What is the Kindest Thing?

What does being kind bring up for you? Is it paying for the meal or coffee or toll of the person behind you? Is it a hug or refraining from saying something sharp or critical to your friend or family member? Is it words of encouragement? Or making a delicious meal for someone who’s having a hard time?

Those examples are the easy side of being kind. There’s a tougher side to kindness as well.

Being kind can be releasing someone who needs you to let them move into the next chapter of their life. It can be ending work at a place of employment because it’s taking too high of an emotional toll. It can be encouraging yourself to go for a walk when you’re stressed or to eat a nutrition-packed lunch instead of fast food so you’ll feel great the rest of the day. It can be saying something that needs to be said, even though you don’t know how it’ll turn out.

One example of the difficult side of kindness from my own life is helping my 24-year-old son pack and get ready to move out West. My mother heart wants him to stay in this area, close to me, so I can see him, spend time with him, feed him, etc. But that wouldn’t be kindness if I pressured him to stay or to heaped guilt on him for deciding to go. It’s natural and healthy for young adults to leave the nest, to spread their wings, and fly off on adventures of their very own. I did my work of raising him, and now it’s time for him to fly.

Similarly, I didn’t hold my daughter back when she left a year and a half ago at age 18. The kind thing was to help her gather together and pack all the household things she’d need for life on her own. To hug her and say how proud I was of her for being so brave to go after her dreams. And I was there to wave her off down the road. After she left, I had two weeks where I was so exhausted I could hardly leave my bed. When I went to the grocery store or anywhere in our small college town, it felt empty. I was bereft and grieving. And it was ok. I slowly adjusted to it and eventually it became less painful. Still hard, but less intensely so.

I think I will have a period of grieving after my son goes as well, and that’s ok. As we know, the only constant in life is change. Everything is always and ever changing. And back to kindness, I will do the soft, gentle kind things for myself. And I will also encourage myself not to wallow in sadness, but to be grateful for all the years I had with both of my kids and for what beautiful young people they are. I will encourage myself to still practice meditation and yoga, to still move my body, to still eat the carrot salad, the kale, the right amount of protein for me. To dance, sing, laugh, and create. To drink tea and wine, tend my garden, to read and write and celebrate life in all its complex, bittersweet, glorious moments. I will be kind to myself.

What is kindness looking like to you today?

“I Don’t Have Time For” Is Not a True Statement for Many of Us

What is the most recent you’ve said you don’t have time for? Is it a daily exercise/movement routine, yoga/meditation/prayer, cooking nutritious food, walking outside four walls, learning a new skill, or re-engaging with a hobby or interest?

I’ve said this phrase to myself or others in the past, but these days I use the phrases “I’m not making time for” or “I choose to spend time doing other things”. Because that’s the truth. All of us have time; what we choose to do with it is up to us. (There are some exceptions with amounts of free time based on privilege, of course, and the some of the underprivileged among us actually have little to no free time.) 

Take in this info though: the average American spends 3 hours per day watching tv and 3 hours and 43 minutes per day on their phones. You may or may not fit the average, but’s it’s worth pausing and considering whether you fit this picture. Even if you spend half or a third of this time on your phone or watching tv and you swapped that for doing something you love or you know would benefit you, so much in your life could change!

I’m coming clean: there are three interests that I’ve not consistently made time for in the past few years: painting, music (practicing piano & guitar & songwriting), and writing (journaling, blogging, writing poetry and working on my memoir). In my heart and mind I see myself practicing, writing & creating new music, painting something good enough to hang on my wall, and writing a memoir and poetry collection. 

All of those are activities I enjoy and desire to do, yet I don’t make time for them. Why? The first reason that pops into my mind is that it takes a lot of energy and focus to sit down and create and the end result will often not be good enough to turn into a finished product. Key words: end result. 

