What’s Important?

Even at five years old, I knew what was valuable, what I wanted to hold on to.  From a window of our third-floor apartment, as I watched cars floating down the flooded streets and people being lowered by ropes onto waiting rowboats, I wondered if we would have to leave too.  I felt safe with my younger brother, two male cousins and our two sets of parents . . . until my seven-year old cousin started to pray and then to cry.  Shortly after, we were told that we too would be evacuated.  I grabbed my fluffy, white pet rabbit and hurried down the stairs where a boat waited to row us down the street and the sidewalk that I had tricycled upon the week before.

We never know when disaster can strike and our lives can change forever. At twelve, living on the top floor of a two-family house, right next to my Dad’s variety store, we were planning a birthday celebration for the newest addition to our family. My baby brother was turning one-year old. My mom had gone next door to help my dad so that he could get something to eat prior to the company arriving.

The doorbell rang. “They’re early,” I thought, wondering what guests would be the first to arrive. But It was our downstairs neighbors frantically telling us to get out of the house.  “There’s a fire!” they shouted.  I quickly grabbed my baby brother, and with my other brother, ran down the stairs to my worried mom, who had told customers, “Watch the store!” as she ran to her children.  Thankfully, we were all safe, yet due to the extensive damage, we never moved back. But what seemed like a negative situation turned into a positive . . . my parents bought our first house, which they still live in.

hurricane irma Love is the new CurrencyNow decades later, I find myself looking around my condo at all of the wonderful things that I’ve collected and cherished over many years.  This time there is an advanced warning. Hurricane Irma, destined to be the biggest storm to ever hit Florida, is a little over a day’s time away.

What to take?  While I value some jewelry given to me by loved ones, the letters and pictures that reflect years of friendship and memories, the original, one-of-a-kind art pieces . . . when I ask myself “What’s important and irreplaceable?” the answer is obvious: nothing is as important as the man and the family and friends whom I love, who give significance to my life.
I quickly put some things, including my lap top, in a windowless bathroom, gather a change of clothes in a back pack, water and food for a few days, a flashlight, yoga mats and blankets to sleep on and walk out of my apartment with my partner to settle in at a local shelter, not knowing what we would come back to after Hurricane Irma unleashed her fury.

In sharing a shelter with 1300+ people of various walks of life, political beliefs, colors and creeds, it was clear that many shared similar concerns and it wasn’t for the things left behind.

What was most important was that loved ones and those in the path of danger were safe.

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News! News! Read All About It!

Here’s some News! And it’s REAL! “Kindness is alive and well and THRIVING!” We may not always notice because acts of compassion are quietly humble. Any acknowledgement comes from the gratitude that flows from the hearts of those giving or receiving random acts of kindness.

Despite glaring evidence in the news to the contrary, there are grassroots movements, spawned by the deep desire to demonstrate that not only is kindness alive and well, it’s what makes us feel hopeful that we can make a positive difference, hopeful that we can create a kinder, more compassionate world NOW.

Kindness Collaborative

Artwork by Orianna Flores

This longing to set off ripples of kindness into the universe is what has birthed KINDNESS COLLABORATIVE. Its intention is to inspire and promote a kindness consciousness through education and communication about ideas, resources, events and projects dedicated to building a compassionate, cooperative, and inclusive local and world community.

It starts off simply, with daily posts about kind thoughts, actions, and events that individuals are creating, participating in, witnessing or experiencing in their daily lives. The WOW factor will be the growing numbers of people who are becoming actively involved because they care and want to contribute to what is positive and good in our world.

The beauty will be in the contagious effect that it will have, not only on those givers and receivers of kind acts, but on those who may have life-changing experiences because of something that started, days or even months before, by a stranger who simply wanted to say, “You MATTER!”

Please add your voice, ideas, and actions to Kindness Collaborative and set off ripples of kindness wherever you are.
READ ALL ABOUT IT! It’s REAL! And it Starts HERE!

Please join Kindness Collaborative on Facebook.
Please join, post, comment and share.

THANK YOU!

