mental health

Kindness

In the past week I have seen kindness in many shapes and forms. Each instance was in plain sight. Could everyone see the kindness? Would anyone react and create their own kindness towards others?

Some interesting questions I asked myself. Instead of wondering about the potential domino effect of kindness that could happen, I decided I should write a blog about kindness hoping kindness would be multiplied around the world.

Today some friends went caroling for the holidays. They visited a few sweet elderly ladies. One was struggling after the loss of a spouse of a lifetime. The other battles dementia. The music lifted their spirits. No matter if it was lifted for seconds, minutes or hours. The kindness lifted spirits of those who needed it most. Examples like this show me that hope is still alive today. 

Last week I witnessed an elementary-age school girl who wanted to raise money to buy kids toys for Christmas who were less fortunate. She drew hundreds of pictures and her parents helped her sell a digital copy of her art to buy the toys. So many toys were bought. This little girl’s kindness will make the holidays extra special for so many children. In addition she restored hope in many via the internet of goodness in the air. What an amazing story to share. 

Then there is the kindness in friendships. I am so lucky to have friends who are always there to support you when you need them most. The friends who help you in tough times but also celebrate with you in good times. Kindness and friendship work together in unison. 

In a world of chaos why not be kind? Kindness matters. Please read this short post and think of how you can offer kindness in your area. How can you support the elderly? How can you volunteer at a food pantry? How can you help guide somebody who is struggling? Think kindness today. Set a resolution for kindness in 2021 and every year thereafter.  

Be purposeful. Be intentional. Spread kindness like you would spread butter on bread. Offering kindness is free!

mental health, Uncategorized

Gift of Words

I’ve mentioned the challenges of working in an elementary school during this time of COVID. Telling the kids to spread out. Masks all the time. So. Much. Sanitizer. Constant changes. One of the reasons I wanted to work in an elementary school is honestly because it seemed playful and fun. That hasn’t always proven true, and this fall has been even less fun than usual.

In typical years, the time between Thanksgiving and Winter break at an elementary school is equal parts festive and frantic. We have 15 days to cram in two month’s worth of learning and celebrating. The schools I’ve been in go all out with decorations, which means trees, menorahs, stockings, and so on. It’s also the wrapup of the first half of the year, so we pile tons of tests in there just to add to the excitement (and panic).

This year was different. Widespread testing is postponed or canceled for the most part in elementary schools where I live. And when I got back from Thanksgiving break there were no trees going up, no stockings… maybe just a handful of stars and tinsel in the hallways. The lights and energy of the holidays are usually palpable when you walk through the front door. This year no one would have known it was December.

My job has changed so I am not telling stories to kids anymore right now, so no Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Christmas tales. Last year I made a tree out of ancient textbooks. I also have a little sliver tree with international ornaments. The kids love these touches. This year I didn’t find time with all my other shifting responsibilities.

Every year has also brought a dress up countdown for teachers, 12 Days of Christmas style. We all wear red one day, silver the next, silly socks on Tuesday, crazy hats Thursday. I wore my tacky Christmas sweater on the right day and I was the only one who did! Most of us are so tired and beat up we are just lucky to be dressed and physically present. December, such a special, silly time of celebration and connection, was just more show-up-and-get-it-done days.

The twelve days also bring treats at times. Hot cocoa after school. Cookies in the mailroom. Pancakes from the local breakfast place. I generally skip all that since too much sugar makes me sleepy. But one morning, when I returned from my morning outdoor duty all dressed up in my tacky garb, a piece of paper caught my eye. It was a paper, to me, thanking me for my gift of flexibility. A quote from Picasso about finding your purpose and sharing it. A short explanation of how I have adapted to every role and challenge this year. An appreciation.

It was a simple thing. A word. An acknowledgement. A recognition that in this crazy time, I have played my role as best I can. And what I do matters. Then I noticed that every teacher’s door in the school had a similar paper.

I made excuses the rest of the day to walk around the building, dropping off items or doing other errands. But what I really wanted to do was see other colleague’s notes – what gifts did our administration identify in them? Kindheartedness. Generosity. Passion. Good humor. Creativity. I nodded my head at each one. Maybe not what I would have said is most important about that person, but each one still rang true. Some of them made me laugh since they were gifts I often struggle with. Efficiency. Patience. Productivity. Focus. Again I nodded, but understood why those weren’t top of mind for me.

This has been a year of challenges. My job has changed at least weekly, sometimes daily. Stress levels have brought patience muscles to their breaking point for many, even me. While the cookies and chocolate are sweet, the gift that meant the most to me was just some words and the knowledge that what I am doing is seen.

Who around you needs to be seen? Who can you lift up with a word or two? Who brings a gift to your life just by being in it? I hope you’ll take a minute to let them know this week. Words are precious gifts.

mental health, perspective

The Web

Can you see the web hidden in the dew and the sunlight? If you can’t it’s okay. I will tell you about it.

