Kindness Matters. Always.

I woke up this morning with a buzz in my ear…and here it is.

Kindness. Matters.

Once more.

Kindness. Matters.

You may have seen on my social media, on my etsy shop and on my blog that I call myself a kindness advocate.  Let me explain a little.  Judging comes very easy to me.  Always has.  Expectations and opinions flow through my veins.  It is only through some serious growth, and a few hard lessons, that I realized that I’m not always right and kindness truly matters. 

Giving the benefit of the doubt matters. 

Understanding that everyone is different matters. 

Realizing that everyone’s circumstances are different, their backgrounds are different, their response mechanisms are different, their support systems are different…and that all of that matters.

It took me well into my 30s before I realized that how I think, how I react, and what I do is not always right.  That was a hard pill to swallow.  Lol.  I realized I’m not always the smartest person in the room and that I’m definitely not always right.  I don’t always have the answers, and there are other ways of doing and thinking that are better than the way I do it.

I realized that you really have to hear where a person comes from and how they got to where they are in life before you can really understand their position, their mentality, and their actions. 

Maybe you would have done things differently if faced with the same set of circumstances, but maybe not.  I had to really examine how many times I’ve made a bad decision, one that others in my exact situation wouldn’t have made, and how I had to learn from the mistake to truly appreciate just how bad of a decision it was.  Most of the time, the decisions were things I could recover from.  But some did change my life in more permanent ways. But should I be judged or should someone be mean to me because I chose a wrong path or because I made a decision they wouldn’t have made? I don’t think so.

But every interaction may not afford you the opportunity for a deep dive into people’s lives so that you can understand exactly how they got to that street corner, or wound up in a financial bind, or whatever.  It may only be seconds of time out of your life that your path crosses with someone.  And that’s when you have to decide.  Would I rather spend these seconds judging, being mean, ignoring, or getting riled up?  Or would I rather realize this is a human being that got here by means of which I do not know, and that this person could use a couple of dollars, a sweater, a drink, a meal, a smile, or at the very least, for someone to not add to the weight on their shoulders by being mean to them?

My choice is compassion.  Or rather, the choice I hope I make each time is compassion.  Kindness.  Generosity.  I’m working each day to train myself to make that choice, and to advocate for people to consider compassion as their choice.  It’s not always easy, and it doesn’t come naturally all the time.  But that’s what I am working towards each day.  Kindness always.  Even when it’s really, really, really hard.

Through my apparel, I try to emphasize positivity and good vibes.  I try to always smile, and I try to see the good in every person I interact with either in person or on social media.  I’m not always successful, trust me.  But it is something I actively strive for each day.

These days we are all coping with unprecedented stress. We are in a situation we may not see again in our lifetime. We are all figuring it out and we are all trying our best. And we all deserve a little kindness.

Do you have a personal attribute that you are working on? What made you realize it was time to work on that particular quality? What do you do to motivate yourself to work on it? Do you have any tips?

Latitude, Gratitude and Mantras

Studio Oh! Gratitude journal
(I got mine by way of TJ maxx so you may want to keep an eye out there)

I’m about a month and a half into my nomadic lifestyle, and I’m in my second location. The first home I checked into was in North Carolina, right outside of Raleigh. It was the most charming and perfect urban farmhouse retreat. Peaceful, cute, modern, perfectly decorated. It brought me so much peace after living next to neighbors that were the exact opposite of total peace. They were loud, angry, disruptive and quite honestly, I am still traumatized by loud noise. But the little North Carolina bungalow that I rented was on the most quiet little street with the most precious little birds chirping outside…and this, I loved.

While I was there, I breathed deeply, I smiled often, and I just enjoyed the space. I journaled daily, I took walks, I wrote down daily gratitudes, and I even had moments where I was able to do some creative, artsy stuff. I loved it. I sat for hours staring out of the floor-to-ceiling windows, admiring nature and taking in the sun. It was peaceful and therapeutic and perfect. I felt inspired. I felt calm.

