Kindness. 2. Don’t Be Quiet. Be Kind.

Throw-Kindness.png

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day, telling him about a time not long ago when someone said to me, “I didn’t have anything nice to say, so I didn’t say anything at all.”

We’ve all heard this in various forms before. I’m sure I’ve even repeated it offhand, reminding someone that it is better to be quiet than to be mean. “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That’s old. And to some extent, it’s true. If you can only think of shitty things to say, then just keep your mouth shut.

But if you can only think of shitty things to say, you have a lot of work to do. Because you can always be kind. Always.

Last week, my band performed a big show here in our little town. And watching the show was a friend who I know doesn’t particularly like my singing style. It’s not her thing, and that’s fine. But she came to the show. And you know what she said afterwards? She said, “The sound was great!”

And she was right. The sound was great. And that mattered. I love her for not just keeping quiet because the music we make isn’t her jam. She found something nice to say, to show her love and support.

Because there’s always something nice to say.

Someone got a haircut, tattoo or piercing you don’t like? Don’t say it looks like ass, because that’s douchy. And it makes it all about you. Who cares if you don’t like it? Someone’s haircut, tattoo, piercing, music, painting, and general lifestyle choices have nothing to do with you and how you feel about them. So don’t make it about you.

And don’t keep your mouth shut, because you know what? That’s also douchy.

You know she wanted to get that buzz cut. You know he wanted that rising phoenix tattoo. You know she wanted that eyebrow piercing.

Try “Hey! You finally got your hair cut! Good for you!”

Try “Wow, look at the colours in that tattoo!”

Try “I’m proud of you for finally getting that piercing. You’ve been talking about it for a long time.”

Try “Are you happy? Then I’m happy for you.” And mean it.

Someone wearing something that’s not your style? Compliment the colour.

Someone making art you don’t appreciate? Commend them for being brave, and putting their art out there for the world to judge. That’s a hard thing to do.

Someone invite you for dinner but then serve something that was barely palatable? Enjoy their company, and tell them you enjoyed their company. Thank them for their effort. Be gracious. Be kind.

Being quiet isn’t kind. Being quiet is a cop-out. Being quiet speaks volumes. Being quiet is a shitty way to be with the people in your life.

Don’t be quiet. Be kind.

Advertisements

Craving Connections – An Experiment In Being Open

http://hello-son.blogspot.ca/2011/01/call-113-simple-equation.html

I had this idea, and I’m going to do it.  Actually, I’m already doing it.

I live in a fairly big city with over 2.5million other people.  I go out in this city pretty much every single day, and see some of these people, but I rarely speak to any of them, and when I do, our interactions are transactional.  It’s all Tall skim latte, please and Would you like anything else?

Well, as a matter of fact, I would like something else.  I’d like to talk to someone.  I’d like to connect.  Is that crazy?  Why don’t people talk to each other anymore?  Did they ever?  Maybe they do elsewhere, but not in Toronto.  Or maybe people in Toronto do talk to each other, but no one talks to me.

Continue reading

When you stop changing

I had an idea a while back.  It went something like this:  We don’t change as we get older.  We just stop trying to change.  The more we stop trying to change, the more we come back to who we really are.

Allow me to elaborate a bit.

As children, we do what we love without much thought.  We sing, dance, play, create and express ourselves fully and joyfully.  When you are fully self-expressed, how can you be anything less than joyful?  We lean towards those who show us love and kindness, and we avoid those who are mean and hurtful.

At some point as we get older, we start to change. We stop singing, dancing and playing.  We start changing who we are – who we BE – to fit a mould or a stereotype or an ideal or an image.  Our life gets overtaken by shoulds and shouldn’ts.

I should take this job.

I shouldn’t wear stripes and polka dots.

I should study that subject.

I shouldn’t sing in public.

I should.  I shouldn’t.  I should.  I shouldn’t.

And mostly we get so stuck wondering and worrying about what other people think about who we are and what we’re up to, that we forget about I am, and I love and I’m happy.  We change away from who we are, turning into some version of ourselves that we don’t quite recognize.  We accept people in our life who makes us feel bad.  We do things we don’t love – and don’t do things we do love – because we feel like we should.  Or shouldn’t. We have to, or can’t, or not right now, or maybe later.  

And my favourite: One day.

One day I’ll start painting again.

One day I’ll exercise.

One day I’ll have dinner with my old friend.

One day I’ll write that book.

One day I’ll open my own business.

