Tag Archives: authentic self

Loving Kindness

Day 136: Loving Kindness

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” – Oscar Wilde

Happy Easter! Whether you celebrate the day or not, it coincides with Spring and other religious holidays which all have a common thread, and that is new beginnings. How does the subject of new beginnings relate to loving oneself? Think of Spring for a moment and what is actually taking place. Spring is a time of expansion, growth, beauty, novelty, and bravery. If you picture a flower or any plant during spring, it is opening to the sun and warmth and at the same time beneath the surface it is growing stronger roots. Opening up and growing takes a great amount of trust and bravery and that is where I find the connection between new beginnings and loving oneself. In order to make any changes in oneself, and to start a new journey, takes a great amount of self-love and self-trust. We alone are the only one inside of ourselves, so we might as well learn to be totally, madly in love with who and what are. Be brave, be bold, but most of all be self-loving.

With Kindness,

Jennifer

 Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com and The Very Kind Hervé de Brabandère

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Perfectly Kind

Day 89: Perfectly Kind

“Today I affirm that there is nothing in me but love. This love comes from total acceptance of myself and the understanding that I am a perfectly imperfect human being.” – Jackson Kiddard

What if I told you that in this very moment you are perfect, would you believe me?

You are perfect even with your perceived imperfections.

I’m not quite sure why it is so difficult for most people, myself included, to believe that they are perfectly made, perfect in this moment, even with their flaws, mistakes, regrets and perceived imperfections. How can we change? What can we do so that we believe we are perfectly made, perfectly kind, perfectly loved, just as we are?

I teach a tween yoga class, and the other day I introduced ahimsa to the class. Ahimsa can be translated as nonviolence in thoughts, words and actions. I like to think of ahimsa as kindness; kindness in thoughts, words and actions. I shared with the children how even our own thoughts can be “violent” towards others and ourselves. I received many curious and confused expressions. So I asked them to close their eyes and listen to the little voice inside their head. I asked them to think about that voice and to pay attention to whether it was kind or mean. After a few minutes, I asked them to open their eyes and to tell me one thing they could say to themselves that was kind and loving and one thing they could say to another. Most of the group had no problem sharing what they could say to another, but when it came to self talk, almost every single child drew a blank. One girl finally understood and was willing to be honest and vulnerable to the group. She shared that she could tell herself that she was good enough just as she is. It was brilliant!

With so many messages and images reinforcing the fact that we are not enough, that we are not perfect just as we are, we must tell ourselves and those around us that they are in fact perfect in this moment. Perfectly human, perfect beautiful beings with love, kindness and vibrancy. By embracing ourselves, we will be able to live ahimsa, to live in kindness.

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com/JohanVanDenBerg

Kindness Found

Day 88: Kindness Found

“That is my prayer to God everyday: Remove the veils so I may see what is really happening here and not be intoxicated by my stories and my fears.” – Elizabeth Lesser

We all tell stories. Perhaps we even prepare our stories in anticipation of a certain meeting, interaction or person. We also all have fear in us, for some it is well hidden or dealt with in a productive way, for others it keeps them stuck. Regardless, if we were to drop our stories and share our fears, we might be surprised at the common threads we all share. We probably all have similar fears, insecurities and struggles. If we were able to be vulnerable and share our feelings rather than our story, new connections would surely form and from there, joy and happiness would flow, at least that has been my experience.

I am currently taking a yoga/group therapy/empowerment class at a wonderful yoga studio called Bloom Retreat in the San Francisco Bay Area. The class is called The Practice. It is a class that is part yoga, part group therapy and part showing up and embracing who and where we are in this moment. We are encouraged to drop our stories and share how we really feel. It is a place where we get to show up and let go of our roles and our stories, while embracing our fears and receiving love and support from like minded women.

Through this experience, I have found that we do in fact all share similar fears, wishes, and ambitions. We share a common thread of wanting more out of life, wanting to show up in our own skin and know that it is good enough. We all want to love and be loved. We all want to be understood and seen. We want to be able to show up as we are: happy, sad, excited, scared, or insecure. I have also learned that by being vulnerable community, respect and connections are created.

We are all of the same cloth, the same breath, the same earth, the same universe. We are all connected. We are all kind.

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com and The Very Kind Nicholas Kmoch

The Kindness Within

Day 86: The Kindness Within

“Stop looking outside for scraps of pleasure or fulfillment, for validation, security or love – you have a treasure within that is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer.” – Eckhart Tolle

If only we were all as enlightened as Mr. Eckhart Tolle. I mean that in the kindest way. I really wish I had the ability to look within, see my treasures and really know that is all I need. I want to embrace that I am enough, I want to teach my kids that they are enough. That nothing outside of me or them will enhance who they are, because they are perfect just as they are. I say to my kids often how they are perfect the way they are, perfectly made, but then I wonder if they believe it. I see everyone I know struggle with some form of insecurity.

