Monthly Archives: October 2015

Kindness Through Compliments

Recently I was complimented in the following way:

“You are intelligent, beautiful, warm, creative and you have a rich soulful spirit.”

What an amazing compliment to receive from my dear friend! I thanked her and said that it was just what I needed to hear that day and in return, I complimented her.

The complimentary exchange got me thinking about my inner voice, my self talk and the way I used to receive compliments. That old inner voice said: You can’t. No, you can’t do that! No, you are not talented enough, beautiful enough or intelligent enough. To make matters worse, I rejected compliments from others. Often, I was unable to hear and accept compliments. I would have been embarrassed and I would have denied, made excuses or told you why the compliment was not true. And if it was true, it was only temporary and I had a good reason as to why it was temporary.

I know I am not the only one. Many of my friends are not able to receive compliments. They too make excuses or deny the compliment. Most of us look in the mirror and we see our flaws. I want to change that pattern. I want my friends, children and loved ones to see what I see and I want to see what my friends, children and loved ones see in me. I want to be able to take that compliment in, digest it and believe it in every way possible: spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Today I choose to simply compliment.

I choose to spread kindness by performing my 4 Acts of Kindness: compliment myself, compliment others in my life, compliment strangers and compliment the earth. The last one might seem a bit strange, but I can simply say to the earth, what a beautiful day it is, or what an amazing flower you produced. I’m sure the universe will hear the compliment and appreciate it.  And through these numerous compliments, I know I will create and spread kindness. And perhaps those 4 Acts of Kindness will spread to others.

Please join me today and everyday in complimenting yourself, others, strangers and our planet.

With Kindness,

Jenni Palazzo

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Empowered Kindness

I don’t know about you, but I’m done giving away my power! I’m done trying to live the fairy tale that was pounded into my head from a very early age. It first started with the books, the old classic fairy tales, my family dynamic and history, then it was followed by the Disney princess movies and the romance novels, both classic and modern, and finally driven home by the romantic comedies.  In most cases, the female character is somehow sad or “broken”, whether she is caged, being raised by an evil step mother, in an unhealthy relationship or portrayed as a neurotic and emotional woman. In all these cases, the female character is set up to be rescued by a man or a prince from whatever sad situation she finds herself. It’s time to change these stories and find a new story. A story that depicts a strong, intelligent, resourceful, capable woman who does not need to be rescued or saved. These are the stories I want to share and encourage with my children.

I applaud the women and men that are creating and promoting a new take on the classic fairy tale. When my daughter was five, I was introduced to the Barbie Princess movies that portrayed the princess’ as resourceful, intelligent and capable of rescuing themselves. There was a prince, but he was a secondary character who only assisted in the rescue plan. And there is that wonderful book called The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, which is a hilarious take on the princess/prince rescue story.  These two examples are definitely a step in the right direction, showcasing smart, intelligent and resourceful women that are very capable of whatever task is at hand.

It is wonderful to see some changes, however, for the most part, I still see this classic story being told in what I see on TV and in movies. The media, entertainment companies and society make it difficult to find the stories that showcase an empowered woman.  And what about us 30, 40 and 50 year-olds who have already bought into this fairy tale? What patterns have we been living? What messages have we been accidentally showing our children? Are we showing them a powerful, powerless or empowered mother and woman?

What does it mean to be powerless, powerful or empowered?

Powerless means being selfless, passive and an excessive giver under the guise of goodness or selfless giving. Powerful means operating in high ego, being selfish, arrogant, busy and in need of accolades. Being empowered means having self-love and self-worth with truth, understanding, confidence and boundaries.

How have I been living? Which one will bring me closer to what I truly want in life and closer to kindness?

For most of my life, I have operated in the realm of powerlessness under the guise of goodness and giving to others. I over-committed, over-volunteered, said yes when I really wanted to say no, I was available to others first, and had no personal boundaries. I became a resentful, unhappy, busy, but unchallenged and a bored version of myself.  No wonder I had little kindness in my life, I was living and trying to love without listening to my truth.

How can I/we become empowered and live a life that is loving, kind and truthful?

  1. Understanding & Living Your Truth: There is only one you. Understanding and accepting yourself, your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, unique gifts and beauty.  And then living, creating and operating from there.
  2. Self Love: The relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship you can have. Learning to love yourself and give yourself exactly what you need without looking to others to fill you up. Doing the things you want to do with all of your heart and feeding your soul with your passions and desires.
  3. Establish And Enforce Personal Boundaries – Be clear about what is acceptable and unacceptable to you. Once you establish your personal boundaries you must continue to demonstrate them because it is your job to teach others how to treat you by showing them what is acceptable and unacceptable.

I think this is a good place to start. Please share any personal stories of empowerment or stories about other woman you have read about.

With Kindness & Love,

Jenni

Dancing Your Way to Happiness & Kindness

Can you dance yourself to happiness and ultimately kindness? Absolutely! Think about it. Have you ever seen a happy person be unkind? I don’t think so!

How can we dance ourselves to happiness and kindness?

By turning up the volume on your favorite upbeat songs and grooving to the music and dancing like no one is watching. Or better yet, just don’t care if someone is watching! Admit it, have you not fantasized about being that fun-loving actress/actor in some movie or show where the character decides to break out and start dancing? Why do we love those scenes in movies? Why do we sing along to music? Why do we find ourselves snapping our fingers and tapping our feet to the beat? Because singing, listening and dancing to music brings joy and happiness. There have been multiple studies conducted on dancing. In these studies, dancing and listening to music were linked to stress reduction, a boost in memory, increase in energy levels and an improvement in overall happiness.

