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From Forgiveness to Kindness

Day 128: Reblog from one of my most viewed posts. Enjoy. (Too tired to create something tonight.)

 

4 Acts of Kindness

Day 17: From Forgiveness to Kindness

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” – Paul Boese

From forgiveness to kindness, or maybe it’s the other way around. I’m not entirely sure. Forgiveness is sometimes difficult and other times easy, depending on the transgression. Either way, forgiveness is a choice we get to make to leave behind the pain and to embrace the gifts. 

  1. Kindness to Self:

    Forgiving ourselves is probably the most difficult, especially when we feel like we have failed ourselves or others.  However, self forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves and is a very important step to healing. Be gentle with yourself and remember your past experiences have brought you here. Right where you are suppose to be.

  2. Kindness to Others:

    Asking for forgiveness and making amends can be both difficult and embarrassing. However, if we are truly sorry and make our…

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Finding Kindness at 40

Day 90: Finding Kindness at 40

“Being in your forties – any woman who isn’t there yet, I just have to say to you: Euphoria is coming to you.” – Tori Amos

I have to admit, turning 40 has been much more difficult than I ever imagined. I’ve spent most of my life thinking I was not attached to age, in fact, quite often I would have to ask my husband or daughter how old I was. In some ways I wasn’t attached, but there is nothing like approaching the middle of your life to get you evaluating things. Facing all of the great expectations and the should have, would have and could haves. Oh they are torturous thoughts that create pain, anger, fear, loss and grief. This is 40. I have arrived. In some ways it is completely fine, I feel the same as yesterday, and when I can stay present and reflect on the gifts, abundance, love, and the accomplishments, I am proud and tears of joy surface and my heart feels full. It’s when the critic comes along and speaks so harshly, that I crumble and feel sad, unworthy, and unaccomplished.

My transition from 39 to 40 has not been graceful, it has been full of difficult challenges and decisions, and has left me feeling as though I’m swimming against the tide. Maybe, because I have been fighting letting go of an image, a story I once told myself. The fairy tale that said I would have no wrinkles, the big house with the swimming pool, the great love and partnership, the 2.3 children, the white picket fence, the amazing career, the whole kit and kaboodal. I have achieved part of the fairy tale, but not in the perfect manner that I imagined. Life is messy, can be painful, difficult and ugly at times, but it can also be beautiful, joyous and full of abundance and treasures, if I choose to see it that way.

Here I am, 40, and I can choose to hold onto my old story, the what ifs, the image, and fight what is; or let go, grieve if I need to, embrace where I am, find the treasures, find the gratitude for the abundance and gifts that I do have, even if they don’t match the story exactly. Ultimately, I can choose to fight against the tide of my life or let go, be kind and gentle, and enjoy where I am right now, and that is 40 with an imperfect life and an imperfect story.

Please be kind, gentle and forgiving of where you are, because we are perfect just as we are. Put that critic in a secure container and lock it away, and then imagine all of the possibilities there are when there is no judgment.

With Kindness and Love,

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com/Nate Brelsford

Gratitude Creates Kindness

Day 14: Gratitude Creates Kindness

“The miracle of gratitude is that it shifts your perception to such an extent that it changes the world you see.” – Dr. Robert Holden

Happy Thanksgiving! Today is the day that most people gather around the family table, share a meal and give thanks for the people and blessings in their lives. Let’s make everyday a day to reflect and be grateful for the gifts we have. Living in kindness is a breeze if we come from a place of gratitude, because with gratitude comes joy, and with joy comes kindness. 

  1. Kindness to Self:

    “Gratitude is one of the most medicinal emotions we can feel. It elevates us and fills us with joy.” -Sara Avant Stover

  2. Kindness to Others:

    “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a gift and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward

  3. Kindness to Strangers:

    “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

  4. Kindness to Our Planet:

    “For one minute walk outside, stand there, in silence, look up at the sky, and contemplate how amazing life is.” -Unknown

Thank you for following me in my journey to find, create and live kindness. I am blessed and full of gratitude!

With Kindness & Gratitude,

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com/ScottWilkinson

Girls, Kindness & The Power of Words

Day 13: Girls, Kindness & The Power of Words

“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” – G. D. Anderson

Today, while at the gym, I overheard a man speaking to his trainer. The man said, “I’m totally acting like a girl”. He was referring to not practicing his workouts on his own. I wanted so badly to interrupt and ask him what he meant. Acting like a girl.  What does that mean anyway? Ask him if he had kids and specifically whether he had a daughter.  Ask him if he realized what kind of message he was sending out to the world by speaking that way. I had to stop myself from saying something.

Unfortunately, this was not the first time I’ve overheard men and dads speaking this way about women.  Whether that man had sons or daughters doesn’t really matter, because those kind of statements need to change in our world, especially boy world. We empower our girls and young women to believe they can do anything, but what are we teaching our boys about girls and women? Are the adult men in your life teaching your children that it’s somehow bad or weak to be like a girl, or just a girl? Let’s change the way we speak about women and girls. Words are powerful, be aware of what and how you say things.

