Empathy Moves Mountains

This is just a reminder that your empathy will always be more important, more impactful, and more life changing to this world than your opinion ever will be. Empathy removes confining walls and allows space for healing and understanding. Empathy moves mountains. – Kate Held

In My Opinion, now, more than ever (or so it seems) in this hateful political, intolerant climate, we desperately need to consider the experience of those around us. We all tend to be in our own bubble, just trying to get from A to B as fast as possible and with the least amount of difficulty. For some of us, A and B are fantastic destinations filled with people we love and work that’s important. For some, A and B is barely tolerable and always hellish in the journey and destination.

Putting our feet into someone else’s life is empathy. Some empathetic reflexes don’t require thinking…we wince when we see someone get hurt, for exp. (Unless someone trips in a movie or TV series or my living room, then it’s just an automatic laugh-out-load reflex to me. I cannot control this reaction, it’s guaranteed and loud and probably says more about my base sense of humor than I would like to acknowledge) — But true empathy, requires thinking. I’m fascinated by the people who walk my part of the planet whose work it is to serve me in someway. Fast food servers always break my heart because I know this must be one of the hardest jobs ever. When I encounter a person of a certain age working at McDonalds my heart breaks on the spot and so I genuinely ask how they’re doing and do my best to make them laugh.

Recently I’ve developed an addiction to McDonalds Mocha Frappe’s, in my defense I’ve been ridiculously sick for the last 3 months which is what brought me to order one in the first place. Starbucks was all the way across the street. I was down, exhausted, coughing uncontrollably, and on my way to teach dance. Like a gift from God this phenomenal, delishishness sang to me from that lighted order board in the drive-thru and upon the first sip gave me the will to live I’d been lacking. There is no excuse as to why I keep going back. That is just weak-willed-sloth-like behavior in search of frozen mocha happiness drizzled in chocolate. DO NOT EVER TRY ONE OF THESE. You will live to regret the extra pounds included in each serving.

But, I digress. A couple of weaks (spelled this way intentionally) ago, at the McDonald’s window where they take the low, low amount of $2.16 for a small mocha frappe, I slightly recognized the profile and voice of the cashier. Hesitantly I spoke her name very quietly, in case I was wrong, and yes, it was this old pseudo-friend. She’s now in her 50’s, divorced and I happen to know she lost custody of her kids…and she’s a cashier at McDonalds. This is an irregular person for me, someone I needed to cut out of our lives, but at this moment I wanted to comfort/encourage/respect/forgive her, because this has to be a such tough part of her life. She didn’t let on to me if she was embarrassed to be seen, in fact, she smiled and laughed when she said “Yep! Cashier at McDonalds!” I’m hoping she’s just happy to be getting back on her feet and doesn’t feel the need for empathy.

Our lives collide with peeps living a different life every time we pull out of the garage: the homeless person with a dog on the corner, the botox-ed woman in designer clothes cutting in front everyone else to valet park her Beamer at the Vig, the father of 5 who is screaming and running after each kid simultaneously in Albertsons wishing he’d given birth to goats instead of these small slippery humans, the neighbor who can afford to completely make-over their entire house and yard on a whim, the neighbor who hasn’t even looked at the weeds in their yard in 2 years…and then, there’s our children. Our children have a different world to survive than we, their parents, have experienced. Looking in their eyes, if at all possible (!) and purposefully listening will bring our lives to a level playing field in almost any scenario.

However, today there was another mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, CA. One of our families favorite places that is home to people whom we love and cherish. The 307th mass killing this year. Three Hundred and Seven. And this is where I find my empathy completely lacking. There are too just too many horrific examples of lifestyles colliding; school shooter, mugger, rapist, angry politicians from any party, slanderous omnipresent political ad’s, large white SUV’s on the freeway in a bigger hurry than I am, and sometimes just coming into contact with our cat’s innate predatory nature is just more than anyone should be able to withstand.  I’m thinking that maybe if we knew someone before they became a menace to humanity and animal life, paid attention to their walk on this planet they wouldn’t arrive at the choices they’ve made or perhaps would’ve been moved toward seeking help before hateful words or murder…It’s just a theory and a theory I don’t know if I can achieve. We all have mountains to move, some are Everest, some are really more of a bunny hill. The size of the mountain doesn’t matter, it’s how we speak to it that does. Here in America we have way too many Everests.

Let your hearts be broken by that which breaks the heart of God.

My heart breaks on a daily basis lately. Hence this post.

Are you capable of empathizing with ‘irregular people’? Please let me know how.

TIA

 

Just Because

My last blog post, Life We’re in It Together was a story about a friend and neighbor, Helen, who is beyond thoughtful and empathetic, she’s ‘empathoughtfulmaster.’ That word is soon to be an actual concept. Helen just senses the human experience of others and sneakily follows through on her phenomenal ideas.

