LA (CHLA).  Cole was admitted last Wednesday and will be here until the end of the year, maybe just into 2020.  We’re surviving.  Actually better than surviving.  We’re getting into a routine where we’re both hanging out with Cole during the day and then one of us goes home to attempt a good night of sleep and to spend some time with Luna, our poor, needy ten year old Golden Doodle.  Then it’s back to CHLA.

Cole’s days are filled with lots of nurses, doctors, residents, and various support staff popping in for vitals, to add weight to his traction, to help us with anything we need – like transferring him from the bed to the traction wheelchair for an outing or helping with other needs.  He’s also had a barrage of very welcome and much appreciated visitors.  At first it felt overwhelming but now that he’s more settled and doing remarkably well with the traction, the visits have been a great source of joy.  For him, and for us.

It took me a long time to understand that it’s okay to ask for help, support, or care.  Early into my parenting journey, I did my best to be an island.  I have always been a pretty self-sufficient person and in fact often served as the maternal one amongst my pack of friends when I was single. I’m pretty good about jumping in when someone is in need and am always at the ready to help. I’m appreciative when someone recognizes that I am in need, but in the past it was hard for me to fully accept it.

Nowadays, I try to ask.  I reach out to friends when I’m struggling and I have tried to build a support network so that I don’t have to go through things alone (I should clarify that my husband is the biggest part of my support and a great partner – but he’s also sometimes going through the same things as I am such as Cole’s current medical situation).  I was part of a special needs mom’s group for a while, which I think is where I  both realized how much I like having people in my life who understand some of the unique parts of my parenting experience, and how valuable regular sharing is to me.

I’ve learned that being an island is not what’s best for me.  I like knowing that people are thinking of me and wishing my family well, particularly in high stress situations like the traction and looming spinal fusion surgery.  I also really like being able to show the same support and care to my friends, near, far, and in the social media stratosphere. It’s one of the most positive aspects of social media – the strength and heart of many.  I know not everyone feels this way but having gone through some of Cole’s surgeries quietly and the more recent ones more publicly, I can honestly say that the impact of sharing truly helps to quell fears, stand tall, and to make it through the long days and nights.

So keep the love coming and know that if ever you find yourself in need, I’ll be there for you.

THANKFUL (Kelly Clarkson)
November 26, 2019

Thanksgiving has become a holiday where we, my pod of three, frequently find ourselves trying to figure out how and with whom we’ll celebrate.  For a number of years we joined extended family for a chaotic feast, but it wound up not being quite right so we hosted a couple of dinners ourselves, inviting other families and friends who were similarly without plans.  We’ve been invited to share with the clan of a close friend several times, a dinner that was always warm, festive, and full of great conversation and cheer.  The clan has since grown considerably so the dinner is now relegated to clan only, which seems right.  Last year we again hosted with a couple of families, one of which was transitioning via a divorce and in need of a new experience to help get through the holidays.  And this year, we’ll be sharing with them and their extended family as guests – though they’re as close to us as family comes – in what may be their new tradition.

Thanksgiving is likely my favorite holiday when it’s well celebrated.  It’s a time of year where we tend to reflect on things that are important and where the best part of the festivities is simply spending quality time with those we hold dear, sharing a glorious meal, laughter, gratitude, and care.  The celebration can languish over wine and conversation, or move to game playing like our dinner last year, leaving bellies full and souls sated.  In my mind, it’s the perfect dinner party…

This year particularly I’m counting my blessings as we are all gearing up for Cole’s surgery next week.  My nerves are right at the surface, so I’ll be spending some of the long weekend preparing the house and freezer for our week at the hospital, and then those first few days home when we’re getting our bearings in terms of caring for Cole and his new back.  We work well once we figure out the best routine so I know it will get easier as we settle home.

I plan to decorate Cole’s room with heaps of holiday decorations so it feels festive and Christmasy.  It’s likely he’s going to miss his favorite holiday celebration, Christmas Eve dinner at his uncle’s house.  The two share a love of Christmas and my brother puts on a wonderful Christmas Eve celebration every year that Cole looks forward to and adores more than anything in the world.  I want to transform his room into a winter wonderland while he’s still in hospital.  It breaks my heart that he’ll miss it this year so I feel compelled to create some new holiday cheer for him to make up for it just a little.

