Artist, Life Coach, and Adventuress - Melissa Reyes blogs at http://MizMeliz.wordpress.com and is the author of "This is the Sound of My Soul.
Be it by luck, inspiration, or perspiration, Melissa is grounded in her core beliefs and values. She has immense love in her heart and is willing to share it freely. Melissa offers the gifts that she has received in life: love, joy, grace, wisdom and insight. She hopes to inspire others and to continue to learn from others as she finds inspiration in the every day and experiences how extraordinary all of creation truly is on her journey through life.
These are the lyrics to the song, “Free” by Prince from the album “1999” which I discovered and loved sometime in the mid 1980’s:
Don’t sleep, ’til sunrise, listen to the falling rain
Don’t worry, ’bout tomorrow, don’t worry ’bout your pain
Don’t cry, unless you’re happy, don’t smile unless you’re blue
Never let that lonely monster take control of you
Be glad that you are free, free to change your mind
Free to go ‘most anywhere, anytime
Glad that you are free, there’s many a man who’s not
Be glad for what you had baby, what you’ve got
Be glad for what you’ve got
I know my heart is beating, my drummer tells me so
If you take your life for granted, your beating heart will go
So don’t sleep until you’re guilty, ’cause sinners all are we
There’s others doing far worse than us, so be glad that you are free
Be glad that you are free, free to change your mind
Free to go ‘most anywhere, anytime
Be glad that you are free there’s many a man who’s not
Be glad for what you had baby, what you’ve got
Be glad for what you’ve got
Soldiers are a marching, writing brand new laws
Will we all fight together, for the most important cause
Will we all fight, for the right to be free
Be glad that you are free, free to change your mind
Free to go ‘most anywhere, anytime
Be glad that you are free there’s many a man who’s not
Be glad for what you had baby, what you’ve got
Be glad for what you’ve got
~Prince Rogers Nelson
I have been thinking about what it feels like to be free lately.
This is about that feeling of freedom.
My Jeep has been acting up and it has been pretty much out of commission since the beginning of August. It chugs and lurches and doesn’t drive well in second gear. My hubby has been working on it and has fixed the problem a few times. But it seemed to be getting worse and worse. One day the problem was so bad I barely made it home from work which is just a few miles away. I was fed up. I said, “That’s it! I am not driving it anymore.”
So, there It sat – in the drive way – for a few weeks until we took it to the shop. Then it was at the shop for a few weeks. All the while, I got rides from my husband and sons and friends to and from work and anywhere else I wanted to go. I “borrowed” my son’s car if I needed to drive somewhere. I liked getting driven places. In fact, I said that, “My chariot awaits” on a few occasions. I liked being taken care of. That is, until I lost my sense of freedom.
I started to feel dependent on my husband and sons and friends. That was a little bothersome. I knew it was temporary and it would be resolved so I didn’t pay too much attention to those feelings. I began asking my husband if he knew when the Jeep would be fixed and when I could get it back. I really didn’t need it since I had so many other transportation options and I couldn’t really afford to have a lot of work done on it. It’s old and requires a lot of maintenance, but I love it. I love having a Jeep for so many reasons. After cursing it for weeks because of it not running well, I forgot how much I loved it. Until Wednesday,
On Wednesday (three days ago) my husband picked up the Jeep from the shop. I did not know this until he pulled up in front of my office to pick me up. There it was! Oh my gosh! I was so excited. Seeing it through the window at work, I jumped up and said, “Hey, that’s my Jeep!”
The next morning I drove to the office myself. I couldn’t believe how good it felt to be behind the wheel of my own car again! My Jeep felt great and I wished, for a moment, I had a longer commute so I had more time to enjoy it. It is still running rough and needs more tuning, but I was back in my ride! (After a month!) I felt free again. I forgot how good that felt. I remembered what it was like to have that freedom for the first time as a teenager. I could identify with my sons and their feeling of freedom having their own rides. I felt a little guilty for infringing on that recently. But then again, they depended on me for a long time to provide transportation to all of their activities, and this was just a month. That is how I got to thinking about how much we take freedom for granted.
There certainly are many types of freedom.
My friend and client, Ana Lydia had a freeing realization about constraint and risking her own personal values in her business this week. She said, “I pressed my colleagues to “be brave” and value their skills, while I have been scared to call on late payments or call-out injustices. . . coming to terms with that realization felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders.”
A friend of mine posted this statement on her Facebook page yesterday and shared it with me:
“There is nothing you have thought…have done…that needs to be kept a secret. You were born to be free and we are not free when we carry the burden of secrets.” ~Ali Kossack
In an effort to protect freedom in our country, this morning President Obama said “We cannot raise our children in a world where we will not follow through on the things we say, the accords we sign, the values that define us.”
I spent some time this afternoon visiting a very close friend of mine. She is laid up in bed, immobile for at least three weeks under doctor’s orders. She broke her leg recently and because she is paralyzed she didn’t know it was broken at first. She is unable to sit in her chair, or drive her car until the broken bone heals. She is one of the most independent women I know. She has never let her situation stop her from doing all the things she wants to do. Now she has temporarily lost the freedom that she enjoys. I sat in her bed with her and I cried.
