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Imperfectly Practicing Compassion

Last year I read the book “Slow” by Brooke McAlary. I was hesitant to pick up the book just because it seems so “trendy” right now to talk about slow living and minimalism and cutting out the clutter. And I haven’t been in the mood for trendy.

But this book was a pleasant surprise, and I’m so glad I finished it. Throughout it, the author poses a number of questions for the reader to answer. Since I’m not really feeling my muse today, I thought I’d take a stab at one of those questions: What is important to me?

There are so many things that are important to me. First on that list is my family and living and loving every single second with them. It is important to me that they know how much they are loved — and how much Mr. B and I love each other.

On top of that, though, I want them to know that even though we love each other, it doesn’t mean we always agree or we always get along. It is important to me that they know that “Love” means loving each other because of our differences, not despite them. I want them to appreciate, embrace and love differences and not just tolerate them.

(That word. “Tolerate.” It’s always been a thorn in my side. But that’s a post for another day.)

What’s more, especially these days, it is so important to me to teach my kids kindness — to themselves and to others. It’s hard because so much of what our kids learn is not in what we tell them but in what we show them. They learn from our examples, so I need to teach them kindness and generosity and openness by being (more) kind, (more) generous and (more) open.

And, quite frankly, some days that’s hard. The world can be an ugly place. And that ugliness has a way of creeping into every crack and crevice of a person. I mean, I like to think of myself as a compassionate, loving, generous person. But some days the routine of just getting through life takes over and I forget that the world is less ugly when I’m more kind.

Practice Compassion Graphic

That’s why I chose “compassion” as my word for the year. (Here I go, being all trendy with a “word of the year” when I just got done telling you I’m not in the mood for trendy. I’m nothing if not consistent. 樂 ) 

Anyway … I wanted a daily reminder to be kinder to the person in the mirror and the rest of the people inhabiting my little corner of the world. It’s worked to have that peeking out at me when I look at my computer screen or look at the word written at the top of my monthly goal tending list (thank you PowerSheets).

It certainly hasn’t been a cure-all, though. I still catch myself thinking unkind things about myself and not being as loving toward others as I know I need to be. I can do better and I plan to keep working at it. I’m still a work in progress in making sure my actions are speaking as loudly as my words and the motivational quotes I’m so drawn to.

I guess, in summary, it is important to me that my kids know that love always remains — that they loved for exactly who they are, exactly as they are. I also want them to know that a little bit of compassion goes a long way.

By watching me, I hope they also learn that we’re all imperfect and we all can do better. And do better we should.

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A New Year’s Reminder

I started this blog as a health and fitness blog. And it’s grown into so much more than that. My life has become so much more than that. I started this blog:

  • to share my story
  • to be motivated and inspired
  • to be reminded of all the good there is in the world (you all are amazingly kind people)

But, around the end of the year and into the new year — every year — it happens: health and fitness bloggers put on their judg-y pants. You know, the pants that make them the kings and queens of the gym. They are the people who complain about all of the “new year’s resolutioners.”

I get it: it’s annoying when the gym fills up and it’s hard to get to your favorite machine. Maybe there’s no parking. Maybe someone took your favorite locker. Maybe someone doesn’t know how to do something, and she’s “in your way.”

But, here’s the thing: all of us started somewhere — maybe two or three or 16 times. Maybe this year really is the year those people are going to turn their resolutions into habits into dreams. Maybe it isn’t. But, who are you we to say?

I think this year it’s bothering me more than other years. Because, to most, I look like a new year’s resolutioner. I’m getting back into my routine after six months of off-and-on consistency. Because I was pregnant with a high-risk baby. And I had to cut back my workouts significantly. And then, my baby died. And I couldn’t face the gym for a while. Because being there tore open some wounds that I was working really hard to heal.

Maybe it’s bothering me more because I’m trying to live life with more grace, compassion and understanding.

Either way, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we are all better than that. Before you put on your judg-y pants, remember that maybe the person annoying you on Jan. 1 is terrified of being there — and they just need one tiny excuse to leave. That tiny excuse could be that side-eye you give them. Or, maybe they just lost their baby and their heart is heavy. And the one place that had been “safe” for so long was finally starting to feel like home again.

This new year, as you head to the gym for your regularly scheduled workouts, remember: it’s amazing the difference a nod and a smile will make.

Also, I know I owe you all a huge catch-up post. I’m working on it. But I have to wrap up one very special project first. Regular posting will resume in a couple of weeks. Thank you all for sticking around while I work through all that’s been happening in my life.

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