November 2016

Sunflower by Olia Gozha

I recently re-read an article in The Atlantic about the science of happy marriages and how a central factor in making a marriage work is kindness.

It’s almost cliche, really. Everywhere you turn, someone’s writing about how we should be kind to one another. The more we hear about it, the less we seem to practice it. Kindness certainly doesn’t seem to be a hallmark of our society these days. Just look at our civil discourse. Not only do many people seem very thin-skinned and offended by anything and everything, others (and often the very same people) are disrespectful and rude. It’s like we can’t seem to find a third way — basic kindness in what we say and do, even when we disagree or even distrust one another.

Maybe it’s because we confuse kindness with being nice. Nice is fine as far as it goes, but that’s just it. Some people don’t seem as nice as others, simply because their temperament or style is not as pleasant or positive. There are also serious things that happen in life and “being nice” doesn’t always allow us to be honest and real.

But it is possible to treat even your worst enemy with kindness. Hard, maybe, but possible. Because kindness isn’t about agreement or approval, or about smiling all the time; it’s about seeing past any differences in one another so as to acknowledge the inherent dignity of the other. No matter someone’s actions or opinions, they are first and foremost a human being. Kindness isn’t a feeling, it’s an actual virtue — an attitude and an action.

In everyday life, kindness includes listening, giving the benefit of the doubt, taking the high road (when the other person is taking the low one), being compassionate, finding common ground, speaking truth in a respectful way, and sometimes just keeping your mouth shut and letting something go. It means patience and courtesy. It means being wise and thoughtful. And it means forgiveness. Kind people forgive.

This week, many of us may be sitting around the Thanksgiving table with family and friends who hold different opinions and perspectives — politically and otherwise. In the aftermath of a contentious election and much ongoing fallout, it’s a perfect time to practice kindness. Gratitude and kindness orbit around each other — the more grateful you are, the easier it is to be kind, and the more kind you are, the easier it is to be grateful. Kindness is actually very simple. Not easy, but simple. Imagine if we could bring more of it to our conversations, our social media posts, and our everyday actions?

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers!

Image: Olia Gozha for unsplash

 

 

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Friday Humor

November 18, 2016

For some reason, everything felt rushed this week, like I was constantly behind. I was also trying to make sure a sore throat didn’t become something worse and so far so good. I want to be in tip-top shape for tomorrow when I’ll be joining a few friends for an aerial silks class at a circus arts school nearby. Never mind that I’m totally out of shape and afraid of heights. That should make it comical at the very least.

I’m not the only one doing a fun workshop this weekend — Ryron Gracie is coming to Baltimore and leading a class for kids at the girls’ dojo tomorrow morning. That means nothing if you know nothing about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but if you do, you’ll understand the excitement.

It seems like it’s been an intense week for a lot of people coming off the recent election, with social media still buzzing. I maintain that one must always keep their sense of humor and sometimes you just need an extra dose of funny to help you along. At the end of this week I needed a good laugh and without realizing that, one of my sisters obliged by texting me this video. Warning: if you’re offended by vulgarity or at laughing about lady parts, you might want to pass. As for the rest of you, you’re welcome. Have a great weekend!

 

 

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Friday Inspiration

November 11, 2016

Hiking Appalachian Trail

Feel like you need a drink at the end of this week? Plenty of people do! While something like whiskey might be your first choice, I suggest you consider this:

Iced minted lemonade

It’s not alcoholic, and may be a bit summery right now, but it’s a nice tonic when you need a boost. It’s called an iced minted lemonade and my mother-in-law ordered it recently at a Greek restaurant we all went to. Everyone liked it so much that the next time we were there, S and H insisted they have one.

Today I’m lifting a glass not simply to toast that the election is over (and c’mon, no matter what your politics, there is surely some relief across the board that it’s now over… Facebook was becoming unbearable); I also want to wish my sister Kate a very happy birthday today, and acknowledge with gratitude the many and profound sacrifices of our veterans on this Veterans’ Day.

Any plans this weekend, friends? Last Saturday, we got out of the city, booked a hotel (with a pool for our little fish) on points, and took a short fall hike along the Appalachian Trail just west of Frederick, Maryland. The girls lasted, oh, about half a mile before the complaining began. They’re not bad little hikers generally, but it was mostly steep and rocky going up and that was a bit tough. The weather was perfect all weekend, though, and we found some good food, stopped at an apple orchard, and visited a beautiful shrine before making our way home. This weekend there are practical things on the agenda instead… catching up on a freelance project, doing a little Christmas shopping, (yes, I am determined to get a  head start his year in order to make December slower and more meaningful!), and some much needed house cleaning.

Hope you have a peaceful one, and I’ll see you back here next week!

Image: Zoe Saint-Paul

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The Day After

November 9, 2016

Road in trees by Geran de Klerk

Wow. Here we are.

I don’t write about politics at SlowMama, but it’s hard to ignore today. I have friends and family across the political spectrum and I knew that whatever the outcome of this election, half the country would wake up deeply sad, discouraged — and even afraid. And I’m seeing this all over my social media feeds.

For the record, I myself am not hiding under the covers. I’m concerned, yes; distressed, yes — but I didn’t have a horse in this race; I was going to be unhappy no matter the outcome, for different reasons. I don’t completely understand how either candidate garnished such strong support — as it seemed to me so much had to be overlooked to do that for either one of them. At the same time, I do get it because I believe the candidates we got reflect where we are politically and culturally in this country.

I empathize with those who are devastated today, but since I’m an optimist and a person of hope by nature (and quite cynical about politics), what comes to mind right now is a quote by Mother Teresa, which I think provides a helpful directive to each of us, no matter how we feel today. Americans are often accused of having short memories, which isn’t good, but the flip side of that is that they, collectively, seem good at licking their wounds and moving on in hopes of a brighter day. It’s one of the things I have come to love about this country in the 20 some years I’ve lived here. So while  it might be too soon for some, these words seem like good marching orders:

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.

Image: Geran de Klerk at unsplash

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Election Day 2016

November 8, 2016

Seal by Alec Weir

All I can say is, I don’t think I have enough alcohol in the house today.

Image: Alec Weir at unsplash

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Big Cats!

November 1, 2016

Leopard and cheetah

You may not have heard, but there were two big cats prowling around south Baltimore on Halloween this year — a cheetah and a leopard, to be exact. And don’t be getting them mixed up because they are not the same at all. I only know this because I live with two big cat experts. And those experts are very lucky that they have such a talented grandmother who works very hard to see to it that they’re the best dressed trick or treaters in the neighborhood. Nana outdid herself again this year and the girls had a blast.

I myself wore a crazy frog hat, because I’m that kind of mom sometimes, and gave out candy after we got back. Actually, I mostly gave out little bags of chips and it was the more popular thing by far. I’m a stickler for costumes, though. You think you’re going to get a treat with just a sweatshirt and jeans? That is not the deal. (Okay, I do hand it over, but not with a scowl.)

Did you have tricker or treaters at your house and did your kids dress up and go out?

Image: Zoe Saint-Paul

 

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