  1. Kindness to Self:

    Words have the power to hurt or to heal, to encourage or discourage and to create. Be aware of the words you say to yourself. Are they kind, loving, tender, encouraging, empowering and understanding? Take a few minutes everyday to slow down and check in with your inner-self and make sure the communication is loving and kind.

  2. Kindness to Others:

    I believe that words are the most powerful form of communication, whether spoken or written. Slow down and really think about the impact of your words. Words can either encourage, compliment and be loving or they can discourage, judge or be hateful. Choose to be the kind of person that uses words to inspire and spread kindness.

  3. Kindness to Strangers:

    Always choose to use words that are kind, respectful and accepting of all types of people. We are all different. Some of us are girls, some of us are mentally challenged, some of us are Muslim, some of us are homosexual, but we are all human beings and we all deserve the same amount of respect. No one is better than the other, we just have different strengths and gifts. Choose to see the gifts rather than fearing the differences.

  4. Kindness to Our Planet:

    Use the power of communication, especially words, written and spoken, to promote a healthy planet.

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com/CrissyPauley

Listening is Kindness

Day 12: Listening is Kindness

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” -Bryant H. McGill

Listening with an open heart and mind is one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves and others.  To be fully present with ourselves or with another person takes awareness, patience, and practice. When we are able to give our full attention to listening rather than speaking and offering advice, we will learn, understand and grow tremendously as human beings.

  1. Kindness to Self:

    Listening to yourself, listening to your gut or listening to your intuition are all the same. I love the following quote: “Your intuition is a muscle. To develop it, you must listen.” I can’t tell you how many times I have ignored my intuition and not listened to what I needed, but I can tell you that each time I did not listen I regretted it. Listening to our needs does take practice and discipline, but I do believe it is the kindest thing we can do.

  2. Kindness to Others:

    Fully listening to our children, spouse, friends and loved ones is a priceless gift. However, it is not always the easiest thing to do.  I think in today’s world people have to try much harder to get our full attention.  We now have to compete with the ever present smart phone. To give someone our complete attention when they speak is the truest form of kindness.

  3. Kindness to Strangers:

    Lately I have been practicing giving my full attention to strangers and it is amazing to see the positive reactions. I admittedly used to be very distracted and rarely gave the store clerk, waiter, car attendant or any stranger, my full attention when engaging with them. Now I make it a priority to listen fully. The interactions I have are so much more meaningful and it provides a sense of contentedness that is missing in our busy world.

  4. Kindness to Our Planet:

    Listening to the experts on climate change and really observing the changes that are taking place is the first step to making positive changes for our beloved home. Be the change you would like to see and continue to care for our planet.

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com/CherylEmpey

Kindness & The Confidant

Day 11: Kindness & The Confidant

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” -Unknown

A confidant is a close friend to whom secrets are confided or with whom private matters and problems are discussed. We all need to have at least one if not a few special friends that we can call when feeling down and sad. Someone we can share the ugly truths to and know without a doubt that she will not judge. She will believe in you when you no longer believe in yourself. She will fill you up when you are empty.  Be the surrogate inner voice when yours has gone dark, mean and fearful. The friend that will tell you that you are beautiful inside and out, that you are awesome and capable of anything.

Maybe this person is an old friend, your mother, a grandparent, a sponsor or even a paid listener. Whomever it is, it is vital that we have these people in our lives. They are the people that pick us up, dust us off and give us a great big hug. These people are our supporters and cheerleaders.

  1. Kindness to Self:

    Sometimes we find ourselves in a dark place and we just cannot seem to find that inner voice that will guide us. It is at these times that we can reach out to our confidant, our friend, our cheerleader and lean on her. Let her be that kind voice, the warm hug and the tenderness that we need.

  2. Kindness to Others:

    Being a confidant and trustworthy friend is a priceless gift that we can both enjoy as the receiver and the giver. Remember to always treat your friends and loved ones the way you would like to be treated: with kindness, understanding, tenderness and acceptance.

  3. Kindness to Strangers:

    So how can we practice being a confidant when it comes to strangers? Well one way is to always give people the benefit of the doubt. I recently was at a party and was warned by an acquaintance to stay away from a certain person because they were “bad news.” Instead of listening to that person, I decided to engage with an open heart and found the person to be quite lovely. The point is, we always have the choice to be open and accepting, instead of closed and suspicious.  Treat people with kindness and usually it comes back.

  4. Kindness to Our Planet:

    How can we be a confidant when it comes to our planet? We can decide to be a person who will research, discuss and commit to being part of the solution when it comes to conservation and care of our planet.

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com/BobbiDombrowski

Kindness & The Inner Critic

Day 10: Kindness & The Inner Critic

“Become aware of the negative self-talk and listen in with curiosity and compassion instead of guilt and shame.” – Elise Museles

The inner critic, that person inside of you that says you are doing it wrong, that’s not fast enough, you’re not good enough, you can’t do that. Or the even uglier twin, the inner critic turned out. The part of you that looks out at others to judge them so that you do not feel the pain the inner critic causes. How do we identify the inner critic and quell those messages? How do we stop gossiping and own that by judging others we are really deflecting our inner critic? The answer is through kindness. Of course that kindness, tenderness, understanding and patience must first come from within. So how do we do it? We process our feelings, with an open heart, with tenderness, gentleness and understanding. The inner critic cannot survive kindness, gentleness, tenderness and understanding. It just cannot.

