Kindness in Chaos…it starts with me and you.

What life is like inside my head at times...Butterflies in the Wind.

Love is saying ‘I feel differently’ instead of ‘You’re wrong.’” ~ Unknown

If you are anything like me you tend to live your life in fast forward, always moving at the speed of light (or at least feeling like you are) and barely remembering what happened yesterday.  I often giggle when someone asks me about my weekend and how it was, because more often than not, I literally can’t remember what I did over the weekend, even if it was just the day before.  Since I don’t believe that I am suffering from early onset of dementia yet (and hopefully I won’t for a while), sometimes I feel like being inside my head is like chasing butterflies in the wind.  I know that part of this stems from the fact that there is an endless list of tasks or things on my “to do” list, whether it’s kids, work, new house remodel, preparing current house for renting, pursuing my entrepreneurial aspirations, or organizing any number of insurance, medical, social service scheduling or lobbying, but I also know that I can choose to slow down sometimes and when I do I tend to be more kind, friendly, happy, compassionate and my memory improves.

The irony of this post, is that I have received such amazing kindness from people lately in their efforts to support this blog, me, my family, one another, and I have been so moved by all this support and it has certainly inspired me to be more kind and friendly to others, but at home it has been a little more challenging so to be honest, yesterday morning as I left the house to go my meeting, I wasn’t feeling very kind or compassionate.  Sometimes the stress of all the day-to-day grind boils down to a tit-for-tat list and impacts conversations, mood, and the relationship with your significant other. Case in point, mine. For the past 2 days, I have been a bit tired, and KSP has been busy helping a friend of his who is campaigning for Congress.  While I am supportive, I admittedly can lose sight of the bigger picture on occasion and start to create the mental list.  I hope you can join me in admitting this, as frankly it’s kind of hard (admitting it that is, making the list is the easy part!) to do as I know it’s wrong, but can’t help it sometimes. As some of you can relate the list conversation goes something like this:

The Scene:  10:45 pmish, I am home sitting on the couch updating my blog template and KSP gets home from a campaigning event and joins me on the couch.  I am tired and frustrated because I can’t figure out how to change the template to be as I want it to be.

KSP: My friend, R is in town tomorrow night and I am going to go to DA’s election gathering tomorrow night

Me: Ok, well are you even going to ask me?  You have been out the past 4 out of 5 nights.

KSP:  No, I haven’t with who?

Me:  Yes you have, B, DA, S, etc.

KSP: Well, clearly you are keeping track.

Me:  Kind of, but you denied it and then asked me who so I am telling you who.  You asked me who.

KSP:  I feel like you are always mad at me when I come home.

Me:  You do..

KSP: blah, blah, blah

Me:  blah blah blah while in my head thinking of the mornings in the past few days that I have gotten up to get the morning bottles, etc ready because I thought he would be tired (note: I did not call attention to my good deeds, and thinking he is probably doing something similar in his head)

Finally, we net out that I need to get out more (true), and that he meant he felt like I get mad when he goes out, which isn’t true but occasionally, like last night I was irritable and he was the target.  It’s not to say that I was completely unjust in what I was requesting as my issue was with the approach, but I knew I could have changed my tone and approach and the conversation could have gone differently.  Additionally, this was also probably due to a bit of an argument hangover from the morning where were got into it over broad statements about “thinking things through” and the idea that people can can have different approaches and not agree and it doesn’t make one right and the other wrong.  Please raise your  hand if you have had similar conversations with someone you love…I mean honestly can any of us say you have never thought to yourselves, “I did the dishes, so you should take out the trash” or my personal favorite, a statement like “this wasn’t thought through very well” can turn into “you never think things through” or “you always act impulsively”.  How do we get from this one time to never and always?  Needless to say it’s been a rough couple of days. The woman at the Walgreens two days ago was more friendly to me than KSP and I to her.  Where is the kindness and compassion in that? Shouldn’t this start at home?  Well, actually, (yes, I did actually myself!) if I am honest it starts with me.

