Posted in happiness, kindness, Life

Kindness

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of social media posts on being kind. I have contributed some as well. It’s a refreshing change that’s filling up my newsfeeds.

The definition of kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. It’s so easy to be kind yet not everyone is kind. I can’t help but wonder why that is.

Is unkindness a product of nurturing, the influence of life experiences or hiding behind a keyboard bullying? I unfortunately can’t answer this question.

I truly believe there are more kind people in the world than the unkind ones. I’ve witnessed firsthand many acts of kindness and I believe I’m a kind person.

It’s not within me to be intentionally unkind to someone. That doesn’t mean I don’t get irritated because I do. We all do. I suppose it’s how we deal with people even when we’re irritable or irritated by something or someone that matters.

Even on the worst of days I try to be kind or keep my mouth shut. There are things in my life that could make me unkind, but I choose kindness instead.

If we disagree we can do so with kindness and respect. I’m not going to be a mean girl no matter our differences.

I grew up around kind people, was taught to be kind and to this day I surround myself with the kind hearted. Perhaps that’s the key; to keep the kind people close and try and be kind even when someone else is not.

That doesn’t mean I don’t stand up for myself or let people treat me unkindly. You can be kind and still possess the ability to kick butt when need be.

There is so much unkindness in the world that it overwhelms me some days. I just throw up my hands and ask why. Then I’ll see or read about an act of kindness and my faith is restored.

The world needs more kindness and more people to speak out on kindness. I’ll do my part and encourage others to do the same.

What a wonderful world it would be if it were filled with only kindness. That’s a world I want to live in.

Diane

Posted in friends, happiness, Life, self care

Ten Pins

Two of my good friends (Anita and Mary Beth) came to visit me last month. Instead of our usual go to lunch or get a pedicure, I suggested we go bowling. They agreed, so off to the bowling alley we went.

I can’t remember the last time I went bowling, but I did remember to bring socks and that I had to rent shoes. So did my friends.

After paying to bowl and ordering food, we found our assigned lane and put on our attractive bowling shoes. Then the search for just the right ball began.

Searching for a ball I could actually carry and fit my fingers in was a chore. Low pound balls were hard to come by, but my friend Anita found an 8 pound medium, which we decided to share, and Marybeth had no problems finding a ten pounder.

Once we had our balls, I entered our names into the automatic scorekeeper and we were ready to begin our bowling adventure.

We all three got off to a slow start with gutter balls, if I remember correctly. Despite the gutters we high-fived and gave fist bumps after every roll of the ball. And we cheered one another on.

Anita commented she had never been cheered on in a sport and how she really liked it. We all liked it. Three friends out for an afternoon of sporting fun, loving and supporting one another.

We barely paid attention to the scoreboard because we were too busy laughing and cheering. Suffice it to say, the professional bowlers have nothing to worry about with the three of us. We don’t care.

What we did care about was being together and doing something different. In case you’re wondering which of us won, Mary Beth and Anita said I did. But who’s keeping score.

Diane

Posted in Life

Agreements

The first day I walked into therapy I was a hot mess! I felt gloomy, unhappy and in great agony and despair.  Depression and anxiety will do that to a weary soul.  And I was one tired and weary soul.

On that first day, my therapist asked, “If you spill milk what do you do?”  My answer, “I clean it up.”  “Yes,” she continued, but what do you say to yourself when you’re cleaning it up?”  It only took a second to share my self-talk; “Look at this mess you’ve made.  You’re so clumsy.  You can’t do anything right!”  That was an eye-opener for me, as I didn’t consciously realize how negatively I felt about myself.

As our session continued, my therapist shared a book with me and recommended I read it at least three times stating “it changed her life.”  The book was small and titled The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. 

At that point in my life, I was open to doing anything and everything to feel better, so I went home and ordered the book from Amazon.

When it arrived, I began reading and couldn’t stop.  It felt as if the book were written just for me.  I finished it in no time and read it again and again.

The Four Agreements is a wisdom book based on the beliefs and teachings of the Toltec people of southern Mexico.  The Toltec were “scientists and artists who formed a society to explore and conserve spiritual knowledge and practices of the ancient ones,”  the book explains. 

Don Miguel Ruiz’s writing is exceptional and reader friendly.  In The Four Agreements, he writes about the Toltec traditions and beliefs and sets forth four teachings…a way of life for those who practice…meant to bring about happiness, peace and love in one’s life.  While the four teachings sound simple, they require a lot of work.

The four agreements are:

  1. Be impeccable with your word: Speak with integrity.  Say only what you mean.  Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.  Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
  2. Don’t take anything personally: Nothing others do is because of you.  What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.  When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
  3. Don’t make assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.  Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.  With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
  4. Always do your best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.  Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

(Text from The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom ©1997 Miguel Angel Ruiz, MD.  Published by Amber-Allen Publishing, Inc.)

After reading this powerful little book, I began to practice the four agreements, even posting them on my refrigerator door as a reminder.  I am by no means a master of these teachings, but I do my best (#4) every day to remember them and put them into action.  I can tell you honestly and sincerely this book has changed my life for the better.

If you’re struggling with negative self-talk, worried about everyone liking you or get upset when you assume without asking questions or just want a good read,  I highly recommend you get a copy of The Four Agreements

 Diane

Posted in Life, self care

Panic

Last week, I felt off kilter for a few days. Panic attacks were daily visitors. Exhaustion my enemy; sleep my friend.

