Everything Miz Meliz, I Love My LIfe, mindfulness

Mindfulness and Love During Difficult Times

Using Mindfulness When Facing Challenges

I was thinking about how to apply mindfulness when facing a challenge and I came across this list of challenges I made years ago:

  1. Dealing with difficult people
  2. Being assertive without being labelled a “bitch”
  3. Managing stress
  4. Keeping up a positive image while managing perceptions
  5. Staying Organized
  6. Communication (communicating clearly with others)
  7. Multi-tasking and completing projects
  8. Self-sabotage, facing fears and following through
  9. Continued personal growth
  10. Letting go (of things that no longer matter)
  11. Saying “No” – prioritizing
  12. Continued professional development
  13. Reaching Goals, facing my fear of success
  14. Increasing efficiency
  15. Managing finances

I am still, and now realize that I always will be, dealing with these challenges to some degree. And more challenges – some worse, and sometimes less challenging but equally important things. I call that the “stuff of life.” It can be dizzying to think about. I know!

This is when mindfulness comes in. Making a list like this and thinking about all of these things at once is overwhelming. It is not a to do list. It is more of a mind dump. I like to just put those things down and walk away from them for a bit. I know I can always come back. I let my mind wander and think happy thoughts. You can train yourself to do this anytime you start feeling overwhelmed.

What is the most important thing?

I interviewed a man once who kept telling me, “The most important thing I learned was this, and the most important thing that happened was that, and the most important thing about it was….”

I asked him, “Okay. but what IS the most important thing to you? Is there one important thing that truly matters?”

Love

“In the end, just three things matter:

How well we have lived
How well we have loved
How well we have learned to let go”
― Jack Kornfield

If you could boil it down to just one thing that truly matters to you, what would it be?

For me, it’s love. To feel loved, to know that I love with all my heart, that I am able to love. Love makes me smile, it makes my heart sing with joy and fills me with happiness. Every cliche, catch phrase, and song that may be coming in to your mind right now – that is what I am talking about! I love that stuff. I live for it. It makes all the other stuff seem somehow less than. I don’t want to say pointless, or unimportant. Those things on my list have meaning. However, I can go on without them. I cannot live without love.

Growing up Catholic, I have always had a faith belief that God is love. I believe that at the root of hope and faith lies the true feelings of love and one’s belief in it. In his first epistle, John the Evangelist wrote:

“God is love, and those who live in love live in union with God and God lives in union with them. Love is made perfect in us in order that we may have courage on the Judgement day; and we will have it because our life in this world is the same as Christ’s. There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment.

We love because God first loved us. If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen. The commandment that Christ has given us is this: whoever loves God must love others also.” 1 John 4: 16-21

Love gives me courage.

Love is perfect for me.

There is no fear in love.

Perfect love drives out fear.

Being loving means loving all people. (Even myself.)

This is me in August 2018, trying to smile while dealing with facial paralysis.

How does Mindfulness and Self-Care help Me?

According to Psych Central, “Mindfulness is the practice of bringing our awareness to what we are experiencing in the present, both internally and externally, without judgment (Kornfield, 2009). It is a wake-up call to become conscious of the ways we perceive and respond to life’s situations.”

You might ask yourself, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could all go around just feeling happy and loving all the time? Why can’t we? Why are we so messed up and why do we want so much out of life? Why am I afraid? Why do I work so hard?” I know I ask myself these questions!

In her Musings and Affirmations, I am Resourceful and Resilient, Martina McGowan proposes that we can learn and grow from challenging circumstances. We can resolve to use resources that reminds us of our own strengths. She says, “My focus on learning enables me to be enormously resilient. I know that I can make it through any situation that comes my way. After all, I am already a survivor of every circumstance in my life so far and I continue to learn from each of them. So today also, I trust that I am resilient.”

I want to just be who I am and be satisfied with that. But something in me is always wanting more. I have a yearning desire to go out and do more, experience more, and learn more. With that comes opportunity as well as risk. All of this brings up fears and overwhelm. Should I or Shouldn’t I? What is keeping me from following my heart?

