"Isn't that nice." "Be nice to your sister!" "Nicely put!"
There's nothing wrong with "Nice." But check out how different the above statements feel from these ones:
"That was so kind of you." "I appreciate your kindness." "A random act of kindness."
Do you feel it?
I think, at the very least, niceness, or "being polite" is a beneficial way to approach life, like 89% of the time (I have nothing against well-placed anger). But NICENESS, when we simmer it down to its bones, is quite surface and often for the benefit of others thinking we are good. KINDNESS, on the other hand, equally cares for your well-being, and my own.
Showing KINDNESS is the extra. Kindness is the soothing touch. Kindness is the noticing, and the being present.
Nice is fine, and Kind is different than nice. Kind is the empathy. Kind is the genuine. Kind comes from selflessness AND self-awareness.
Here are some analogies I've come up with about NICE vs. KIND:
NICE = starched white cotton sheets
KIND = soft flannel sheets with a weighted comforter and slippers by the bed
NICE = offering up your seat on the bus
KIND = sitting next to someone who looks lonely
NICE = "Let me know if you need anything!"
KIND = "I know it hard right now, so I'm showing up on your doorstep with no expectations, to just offer my presence."
Is there another situation you could add to the list?
Who has shown you kindness recently? Have you shown it to yourself?
This morning, before getting to work, I painted and nailed together some wood pieces and crafted a jewelry holder. This past weekend, I sat outside in the fading light of Mother's Day and did some watercolor. I've discovered that prioritizing creativity as much as I do productivity is my way of finding ease and balance in my life.
When I teach a yoga class with our 7 spirited pygmy goats in the backyard of the urban farm, that balance is created in the combination of nature, movement... and play.
Why is something as "silly" as practicing yoga with gentle farm animals a thing?!
Here's my take on why what we do has such an uplifting effect:
If you've not had a chance to come out and play on the urban farm, consider this your invitation! I would love to host you at any of our upcoming events or for your private function.
What exists in the white space between your passions?
That was a question posed at my latest foray at Soul Camp, a spiritual sleepaway jaunt for adults in the rolling hills of northern California.
My passions are simple. They are Joy and Nature. (And one certainly invites the other to come and play.)
What is the "white space" between them?
Goat yoga is one, obvi. The whole point of the class is the lightheartedness these sweet and silly creatures provide, all while being serenaded by the swaying willow and the circling songbirds overhead.
Hiking is another. Heading into Boise's foothills to frolic in the clean air, take in the spectacular views, and nourish my body with rigorous climbs or the gentle touch of conifer branches.
I also love to write, and paint, and dream, and sing, and learn, and read, and create, and travel. And perhaps most delightfully, I love to do these things with others. My people. Or even people who aren't my people. I am drawn to connection, authenticity, simple kindness.
And herein lies the inspiration for the next spate of playshops, classes, retreats, and offerings for 2019. I can't wait.
Visit my Events page to see what's happening!
"Grab a tissue," the Facebook post reads, "This Tucson sports moment went viral for all the right reasons."
In the video, which is made up of a pasting-together of student Snapchats, high schooler Alyna Macias, who is her school's girls' basketball team manager, is told she gets to finally play in a game. The game is the final JV game of the year.
Watching the video, it's clear that Alyna can play. She makes several baskets. The crowd goes wild.
Like, reallly wild.
Like, every child has their iPhone recording the moment.
At the end of the game, Alyna is interviewed for the local news, and a student waits impatiently to present her with an obscene bouquet of mylar balloons.
Alyna obviously loves basketball. She obviously knows how to play, and she is obviously well-respected by her peers. So why did this moment go viral? Why did her coach, and the coach of the opposing team, agree to "let her score?"
Because Alyna has Down syndrome.
"Awesome," Facebook commenters wrote, "I have faith in our young people again," "Inclusion for the win."
Inclusion? This isn't inclusion. Inclusion is inclusion. This is special treatment.
Yes, we are (hopefully) raising a generation of thoughtful, selfless, kind children who will become contributing, aware, kind adults. And we are hopefully allowing them to be good citizens without having to prove it with a video.
Nothing bothers me more than the self-serving, misty-eye-producing, sentimental videos smattering our interwebs these days - such as "Cheerleader asks boy with autism to prom." The amount of "Awwwwww!" happening behind the camera makes my stomach turn, and I always have to wonder if this amazing cheerleader and the "AUTISTIC BOY" [wrong phrasing, by the way; "people first" language is preferred} are still hanging out.
As a parent of a child with Down syndrome, I have to be insistent, every year, that our daughter receives an inclusive education. This means as much time as possible in the classroom with her typical peers, and the same opportunities as them to join a team, make a project, participate in a talent show, be Student of the Week, etc. My daughter does have special needs. I have needs that are special, too.
Parents all over the country join resources and supportive ears to others who are diligently navigating inclusive efforts for their children. Surprisingly, many states still do not offer educational options for full inclusion at all.
I'm sure Alyna's parents were touched by and grateful for the show of support that her daughter received during the game.
My hope for Alyna, going forward, is twofold: 1) that she "gets" to play in any game she wants to; and 2) that the overwhelming love and support of her peers continues, even if there's nothing special to record for social media.
“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”
In this moment, I pause to be fully present in all that I Am.
The anguishes and achievements of my past, and the questions and possibilities of my future, are dormant in this precious place of breath and solace.
In this moment, I am Peace. In this moment, I am Love. And in this moment, I create the Joy that is to come.
I notice my breath, light and easy. I notice my heart, steady without my worry. In this moment, I am Light.
The Light begins in my Anahata, my heart chakra, glowing brighter with each inhale and releasing with purity on each exhale.
With this light, I illuminate my life, and I see that all is so very good.
With this light, I breathe compassion and well-being to all beings who share this moment with me.
With this light, I see the kindness, authenticity, and easy brilliance of all that I Am.
I breathe in the rhythm of I Am. I breathe in soft Love and I breathe out soft Light.
With the light of this moment, I bright illumination to tomorrow, and I face my future with easy peace.
by Emily Nielsen
"I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition."
All posts are copyright ©Emily Nielsen