There will be plenty of material that I create that will be just part of the creation and learning process — basically only for the experience itself. And that’s where my capitalistic mindset has me. If it’s not good enough to create a product and sell/sing/play/show it then what was the point? Time is money. I’ve heard this over and over. And all that time will be wasted “playing” rather than working.

In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown talks about 10 Guideposts to Wholehearted Living. One is that wholehearted people make time to play and another is they make time to sing, dance, and laugh. So the playing is something I desire to make time for.

And I do dance in the kitchen out of joy or to let out frustration, but when I think about it, I can find production or habit stacking within dance. I don’t consider dancing a waste of time because my body is getting some movement in and burning calories. Another line of thinking that has been passed down to me, so built-in it’s automatically how I think.

That’s why a daily physical yoga practice can be a fight in my mind sometimes too. How can I spend 30–60 minutes on movement that doesn’t result in several hundred calories burned ? Because unless it’s hot yoga or Ashtanga, it’s not a high calorie burner for me anyway. So then I still have to get my workout in.

And I’m not a naturally physically active person. I’m the stuck-in-my-head type who’s always thinking, dreaming, reading, etc. I often only work out because, firstly, I’m concerned about my appearance and only secondly, about my health. (More built-in patriarchal and capitalistic thinking. Ugh.)

And it takes mental and emotional energy to override these patterns of how we see ourselves and the world and do something different. To say: 

  • This is not the only way of living life. 
  • I can choose another perspective. 
  • I can do something just for the experience of doing it. There are other benefits outside of production, work, attempting to make my body fit the cultural ideal, or any other unhealthy pressure that has been foisted on me. 
  • I can choose to tend to my mental health. 
  • I can choose to feed my spiritual hunger. 
  • I can strum a guitar or practice piano simply because I enjoy it. 
  • I can sit with a cup of tea and even a piece of something delicious because I crave rest and delight and space to simply be.
  • I can laugh and dance, talk to the plants, enjoy living.

I will always make time for work because I love it and because I live in this economic system and it’s necessary. I can also choose to make time for wonder, for awe, for rest, for play, for silliness, for being myself. I can take an honest look at how I spend the hours of my days and choose a kinder, slower, more intentional way of living. 

What will you make time for today?

Friday Favorites (2/24/23)

Here are a few of my favorite sources of inspiration and learning from the past week or so. Enjoy!

Podcasts: As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been listening to Brendon Burchard’s Motivation podcast. It has helped pull me out of the doldrums and rekindle my vision for my business, my relationships, and my every day life. He’s a bit “Energizer Bunny”, which you might expect from a motivational speaker. I highly respect him though because he’s built six multi-million dollar companies with the personal growth, mindset, and business acumen that he shares on both his Motivation and Marketing Podcasts.

If you’re a business owner or simply trying to uplevel in any area of your life, give Brendon’s podcasts a try! Yes, you’ll definitely pick up on that masculine energy, although he preaches rest, relaxation, and refueling as well as focus, scheduling, and simple hard work.

Books: This week I read The Vibrant Years by Sonali Dev and was absorbed into the story from page one. It unfolds the story of Bindu, a sixty-something grandmother, as well as her forty-something daughter-in-law and granddaughter Cullie. These three women, at different times in their lives, are discovering who they are at their various ages, healing from past hurts, falling in love, and certainly not living by societal standards. It’s exciting, heartwarming, and all I’ll say is it ends on a positive note. I need this kind of book in my life.

I’m reading The Joy and Light Bus Company from Alexander McCall Smith. If you’ve never tried The Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series, I recommend them so highly! I’ve been reading and re-reading these (on Audible only) for years. I love the slow pace, the characters that return in each book, the soft and witty humor, the conundrums and mysteries they work through and solve, the accents, the bush tea drinking. This is Book 22 and the next one in the series is in my Audible queue waiting to be read. They are delightful.

Essential oil blend: I am blowing my own trumpet here. Recently I filled some new bottles of my Winter Wellness Diffuser Blend, and said, “This blend smells so good!” And it’s very helpful for supporting respiratory health, decongesting stuffy noses, as a cough suppressant, and to boost immune strength. I’ve been using it in my bedroom diffuser at night to help keep my nose clear. It works!