Kindness Corner

If you do “not do Facebook” or even if you do and want to express yourself another way:
Please stop in at the Kindness Corner to share your comments about KINDNESS.
What are you witnessing, experiencing or doing that makes you feel positive, hopeful or happy?
What is your favorite way to be kind?
How does that make you or others feel?
How has an act of kindness transformed your day . . . or life?

Please participate in the kindness movement.
Take a moment to share below.

I can’t walk by someone who is taking a picture of their friends or family without offering to take the photo so that their visual memories will include everyone. It makes me feel good and I know by their smiles that they are happy too. – Marie

Terry, who is eighty-eight years young, loves to visit patients at nursing homes to sing to them with her church group. And anyone who knows Terry will say that she is the best listener….a true comfort to many.

Kay and her “women’s group” built a “Free Library” as a way to share books with the community where they hold their monthly meetings.

kindness collaborativelending library
 

 

 

 

 

 

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Before I Die

“Life is brief and tender. Thinking about death clarifies our life.” ~Candy Chang

Death may seem closer as we age, but the truth is that any of us could die at any time with no warning and no time to do the things that we truly want to do, want to give, want to say …

Last month, I went to the Heartwood Retreat Center with several women friends, where we had an opportunity to write on a huge outdoor chalk board, “BEFORE I DIE I Want to…”*

It gave me pause for reflection. What if this day, this moment were my last? Would I choose to experience it differently? I realized that while there are things on my list that I would love to do and 20170304_162735I hope that I have time to do them, overall I feel peaceful and happy with my life as it is.

This story is an inspiring way to live: One day, as St. Anthony was hoeing in his garden, someone came up to him and asked: “What would you do if you were told that you would die tomorrow? Without hesitation, he replied: “I would continue hoeing in my garden.”

Thinking about death, calmly accepting that all that I am and all that I have could be gone in a moment has become a way for me to check in to the present moment and ask whether I am happy and content with what I am doing or with whom I am with NOW.

My partner Francesco, who experienced a death consciousness at an early age due to the loss of his father and several friends, created a sense of urgency to live his life exactly as he wants to. He asks himself: “How and with whom do I want to spend my precious, finite time? Am I living my passion? If the answer is no, then how can I change my life so that I am living in my truth?”

While I can’t recall being fearful of dying, I do experience angst over the thought of losing someone I love, especially my parents who are now in their late 80’s. I can’t imagine a world without them, nor of those I hold dear in my heart. But all I can really do is live fully in the moment and be grateful for every single day.

When I become aware of my own mortality I become more appreciative of each person, place, and experience. I am intentional about letting those I love know how much I care about them. I live more in the moment when I stop my busy mind to savor a gentle breeze, listen to a bird singing, and tend my life’s garden.

And I try to pay more attention to how I engage with each person on a daily basis whether someone I know or a stranger, asking myself what if this were the last time I saw this person… is this how I would want to leave them? If not, how can I express a little loving kindness? I try to make each day the best one that I can.

Would you have any regrets if you were to die today? If so, what would be the one thing you would wish that you had done? What would it take to do it NOW?

Blessings,
Linda

I invite you to stop and take a moment. Pick up a pen and write on a piece of paper

BEFORE I DIE, I WANT TO …

Scroll down to leave a comment below if you would like to share it with others. You can add your name or not as you choose. I will share mine as well. Nothing is too simple or complex. Perhaps we can inspire each other or just simply clarify what about our life matters – and live it more fully NOW.

*“BEFORE I DIE… is a global public art project that invites people to contemplate death, reflect on life, and share their personal aspirations in public.
“The original ‘Before I Die I Want To… wall was created by artist Candy Chang on an abandoned house in New Orleans after she lost someone she loved. Since then, over 2000 Before I Die walls have been created in over 70 countries. Each wall is a tribute to living an examined life.”

Before I die I want to…

I want to ignite a kindness movement. (LC)
I want to have a pure heart. (FT)
Live like there is no tomorrow…because there isn’t one. (JP)
Bring love to as many people as I can, through the songs I sing. (AG)
Have a spiritual awakening that brings true awareness of the Oneness. (PM)
I want to clear my heart of any remaining judgment and separateness, knowing that we are all one. I want to experience even more moments of being in love with the world. (MB)
See my grandchildren. (RW)
Fulfill my potential. (KZ)
Live my passions and love everyone, including myself (SB)
Clean my closets and drawers (SN)
I want to swim with the dolphins (AMA)

 

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The World Is Shifting. Are YOU?

