Monday, August 19, 2019

Respect - The Art of Looking Again

Photo by Dave Webb on Unsplash
Do you have any idea how long it takes to have a first impression? Ten seconds? Four seconds? It actually takes only one-tenth of a second according to research reported on the Association for Psychological Science website. For us to decide that quickly means there have to be assumptions, expectations, judgments already in place -- all that we already know before we even have a look.

The image above is actually mostly a painting. A real chair has been strategically placed to enhance the illusion that a boy is reaching toward a hole in the wall. The boy isn't real even though our first glance suggests he is.

Much of how we relate to people in the day-to-day activities of our lives is based on impressions, expectations, stories about how they are. This week, I invite you to look again, that's the underlying derivation of "respect." Rather than rely on snap judgments, take the time to really see the person in front of you. If you talking with them, consider listening more than you speak, asking open-ended, compassionate questions coming from a sincere curiosity to know more about who they are.

This isn't necessarily an approach for every conversation you have. It is a lovely way to engage in at least some of them.

Here's to taking a second or third look, to showing some respect.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Before Getting Down to Business

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Has the picture made you hungry? It does look rather delicious. I wonder if the person who ordered it took time to see and thank the person who brought the food to the table?

Some years ago, on a tour in Bali, I stayed at a large hotel. Without exception, every staff person I met  -- on my way to the restaurant, at the front desk when I needed something, or simply going out for a stroll -- said hello and asked me how I was. It was different than our routine "Hi, How are you?" "Fine, thanks." They paused to see and appreciate me.

Returning to the states, I've done my best to carry this practice into my daily work. Throughout the day, when I see a colleague that I want to talk to about something, first, I greet them and check-in for a bit. Then, I get down to business. It takes a minute or so, sometimes more. When I'm in a rush, part of me just wants to get things done. Then I remember, people aren't things, Each one of us matters and deserves to be seen and appreciated.

That's this week's practice. It would be lovely if you left a comment on your experience. Namaste.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Stand for What You Believe In

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

This past weekend there were two more mass shootings. No matter how often they occur, we must never consider them "normal." People shopping for back to school are not meant to be targets for someone's hatred, no matter what.

So, this week, I invite you to let people in government know what you think about gun violence. This blog won't tell you what to write. It will tell you how to identify your elected officials, locally, statewide and nationally. Please, sit for a bit, quietly, and touch into your deepest, dearest values. Then ask yourself, what would my core values have me say to people in government? Having listened, with compassion and courage, let them know.

Why is this is a kindness blog? One of the reasons for this blog is to remind all of us that we can make a difference, and it doesn't always take huge, impactful actions. Sometimes, many voices raised in loving concern -- kindly and clearly -- do get the attention of those in leadership roles. Please, take the time to stand for what  you believe in.

California Legislators:

Sonoma County Government:

Monday, July 29, 2019

Our Unseen Neighbors

Photo by Bryan Jones

Sometimes kindness requires that we step out of our comfort zone. At the Center for Spiritual Living in Santa Rosa, there is a photo exhibit of unsheltered, homeless people. Bryan Jones, the photographer, invites us to see them, they are our neighbors too.

Reflect on what holds you back. I remember being at a conference in Salt Lake City where I was going to attend a workshop on assisting the homeless. At breakfast I promised myself I would say hello to those I saw on my walk to the convention center. I was afraid that "they" would hound me for money. Not one of the four or five that I greeted and had a brief conversation with did. My regret was that I had set out without a lot of time to visit and had to be on my way to my meeting.

This week's kindness practice is to see and say hello to those you may ignore, choose not to see. You'll find this invitation to be kind under the tab above.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Mud Pies and Smiles

This morning, I find myself in a bit of grumbliness. Stayed up late, have too much on my schedule, even cranky that I am late writing this post. So, for me, and those of you who choose to practice with me, this week's commitment, be gentle with yourself.

There's a phrase, "No mud, no lotus." It reminds us that the beautiful lotus that floats on the surface of a pond has roots in the gunk below. Without the nourishment of that mud, there is no flower.

I can "should" on myself, should have gone to sleep earlier, should have scheduled this blog to post earlier this week, should be more "together." Naw, today, I choose to bless my whole self, mud, stem and blossom; I am what I am, grateful for it all.

That's this week's practice -- have a look at the tab above for the short version.

Monday, July 15, 2019


Every now and then, I find myself driving to work when that wasn't my destination. The route is so familiar that I do it without thinking, on autopilot.

This week, join me in not using plastic bags, or at least, noticing when you do so. You may be surprised. Before I sat down to write this post, I noticed that I had a very ripe banana. It's now in the freezer for a future smoothie, and it's in a plastic bag. I actually thought about putting it in one of my glass containers, then convinced myself that one bag didn't matter, that it would fit better in my freezer. That rationalization is what birthed this post.

"Just one" bag probably doesn't matter, except that I'm not the only one using them. Let's make this a week of being kinder to our dear Mother Earth and all its creatures; make room in the freezer for a glass container, remember to bring mesh bags to the grocery store for your veggies, and more.

If you have an aha, or a creative way to avoid plastic bags, please share it in a comment. 

Monday, July 8, 2019

Kindness Is As Kindness Does

Photo by Guy Basabose on Unsplash

This week's practice invites us to pay attention to why we do things, not just anything (though that's a powerful practice), what motivates us to be kind. Gift someone with a kind word, a bit of help, some small thing -- without expecting anything in return. Click on the Weekly Kindness Practice tab above.

Sometimes we do things because it will get us something, earning respect, being appreciated, feeling important, putting someone in our debt. Although those acts may benefit others, they are more like business deals -- I do this, you do that -- than bits of kindness. 

There's another sticky wicket in practicing kindness. It doesn't come from a should. If you're sitting with, "I really should do these practices," rather than do them, you might want to settle into your heart and love yourself up a bit. See where the pushback is, where the "should" lives. Bless it and know that there is more to you than what you think you have to do.

Here's to kindness, just for the joy of it.