My tears are not for sadness, although I am often saddened. My tears are not for grief, although I am often stricken with grief. My tears are not for fear, although I am often hopelessly fearful. These were not tears of joy, although I often cry tears of joy. I believe these were the waterworks of tears of those who cannot or will not cry for injustice. I cried the tears of pain for those who cannot feel pain. I cried for the many wrongs that I carry deep in my heart. I cried for the hope of freedom for those who have died for it unknowingly, unwillingly. I cried for the simple feelings of freedom that I take for granted.
I am done crying for today.
My tears cleansed me. Now I am free to carry on.
In most cases, the feeling of freedom comes from knowing you are doing the right things. Freedom comes when we exercise our core values.
Freedom comes when we are glad for what we’ve got.
I needed caffeine. I woke up with a headache. I was irritable. My husband was going to the store to get some groceries, I asked him to bring me some Diet Coke. When he got back from the store, he came in our room with a cup.
“Here is your Diet Coke.” He said handing me a plastic cup with soda, ice and a straw.
“That’s nice of you to bring it to me honey, thanks.” I said taking the cup from him. Just as I was about to take a sip I looked in the cup. “This looks funny, what is in it?” I asked.
He was already out of earshot. I took a sip and it tasted fine. I thought maybe it was a dirty cup. That sounds gross and I was thinking it seemed like their was milk in the cup which would make it impossible to see when he poured it since the inside of the cup was white and since Diet Coke is foamy, he never would have noticed. The drink looked a little murky to me. I know he would never give me a dirty cup and I was already feeling badly that I even thought such a thing. I was feeling ill and irritable anyway and I heard myself complaining . . .
“Honey, there is something wrong with this drink.” He came back into the room. I realized at that point what I must sound like to him. I had been complaining all morning. I decided to change my tune.
“Honey, did you put something in my drink?” I asked him coyly.
He said, “Nooo, why?”
“Look at this. . . it’s murky.” Smiling, I asked him, “Is this a clean cup?”
“Of course it is,” He answered.
“Is this how you are going to get rid of me? Did you poison my drink?” I pushed.
He laughed. “Of course not!”
I started giggling.
He sat down next to me to look at the drink. “It’s fine” he said, “it’s just Diet Coke.”
He flashed me a smile. He knew at this point I was teasing. Surely he was relieved that the bitching had subsided.
“You drink it.” I told him, handing him the cup.
He said, “Sure, I will drink some.” He held the cup up to his mouth, holding the straw as if he was going to take a sip and he moved the straw to the side of his face and turned his head a bit so it looked like he was drinking it. He started laughing hysterically. I knew exactly what he was doing. “Its’ fine, see. Now you drink it.” He handed the cup back to me.
I took the cup. I looked in it. I knew it was fine and I had already drank some before he came back into the room, but it was fun to play this little game. We have a long history of joking around about our ultimate demise.
I looked in the cup. By this time all the foam had dissipated and it was clearly just Diet Coke. I said, “No way! You didn’t drink it, I saw you move the straw. Take a sip so I can see you.” Giving the cup back to him once again laughing as I handed it back. I was thinking of the scene in The Princess Bride where The Man in Black (Westley) puts the Iocane powder into the wine and a battle of wits ensues between him and Vizzini.
He said, “Okay, okay,” and took two or three obvious gulps as I said, “From the cup this time, not the straw!”
“Hmmm . . . I guess it is okay then. But, I am on to you!” I said when he gave the cup back to me. I was going to bring up the fact that I am aware that he might have built up a resistance to Iocane, but I was laughing too hard and my head hurt too much to get the words out.
“I am not trying to kill you.” He said as he left the room, still laughing.
I realize that we watch a lot of crime drama television. Maybe too much!
Now that I think of it, he did sound maniacal as he was laughing. I may have to be more careful for now on!
One of the best things about our marriage is our sense of humor. The only reason I would ever accuse him of trying to “get rid of me” is because I fear that he will tire of me. It stems from my insecurity. He is aware of this and feeds my need for reassurance. We depend on each other for this give and take now and then. We have always been able to laugh at ourselves as soon as we realize what is happening. I am grateful for this part of our relationship and I try not to ever take it for granted. It is a blessing.
I did not go out of town for a summer vacation this year, but I did have the chance to visit some of L.A.’s hottest destinations! Here are some highlights of my “staycation adventures” . . . 5 Summer Hot Spots in Los Angeles:
Click on the name of each attraction to go directly to their website.
I went to the Getty Center earlier this year for a Social Media Event. On that day, my husband and I vowed to return and explore the amazing venue at length. My family remembered this when it came to making plans for Mother’s Day. It was a perfect idea. (Yes, it was a scorching hot day on Mother’s Day in L.A., thus the summer had officially begun for us!)
The Getty Center is a great place to spend the day with the family, take in some local culture and have a nice meal. We decided to join the Architectural Design Tour and the Garden Tour on this trip. It was a lot of walking, but it gave a full scope of the history of the building of the Getty Center and the design of the grounds and gardens. The same docent lead both tours. She was quite knowledgeable and personable.
