In today’s world kindness seems to have gone by the wayside. All you have to do is scroll through social media or turn on the news to get a taste of harsh reality.

Where did kindness and compassion go? I was speaking to a neighbor the other day who is one of wisest, thoughtful people I know. He reminded me of the importantance of this human quality.

Today’s climate is so political and divisive, but when you zoom out and think about the human spirit, are you making decisions to help and better yourself, those around you and the planet for generations to come? Do you think your actions will generate positive progress for all? With all the negativity that surrounds us, it is easy to think your individual efforts may be for not; but what if you could make a difference? What if compassion was part of the answer?

So, how do we live a life of compassion? After some thought and plenty of digging a few themes came up.

  1. Love. Living and acting from a place of love limits negative behaviors and poor choices that erupt from hate. Pain is all around us, along with grief, desperation, loss, stress, worry, and suffering, but when you change your perception, your view, your glasses so to speak, and the filter of your experience is love, life looks and fells different. Your thoughts are different, your actions are different. For example, if your kid keeps interrupting your work day – instead of blowing your top and screaming – mommy is working!! Go play! You could use that love filter and think, okay, they want to be near me and share their day with me, how do I meet their needs and handle work needs so we can all enjoy the day?
  2. Responsibility. When we take responsibility for our actions and hold ourselves accountable for our behaviors, we find discipline, and through discipline intrinsic reward. It feels good to participate in actions that bring positive progress to your environment and the world around you. Living in the present and owning your mistakes versus placing blame elsewhere or complaining about things changes your perspective putting you in control of your life. For example, if you want to lose weight, log what is going into your body and track movement and exercise. Then you can make evidence-based decisions on calories in and out and hold yourself accountable. By adding an extra walk or cutting out dessert you can feel good that you are getting closer to your goals versus continuing to do the same thing and face continued disappointment.
  3. Compassion. Feeling the hurt alongside others, going out of your way to help others – just because your heart wants to help – or practicing empathy can ferociously change the pain the receiving person experiences and dually – your ability to show compassion. Life is hard, and most people feel so alone, especially now in this pandemic, but when people can share in your human experience, it offers comfort, peace and a path to healing. That may mean listening to a friend vent, eating a meal with someone who is alone, buying a meal for a person in need without judgement, or doing something for others with no expectation of reciprocity.

To move from a place of good intentions versus distrust is a tall order especially for those suffering, but what if we all stopped living from a place of fear (perhaps from time to time right now – the world is crazy) and thought what’s one thing I could do today to be a light for someone else? How could I release a burden, carry a load, or simply tell someone how awesome they are…how meaningful their relationship is to you, how talented they are, or how thankful you are for their support and love?

What if you called and told them you were thinking of them…did a video chat since we can’t stop by…sent them a text or email…mailed a card….bragged about them on social media. Thoughts are meaningless until put into action. One small action ignites another and so on and so on. How can you bring your positive love and energy into the world?

I want to acknowledge a YouTube Spin Instructor, Kristina Girod, who is a light for me throughout the week. I am blessed to have an exercise bike at home and watch YouTube videos of spin classes to get my sweat on throughout the week. Her daily messages of community, compassion, strength and good vibes brings me joy. She brings kindness to the world. We all have that light inside…waiting to shine. How will you shine kindness and compassion today?

Managing school reopenings and my emotions

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It seems like all I have been able to think about is this upcoming school year. I’m sure I’m not alone with millions of parents contemplating their children’s futures as we speak.

It’s an exciting chapter, since my 5-year old will be attending kindergarten. He’s been going to a great daycare for years, so we aren’t unfamiliar with his being away from home, but our current climate makes the idea of elementary school so surreal. Both kids have been home from daycare since mid-March along. We’ve been navigating learning, finding time for fun activities between work and home obligations while trying our best and failing many days to limit screen time.