I worry a lot. Worry causes stress. Stress manifests itself in my body as tension. Tension builds and becomes pain. I begin to worry about the cause of the pain. Then I get sick with worry… There is a pattern here. I am aware of it. I know I need to handle this as soon as, if not before I recognize the signs. I would love to live a worry-free life. I have come a loooong way! I have taught myself to take a breath, to imagine a happy place, to let go, and to live with intention. Now, I aim to learn more about mindfulness and resilience.

“What is the worst thing that can happen?”  This is one of the questions Paige Burkes of Simple Mindfulness suggests we ask ourselves in The Mindful Approach to Facing Your Fears. 

It is part of our genetic design, it is human nature, to constantly seek information, try new things, and grow. While we are doing that we can’t forget about self-care. That’s how I handle so much. My list of 15 challenges, honestly is a partial list. It doesn’t even touch on my physical, medical, or emotional issues. I don’t even begin to list my worries about family, friends, grieving, financial, and relationship issues. We all have those. Instead of falling deeper into a hole of self-doubt and worry, I pick myself up and think about my “one thing.” I am always striving to boost my self-confidence and resilience. I am constantly self-nurturing. And, I do not mean just taking time to do some deep breathing and lighting a candle.

In Foster Mind-Body-Spirit Resilience Through Self-Care Marquita Herald examines the life-long practice of self-care:

“Authentic self-care is about becoming aware of what you want and need on the deepest level and then making it a priority to develop and consistently practice the rituals and habits that will nurture your well-being for the long-term, not just to get through the day.”

A self-care regimen:

  • Prevents disease and illness.
  • Shortens recovery time from illness or injury.
  • Enhances your sense of autonomy (control over your life).
  • Improves self-esteem and confidence.
  • Reduces stress and stress-related anxiety.
  • Helps you be more productive, engaged, and connected.
  • Makes it easier to manage your weight.
  • Helps to build stronger more meaningful relationships.
  • Improves both the length and quality of your life.

So, if self-care has the potential to make such a huge positive impact on our lives, why aren’t we doing it? -Marquita Herald, Emotionally Resilient Living

Just Be You

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All I want is to just be me and feel comfortable in my own skin. I have learned that I am pretty good at that. I like who I have become. I tried a lot of different things. I am at a point of re-becoming my favorite me. I don’t want to fight it anymore. I want to go to my happy place, my one thing that I know to be true, the root of it all. Simple Joys, my theme for this year says it all – I am mindful of the thing that people like about me. I am loving.

Can it really be that Simple?

“Always fall in love with what you are asked to accept. Take what is given, and make it your way. My aim in life has always been to hold my own with whatever’s going. Not against: with.” ~Robert Frost

“You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change, rather than allowing it to master you.” ~Sri Ram

Yes it can! When you question everything, you are setting limits, doubting your gut instincts, going against what you believe to be true. Use mindfulness to combat limiting beliefs.

Choose to listen to the calming voice of reason. Remember to listen for your inner sweetheart! That’s the soft, nice voice telling you, “Yes, it is okay, and you are all right, and this all you need to do right now.” It is possible that the soft voice is your true self speaking at a regular constant volume. Those loud crazy thoughts and ideas could just be noise, distractions, and minutia that brings about the overwhelm.

Be the master of change. You are in charge of you. Changes are going to happen, like it or not. You can change or stay the same and go along with it. Remember what truly matters. Does this make you smile? Does it make your heart sing? Can you live with out it? Does it make you happy? You are the most important. Take care of you!

Just be you.

#SimpleJoys2019

Everything Miz Meliz, I Love My LIfe

Re-becoming

I love my life right now! Said no one ever, right? Well, I did. And I do. Seriously, no matter how difficult things get, I am grateful for my life. I love it!

I started writing a post called, Living the Life I Want, in April 2013. Looking back at my drafts I found these quotes that apply perfectly to what I’m going through now.

Jean Shinoda Bolen says, “As soon as you recover or discover something that nourishes you and brings you joy, resolve to care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”

Alice Walker says, “Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming.”