The second home I selected is not quite the same. It’s in a less attractive neighborhood. There are a lot of politically charged signs in yards around me, which, in today’s climate, truly raises my personal alarm and stress levels each time we pass them. The current home has a lot of aesthetic imperfections…scuffs on the walls, dusty furniture…a floor that could use a good mopping. It’s cold, less spacious, it has small windows, and the view is of a less-than-pretty older home across the street. While here, I spend a lot of time thinking that I’m ready for my next location. And how many days are left until I get there.

Today I looked around, and I saw my gratitude journal on the table. I realized I had not written in it in a couple of days. And I also haven’t written in my regular daily journal in about as long. How did I go from a routine of habitual journaling to forgetting about it for days at a time? Does my change in space have that much to do with whether I feel grateful or feel like journaling? Do I only want to journal about happy feelings and good times?

Well…I suppose I could easily blame my journaling lapse on the fact that it was a practice that I started as part of my New Years Resolution. Perhaps my daily writing was part of the initial excitement that people tend to have towards a new practice that you have at the beginning of a year. I began my new year in the previous home, and isn’t the new year when most people decide they are going to start being diligent about new routines? And…don’t those routines typically fall off for many people once February hits? So…maybe that’s partially to blame…the fact that resolutions fall off in the second and third month. I’ll just have to recommit myself to the habit and strive to do better.

But what if my mood does actually play a role in my desire to document? As an empath, sometimes I do find it easier to just not focus on my feelings when I’m feeling less than happy. If I don’t think about it, I don’t have to deal with what makes me unhappy. By journaling when I’m unhappy, I’m just reliving the fact that I don’t care for this home and really hope the next three and a half weeks pass by quickly. I am one of those people that would rather not think about it; if I think about it, then I’ll focus and fixate and truly drive myself crazy.

Regardless of whether my gratitude journaling decreased because of the typical pattern of New Years Resolutions, or whether it’s because I’m just not in the mood, I think this is when it really truly becomes necessary to practice the gratitude mantras that I pin and quote all the time.

For starters, this is the number 1 lesson that I need to remember:

It is imperative that I find gratitude daily in every place and in every situation.

– Me

I HAVE to find gratitude daily in every place and in every situation. It is a must. Life in and of itself is a blessing. Every interaction and every day teaches me something. Even on my worst days, there is something to be grateful for. When you find gratitude in every day life, you don’t feel the need to constantly buy, do, search, acquire, judge…and so many more things. I look back on how much money and time was spent on purchases because I was not happy with my life and because I was not grateful for all that I had. Failed relationships, bad work environments, jealousy…so many of those characteristics drove me to stores to purchase more things that also didn’t make me happy, and drove me to unhappy habits that were completely counterproductive, if not destructive. I was so busy focusing on what I did not have, that I didn’t take the time to be grateful for what I did have. And I had a lot.

I need to always remember to be grateful, and here are ten daily gratitude mantras that help me do just that.

  1. I am grateful for everything that I have.
  2. I am appreciative for all of the wonderful things that this day brings forth.
  3. I invite gratitude into my heart right now.
  4. I am in charge of my thoughts and feelings.
  5. I am open to inspiration and creativity.
  6. I am grateful for the air I breathe, the food I eat, and the bed I sleep in.
  7. A grateful heart welcomes new opportunities.
  8. All is well in my world today.
  9. I am grateful for the work that I do, for many are jobless.
  10. When I am grateful, life gives me more reasons to be grateful.

Life doesn’t have to be perfect in order for me to find something to be grateful for. It doesn’t matter whether I’m in that cute bungalow or on the moon. The next time I am struggling to complete my daily journal, I will remember that every day presents infinite reasons to be grateful. All I have to do is pick one.

Do you have a gratitude journal? How do you stay motivated to journal when you aren’t feeling it? Let me know your tips!