I’m grateful to have a tribe of friends and family who will be around to support Cole, Dan and I through this.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!  I hope you’re festivities are full of love and joy!

COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN (Led Zeppelin)
November 12, 2019

Twenty something years of being together and I’m realizing that my husband and I have some serious communication issues.  Instead of developing a shorthand, instinctual and deeper sense of understanding one another, as couples are apt to do after being together for so long, we seem to be doing the opposite and it’s causing hurt, frustration and distance.

He thinks I treat him disrespectfully, with responses that are mostly piss and vinegar.  I think he takes things too personally.  My being frustrated when I get home from a long day at work, spend three of those hours in stop and go traffic each day, needing just a few minutes of down time to transition to being home and taking a breath, is not a sign that I’m not happy to see him or that I see him as the cause of my angst.  I’m simply not always able to burst through the door, offering smiles and kisses the second I get out of the car.  It’s absolutely nothing personal.

I’m not always kind.  I know this of myself and I’m not proud of it.  I work hard to try to be better but I think the unfortunate nature of marriage or relationships is that we have a tendency to take things out on the people closest to us.  Part of that is simply proximity.  Part of it is a sense of trust – people we love can see us at our worst and still love us.  Part of that is a belief – however wrong it may be – that they know they’re not the root of the anger and frustration just the dumping ground.  I’ve come to understand that these theories are not actually true.  Particularly in the case of my relationship, the latter.

I’m not sure how one goes about changing patterns and habits that are well established from childhood.  I suppose the fact that I can admit to or have awareness of my behaviors is the first step, though I struggle to get past that one step.  I also feel like I can’t be the only one stepping.  I can take responsibility for my words and my actions but I cannot influence how they are heard or taken.  I can’t change someone’s expectation or anticipation of my presence.

The nature of our communication is stunted in some ways because we are almost never together without Cole present as well.  it’s hard to have adult conversation, or even complete conversations about anything without him being there and often not pleased about us talking to one another or the feeling that a particular conversation may not be best had in front of him (like discussing our concerns about his upcoming surgery or my husband’s travels or a night out).  It’s not natural and we rarely pick any of those conversations back up because we’re almost never alone, just the two of us in a room when we can have real conversations.

Anyone else have communication issues?  Any thoughts on how to improve things?

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I recently heard about a colleague’s attempt to do so by having a night a week where she and her husband turn off electronics and spend the evening playing a game and talking, be it cards, Yahtzee, or whatever.  She says it’s done wonders in terms of them appreciating one another more…A fun idea that sounds worth the try!

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS (The Beatles)
September 18, 2018

I saw a post today, shared by a friend in Australia, about a friend of hers who just had a baby. There were complications with the delivery and her daughter has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy.  The post was asking for donations for the baby’s current and future care.  I wanted to write on the post that with seventeen years of experience with a similar child, it’s going to be okay and that despite the dramatic entry and overwhelming sense of the unknown, life will be joyful and their child will be loved and happy.  I held back though because I’m never quite sure if people want to know this while they’re in the throes of trying to understand their new reality.

This doesn’t just apply to this particular situation.  I struggle with it in all kinds of situations.  I have come to realize that often people don’t want to know that there are other people who have walked the path before them and can shed some light on the journey.  I also worry that it comes off as “know-it ally”, which is never my intention.  So I often opt to hold my thoughts.

I, for one, am truly grateful for advice and support, and I cherish the guidance of those who have similar parenting journeys because between all of us working together we have quite a network of research, connections and experience that enriches the lives of our children beyond what one lone set of parents can do no matter how savvy.

One of my fantasies is to one day create a compound living situation, preferably near the beach, with a therapeutic swimming pool, accessible gym complete with an infrared sauna on the property, where other families like ours could all live with their 24/7 adult kids (either in independent homes or with family) and support one another.  Some of us have kids that will likely remain with us for life but there are ways to provide some independence for them within a fixed community and to allow parents to have some independence as well.  It’s a fantasy but not completely outside the realm of possibility.

