Tag Archives: kindness

2 Lessons I learned from the 10 Commandments

17 May

All those little things we think we know, yet don’t really know  or pay that much attention to.

Like the 10 Commandments.

thecripplegate.com
Not understanding goes deeper than language.  www.thecripplegate.com

I know what the Commandment tablets look like – I know, but more to recite them.  Writing this I’m reminded of how little I know about religion, or even its role in my life.  Or should I say, how its role is woven into my identity.

One the one hand, I know that the basis of all religions can teach us all about how to treat one another.  But I’m a little fuzzy on specifics.

So along comes Shavuot, my perfect learning opportunity.

I’ve always called this the ‘dairy’ holiday.  Though celebrated to commemorate the Jewish people receiving the 10 Commandments at Mt. Sinai during their 40 year ‘wander’ in the desert.

The ‘thing’ to do at the first night of this holiday is to stay up all night and study.  And because it’s the ‘dairy holiday, there’s ice cream and cheesecake.

formerfundy.blogspot.com
formerfundy.blogspot.com

I opted for a good night’s sleep.  With free time in my schedule Wednesday morning, I thought I’d actually go hear the commandments being read.  Something I’d never done before.   I was curious:  why????  Is it a big deal to hear them read? And why is it important to commemorate their ‘delivery’.

The actual reading is short:  a few minutes.  And since I heard it in Hebrew, I could have easily missed it.  One cool thing:  the kids came and surrounded the Rabbi, watching him read.  It’s important to pass on the learning to children.

My greater curiosity about the importance of the commandments was satisfied as the Rabbi shared his thoughts.  Starting first with the last commandment:

10.  Don’t be jealous.

Don’t be jealous of who someone is or what someone has.  Don’t covet their car, their clothes, their hair, or (for me) their silver jewelry.

Don’t be jealous of their phone, their tablet, their shoes. Their job, their life.

Simple:  right?

Ha!  How many times has that green-eyed monster reared its fiery head to singe your self-contentment?  Don’t we all want – or deserve – what everyone else has?

Someone shared that her daughter-in-law wants what her sister-in-law has.  Fill in the blank and that could be me at times.  I’m not alone am I?

Deeper, is the question do I really want or need those things.  Or, is it something much deeper that I want that I’m missing (I’ll pick door #2).

Then the Rabbi (an Orthodox Chabbad Rabbi, at that) quipped:

Well, at least you’ll obey the first commandment, not to kill another, right?

But he wasn’t done.  Actually I thought he was going to talk about Boston, or some other act of genocide/bullying.

But no…

“If you embarrass or insult someone and their face drains of color (blood), it is like you’ve killed them.  After all, killing someone is draining their body of blood.”

Imagine: Being condemned as a murderer by being a bully?

I know that feeling of my body tightening as in rigor mortis, feeling my face grow red when I’ve been attacked by a venomous word.

It brought to mind:  killing someone’s soul, someone’s self-esteem, hope: is as deadly as killing their body.  Either way, the heart dies.

Words have power.  And so do we.  It takes so little to be kind.

So here’s what I think we can all learn:

  1. Don’t be jealous, starting with don’t compare your life to others.  You have no idea what their journey is all about.  Be satisfied with what you have – there is a good chance it is enough (unless it has to do with bad health…).  When I covet something of someone else, I tell my myself I have to take the whole package of who they are to get that one thing.  Somehow, that makes me realize I’d rather just be me with none of that ‘great stuff’.
  2. Be kind and compassionate to others.  Don’t make little jokes at someone else’s expense even if they have a good sense of humor.  Especially if you know someone is feeling vulnerable (and that is most of us most of the time), don’t say things that will belittle them and make you feel better about yourself.

2 little steps that can make my world better – and hopefully yours.  

Best of joy to all of us.

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Spring Gardening’s 6 Steps to Weed out anger Tammy Faye style!

8 Apr

Got anger?

Willing to admit it?

I’ve been laying a bit fallow all winter, rejuvenating myself and hoping fall’s seeds have been planted where they root as the world ripens into sunnier days and warmer afternoon.  As I dip my toes into the shallow end of spring (buds on the trees here in NYC – finally!), I’m taking stock of my potential bounty.

There are lots of things that kill off new growth – literally and metaphorically.  Our bumbling economy challenges even the most gifted rainmaker to survive the job drought.  Not having the right pollinators doesn’t help either  I realize, viewing my ‘connections’.  Fertilization is an ongoing need.  Memo to self:  ‘work’ those LinkedIn connections and stay vigilant on Twitter.

Cyberspace is important, but it’s our real space internal garden where we need to fend off weeds and other invasive species that keep us from growing.

Recently, I’ve noticed an overgrowth of anger.  And once it roots it is tenacious!

Anger sucks up all the oxygen and  nutrients that should be better spent on a blossoming new project, including having fun.  But anger, like weeds and invasive species – appears to have no predators.  Anger takes over other emotions.  Memo to self:  it’s hard to differentiate the weeds from the flowers.

