I wasn’t always so sunny and happy. People were always telling me to smile. I have noticed that my face will typically give me away and that when I’m lost in thought, which is often, it looks like I am angry. I’ve made it a point to watch this. I have also made it a point to watch my thoughts.
For much of my life insecurities and doubt have plagued me. I have hurt myself with negative messages that became my mantra that ran constantly inside my head. This made me miserable. My negative energy attracted even more negative energy from others. I struggled with not being understood but it never occurred to me at the time that I also needed to try to understand others.
I decided to be kind to myself and forgive myself for being so very imperfect. I thought I could change my inner dialog to something positive and I looked for the good in me and told myself good things about myself, even if I didn’t believe them. More importantly I took this same love and understanding that I was finding for myself and turned it outward. I made it my “job” to reach out and say something kind or supportive to people especially those who seldom hear that sort of thing. I made sure my compliments were honest and true. I learned that I could find something encouraging and positive to say to almost everyone.
Not that this is easy all the time for everyone. I am a naturally shy introvert. It has taken many baby steps to get to where I am today. I have tried to plant tiny seeds of sunshine wherever I go.
And more and more I find these seeds have sprouted.
By spreading the love it comes back, absolutely.
I don’t mean to sound trite or come off with some well worn out syrupy platitudes. I have heard people complain about the unauthenticness of the idea that thinking happy thoughts and that an attitude of gratitude is a cure-all. It is perfectly normal; healthy, in fact to have a wide range of emotions including sadness. Emotions are colors on a palate and life is art. We as artists can make our lives masterpieces when we use a full range of hues.
That being said:
I find touches dark blues, patches of deep purples and deep black hues to be in beautiful contrast to the soft pastels and sunny oranges and yellows, it is in that contrast that I find beauty in, but a little of those darker shades goes a long way. Life provides us enough of those. If I can, it is the sunshine I will spread. Makes me happier anyway.
I can make the conscious choice of letting the darkness that hits me in life stop at me. This is how I cope with the crap that hurts me; with my refusal pass it on.
I am so blessed.
So if I seem a little pollyannish or silly remember I didn’t start out that way and that really, no one can be blissfully happy all the time. Happiness requires the decision to be happy. Just the simple act of smiling is powerful magic in itself. Science has shown that the simple act of smiling can boost your mood, lower stress, boost your immune system and possibly even prolong your life.
I think to stay happy we need to spread that joy around like it’s the damn plague especially on those days when we do feel like crap.
So get out there and plague everyone you meet with joy.
Watch its boomerang effect come alive.
We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy.
I’ve always wanted to write poems and nothing else.
Coming in whispers that speak to that child that lurks within
the one that plays in grassy fields and kisses the sweet spring wind
she who laughs at chickadees and muses with birds
Quietly knocking one over the head with her simple earthy words.
I have been literally brought to tears on more than one occasion by this immensely talented writer and poet.
Mary Oliver is an artist who more than paints pictures with words. She illustrates profound feeling in vivid and not so vivid colors and hues. They hit me deep down in my soul.
Never before have I so connected with another’s words. It reinforces to me the greater connection we all have with each other and our beautiful planet.
What follows are some of my favorite quotes by this Pulitzer Prize winner.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
“Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”
There is nothing better than work. Work is also play; children know that. Children play earnestly as if it were work. But people grow up, and they work with a sorrow upon them. It’s duty.
“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”
“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.”
Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable. I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours. Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing. If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.”
“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”
“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing, as though I had wings.”
Yes…yes I do Mary Oliver… thank you for your inspiration.
Mary Oliver was born in 1935 in Maple Heights, Ohio. She attended both Ohio State University and Vassar College. As a young poet, Oliver was deeply influenced by Edna St. Vincent Millay and briefly lived in Millay’s home, helping Norma Millay organize her sister’s papers.