After going on both tours, we still had plenty of time to eat lunch at the cafe and visit some of the exhibits. All of my kids enjoyed the outing. They are teenagers, so I wasn’t expecting too much from them, but I found myself out of steam before they were! I have one son who isn’t into museums and reading as much, but he went along to be a good sport and spend time with the family. I thought he wasn’t getting much out of it and would look back at it as torture, but recently he was able to recall terms that the docent explained to us in the tour. I was so impressed that he was paying attention and retained that information even after a few months. We put our youngest child in charge of taking pictures and that kept him busy and interested. Our oldest is about to go to college and is studying architectural engineering – so this techie, artsy, place known for its innovative architecture was certainly the perfect destination for him!
See the mosaic gallery of pictures from my day at the Getty Center at the bottom of this post.
I found out through my Blog Venture buddy, Mary of Along Comes Mary, that admission to LACMA is free on holiday Mondays. We wanted to go together on Memorial Day, but since that didn’t work out my husband and I made a date of it. I visited LACMA a few years ago and saw the Tim Burton Exhibit. That was something I will never forget. I was so impressed with Tim Burton’s early childhood drawings and how those characters ended up coming to life in some of my favorite movies. I have talked about the experience so many times that my husband was intrigued. Besides going to the Getty Center, we haven’t been to many local museums together. It is something we love to do in other cities while on vacation – why not enjoy some of the best museums in the world that happen to be in our own area!
It turned out to be the perfect date. On a holiday Monday, there was very little traffic and for the price of parking, we enjoyed a few hours at the museum looking at the established and long-term exhibits. Since contemporary and modern art is usually very high-tech and scientific, it was right up my husband’s alley. I think his favorite part was the huge elevator, but he enjoyed most of the rooms. While I enjoy sitting and looking at paintings and sculptures or people watching, my hubby likes to read all of the information posted about each artifact and view every documentary on the screens. He can go for hours taking in all of this information systematically. I like to soak it all in and look at the things that attract me.
We vowed to return to LACMA again because there was much more than we could see in a few hours. However, personally I would not have enjoyed being there for too much longer. I would rather return another day. I would definitely benefit from becoming a member there!
Since we had such a great time at the Getty Center on Mother’s Day and LACMA on Memorial Day, we thought we would try another outing with the kids on Father’s Day. We decided on the California Science Center because my husband had been wanting to see the Space Shuttle Endeavor since it arrived in L.A.
This was an amazing experience! The California Science Center has some wonderful exhibits and is free all the time. It is home to the IMAX Theater and the Space Shuttle Experience. Both require tickets in advance which you can get online. I enjoyed looking at the Space Shuttle and it was particularly meaningful to me since it was Father’s Day and it brought back fond memories of my dad. He worked in the aerospace industry and was involved in early contracts for the Space Shuttle. It was his pride and joy to have had a part in American history and he would have loved to have seen that exhibit. I know he was proud of us for going there.
I am not as in to seeing science exhibits as much as I am art and architecture, so I bottomed out rather quickly at this one. My son, who was just ‘along for the ride,’ and I hung out together in the gift shop and at the cafe while the others fully immersed themselves in the experience. When my youngest got bored, the three of us went outside and waited near the butterfly garden. It was a beautiful day and if I had realized that there was a lovely park there, I might have brought a picnic, a blanket and a football for the boys.
There is so much to do in Exposition Park, you can definitely make a day of it. Adjacent to the California Science Center is the Natural History Museum. . . we may be back for the next holiday!
For my sister-in-law’s birthday my brother planned a lovely afternoon at Griffith Observatory. I am still not sure if he was riding our coat-tails on the idea of visiting our local attractions or if it was purely coincidence. Nonetheless, I was excited by the notion of visiting another favorite L.A. destination.
We met at the Merry-go-round at Griffith Park and devoured the luscious pies that my brother had brought in his ice chest. There are lots of picnic tables and large grassy areas by the tennis courts. There is a little snack bar where the kids bought drinks and popcorn. The majestic antique Merry-go-round is a Los Angeles treasure and tickets to ride it are only a few bucks. Parking is free at Griffith Park and it is just a little drive around the mountain from the Merry-go-Round to the parking area for the observatory.
Making a plan starts with a choice. . . it is not always easy.
The Griffith Observatory has been renovated since I was last there and I was impressed with the newest additions. I was also relieved that the old favorites still remain and can be shared with future generations. There is so much to see and do at the Griffith Observatory. We explored the telescopes and the science and space exhibits. Along the outside perimeter are plenty of photo spots to take pictures of the Hollywood sign, the Santa Monica mountains, panoramic views of the city and the observatory building itself.
The Griffith Park Observatory
View of the Hollywood sign
View of Downtown Los Angeles
She Blinded Me with Science!
My favorite “selfie” – It’s me with Albert Einstein!