That’s all for this week, friends! I hope you check some of these favorites out and let me know if you do. (For the full list including poetry, exercise, music, and more books, join my Patreon at the Literary Society Tier or higher.)

Be well,


Comfort Yourself: It May Look Different Than You Think!

How are you feeling? If you’re in need of some comfort, nurturing, and uplifting, you’re not alone! I’ve been hearing this a lot lately. Maybe the winter has you down; perhaps you’re grieving the loss of any number of people and circumstances; and maybe you’re still processing “the lost years”, or still feel stuck in them due to worries about catching Covid.

 If you nodded your head to one or more of the above, I’m sending you a virtual hug. And I want to encourage you to comfort yourself. By this I mean to care for yourself in all the ways you need attention in body, mind, and soul. Good nutrition, exercise, prayer or meditation, enough sleep and rest, play/creativity, water, supplements, a bunch of flowers, a walk in the woods or around the block, connecting with your friends and loved ones, therapy, etc., are all ways to comfort yourself.

It’s easy, when we’re feeling down, to let all that go and just wallow, eat junk, drink too much, isolate, binge watch or obsessively scroll. We think we are comforting ourselves when we check out and self-medicate in some way.

Did you know that’s actually not comfort? Comfort means “to strengthen greatly”. And no strengthening is happening when we treat ourselves poorly–we’re weakening and abusing ourselves greatly instead. This actually makes us more fragile and less able to handle what is difficult in our lives.

Bowl of pears and apples

We need to do what is life-giving for us. To love ourselves enough to prioritize our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. I have to bring up the golden rule because sometimes people get tetchy about loving themselves, especially those with Christian roots or identities. Loving and serving others they can handle, but when they’re encouraged to love themselves it sounds self-centered. Um, it’s in the Bible, ya’ll. The second of the Ten Commandments. “Love your neighbor as…yourself!” There’s an assumption in that commandment that you love yourself before you go love your neighbor. 

So back to comfort. Ask yourself: In what ways am I in need of comfort (aka to be strengthened greatly)? How could I bring comfort into my life today in practical ways? What tools do I already have to strengthen myself? Where might I need help or accountability in order to care for/comfort myself?

Personal story: I am still dealing with the effects of Covid from six months ago. My brain is foggy sometimes, I tire out easily and get this trembly weakness in my legs and have to sit down. Sometimes I have to rest for a couple days in a row. Because of this, I hadn’t worked out as hard or as often as I’m used to. I’d work out one day and take three off–this was unheard of for me! I’ve been working out every day since I was twelve. I felt so bummed about how out of shape I had become, how weak I felt, how I’d lost stability in my core and mobility particularly in my hips. I kept waiting for things to get better. But they weren’t.

Snowy sunset

Then I listened to motivational speaker Brendon Burchard talk about making a Don’t Wait list and beginning to do the things I truly desired to do. And one of these things for me was getting in shape and feeling good in my body again. So I signed up for a challenging 4-week exercise program.

The first week was really difficult and I felt a bit discouraged because it was harder than I thought it would be. My brain tried to tell me it’s too hard, maybe I should quit, etc., but I stuck with it ( and kept listening to Brendon Burchard’s Motivation podcast for encouragement).

I’m nearing Week 4 and can feel my body getting stronger and firmer, my mobility range is growing, and I’m setting my sights on a 100 Day Program that I didn’t think I’d ever do again. And my confidence is higher because I’m keeping my word to myself and doing what I know is good for me to do.

This is an example of me comforting myself! It’s the opposite of what we might think of as comfort, right? Oh, and by the way, I didn’t overdo it, injure myself, or punish myself with exercise. This is a balanced program and includes rest days. I’m feeling better, so this is the right thing for me. 

