Category Archives: Seeking Kindness

Kindness, Joy & Music

Day 8: Kindness, Joy & Music

“A joyful heart is the normal result of the heart burning with love. She gives most who gives with joy.” – Mother Teresa

What brings you the most joy in your life today? Really think about it and answer honestly. Please don’t list the obligatory: family, friends, and children. Be honest, find the things that bring you joy, just for you, and do them!

As I continue on this journey to find, create and live kindness; I remind myself that if I can find true joy and give that to myself, not only will I be joyful, but then kindness will come from me without any effort. Today, I find my joy in listening to music. It soothes me, it gets me out of my head, puts a smile on my face and infuses me with energy and pure joyfulness. I have also learned that joy is contagious and opens our hearts to whatever the day may bring. Where do you find true joy, right now, in this moment?

  1. Kindness to Self:

    This is an easy one, or maybe it’s difficult for you. I don’t know. In the past, it was difficult for me to find my individual joy because I was looking out and for others to bring me joy. Whether finding individual joy is easy or difficult for you, find the thing which brings you the most joy and do it.

  2. Kindness to Others:

    By feeding ourselves with what makes us happy and joyful, we can easily help those around us find their joy. I know from experience that people, especially children, learn by watching and experiencing. Let’s spread our joy by being an example.

  3. Kindness to Strangers:

    I may seem repetitive today, but I’m sticking with the theory that if we are joyful we can spread that joy, cheer and kindness in so many ways. Today, because I was doing what makes me joyful, I was able to engage and bring a smile to a stranger. I complimented a woman on her beautiful scarf as she was walking down the parking garage stairs and I was walking up. She paused for the briefest moment, made eye contact and said thank you with a great big smile on her face. Did I change her day? Who knows, I hope I did, but regardless, it made me feel joy to share my joy. I had numerous opportunities today to share my joy with so many strangers and it felt great!

  4. Kindness to our Planet:

    I think finding joy in our earth is easy and natural. Go outside, take a deep breath and look around. There are wondrous joys to be found everywhere. Birds chirping, leaves changing colors, the morning sunrise with all the pretty colors, the great big moon at night or the feeling of the warm sun on our face. The gifts of our planet are everywhere, you just have to choose to see and experience the joy.

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com/ShirleyB

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Feeding Our Souls With Kindness

I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book “Big Magic,” and not only did I find it magnificently inspiring, I found it to be exactly what I needed to hear. The book is about living a creative life in whatever capacity aligns with you, whether that is singing, painting, writing, collecting or even figure skating. Big Magic is all about finding and then feeding that creativity, and through that process, hopefully discovering the buried treasures that reside deep within all of us.

As I was reading the book, I kept hearing the same message out in the world. And that message was saying, “feed your soul.” I heard it in different ways and from different sources. I heard “feed yourself what you need” at a women’s entrepreneurial meeting and then at a yoga class I heard the teacher speak about how women tend to put others first and if we could just feed ourselves what we need, how magical our world could be. I love how the universe conspires in sending us messages if we are willing to tune in and receive them.

I tuned in and I heard: FEED YOUR SOUL!

The next obvious question is what does that mean to me? How can I feed my soul? Can I feed my soul and still honor my obligations, work, children and spouse. And if I feed my soul, how will this make me a kinder person?

Feeding my soul is not simply about doing what makes me happy, it’s deeper than that, it is what I am meant to be doing, it is what I have to do, it is what aligns with me. Feeding my soul comes down to two simple things: writing and water. Let me explain. I need to write like I need oxygen, and I need to swim and be in water like I need food. I may not be the best writer, well, I’m not, but I just have to write. I must write, whether people enjoy it, judge, ignore it; it does not matter, I must write. Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic” gave me permission to go head first with all I have, to simply put it out there with no fear, and yet, no guarantee. That is perfectly acceptable to me. Thank you Elizabeth Gilbert!

