Love is Patient: Start With Yourself
Being patient with myself is not a strength - yet.
To give myself a fraction of forbearance and kindness I try to extend to others feels indulgent. And I don't consistently do a good job of being patient with other people. (In a future post I'll share my shame about how I reacted at an Athens restaurant recently.) But, 99% of the time, my patience is directed toward others.
My self-patience epiphany arrived yesterday when I FINALLY finished the last edits on a Medium article about what makes a good ally.
I knew I wanted to write about social justice work and what it means to be a white ally more than two weeks ago. I started on it immediately and worked no less than 50 hours on three different angles, which turned out to be this article.
To keep this blog brief, here's the gist:
Be Selfish, Share Your Sunshine
Take a moment. Think about what kindness means - to you, in your life.
Nice is polite and agreeable. Nice says pleasant things and tries to avoid (or ignore) unpleasantness. Some very nice people live by "if you can't say anything nice about someone, say nothing at all." They may smile a lot.
Being nice is not a bad thing. It need not be superficial. We could all use more manners, choose our words and actions more thoughtfully, talk less and smile more.
(did you think about what it means to you?) is deeper. It has connective tissue. It is more personal. Generous, considerate. Affectionate, warm, even loving.
While each of us is attracted to different traits and behaviors, kindness is appreciated by just about everyone, young and old.
This is The Time
This is the time: the week I relish and rue. Precious days between Christmas Day and New Year's when SO much seems possible but for my own hangups. It's not that I don't believe in learning, growth and change; I do. In fact, I love helping others see themselves differently through their own writing and other artistic, authentic expressions.
What's my hangup? Here are at least four in case they help you (and me) see that they are thin, tired and even treacherous.
- It's too late. That ship has sailed. You'll be 60 next year.
- In order to be successful you must sacrifice sleep, sanity, and say yes to everything.
- There's a reason you've not made more progress… you're not cut out for _________.
- You're a jack of all trades; master of none.
How to Kill Connection
When we talk, we repeat what we already know.
When we listen we learn.
The Dalai Lama's quote is a bit longer, but this is its 14-words-for-love essence. Of course, speaking isn't the issue. It's what, how, when, where, and how often we speak.
Six months ago, I co-led a community circle as part of restorative practices training. After being paired with Sasha, 25 years my junior yet more experienced in social justice work, she asked if I wanted some feedback. I did.
Who Are We Really Judging?
So, I want to stay focused this week on how illusory "image" is (last week's blog) and how easy it is to fool ourselves about who we are judging when we judge other people's behavior.
I ran across a related Medium article by Alex Mathers. Several lines spoke directly to me: "We live in a 'swipe left, discard it if it doesn't work' culture. One bad word uttered by another, and they are cast out without a moment's reflection."
Recently, Kevin Hart declined his dream job of hosting the 2019 Academy Awards. Suddenly his 2011 homophobic tweets were retweeted. Admittedly, I'm a fan of Hart's movies and stand up I've seen. Admittedly, I don't know him beyond his comedic persona.
I think there's something really important to reflect on - whether it's Hart or any other human.
How do we hold ourselves and others accountable while allowing for change and forgiveness?
The Mirage of Image
I am not what I think I am.
I am not what you think I am.
I am what I think you think I am.
Charles Cooley's century-old quote is a provocative reminder that we develop our sense of self and identity through our interactions with others. A few years before Cooley penned the looking glass theory, W.E.B. Du Bois wrote about double-consciousness: "this sense of (the African American) always looking at one's self through the eyes of (white) others".* The looking glass theory has three steps that apply to all humans:
- We imagine how we appear to someone. Sometimes our imagination is correct, but it is frequently wrong as it is based on our assumptions.
- We imagine what judgments they make of us based on our appearance.
- We imagine how they feel about us, based on the judgments (we imagine are) made of us.
Right Here, Right Now
Gratitude happens in the present. Being thankful for our lives as they are, right now—not what we wish them to be—benefits us and our communities.
Starting a gratitude practice is free and as simple as remembering to brush your teeth. Jot down three things/people you are thankful for each day. Or simply thank a person with a note or a call as a daily practice. Physical, emotional, and mental health all improve when we "count your blessings," as grandmother used to say.
What derails gratitude?
What's Worth Loving For?
The negativity is exhausting.
We can't talk about news unless it's with someone who voted as we did. If we didn't vote, we've been shamed, making it less likely that we will again. Even weather is a dicey subject at work. Some friends are not so close. A couple family members call less frequently. Or not at all. You're shocked to learn someone you actually liked would stand with Kavanaugh or take a knee with Kaepernick.
Even agitated, angry or downright scared, we're burned out on war metaphors, divisive baiting, and a pervasive subtext – are you for us or against us? – the necessary fuel to power political vitriol on just about every medium channel.
Who is us, exactly?