“The future depends on what you do today.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Your own positive future begins in this moment. Every goal is possible from here.” – Lai Tzu

In my post, “Peace of Mind, Imagine the Possibilities 3-7-13, I said, “Knowing that stress causes ailments to manifest and weaken me, I recall the goodness that surrounds me and I regain my strength.  It is almost instant.  My head lifts.  I feel light.  When I walk, I walk tall.  When I speak, I speak with love.

It has to do with following through.  I honor the practices of self-care.  I honor my core values.

“When your values are the source of your actions, even the lows become a positive experience.” –Sandi Amorin, Life Coach

So, how did I go from hard times to living my best life and loving it? It has to do with staying true to myself and to my ideals.

It’s 2019 and my theme for this year is Simple Joys. My plan is to really take it easy. It’s the no plan plan.

Of course, things are starting to come together and some events are in the works in the coming months. I’m traveling a bit here and there and my husband’s 50th birthday is happening soon. I also made a commitment to teach an art camp this summer. But these things are spread out throughout the year and I will try to remain true to my theme and allow the simple joys to be my focus.

Melissa Reyes, 2019 #SimpleJoys

This comes after a very difficult couple of years. I pushed myself to new limits and I was tested in unexpected ways. I spent my 49th year convinced that if I set my intention on action and activating my best self that I would be more successful than ever before and be able to reach new heights.

Ironically, one of the most symbolic things I could use to describe how that plan worked out is so cliche it’s a little embarrassing- – I actually got a treadmill and made videos on You Tube and Instagram hoping to inspire myself and others with my “take action” attitude. When in fact I spent all year literally running in place and not getting anywhere.

See one of my treadmill videos here:

To my defense, I weathered through some really tough crises with the help of my husband, family, and dearest friends and learned a lot about myself in the process. I gained a deeper perspective and I am at peace with it. I still love my treadmill as much as I love all the things I attempted during the past few years that didn’t take me as far as I had hoped.

Melissa Reyes, 2019 #SimpleJoys http://MizMeliz.wordpress.com
This is me – feeling hopeful!

I might not have successfully gotten a new business off the ground, made any money selling books, card decks, jewelry, or anything else, or become the superstar of my dreams – but I did take action. I tried. I worked my butt off and made the effort. Which is more than I ever did before. Doing that lead me to meeting people and going places that I otherwise never would have. More importantly, I went outside of my comfort zone and saw myself rise up and develop my abilities, hone my talents, and excel in unexpected ways.

All of it was extremely satisfying, just like knowing that I have walked the entire length of Italy (736 miles) and climbed over 2000 floors (which is the equivalent of the height of a hot air balloon in flight) during 2018 without even leaving California or being lifted off the ground.

So here it is, a new year, a new intention, a new focus. I like to take what I have learned and move forward in my life mindful that each moment has its own merit. I am a new person in many ways. I am also the best at being the me I like being too. I am going to relish that this year. I consider that the simple joy of living life.

I am the best at being the me I like.

As a life coach I often use “re-” words to help in the moving on or moving forward process. Review, recharge, refresh, renew. I heard a phrase today that really encompassed what I have been feeling. Re-become. I am so ready for that. I became who I want to be. I am fully vested. I tried a few things and that was good. Now I can re-become me. It’s that simple.

Melissa Reyes, 2019 #SimpleJoys Sunrise http://MizMeliz.wordpress.com
Re-becoming like a sunrise after a rainy day. Photo by MReyes 1-2019
Everything Miz Meliz, I Love My LIfe

Questions You Ask Yourself

I keep thinking in lyrics.  Eighties lyrics.  True, I did listen to Missing Persons with my hubby recently on the way to Lobsterfest, so it is no surprise that this one lingered on my mind.  I hesitate to post anything right now.  This will be more for me than for anyone else.

I hesitate to discuss death, dying, and grieving here – – again.  Death is a part of life.  It seems that I am quite familiar with the grieving process.  It is still difficult for me, as it should be.  I don’t want this to be easy.  I do not take life for granted.  Life is precious.  Living here, now, I ask myself lots of questions.  Sometimes the answers are quite simple.