Now to the water. I must swim, because again, it is necessary. I do not know why it is necessary, but I dare not question it. I try to understand it, but not question it. Swimming is like a moving meditation, a place where my thoughts can roam free with no attachment where my body feels correct, like a beautiful sea creature at home in the water. It is meditation, it is healing, it is freedom and it is where I must be a few times per week. It makes me happy and it feeds my soul. I suppose that is the point of this post. A part of me is a little embarrassed to share the two things that feed my soul and spirit, because it feels vulnerable, but then I think what if we all fed our souls, our spirit, our passion with no fear and no apologies. If we all fed our souls just think of the kind world we could live in.

What feeds your soul, your passion, your creativity, your happiness? Whatever it is, just do it. Feed your soul and your spirit will soar.

What could be more kind than to give yourself exactly what you need? 

Jennifer Palazzo

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

Whose Life am I Living?

Hello Kindness Followers! As a follow-up to my last post titled “Kindness and Our Story,” I started thinking about whose life I’m living. Now that I’m trying to figure out and live my story, I wanted to take it a step deeper and ask myself about the ways I do and do not live my life. How have I been living for others? In what ways have I not been living my life?

In order to fill the void of not living my life I kept myself busy with being busy. I created long to do lists of running errands that seemed so important, but were in fact many times pointless and meaningless, except to fill my void. If I kept busy, then I did not have the time to stop and feel how sad and worthless my life felt. Now, I not saying being a stay at home mom is unimportant, in fact, being with my children has been a gift and a blessing that I have so much gratitude for. But for me, I purposely looked for meaning in volunteering, errand running, and carpooling, instead of slowing down and asking myself what I truly wanted. I did everything for everyone else and I was left with an empty, sad, unhappy, busy, stressed-out and exhausted shell of myself. I did not know who I was, what I liked and what I thought about things. Yes, I had times here or there that were filled with happiness, but for the most part I was avoiding living my life.

Another way I have lived for others was living through my children. I justified this because I thought it was admirable. It’s the American dream to want to provide a better life for our children than we had, right? But is there a line that I have crossed? Do I push my children to do the activities that they love and are passionate about or do I push them because I want to feel a high from their achievements? Do I want them to succeed for them or so I can feel good?  Do I push my kids to learn an instrument, play numerous sports, be an A student, for them or for me? I’m sure it’s a bit of both, but is that living in kindness? And more importantly, what am I teaching them? To live for me or to listen to their needs, desires and wants? I realize children need guidance from parents, but I need to check and ask myself, is this for them, or for me?

Whose life am I living? What if I gave myself what I give to my children? What if I give myself what I want and desire? And isn’t what I want for them, what really want or wanted?

I am now choosing to fill my life with what I am passionate about, what I desire and what I want to learn or achieve. The amazing part is, that I have more time, more energy, more patience, more love and more kindness. I am kind in my words, my actions, my touch and my interactions with family, friends, and strangers. My communication with my kids is genuinely sweet, loving and not nearly as frustrating as it used to be. I am starting to feel the type of kindness that comes from deep within. Just by giving myself what I need. I’m getting there and the only thing that has changed, is me. So here’s to living my life. Writing, blogging, dancing, listening to music, learning the piano, learning Spanish (again), long distance swimming, kindness and so much more! What do you want and whose life are you living? Life is short, but can be so sweet when we decide to be our own driver. No longer will I be a passenger in my one and only life!

Ask yourself, whose life are you living? Please leave a comment or a share about how you are living your life.

Thank you,

Jenni

Kindness and Our Story

What is your story? Are you the author of your own story? Or have you adopted someone else’s version of your story? I believe that we all have an inner story that is our true story. So what happened? Why am I not living what I think is my true story and how do I know this? I know this, because I feel conflicted and sick to my stomach most of the time. There have been other signs as well, such as always feeling tired and not entirely engaged. So what gives?