Anger is like a carnivorous plant:  hungry and dangerous.

Remember the movie:  "Little Shop of Horrors" and the carnivorous plant's 'feed me'?

Remember the movie: “Little Shop of Horrors” and the carnivorous plant’s ‘feed me’?

Turning from a gardening metaphor, Tammy Faye (Baker) says it best:  from the movie “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”, Tammy Faye sits and bats her mammoth false eye

Tammy Faye:  Read her quote and watch her movie and remember to never judge a book by the cover again!  http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://s1.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/%3Fm%3D02%26d%3D20070509%26t%3D2%26i%3D771302%26w%3D460%26fh%3D%26fw%3D%26ll%3D%26pl%3D%26r%3D771302&imgrefurl=http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/05/09/us-tammyfaye-letter-idUSN0927384020070509&h=339&w=450&sz=26&tbnid=mW2Xk3YWO-lCAM:&tbnh=92&tbnw=122&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dpicture%2Bof%2Btammy%2Bfaye%2Bbakker%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=picture+of+tammy+faye+bakker&usg=__TglXvyNDLRYFl3MA_ZYke2aZAfA=&docid=_oX64oh0S6vGuM&sa=X&ei=19ZiUdCsC82L0QGZo4HIBQ&ved=0CDUQ9QEwAQ&dur=45

Tammy Faye: Read her quote and watch her movie and remember to never judge a book by the cover again! http://www.google.com/imgres?

lashes before sharing great wisdom:  “when you’re angry at someone it’s like you are carrying a decaying person around on your back”

A reminder that brilliance comes from unexpected sources.  (the movie is great!)

Decay is great for the literal garden.

For my internal garden, I’ve shrugged off anger in a weeding frenzy with:

Six Steps to Weeding your Anger

Step 1:  Spot that weed:  Feel that anger rising in you?  Sit and luxuriate in spring’s new blooms while jotting down the focus of your anger.  Note the name and issue that is sucking up the nutrients in your mind’s rich soil.

Step 2:  Assess:   how much of that anger is directed at yourself.  Yes, really.  A lot of times when we’re angry at someone else, we are really angry at ourselves for allowing that person to get under our skin, to make us feel a certain way or keep us from getting what we want.  In Tammy Faye’s words, you are carrying your weight on your back in addition to the source(s) of your anger.  (Note to self:  this is why you’ve got bad posture!)

Ask yourself:  Why do I hold onto these energy-suckers?  What does it/she/he provide me – or how does being angry ‘protect’ me from dealing with ‘new growth’?

Step 3:  Commit to weed and dig deep:  Focus on forgiving:  YOURSELF.  Forgive yourself for what you’re feeling, for your anger, for what you haven’t done, for what you have done, for allowing someone else to mess with your head.  This of course it harder than it sounds, after all weeds grow back, right?

weeding

Step 4:  PULL out that anger with your forgiveness and kill its roots by telling yourself you can’t control someone else, but you can control your own emotions.

Step 5:  Plant new seeds:  Create a ritual where you declare yourself anger-free and commit to preserving your energy and joy.  Ask yourself:  What can I do and SAY differently to myself to remind myself I deserve to have joy?  Leave out judgmental words that weigh you down including obligation and fault.  Identify a plant or flower that reminds you of your weed-free mind and keep a picture or an actual plant around you.

seedling

Step 6:  Nurture your new growth:  Look at your plant or flower regularly and remember you’ve forgiven yourself AND the person at the root of your anger.  Remember that person is no longer in your garden when you see them.

Stand up straight and feel the freedom in your back!  

What makes you angry?

How do you forgive others and/or yourself?

 

Empathy: Be kind

7 Jan

I love this quote, so key, so true of empathy:

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.
by Saint Philo of Alexandria

(and recently read in the book, ‘The other side of the world’, by Jay Neugeboren)

I always think of empathy as the key to connecting and understanding others – and even myself.  While this post is from one of my other blogs:  http://identity5772.wordpress.com, it certainly is essential to communication.  And what’s more fashionable than shoes, but good communication!

Here’s to blister-free walking this week!

Shes!  When did shoes become the go-to destination for journeys to nirvana?  When did well-appointed heels turn cads into princes and transform us plain girls to ‘sex-y in the city’?   Or has footwear always been as important to fashion as the saying: ‘Don’t judge me until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes’  has been to identity and peace?

Does our penchant for buying shoes, amassing Imelda Marcos or Carrie Bradshaw sized collections speak to our need to understand others?   Do new shoes provide  the potential and ability to walk that mile to understanding?

My footwear reflects my soul and mirrors my identity.  My journeys are on

Shoes fit for my very long journeys

foot and I’ve learned the hard way that Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahnik’s derail my  joy into train wrecks.

Footwear can define identity, and, is just as complicated.   I recently told a dear friend, ‘we may wear the same size, but we like and wear very different shoes – literally and figuratively’.

