Tag Archives: parenting

A Table of Kindness

Day 143: A Table of Kindness

I received a wonderful compliment from the mother of one of my yoga students. She shared with me how her daughter loved that it wasn’t just a yoga class, but more, that it was a place where she could share and “talk about stuff.” The mother also shared that whatever we spoke about in class, later turned into a family discussion at the dinner table.

(At the beginning of every class, I gather my students in a circle and we share. Each student receives a turn while everyone else gives their full attention. Sometimes I have a preset theme or subject and other times I simply check in and asked how they are each feeling.)

The compliment got me thinking about two things. One, that I could do the same thing every night at my dinner table with my family, and two, how amazing it is that a circle of sharing at a yoga class could then influence and affect an entire family. It is rare, especially as we get older, that there is a place to go and check in to share our feelings. Perhaps all families, all classes, and all work environments should start the day with circle time or end the day at a table where kind listening and sharing take place in a loving and supportive way.

Start your own table or circle of kindness. Try doing it every morning to start the day or at the end of the day around the dinner table. You might just be surprised at what comes out of your children. And if you do not have children, try it with your partner or roommates.

With Love and Kindness,

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com and The Very Kind Space Cadett

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Kindly Asked to Listen

Day 87: Kindly Asked to Listen

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

A few years ago my Mother-in-Law gave me a packet of Spiritual Seeds that I poured into a mug that says happy on it. The spiritual seeds have daily intentions and inspirational messages on them. My daughter often comes upstairs to my office and picks one from the mug. Today, she picked the one that says: “Today I choose to listen more intently.” The other side of the card says, “To be present and fully conscious in the now moment requires good listening skills. Give the gift of your full attention when others speak.” She immediately said, “Mom, this one was meant for you!”

She is completely correct. I am not the best at giving her my full and undivided attention. I have that awful disease called multitasking, or at least the illusion of it. I may be able to get many things done at the same time, but at the expense of my daughter and myself. I am missing out on the gift of loving exchange with my daughter. I am also missing out on being present. And if I really think about it, I am missing out on a whole plethora of things: connection, mutual respect, love, joy and the peace that comes with being present.

Kindness to Self:

I think listening to ourselves is the most precious gift we can receive from ourselves. Listening to our inner messages and living our lives from the truth within will bring a bounty of gifts.

Kindness to Others:

Listen. Listen. Listen. Just think of all the wonderful moments, connection, and loving kindness that comes from the simple act of listening. Listening really is one of the kindest things we can do for others.

Kindness to Strangers:

Being open to hear the messages from a different group of people with understanding is quite simply a gift of peace and kindness. Let us all be willing to listen to people with an open heart, ready to embrace all others, especially those that are strange or different.

Kindness to Our Planet:

Go outside, close your eyes and listen. What do you hear? Your breath, the birds, the breeze? Doing this will surely bring you into the present moment, which is where we are.

Jennifer Palazzo

If you are interested, you can check out the seed packets at SpiritualSeeds.Org.

From Acceptance to Kindness

Day 83: From Acceptance to Kindness

“Be kinder to yourself. And then let your kindness flood the world.” – Pema Chödron

Today has been a very long and difficult day. I do not have much to say that is inspirational. However, I remind myself on these challenging days that I always have the choice of acceptance. If I can choose to accept the challenges with patience, compassion, and self-forgiveness, kindness will unfold. Life is not always a box of chocolates or a warm bath, but by choosing to be kind to  myself I know that I will be able to turn that into kindness for all others or at least my children, as was the case tonight.

Time for a bath!

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com and The Very Kind Roger Kirby

Finding a Kind Pace

Day 75: Finding a Kind Pace

“The faster we live, the less emotion is left in the world. The slower we live, the deeper we feel the world around us.” – Stanko Abadzic

Multitasking is something we often hear about as an attribute, and in a busy office it is, but the rest of the time it means we are not fully present. We choose to set the pace of our lives whether we realize it or not. Being present and setting the pace, the speed at which we live our lives, is related to how much we want to be present and how much we are willing to face our feelings. I can’t think of any other reason  why  we would choose to rush or avoid unless we did not want to be fully present and fully accepting of the moment and whatever it presents.

I’m discovering that if I sit in the feelings, honor them, feel them, hold space for them, they pass. Just as the saying goes: “this too shall pass.” Admittedly, sometimes, the feelings and emotions are so powerful, scary, and can even feel heartbreaking. However, I am realizing that by making space for the feelings and emotions without judgment, and letting them pass, I am left feeling lighter, wiser, and free from the burden of carrying so many unprocessed and avoided feelings. Once felt, it’s not so bad. Being present is very challenging and takes dedication and practice, but it can lead to amazing gifts. 

Kindness to Self:

We can start setting a kinder pace for ourselves by choosing to be present and doing one thing at a time. We can fully enjoy the meal we are eating, down to the taste and feeling in our mouths. We can think of it as moving meditation, whatever we are doing will soon move from doing to being; being in the moment, fully engaged in ourselves.

Kindness to Others:

Setting a kind pace for ourselves will positively affect those around us and will enable us to be present for all others. We always have the choice to slow down and give the others our full and undivided attention.

Kindness to Strangers:

Once we can set a kind pace by slowing down and embracing the present moment, we will have so much more time to dedicate to other people and causes. By feeling each feeling when it happens, we free ourselves, simply because it requires so much effort, energy, and time to push off and avoid the present moment.

