Noticing the small stuff

Kindness is something that happens more often than we realize or notice.  It’s just that most of the time when it happens, they are small acts-  simple and spontaneous gestures.  While these gestures may make our lives a bit better in the moment or even make us smile, most of us don’t deliberately spend energy thinking about them beyond that brief moment.  Recently though I tried to be mindful of the simple acts of kindness I experience in my life and was pleasantly surprised to find that my list was a lot longer that I had expected.  Here’s just a few examples from my list…and interestingly most of the kind acts are from complete strangers: Read more

An Unordinary Game with my Itty-Bitty

I recently wrote in the post “Learning from my toddler how to practice mindfulness with curiosity” that my 2-year old and I do a weekly walk right before music class.  During our walks, she creates her own adventure- intrigued by the smallest ordinary things on our walk.  On one of our most recent walks, we stumbled upon several rocks in front of an office building.  And as is typical of my daughter’s fascinating exploration, she saw the bed of rocks and immediately stopped to inquire about them, to look at them and pick them up.  She found one rock that she thought was “bumpy” and I realized that we could start an impromptu mindfulness game to focus on our sense of touch and sight.

I asked her to find different color rocks, shapes and textures, and we began just collecting the rocks into different piles.  We found bumpy white rocks, gray smooth ones, reddish ones and even round rocks that she thouimg_6588ght were balls.  She loved finding the right match for her little piles and was laser-beam focused on the hunt.  With each new find, we intently looked at and felt each rock to make sure it was the right fit for each group.   My 2-year old had a total blast from an activity so simple and what most of us “bigs” would consider pretty boring.

Afterwards I realized that we only organically stumbled upon this game because we took the time to slow down and just be.  For that short period of time, we had no agenda, no worries but to just enjoy our walk.  I’ve been past rock-beds so many times in front of buildings and office parks, but never have I realized that we could create a spontaneous fun game from something so “ordinary.”  As parents, we often spend so much time and money on toys and things for our kids, but there’s so much that we can play with in our natural world if we just pause for a moment to do so.  Once again my 2-year old continues to teach me how “unordinary” our life can be…only if we let it.

Empowering our littles to be kind to themselves

This week I had the privilege of seeing Orly Wahba speak at a Kindness Assembly at a local elementary school, and then again during her evening “Kindness Boomerang” book signing event for community members.  Wahba is a passionate “kindness activist” who founded a nonprofit called Life Vest Inside that is focused on empowering and inspiring kindness around the world.  Her key message is that we all can and should feel empowered to make a positive difference in the world.  She says that our small acts of kindness, especially the random organic ones can have a powerful ripple effect on the world because kindness is contagious.  With each act of kindness we do, we can energize and inspire others to do the same thing.  While Wahba is a kindness activist, she says her organization is about empowerment. It starts with kindness to ourselves.  We must all realize that we have a life vest inside of us to help ourselves and believe we can do good and reach our highest potential.  Once we do, then we can touch others with kindness to find their own life vests.  And if each of us believe we have a role in this world to do good things- no matter how small- then only good things will come and positivity will spread. Read more

A Memorable “Mindless” Mama Moment

One of the common misconceptions with mindfulness is that someone who practices mindfulness is or should be mindful all the time.  I’ll be the first to tell you that that is not the case and that being “mindless” is part of our human experience. With our endless to-do lists and toggling between parenting, work and house stuff, being mindful all the time or even part of the time is not always easy to do and can sometimes feel impossible.  But mindfulness is a practice- and not an end state.  It’s a work in progress for all of us.  We all have moments of mindlessness from misplacing our cell phone for the billionth time to frantically searching for our eyeglasses while they are on top of our head.  I’ve had a ton of mindless moments and some that make me laugh more than others.  Recently I had an experience that really topped the charts of Mindless Mama Moments. Read more

Family Donation Box

This may have been one of those Kindness Projects that my family will remember and use for quite some time.  I recently attended the parent-ed conference hosted by the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, and saw one of my favorite authors, Michelle Borba, speak. Her book Unselfie, which I have cited in past blog posts, provides nine strategies that provide kids with what she calls an “empathy advantage.”  Borba’s talk was incredibly inspirational and she shared anecdotes and stories of kindness from around the world- from kids shaving their heads to show support for their friend with cancer to a young girl standing up with moral courage to help a victim of bullying.  Borba also shared practical tips of how we can engage in compassion activities at home, which is also plentiful in her book.  During her talk, she provided several ideas on this topic and one of them was the idea of a Family Donation Box.  Read more

One Word for the Day

In the book “Awakening Joy for Kids” as well as his adult course “Awakening Joy,” James Baraz (co-founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center) describes ten wholesome habits to create well-being in your life. One of his first recommendations is to set a positive intention for your day to “incline your mind toward a particular vision.”  By doing so, you are more likely to pay attention to ways that you are focusing on that intention and changing old habits that don’t help you achieve well-being.  In his book, Baraz cites a quote from Dan Siegel, who describes that “Intentions create an integrated state of priming, a gearing up of our neural system to be in the mode of that specific intention: we can be ready to receive, to sense, to focus, to behave in a certain manner.”  Read more

Nothing like a stomach bug to teach you about kindness

Last week our family got hit with the stomach bug, and we all went down like dominoes- first me, then my husband, then our older daughter and even my poor mother who was in town visiting.  Somehow my younger daughter and father were spared our misery, but it was not a fun week for the rest of us…or for our washer and dryer for that matter.   I especially had impeccable timing with my illness as I got sick on my husband’s birthday.  I had originally planned an entire itinerary to celebrate his special day.  The girls and I were going to make him breakfast.  We booked him a massage, and afterwards we were going to go on a family hike and picnic. And to top it all off, he and I were going to go on a dinner date together.   It all sounded like an awesome plan, until I got really sick and couldn’t get out of bed and we had to cancel everything. Read more