As I have been digging deep to uncover why kindness is a challenge for me, I have discovered why I’m not living my true story and how this affects kindness in my life. I believe it has much to do with my family of origin. I was brought up in a Catholic household and a family that was shrouded in guilt and shame. I know my parents, grandparents, teachers and religious leaders believed they were doing their best and they were. However, through their teachings, I learned to live in fear of God, hell and sinning. I truly believed I was going to hell for the smallest little lie, not to mention any other things I deemed wrong or bad. For me this was very confusing. As a young girl I soon came to believe that I was wrong, bad and selfish if I listened to my own thoughts, feelings, desires and intuition. In order to survive and get a little of what I needed, I realized that I had to lie. How twisted and confusing this was for me and has been my entire life. I was always looking to mom, dad, grandma and others to see if I was being a good girl, because if I was a bad girl, I truly thought I was going to hell. Ironically, living this way, I did create my own hell.

We all enter this world perfect versions of ourselves, but then as we grow, inevitably our caregivers, society, schools and our churches place expectations on us that conflict with the messages we receive from within. These expectations unfortunately take us away from our true essence and ultimately our true story. Or at least that has been my experience. So ask yourself, are you living your true story or are you living a story that is not yours, that is someones else’s expectations of you? I am 39 and I have never lived my true story. I’m only just beginning to learn my story and who I am.

This is who I am not, but used to believe I was:

Wrong, Liar, Ugly (inside and out), Sad, Bad, Weak and Selfish. Wow, so it was in fact Hell!

This is my new story, my true story:

I am a Strong, Centered, Loving, Intelligent, Beautiful (inside and out), and Kind woman and mother who is Happy, Patient, Wise, Confident, Playful, Loving and Kind.

Now that is a beautiful story that is mine and that ultimately will lead me to a life of Kindness!

Thank you,

Jenni

Kindhearted

We have all heard the expression “kindhearted” to describe a person who is genuinely kind in their words, actions and interactions. To be honest, I’m not sure I have ever been described as kind or kindhearted. I think the words that people use to describe me are nice, sweet, sad, melancholy, busy, shy, but I don’t believe I have ever been described as kindhearted. Not to say that I’m never kind and that I never perform kind acts, but I want more.  Besides, performing kind acts is not what I want either, I want to Be kind. I want so much kindness in me, that it tumbles out and it exudes from me.

Yesterday, I came across a quote in Invisible Warfare, a book, by Mona Miller. It reads; “Blocked hurt and fear keep our hearts from being open!” I think that says so much. I did change it slightly and replaced open with kind, so for me, I read it as “Blocked hurt and fear keep our hearts from being kind.”  I think I have had so much unprocessed fear and anger over the last several years, that there was no room for kindness. Kindness cannot live in pain, hurt, anger and fear. Kindness must grow from a place of love, patience, understanding and truth.  So where did all this pain, fear and resentment stem from?

5 years ago, my husband crashed his motorcycle and ended up in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury. He was in a coma, followed by extended hospital stays, rehab, transitional living center and out-patient care for several months. We were considered one of the lucky families! My kids were 4 and 6 at the time. You can imagine how difficult my life was, in a single moment, I became a caregiver, medical advocate and financial planner all the while still balancing motherhood and day-to-day life. I had an amazing support group, friends and community that rose to help. It was, however, devastating, difficult and painful. The first few weeks were like a roller coaster, full of ups and downs and just hoping he would actually survive. The next several weeks, months and years were full of fear and anxiety of who my husband now would become. Once we reached the 6 month mark, it was like he went into a personality closet and tried on a new personality every 6 weeks. This was crazy making, at least for me it was. I no longer had my original partner, my kids did not have the dad they knew. Instead we had some strange version of him that was constantly changing. No wonder I was scared, anxious, angry and resentful.

He was quick to become overwhelmed and then lash out. Soon we began a dance of me tip-toeing around his moods and needs. I very quickly became codependent and embraced it fully! This was the perfect storm. He would have what is called a “brain injury moment” and I would make excuses and try to calm him down. Apparently I was supposed to stay centered, calm and remind him with kindness that he was having a brain injury moment.  I must have blocked that out during the family training I received! As if I could take anything in and process it, I was surviving! To be honest his brain injury moments scared me and triggered me. So I fell right into being a codependent. Kindness was not to be had by me, not while I lived in fear, anxiety, anger and resentment. Although I craved kindness, I did not have the ability to create in my life.