The web is masterfully crafted. Many layers. Anchored skillfully. It was a beautiful web. There were spiders to the eye. There were no prey woven in. It was a midnight masterpiece I’m sure. One that a skillful spider crafted while I slept. 

When I awoke it caught my eye in sun. It was hard to get a picture but the dew and the sun made it stunning to admire. Not many can say they found a web stunning but on this day I did.

It’s craftsmanship had me interested. Much like life we live with many tangled layers similar to a web. Carefully crafted relationships. Overlapping work and pleasure lines. Family connections. Friend circles. All interwoven to fit what we call life.

I was drawn to this web today. A simple part of nature. Many won’t see. Many will take for granted or even wipe it a way in an instant. But the beauty of it all is a spider will get back up and craft a different web. Maybe one that can withstand more than just a simple wipe away.

This was a firmly build web. Anchored. Robust. How does your life web compare? Is it flimsy? Can it be wiped away easily? Are you memorable like this web was for me? Can you say your feet are planted firmly in life?

Life is so full of many ups and downs. Sometimes you have to pick yourself off the ground and start fresh to build a better life web. The beauty is we are all capable of doing this. 

Get after your day today. Look at your web. If it’s tangled, worn or flimsy look at options to refresh your web of life. If it’s robust and built sturdy look around and see if you can share your gift of life stability with others. Somebody nearby may need help with their web.

Enjoy your day.

mental health

The Inches Between Your Ears

I’ve been dabbling in real estate lately. Mostly just looking and learning. Immersed in the language of square feet, acres, frontage, it’s a different world to play in. Comparing parcels, plats and all of that.  What makes one property more valuable than another?

Recently someone close to me became the subject of an older man’s obsession.  He physically followed her, sitting down the street from her home in a car, watching. He contacted her relentlessly through technology.  He reached out to people close to her and spread lies to try to sow mistrust and take away some of her support system. Even put a secret GPS tracker on her car.  It’s all sick and twisted and disgusting.

We hope that a confrontation with some of her family scared him off.  He’s been found out. But the legal process to get help for this situation is painfully slow.  Painfully. Slow.

In the mean time, this strong, confident young woman is staring out windows endlessly, shaken with anxiety.  She is terrified.

For all she knows, he may be down the street again watching.  Or, he may be scared away for good.

Either way, he has taken up residence in the most precious real estate she has, the inches between her ears.  Her brain.  At the moment, even if he is no longer anywhere near her, she is thinking about him.  What is he doing?  Is he going to drive by? Is he hurting people I love?  Is he trying to get to me somehow? Am I safe?

She installed cameras around her home. I will be setting up a self-defense class at a local martial arts studio.  Just to try to give her and some of her friends tools to feel safer.

But what about her mind?  Where’s the guard dog for that?  The electric fence?  The alarm bells that help her figure out when she can really let your guard down?  This is something I am thinking about for her. We can’t live on high alert all the time.

I think about it for me as well, how to protect my mental real estate.  I struggle with things like mistrust, jealousy, resentment, anger, unhealthy thinking.  I have to watch myself and learn to better control when these emotions rock me.  The Four Agreements has helped me in this, when I feel like things are getting out of hand.  I remind myself not to take things personally or make assumptions.  I focus on keeping my word and giving my best efforts.

Ultimately, as frustrating as it may be, we can only really control ourselves.  If our minds are horses galloping out of corral, out of control, it will be hard to bridle them.  I’m refreshing my mindset and the strategies I have learned to help keep my mental real estate protected.  How do you protect and preserve those precious inches between your ears?

 

 

mental health, perspective

Take A Chill

Sometimes we all need a moment to chill out. Just relax and really not do anything. For me that was a visit to my back deck one morning.

It was not too hot out, just right before 8am. The birds were chirping away and cars were passing by in the distance. Just some slight background noise.

A brief time out from life. A break from the computer. A break from today’s masked world. A little frisbee with pup before the sun hits the deck.

As I sit here and contemplate my day, my life happenings and the world as a whole I think about peace. I am at peace with where I am, where I am going and who is on board for the ride. It’s good to take inventory of life from time to time.

We all need to make sure our co-pilots are traveling to the same destination. We need to know our cheerleaders in life are truly there working with vs. against us. We need to make sure our mindset is in tune with all of the above.

This is sometimes a reset, refresh, recharge moment for people. It sometimes needs to be done multiple times a year. It may even require one to put a wall up, exclude, or ignore the Negative Nellies of one’s inner circle who are circumventing success. That’s a lot for some to overcome.

I am in a peaceful state in life. Maybe it comes with age. Maybe it’s maturity. Maybe it’s luck. Whatever it is, I am thankful. I am thankful for the bumpy roads in life that have taken me to today. I look forward to tomorrow. I look forward to the memories, milestones, and bumpy roads.

May you explore your refreshing moments like me on my back deck. One day or two. Make the time. You are a priority.