Inside there are two theaters, the newest being the Leonard Nimoy theater and the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. Admission to the observatory is free, but tickets for the planetarium shows are $3-$7 and must be purchased at the ticket counter at the observatory. We saw a show at each of the theaters during our visit. The free show that we saw at the Nimoy theater was fun (funny) and informative.
For my birthday I decided to take the family to the Getty Villa in Malibu. Well, I suppose they took me – since it was my birthday! I was there once as a child and I only remember a few details. The thing that impressed me the most was the feeling of being worlds away, as if I were transported through time and space to a special point in history. The Getty Villa was closed for a long time and since they built the Getty Center, I did not know what happened to it. It has been renovated and is simply breathtaking! I still got that feeling that I was transported to a special place and it was even better than I remembered it!
The villa itself is a beautiful specimen of architecture and design. It houses an enormous collection of antiquities, sculptures and artifacts from Ancient Greece and Rome. Anyone interested in history, mythology, art, design, archaeology or anthropology will love this museum and educational center.
There is a special procedure to follow in order to gain entry to this iconic California landmark and I observed it being strictly followed. Admission is free to the museum but reservations must be made in advance to park there. The fee for parking is $15 per car and each person in the car must have a printed “timed entry” ticket. The nice thing about this procedure is the ease in finding a parking space upon arrival. Even though we went on a busy summer weekend afternoon, I did not have the feeling that is was crowded.
We explored all the exhibits and wandered the villa and the grounds in a few hours. It was fun and beautiful. There are lots (way more than I expected) and lots of nude statues, so be prepared if you have children with you or that makes you uncomfortable.
Plan to have extra time if you like to take pictures, there are so many things to photograph including many of the artifacts. I took pictures of everything, even the tiled flooring. It was different in every room and I loved taking shots of it. Can you imagine? Centuries old art all around me and I am taking photos of the floor! It was fun! I did get in trouble for trying to get a shot of the visiting exhibit from Sicily – that apparently is a big no-no. But they allow you to photograph practically everything else.
View of the Getty Center from the gardens
View of the 405 Frwy from the Getty Center
The Gardens of the Getty Center
Panoramic View of the Getty Center from the gardens.
At the Getty Center
Sitting by the travertine tiles at the Getty Center
The Family Center
Is a museum fun? Yes!
View from the Cafe at the Getty Center
Architecture of Los Angeles exhibit at the Getty Center
Dorothy Chandler Pavillion, painting at the Getty Center Exhibit
On the architectural tour at the Getty Center
Succulents in the perfectly manicured gardens at the Getty Center
Symmetry in planning at the Getty Center
View of the city over the top of the garden at the Getty Center
Waterfall sculpture at the top of the gardens at the Getty Center
Bouganvilla “Trees” at the Getty Center Villa
Garden at the Getty Center
Azalea labyrinth at the Getty Center
My family at the Getty Center on Mother’s Day 2013
The kids are a little burned out on the “museum” thing. But my husband and I have found it to be the perfect date for us. We plan on going to the Reagan Library next!
So, what do you think? Are museums fun? Have you been to any of these places while visiting Los Angeles? Which is your favorite? Do you have any suggestions for other adventures in the area?
Disclosure: I love sharing my experiences and happily opted to post this piece for fun. I do not represent any of the venues nor was I asked to write about them.
create, inspire, and admire rather than compete with fellow bloggers
be understanding of each other– in the blogging community, as well as in the world
stay away from internet/blogging bullying
speak my opinion freely, while still being mindful of other’s feelings– be tactful.
make an effort–no matter how big or small the gesture, to spread kindness or joy to others
acknowledge that I will make mistakes, (I am only human) but remember to learn from them
know that at times I will post about the negative stuff in life, and maybe even some complaining (I am only human) but I will always follow-up with something happy/positive too.
believe that this world is a good place, filled with good people.
If you would like to take the Kindhearted Blogger Pledge, see Em Jay & Me’s Blog, it is awesome!
I have been contemplating acts of kindness and compassion and how they are received. I have been going around and around with the thought that when someone acts with intentions of kindness and love, the recipient should be accepting even if they don’t want or feel they need that particular thing at that moment.
This thought process came to light out of my desire to help my friends and unfortunately, I overstepped. My intentions were misunderstood as criticism. I meant to be helpful and I offered guidance in a safe place that I believed was about supporting each other. My ego was bruised because I didn’t want to hear, “I don’t need your help. If I wanted your help, I would ask for it.” I wanted to hear, “Thanks, I will consider that.” or at the very least, “I will consider it.” Or, at the very very least, nothing.
It turned out that I was called out publicly and the more I tried to express my opinion, the more I was hurting the person who didn’t want my help in the first place. I was sucked into the situation when I proceeded to prove my point rather than back off. I realized too late that I was doing more harm than good. This resulted in hurting the person who I intended to help. I thought I was doing something nice, but my action ended up seeming to be an attack on her expertise.
The fact is, I wanted to help her because I really like and respect her. My ego was injured because I was shut down. I found out that I am not someone who is trusted to give advice in this area. In fact, this particular person may not be able to ever accept help from me. She would probably never ask me for help. She either does not want help at all, or she does not want it from me. Either way, if I ever had her respect, I no longer do.