If blocked hurt and fear keep our hearts from being open and thus kind, the opposite is needed to exude kindness. My recipe for being kindhearted is to own, process and understand the fear and hurt, so that I may move to a place of understanding and be open to love and kindness. My hope is that one day soon, I will embody kindness and finally be described as KINDHEARTED!!!!

Thank you for reading. Please share your thoughts.

Jenni

What is Kindness

Many years ago, I was lucky to meet an amazing and gifted life coach. One of the many things she taught me over the 10 years I knew her, was to look up the definition of words in order to fully understand the given word. Often times, I was quite surprised and other times it was just as I expected. Either way, I always seem to have a better understanding of a word and its true meaning. Try it sometime and see if the words you use really mean what you think they do.

So what exactly does kindness mean? Here is the definition from Dictionary.com

Kindness
noun
1. the state or quality of being kindkindness to animals.
2. a kind act; favor: his many kindnesses to me.
3. kind behavior: I will never forget your kindness.
4. friendly feeling; liking.
Well that does not seem to allow for much further exploration of the word kindness.  Sometimes looking at the synonyms will shed light on the meaning of the word. Let’s look at the synonyms listed at Thesaurus.com

Synonyms for kindness noun compassion, generosity:

affection, altruism, benevolence, cordiality, courtesy, decency, forbearance, gentleness, good will, goodness, grace, graciousness, hospitality, humanity, patience, solicitude, sweetness, sympathy, tenderness, tolerance, understanding, unselfishness.

The words that speak to me and my definition of kindness are the following: gentleness, grace, patience, sweetness, tenderness and understanding. All beautiful and different words that all contribute to the word and meaning of kindness. I am seeking gentleness and grace and patience and sweetness and tenderness and understanding. Those are the words that describe the kind of kindness I want to live and embrace in my life. What about you? Do you seek the same kindness in you, in the world. Let us continue to practice and seek kindness.

Namaste,

Jennifer

Back, After a Long Hiatus, but Still Seeking Kindness

I did not forget about my journey of finding and living kindness. I still seek kindness, still want kindness in my life and hope that I have been practicing as much kindness as I can. The reason for my long hiatus from blogging is that I started to work out of the home, but here I am again, hopefully with a new perspective on kindness.  Before I delve into my new perspective, I would like to review where I started:

I started 4 Acts of Kindness because I need more kindness in my life and in the lives of the people around me. I introduced the concept of the 4 Acts of Kindness:

  1. Being Kind to Yourself
  2. Being Kind to Others
  3. Being Kind to Someone you have a challenging relationship with, that you do not know very well, that you may not like or that you may find different or strange.
  4. Being Kind to our Earth

My hope is that by challenging myself and others to 4 Acts of Kindness daily, that I will change, the people around me will change, and maybe, just maybe, I can spread more kindness in the world. Follow me on this journey and let’s see what we can do!

Where am I now? Well, to be perfectly honest, I’m still seeking kindness. I ask myself, if I am in fact living the 4 Acts of Kindness? Am I actually kind to myself and what does that mean? I like to believe that I am kind to others, but I know that I am not always kind and I think it has to do with my level of happiness. Am I kind to strangers and the people I have challenging relationships with? I’d like to believe that I am, but maybe I’m not. I am kind to the earth, that for me is the easiest.

My household still has an edge to it that I do not prefer. I try to be kind and show kindness to my husband and children and yet, there is still fighting, arguing and a level of competition that drives me crazy. Maybe it’s not them at all, maybe in some weird way, seeking kindness is different that inviting kindness. Maybe instead of projecting my wants and desires onto my husband and children I need to change my perspective and exude kindness the way I would like to receive it. Or maybe I simply need to ask the universe for kindness. I don’t really have the answers. I just know that I want kindness in my life and in the lives of the people who I love.

Please follow me in my journey to find kindness.