Oliver is notoriously reticent about her private life, but it was during this period that she met her long-time partner, Molly Malone Cook. The couple moved to Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the surrounding Cape Cod landscape has had a marked influence on Oliver’s work. Mary Oliver held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Bennington College until 2001. In addition to such major awards as the Pulitzer and National Book Award, Oliver has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has also won the American Academy of Arts & Letters Award, the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Prize and Alice Fay di Castagnola Award. She lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Kindness is magic.. It is a warm glow that uplifts the heart and nurtures the soul. We are social creatures and we rely on the milk of human kindness. It is simple yes, but too eluding in this world. It is all too rare and oh so beautiful like a lone purple wildflower among a sea of indifferent green.
As I’ve grown older I appreciate simple acts of kindness more and more.
There are two sides to kindness; the giving and the receiving. Both teach us valuable and distinct lessons and at some point in our lives we will have experienced each side to varying degrees.
I have found those who have suffered the most, endured the most, to be some of the most understanding, generous and kindest people I’ve ever met, but that road is not easy, these are the exceptional ones, the stronger ones, there are others, ones that have fallen by the wayside. The ones that society is all to eager to overlook. There are those with hard outer shells forged out of fear, the ones that seem too tough to crack. They may be gruff, indifferent or just plain mean. All of them are human beings and nine times out of ten all they need is some simple human kindness. One could say that there are those who don’t deserve such a precious commodity as kindness. I say they are the ones that need it the most. It’s not easy to be kind to some. Be the stronger one.
Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.
To openly express empathy for someone else, especially a stranger is sometimes looked upon as weak or at least eccentric in our society. How off the mark is that? It requires strength to practice compassion. Being kind is not always so easy. It often requires putting aside our natural selfishness to put someone else first. It may involve some sort of sacrifice however small or large, and no one said it would be easy. We have all heard stories of great kindnesses done upon others. It makes my heart sing to hear of these good deeds but it is those simple kindnesses; the one’s we do everyday unto each other, the one’s that seldom get noticed. To me, they are the most important, the most crucial in adding some peace, love and understanding to this eclectic mix of lifeforms on this lovely planet of ours.
If we as a society can collectively decide to put a greater focus on kindness and it’s cultivation, our world would be a kinder place. Kindness is an asset to our civilization and it should be treated as a precious commodity.
Empathy and kindness should not only be encouraged in schools but taught. We are not born being kind. It isn’t until at least the age of two before we show our natural capacity for empathy and it isn’t until four or five before we exhibit a theory of mind, meaning that we are able to understand that other people may have feelings and beliefs that are different from our own.
We learn kindness from others; by how we are treated and our experiences. We are shaped by this. Those of us who have experienced kindness, gentleness and love in our lives, especially in our younger years are more apt and more able to express those very same emotions and sensitivities to others. It is our young people who will form the world of the future. It is these same people that are being exposed to constant messages of civil unrest, violence, bigotry and hatred. Our society tells us one thing and does another. The civilness of what we deem a civilization is eroding at the edges. I fear we are being desensitized to the suffering of others–there’s so much of it. The media puts this suffering on center stage dressed up as infotainment and presented to us through the safety of our screens. It’s easier to be indifferent, it’s easier not to care.
All the more reason to care…
I am compelled to make up for every little pain I have endured in my life, every unkindness done to me, through indifference or pure malice. I try not to take the acts and attitudes of others personally. I’ve found most of those who strike out in anger do so not out of hate for the victim but out of a hatred for themselves. Hurt travels. It is infectious; a vicious cycle of contagion. This is something I try not to succumb to.
It is kindness that I like to spread as my defiant act against a cold and heartless world. For every unkindness done to me, I try to do a kindness to make up for it. That warm glow is priceless my friends and it feel so good. Simply put: Doing good makes us feel good.
This is the stuff that can change the world. We can change the world! One smile at at a time, one act of kindness multiplied by seven billion..and then some and then some more..until those acts of kindness cover us all and heals the hurt that ails us.
