Tag Archive | Metta

Ordinary Angels <3

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(a “stranger” & me hugging outside Love park in Philadelphia last may – What a wonderful world! My mom took the picture. <3)

“It could be someone walking down the street
A stranger on a bus
A little kid on his way to school or any one of us
We all got a little superman ready to take a fly
And save a life ohh save a life
Take a look around and you’ll see ordinary angels”

Today I encountered a couple ordinary angels walking to work. And I told a complete "stranger" "I love you!" 

A man walked up to me and asked me to buy him a banana split. He seems like he may be homeless and definitely struggling financially. At first I suspected it was a joke. I work at a store where we make banana splits. And occasionally my customers who see me on the streets or in other stores come over and playfully say give me a banana split or milkshake or sundae, just as a joke. I can't even count how many occasions I hear someone yelling across a store or up the street "Hey, it's the ice cream/banana split girl!" lol That's one of the many, many pleasures of working at a store where we serve something as joyous as ice cream! People automatically associate me with joy! ;-D

I did not recognize this man but it was possible he was at one point my customer and was joking. But I quickly realized he was serious. He wanted a banana split at the store Cold Stone. Unfortunately I did not have enough money to buy him one.

I did have enough to buy him coffee though. But he said no he already had coffee and donuts and he pointed to the trash can where he set his coffee and donuts. Some sweet souls already bought him it! It warmed me to see how sweet many people are to buy a person they don't know personally, coffee and donuts.

So I asked him if he would like something else in dunkin donuts, not Cold Stone because I physically did not have the money. I wish I did and would have gladly bought him a banana split and whatever else he wanted. But he said "no just give me whatever you got and I'll save up for my banana split!" lol Now that may seem kind of rude when I write it out like that but he wasn't rude. He was very friendly and told me he loves me! I know he was serious and I told him I love you back.

Now, people may be confused and think how can two perfect "strangers" love each other. Through the years on various occasions I heard my mom & dad ask “How can someone love a stranger?” when they would hear someone express love to a person not personally known to that person. My dad has a sweet & very loving old lady friend who tells everyone “I love you” and she has that as her voicemail at the end. My dad always said how can she love people she does not know. One day on tv my mom & me watched Ellen Degeneres (sp?) say “I love you” to a fan who said it to her first. My mom said the fan can love Ellen but how can Ellen love a person she does not know. But it's easy! There are different kinds of love and different ways to love. Most people probably aren't going to love a person they met two seconds ago the same way they love family & friends and others they know. But they can still love.

Love can be a warm affection, a verb or action, or just a genuine wish for someone else to be happy. When we reach out to help, heal, lift, inspire another, we reach out in love. ❤

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“The world can make you feel so small
Steal your dreams and make you crawl
And break you till you got you got nothing at all
When your in that dark place and you need that embrace
You know love is never too far away”

I put "strangers" in quotations because the longer I live and the deeper I meditate and the more I practice universal love, I realize there are no strangers. We all know each other and we are all One. We all have a basic wish to be happy and free of suffering. We all have desires, needs, longings, fears, dreams or goals, an aversion to suffering, we all lose things and all experience joy, suffering, happiness, heartache…we are all susceptible to tragedy and death and all have the boundless capacity to love & to give.

Think of your pain, your love, your joy, your sorrow, your hope, your tears & laughter & loneliness, your gratitude, your embarrassment, your anger, your patience and impatience, your restlessness and sense of victory, your sense of belonging and togetherness and family, your fears & grief & dreams, your will to live, and know each one you look at and each one you touch, and not just humans, has those experiences too. I already know so much about you, who are reading this, without knowing who you are. 

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One of my favorite books. I carry it everywhere with me.

~Our capacity to love is a currency that just never runs out~

Isn’t it truly amazing how love really cannot run out? There’s enough for everyone! Always! Unlike money and other material things, love cannot be used up. We can give & give & give and not only does it not run out, it increases! The more we love, the more we feel love! ❤

While this encounter with the needy man was going on, I noticed another man through the window of dunkin donuts carefully watching me, even leaning over his table to watch out the window.

Then he later approached me and told me to be careful. He said there are people out there who ask us for money or try to talk to us 
and when we least expect it, put their hands in our bag and carry off with our stuff! It never even occurred to me!

I walk around with my shoulder bag wide open with all my stuff just scattered in it. This man, another, "stranger" was very concerned. 

The man asked him for a banana split too but he said no he hardly has money for himself. But he expressed compassion for the man and said he's sorry he is struggling with destitution. 

I greatly appreciate his concern. The man who wanted a banana split did not seem at all suspicious and I think he truly just wanted a banana split. And he did not try to go anywhere near my bag. I'm extremely trusting often to the point I have done very stupid things and been called stupid by others.

It's a great reminder to be careful. The people who may put their hands in our bags are not necessarily horrible people, just desperate. They may be genuinely friendly but it doesn't mean they won't take our stuff necessarily.

Not all desperate people would do that but many do.

So it's great to be cautious along with compassionate.

When I was leaving the store, a friendly (at least to me) man was holding the door for me and said hello sweetheart when the man who wanted the banana split approached him and the man holding the door yelled "I ain't got two fucking cents!" I couldn't help but laugh.

And I understand his frustration. I never get angry at people asking me for money or stuff but I know just what it's like to not even have "two fucking cents" for myself!

As I was leaving the man who wanted the banana split said "goodbye love, have a great day!" and again, I could tell he truly meant it. 

Even though he is destitute in a financial & material way, I see he is rich in love. He was nothing but friendly, even to the people who weren't friendly to him. I hope he gets his banana split soon! 

I love sharing stories of acts of kindness & love whether they are ones I'm involved in, witness, or even just read or hear. Reading/hearing someone else's story of kindness can brighten our own day and inspire us to act in compassionate ways.

Every now and again I make a list of my ordinary angels and share them here with this beautiful song. I don't think there has ever been a song truer than this. Any one of us can be someone's ordinary angel today. 

“It could be a waitress at coffee shop you never saw before
A soldier thats just coming home from fighting in the war
We all got a little superman ready to take a fly
And save a life ohh save a life
Take a look around and you’ll see ordinary angels”

“Ordinary Angels” sung by Craig Morgan 
Mobile:

Desktop: 

It's a country song which I know many people don't like but even if you don't like the tune or style, you will probably love the message! Country music is my favorite! Especially inspirational country music!  😀

“Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.”

Much love & light, ❤ 

Hugs to you and always remember, I love you!!! ❤

Xoxo Kim 

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Offering the Victory – Universal Love <3

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“May I take defeat upon myself 
And offer them the victory”

Hello loves! ❤

I hope you’re having a beautiful day!

On Valentine’s Day this year I attended a Love retreat at a Buddhist Center here in Philadelphia. It was a series of four classes on Love, each class was 45 minutes long, a lecture and meditation on Love, compassion, and kindness. Universal Love was the topic; universal love is all encompassing love. Completely unconditional love. Love for our friends, family, pets, strangers,insects, rodents, flowers, all sentient beings,  enemies, assholes, difficult people…Love for everyone. Love can be an affective feeling, a warm, positive feeling for someone but it’s also just a selfless, genuine wish for someone else to be happy With or without us, even if that someone is a person we view as a difficult person who we don’t have a warm affection for or a positive opinion of. That’s universal love, a wish for everyone to be happy no matter what. We can still want people to be happy and well (in a way that is not at the expense of others in a negative way) even if we don’t like them. It’s not always easy. It can be extremely difficult. It may take much work, thought, reflection, practice, and meditation to get to that point that we generally want even people we don’t like or ones we’re angry at, even difficult people who want nothing more than to see us fall, to be happy. But it can be done. Sometimes those thoughts and feelings may come very easily to us but sometimes we really have to try hard.

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Eventually it can become our general way of life. There may be setbacks, relapses, occasions now and then we want nothing more than to tell someone off, yell at someone, seek revenge, give someone a disgusted look to get a subtle point across without being too dramatic, or just hope bad things in our heads…but generally, with practice, we can cultivate an attitude of Universal Love. 

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The Love we were lectured on and meditated upon is completely, pure, raw, selfless Love. Ultimate, unconditional Love. With absolutely no expectations of anything in return.

Even when someone else is being selfish, unkind, uncaring, rude, vicious…we can genuinely wish that person the best whether out loud or just in our heads, speak with a calm tone, be kind. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it seems near impossible but with practice, it can be our Way.

And even if we choose to terminate a relationship with someone, it can be in a positive/productive way. We can lovingly let go, end on positive terms even if that person is not being loving or positive. On our part, it can be loving. 

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Some of the life lessons we learned during the retreat are:

1.) Offering the Victory and accepting defeat upon ourself (“ourself” as opposed to “ourselves” means people in general, like universally, as opposed to a specific group of multiple people such as a specific family or room full of people…- I just learned this! Lol :-O) even when we know we’re right and others are wrong, to be completely selfless and let go of self cherishing – self cherishing in this case means putting ourself, our own needs and desires(even seemingly reasonable needs and desires) above others.  Sometimes we know for a fact that someone else is wrong and being selfish, rude, unkind and we may have the urge to lash out, argue, be defensive, be rude back, give someone a dirty look or just think negatively in our heads…but it’s possible to get into the habit of offering those people the victory, show them love, let them be “right,” maybe even say sorry just to keep the peace and love around us. Not out of fear of confrontation or what they’ll think of or do to us if we don’t give in, or low self esteem or being weak or fake, but out of love, a genuine desire to make the world a better, more loving place. It takes a certain kind of strength to do this but it’s very worth it. It’s more important to be loving than to be right. 

It’s so tempting to meet someone’s negativity and rudeness with our own negativity and being rude back. It’s often temporarily satisfying to put people in their place or curse them in our heads or out loud but it accomplishes nothing in the long run. It just puts negative energy out into a world where there’s already enough. 