I wrote the following when I was in the midst of a panic attack to try and distract myself and to document what happens to me physically when one occurs:

  • My ears are ringing.
  • My hands are numb.
  • My vision is blurred.
  • My stomach is churning.
  • My head hurts.
  • I feel dizzy.
  • I can’t get enough air into my lungs.
  • I feel something horrible is about to happen.
  • I want to flee my home.
  • I’m in a full blown panic attack!
  • There’s nothing anyone can do to make me feel better. Time is what I need. It’s time I want to speed up, but I can’t make it do so.
  • I just took medication to help, but the 15 to 20 minutes it takes to start working is really going to suck.

Yes, it really sucks to live with panic. I am lucky in that I have a strong support system in place. Mainly my husband who knows while he can’t stop the panic he can be patient and loving while it’s happening. That’s a big blessing to me.

The difference between anxiety and panic is anxiety is situational while panic comes out of the blue for no apparent reason. One minute I’ll feel perfectly fine and the next panic strikes. I have both anxiety and panic.

I’m usually a happy, optimistic person except on the dark days. During that time I’m all over the map emotionally.

I know I’ll be alright. During this time I need to rest and get back into a positive mindset as I know this too shall pass.

Diane

Posted in friends, grace, happiness, Life, self care, strength

Blank Pages

The blank page taunts me. The cursor on the page blinks incessantly as I try to reach deep inside and pull out words to write.

Sometimes the words pour out. Other times not so much. Those are the times I stare at a blank page and feel like I have nothing to say.

I actually have a lot to say. However, some of what I have to say is not ready to share in such a public forum. It’s a long, painful story with no end in sight. So for now that page will stay blank.

What I can write about today is having grace; the exercise of love, kindness, mercy, favor disposition to benefit or serve another.

Each of us possess the ability to have grace. Unfortunately, not everyone practices it and many show it by posting on social media.

Everyday I come across a post, a tweet or Instagram story by or about unkind people. Racism, homophobia and just downright meanness are common themes in my newsfeeds and in the media. It’s very disheartening.

Despite the negativity and unkindness, I still believe the world has more people who love, are kind and willing to help others than not.

These are the people I want to (and do) surround myself with. The people I’m drawn to. The ones who lift me up, who inspire, who challenge me in a kind and loving way.

We can choose to disagree on a topic or belief and still remain in grace doing so. I will calmly listen to you with an open mind. In doing so we may discover things on which we can agree. Wouldn’t that be great?!

I choose and try everyday to stand in grace with everyone I know and meet. Myself included.

Diane

Posted in Life

Insta What

Grocery shopping…ugh! Whenever I walk into the store I become confused and overwhelmed. God forbid I don’t have a list with me. Lists keep me sane in a hectic paced environment like the grocery store.

My local grocer, Publix, has an app, which I have on my phone to browse the weekly sales. It’s a big help, but still requires me to drag my behind to the store…or so I thought.

One day while using the app I saw a place for grocery delivery. Curious and a tad giddy, I clicked the link, which took me to another app called Instacart. I discovered to my great delight that I could shop from my phone. A personal shopper would do all the heavy lifting and deliver the haul straight to my home for a modest fee plus tip!!

I decided to give it a whirl, so I logged on and away shopping I went. I had the highest of hopes and I wasn’t disappointed.

Within two hours after checkout, a lady arrived lugging my groceries with her. She wouldn’t even let me help her. The bags were carefully placed on my kitchen counters then away the shopping angel went.

Three uses of Instacart later I no longer shudder when I think of grocery shopping. I do visit the store, but I’m much more relaxed just knowing I don’t have to if I don’t want to.

Diane

Posted in family, Life

A Dozen Saves

On Sunday morning while a lot of families were attending church, I was at the bowling alley with my husband and son. “Are you sure you want to go on a Sunday with all the other heathens?” my husband asked jokingly.

Speaking of church…when I was around 12 years old, for one summer, I joined my aunt, uncle and cousins at a church in our hometown.

Sunday mornings my dad played his gospel records and sang along. When I asked why he didn’t go to church he would say “You don’t have to go to church to go to heaven.” I believed him yet I chose church on Sundays.

The church I attended had a very fire and brimstone preaching style, which scared the daylights out of me. The preacher would get so worked up during his sermon his face turned as red and wet as a vine ripened tomato sweating in the Georgia heat.

What really frightened me though came at the end of service. After we were told for 90 minutes we were headed straight to hell in a hand basket, the sermon would end in prayer and the saving of souls would begin.

The congregation was asked to raise their hand if they were sinners and wanted to accept Jesus Christ as our savior. The preacher asked these questions for what seemed like hours.

Being a frightened kid, I would sheepishly raise my hand hoping the yelling would stop. To my surprise, after the congregation was asked a few more times the yelling did, indeed, stop.

I felt like the clergy had been waiting for my hand to go up. He must have known I was the biggest sinner of all. At least that’s what my child’s mind believed.

Those of us who raised our hands were called to the front of the church to be counseled by elders and the preacher would come by and ask each of us to be saved by accepting Christ.

Several deacons would stand by the doors so no one could leave until all us sinners had been adequately counseled and saved.

Every Sunday that summer I would raise my hand and get saved. It must have been a dozen times!

The experience of this particular church left a bitter taste in my mouth. It turned me off to church completely until I was grown. I preferred to stay home with my dad listening to his gospel music.

It’s interesting how an experience from childhood can stay with you well into adulthood. This is a memory that I can’t forget.

Though I’ve been out of the church for a number of years, I would like to find a church home where I feel safe, supported and uplifted. In the meantime, I will continue to pray and thank God everyday for my life and everything in it.

Diane