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We can go it alone but in my experience it’s always better with friends…

 

 

 

Anthem (Leonard Cohen)
September 14, 2018

There is a crack in Everything. That’s how the light gets in…

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It’s one of my favorite song lyrics from the Leonard Cohen song Anthem, but a long standing notion that the crack or imperfection is what gives us a path to greater existence. Rumi, the Sufi poet and philosopher, has a similar oft quoted line, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.”, invoking the same idea of imperfection being a road to enlightenment.

I feel like this is the endless journey I have encouraged myself to pursue.  It’s one of acceptance and betterment and I hope to travel it for the rest of my life.  For most of my teen and adult years I’ve struggled with confidence, self-love, and frequently battled myself and losing.  I tend to be my own worst enemy and harshest critic.  I allow my insecurities to shout the loudest and engage them to idly defend me when I feel put upon or angered.  They’re not my best voice because they prevent me from seeing myself or allowing me to be vulnerable.  They’re cruel and lash out.  They deflect.

I’m trying to teach myself to step back and react from my heart even if it means admitting I’m culpable in an action or behavior or that I myself feel hurt or scorned by someone or an action.  Decades of unfettered reaction are slow to turn around but it’s an effort worth taking because when I’m successful, when I approach conflict with calm and sincerity, it’s resolved amicably nearly always.

I want to be a good example for my son, an example of someone who has flaws but is constantly trying to evolve and resolve and flow.  I want him to see that he can be fluid in this way and open his heart and mind to be kind and caring even in conflict or stress.  I want him to know that the pursuit of enlightenment is something more personal and internal for every one of us, but that the result of this endeavor results in a gentler, kinder community and world.

When I was a kid, I was often as described as “nice”.  I kind of hated it because I likely wanted to be thought of as the pretty one or the cool one or the smart one.  No, I was the nice one.  In retrospect I greatly appreciate the compliment.  We should all strive to be the nice one. We should all let the light shine through our cracks…

 

 

 

WONDERFUL WORLD, BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE
October 16, 2017

“Take a look at the world,
and the state that it’s in today,
I am sure you’ll agree,
We all could make it a better way.
With our love put together,
Ev’rybody learn to love each other,
Instead of fussing and fighting.”
Jimmy Cliff

There have been so many natural and human disasters around the world recently. It seems endless and it seems impossible to know what to do to help besides throwing whatever money one can afford to throw. But that doesn’t feel like it’s enough and it precludes any direct connection with the victims, and fall out.

After seeing the devastation in Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and the tragic aftermath of the senseless shootings in Las Vegas, or the massive loss of life in Somalia due to two car bombings, we look to one another for answers, comfort, and relief. We hold our loved ones tighter and make effort to let those we love, know we love them. We join campaigns and donate to organizations to provide assistance. We hope that our own cities won’t be the next struck by any kind of tragedy, natural or manmade. And we then we go about our lives feeling we’ve helped.

And we have. Being kind to one another is important and providing much needed funds to relief efforts is necessary. Going about our normal daily lives is also important both for our communities, our families, and us.

But there are some people who think outside the box and make effort to effect change and to impart a different kind of care, the care of action. I am blessed to know one such angel, and I want to share what she did in the wake of the Las Vegas tragedy. She made a pilgrimage of kindness to Las Vegas; where she did fifty-eight acts of kindness, encouraging each recipient to pay it forward themselves, in honor of each of the fifty-eight victims.

The deeds ranged from surprising random diners in Flaming Fajitas with gift cards to cover their meals, to presenting flowers to a senior in an assisted living home, to paying for haircuts at a local Fantastic Sam’s, to bringing pizzas to the first responding police station, to providing her cab driver with a generous tip, that he then donated to a collection his company had going to provide aid to the victims, and so much more. Each deed was accompanied by a note with the name, hometown and age of the shooting victim she was honoring. Many of the recipients had stories of their own to share with her and ideas for paying her kindness forward on their own.

She touched an entire city. She connected with people on a whole different level. The local paper caught wind of her mission and wrote about her. She shared the journey on Facebook and had lots of supporters wanting to help facilitate her passion. She took the idea of helping a step further than most of us even conceive. I know her to be one of the kindest, most caring, friendly, enthusiastic people I’ve ever met and I’ve been inspired by her since she came into my life. I aim to think outside the box like she does. I hope you will find inspiration in her actions too.

58 Acts of Kindness