It’s important to keep in mind that just because you do, say, think selfish things does not make you a bad or even necessarily a selfish person. And it’s something that can be changed if you want to change it. If not, that’s ok too. The teachers of universal compassion and love and selflessness, Buddhists, and monks are not being negatively judgmental just as I am not being judgmental. Universal Love is about acceptance, even acceptance of people who are not being loving and people with drastically different views than our own, opposing views, polar opposite views. Some views and religions are incompatible with one another but the people who hold those views do not have to be incompatible with each other.  

We can not agree with people, not like what they think or do but still love them and show compassion and kindness.  

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I’m putting this into practice more and more each day. I’m not perfect at it. Sometimes it’s so hard. Every single day I am faced with a situation, as are most of us probably, whether very trivial or more serious, where I can choose to put my own needs above someone else’s or accuse someone of being wrong. Sometimes the person really is wrong, sometimes it’s me who is really wrong, but no matter which of us is, I make it my ultimate goal to lovingly accept the defeat upon myself and offer the victory, each day.  

On many occasions, it’s hard and some occasions I suck at it and act selfishly, some moments I give into selfishness knowing I’m acting selfishly, other occasions I’m not aware right away that I’m being selfish, but on others it’s much easier. And the more I practice, the easier it becomes. I’m still not perfect at it, I may never be. But my ultimate intention is pure. 

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For many people it’s difficult accepting defeat or admitting they’re wrong even when they are, so imagine how difficult it is accepting defeat, apologizing, letting others be “right” when you know you are right or they are definitely wrong, especially when they’re being rude and negative.  But it makes the world a better place. Imagine if we all, or even just many of us choose to accept defeat upon ourself and let them be right whether or not they really are! The world would be so loving! Totally worth it! And our actions and love will likely inspire others to become more loving. 

But it’s important to not let it wear you out, always letting yourself be defeated and others be right. You have to get your mind in the right state, train it to happily, lovingly accept defeat upon yourself and offer them the victory. Many people complain that they put others first constantly and it takes a toll on them, that they don’t get credit for the positive things they do, that they get walked all over, taken advantage of, give too much, are too kind and want to stop being so kind to those who “don’t deserve it….”

But that’s because they aren’t properly training their mind to do all this with no expectations in return, in a completely selfless way. They are being loving and kind but still expecting something of others or the world, that they aren’t getting, in return. They expect others to be sweet and friendly and helpful just because they are that way. But the world doesn’t work that way. And when their own loving compassion isn’t met with the compassion of others, they feel cheated, worn out, broken, like it’s unfair. But universal love, accepting defeat and offering the victory is about being loving, compassionate, and kind irrespective of whether we receive that in return. Love to love, not to be loved. It’s fantastic to be loved. But being loved isn’t the goal, the goal is to love. Whether the love is returned or not. To love is more important than to be loved. The solution isn’t to stop loving or caring for those who “don’t deserve it” but to build up our minds so we are not buffeted by the unpleasant circumstances we are in sometimes or the negativity of others. 

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To accomplish this, we have to meditate, reflect, practice and get to the point where we can give, give, give, get nothing out of it, be kind and not receive kindness in return, but still not feel worn out and wronged. Instead we feel even more energized and exhilarated. And even if we don’t receive the love and kindness of others, our own love we unleash onto the world and in our own minds is enough.

Again, we love to love, not to be loved. For this to become our Way and not just happen occasionally, it takes a certain kind of meditation. It must be done properly to be effective and not mess up our minds. I’m going to share the information for the book on training the mind in this here post, later towards the end. I’m nowhere near qualified to teach people to train their minds and that’s not what I’m doing here. Not only am I not a teacher, I myself do not yet have my mind trained much. So I’m in no position to teach others. I’m in the process of training my mind, which unless I attain full enlightenment, will be an ongoing process. But even short of reaching full enlightenment, it is extremely beneficial to just reach some stages. I’m just giving suggestions and sharing my own stories and struggles and experiences. 

Sometimes I am so tempted to “self cherish” and want what I want above what someone else wants. Even “reasonable” selfishness is good to avoid.
 
Here is a real life example when I was so so so tempted to self cherish and be selfish and put my desires or needs above someone else’s. But I chose to offer the victory instead. 

Recently I was at home one night, on a wonderful cold, frigid, Winter night in Philadelphia, drinking hot tea, in my pink winter pj’s, warm on the sofa with a snowstorm going outside, all warm and cozy and sweet. I was sickly and in pain in my right kidney – something that happens quite frequently. I’m prone to kidney stones and what I think are (mild) infections.  But I was very content. My sister decided she wanted to go out for ice cream. I really did not want to but my sister wanted me to go. I was tempted to say no. To say I’m in my pj’s, in pain, I’m not going out. But I kept in mind the teachings of the Buddhist classes I been attending and my desire to more frequently put others first. I was never a horribly selfish girl, even before the classes and my interest in Buddhism, I often selflessly put others first, changing my plans, willingly putting myself out to the point I have been called a “fool” and “pushover” and other insults on multiple occasions by multiple people,  but who isn’t selfish every now and then? Especially when others are wrong or rude or selfish? We often react similarly to that person, reacting with less than kindness or putting our desires first even if we are usually very kind and selfless. So I said ok I’ll go. 

And at first I really wasn’t happy about it, I was reluctant. But determined to “fake it til I make it.” Keep practicing doing what I don’t want to do as long as it’s making others happy.
Not to be “a fake” but to practice acting more selfless to feel more selfless. To BE more selfless. Even if you aren’t happy putting yourself out to help someone else, as long as you aren’t helping just to get something in return, like a positive reputation or favor in return, you are still being selfless if it’s purely to help others be happy and help make the world a better place. There’s nothing wrong with feeling a bit disappointed once in a while. The fact that you put your own needs last even when it’s reluctant indicates that you are being selfless. Even though you are disappointed for you, you are still happy for others.

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 I want to help people be happy. Even if it means not getting what I want in other ways. Just helping others be happy so often helps me be happy even when I’m not getting my own way and am disappointed about it. But sometimes it’s harder to be happy when I’m not getting my own way. But I’m trying to be better.  

I had to go to CVS to get a picture enlarged to give my friends of us in New York City together. We went for a fun trip a couple years ago and I bought the large photo. They did not want to spend the money. So they got pocket size ones. I got the larger one but lost it the next day. The other day I found the pocket size one I had and decided to get it enlarged as a gift for each of my friends. So I decided after getting ice cream with my little sister, we would go to CVS. And my sister said no! She said no! She wanted to just get ice cream and come home! I felt a pang of anger surge through me. I was so tempted to say “fucking seriously?! I’m agreeing to go out in a snow storm sick and in pain, getting all dressed for you and you can’t stop at CVS with me for two minutes just to scan a picture?!” I opened my mouth to speak then held my tongue. 

That’s not the kind of woman I want to be. I want to help others even when they are not being very agreeable, even when they’re being selfish and unreasonable. If I would have said what I wanted to, that wouldn’t be terribly selfish. It’s actually quite reasonable. I was doing her a favor and it would have took less than 5 minutes to stop at CVS. But she did not want to do me the favor, stopping there with me. Even though it was reasonable selfishness it was still selfishness, self cherishing. Putting what I wanted (going to cvs) over what my sister wanted (just coming home). And I still don’t believe I would have been wrong to respond saying I really want to go to cvs. 

And I wouldn’t negatively judge others who would say that. But I want to become completely selfless (like the Buddha) and always put others first but still being peaceful in my mind. I want to be this way because I want people to be happy, even those acting unkindly and selfishly, even ones who don’t return the favor. And I want the world to be better. 
Even though this is, generally, my ultimate goal and truest desire, on certain occasions, it’s hard to live up to, difficult to not get caught up in the negativity or emotions of that specific occasion. It takes practice. 

After I held my tongue I was still pissed. But I saw it as practice to become better and better. And I took advantage of this wonderful opportunity to practice. I thought about the Buddha’s teachings and the monk’s lessons in our classes and my meditations and the woman I aspire to be. And my anger eventually melted away. Even though I was still resentful for a while, at least the environment was still more peaceful and my sister was happy and everyone was happy. If I would have spoken up, expressed my displeasure, it may have relieved my own anger or annoyance a bit but she would have become infuriated or devastated (she’s very sensitive).

So holding my tongue was good even though I did not get what I wanted. And in the end, all the things I want won’t bring me as much peace and happiness as a peaceful, compassionate, selfless mind that puts others (family, friends, strangers, difficult people, even assholes….) first. My meditation and teachings help me so I can put everyone else first but not feel lowered, degraded, worn out. It’s a journey, a process, it will not always come easily. I will always have selfish intentions now and then but I will become a more selfless being with practice. Like I said, I have never been extremely selfish. But like many or most of us, I want what I want occasionally and I think it’s more important than what someone else wants sometimes and I try justify it by showing how it really is more important….but I intend to becomes less and less that way. I offered my sister the victory. I accepted defeat upon myself. 

I’m not bragging. I’m using my own real example because I believe when people are open and honest and share their own stories, they are easier to take seriously. If I’m going to preach or give suggestions, it’s good to use a real experience of my own, right?  And a genuine example, if I have one, is often better than an imaginary one I can make up in my head. 

You can practice Love and selflessness every single day in very simple but significant ways. For example, when you’re walking in back of slowpokes, instead of thinking unpleasant thoughts like “I wish these people would just move already!, How selfish walking so slow when they know people are in back of them!,  Assholes!” 

I’m not innocent of these thoughts occasionally. I thought all of them at some points. 
And actually during one of the breaks the very day of the retreat I found myself almost late for one of the classes in back of very slow people thinking “Move! Move! Move! I’m about to be late!” and not in a pleasant way. Lol And I caught myself and realized the irony of it.

We can instead think “I wish these people well, I hope they’re happy or become happy, I wish them health, joy, friendship, love…” it puts positive energy into the world and if nothing else, it gets you in a positive, loving habit and then you begin to act more lovingly also,  unconsciously and consciously. 