So, I reflected on acceptance and respect. I was hoping that I could make the point that sometimes the giver needs to give and honestly gives with love, without expecting anything in return. Truthfully, I was still in the wrong because when I gave something that I thought would be helpful, I acted quickly and did not take the time to see if it was needed or wanted.
I apologized to the person and I hope that she will eventually forgive me. I am thankful to have learned this lesson, but hope that she is not resentful that I learned it at her expense. Unfortunately, she misread my intentions and I believe she took it as me pointing out flaws when I was in fact trying to point out her brilliance.
I still believe it is best for me to accept the kindness of others graciously. I will always say, “Thank you, I appreciate your kindness.” If they offer advice I will say, “Thanks, I will consider that.” Even if I think the advice is not needed or unnecessary. I will remain open and lovingly accept anything a kindhearted person is willing to give me. I will pay forward that loving attitude. I will be more cautious in giving of myself in areas where I feel I can be helpful. I will stop myself and ask, “Do you want my help?”
In all of my relationships, I vow to keep asking, “What do you need from me. How can I help?”
Please share your thoughts with me in the comments.
Have you learned a valuable lesson through blogging or sharing your own story? Tell me about it. . .
I have been thinking about kindness and compassion lately. I can remember some very specific examples of times in my life where someone was kind to me when I really needed it and how it made an impact on my life.
Accepting the Kindness of Others
I can’t remember now who said it, or even the circumstances, but I was in a heated discussion once and someone told me, “Perhaps the reason you are so upset is because you aren’t used to people being nice to you.” I was appalled at the thought. Of course people are nice to me. My family and friends, everyone I knew at the time was nice. I was accustomed to nice. But looking back I now realize that what he meant was – – I wasn’t used to accepting the kindness of another person. I didn’t understand that someone would be kind to me for the mere act of being kind. I wasn’t expecting that someone could do something in kind, with no ulterior motives, from the heart, just because they cared. I wasn’t ready to accept that for some reason at that point in my life.
No, I was into proving myself capable and worthy of respect. I was building myself up and trying to be responsible and trustworthy. I wanted others to accept me for me, with all of my faults and idiosyncrasies, and I wanted others to see me as capable. I thought to myself, “Why would someone do something nice for me, just because? They must want something in return. They must think I need their assistance.” I did not need their help. I knew I could do things on my own. I rejected their help. I even thought, “They must think I am weak and incapable. They are sure I will fail without their help.”
My friend was right. I wasn’t open to accept the kindness of others. I was so self-centered and so sure that I did not need anyone’s help that I couldn’t see why anyone would do something nice for me. Why would anyone offer to help me? I often mistook the kindness of others as an attack on me personally, as if they were pointing out my faults or that I was somehow needy. I did not want to depend on another person to show me my downfalls and mistakes. I wanted to be respected. I wanted others to trust my judgment. If I wanted help, I would ask for it. I was in control. I now see that I was trying to control everything. Not just my own actions, but also the actions of others.
There came a time when I did need help and help was there. It was a humbling and life changing experience. With time and experience comes wisdom and understanding. There is significance in everything. I learned that there are times when help arrives however unknowingly, unrequested and sometimes in remarkable, unbelievable ways. Sometimes help comes as an answer to my prayers, even when I am not sure what exactly it is that I need.
You might have heard of the “Northridge Earthquake.” On January 17, 1994 at 4:19 a.m. I was awakened by a strange rumbling feeling as if the floor was about to give way and the walls were about to fall down and the sound of extremely loud screaming. My husband was screaming in my ear holding on to me for dear life, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, it’s an EARTHQUAKE!” Writing this now, after all these years sends chills down the center of my being, through my bones and I can feel the fear rising up in me. It was by far the scariest most traumatic moment in my life. I wrote about it once in a handwritten journal. I poured out every detail onto the pages and I wrote it all down without stopping so that I would never have to recount it again. I suffered severe post traumatic syndrome disorder from the experience and I have moved past it and recovered, but since I couldn’t find the journal today, knowing I wanted to share a bit about it I needed to write it out again. It still haunts me. It is the fear of not knowing if you will survive that is chilling.
Obviously, I did survive. In fact, my husband, the screamer, and I were able to get dressed in the dark, get out of the apartment, and go over to my aunt’s place nearby. My husband was a hero to her as he went into a burning building to retrieve her hearing aid, glasses and medications. We came back to our apartment and by the light of day started to pick up all the broken pieces and survey the extensive damage. We had no idea what to do, where to go, or what would happen next. Freaked out and shattered by each big aftershock and not being able to call my family (no cell phones back then and phone lines were down, power was out, my apartment was in ruins. . . )
I was sitting on my sofa literally racking my brain on what the heck we were going to do and there was a knock at the door. On the door frame actually, because someone had to break our door down to rescue us from our apartment when it was evacuated and the lock broke and we were trapped inside. The door had to be removed completely. I looked up and it was my brother and sister-in-law. I thought I had died because there was no way they could be there at that moment. It was unfathomable. They lived over an hour’s drive away and I knew the roads have been closed, the freeways were broken between his house and mine and it was just impossible that he could be standing there saying something silly. I think he said, “Is this where the party is?” or something like that. They came to help. They came to save me. It’s been almost twenty years since this happened, and I still sob when I think about how I felt at that moment and how it changed me forever. What my brother did was completely selfless, compassionate and beyond measure. He and his wife left their small children at home in the care of their neighbors so they could come and make sure that my husband and I were okay. They helped us pack up some things and we took our aunt and our cats to his house, where it was safe, calm and unbroken. He sheltered and cared for us when we had nowhere else to turn.