“You can present the material, but you can’t make me care.” ― Bill Watterson
Some say the world will end with not with a bang but a whimper. I say ours may end with the dull and empty thud of indifference.
A blatant apathy lies thick like a hazy cloud over our populist culture. It’s cool not to care. Johnny doesn’t give a damn and the indifferent world doesn’t bat an eyelash.
From the time we are children, society teaches us not to care too much or at least pretend we don’t. To act in such a manner is a sign of childish insecurity, it’s not only foolhardy but too trusting and stupid. We are encouraged to develop a sense of skepticism and mistrust especially when it comes to people we don’t know.
The world is a scary place. I could write a thesis on how frightening it is. I think we shut off a little of ourselves bit by bit as the inevitable blows of life hit us. By the time we are grown adults we have lost so much of that beautiful trust, that loving nature and natural compassion children feel and openly express. We are taught to see differences in each other and these differences are not good. This polarizes us.
I think people tend to wrap themselves in a protective cloak of apathy. It’s not only easier not to care, it also hurts a lot less. When we care we are vulnerable. It makes perfect sense to want to close off a wee bit and tone down those emotions.
Distractions come easy and going along with the stampeding crowd is understandable given the alternatives. It’s better to conform. In many ways it’s essential if we want to live in a civilized society.
It is easier just to go along. Right?
This world is sick and we all know it. My eyes glaze over when I watch the nightly news which I admittingly cannot watch much anymore. I see pics of starving children and burning forests and war. Our brains can only take in so much information. Our hearts can only take so much pain. We become desensitized, it’s a survival mechanism. I think that’s why on a collective whole we seemingly don’t care, or we care more about stupid meaningless distractions. I think we’ve reached a saturation point. It’s all too much and if I don’t notice maybe it doesn’t exist and I won’t have to do anything about it.
Why should I care? Why should you? Why should anyone? We know life is not fair. It’s a hard lesson that still stings. We are savvy enough to realize that fairy tales typically don’t come true and that life is not only not fair it’s a bitch too.
I can see how people especially the ones who get the short stick may get a little angry with the world and society in general. I can see how easy it could be not to care for someone who doesn’t care about you. I can see how one could get caught up in inevitable feelings of futility; why should we care about a world that doesn’t care about us? I ask again why should I care? I know that I am but one small voice in a sea of millions so I better shout it out:
I care because someone has to care, dammit!!
If there is to be any meaning in my insignificant scant-of-a-minute life it’s this: that I made a difference however small on the side of good and that I took whatever sad, nasty or indifferent thing that came my way and turned it into something wonderful, however small. I cannot expect anything more or less. I want to leave this world a little better than how I found it.
I want to live in a world where people care about one another and I want my children…I want all the children and their children to grow up in such a world. There is too much ugliness, too much to tolerate. I suppose the way I cope with it is by not only ranting about it, but living up to the ideals I’m ranting about.
Kindness begets kindness and if more people gave a damn more people would give a damn. We all could use a little more kindness And so there it is: My spiel for the day. You can only do what you can do….
“The earth was overwhelmed with beauty and indifferent to it, and I went with a heart ready to crack for its unbearable loveliness.” ― Josephine Winslow Johnson
The magic that lives inside each and everyone of us. I believe that our belief in ourselves in the single most important factor in determining our present and our future.
I believe in the almighty power of LOVE and that the meek shall inherit the earth…if we believe.
I believe in unity and understanding, in tolerance and compassion. I believe in the power of a smile and that a little kindness can go a long way.
I believe that diversity is beautiful and inclusion makes us strong. I believe we can stand together for what is truly important and I believe we have the wisdom to know just what that is.
We are all in this together. We are an intrinsic part of the greater world around us.
Drop by drop, like rain falling into sea–there is an incredible force in that which is
I believe in UNITY
and that it’s our right and responsibility, our duty to ourselves and future generations to make this world a better place.