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The Buddhist monk teaching our class most weeks, and the retreat, gave an example of someone going to Starbucks and asking for a latte and thinking how slow the worker is being and thinking “just hurry up with my coffee!” but instead we can think “Yeah! Pump it up! I hope he’s having fun pumping my coffee!” lol! Everyone burst out laughing! It’s funny but it’s true! Let’s hope the workers are having fun or are peaceful and happy or at the very least, not suffering.

And when our pet chews the sofa or our shoes, think how much we love him/her instead of being destructively furious. It can be so hard but with practice, it’s possible.  

For many of us, no matter how loving and positive we are even to strangers, we probably almost never even think to hope the person making our coffee is feeling happy pumping the coffee, or the person who cuts us off in traffic is well, or the pizza delivery man is healthy, or the person who writes us an incredibly rude comment online feels loved today and always….those are incredibly small (but significant) things we completely do not think to do no matter how loving we generally are. But they help significantly. Us and everyone around us.

Soon we begin to exude love and compassion and positivity.

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Outside the Buddhist Center, after the classes, I saw a man crossing the street, walking a dog, and he was almost ran over by another man in a car. I don’t know which one was in the wrong, I wasn’t paying attention, but they both did not handle it well. The one man beeped the horn much longer than necessary. The one man yelled “watch where you’re going asshole!” and the other yelled “suck it you fucking asshole!” and the other responded “not on your life, asshole!”. And they both gave each other vicious looks and the one walking with the dog flipped the one in the car off. I couldn’t stop laughing because first of all, again with the irony, outside a Buddhist Center where they preach nothing but Love and on the day of a Universal love retreat! And because how they both just kept yelling “asshole!”

Lol I probably shouldn’t be so amused but I am! 
  
2.) Mindfully focusing on all the kindness and love we have been shown since we came into the world, the love and kindness shown by family, friends, teachers, animals, strangers…

We are alive today and much of where we are is because of the love and kindness of others either directly targeted at us or indirectly. Since we came into the world we have been shown kindness and love. Even in the simplest, smallest ways but are still significant.

The doctors and others who took care of you and your birth mother before you were born,  took care of you and your unborn children, your family who kept you alive and safe, your friends you had in and out of school growing up, who taught you things, your teachers, professors, instructors, the law enforcement officers who keep our communities safer, the people who grow/make our food, doctors and nurses, cashiers in stores, government workers, janitors who keep our buildings clean, fast food workers who serve us, strangers who showed us random acts of kindness throughout the years…

During the meditation, I was surprised at the emotions that welled up in me when we were meditating on this concept. While I felt warmth, love, gratitude, joy, happiness, inspiration, awe, I also experienced guilt, contrition, awkwardness, sadness, embarrassment, grief  about all I have been overlooking all these years, completely disregarding. As grateful and reflective as I often am, I still overlook, ignore, close my eyes to so much.  But this retreat awakened me even more.

 At some points during the meditation, it was difficult to focus, too painful, too awkward, too uncomfortable ,at some points, I felt so small,  but I once read that the best teachers bring us to ruin, instead of having his/her students clapping and cheering, s/he has them in silent awe, mouths gaping open in disbelief, astonishment, heads held low in embarrassment, remorse, guilt at all they have been ignorant of. These aren’t the words that I read but the same concept. I’m paraphrasing, capturing the sentiment. And it’s what I felt during the classes. 

I invite you to try this activity. Just sit or lay in a quiet place or listen to some gentle, wordless, music and reflect on and feel gratitude for all those who have shown you kindness and love, even the ones you never met, the people who grow/make the food to be sold in 
stores, your family and all the things they have done for you through the years, your friends, acquaintances, pets, neighbors, strangers you remember who showed you love in some way, the doctor who was your biological mom’s when she was pregnant with you, the persons who safely delivered or assisted in delivering you when you were born, your ancestors who all led to you, singers, celebrities who inspire you, all of the people in this life who help you or have helped you in any way no matter how seemingly simple or small.

We are also encouraged to think of and give thanks for those we haven’t yet met but will meet in the future. Future best friends, coworkers, family members, future children, strangers we’ll meet at a Busstop, walking up the street, a new neighbor who may move in near you and become like family to you, the employees in restaurants and cafes we will go to, future lover/s, there are infinite opportunities waiting to unfold for us to meet various kinds of beautiful people.  And experience many more beautiful things. This brought and still brings me so much hope. To think of all those people and all those experiences and opportunities that are still to come to me, tomorrow, next year, in twenty years and more….

Think of and give thanks for all these people and animal friends and experiences who bless and will bless your life.

And let us give thanks for all our blessings.

Also let’s remember to accept defeat upon ourself and offer the victory to them. Even when we know without a doubt that we are right and they are wrong. Love is more important than being right.

You may think “why should *I* be the one to give in?” We have control over our own selves, not others. It’s up to them to decide what to be and up to each one of us to decide for ourself. 
I hope you choose to be all that you can be in each moment. You probably won’t always live up to that goal but on many occasions you will and that’s fantastic. 

We will have setbacks and succumb to selfish ways again and again. We will expect things that others will not do for us, we will cherish ourself and ignore the needs and desires of others, we will be ungrateful, angry, and negative sometimes because we are not fully enlightened. And that’s ok. We can just be as loving as we can and when we fall, gently remind ourself that love is the Way. 

When we keep putting others first over and over and being kind to people being rude, we will very likely still feel annoyed or angry even if we don’t act on it. That’s ok. Eventually we will be better and better at putting others always first while still feeling happy and pleasant about it. 

3.) And remember to view each unpleasant encounter with someone as an opportunity to practice becoming more loving, more patient. It’s a habit that must be maintained to keep it going. It’s an ongoing journey. Practice, practice, practice. Challenging encounters are a good thing.

“No one ever learns to be a great driver by just driving upon a straight road.”

4.) “It is like a diamond, like the sun, and like a medicinal tree.”

That is to say that when we train our minds by following the instructions of Geshe Chekhawa’s text on being more compassionate, loving, kind, meditative, offering the victory, accepting defeat, any little thing we do is good. Even if it’s just a sliver of what he teaches. When a diamond is cut into little pieces, every fragment, even the most microscopic piece, is extremely valuable. Geshe Chekhawa’s text is best when practiced as a whole, but like a broken diamond, even the smallest part is extremely valuable. Priceless are his teachings, even when only part is followed. Sunlight completely dispels all darkness but even just a few beams of golden sun provide some light. If we practice his full text, we completely dispel all of our darkness of ignorance but just engaging in some parts of the practice is incredible. Even just one moment you choose kindness as opposed to lashing out, it is like a beam of sun. Beautiful. 
And just as every part of a medicinal tree (roots, trunk, branches, leaves, flowers, and fruit) provides medicine, so every part of the instructions on training the mind provide insight, relief, invaluable information to us.
Every word of his is infinite wisdom. 

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And you don’t have to be a Buddhist or plan on becoming one to incorporate some Buddhist views such as these, into your world. Even if you have another religion, universal love is compatible with it. 

I purchased a book at the retreat called “Universal Compassion” by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, who is the teacher of the monk who teaches our class. I love his books and have many. This is the book I mentioned above on training the mind to be completely selfless but still completely happy and peaceful in general. It is a beautiful and practical book that helps us train our brains to be all that we can be. 
 Geshe Chekhawa’s teachings are mentioned there. It’s based on his wisdom. 

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These are just some of the things I learned during the retreat and practice, meditate upon  in class every week and at home during my meditations and everywhere I go. I’m so thankful I attended and have awakened to so much wisdom and experienced amazing things during meditation and lectures. It’s amazing to be surrounded by people who have similar goals and interests as me. I hope I can remember and share bits of wisdom I learn each week/day and share it along with my own experiences and struggles, to help others.  

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Links on Metta(universal love):

http://www.buddhanet.net/metta_in.htm

http://www.wildmind.org/metta/introduction/what-is-metta

Lovingkindness meditation: 

Desktop:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz7cpV7ERsM&app=desktop

Mobile:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sz7cpV7ERsM&app=m&persist_app=1

This page, below, has free mp3’s for songs and meditations/guided meditations about love & compassion.
 
http://www.buddhanet.net/audio-library.htm

May you be well.
May you be happy. 
May you be peaceful.
May you be loved.

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Xoxo Kim ❤ ❤

Ordinary Angels <3

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“It is extraordinary how extraordinary the ordinary person is.” ~ George F. Will

I recently came across a Country song that I never heard before and I am completely blown away! I write so frequently about how one life no matter how “ordinary,” can have an amazing, positive effect on many, many other lives. And that’s exactly the message this song conveys. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful message. 

Most people that I come across, that I know of, can’t stand Country music. But even if you are one of those who find it very distasteful, you may still love the beautiful message of this song.

“Life’s like a chain – sometimes it breaks
We all need a hand when we fall from grace
It could be someone walking down the street
A stranger on a bus
A little kid on his way to school
Or any one of us
We all got a little superman ready to take flight
And save a life, oh save a life
Take a look around and you’ll see ordinary angels” ~ Craig Morgan 

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A while ago I wrote a post about “ordinary” people who inspire me, people who aren’t celebrities(celebrities can be very inspiring too but we don’t have to be to have a positive effect on someone.) or ones who are well known. They don’t necessarily have extravagant jobs and lots of money or any special skills other than compassion, caring, and the courage to reach out to others in some way. They don’t necessarily have the resources to reach people at great magnitudes the way famous people do. But they can touch at least one life each day. They help people just by being themselves.  That was before I heard this song. And this song inspires me to make another list. Here is my list of “ordinary angels,” mostly  strangers whose lives have touched mine in some way.

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1.) The man who came to the store where I work and paid for the two people in line in back of him who he did not know and told them to get whatever they want, no matter how much it costs. Then he gave me an eighteen dollar tip, which is more than the cost of all his stuff! The people in back of him insisted that he doesn’t pay for their stuff and he said he wanted to.

“We’re all in this together” he said. 

I was inspired by his message more than the big tip!  We ARE all in this together. Let’s reach out to one another, encourage each other, and build each other up. 
 