It can be hard to understand someone you love.  Someone  whose footwear appears interchangeable with your own.  Different styles, different

One pre-Xmas night, a group of young men were camped in front of a shoe store on 34th Street in Manhattan. They were spending the night to be first in line to buy the ‘newest’ sneakers. What kind? What did they look like? No-one knew – just that they wanted them.

toes add difficulty relating to the owner of the heart-pumping-blood to those other  toes. As a species focusing on souls, rather than soles, and the miles journeyed, can surely help promote listening, peace and, understanding identity.

Empathy, the ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes, to listen for  identity without bias or judgement.   Knowing and doing are two totally different things.

Empathy can improve communication and connection, if that  first giant step is taken:  to understand what someone else is feeling or what they need.

Swapping metaphoric  ‘shoes’:  Would any genocide occur if perpetrators imagined themselves, or their mothers, or wives, or children as victims?  Would they say ‘NO’ to crimes of hate?

This must be a key to peace as I wrote about in my recent post ‘Peace Requires Listening’.

Daniel Lubetzky,CEO of Kind Bars and PeaceWorks remarked (one of) the key to Palestinian-Israeli peace is for Israeli’s to listen to Palestinian needs.  I think a shoe swap and long survival hike might help.

I’ve often found empathy, along with blisters, after finding myself on a path with someone I’ve judged.  ‘Blisters’ force me to slow down, open my eyes, acknowledge the pain.

It’s painful to listen if we are not sure of our identity, or we are not on firm footing ourselves. In Vilna, Lithuania (‘Dinner in Vilna’), Lilly said she was unhappy before she focused her identity and connected with Judaism.

Some say shoe shopping, especially during a sale, is a religious experience. There are other ways to worship.

Empathy.  Walking that metaphoric mile.  Several years ago, I discovered the cure:

Imagine these pills shaped like SHOES: Empathy pills!

A pill.

A shoe-shaped empathy pill.  

Mid-judgement, mid-hate action, a quick pill pop would change everything with, ‘Here, walk a mile in my shoes.  Have an empathy pill.’

As soon as a pharmaceutical company gets back to me, I’ll take your orders.

In the meantime, how has a pair of shoes helped you understand others, or, shaped or defined your identity? 

What leg of your journey has developed your empathy?

Post-Newton, Ct. – How do we save the world?

17 Dec

A young man opens fire on an elementary school – LITTLE KIDS – killing 20 kids and 6 adults.

We’re not at war, are we?

So why?

I don’t know, and, since the shooter has killed both himself and his mother, we may never know.

It’s unimaginable to think about anyone going into a school and shooting 6 year olds.

Yet it’s happened.

And I know cyberspace is filled with us bloggers writing about yet another attack.  A terrorist attack of a sort.  A hate crime of a sort.

The BBC this morning discussed the lack of care for those with mental illness.

THIS to me was the issue.  After all, it’s not guns who kill, but rather people.  And to commit a crime of this magnitude and with this focus, surely this young man had some sort of mental illness.

We can all speak up and sign petitions.  And we should.  For gun control, and especially for mental health services.

Even more, I think we can all do little things and help those with lesser pain, ‘managed’ illness, I guess you can say.    ‘Illness’ like being affected by shorter days, or less work, or depleted resources – financially or emotionally.

Especially this time of year.  While the airwaves are filled with toe-tapping music even for this dreidel-spinning, menorah-lighting Jew, and yummy delights are passed beneath our noses, this can also be a sad time for many.

Just last night someone told me she can’t wait for the season to be over.  To get back to everyday life.  ‘Regular’ life.  ‘This‘ is all too much.

I love this sign from Bija Yoga not far from Union Square in NYC.  I think it offers compassion and kindness to all of us in the midst of a struggle.
I love this sign from Bija Yoga, 20 E. 17th St., NYC. I think it offers compassion and kindness to all of us in the midst of a struggle.

We may not be able to take care of the big things, but we can take care of these little ones:

We can offer support and kindness to people feeling vulnerable.  Compassion and humorEmpathy and an ear without judgement.

How do you know who’s in pain?

YOU DON’T.

It’s just as easy to treat everyone as if they may need a little extra  cheer.

“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.  ”
―    Rachel Naomi Remen

The holiday season is short but our memories are long.  I say let’s reach out and touch someone’s heart this season and do what we can to really bring good tidings and cheer into as many lives as possible.

That to me is creating a miracle!  A much needed miracle!   Bolstering someone’s ‘internal life’ is huge.  And sometimes all it takes is a smile or the patience and time to connect.

My friend Pam sent the link of this powerful, must read article:

now.msn.com/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother-says-mom-of-mentally-ill-son

 

We can all do one small thing with huge results!  Remember:

“Whoever saves a single life, it is as if he had saved the whole world.”

— The Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:5

If we can’t banish guns off the face of the planet, we can still save the world!

What kindness will you pass on?