WE have more power than we know
It is we who create our own reality
We need to love more and judge less. We need to listen and hug like there is no tomorrow. We need bravery and character and backbone.
We need action and work and planning and focus.
We need HOPE
and dreams…we need one another.
We need to believe. That is what I believe more than anything; we need to believe.
“That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality–your soul, if you will–is as bright and shining as any that has ever been….Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.”
You can always find a distraction if you’re looking for one.~
A-ha…yes, I am now back to more serious matters. I have had a good rest and now have woken up on the sunny side of the bed. I promised this next post would be something lighter and hopefully I will come through on that…so far all I have is the title but as you can see it is a damn good one. So I am talking to MM about this. “So what will I write?” I ask. I seldom do this, I usually am full of ideas but today, well…lets just say I am open to anything. MM doesn’t say a word, he is asleep so I must look elsewhere for inspiration and there he is. Who is he you ask? Why it’s Mario my famous cat. He has just sashayed through the door from another night of carousing and now has the nerve to demand breakfast. Just where has he been? I wonder if he has a secret life?
7 SIGNS YOUR CAT HAS A SECRET LIFE
He stays out all night.
You find lipstick on his collar.
You get strange phone calls in the middle of the night consisting of heavy breathing and insistent mews.
He has taken to wearing cologne–Salmon flavored. (there is something fishy here alright)
He spends a lot of time grooming himself.
He seldom has time for you anymore.
You find that he has erased his text message history.
I know what you are thinking…Yes, I know my cat is famous and he is very busy. I realize this. You should see the amount of fan mail he receives but something has changed. We just don’t talk anymore like we used to. I can’t remember the last time he took me out someplace nice. I asked him point-blank ‘What are you up to?” He just stared at me with his big green eyes and then just plopped over and went to sleep. I don’t know what to do about this. If anyone has any ideas let me know. I will keep you posted.
Now on to more pressing matters…let’s play a game shall we…
In an effort to get back to some serious journalism. I googled the word “cute” and the word “disturbing” can you tell me which photos were featured under cute and which were deemed disturbing?
CUTE or DISTURBING?
CUTE OR DISTURBING?
CUTE OR DISTURBING?
CUTE OR DISTURBING?
Okay, one more, is this CUTE OR DISTURBING?
As you are probably surmising I am spending perhaps a bit too much time scouring the internet for frivolous nonsense and you are right. I have had it with all the bad news that’s been swirling around so I have been looking for some happy distractions.
Sometimes I just need to bury my head in the sand for a while and just let what is to be…be. Time passes and events will occur, much of it is beyond my control. It is a good thing to let out all the rage and dissatisfaction with events and writing has always been a therapeutic activity for me. I have appreciated the ongoing dialogue with you. It is nice to know that I am not alone in my feelings about events in the world. I will not be silent about my thoughts and feelings but there is a point where it becomes counterproductive .
While it is healthy not to keep feelings inside it is also healthy to know when to let go and turn my focus on what I can change. Thanks for all the support my friends.
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
The best and the worst of us are inside us all. Everyone is represented. Every thought or idea. Every dream and every nightmare belongs to us as a whole. From the roar of the mighty tyrant to the whispering cries of the small and the innocent. That is us. This is we, this restless sea called humanity. Soft as a pillow on which to lie your weary head or as hard as a rock to bash your brains in. Humanity is kindness and love. Humankind forgives and understands. Humans are also selfish and petty, cruel and vindictive. We have it in our capacity to kill; destroy which we hate or do not understand…even ourselves. This is what we do. We also have within ourselves great nobility and courage. We have greatness and potential. We not only destroy, we can save and reserrect.
The darkest unspeakable horrors lie in our common past. We are animals after all and it is not so long ago that we needed that harshness, that willingness to embrace that dark part of us to survive. It is the nature of the beast after all and no matter how we try to hide it at times we are the beast. .