2.) The young man who gave me his seat on a bus – one day after a therapy appointment I was standing on a crowded bus holding a bag of books and this young man without asking just got up and walked to the front and told me I can have his seat and he stood the rest of the way. It helped me so much!! I am still so thankful.

3.) the two men who (literally) saved my life at a bus stop – I was (stupidly) texting on my phone while crossing the bus terminal and I walked in front of the 17 bus and almost got hit, two men who did not know me or each other, yelled and one pushed me and the other pulled me. They risked their own lives to save me, a stranger. They had no idea who I am, had no idea how I live, what my views on anything are, what I may have done in this life and they did not care. All they cared about was saving me.

4.) The homeless man who saw me trudging up the street like trying to walk through Quicksand or like trying to walk up the stairs in that Fred Krueger movie, going to class, when I was in college. I was depressed & suicidal and he had no idea what was going on in my head but he knew something unpleasant was going on. He yelled out to me, “Smile little lady, it gets better.” and he had the brightest, most beautiful smile on his face, I couldn’t help but smile, myself! 😀  His words still carry me today.

Smile little lady, it gets better. 😀

It does get better.
 
5.) the University professor at Temple University in back of me in line, who smiled and talked to me in her warm, soothing voice when we were waiting in line. She was almost late for her class and was in line to buy a snack and so was I. I wasn’t her student but I was almost late for a different class. She had the most beautiful smile and warmest voice. She wanted to get out of line and go to the soda box to get a drink and asked me if I would hold her place. When she came back I let her get in front of me so she wouldn’t be as late. I was depressed and suicidal again. Back then I almost always was. I found her presence to be so comforting and warm. And that encounter lifted me. And I cherish that memory. I even wrote a poem about it many years later! People inspire me to write. 

6.) the man who helped me in Center City Philadelphia when I was lost. I couldn’t find my way back home, had no idea what bus to take or where to get it. I must have looked as lost as I felt. A man came out of nowhere and asked if I was lost and where I was trying to go. I told him and he told me exactly where to go and what bust to get on. I found my way back home. Love will always be my guide. 
 
7.) the sweet girl in Center City who gave me a hug out of nowhere just because she wanted to bring joy to anyone she could.  I never saw her before that day or any day after. 

8.) the stranger who put his umbrella over me in the midst of a heavy rain shower. I was waiting for a bus after my therapy appointment, to come home and a man also waiting for the bus let me stand under his umbrella with him. He asked if I work around there and I said no I go to therapy appointments there. He asked what for and asked if I’m stressed. I said not necessarily “stressed” I have a chronic depressive disorder and suicidal tendencies, a genetic condition or biochemical imbalance or whatever. I waited for him to step away in shock and horror and disgust like some others have done when I told them. But instead, he asked about it and empathized, and he told me his sister also has depression and he tries to be as understanding as possible.

9.) the two women who talked to me walking up the street together – I was walking to a counseling center for an appointment and on the way there I met two women holding hands, walking up the same street with me. They had a special warmth about them, a welcoming, inviting glow,  I thought they seemed like people I would like to know or talk to and then the one turned around and said hello. I said hello and the other one turned to greet me. They asked where I was going and I told them and it turned out they were patients at the same place for depression like me! But they weren’t going there then. We talked for a while and they told me they are lovers and have a mostly great relationship but get into arguments because the one girl was kind of overly jealous. And the one wanted to hang out with her ex girlfriend and the other was very uncomfortable with that situation. But they were working on their problems together. They told me their fears, their loves, their sorrow, and joy. Their happiness.  I love how open and honest they were. I’m very open too but some people I wouldn’t tell stuff to directly because they don’t seem as easy to talk to but these two women were so open and receptive and what a coincidence how I met them, nowhere near the clinic but they were patients there! We knew the same people and had similar experiences! They were very easy to talk to and I told them my own story with depression.

10.) the lady who made sure no one sat in a puddle on a seat on a bus – I was sitting on a bus years ago and a lady closer to the front intentionally sat near a seat with a puddle in it so she would be able to tell every person who was about to sit in it that it’s wet! And many people kept getting ready to sit in it! She had to remain constantly alert and couldn’t even sit back all the way in her seat so that she could constantly, quickly caution people! I have seen puddles and gum on seats before and most people walk right by not thinking to even sit close just to warn people. What a very thoughtful and caring person! And so many people and their pants were saved! Doesn’t this just inspire you so deeply to be more thoughtful?! 

11.) the sweet & friendly girl at an event at a Buddhist center who talked to me. We have very similar interests and she showed genuine interest in me and my opinions. She’s going to be a nurse and help lots of people! I loved talking to her. I only ever met her once but the connection was deep. 

12.) the friendly Philadelphia police detective who said I did a great job and expressed gratitude for me “helping” after someone tried to steal money at work years ago. I couldn’t identify the person but the man was so thankful anyway and praised me for trying. He could have been frustrated and stressed but he was friendly and uplifting. He did more than just his job, he reached out to be positive and uplifting when he did not have to. 
 
13.) the customer who saw me outside of work and told me I’m very friendly and that him and his girlfriend are always pleased to see me at work. They are both very sweet and kind and caring.

14.) The man who told me I have beautiful hair – some years ago I was filling out one of those silly and fun online surveys and one question was “what thing do you get the least compliments on?” mine is my hair. I love my beautiful hair but I don’t get many compliments on it by others(I’m often told that it’s super long but not always sure if it’s exactly a compliment or just an observation). My sister always did get compliments when it’s not dyed because she has bright orange hair, naturally, when it’s not dyed another color. The very next day when I was on a bus, a man who was walking out the doors told me I have very beautiful hair. It wasn’t even fixed or brushed.  And recently in dunkin donuts another man came up to me while I was in line and told me I have very beautiful, long hair then he walked away and as I was walking out, he said goodbye. I love genuine compliments that are not intended to get something in return. 

15.) the girl I met randomly in college. I was sitting outside on campus reading a philosophy book when this girl sat next to me like she knew me. I wanted to say hello but was too shy so I just kept on reading and she said the name of my book and the author without even being able to see it. She recognized the appearance of the book! Another philosophy phreak!
What are the chances?! 😀
She told me her name, Stephanie, she was going to law school to be a criminal defense attorney and loved philosophy like me! We had a long, intriguing discussion about all the ancient and modern philosophers, philosophy of law, logic,ethics, and about our other interests. Her boyfriend was going away for the military and she was scared for him and sad he was leaving but also proud. I was so happy to have a friend in that moment, we connected so well, so genuinely, an instant soul sister. I never saw her again but my memory uplifts me to this day.

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16.) the doctor who held my hand after surgery – many years ago I had very painful emergency surgery and medical procedure on my kidney & bladder when it almost ruptured. I was very sickly and in excruciating pain. After surgery, I was scared because I opened my eyes but couldn’t see very well. I had no idea that is normal after just waking up after surgery as I have never had surgery before then or knew anything about it. All the doctors and nurses were very warm and caring. The one doctor came over and I told her I couldn’t see and she held my hand and assured me it would get better and I would recover well. She did more than just her job, she expressed compassion, genuine concern, and empathy. Now when I think back to that ordeal, I have warm memories. 

17.) the little boy, five years old, who told me I’m beautiful one night at work. A young mom who comes with her little boys told me her older son has a little crush on me and was too afraid to tell me I’m pretty. And she told him every girl loves to be told she’s beautiful and I said yup that’s so true! And then the younger boy said “you are so beautiful!” I was so flattered. Especially because I did not feel the most beautiful that night! I was functioning with lack of sleep, ratty hair, no makeup…

And his compliment was so genuine. After that, I really did feel so beautiful, even with the dark circles under my eyes and all! When a child tells you you’re beautiful, you are beautiful! Lol

18.) the man driving by in a car who saw a random stranger, another man, putting up a ladder and stopped his car to say “yo buddy, you need help?” I just witnessed this; I wasn’t involved but it warmed me just the same.

19.) Michelle, Melissa, Lamont, Stephen, Patricia, Frank, Holly, Deborah, Aquanetta, Jennifer, Chris, Latrina, Kelly, Georgia, Gina, and all the others I knew when I had to stay in a hospital for a while for psychotic depression and suicidal contemplation. It wouldn’t be the same without those friends who helped me see it through. All strangers who helped each other bear the burden of mental illness. We all connected in a deep way, all of us struggling and understanding each other better than anyone else ever could. We suffered in our own separate worlds, imprisoned in our own secret hell but we were able to reach out to one another and let each other into that hell, knowing each other’s pain intimately. I never saw them again but I carry them in my heart. 

20.) Mr. O, the psychiatric technician who told us of his own struggle with substance addiction and his recovery and how it inspires him everyday to help others. He told us that we all have an inner sun, to find it and let it shine through. That we can always choose how to handle things and react and work on our attitude even when it hurts. He even mentioned one of my other favorite Country songs, “The Gambler,” sung by Kenny Rogers, which is about choosing our attitude and empowering ourselves. 

21.) my friend, Johnathan – he’s not a stranger. I knew him for years. He’s the most selfless person I have ever known. He gives others his last dollar always, even when he’s out of money and food for himself. He goes out of his way to help strangers, he buys food for whole families if he sees them struggling. He does (construction) work for people even if they can’t pay him. He doesn’t always know when he will get paid next but it doesn’t stop him, he will give every last dollar of his to a friend, a family member, a stranger, even an enemy. I have seen him giving money to and doing free work for people who are very unkind to him, very ungrateful, even destructively criticize him. He does this out of the goodness of his heart. He genuinely wants everyone to be happy. Everyone. He is a great dad and does whatever he can to help his kids whenever they need something, even the young adult ones. He helps animals in need if he sees them. He is extremely understanding and caring and compassionate. He’s big and strong and defends people in need. His generosity is boundless and indescribable. He just gives, gives, gives. Love, money, work, anything he has to give.