So, yesterday as I was driving slightly in a funk and too fast down our street to get to Olympic on my way to a meeting this morning I looked to my right as you always should when at a stop sign and turning onto a major street and where I normally would have just glanced for traffic and stepped on the gas to cross over the 2 lanes coming towards me to head East, today I stopped the car and tapped the brakes.  Because today, as I looked to my right, I noticed an overturned shopping cart with some stuffed animals and other items strewn about just off the sidewalk and in the far right lane heading West.  I knew whose shopping cart this was and I instantly felt saddened and slight worried over a man I didn’t know and had only said hello to in passing.  The man, whom that shopping cart belonged (once it had made its way off the Ralph’s parking lot) was homeless.  He often made his nesting place in our neighborhood under a giant tree on the corner of Olympic and Westwood.  I often said hello and tried to smile at him when I was out walking (yes, we do sometimes walk in Los Angeles, granted people do often look at you like you are from another planet) and he always offered a slightly surprised smile back to me (us).  Everytime as I walked by, I wondered about this story but I am not one of the people who will likely stop and ask (as you never know) I only know that I see him often and that he is homeless.  Yesterday, as I looked at that shopping cart, I felt sad and could feel the compassion for him and his situation bubbling up in my heart.  I was sad that he was out there all alone. Sad that it had rained the night before and sad that I didn’t know his name.  I made a mental note, that the next time I see him, I will be sure to say hello and smile and perhaps ask his name.  It’s kind of like my post from Monday how is the chaos of being so caught up in my head like so many of us are, I sometimes forget to be kind to those around me, whether is the homeless man on the street, the janitor at my office, the woman behind the checkout counter at the grocery store (or Post Office for our friend Faith), at home to the people I love most, and also to myself.

What I know and has been highlighted for me over the past couple of days is the way I take care of myself greatly impacts my ability and desire to practice kindness.  “Trying” to get enough sleep, eating often enough (and not just Tootsie Pops which is what I do when I am upset), and taking time to slow down and not get overwhelmed by all the things swirling but rather taking a deep breath and realizing that I can only control what I can and can approach these things one at a time.  This allows me to then center myself and remember to smile at people and let people cut in front of me if they need to change lanes when I am driving (and not starting them down when they go past – those who do this know who you are:)), and most importantly to be loving to my husband who tries so hard in his own way. And remember that even though we don’t always see eye to eye on everything, some big and some little, it is ok for us to see things differently and respect one another’s opinions and through all that if we are coming from a place of kindness and compassion it will be a much better outcome.

So for those of you, who are super busy, tired, not eating enough, feeling grumpy, overwhelmed, frustrated, disconnected, worried, or fearful, try taking a deep breath, take the Tootsie Pop out of your mouth and eat an apple, go to bed early, give your loved ones a long and meaningful hug, smile at them, tell them you love them, and wake up tomorrow feeling kind to yourself and allow the ripple effect to begin.  I know it’s not always that easy, but it’s a start. And for those that are feeling great, take your wave of happiness and spread the love, pay if forward, smile at people and brighten their day, throw a compliment to someone, send an email or text message to someone to say I am thinking of you or if you have the time, call (but don’t feel guilty if you don’t or can’t).  Just like in all the stress of life with “all the things” you have to do, remember “all the things” you are already so blessed to have and pass it on.  My babies do this for me every day, they provide me with a fresh start from the first smiles in the morning, and it’s up to me what I do from there and to remember it…so Happy Wednesday everyone, today is my newfavoriteday and I hope it’s yours too.

6 thoughts on “Kindness in Chaos…it starts with me and you.

  1. You reminded me of a lovely older lady I spoke with once for my work who said that she felt that God blessed her with a sunny outlook and that she needed to spread that around.

  2. Next time we talk remind me tell you my story from the past year and about my career sabbatical im on. Big reflection year and many changes but im finally happy and life has slowed down a bit.

  3. Have you ever read David Foster Wallace’s Kenyon College commencement speech? It struck *such* a chord with me (and what a tragedy that he is now gone) but an adapted version can be found here at and it’s a long but worthwhile read on a very similar theme. Like you, Shannon, he revels in being alive, in seeing beauty in even the mundane or even the hellish situations…and turning them into something sacred. Some of my favorite lines: “If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is and who and what is really important — if you want to operate on your default-setting — then you, like me, will not consider possibilities that aren’t pointless and annoying. But if you’ve really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer-hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars — compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of all things.” Isn’t that beautiful?!

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