The answer to my question today is. . .

Life is strange.

The question. . .  Why?

Why did one of my best friends die? Why him? Why now? Why couldn’t I do anything to stop this from happening? Why did he leave, breaking the heart of his loved ones, like this?

Well, here I go again. . .

Life is so strange when you don’t know
How can you tell where you’re going to
You can’t be sure of any situation
Something could change and then you won’t know

You ask yourself
Where do we go from here?
It seems so – all too near
Just as far beyond as I can see
I still don’t know what this all means to me

So you tell yourself
I have nowhere to go
I don’t know what to do
And I don’t even know the time of day
I guess, it doesn’t matter any way

Life is so strange
Destination unknown
When you don’t know
Your destination

Something could change
It’s unknown
And then you won’t know
Destination unknown

Life is so strange
Destination unknown
When you don’t know
Your destination

Something could change
It’s unknown
And then you won’t know
Destination unknown

You ask yourself
When will my time come
Has it all been said and done?
I know, I’ll leave when it’s my time to go
‘Til then I’ll carry on with what I know

Life is so strange
Destination unknown
When you don’t know
Your destination

Something could change
It’s unknown
And then you won’t know
Destination unknown

Life is so strange
Destination unknown
When you don’t know
Your destination

Something could change
It’s unknown
And then you won’t know
Destination unknown

Life is so strange

Read more: Missing Persons – Destination Unknown Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

I live my life for now, making the best of the moment, and moving forward gracefully and hoping for the best for my future.  No regrets.  I am trying to make the most of all of my experiences.  Good or bad.  Happy or sad.  It is all part of life.

Everything Miz Meliz, I Love My LIfe

Turning a Page and Facing Some Changes

It’s time for me to make a change on Miz Meliz – the blog and in my life.  It’s something I have been planning for a while and I am quite excited about it.  I woke up from a nice deep sleep thinking about one of my all time favorite songs from David Bowie and I knew that today is the day to share what is going on.

Changes

Oh, yeah
Mmm

Still don’t know what I was waitin’ for
And my time was runnin’ wild
A million dead end streets and
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse of
How the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
Mmm, yeah

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re goin’ through

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Where’s your shame?
You’ve left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me
But you can’t trace time

Strange fascination, fascinatin’ me
Ah, changes are takin’
The pace I’m goin’ through

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Oh, look out you rock ‘n’ rollers
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can’t trace time
Read more: David Bowie – Changes Lyrics | MetroLyrics

It may just seem like a new background and color scheme to you when you see the new website.  Other than that not much will look different at first when you see it.  And that’s good.  But there are some major changes.  The new site is going to be everything Miz Meliz iz (sorry couldn’t resist!) and more.

One exciting feature that is in the works is a new page where you will be able to schedule an appointment or book sessions with me for coaching.  Soon, there will also be a place to sign up for workshops that I am offering. Of course there will be a page where you can learn more about my book that is due to be released in October.  And that is the BIG news!  The book.  My first book to be published is almost ready.  Correction, I am almost ready to publish it!  The words have been written and ready to go for awhile.  I will release it to you in a few weeks.  I hope you like it!

Please let me know in the comments if you will be willing to buy my book, “This is the Sound of My Soul.”  I would like to start a list to get an idea of what to expect.  I’ve been wanting to put this “out there” for a while.  There are so many options and price points and decisions I need to make.  Here is what I am thinking . . . if you like entertainment you might pay $12 to see a movie.  If you like to drink reasonably good coffee, you might pay $4.50 for a latte.  Could we split the difference and price the book (approximately 135 pages of reasonably good entertaining prose of my perspective on life, roughly four and a half hours of reading) at $8.99?

Let me know. I greatly appreciate your input!

As the sun sets on this chapter of my life, I look to the horizon for a glimpse of inspiration.
As the sun sets on this chapter of my life, I look to the horizon for a glimpse of inspiration.