Kindness to Our Planet:

See if you can begin to experience being present with the world that surrounds you. See if you can notice and feel the wind in your hair, the sun on your face, the rain coming down and the sensation of it. See if you can notice the sounds that nature provides, the chirping of birds, the musical sound wind and trees make together or the sound of silence when snow is falling. Wherever you are, begin to notice the present moment and the treasures that are abound.

Become the master of your life by setting a pace that allows you to be fully present Now. 

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com and The Very Kind Andras Kovacs

City Kindness

Day 51: City Kindness

“There is no beauty without some strangeness.” – Edgar Allen Poe

“Strangers are just family you have yet to come to know.” – Mitch Albom

“Smile at strangers and you just might change a life.” – Steve Maraboli

 

Today was a fun, interesting and educational jaunt to the city with the family. (We live in the suburbs of San Francisco and can easily take the train into the city.) On the way to the train station, my son shared how taking the train scares him and that he would rather drive. I asked him why. He explained that it was because of all the strange people. I listened and told him that I understand how he could feel that way. I then advised him to simply smile at everyone and treat it as an adventure.

Once in the city, both kids commented on the unpleasant smells, the homeless people, the street performers and the great amount of garbage on the street. I suggested that rather than concentrating on all the things that make you uncomfortable, try to find the things that are beautiful or interesting, such as the view or the buildings. Again, I encouraged them to see the people, the strangers and even the unpleasant parts as a big and exciting adventure filled with unusual characters.

At one point, as we were walking through the city, both kids became obsessed with the amount of cigarette butts littered on the ground. They even made a game out of it and counted upwards of 200 in a span of 3 blocks. They asked questions about why anyone would smoke and why they would throw it on the ground. This opened up into a conversation about health, addiction, and littering.

Towards the end of the day, we took a cab back to the train station. The driver was initially very abrasive, but as we engaged with him, we ended up having a wonderful conversation about all sorts of interesting subjects ranging from snow skiing to which aquarium was the best in the bay area. By the time we left his cab, his entire energy changed and he was wishing us a beautiful new year.

It was an adventurous day filled with numerous opportunities to show kindness, learn how to be tolerant of differences, and even find the beauty in the strangeness. As a family we got to discuss how to be open and kind to strangers, how to treat the earth, how to treat our bodies by not smoking and of course how to get along with a sibling that you might not always enjoy. What a day!  Whether the kids realized it or not, we all got to be kind to ourselves, to others, to strangers and to the earth. It was a perfectly kind day in the city.

Jennifer Palazzo

Kindness Because Life is Good

Day 36: Kindness Because Life is Good

“Life is not perfect. Life is not easy. Life is good.” – John & Bert Jacobs

Life, certainly is not perfect nor easy, but it can be good and kind if we so choose! Today, decide to find something in your life to celebrate, even if it is the smallest thing.

John & Bert Jacobs are two brothers who co-founded the T-shirt company Life is Good. You may or may not be familiar with their brand, but they have been around for quite sometime. They have recently wrote and published a book by the same title: Life is Good. The inspirational book is about their personal and professional journey, as well as a guide to overcoming obstacles and embracing opportunities. They source optimism as the underlining force to their success. I just downloaded the book and I am so excited to read it.

  1. Kindness to Self:

    As I read inspirational quotes and books on this journey to find kindness, I am reminded every day, that it really comes down to choice. We can choose to see life as good or we can choose to see it as bad or all the other adjectives in between. Life is what we make it. So choose wisely and create the life and self that you want.

  2. Kindness to Others:

    One of the stories in the book is about how John and Bert’s mother was contagiously optimistic even when life was difficult. This inspires me to look at myself and be aware of how I carry myself in front of others, especially my children. I want to be a positive influence on them just as Joan was to John and Bert. Start to become aware of how you present yourself to others and make sure it is the self you want to show the world.

  3. Kindness to Strangers:

    Optimism, positive thinking, smiling, good will and kindness are contagious. Actually; moods, energy and words are contagious in general, so be sure to spread them in love and kindness, rather than negativity and dislike.

  4. Kindness to Our Planet:

    Life is good. Get outside and enjoy the world. Take in the beauty that surrounds you.

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com/JoannaNurmis

Becoming Kind

Day 21: Becoming Kind

“The mind is everything. What you think you become.” – Buddha

If the above quote is true, what happens when our mind works in a negative pattern? What becomes of us as adults, when as children we did not have adults who modeled unconditional love, understanding, acceptance, truth and encouragement? How does one create a mind that thinks positively? How do we change the negative self-talk and turn it into a loving, understanding, gentle and nurturing voice that loves unconditionally? I think it begins with awareness and observance of our thoughts and patterns. Taking the time to check in and find out what triggered the negative thought pattern and self-talk is a start. 

  1. Kindness to Self:

    We are the only ones that can make the change, nothing on the outside of us will make up for what we think and how we feel on the inside. Becoming kind will only happen when we are first kind to ourselves and that starts inside. Patterns can be changed with dedication, courage and lots of unconditional love.

  2. Kindness to Others:

    Becoming kind in our thought patterns will inevitably and organically lead to being kind in our actions and interactions with people. We will naturally become kind to those around us; our children, spouse, friends, co-workers and community.

  3. Kindness to Strangers:

    I wholeheartedly believe that becoming kind is a domino effect. Being kind inside ourselves, in our thoughts and self-talk will lead us to become kind to those around us and even to those people we do not know or understand. When love and kindness come from within, it will then shine out and touch everyone we come in contact with.

  4. Kindness to Our Planet:

    “Your mind is a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.” – Unknown

Jennifer Palazzo

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages.com/Sebastian Danon

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

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

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.