  1. Kindness to Self:

    Quelling the inner critic is not easy, in fact it can be extremely challenging. The inner critic is very sly and sneaky and could be so deeply embedded that we don’t even consciously hear it. The first step is to become aware of the messages inside, then with tenderness and patience, try to process those thoughts and feelings until you reach a place of understanding.  This will take practice to master, but when you do become a master of your inner voice, the kindness will exude.

  2. Kindness to Others:

    Here’s another quote to think about: “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice,” Peggy O’Mara. This is a great reminder of how we need to be aware of our inner self-talk, so that we can also be aware of what comes out of our mouths in the form of criticism, judgement, or gossip. Especially gossip. Gossip can be sneaky as well. It can hide under the guise of concern. Be aware and master your inner voice, so that yo may always trust that the voice that comes out is kind.

  3. Kindness to Strangers:

    We have opportunities everyday to be kind in the way we speak to, look at and carry ourselves among strangers. We always have the chance to come into a new situation with openness, kindness and understanding.

  4. Kindness to Our Planet:

    I’m a little stumped on this one. However, studies have shown that plants grow healthier, and faster if shown attention, talk and care. Go ahead and be kind to the plants around you and watch them grow in abundance. Just don’t forget to water them too!

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com/JessHall

Kindness & Religion

Day 9: Kindness & Religion

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness” – Daili Lama

God, a higher power, Allah, Shiva, Jesus Christ…to me it matters not. I’m with the Daili Lama on this one: My religion is kindness. I do meditate daily and when I do, I often find myself not in prayer exactly, but rather in conversation with God. My God is kind, understanding and quite funny. I have learned that I always receive exactly what I need and even what I ask for. However, I have also learned to be very specific in what I ask for.

I’m not suggesting that you ditch your religious beliefs, just that you allow room for kindness is your daily life. As we all know, religion can be twisted and used for atrocities, that is why I am completely aligned with the Daili Lama…let’s continue to find, create and live kindness so that we can spread it.

  1. Kindness to Self:

    How do I make kindness my religion or part of my “religious” journey? Meditation, reflection, praying to my God and learning how to love myself; flaws, quirks and all.

  2. Kindness to Others:

    We can share our thoughts, beliefs and practices with our children, family, friends and loved ones. My lovely friend often includes my family in her Jewish holidays, and we love every second of it. Not only are we sharing in their beliefs and traditions, but in loving kindness, acceptance and understanding of others’ beliefs.

  3. Kindness to Strangers:

    We can simply practice the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

  4. Kindness to Our Planet:

    Let’s apply the Golden Rule to our planet as well and treat it as it has treated us: with love and abundance. Be a shepherd for our planet.

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com/grantyiu

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

Kindness Through Encouragement

Day 7: Kindness and Encouragement

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echos are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa

Yesterday, my son and I were on our way to his soccer tryout for a select team of boys. There are 20 spots and probably 60-70 boys trying out. He was nervous, doubting his soccer skills and well down the dangerous road of comparison. I listened, acknowledged his fear and nervousness, and also said that there was in fact a chance that he would not make it onto the team. However, I then, encouraged him to think of his special talents on the field and focus on those things that made him stand out. In the 10 minute car ride, he went from seconding guessing and comparing to owning and celebrating his talents, which happens to be speed and agility, two things coaches love! By the time he left the car, he was confident, excited and ready to showcase his soccer skills. I was not only proud of him, but proud of myself. I think by choosing to acknowledge his fears and then encourage him to look inside and find his strengths, rather than looking outside and comparing and measuring against others, I gave him the gift of encouragement: I instilled courage into him.

  1. Kindness to Self:

    How do we encourage ourselves when we end up on that dark and lonely road of comparison and self-doubt? Ask for help. Call a friend and ask them for encouragement.  Just last week I was in need of a little encouragement, so I swallowed my pride and asked a friend. This is what I received: “You are loved. You are wonderfully made. You are beautiful. You have purpose. You are a masterpiece.”  Then he said to get up and get out of my head and do something that I loved. It worked!

  2. Kindness to Others:

    We can encourage others by  praising, because praise works better than criticism.

  3. Kindness to Strangers:

    How does one encourage strangers? Let’s turn that around and commit to encouraging yourself to be open to engaging in some form of communication with a stranger. Begin with a smile, start a conversation on the train while commuting or speak with the person bagging your groceries. Life offers plenty of opportunities to engage and you just might get the chance to be encouraging.

  4. Kindness to our Planet:

    Encourage those around you to be conscientious about how to have a healthier earth, buy reusable bags for your dad who still uses plastic bags, plant a few seeds, really anything goes, so long as you keep encouraging yourself and others to be mindful of our planet.

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com/MarcoMichelini