22.) the group of police officers who came to my work – I don’t charge police officers of any kind at work. They can get whatever they want for nothing. But they usually insist on paying and giving me tips. One day a group of them came and gave me a very big tip. They were very friendly and so generous. I always appreciate the friendliness and kindness more than the money itself. They had the opportunity to get whatever they wanted for nothing but they paid and gave me a generous tip. And were kind and friendly. I appreciate that and all the work they do, the risks they take with their lives and also the risk of being destructively criticized by people who do not appreciate the work they do for us and judge them all by the unjust actions of a few, the dangerous work and the boring paperwork they must endure. They risk being perceived negatively and their mistakes and flaws are magnified because of the kind of work they do. Everyone probably makes mistakes but for people of certain jobs, they stand out more. I make mistakes at work but because the job is trivial, it won’t stand out as much even though I’m no morally better. I have much appreciation & deep gratitude  for all good officers/detectives/police…

23.) The employee at Dunkin Donuts who gave me a senior discount when I did not have enough money for something after I ordered it. She could have said forget about it and let me go with nothing but she was kind enough to consider me an old person for the day and let me still have my drink! 😀

24.) the interviewer who rejected me for the job I applied to – I went on a job interview in the summer. The interviewer thought that I was qualified and experienced enough to give me a chance for an interview. After the interview process of a few potential employees, she e-mailed me to tell me she selected the person she thought was most qualified (not me 😦 lol) and she warmly thanked me for my interest and encouraged me to keep applying for jobs. I was surprised and pleased that she cared and took the time out of her very busy schedule to e mail those she interviewed who were not selected, and that she encouraged me to keep trying, to not give up. I wrote back thanking her for the chance and her message and she replied with well wishes to me for the present and the future! How sweet! I never encountered employers who are that involved or caring enough to write not one but two messages to the person they rejected and encouraging them not to give up! They usually just seem to ignore us. This shows how caring she is and not just all out for herself and her department. Not that all employers who ignore people are selfish or not caring, they just have so much to do, but writing a friendly message is evidence of true compassion. 

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25.) the college boy who complimented me after a presentation I gave to the class on a very complex, confusing philosophy issue involving logic. In college, many years ago for one of my philosophy classes we had to write difficult papers, just like for most Phil. Classes I took. One paper I wrote, when the professor gave it back, it had A+ written on it! A is the best grade but he loved it so much he put a + on it! And not only that but he asked me to present it to the whole class! It’s to this day one of my most proudest accomplishments! It was very difficult to write, it took much thought and understanding. I don’t have social anxiety or fear of public speaking but I am very shy and this makes me forget stuff, sometimes, when I’m talking to people I don’t know well. When I would present stuff to class or professors, I would often feel like I have to get it perfect or like I will embarrass myself so it’s not always easy to talk in front of many people I don’t know well. And this is a very complex topic. So I happily agreed to present it but I was concerned I would forget how to explain it. It’s a difficult topic anyway and along with being shy and the pressure to not mess up in front of all those people, concerned me but I did very well anyway and a young man in class with me came up and told me how good I did. His compliment was everything to me and still is. 

26.) the very friendly lady I met walking up the street. My mom, sister, and me were walking up the street in cold weather but my mom was hot and not wearing a coat and a very friendly lady came up and talked to us like she knew us forever even though we never saw her before. I love people like that! She was wearing a Winter coat and hat and said she wished she could be like my mom and not have to wear all that heavy clothing and she complimented my mom and she was just so sweet and friendly. It warmed me in the bitter cold. People who talk to strangers like they’re BFF’s always uplift & inspire me!

27.) the strangers who wrote a note about feeding stray cats. The bar on the corner where I live used to have a bowl of food and a small tent made for the stray cats to seek shelter in the back. Someone did not like it and put a note up asking them to stop attracting cats. But the cats were there anyway. It’s just that now they had food and shelter. Then later a person wrote on that same note responding to the first person saying the cats need to eat and a place to go. Then later another person responded suggesting to keep feeding them or take them to a shelter so they can find furever homes. All these strangers communicated to each other without seeing each other, just writing and signing their names to express compassion for homeless animals. Eventually the cats were taken to a no kill shelter by my kind neighbors, so they can finally get the furever homes & family love they deserve. 

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28.) the girl I met at a carnival when we were twelve years old. My mom and dad took my sister and me to a carnival but my sister was too young for the rides so I had to go on them alone but another young girl came over to me and asked me to go on them with her. We were best friends for the day.

29.) the girl in middle school who stood up for me when another girl said I had ugly hair. She told her my hair is not ugly; it’s beautiful. I still feel the compliment today. 

30.) my psychology professor in college who e -mailed me to ask if everything is ok when I stopped coming to class all of a sudden. He did not take attendance but he noticed I was missing and cared. I was involuntarily hospitalized for depression and suicide contemplation at the end of that semester. I responded and told him what happened and he was extremely compassionate and told me he would make the final exam as easy as possible for me. I was so thankful and told him so. Then later he wrote back telling me to forget about the final exam that all my exams and class assignments were very good and he would just base my final grade on those. Words cannot express my gratitude for his kindness, compassion, concern, and understanding.   
I still feel it now. Like a wrapped in a warm blanket. 

31.) Larry the love poet – there’s a man named Larry I happen to see occasionally just walking up a street, in stores, all around. I don’t know him well, I just met him outside one day, but he always stops to talk to me. He’s a poet who is crazy for love. He writes beautiful love poems and recites them for me. He remembers all the words off the top of his head! I saw him in dunkin donuts and he got out of line to hold the door for me because my hands were full! 

“When you’re in that dark place and you need that embrace
You know love is never too far away
It could be a waitress at a coffee shop you never saw before
A soldier that’s just coming home from fighting in the war
We all got a little superman ready to take flight
And save a life, oh save a life
Take a look around and you’ll see ordinary angels”

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So here is my list of ordinary angels. And these are just some of them. There are many, many more. 

Ordinary angels are everywhere. Loving, helpful, beautiful people, random acts of kindness… are not rare…but they are often overlooked and forgotten about in the midst of the routine busyness, stress, negativity…the mundane hassles, obligations, and stresses of everyday life that many/most of us experience at some points.

And we definitely need more love, compassion, and kindness in the world. There can never be too much. Sometimes we let fear stop us so we don’t reach out, or feelings of inadequacy, like maybe a more qualified person will come along to help that person in need so we should just go our own way, or we get too wrapped up in our own lives and situations we don’t think or care to stop to help another or we have bitter feelings against people or the world, or we’re too shy or just oblivious to all the chances and the importance to help out….but all this can be overcome so we can reach out in love.

No matter who you are, there is someone, somewhere who needs you and can benefit by your touch.  Maybe someone across the world or right next door or in the very same room. 

Something as simple as a friendly hello, a loving smile, or warm touch, letting someone else go first, have the last of something even if you want it, holding a door for someone not out of a feeling of obligation but genuine desire to make something easier for someone else, feeding stray cats, squirrels, or birds,  who are hungry, adopting or fostering an animal, an uplifting comment or message on social media, sending an anonymous package during the holiday season to a person you know, to uplift that person, an anonymous or not anonymous letter to uplift someone you know is struggling in some way…all have the potential to brighten someone’s life. And as you see, these warm memories are everlasting. All these years later I remember all these lives and the many more who touched my life for the better. I carry them in my heart always.

I believe most people are basically good and caring but some people go above and beyond. Like these people above. They are full of love, compassion, courage, and life. 
They have various jobs but they help in ordinary contexts irrespective of their jobs. They don’t need a specific paid job or volunteer job or a job at all to go the extra mile and help out in some way. 
They can be financially struggling, homeless, financially rich, a doctor or celebrity, a police officer, a child, a very old person, a person with a disability of any kind…
They help & inspire because of who they are, not because of their job. Their jobs just provide opportunities for helping.
But there are opportunities all around us. 
We can all be like this. 
People with jobs where they always have to help people and famous or well known people can be ordinary angels too, helping people in “ordinary” contexts just like anyone else can, the whole point of the message is no matter who or what we are, or how much or very little we have, we can help someone in need or just brighten someone’s day. 

“A soldier that’s just coming home from fighting in the war…”

Soldiers help people at work but they can also help in more simple, ordinary ways outside of work.

I am not the only one blessed with ordinary angels. They are everywhere. We all have the potential to be an ordinary angel. Like the song says.

“…or any one of us.”

I choose to acknowledge and list them and I encourage you to do the same. Whether it’s a public post like this one or in a journal you never show anyone. 
You will have the warm memories to think about as long as you live.
Not only does it honor them even if they will never see it, it gets us in the habit of seeing them, acknowledging them, feeling immense gratitude for them. And allowing them to inspire and motivate us to pay it forward and be someone else’s ordinary angel. 

Kindness has a ripple effect and love can permeate the world. 

Whenever we reach out to make the world or someone’s life a little bit better, we reach out in Love.

Who are your ordinary angels?

When have you been someone else’s ordinary angel? The opportunities are infinite.

Go be someone’s Earth angel today.

All you need is your beautiful, loving heart.

“I’ve seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives.” ~Tracy Chapman

Mobile link to YouTube video for the song, “Ordinary Angels”:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=X4g4VlAgS4o

Desktop link: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&persist_app=1&v=X4g4VlAgS4o

Xoxo Kim 😀

On Empathy

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“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” ~ Henry David Thoreau ❤

I have thin, super thin, psychological boundaries but I have learned to handle it well and I see it as a true gift and pure strength. Thin psychological boundaries means I often have difficulty emotionally separating myself and others. When someone suffers either physically or emotionally or experiences pleasure or joy, I feel almost as if it’s happening to me. It literally hurts me, even physically when someone else hurts. And elates me or fills me with sheer joy when someone else is thrilled or elated.  Even if the person isn’t someone I like much or someone I don’t know or even on TV or a fictional character in a book. 