Moving on. Changes are happening!  Not just the new website (same url by the way, but new host so it will be my own real estate on the internet.)  Not just the book release.  Not just the coaching and workshops.  My life is changing in a big way.  My son, is moving in a few days.  He is going away to college.  This marks a big milestone in the life of my family.  It is monumental.  It is exciting.  I am proud beyond words.  My heart is singing with joy!  It does not feel like the emptiness I thought it would be. (Wow, I just realized how I timed all these new things to start in my life with this big change, positive changes and moving forward, me thinks.) It feels like my heart is expanding.

Our family is growing, learning, moving forward.  These are good changes.  I am fully prepared and ready to embrace these changes.  I believe my son is more than ready and capable.  This makes me oh so happy!

So I will turn and face the strange changes.

Time may change me.

But I can’t trace time.

Don’t forget.  Please tell me in the comments:

Would you buy my book online for $8.99 (paperback) or $3.99 (download) and would you like to be on a mailing list for further notices about the book and future publications by Melissa Reyes? (That’s me of course!) Yours truly, Miz Meliz

Everything Miz Meliz, I Love My LIfe

It’s a Nice Day to Start Again

Hey little sister, what have you done?
Hey little sister, who’s the only one?
Hey little sister, who’s your superman?
Hey little sister, who’s the one you want?
Hey little sister, shotgun

It’s a nice day to start again
It’s a nice day for a white wedding
It’s a nice day to start again

Hey little sister, who is it you’re with?
Hey little sister, what’s your vice or wish?
Hey little sister, shotgun, oh yeah
Hey little sister, who’s your superman?
Hey little sister, shotgun

It’s a nice day to start again
It’s a nice day for a white wedding
It’s a nice day to start again

“Pick it up!”
Take me back home, yeah

Hey little sister, what have you done?
Hey little sister, who’s the only one?
I’ve been away for so long
I’ve been away for so long
I let you go for so long

It’s a nice day to start again
It’s a nice day for a white wedding
It’s a nice day to start again

There is nothing fair in this world
There is nothing safe in this world
And there’s nothing sure in this world
And there’s nothing pure in this world
Look for something left in this world

Start again
It’s a nice day for a white wedding
It’s a nice day to start again
It’s a nice day to start again
It’s a nice day to start again

Songwriter
BILLY IDOL

Read more: Billy Idol – White Wedding Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Going over the edge?
Going over the edge?

That part about nothing being fair, safe, sure, or pure in this world really gets me.  It leaves me feeling empty.  Then he says, look for something that is left in this world.  As the song goes, when I feel completely depleted and defeated like there is nothing worth fighting for, I find something that I love,  a new day begins and I can start again.

It’s a nice day to start again!

Lately I have been getting ahead of myself in a lot of ways.  I have been wanting to have now what is just beyond my reach. I have been wishing I can get there without doing all the work.  I realized something.  I am not in a hurry.  I have the ability to slow myself down, do things right and make the future better.  I have a lot of ground work to lay.  The projects I have in the works are big.  Yes, I want to jump ahead and get the party started!  But I need to chill and get the work done in the right time first.  It’s going to be the best party ever!

Living in the moment means loving the moment, cherishing it, embracing it, feeling it.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have to plan for the future or that I don’t have to learn from the past. It’s the moment when I ask myself, what is my vice or wish?  I need to make a choice here.  Will it be happiness, joy, bliss? Will it be good, clean, honest? Will it be about me or someone else or someone I used to be or someone I want to be? Decisions, decisions.

Pick something and try it.  That’s the best we can do.  Success is in the trying.  We can always try again. And it is a nice day to start again!

Everything Miz Meliz, I Love My LIfe

Freedom: Be Glad for What You’ve Got

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.

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Everything Miz Meliz, I Love My LIfe

The Practice of Being Kindhearted

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.

Needing Help

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!

Image credit: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/photo_7050742_two-male-hands-one-reaching-down-to-assist-another-hand-reaching-up-with-sunburst-in-the-background.html'>jgroup / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Image credit: jgroup / 123RF Stock Photo

Practicing Kindness

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.

Check out this “Pinable” photo and quote from MizMeliz about kindness:  Your Kindness Colors My World.

To learn more about Melissa Reyes and Life Coaching, see http://MizBizEvents.com