Posts tagged ‘compassion’

December 25, 2013

Environmindful Monday Tip #7

I had the best intentions of writing an inspiring post on Monday. I was going to take a little twist on the theme of Environmindful Monday.

Monday’s tip was going to be about doing something to be kind in the environment around us; the people we meet, pass by the street, see in a store or ride the elevator with.

My tip was going to be: Hold the door. I thought it sounded simple and some of you may already do this, and I was going to suggest applying that concept everywhere you go and in everything you do.

I was going to suggest you hold the door for whomever is behind you, hold the elevator door for the person coming down the hall, ask what floor they are going to and push the button for them. Let someone go in front of you in line (no matter how long the line is). Let someone have that parking spot you were waiting for.

Be of service, in some small way, to everyone you encounter.  Do it with a smile and expect nothing in return. Don’t be offended if you don’t get a thank you. Keep doing it. All day. 

Get coffee for a coworker who you wouldn’t normally grab coffee for (even if you don’t drink coffee yourself).  Do something small, do something nice, then feel what it feels like, deep down inside, to do it “just because”.

This is a busy time of year. People are darting from place to place,  stores are busy and lines are long.  You can feel the stress and could cut the tension in the air with a knife.

I was going to tell you that each of us has the opportunity to make a positive change the environment around us and collectively we can make an even greater impact. I was going to tell you to go out, be merry. Spread happiness and cheer. Be compassionate,  and be gracious because we may never know the value of our actions.

We may help a tired parent get home to their family in time to hug their children before bed, we might help someone be on time for a meeting or we may simply put a smile on someone’s face.

But then something changed. I was out and about, wrapping up the last of my Christmas shopping and was in stores long after they should have been closed.

Heading out after dinner I was grounded, happy, holding doors, smiling,  letting others go first.  Then something happened.  I can’t explain it. The next thing I knew I was in the parking lot screaming at a lady who tried to bully me with the brush guard on her SUV as it was coming at the door of my little car while I backed out of my spot… and I lost it.

Maybe it was that all the holiday rush caught up to me. Maybe it was because my lips were dry and split when I smiled at the last person. Maybe it was because when I tried to take a deep breath in as I got into my car, the frigid, subzero air sucked the life out of my lungs and left me gasping for oxygen.

Whatever the case, rather than being calm and compassionate, when she accelerated at my car, I reacted. I screamed at the lady with the big red eyes and a gigantic scowl on her face, “Seriously?!?  You were at the opposite end of the row when I started backing out!!!  Since when does driving a big fat SUV give you right of way? Where are you going in such a hurry anyway? Nobody else is open at this godforsaken hour! ”

I continued, yelling at her in my rear view mirror too, finally ending with, “MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU TOO!”

Maybe she had a crummy day and just wanted to get home OR maybe she’s the spawn of The Grinch. Whatever the reason for her actions she got the best of me.

So you didn’t hear from me Monday because I didn’t want to be a hypocrit.

But I will say this… I still think we can change our environment. So be nice. Smile. Be caring. Be compassionate. And, yes, hold the door.  At the very least, don’t bully people in parking lots for they may wish for you to get coal in your stocking!

In all seriousness, I wish you and yours a very happy, safe and healthy holiday season and hope someone holds the door for you.




November 5, 2012

I Blew It – A Lesson in Humility

Yesterday wasn’t a good day.  Actually, it was at first.  It started off okay, but then, as the day went on, my mood starting sliding down a steep, slippery slope.  I kept trying to slow the momentum but I couldn’t do it.  It was like sledding on an icy hill, heading straight for a huge tree.  I was putting my arms out to the sides, trying to dig my fingers into the snow to prevent myself from careening into the giant tree ahead.  But instead of focusing on the spaces to either side of the tree, I kept my focus directly on the enormous trunk.  My fingers couldn’t catch a grip or even begin to slow my skid.  Then it happened.  I crashed.  I lost all control and blew it.