One day a psychic program on TV was on in my house.  I don’t believe in psychic abilities or that psychics are real but it can still be interesting. 
I was sitting on the sofa while it was on and saw parts of it. 
The psychic lady said a lady’s neck was snapped by a murderer in some room in a house somewhere that the psychic lady was standing in and the psychic lady got all worked up saying she has to get out of there because she was so disturbed over what she “saw” and she said she “saw” marks on this lady’s neck and she was holding her own neck and my neck started throbbing and felt all bruised and my head and face started throbbing on the one side, the side where I usually have the cluster-like headaches, and I was holding it the rest of the day off and on! And I felt the dead lady’s neck injury and the psychic’s emotional distress all day. I know it was “empathy pain,” not really something wrong with my neck. Not an actual headache. I was still happy that day, it doesn’t usually overly interfere with my own life.  And I don’t believe what the psychic lady was saying but I believe she may have believed it. Or believed it to some extent. Or is great at acting.

 I felt so connected to that psychic lady, deeply connected. Both of us did not have a neck injury at all but both of us experienced both physical sensation and emotional distress over someone else’s painful situation. I often get “empathy headaches” when someone has a headache. I usually keep it to myself so as not to or appear to be taking the attention or sympathy off of the true sufferer. 
 
There have been occasions I was so overwhelmed over someone else’s pain or sickness I succumbed to my bed for an hour or more. I can handle emotional pain better than serious physical pain so it’s often the physical pain that overwhelms me more when someone else experiences it. Both kinds of pain can be just as bad and painful, it’s just that severe physical pain is more difficult to me. 

It’s ridiculous and a bit uncalled for to have empathy to this extreme. I can still be empathetic without going to this extreme but it’s not my choice. I don’t have it like some people are said to have to the point they’re almost “psychic” like they feel an overwhelming sense of dread then something terrible happens. Or their chest hurts then someone in the room has a heart attack. It’s just when someone is already suffering that I see of or read/hear about, I feel it too. 

Also, unlike with some people similar to me in this way, such as my sister, I don’t feel overwhelmed in crowded places or have to retreat to a place of being physically alone to “recharge” or recover. I can handle crowded places and various people all around me. In fact, I usually prefer it to being alone. I am an extrovert even though I’m very shy around people I don’t know or don’t know well. And I can be around many people and not have to come home and rest afterwards.  I feel energized and uplifted in a room full of people, even if I don’t interact with them in anyway.  Just being physically near people lifts me.

I used to see my extreme empathy as a blessing as well as a curse but now I just view it as a gift. While it can be exhausting, annoying, ridiculous, painful, feeling as One with others can’t be a “curse.”

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I can usually sense people’s true emotions even when they are lying or pretending. I usually catch micro-expressions (the split second facial expression people reveal right before they show a different one – it’s the true feeling before they pretend to feel something else or try to cover it up. If they are angry, for example, anger will briefly flash across the face before they put on a fake smile) easily and can often sense people’s anxiety, elation, or anticipation. Sometimes when one person in a crowded room is extremely anxious I pick up on it even if I don’t know which one it is. I can often sense the overall mood in a room full of people. Whether most people are happy, thrilled, anxious, in a hurry, gloomy….not just see it on their faces but actually feel/sense the energy. 

I also understand situations really well even if I’m not involved or never have been. I can just clearly imagine things happening and why. I have a deep understanding.

I think authors of fiction books need a very developed empathetic ability. I’m not talking about being caring and compassionate but a deep, thorough understanding of how situations work even if they never been in a similar one. An incredibly deep imagination. They have to get in the heads of various kinds of people, even people who are so very unlike themselves, to bring their characters to life if they want them to be of substance, realistic, well developed, and believable. They have to imagine, deeply, how certain situations play out and conjure up the emotions of those who would be in those situations even if they themselves were never in those situations. They have to put themselves in that place. It’s absolutely amazing the skills fiction writers have! I love it! 

It seems that we often overlook their incredible empathy. We often acknowledge their incredible writing skills and even their amazing intelligence, maybe even the fantastic research they had to do for the book’s theme, but look at that empathy! They can write an entire book as if they are that character or in the character’s head! Mind blowing! I don’t see/hear people praising this enough! It’s the same for actors who have to play characters and not just act, but feel, literally (mentally)  become a whole other person! Incredible! 

Empathy. 

 It runs deeper than just caring and compassion. Someone can still be caring and compassionate but not really *feel* or understand someone else’s situation.

And someone can experience a kind of empathy but not feel concern or compassion. For example: I feel the pain of others even just watching movies that aren’t real. There are scenes in movies where a “bad” character is getting hurt like getting hit over the head or something by someone trying to protect themselves or others and I felt like my own body was being hit even when I wasn’t feeling much compassion for the character, even when I was happy when a character was getting revenge.
I have experienced empathy without compassion and compassion without empathy. They often go together but not always.

There are occasions I was empathetic and understanding enough to know something I wanted to say or write to someone would emotionally hurt or infuriate  that person and I said or wrote it to intentionally inflict pain or anger upon the person out of my own anger. I was empathetic in some way but not very compassionate in those moments. My empathy led me to know to some degree how the person would feel and I wanted the person to feel anger or sadness or pain. This isn’t usually a good thing and I think empathy is better used to help heal, not hurt. We also need compassion. 

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Most people have a basic ability to experience empathy; it’s a natural human trait we have that develops as we are growing up. It’s related to compassion. Certain experiences can deepen some people’s empathy. Some are naturally more in touch with theirs than others. And we can learn to deepen our basic empathy into something more. Paying more attention to people and all sentient beings, tuning into our own emotions, drawing on our own various experiences, meditation, trying to better understand, imagining what it must be like to experience something, focusing on the fact that when we suffer or hurt it’s a similar feeling to what others feel when they suffer and hurt…

Empathy isn’t just feeling someone else’s pain but also experiencing another’s joy, happiness, and pleasure.

I have known people who won the lottery, like 100 or 1000 dollars, and I felt like I just won. When I hear of someone getting a new job, job promotion, getting married or engaged, having or adopting a child, getting ready for vacation, I feel it too. The thrill, the anxiety, the anticipation, the sheer joy, the love. I can’t be feeling it exactly how they are as I have my own body and mind/mental/emotional experiences. But I can strongly and deeply sense it.

There’s a definite and deep connection. 

It’s hard for me to get jealous (although I have experienced jealousy and probably will again) of people when great things happen to them when I can bask in the joy and beauty of their experiences almost as if it’s my own. When one person wins, we all win.

I think about things like this often and was recently thinking about it again when I saw the news at work. 

It was startling to see on the news that in some countries people are dying of infectious diseases in the streets.  When they are sick or injured they are left for dead. 

One man of an African country, the man who inspired me to write this post here, was shown on the news laying outside dying of an infectious disease. He was writhing in pain and sickness and laying in a puddle of his own blood, a result of the disease’s progression. 

There were people standing around watching, sure to keep their distance so as not to contract the disease themselves. And then there was the person filming the horror. 

Some moments my empathy or feeling of connectedness is deeper and some moments I don’t feel as connected to what is before me.

The moment I saw the sick, dying man in excruciating pain and sickness, I felt more connected. I felt it with my whole body. A longing to take all the sick, hurting, dying people in my arms so they can feel my touch before they go or before they heal. So they can know someone cares, even if I contract the disease myself. What I felt was both empathy and compassion, a perfect combination. Empathy can inspire greater compassion. 

Imagine laying sick and in pain while people surround you at a safe distance and watch, you’re still so alone. No one will touch you. No one is coming for you, until after you die, to remove your infected, contagious body. Imagine them all staring at you, fear in their eyes, utter helplessness. For some of them, all they can probably think is that they’re glad it isn’t them. Truly, deeply imagine. 

But I felt an instant connection to a stranger across the world, briefly flashing across a TV screen. Someone of a different language, a different country, a different nationality, different culture, skin color, ethnicity.

I have never been deathly ill or left for dead. I never been to his country but still I know that underneath we’re the same.

Strip away all the outer layers of culture and language and color of skin, distance, financial status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and other experiences and underneath at a most basic, primitive level, we are One.

Our basic humanness exists the same underneath no matter the color of our skin, our level of education, career labels, class status, our location in the world, financial situations, our various experiences…..these things are important in some contexts, they contribute to different experiences and struggles for different people and it’s not always good or wise to overlook them, it’s important to acknowledge their circumstances(skin color, country, ethnicity, status in other contexts…) so we can get a better idea of their struggles and pain that may be different than our own, but in some cases they are completely irrelevant. Like in the case of raw pleasure and pain, sickness and health, living and dying. 

I’m not advocating for general “color blindness” or anything of that sort, like saying we should all literally ignore our differences such as skin color or class status. That isn’t good either because then we overlook the unique experiences and struggles that someone in a different situation than us may have. 

If we mentally block out or ignore the color of someone’s skin, ethnicity, or other factors or characteristics that are different than ours, in the name of compassion or “all getting along” then we automatically mentally block out or ignore the struggles that come along with those factors or characteristics.
People who say things like “I only have one race, the human race” or “forget skin color, we’re all human or all bleed red and that’s all that matters…” or something like that, probably have very good, loving, intentions but promoting that and living that way is NOT helpful. 
Ignorance in this way, is NOT helpful or wise or a good thing. 
This can contribute to lack of empathy and understanding of people’s situations pertaining to their own circumstances different than ours. 
It’s ok, even necessary to acknowledge diversity but accept it. But in some cases differences are irrelevant. 

Any one of us can be in the position that sick and dying man was in, our country and our money and our education or language or ethnicity won’t definitely protect us against diseases or death. For some people, truly understanding and realizing this in their heads, can deepen their empathy and compassion for others. And it’s just as bad when it’s someone else as if it were myself or someone I know. Just because I don’t know him doesn’t mean he’s a less important person than someone I do know. Or less important than me. It doesn’t mean it’s good to just go my own way ignoring his suffering. 

Some people are more at risk than others because of their location or discrimination they encounter and some have access to better health care but none of us are immune to suffering or pain and dying of disease or injury. And none of us are immune to being targets of cruelty or the indifference of others against our suffering or pain or sickness. 