We are experiencing dramatic changes – in our climate, our governments and financial systems – but the biggest shift may be happening within ourselves.
Awareness doesn’t always come easily. Sometimes it takes a trip down the road of despair to discover who we are and what authentically defines us: What do we stand for? Who and what do we value? How are we showing up in the world? What kind of a future do we want to create?

Love is the new currencyIt’s disheartening to experience our country and world so divided that we can’t hear or understand each other, increasing our fear and anxiety. We may feel uncertain as to what and whom to place our faith in, having previously relied on others to lead us, but really, WE’RE IT!

This unexpected political environment has helped to move us from complacency to awareness, and, more importantly, to action. There is a positive shift in consciousness taking place, a call to embrace our personal journey, find our voice, vote, stand up for what we believe in, and to push us forward in creating a better world for ourselves and our children.

Our world is shifting and many things that we have known, or thought we knew, are already, or will be, falling away. How can we embrace this new era as an opportunity, to simplify and let go of those things that no longer serve us – the material obsessions, our sense of separation, our judgments and fear?

Endings create opportunities for new beginnings. Now is a perfect time to evaluate and make some major changes in our lives. We can choose to embody a new way of thinking, one that will encourage us to serve and support the community of humans that share our country and our planet. It’s a chance to live from our hearts in a deepening connection to others.

We have a new bottom line. We need to take responsibility, not only for our own lives, but also for the lives of the people we love and for those around us who are unable to take care of themselves. The concept of “we” doing it together is becoming more important than doing it all for “me.”

Who we are and what we do matters. We are the ones who can bring about real and lasting change using love as our currency.

And we may find that a shift to a world that is based on compassion, connection and community will be one that is worth being a part of – a world that we wouldn’t want to trade for the one we used to have, even if we could.

Love is the new currency

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A Celebration of Love

Why does Valentine’s Day have to be just about romantic connections?  What if it were a day to celebrate love in all of its manifestations? How could we make it more inclusive of everyone rather than focusing solely on a romantic partner?
valentine's day | love is the new currencyValentine’s Day is a great opportunity to acknowledge those we love. My friend Deana calls it a “love holiday.” It’s a wonderful reminder to put more love into our interactions with others, whether they are friends, parents, children, a neighbor, co-worker or someone we just happen to meet. There are many ways to express a heart connection…hugs, smiles, or saying “I love and appreciate you” with more frequency and ease.One of the reasons we love Valentine’s Day is that we all want to be acknowledged and cherished. So instead of focusing solely on that ‘special person’ in our life, or being disappointed that we don’t have one, perhaps we could use this Valentine’s Day to open our hearts wider and express our own unique ways to let others know we care.

Andy, a freshman living in a co-ed college dorm, would secretly leave a single red rose at the door of each of the women in his dormitory on Valentine’s Day morning, making it the first thing they would see to welcome their day.

Although I try to let people in my life know I care, I must admit that I delight in taking it up a notch on Valentine’s Day. For instance, I enjoy creating and sending Valentine cards to my friends and family, especially those who are single. In the past, when I’ve facilitated meetingsvalentine's day | love is the new currency for a group of women business owners, I’d show my appreciation with a beautiful rose, a card, and chocolates on Valentine’s Day.  And one year, two pairs of cozy fleece PJ’s were sent to my mom and to a good friend in the north with warm “Happy Valentine’s Day” messages of love. And I’d even bought a pair for myself!

We don’t need special days set aside to honor those we love.  For instance, my dad frequently buys my mom a bouquet of fresh flowers. Lulu often gives away individually wrapped roses from her flower stand at the farmer’s market to someone who looks like they could use a smile (sometimes me). There’s a lot to be said about such spontaneous gestures of love.

How can we make Valentine’s Day, and every day, a celebration of love?

valentine's day | love is the new currency

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