A few years later, my husband and I experienced that kind of selfless giving again when my mother-in-law helped us with living arrangements and basic needs when I was pregnant and we couldn’t make ends meet. When I realized how much of a sacrifice that was for her at the time, I am blown away by the thought of it. Her generosity and love is unconditional. She is the most kind and thoughtful person I know.
Another example of thoughtfulness came in the form of a big basket of food from my friends in my Ladies Bunko Group after my mom died. It was a gesture that went beyond the usual condolences. It was heartfelt and unlike anything I had ever experienced. I wasn’t used to being the recipient of a food basket. It wasn’t because I didn’t have the resources to buy food or even make it. But at that time in my life, my world was shattered. I once again found myself in a state very much like after the earthquake when I was not sure what to do next. And there was a knock at the door. My friends had heard what happened. They had prepared this meal for my family. I did not have to worry about cooking. I wouldn’t have been able to ever repay them for their kindness.
Paying it Forward
There are too many times to recount when I have asked for help and help was there. I have been the recipient of help in so many situations, I vowed that I would pay it forward as much as possible and in every way I can. I am honored when I am asked to help out for this reason. It gives me a chance to do something nice for someone in the way others have done nice things for me. I have become one of those people who like to help others, even when they may not be accepting of help or feel they need it. I am honestly just being nice. There is no ulterior motive.
Being willing to help others is just as important as being open to accepting help. Give others the chance to be nice to you, out of the goodness of their heart. You never know when they are paying it forward themselves. Always accept the kindness of others. There does not need to be a reason.
“Beauty is a word, kindness is an act that makes you beautiful” ~Melissa Foster
Treat Everyone with Kindness
I feel it is important to treat others kindly, even if the person isn’t a very nice person. I never know when someone might be suffering inside and their demeanor is unfavorable as a result. Maybe they are in pain. Maybe they are in a state of worry. Maybe they have been hurt. Perhaps they are having a hard day or are in a bad mood. So, I err on the positive and treat them with the same dignity and care that I would give to the outwardly nice people. I try to be nice to everyone all the time. It always warms my heart when I get a smile in return from anyone when I am nice to them, most especially when it is a grumpy person!
When you are trying to explain something, teach a new concept, or share information with others and they challenge you, take it as an opportunity to practice kindness. Be considerate in your beliefs. This means accepting that others may not always agree with you. They might not be ready to understand. They might not be open to your way of thinking. They may simply disagree. You don’t have to be right. If you can’t get everyone to see things your way, it’s not a loss. If you rise up and meet them half way, be open to their point of view, explain yourself from a different perspective, take the time, the extra energy, the care to let things happen in a natural progression and not force an issue, that is the kind approach. Softening your heart and allowing things to unfold is not giving in. It is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it is a sign of strength because it shows that you are willing to wait and that you stand by your way. Others will honor and respect you for your convictions. You will own it. It is always a win when you practice being kind.
“You can either practice being right, or practice being kind.” – Anne Lamott
Be Kind to Yourself
When you begin to practice being kind, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break! Don’t be so hard on yourself. It is okay to make mistakes and lose control. It is okay to have an off day. You do not always have to be on. If you feel like no one is being nice to you or everyone is being hard on you and you wish that someone would come along and cheer you up – cheer yourself up! Access your inner sweetheart and listen to her tell you it’s going to be okay. Listen when she says you are beautiful, smart and loving.
Random Acts of Kindness
Some people believe the best way to get started in the practice of being kind is to participate in random acts of kindness. You can start by making a list of nice things you can do – just because. This is really fun to do with kids (of any age) as a project.
It might help to think about your day. Start with your routine, getting up in the morning, having breakfast, getting to work. Is there anyone that you see in the morning that would benefit from an act of kindness? You can get ideas here: Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.
What Does it Take to be Kindhearted?
Just think of other people with kindness. Put yourself in their place. How would it feel to be them? Is there anything you can do or say to make them happy? How about just telling them that you are thinking of them? How about smiling and saying, “Hello.”?
It is more than being nice and thinking kind thoughts, kindness takes action. Being kind all the time to all people requires practice. Developing this as a way of life becomes a practice. Kindness is a philosophy. Kindness is a way of being that requires feeling for and caring about other people and thinking outside of my own needs. Caring for the needs of others is an act of compassion.