Another thing I saw recently that disturbed and actually offended me(and I’m not easily offended at all) is people getting all happy over some podcast about *real* murder victims. They were talking about how thrilling it is to watch or listen, how they can’t wait for the next ones, how it’s so exciting, how fascinating! Not once did I see any one of these people expressing sympathy/empathy or compassion or sorrow for the victims and their friends/family. These are REAL murder victims, flesh and blood, like us, like people we know, some of them children, some adults, who were brutally murdered in cold blood, some tortured, raped/sexually assaulted, destroyed and discarded like they were nothing, not characters in a book or movie or story, real people. I understand taking interest in these stories but no one here displayed sympathy in even the most subtle way, not even an underlying hint of concern for those involved in the devastation, expressed in their tone. It was all just pure pleasure for their own benefit of sitting around listening to it and having fun while drinking coffee all warm and cozy at home. It made me cringe.  

I don’t believe for a second that these happy people who “can’t wait” for the next podcasts about homicide victims, these people who are “so thrilled” over victims murdered in cold blood, tortured and thrown away like trash on the side of the road, are horrible people or sadists, or that they aren’t generally loving and compassionate and empathetic. They may not be, generally, any less caring or empathetic than I am. I don’t believe they were taking pleasure in the pain itself that the victims endured.  It’s the mystery and thrill they get to experience, secure and embraced in the comfort of their own safe homes in their pj’s with their cups of coffee.

 But they were too “detached” in my opinion, in this, here, case. It’s complete thoughtlessness. They were too wrapped up in their own lives and pleasure they put up too much of a barrier. So much so, they are thrilled over real murder victims. It hurt me to witness and I know if it were their own friends and family members or themselves abducted, murdered, targets of rape and other sexual violence, it wouldn’t be so thrilling. They wouldn’t be so eager to see what’s next. I can just imagine a devastated person close to one of those poor victims reading that people are sitting around getting off of the violent, senseless deaths of the people they knew and love. It’s dangerous to let ourselves become numb to the real tragedy, suffering, and pain of others. Even when those are people we only see through a glass screen on a tv or voices we hear through a phone, radio, or words we read through a computer monitor. Even just distant echoes of pain that come to us through some invisible radio waves in the air. Those are real people. That is real suffering. 

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I think it’s important to always tune in to our empathy and compassion whether or not we have ever experienced something similar to what someone else has. And whether or not we know those people well or at all. We do know they are someone, someone just like us. 
Like us, they have/had a name, a story, a dream or goal, needs, and desires, love, joy, pain, sorrow, and happiness. 

Let us be happy for those who are well and happy and successful and full of joy and have compassion, concern, understanding, and empathy for those sick, injured, and in pain, dying, grieving, struggling in any way. But we don’t have to not allow ourselves to be happy because other people are struggling. It’s ok to be happy for our own blessings. Gratitude guilt is not necessary. It won’t help anyone or anything. Dragging ourselves down or not allowing ourselves joy, thankfulness, or happiness, just because others are not well will not contribute to overall goodness to the world, all it does is put more unhappiness or suffering into the world. 

And also, one day we may not be as fortunate in the ways we are now so there’s no need to feel guilty anyway just because we are well and others aren’t. As I said, none or us are immune to tragedy and pain. Next week my house can burn down, you may experience the break up of a close relationship, someone we know can die, we can be diagnosed with a terminal illness….But no matter what, there’s always something to be thankful for and happy about, even in pain, chaos, destruction, grief, depression, anxiety, homelessness… 

I think we do need some emotional boundaries but not too thick. A healthy kind of detachment is good to prevent burnout, exhaustion, being overwhelmed…. but not when it’s blocking our empathy and attempts at true understanding to some level. Not when we are so detached we forget the real suffering and pain of others. Not when we’re so detached, we feel pleasure associated with someone else’s horror or painful circumstances. 

It’s great to experience gratitude for our own happy circumstances and everything but not good, in my opinion, to get so wrapped up in it we forget about those who aren’t so fortunate now, in the ways we currently are, or tune out the depth or degree of their pain.

Empathy won’t always cure diseases or take away someone’s pain and it likely won’t help us in one country be able to immediately help someone dying in another country. But it can motivate us to reach out in some way, maybe to people physically near us who appear to be struggling or people we know online, or reach out to write to people with more power than us, like politicians or people in charge of something related to the issue at hand, or ones who have good things happening to them and we can share in their joy, letting them know how happy we are for them, how proud or thrilled for their accomplishments or fortunate situations, maybe to write a comforting message to someone in need, maybe just to share a link with info about a health condition or situation that needs awareness, to bring more awareness to it and help educate more people. And maybe someone with more resources can see what we share or post and help in ways that we cannot yet help. 

Instead of merely thinking “I’m glad it’s not me” or “that could have been me…” and just going about our own lives forgetting the pain of someone else, we can still feel gratitude for our own fortunate situations but extend our empathy and compassion and realize it’s just as bad when it happens to someone else. It’s realistic to expect people to be thankful some tragedy or unpleasant circumstance is not happening to them but everyone is someone just as important as ourselves and our own friends and family and they feel suffering and happiness the same way too.  We can shift our focus a bit – instead of just being thankful we, ourselves are ok, we can focus more on compassion for those who are struggling in any way.

~Hug the hurt
Comfort the sick

Kiss the broken
Befriend the lost
Love the lonely~ 

And when something amazing happens to someone, even if we wish it would happen to us, instead of resentment, we can bask in that person’s happiness. 

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Deeper empathy along with compassion can help decrease all kinds of things, bullying, cyber bullying, unjust discrimination, sexual violence, other forms of cruelty(against all sentient beings), apathy, even wars and stuff if enough people around the world including those in various governments would better tune into and develop their own empathy and compassion.

Empathy & compassion are great for practical purposes but they also are just amazing traits to possess. They make us better for them. I’m no better than someone who is less compassionate or with less developed empathy but I believe it’s better to have those abilities than not. I’m not better than a sadist, a murderer, a psycho or sociopath with no empathy, but I believe those people would be better people than they are now, in another way if they develop their empathy and compassion.

Not everything is just for practical purposes or actions. Sometimes it’s intentions or just what we are, our essence that counts for something and is beautiful. 

Empathy & compassion, especially a combination of both, can inspire and motivate us to act, reach out to others in some way whether just a simple act of comforting words or volunteering time or money for a specific cause or even just inspire us to hold our tongues when we feel like lashing out or motivating us to proactively speak out against someone else’s callousness, which can have a positive effect. 

Let us remember when we see someone suffering whether it’s emotional or physical pain that is the root of it, human or not, that it’s a very similar feeling that we would feel if it were us. This can make it more real to us and motivate us to reach out in some way, even in the most simplest way, a warm smile, a gentle touch, a kind word…even if it’s not similar to what we ourselves would feel, it’s still important to be empathetic and compassionate but realizing how similar we are underneath can help deepen our empathy. 

And let us not be overly jealous of those who are experiencing joy, happiness, and success even if we are not. Let their accomplishments and happiness inspire and motivate us, not contribute to us being depressed or jealous. It’s best for all of us when we are happy for and encouraging to one another. Let’s celebrate each other and bask in each other’s happiness and success and fortunes. 

There’s enough happiness to go around. 😀

Here are some links about Metta (universal love/compassion) & Empathy.

This explains what Metta is, the benefits, and the importance of cultivating an attitude or lifestyle which has Metta at its core.

http://www.wildmind.org/metta/introduction/what-is-metta

Another explanation of Metta.

http://www.buddhanet.net/metta_in.htm

Here, the link below this, is fascinating research on the brain and empathy. Research reveals that when we are happy and things are going well, we are less likely to empathize with those not so happy or well. We are likely to perceive their pain or suffering as less than it really is. When we ourselves are not doing well, we better empathize with others. We are more likely to validate or realize the seriousness of someone else’s pain or low feelings. In fact, we’re more likely to evaluate someone else’s happiness as less than it really is when we ourselves are not happy. I suspected this before learning of this research. I saw evidence of this in certain situations including the happy people in warm, pj’s at home, drinking coffee while being thrilled over real murder mysteries and not expressing empathy, sympathy, or compassion for those involved.

There is good news. We don’t have to make ourselves suffer to empathize with others. Empathy & compassion are not fixed. 
Compassionate and empathetic people can become less compassionate and empathetic (so it’s important to regularly maintain our empathy and compassion) and those who are not very empathetic and compassionate can become more empathetic and compassionate. 
Some suggestions to maintain or develop empathy, compassion, and an attitude of kindness are meditation, routine mindfulness activities, volunteering to help others, meditating/imagining ourselves in pain and knowing others feel that too…

It’s also suggested that vigorous physical exercises can help deepen a person’s empathy. These exercises can feel physically uncomfortable and help us realize more what it’s like for others who are hurting in some way.
Let’s not go overboard and exercise so much it’s unhealthy but a reasonable dose of routine aggressive exercise can be quite healthy, both physically and emotionally. 

It’s important to do all we can to care for ourselves, be happy, be healthy, be grateful, but keep in touch with the suffering or pain of others.  

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201310/the-neuroscience-empathy

Desktop link to a video for a lovingkindness meditation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz7cpV7ERsM&app=desktop

Mobile version of the same video:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sz7cpV7ERsM&app=m&persist_app=1
 
Even if you are already a very loving and kind person in general, you and the world can still benefit by practicing this meditation or ones like it. Meditation is calm and soothing and even if we are already or are naturally very compassionate and loving, we can still experience setbacks and it’s important to maintain whatever attitude or lifestyle we want to generally live. Like working out, we must keep up with it to keep it going strong. 
Even if we are naturally a certain way, we can strengthen it by making it more intentional and consciously applying it or deepening it.
It takes some practice and maintaining but is well worth it! 

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May you be well.
May you be happy. 
May you be peaceful.
May you be loved.
 
Xoxo Kim





Love’s Power <3

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“I have wept in the night for the shortness of sight
That to someone’s need made me blind;
But I never have yet felt a tinge of regret 
For being a little too kind.” ~ Unknown 

I work at a store. It’s window service and we sell ice cream and water ice all year long. We make ice cream sundaes, banana splits, gelatis, and sell soda, candy, and some other things.