One day…some day…

This leads to all kinds of drama.  All the Who am I? questions and What’s my purpose? questions and I need to find myself inquiries.  And then we read books (and blogs!) and talk to therapists and friends and listen to tapes and listen to Oprah and then something happens…

We find ourselves drifting away from those people who make us feel bad.  We find ourselves colouring again.  Or running.  Or playing the piano.  Or whatever it is that brings us joy.  We stop worrying about what other people will think, and just live our lives with a little more love.

And we’re happy.

People say “You’ve changed.”

No, you haven’t.

You’re back to being you. Back to who you were always meant to be.

You’ve stopped changing.

We used to be friends

Yesterday, I read a blog post someone wrote about her friend.  It was her friend’s birthday, and the post was a lovely tribute to a girl who means a great deal to her.

I read the post and smiled because everyone needs to have a friend who deserves to have lovely things written about her.  Then I forgot about it, until this morning.

Facebook – aah, Facebook – reminded me that today is her birthday.  If I had been cognizant of the date, I would have remembered.  But these days, each day is so much like the last – one day it was June 2nd, and now it’s Nov 7th.  And it’s her birthday.

If things had been different, this post could have been my tribute to her, much like the post I read yesterday.  Except we didn’t meet on a train, like in that story. She and I met before I even have real memories.  She was just always there.

She was in my life for 14 years.  She was my bestest friend and I loved her dearly.  Girls can be fierce when they are teenagers, but she was my compadre.  There were other friends who came and went, but she and I were always together.  We were a team.  If one of us was there, the other was always nearby.  More than friends.  She was my sister.

It was so long ago now, I don’t even remember what happened or why our friendship ended, but losing her was hard on me.  We connected a couple of times over the next few years, but there were other fights, other falling outs, and then for years, there was nothing.

And then Facebook.

A reconnection – one face-to-face – and then the sporadic connection here and there online.  But of course, not like it was before.  And how could it be? She’s a totally different person now, and so am I.  And we didn’t become these people on parallel paths.  I have no idea how she came to be who she is today. I’m sure she’s still a beautiful person, but she’s not the beautiful person I used to know.

Our friendship truly ended 17 years ago.  It has been over longer than it lasted.  But still, I remember – and I’m grateful for – the sister she was to me.

Can’t lose me

 

Dear Amira,

You’re only 4 months and 2 weeks old, and I’ve already written you a hundred letters in my head.  You’ll learn that about me as we get to know each other over the years.  I write.  Always in my head.  Sometimes even on paper.  I promise, I’ll try to write to you more, because there are things I want you to know, and I often write better than I talk.  When I talk, I can get loud and screechy when making a point, and then the point gets lost in the screech.  You’ll see.

But today I read this letter, and it made me cry.  And I knew I couldn’t keep this one inside.

This poor girl, who did nothing wrong, doesn’t have her mom and dad in her life anymore because she is who she is and they can’t accept that.

And I had to tell you – I have to tell you – that there is nothing nothing NOTHING you could do that would make me turn my back on you.  There is nothing you could be that would make me not accept you for who you are.  NOTHING.

Baby, I don’t care if you’re gay or straight.  I don’t care if you’re tall or short.  I don’t care if you like to read or do complicated calculus equations or draw pictures or ride horses.  I don’t care if your favourite colour is pink or yellow or if you love vanilla or hate strawberry.  I just don’t care.

What I care about is that you know that you’re loved.  And you are, baby girl.  More than you will ever know.  I want you to know that we will support you, and be there for you, right behind you, as you make your way through the maze of your life.  I promise that every time you fall – and you will fall, and sometimes it will hurt – it will be made softer by your dad and me.

There is nothing that you can’t tell us.  I know there are things you won’t tell us – like the first time you try a cigarette (don’t you DARE), or the first time you have a beer, or if you cheat on a test in the 10th grade. But you know what baby girl?  You CAN tell us.  Yes, sometimes we will be upset, but we will never be upset with you because of who you are.  The only thing that would really upset me is if you’re NOT being who you are.

Because you are kind and beautiful and important and loving and good.  Even after only 4 months, I know all this about you.  And when you’re not being these things – when you’re not being yourself – it will make me sad.  I’ll be sad because I know that when you’re not yourself, you can feel stuck and unsure and out of sorts.  I don’t want you to feel those things, but I suppose we all go through those moments.  But in those moments, you can always tell me what’s going on.  You never have to be scared or unsure or worried about how I will react.  It won’t make me turn away from you.  It won’t diminish my love for you.  It will just make me love you harder, as though my love were a looking glass, and the harder I love you, the clearer the reflection, so you can see for yourself just how amazing you are, and you can live that amazing every day.

You’ll always have your dad, and you’ll always have me.  Right behind you, adoring you.  No matter what.

Love,

Mummy