When I practice kindness I am connecting with the world around me. It helps me to realize that most people are just like me. We all have moments when we are suffering inside. We never know what problems exist for the person beside us. What daemons are they fighting? What ails them? Do they let it show all the time? No. They put on a happy face. They keep it in their head. They hold their suffering in their heart. Being kind because you can, not for any other reason, becomes caring, compassionate and worthwhile. We depend on other people to make us whole. If I am kind to you, it makes us both feel better.
Making Mistakes in Kindness
Our society sends us mixed signals about being kind and helping others. In fact, I was told by a friend and colleague that some people look on being kind as a sign of weakness. When I asked why, she said it was because they know they wouldn’t do the same. So, if my friends aren’t into being kind to others, by this theory, they think I am weak or less of a person because I would be kind? That makes me sick to my stomach. I am not a doormat because I am willing to go out of my way to be nice. Luckily, I am kind to myself and I will recover from the nausea. Knowing that some people feel this way won’t stop me from being kind and I know in my kindness I don’t have to try to sway their thought process or win their approval.
“I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.” ~ Mother Teresa
Many of my friends and fellow businesswomen who are actively gaining power, influence, confidence, and strength in their business and in their life are starting to take on the attitude that caring about others is not important and are even shunning others who are being nice to them. They don’t want to be bothered. Do you hear that? How cold. How harsh. You won’t get far, trust me. It might feel good to be empowered and feel in control for a while. But you will harden your heart in the process and it will cost you. It will hurt when you see it in the actions of your kids. It will hurt when you are alone and need help and you reject it. You are not proving anything to anyone if you are trying to emulate this philosophy. Don’t build up walls around you. Who will be there for you when your world is shattered? Who will knock on your door and ask “Is this where the party is?” If you kick every good doer who is in your way to the curb, it won’t be long before you find yourself there. I’ll tell you what. If that happens, you can count on me. I will be the one knocking. I will be there to lift you up.
“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already.” – J.K. Rowling
I believe that when considering my authenticity, acceptance is key. In order to honestly accept myself as I am, I feel the need to cultivate my connection with my inner self. Cultivate means working on it. Yes, this may take a little work. This means digging deeper, looking at myself and asking the difficult questions. And then, looking at the answers. This is more than self-discovery. This is self-care.
I might start with a simple question. . .
Who am I?
Who am I, really? This is a pretty deep question. I am in touch with who I really am. It actually took a lot of work to “find myself.” I had to separate from that shell of a person that I had been trying so hard to become. I was trying for so long to fit in that mold. To live up to the expectations that I (and others who influenced me) set. I had to decide and accept that I am not just okay with who I have become, but I am happy with who I am.
I finally accepted that the people I care about love me just the way I am. My husband, who is a pretty good judge of character, fell in love with and married me. Me. Just the way I was when I was a teenager. He loved me and was attracted to me when we got engaged, got married, had children, and through everything that has happened since. If he likes me, I must not be that bad the way I am.
“I aim to meet myself with loving acceptance. I aim to strengthen the voice of my inner sweetheart.” – Marianne Elliott
I realized that I was worth loving. I liked myself just fine. If I project who I am on the inside to everyone I know and show them the real me, the actual me, not who I wish to be, then I will be my authentic self. I didn’t give up on striving to be a better person. Don’t get me wrong. But I did stop trying so hard to “measure up” and be something that I wasn’t already naturally.
It was easy to accept that my kids love me unconditionally and they have no pre-conceived notions of what I wanted to be or who I set out to be. My children are unaware of my failed attempts at a career, my lofty goals, and everything I hoped I would be by the time they grew up. They love me, truly love me, because I am their mom. Just because. Even when I want to change something like my hair style or lose weight, they hem and haw – they want me to stay the same – always. I can relate to that. I had the same feelings for my mom. Change is hard to accept. My point is, that I realized that I was good enough for these amazing people. I realized that God made me perfectly fine. I realized that I was born this way. I was born completely me. However you would like to put it – I am who I am. And it’s not bad. In fact I think I’m pretty good.
“What I am is good enough, even for me.” From Out of the Dust, By Karen Hesse
Strengthening the voice of my inner sweetheart means to stop listening to my inner critic and actually listen to the inner sweetheart. I need to give her more credit. After all, she knows what she is talking about, too! She is positive and helpful and most of all , loving. What a sweetie! She is soft and good-natured and means well. She is getting stronger every day. My inner sweetheart is a winner!
As Marianne Elliott says: “Ultimately we want to be able to call up our inner sweetheart anytime we do anything that requires vulnerability and courage, you can call upon your inner sweetheart when you need a kind word, and the encouragement to carry on. Because, remember, being kind to yourself is at the heart of finding your own place of peace in the midst of chaos, conflict and even war.”
What does this have to do with self-confidence? What does it have to do with magic?
The key to having confidence in yourself is, in fact, loving yourself! Listen to your inner sweetheart. Believe in yourself and your capabilities. Love who you are right now. Go out there and shine brightly!
Look in the mirror and say, “Hey, I’m lookin’ good today! I am great!”
