To me, there’s a difference between being kind and being nice. Being nice is telling a stranger his hair looks good, or offering to help a friend with a project. It’s nice to buy someone lunch or listen to an acquaintance talk about her child even though you don’t really care.
And that’s the thing, to me, kindness goes deeper than action. It’s the belief in flawed humanity that leads to compassion–the intention behind the words. And like most things that can’t be faked, kindess starts from within.
I’ve found that being kind to myself has been a much harder journey than I thought it would be. It’s alarmingly easy to slip into negative thinking that is so natural, it goes unnoticed:
“I wish I could lose 5 more lbs.”
“I can’t believe I wasted time doing X.”
“I hope she/he likes me.”
“Everyone I know is more successful/happier/better than me.”
And it’s just as easy to justify it with, “yeah, but just because she has my dream job and feeds orphans on the weekends doesn’t mean she’s happy. I bet her husband has stinky feet.”
For me, kindness has come from seeing my own humanity. To do my best to face all the flaws, the too big/small/weak/outspoken/passive/absentminded/aggressive parts of me and say, “I’m just fine.”
And in showing compassion for myself, I’ve noticed I’ve been making healthier choices all around. Not because I “have to do this thing to be a good person/so people will like me,” but because I genuinely care about my well being, and in turn, the well being of others.
Do I still get jealous? Hell yes. Do I still feel like the little girl staring from the corner at the kids playing on the monkey bars without her? Of course. But I’m learning that’s ok. I can feel those things and still be a good person, and other people can feel them too. And the girl with my dream job who feeds orphans on her day off and is a black belt in Kung Fu doesn’t have to be unhappy for me to be happy. We can both rock at life in our own unique ways, and maybe in some of the same ways, which is a-ok too.
This post (aside from my secret hope that someone will read it and be inspired) is to remind me in the coming months to be compassionate and kind toward myself and others. To not let the holiday hullaballoo get the best of me, and to remember to forgive, let go, and breathe.
I apologize for the lack of updates. First I was in San Francisco, and now I’m in New York. I’ll start updating regularly soon!
I have no photos for today’s post, so here is the fabulous wedding cake Meryl got me. Photo by Anika London
So far, my blog track record isn’t the greatest, is it? My first week at “housewifing” was a big fat fail, but it’s a new week, and so I’m going at it with renewed vigor…or something? That’s a lie. Honestly, I just don’t think the domestic life is really for me.
Last week, I occupied myself by writing saucy stories. I’m taking a creative writing class with the incredibly fabulous, talented Meryl Peters, author of this fabulous blog and a soon-to-be-published book of short stories. She is also my surrogate Jewish mother, and I adore her.
In her class, I’ve been using our exercises to experiment with different styles. With my children’s novel (which should be taken away by CPS, I’ve been neglecting it so much), I keep it lilting and flowery–sort of a natural thing to do with a kind of fairytale-ish thing, right? But it’s not really the kind of writing I like to read, at least not right now. Not when I’m feeling cold and gritty and not fairytale-ish in the least.
Here’s an expository excerpt from the book:
“Still, the morning called to her, and she walked with her head down to keep herself from imagining that the trees were full of fairies, or that the sun beams that speckled their path through the shadows were not a divine guide to some lost treasure” (Chapter 2).
And here’s one from one of the exercises:
“At the bar, she ran her finger around the salted rim of her margarita glass. A cool breeze rolled in off the ocean, but the late afternoon light kept the air warm. She took a sip of her drink, leaned her head back, and laughed. That’s when she saw him.”
I wonder if they’re as different as I imagine they are. At any rate, talking about writing has actually made me want to write (shocker). So, mission accomplished, blog! Thanks for uh…doing your job? Until next time…
My “working from home” didn’t exactly happen today, but I still managed to get up early and finish a chapter before I went in to do some on-site hours. That’s 15 down, and countless to go, I’m sure. This thing has gotten to the point where my kooky characters have taken on a mind of their own. All I’m doing is following them around with my pen trying to document their actions as accurately and artfully as possible. I thought I had a clear idea of where they were headed, but they continue to surprise me. The weirdest part is, there doesn’t seem to be a real way to prepare for this sort of thing. Of course writing workshops, classes, and exercises are incredibly helpful skill-wise. But for the actual story, all I can do is get a good night’s sleep, and then just try to empty my mind until I can see the whole thing happen in a daydream. Any attempt at intellectual forcefulness feels as about useful as closing my eyes and hoping my cat will magically turn into a monkey. When I open my eyes, I’ve still got the same old cat I had before. Ok, enough of that…
I also did some fascinating domestic things this afternoon. You couldn’t see me rolling my eyes right then, but I was. Honestly though, this was sort of a big deal for me. See, my husband and I have been living together for about two years now, and in that time, we’ve bought almost no furniture. This was fine while our housemate’s mom was storing her living and dining furniture at our place, but soon enough, the housemate moved out, and then one fateful morning, all our downstairs furniture was taken away. So we’ve basically been eating at our desks for 3 months. Not anymore! We got a table!
I realize this isn’t that exciting for most grownups, but it was for us, so I’m blogging about it. Plus, I got to bust out my husband’s neato Bee Cream to seal the tabletop. He makes it out of mineral oil and bee’s wax and it rocks at finishing wood.
Just, assuming anyone reads this this and feels inspired to make his/her own bee cream, remember to take all rings off before starting your loving wooden furniture massage. Let the stuff sit for about an hour, and then wipe it down thoroughly or it will stay sticky.
I always kind of thought it was narcissistic to have a personal blog. Like if I wanted to tell my friends my business, I would just pick up a phone and call them. But here’s the thing, I’m a sucker for stories. I like to read other people’s personal blogs, sometimes people I don’t even know. Is it creepy? Yes. Very. But isn’t it creepier to read other people’s blogs and not even have one of your own? That’s what I thought.
I’m hoping this blog will also help keep me on track in my goals. See, I’m going to try a stint at housewifing for the next couple of months…sort of. I do have two part-time jobs that I do from home, but because those don’t bring in a ton of money, and because I’m trying to finish a children’s novel and apply to grad school by December, my super supportive husband has agreed to “float” me until January. This means I really need to keep myself on a schedule. The house has to be cleaned, meals must be made, laundry will be done (on time), GREs must be studied for, and chapters have to be written. I also have two personal goals: to exercise regularly and dress well every day. Can I do it? I might end up having a Plath style breakdown, but I’m going to give it a try.