Let’s take a look at a few of the studies:

Swedish researchers, in a study first reported in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, studied 112 teenage girls who were struggling with psychosomatic symptoms and problems including neck and back pain, stress, anxiety, and depression. Half of the girls attended weekly dance classes, while the other half did not. The girls who participated in the weekly dance class reported enhanced mental health and improvement in their overall mood, with the positive effects lasting up to eight months after classes ended. In another study, reported in the The New England Journal of Medicine, dancing was shown to enhance memory and help prevent the development of dementia. In a controlled study, reported in the Journal of Applied Gerontology, researchers found that partner dance and musical accompaniment can help reduce stress. Furthermore, research published in The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition found that a weekly dance program could improve physical performance and increase energy levels among adults.

My own study conducted over the last few weeks:

Just before I posted Cheerleader for Kindness, I started my own daily dance parties. To be accurate, it’s more like hourly dance parties or whenever I have 5 minutes. I now find myself dancing in the morning while getting ready for the day, in my office, in the kitchen while cooking dinner, and definitely in my car while carpooling the kids to school and commuting to and from work.  Just yesterday, I was informed by my 12-year-old that her friends saw me rocking out in my car as they drove by on their way to school. I’m not sure if this embarrassed my darling daughter, but I don’t care! I have found my dancing shoes, so to speak, and I’m not taking them off. Whether I am feeling happy, stressed, sad, uninspired, or just need a change in energy, I now turn on YouTube Music or the radio, crank up the volume and rock out! I dance like no one is watching and if they are my only hope is that I bring a little joy or a smile to their face. And just maybe they think, “wow that woman looks like she is having fun!”

Dancing is fun! It feels great to let my body move to the music and usually by the time I’ve danced to an entire song, I feel happy, energized, beautiful and confident.  Maybe that is how those Swedish teenagers felt. I believe that Happiness and Kindness go hand in hand, and if dancing brings me joy and makes me happy how can I not be more kind and create more kindness in this world?
Current Happy Dance List:

With Happiness & Kindness,

Jenni

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com/GaborBibor

Finding Kindness by Relearning What Love is

What is love? And what has been my definition and understanding of love and how has that hindered my journey to find, create, and exude kindness?

I used to think love meant sacrificing myself for the other person. I thought it meant that I needed to care for the other person first before I cared for myself. That I needed be selfless and do what others needed, and if I did what others needed, then they would see how great I was and love me. Sounds a little crazy, if you ask me. Where did I get this twisted definition and understanding of love? I could blame it on my parents, society or my Catholic upbringing, but I do not want to blame anymore, because I’m guessing that love and kindness do not blame. However, I do think Walt Disney should take some responsibility for making and marketing those damn princess movies! Really, I’m serious about those movies, I don’t know about you, but the underlying message to me as a little girl, was that if I was the nicest, sweetest, most selfless and fairest young girl, a prince would come and rescue me. I shudder to think of how many girls interpreted the movies the same way.

What can a girl do, if this is her belief and understanding of love? First, I asked myself several questions and then I searched the dictionary for the definition of love, and finally I rewrote my definition of love so that I could see the words and hopefully create a new understanding and pattern of love and turn that love into living kindness. Here we go:

Can a person be kind without really knowing and understanding love? What is Love anyway? Am I a person who says “I love you” easily and often or do I only say it when I mean it? Am I a person who loves freely and openly or am I more guarded? Is there a right way to love and wrong way to love? How have I been shown love and how have I received love in my life? Do I teach people to love me the way I want to be loved or do I take whatever love is offered? Can I change my understanding of love so that I may create a new way to experience, create, and show love today? Can I create the type of love that I want to receive and if I do, will kindness come more naturally to me? Will the kindness I’m seeking pour from me? I sure hope so!

Love, according to Dictionary.com:
1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for parent, child, or friend.
3. sexual passion or desire.
4. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
5. used in direct address as a term of endearment or affection
6. a love affair; an intensely amorous incident; amour.
7. sexual intercourse; copulation.
No where in the definition, does it say love is selfless or powerless. Nor does it say that love is a sacrifice to be made in order to receive it. No wonder “love” has felt painful, guilty, needy, demanding and resentful. Thinking and reflecting on the questions I had about love and the definition of love, I’ve come to realize that without a proper understanding of what love is, I could never truly create kindness in my life. Especially if I was operating from a place of selflessness that ultimately created resentment, not love and certainly not kindness. Where does that leave me? It leaves me with the opportunity to redefine my understanding of love and from there, I know I can create, embody and exude love and kindness.

My new definition of love is to embody and exude kindness, tenderness, respect, truthfulness, understanding, creativity, curiosity, passion, and intelligence in all of my interactions with myself and then with others. And to believe in and own my truth as well as my inner and outer beauty and to always compliment myself and from there believe and create anything I choose.

Try examining what your understanding of love has been and see if it matches with what you would like to create and experience in your life. Thank you for sharing in my journey to find kindness! Please share your definition of love and perhaps we can all create a personal definition of love and kindness.
With loving kindness,
Jenni