At the beginning of 2013 I set the tone for the year by establishing a word to define my focus. The word is “ta-da”
I feel like I have shared many of the fun things that I like with that “Jazz Hands” show-off mentality, as if to say, “Look at Me!” See what I can do? More than that, it has been my intention to show who I am and what I am proud of. As if to say, “I have arrived.” “I am here.” Catch my energy. See my spirit. It’s my time to shine.
How have I demonstrated my “show-off” attitude towards life? I will review.
I can look back at my posts.
I can look at my Day Runner.
I can look in the mirror.
During Christmas Vacation, I went to see a few movies. One of them was “Lincoln”. When I was waiting to watch that much anticipated film, I thought to myself, “Okay Mr. Spielberg, inspire me! Help me come up with something special. Help me find a unique way to write my story.” And he did. I don’t know how or why, but during the credits for that film, as I wiped my tears and gained my composure, I thought about how I have a character and I can write my story through her perspective. Melissa the Mouse was born. “Ta-da!”
In January, the focus was getting back to school and immersing myself into the boys’ schedules with school and sports. We spent a weekend at my aunt and uncle’s home near Coachella where my son was playing in a lacrosse tournament. It is always difficult for me to visit there because my parents lived down the street from my aunt and uncle before they died. I had been avoiding that situation for some time. This weekend was nice and I managed to get through it and I was okay. Up a level in the grieving process, I guess. “Ta-da!”
At the end of the month, I had a chance to read my poetry at a cabaret show in Hollywood. It was stellar!
In February, I had so much fun! I went to San Francisco to interview fellow blogger, Evan Sanders, and attend his launch party for his book, The Better Man Project. I took a road trip with new friend, Mary Lansing of Along Comes Mary, and another new idea came into play. Blog Ventures. I attended an Oscar’s night viewing party and it was just like being at the Oscars! “Ta-da!”
In March, I started visiting college campuses with my son and planning how we would celebrate his graduation from high school. I realized that there is always an end before there can be a new beginning. I contemplated how dealing with the empty nest syndrome is very much like letting go of my parents and sister since they died. They will always be a part of me and I can look back at all the wonderful memories with joy and gratitude. I am embracing the fact that there is more to look forward to! “Ta-da!”
In April, I took a road trip with my family. We visited more colleges and spent time with my cousins in New Mexico. It was a wild ride road trip! I learned how much a family can bond in moments like these and how important it is to be satisfied with my life as I know it. “Ta-da!”
April also began the celebration and event season! It started with being in a flash mob for my friend’s proposal, then the celebration of my wedding anniversary, and I attended a few conferences and shows. May brought more celebrations beginning with my son’s confirmation, then my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday, my niece’s high school graduation, my nephew’s engagement party, my oldest son’s high school graduation, my other nephew’s high school graduation, both of my sister-in-law’s birthdays, my kids’ performances, games, prom and grad nights, and awards ceremonies . . . whew!
Yes, it seemed that every day was a celebration or a culmination. What better way to describe the feeling of accomplishment and appreciation for these special milestones than . . . Yes, I’ll say it one more time . . . “whoopie! yeehaw! wepa! huzzah! ta-da!!”
Life is a celebration. Life is good. There is so much to be grateful for!
Who knew this shy little girl would be such a show off?
Miz Meliz was in the House!
On the Red Carpet
Melissa the Mouse
Let the Sun Shine Through!
View from the Getty at #SOME Event
At the LLBLOG Conference
What’s next? Six months left in 2013. I look at the Day Runner. July looks wonderful. It’s my son’s 18th birthday. I should be posting my 200th blog post around the 2nd week. Getting going on the book. Finally! It’s my birthday. 45. Meh. It’s just a number. I have some relaxation planned. Pretty low-key. My husband and I have plans to attend a few concerts with friends in August. Then it’s back to school. My oldest son starts college in September. He will be moving out. I am excited. (I am scared shitless.) I am excited. I will be doing a workshop about goals, vision and life balance for my blogging group in October. Then the holidays will be upon us. Another year come and gone.
It’s a good life. A very good life.
Over the next four weeks I will be posting excerpts from the book that I have been writing. I will discuss topics such as:
Self-Confidence and Self-Awareness
Kindness and Compassion
Laughter and Joy
I look forward to bringing you more of my energy and insights. I love shining brightly and shouting “ta-da!”
What are you proud of that you have accomplished so far this year? Please share with me in the comments. Take a moment and toot your horn! C’mon, you know you want to!
Recently I noticed my vision had declined. I was getting headaches with or without my glasses. At first I attributed this to the fact that I was reading more and I was either looking at a computer screen or my cell phone practically non-stop. The eyestrain was really getting to me and I realized it was time for a stronger prescription. I tried using reading glasses until I could get an appointment to see my optometrist. But that only helped with the reading. My distance vision was worse as well. I wear bifocals because I have four different perspectives. It’s ironic because I always say I look at things from all angles!
After seeing my eye doctor and finding out that I did need stronger lenses, I had to go a week without my glasses. I used the reading glasses, but I was troubled that I couldn’t see well at…