Unfortunately I wasn’t alone when this happened.  My Mom, my sweet, wonderful, thoughtful Mom had brought over Apple Crisp that she had baked.  She and I were having a conversation while I was painting boards for the chicken coop.  (Yes, chicken coop.  Yes, we’re getting chickens. More on that another day.)  In any case we were having a pretty normal conversation, chatting back and forth, until she interrupted me.  So what, right?  Normally, yes.  Interrupting is one of my pet peeves, but usually I can deal with it in one of two ways.  On a really good day, I’ll handle it fairly well: I’ll pause, wait for the other person to finish their story and then pick-up where I left off.  On a not-so-good day, I’ll just shut-down and withdraw from the conversation.  Then there was yesterday.  As my Mom interrupted me, I interrupted right back and pointed out to her that she had interrupted, hoping she would pause and let me continue (arms out, fingers dragging in the snow), and while she acknowledged she had done it but continued on with her story.  I lost it.  I came completely unglued on my Mother.  I ended up in tears, apologizing, trying to explain that I’d been interrupted a ton by my son and husband lately and feel like nobody cares about what I have to say.  I explained that when everyone interrupts me and changes the subject I feel like nothing I say has any value.  But it didn’t matter why, the damage had been already been done.  I could tell by the look on my Mom’s face that I’d crushed her.  She didn’t deserve the wrath she got.  Nobody did.  Here she’d gone out of her way to do something nice and instead of thanks, I tore strips off of her.

I spent the next three hours crying, sobbing.  I was embarrassed for my words, my temper and my actions.  I felt like a huge failure.  Here I’d just finished 8 weeks of practice to become a better person, practicing mindful living, practicing patience and apparently everything that I’d learned vanished into thin air, or perhaps I’d just learned nothing.  Honestly, I can’t even recall the last time I acted this way.  I felt like I’d died and was reincarnated as an eight-year-old child. I’m not sure how to get past this, I feel like a horrible daughter, mother and wife, for they all felt my wrath yesterday.  What’s done is done, but if I could flip a switch and suck all of those words and anger back in, I would.  I apologized again last night and talked to my Mom today, but I still feel horrible for what I did.

You may wonder why I’m posting this story.  At first I wasn’t planning to, but then I read a post from another blogger. She wrote about the experiences she’s had over the past two weeks since she moved to India.  One of the things she wrote about was being interrupted and how when she’s interrupted she usually shuts down.  I thought to myself, “That’s me.  Normally.”  That’s when I realized that maybe I should write about this.  I’m exposing an ugly situation in my life in hopes that it can somehow help me heal, help my Mom heal, and maybe help someone else in some weird way.

As I sit here and write, I’m reviewing all the lessons from this.

Obviously, it goes without saying, that I need to practice patience.  Patience with others and patience with myself.

I also need to figure out a way to not let getting interrupted bother me so much.  Maybe it’s not that people don’t want to hear what I have to say.  Maybe, instead, they are just really excited to tell me something.  I should be grateful for that.

I once heard that the irritating traits of others is like looking in a mirror.  The things that irritate us about others are a reflection of the character in ourselves that we dislike.  I too have a habit of interrupting.  Although I try not to, sometimes I still do it.  I need to remember what it feels like to be interrupted so that I don’t do it to others.

I also need to think before I speak.  I need to practice listening, pausing, then responding.  Our words can be beautiful and our words can be harsh.  Either way, they have a lasting effect.

When we crash, when we really blow it, it’s very humbling.  Sometimes, like crashing into a tree while sledding, you just want to lay there at the bottom of the hill and cry and that’s fine for a while, but at some point you have to get up, dust yourself off, pick-up the pieces, and figure out what you did wrong so you don’t do it again.  Then, you need to make your way back up to the top of the hill and try again.

So today, as I trudge up the hill, dragging my sled behind, I feel sorrow and pain and humility.  And as uncomfortable as that feeling is, I know I need to feel it, I need to experience it.  Not to punish myself further, but instead to help me remember this situation, not only so that I don’t repeat it, but so I can become a more compassionate and understanding person.

Mom, if you read this, I’m sorry.  I love you and hope you can forgive me.