How can I look at my children and tell them they are perfect exactly as they are, unless I truly believe that about myself? I have had glimpses of feeling that I am perfectly made and that I am enough just as I am, but most of the time, I would have to admit that I need things, people and situations to make me feel better. The glimpses usually follow a day when I have made it my focus and purpose to be in the moment, accept things as they are, and celebrate in gratitude. I wish I could do this daily and not falter, however, this path to enlightenment is not a simple one, it takes hard work, dedication and constant practice.

I like to believe that we all have a treasure within us that is waiting to be found, embraced, and then shared with the world. As Pablo Picasso was quoted for saying: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” I could not agree more, however, it is the finding of the gift that is that hard part for most of us. The longer I am on this path of kindness, the more I have realized that most of us have buried treasures within that need some digging. I can see the treasures within my children and am learning to see the treasure within myself. My hope is that by finding and embracing my treasure, I will be able to help those around me find their treasures and they will then help those around them and so on.

Find your treasure, and loving kindness will flow from within, and that kindness will pass to all others.

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com and The Very Kind Tosaporn Boonyayarngkul

Kindness Through Vulnerability

Day 81: Kindness Through Vulnerability

“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strengths.” – Sigmund Freud

I love how simple yet profound the above quote is. Being vulnerable requires courage, honesty, trust and a great deal of self love. Most of us, I would dare say, have at least two personas. We have the one that we take out into the world and then we have the one we show our loved ones, assuming we have supportive relationships and the knowledge to show our authentic selves. We also, tend to fall into roles that we have either chosen or were chosen for us: girl, boy, woman, man, mother, father, husband, wife, teacher, student, boss, employee…you get the picture. What would happen if we showed everyone our true authentic self, our soul? And why do we feel that we cannot show up just as we are? Is it the expectations and pressure our society and culture places on us? Is it that many of us did not grow up in a family or culture that allowed for true self expression? How can we learn to be vulnerable in order for our true strengths and authentic self to come forth?

Being vulnerable is scary and takes a great amount of courage and self love. There are those lucky few that truly shine as individuals and make no apologies for who they are, but I wonder if they feel that confident and self-loving on the inside. I’d like to believe that they do. I do not believe that there is a great mystery to being true and authentic, just a willingness to show up and be ourselves. Maybe we have all been playing roles for so long we don’t really even know our true selves. I think that is a wonderful place to be. Yes, it is a vulnerable place to be, but think of the amazing treasure that awaits: you, me, us; our true and authentic self.

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com and The Very Kind John Karun

Be Kind and Shine

Day 69: Be Kind and Shine

“Stop looking outside for scraps of fulfillment, for validation, security, or love; you have a treasure within that is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer.” – Eckhart Tolle

The other night at a Bloom Retreat yoga class, the teacher guided us through the most beautiful mediation practice. She had us imagine the little person inside of us, any age from infant to small child. Next, she asked us to imagine a door at our hearts and to open this door, letting in the most incredible light to shine onto our divine inner child. Then, we were asked to hold that child in this warm, bright and inviting light with the knowledge that we are one in the same, we are loved, we are enough and most importantly divine. Finally we were asked to let the light shine from inside ourselves and out through the door.

Everything we think we need or want, already lies within each of us. Just as the quote says above, but how do we we look inside and find the divinity, the treasure within? I will admit it is not easy, and those moments for me are rare and fleeting, but the more we can practice becoming aware, holding space for ourselves and honoring the present moment, the more the light will stay on and then shine our true divine selves out into the world.

Practice bringing your inner light, inner being to the surface by digging deep for your true essence in whatever way seems best for you. For me, it begins with awareness and then with that awareness practicing being in the present moment. Be kind and let yourself shine. (It rhymes!)

When we shine we cannot help but be kind to our loved ones, to strangers and to our planet.

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com and The Very Kind Matthew Bowden

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

Cheerleader for Kindness

Today I discovered my inner cheerleader, and she is amazing and kind!

I woke up today from a lovely dream and began to write about it in my journal. Years ago, I was taught that our dreams, whether pleasant or scary, are just messages from our subconscious and our psyche that need to be heard and understood by our conscious mind. I wanted to enjoy the warm feeling of my dream, not turn it into a therapy session. However, I am not one to shy away from therapy and understanding, so I did the dream writing, that I learned from my old therapist, because I thought, I might as well hear the message.

It turns out that my dream was not just a lovely walk with a friend, it was actually about my deep need to be seen and understood by myself. When I was a little girl, I was taught by my parents, through their words and actions, that I was wrong, selfish and bad if I listened to my own wants and needs. Essentially at a very young age I learned how to feel and be about others before I was about me. I learned to be codependent, always checking out before checking in. Maybe you don’t see the connection, I admit it is quite the leap. Bear with me and I promise I will explain! If you are curious about the dream writing exercise, you can find it in “Invisible Warfare” by Mona Miller, pages 296 through 301. I highly recommend reading the entire book as well.

So how does my dream writing experience connect to being a Cheerleader for Kindness? By processing my thoughts and feelings through writing, I discovered what I want and don’t want. I no longer want to be about others before I am about me. In other words, I want and need to be kind to me first and then to others. In order for me to live a life of kindness, I must see me first. I must understand me first. I must know me first. I must be loving and kind to me first.