Then once we finally decided what school the kid would go to and got accepted, the purgatory of finding out the learning format was too much. All the schools seems to be doing things a little different, the choices are so varied, in- person, hybrid, virtual, and homeschool. When I got word it was virtual only, I was so happy I didn’t have a choice because none of the options are awesome and it was one less thing to keep me up at night.

So, now my son will be involved in a virtual educational program. I will have to ensure assignments are done and uploaded, that virtual sessions are attended, that he still gets outside and doesn’t spend too much time on screens post-school. Ughh, I’m tired already! To those parents who have already done this last year, or have kids in multiple grades, I have been hearing the experiences weren’t the best. So, I am prepared to stay positive and do my best, because in the grand scheme of things, what else can we do? I have decided to Elsa it – I have let go the things I cannot control.

Look – 50% of days I feel like a failure, I miss something, perhaps a work deadline, perhaps the baby’s schedule is all off, or my meetings run long and I miss a much needed fun activity with the kids to reduce the screen-time. Some days there isn’t much left in the tank to cook, or hang out with my hubby or to call my girlfriends who I miss so much! And I take it personal, I say all the awful things one should never say to oneself, because sheesh, words and thoughts hurt! But then there are those days I am well-rested, I have gotten a workout in, I spend an extra minute slow dancing with my hubby, and I get the belly laughs from the kiddos.

Those days remind me that we don’t have to have it all figured out. That all we have is this moment – this moment to be better, to live from a place of love and be kind to ourselves and those around us.

I use the acronym STOP (Slow down, Think, Observe the Present moment) to remind me to take a minute when I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed out. When you stop and make that observation, it helps you gain perspective.

Many of us live in our minds, our thoughts take over and begin to spiral. I call this tornado self-talk. It’s easy to confuse thoughts for feelings, if we blame someone else, it’s likely a thought. Your feelings are your experience, you control them and have power to change them. You may be thinking your partner is ignoring you, but the feeling is hurt, or anger. Using I statements to discuss your feelings may help you separate out the thought from the feeling. For example, I feel angry and hurt when you don’t greet me in the morning when you get up.

I have attached a link below to a website with a feeling wheel. It is a wonderful list of uncomfortable and comfortable general emotions. You can start from the outside and work your way in to hone in on the specific general emotion. For example, maybe your boss said something in a meeting that left you feeling inadequate, the primary emotion would be embarrassed. How could you discuss the situation with your boss to prevent that type of situation in the future?

Since we don’t necessarily stop to observe and acknowledge what is going on in our bodies, how our body is feeling, or where are we experiencing tension. Use this STOP moment to feel your feelings. Is there heaviness in your heart? You may be feeling sad. Tension or discomfort in your stomach? You may be anxious. Tight neck, high blood pressure? You may be angry.

You can engage in self-reflection and ask the important questions to move forward:

  1. What is bothering me?
  2. What am I feeling in my body vs. what am I thinking in my mind?
    • (use emotion words – angry, hurt, sad, frustrated, powerless, scared; not thoughts – I feel judged, betrayed, taken for granted)
  3. What about this specific situation is unmanageable?
  4. How do I get through this moment?
  5. What actions are helping or harming me?
  6. What do I need do to make positive progress?

We all have challenging aspects of our lives, especially now. Take a moment, breathe, reflect and figure out what will bring positive, happy feelings to this time. If the kids watching one more episode gives you time to get in a workout or take a shower, let those feelings of screen-time guilt go and take care of you so you can be ready to work and teach tomorrow. Stay safe and be well.

Please share your stories, we learn to understand ourselves better when we can share our experiences.


Bodily maps of emotions by Lauri Nummenmaaa,b,c,1, Enrico Glereana, Riitta Harib,1, and Jari K. Hietanend

Emotion and Feeling Wheel from

I Was a Screen–Time Expert. Then the Coronavirus Happened. by Anya Kamenetz

6 Tips for Managing your Emotions By Connected Marriage August 16, 2018