The worst and the best of us are inside all of us. Perhaps it is what it means to be human is to have this conflicting nature. Perhaps this is what gives us our drive. Think of us as you may, we are the dominant ones on this planet and it was our primitive ancestors who insured this legacy for us, we the so-called civilized inheritors.
We are the beast. The animal who watched wide-eyed the downfall of Earth’s last dominant species; the dinosaurs. Our rodent ancestors, the first of the mammals inherited purely by luck and then by sheer determination this fantastic planet. It was our predecessors who clung to the safety of trees. It was our for-bearers who climbed out of the safety of those trees and learned how to make and use tools. We learned to communicate and cooperate. It was this which helped us grow and expand, this banding together. This social bonding survives deep in our nature to this day.
Where did we go wrong? Did we grow too smart for our own good? Did we grow too fast? Did we forget that pure intelligence without wisdom is a recipe for disaster?Where we too successful? Will that killer instinct turn on us in the end and destroy us. We who shaped this planet into our own image.Or will that instinct help us survive and thrive?
Is our journey over? Are we stuck on a plateau? Have we reached a golden age, never to return? Does evolution ever stop or are we still evolving?
I think we can, I think we are. I believe we have it within ourselves to grow into something amazing and quite wonderful. Some people believe we are at the end of our journey. They believe we have no business having traveled as far as we have. But we are not finished, we have only just begun. We are a child that has outgrown our playground. We are a child who is frightened to grow up. Growing is painful, growing hurts, but growing is what we must do….and it is within us all. It is up to all of us; every single drop in this sea of humanity.
We are all needed, but it starts with you…it starts with me. Together we can save ourselves and grow and change and become something we cannot fathom now, but something wonderful nonetheless.
It takes an act of kindness, multiplied by seven billion. It takes someone to stop keeping score. It takes a billion “I’m sorry’s” and “I care” and dammit, ” We can do this together!” It takes a trillion turns of the other cheek . It takes a light to shine the way and it takes seven billion to follow that light.
It will take all of humanity to save humanity.
We are frail, we are weak, we are human and together we are more powerful than any one of us can realize.
How we humans treat our fellow humans is truly a measure of our collective humanity. Besides our intelligence, what sets us apart from other animals is the empathy and compassion we not only possess but thrive on.
We are all connected. We all have wants and needs and feelings. We are dependant on each other not just for tangible reasons but for emotional as well. We need each other. It is instinctive and it goes back to our birth hundreds of thousands of years ago. And in my opinion it is one of the reasons we have become so formidable as a race.
There is strength in unity and harmony is essential to unity. Harmony is built on kindness and mutual respect. And as they say “Kindness begets kindness.”
Kindness can be simple and easy and fun. Doing an act of kindness feels good and it should. Altruism is a noble trait and as we endeavor to overcome our savage part and concentrate on the noble; even the simplest and most basic acts of kindness can go much further than we think.
Positive or negative emotions are contagious; they spread like wildfire. One person’s bad day can leave behind a lot of bad feelings and bad days for others. Of course, this goes the same for someone’s good day and it is these good days that must be shared.
The smallest of acts can make a dramatic difference. A kind word, even a smile can be heaven-sent to someone who’s having a bad day or rough go of it. These days many people are having a rough go of it.
I have been on the giving and receiving end of this vital human connection and have experienced the full spectrum of feelings regarding it. As my experiences of late have shown me, being in the need of kindness makes one appreciate it all the more.
I can’t help but notice the kindness and generosity, the compassion possessed by those with the least to give. I see it time and time again and these times have really brought it home. I have found people to be more understanding…more down to earth and much kinder than I ever thought.
If anything good could come out of this “Great Recession” it’s that it has forced many of us to slow down our rampant consumerism and concentrate on what is really important; each other, not things…….and really, if anything, no matter what your personal circumstances…..it’s given us all the more reason to be kind to each other.