Jennie Lee, one of my favorite people in forever, had her own sneaky idea. Out of the abundant goodness of her heart, she followed through on an idea to pay a kindness forward, in reaction to Helen doing more “Just Because”

Life, We’re In It Together

Last Saturday night about 9:45 the husband and I returned home from dinner at Bandera in Scottsdale (Go sometime! It’s fantastic) and had just settled down to see if the season premiere of SNL was streaming early. It wasn’t. But just as we cuddled up together and began a search for something that might make us laugh, our doorbell rang two times in rapid succession. Sounded like the way UPS rings the bell, I didn’t think the delivered so late, The Husband graciously went to answer the door. “Who is it?” I bellowed from deep in the couch when I didn’t hear anything at the door. “Nobody. Just a white car flooring it from the curb.” He replied as he handed me a dozen lavender roses. No card. more “Life, We’re In It Together”

10 Ways To Be Kind You Didn’t Think Would Count

You don’t have to do big things in every moment of every day, even simple, small things will change the world.

10 things you can do this week to feel better about yourself and maybe set a good example to someone…your child, your mate, total strangers, squirrels.

1. Put your grocery cart in the corral, even when no one else is around. I do this because I’m trying not to be an asshole. Putting your things away is the nice thing to do. AND! 10 minutes ago, when I started to return my cart on this rainy day (sprinkling lightly, it’s Arizona so we think even humidity counts for rain), a perfect gentleman came over to me and said, “I’ll take that” and he took it! He returned it to it’s little corral where it snuggled up next to its fellow carts. I am not a feeble looking woman. I assume he was walking by and thought, “I’m going that way anyway.” It surprised me, in a good way. Note, to self, I will do this someday too.

more “10 Ways To Be Kind You Didn’t Think Would Count”

Tell Me Something Good

This poster hangs outside of one of my classrooms. It inspires me daily.

What can you tell me about your good stuff?

This blog is a place for good. But, good often comes out of struggles, pain, evil, lack, and on and on. Disaster gives us a chance to rise up and be better human beings and doings to make a difference.

So many heroes rose from the ashes of the terror attacks on September 11. In every hurricane, tornado, storm surge and firestorm comes hundreds of volunteers giving their energy and sharing their resources selflessly. In my hometown of Santa Rosa, California, I’ve witnessed kindness in the form of millions of dollars of donations, back-breaking labor, and open arms bringing in newly homeless victims while this town tries to recover from last October’s devastating firestorm that leveled most of its buildings and homes. more “Tell Me Something Good”

How to be Beautiful, Part 1

Beauty Tip #1:

Lovely, right?

Our beauty, or lack of, is always, merely the reflection of where we are directing our gaze. 

For example:

Beaming with pride for someone else.  I am photographed often in this particular state. I’m a wife, mother, teacher, general “lover of all things sweet and beautiful and good” and I look better when I observe anyone doing even remotely well, and  smiling with every cell. It is a selfless moment, it is a reflection of where I am directing my attention. Beaming with pride looks like this on me and my very patient man: 

In Haiti when we learned how to take a selfie!

more “How to be Beautiful, Part 1”

This is My Chandler

Our Chandler mascot, at The Ostrich Festival!

“I am sick of having to look over my shoulder all the time. I want to live in a safer, gentler, happier world. What creature wouldn’t?” James Bowen from one of his fabulous books about his cat, Bob, and his recovery from heroin addiction.

My husband just informed me we have lived in Chandler, AZ for 20 years. This was shocking news to me. That’s just not what I thought. I thought we moved here ‘a couple years ago.’ But, um, no. I must learn the freeway system now.

We’ve lived here long enough to have an opinion. It’s been the right place to raise children and live a good life. But, I’m kind of a big city girl, I’ve lived in Manhattan, L.A., Brussels, Belgium, Japan, and have been fortunate enough to travel the world. But, I’ve lived in this suburb in Chandler longer than I could have ever imagined. And moving here was a good decision. more “This is My Chandler”

Funny Can Equal Kindness

This Giraffe is looking for a little action. Why a giraffe? They are unlikely and, in my opinion, hilarious. That’s it.

Kindness tip of the week:  

look for the funny in everything and life is easier to handle.

For example!

The-Very-Patient-Husband accompanied me to a doctor’s appointment on Friday. It was a serious appointment, we were both a little nervous and became even more so when the nurse greeted us. She seemed a bit peeved about…perhaps, the idiocy of our world, the people in it, and most likely her job specifically (I’m just guessing). Maybe she hadn’t had any coffee yet, I know that would do it for me. more “Funny Can Equal Kindness”

Rough Week?

My act of kindness this week was not killing anyone.

Oye!

The difference between me and people who actually do kill people is I never actually think about snuffing out a life. This week I just wanted to defend myself, in an angry tone, with a strongly worded text, and I didn’t. I listened and realized the attack wasn’t about me, it was about them, and in that moment of clarity, I calmed down. more “Rough Week?”