How can I be my own Cheerleader for Kindness? By getting to know that little girl inside of me that was not allowed to be herself. By talking to her (me). By asking myself what I want first before I ask others what they want. I used to believe that I was selfish to think about me first, but I realize now, that it is not selfish, it is true, authentic and its me. From this place of empowerment, joy and authenticity, I can truly be kind!

After completing my writing and processing my hurt, sad and angry feelings, I was inspired to talk to my inner little girl and she said she wanted to play and dance and feel free. Are you familiar with the song “Cheerleader,” by OMI? I have young kids and remember hearing it a few times. I looked it up on YouTube and turned the volume all the way up and had myself a dance party in my pajamas. I moved and danced to the music with a freedom and joy that I have not felt in years. And one dance was not enough, so I replayed it all morning for myself and kept dancing. Dancing in the hallway dancing in the kitchen, and even dancing while doing my daughter’s hair for picture day. My daughter, of course, thought I was embarrassing (she is 12 in a few weeks, so everything I do is embarrassing to her) but soon she joined in and was dancing and singing along. A few minutes later, my son came in and danced while brushing his teeth. What joy I felt! And Guess what? The kindness was brimming over and out of me! What a beautiful moment! All from what I thought was a simple dream about a walk with a friend.

I challenge you to do the following:

1.Find a fun song that inspires you to be playful and be a kid.

2. Blast the volume and let yourself dance like no one is watching, in fact do it while no one is watching. Do it in front of a mirror and imagine the kid inside of you, be that sweet, simple, fun loving child we all are inside!

Have fun and be free and maybe a miracle will happen or you will be inspired or at the very least, feel some joy in this very busy, fast and sometimes unkind world. Let’s make this world kind through our inner cheerleaders and our joy.

Feel free to share the song that inspires you to be the joyful, free and childlike version of yourself. I hope you find your inner Cheerleader!

Thank you for reading!

Jenni

Finding Kindness from Within

Life can be a little funny at times. You never know what or whom will change your path or how you see and understand the world. As you know, I have been seeking kindness for some time now and I have found it. Or at least the beginning of kindness.

I used to think that if I could make everyone around me be kind, I would have a kind household and then I could be kind, because everyone was being kind together. That sounds a bit crazy, if you ask me! The truth is, I have been lacking kindness in my life because I have been looking out instead of in. What exactly does that mean? Well for me, it means I was seeking kindness out in the world. I was telling myself that I was being kind, and sometimes I was, but most of the recent past had me feeling sad and sorry for myself. In fact, I recently had two very lovely friends tell me that I am indeed melancholy. I thanked them both for their candor and began to really think about what I put out to the world. Do I really want to be the sad girl? How has being the sad girl served me? How is being the sad girl currently serving me and others in my life?  No wonder my life lacks kindness. How could I find, feel, create and exude kindness when I was sad?

The reason for my melancholy, you may wonder, is a very long story which, began when I was little.  I will try to provide the short list.  I was sexually abused at a very young age, I was raised in a very tumultuous, chaotic and alcoholic household, I attracted and married a man who used to live a very chaotic and fast life who ended up almost killing himself in an accident that led to a traumatic brain injury and resulting in me becoming his caregiver while raising our young children. As you can see, I have had plenty of reasons to be sad. On the other hand, I also have so many reasons to celebrate. I am healthy, have two beautiful children, I received an amazing education from my family and learned many things through my struggles and all of those tragedies have made me the beautiful person that I am. However, I want to let the sad story go and say goodbye to it. I no longer want to be the sad, melancholy girl. I want to be the vibrant, beautiful and kind woman I am and can be.

Over the last three weeks I have been slowly uncovering what kindness is for me. It all began on vacation.  I met this wonderful woman who seemed to exude a love for life and a true kindness that shone from within. This woman was kind in her words, in her actions and interactions, in the way she looked at people and even in her touch.  I had many interactions with her and as the week proceeded, I was left with a feeling of aw.  What was it about this person that made them so kind? How does that person exude such kindness, what is her secret? Whatever it was, I wanted it!

After meeting this person, it awoke something in me that I had long ago left to die in darkness. This feeling that awoke in me is best described as a fire. There was finally some light that was shining in my dark places. This person saw through my darkness and somehow saw my inner beauty, my authentic self.  It was a fleeting moment, but I felt it and I wanted more. More love, more kindness, more tenderness, more understanding and more truth.

I realized after much journal writing, crying and processing of my many feelings, that the way to have kindness truly come from me was to be kind to myself. I used to think being kind to myself, was getting a massage or going to a yoga class or creating “me” time. But what I found out over the last few weeks, is that kindness must literally come from within. I must be kind to myself. What does that mean to me now? It means that I listen to me, my authentic self, my little girl, my soul, my intuition, whatever you want to call it. Kindness means that I listen to me first with love, understanding and truth. Essentially if I listen to my truth I can then lead a life of kindness because I will be honoring myself and then be able to honor others with true kindness.

Sometimes it takes another person seeing us and touching our heart in order for us to see our true selves and for me, to feel kindness.

Thank you for reading and sharing in my journey to find kindness.

Jennifer