Kim in workout clothes

I’m not suggesting you sign up for a challenging exercise program. Comfort could look like many different things, depending on what you need. Sometimes a cup of tea, a nap, a book or Netflix, and a blanket is the comfort we need. My point is, if you’re feeling down, or are in a difficult season, take a look at your daily routines/habits and see how you might care for yourself. Being good to yourself will help you feel as good as you possibly can during whatever you’re going through. I hope you find the comfort you need!

Making Space for Beauty

While on a solo retreat this fall, I had leisurely days and evenings to reflect on what in my life needs to be adjusted and what I’d like to remain the same. This was my first solo retreat ever and it felt luxurious to wake, exercise, eat, and rest whenever I wanted. Being an Enneagram 4, an INFJ, and an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), I feel so relaxed with my own company and at ease in the simplicity of being on my own. I love all my people, my work, and my cats too much to live that way for long, so I’ll just savor the memories of that time and plan more for the future.

As I was eating my breakfast on the second morning, I listened to Krista Tippett’s podcast On Being for the first time in months. And I realized how much I missed these deep, quiet, thoughtful conversations that feed my thirst for beauty, wisdom, and inspiring words.

Then I began thinking about what else I had let go in the hustle and activity of this year. Poetry! I like to read some every day if I can, and listen to poetry podcasts like Poetry Unbound. Poetry speaks to my soul and feels like it touches a part of myself that nothing else does.

Another delight I had let go of is classical music! I used to listen to public radio all the time, take CDs out from the library (remember those?), and listen to albums on Spotify.

Lately I haven’t included Bach with my breakfasts, I haven’t made time for Mozart, I haven’t enjoyed string quartets or piano sonatas on quiet afternoons. And why not? I ask myself. It’s not complicated to turn music on. I’ve robbed myself of the opportunity for so much pleasure because I “needed to get this work done” and assumed I must take all the color out of life. Well, no more!

I resolved to include lovely music in my days, work or not; to listen to inspiring podcasts like On Being while I’m in the car or cleaning or folding clothes; to make time for at least one poem every day; to set the table with cloth napkins and a vase of flowers or herbs, to light candles even for weeknight dinners. There are many more weeknights than there are weekends!

By depriving ourselves, or even not actively noticing or making room for beauty, it’s almost like living in the dull, gray, unhappy part of Middle Earth that Sauron created in Lord of the Rings: devoid of warmth, color, meaning, and delight.

When I live this way for too many days, I find myself easily irritated or angry, depressed, anxious, and discouraged, thinking there’s nothing to look forward to.And how brief and precious each of our lives are. This year has brought several too-soon goodbyes.

We are made for beauty, delight, goodness, and meaning. Even if we’ve forgotten, even if we’ve fallen asleep or become buried under our to-do lists and the pressures that grown-ups have to deal with, each of us longs for beauty.

Perhaps it’s not possible for you to go away on a solo retreat just now. I remember all the years I craved alone time as a mother with two small children and a host of responsibilities connected to my church community. I would stay up late just so I could have a few hours of quiet after the kids went to bed.

It’s more realistic to look for an hour or two of quiet time alone to ask yourself what is missing from the current flow of your days. What brings you pleasure and joy that you could invite back in? A walk in the forest? A pot of flowers on the windowsill? Your grandmother’s tablecloth? Candlelight? A really good mystery novel? Soup simmering on the stove? Homemade bread? Composing music or listening to a favorite recording? Taking five minutes to appreciate the sunset each evening? Dancing in the kitchen?

You will know what you need, what will delight, inspire and bring a sense of beauty and meaning to your own life. Invite what feeds your soul back into your weekdays, your weeknights, and the so-called mundane will begin to sparkle and shine again as it did when you were a child.

These days of Advent, these ever darkening days and long nights before the Winter Solstice, are a natural time to turn inward, to ponder, and ask, and sit with questions. And to begin to intend and invite what we love and desire most of all into our lives, and into the New Year.

May you enjoy a peaceful Sunday!