I get tips a lot. When someone gives me a tip it’s often one or two dollars or some change. On seldom occasions someone gives me a big tip. The biggest tip given to me at once 
was around eighteen dollars. That is very rare. I’m always very grateful for tips no matter how much or how little the money is, and the person who gives me one, more for the kindness than the money itself. People don’t have to give me a tip but many do, out of the kindness and goodness of their hearts.

One of the most inspiring tips I ever received is 25 cents. 

One busy night at work I saw an old man in line. I love old people. I think they’re cute and am deeply inspired by their deep wrinkles, graying or white hair, their slow movements, laugh lines, their aches and pains, the gnarled joints that reveal strength, endurance, and determination, passion, longing, and vitality entrapped in deteriorating eyes and ears but set free through the power of Touch, their wisdom, that all reveal an undying desire and will to live and survive, to keep going, to push through it all with that sparkle still in their eyes, the smile that never fades, the long life of happiness, heartache, joy, and battles and beauty they have been blessed to know.

The man was looking to his side, smiling warmly. I felt an instant warm affection for him. I saw deep wrinkles around his eyes and mouth, white hair on his balding head. His arthritic fingers had difficulty moving, grasping and his posture wasn’t straight. But he still has something to smile about.

Then I saw what he was smiling at. His grandson. An adorable little boy.

The little boy also had a radiant smile. A joyous smile that seemed to light the night.

He was so eager to order his own food. Usually when kids come with adults the adult orders the food for them. But occasionally a child wants to ask for her/his own.

This little boy, probably around ten years old, was so happy to ask for his own food. A “special needs” child, it was somewhat challenging for him but he attempted, succeeded, and was so proud. He asked for food that costs $2.50. 

I spoke to and smiled at him encouragingly to show him how well he was doing. And his grandfather stood back and watched proudly.

The little boy handed me three dollars and I gave him his fifty cents back. He stepped aside to put mustard on his food and let the others in line come up to order. When I went back to the window the little boy said to me, “Excuse me, do you have a tip cup?” 

I gladly accept tips but I don’t ask for or expect them and never put a tip cup out. One of the girls I work with does though and her tip cup was on the shelf next to the window since it was just me working that night, so I put it out the window when he asked and he took one of his quarters he got as change, smiled at me, and dropped it in. Again, he was so happy and proud. What a kind and thoughtful 
little boy. Full of courage and love.
Glowing with confidence.

My heart welled up with love and gratitude and inspiration.

I said “Thank You so much!!” and smiled and he smiled that unstoppable smile and joyfully replied “You’re welcome!” and they walked away hand in hand. A little boy and an old man.

This little boy doesn’t let a disability stop him or a struggle or a challenging circumstance. He bravely speaks up, exercises his independence, and reaches out in love.

The quarter he gave me is a beautiful, tangible reminder of love, strength, and courage.

I love to help people. It’s one of my favorite things. I’m a very shy girl, sometimes a little bit too reserved, and sometimes I let it limit me. 
And sometimes I let my depressive disorder limit me.
Sometimes when I’m deeply depressed I let myself sink and not be the best me I can be. I submerge into a deep abyss and stop everything. Stop writing and reading and sharing uplifting quotes and ideas, stop smiling, repressing all of my creative urges…
And there have been occasions I was in a position to reach out and help someone or speak up or even just make eye contact with and smile at a stranger or someone, to give all of myself, to express my love and compassion and instead, I held back, stood back or looked away in fear. 

Fear of what I would look like to others, fear of not being good enough, fear of trying to help but actually making something worse, fear of making a misjudgment and someone really did not need my help or want my kindness, fear of messing up in front of someone and looking silly not in a good way, fear of someone negatively judging me for some reason, fear of coming off as useless or rambling, fear of being misunderstood, fear of someone seeing me truly, seeing me for me and not liking it, the real me, fear of someone not “properly” receiving whatever I wanted to offer, fear. 

Fear.

I let it interfere with my loving compassion, the tenderness that my heart longs to lavish on the world, I let it interfere with my desire, my longing to reach out and embrace, console, heal, and love.  

I don’t always let it stop me. But too often, I do. 

And a little boy reminded me of that one summer night when he reached out through the loving kindness in his heart and showed me love even though it was a challenge for him.

He was bold enough to ask for what he wanted. And brave enough to love.

And through his own love, kindness, and courage, he was able to encourage and teach/remind me of a lesson. Love is more powerful than fear. More powerful than pain of any kind.
It’s more powerful than any struggle or challenge or disability. It’s more powerful than pain and despair, depression and the desire to give up. If we summon the love in us, it’s more powerful than anything else.

“Livin’ might mean takin’ chances but they’re worth takin'” ~ LeeAnn Womack

The only true disability is the choice to let fear or other unpleasant emotions stand in the way of love. And that disability can be corrected.

My love, my kindness, my willingness to help will not always be gratefully appreciated. I will experience forms of rejection, ridicule, apathy, people who see me for me and don’t like what they see. I will be misjudged now and again. I will be disliked, not appreciated, ignored. And that’s ok. I don’t love merely to be loved in return, to be appreciated and cherished. Those are amazing things to have but I don’t expect or demand them in return for my love, compassion, and kindness.

If someone does not receive my kindness and love the way I intend, it’s ok. It can be painful but it’s worth the risk. I will move forward and love some more. There will always be someone who does not care for my help, love, friendship, and kindness and there will always be someone who does. I won’t always know for sure who will open up and receive my love and compassion and who will not.

“Lovin’ might be a mistake but it’s worth makin'” ~ LeeAnn Womack 

But I won’t stand back in fear of those who won’t. I will love again and again. And if it touches someone for the better, my dream is fulfilled. If it’s denied, ignored, ridiculed, criticized, and rejected, I will go on loving. My dream is still fulfilled. My dream to BE a being of love. To be an example of love. Love for others and the self. Love for people I don’t know personally and for people I do. Love for the most loving and beautiful people. Love for difficult people and ones who just don’t care. Love for those who aren’t easy to love.

“I’ve got a song
And I carry it with me and I sing it loud
If it gets me nowhere, I’ll go there proud.” ~ Jim Croce 

Love can be an emotion, an affective feeling and it can be a verb, an action, an expression. Whenever we reach out to make the world a better place or touch someone’s life for the better with the light of our own lives, we reach out in love. 

I hope you, too, will reach out in Love if it’s your true passion. If Love is your Way I hope you honor it and love. Love any way you can. Writing positive and uplifting comments to people on blogs, statuses, videos, encouraging your friends and family unconditionally, volunteering to help people or animals, being a loving mother or father or friend, working to help people, giving to those in need, smiling sweetly at people, helping homeless animals or people, sharing uplifting quotes, a warm hug or friendly hello, providing warmth and light to those in the cold darkness…you don’t need money or a specific job or even a lot of time. You can incorporate love into your every day. The most simple acts of kindness are enough to light up the world.
Even when you struggle to move your tongue, I hope you speak in Love.  And when your hands tremble in fear, I hope you still reach out to touch. When your heart is broken and scarred I hope it continues to guide you, anyway. And when you’re lonely and your arms are holding yourself tightly in your sorrow and despair, I hope you find the strength to let go and embrace another, someone else who may need your loving arms, your broken heart, your deep understanding. When your eyes are filled with tears and pain, I hope you find the courage still, to look deeply into someone else’s and find something that resonates with you, look into someone else’s eyes and see a reflection of yourself.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about what you’ve done with those accomplishments. It’s
about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.”

I am forever grateful to all of those who remind me. Remind me to love, to take risks, to honor me, even though it won’t always be easy.

“Everyone needs reminders that the fact of their being on this earth is important and that each life changes everything.”
~Marge Kennedy

I heard and read the word “encourage” my whole life and knew what it means for about as long as I can remember. It means to bring some kind of support to someone, to help give someone a push to keep going. But until now I never realized the word “courage” in it and the “en” in front of the “courage.” To inspire courage. Like the word “enable.” able=ability “en” to empower or allow. To help someone find the courage that dwells deep within.

It’s an interesting revelation.

We have courage or potential for courage deep within us already and someone can help coax it out for us, even a young child.

We often think about what we can teach and remind children but let us stop for a minute and think what a child can remind and teach us.

Xoxo Kim

On being humble

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“When we embody love, we are the most powerful being in the universe.” ~ Emmanuel

I wasn’t always as developed as I am now. While I have always been empathetic, compassionate, loving, and understanding of others, not all of those qualities of mine were always as deep or as vast as they are today. I used to be more judgmental than I am now, sometimes criticizing people or things without thinking it completely through if it’s really necessary, sometimes overlooking the fact that I also do things that can, maybe even “should” be, judged critically.

“The praise that comes from love does not make us vain, but more humble.”
 ~James Matthew Barrie

I think for most of us, we evolve the longer we live, the more we experience even if we don’t realize we’re evolving. And when we do realize we are becoming wiser, more educated, more aware,  it’s possible to let it run away with us, let ourselves become a little bit too stuck up or arrogant, too proud, let our heads get too big.

Sometimes I feel so enlightened in some respects. I see things so much more clearly than I did before. I see how wrong I was in some ways about some things. And there have been occasions when I caught myself becoming too full of myself, arrogant, judgmental when I would have an encounter with someone who I perceived as not to be as “enlightened” or aware as I am.
Someone who still holds opinions that are not very evolved or opinions I disagree with or someone who handles those opinions in ways I don’t appreciate or wouldn’t do myself.

Like when I would meet someone who did not realize things or know things that I now know or realize.  And I would criticize the person for it, totally neglecting to realize that at one point I did not realize this or something else, either and that right now at this very moment there are things I don’t know or understand, that I am so less developed than I will be in years to come, with age and much more experience. I’m not the most enlightened being on Earth and likely never will be.  And that’s ok.

It reminds me of when I would take certain Logic and critical thinking classes in college. In the beginning of one class, our professor told us that in a few weeks we would already know so much more than the average person about reasoning, arguing, debating. He said we would begin to see all the flaws in people’s reasoning in everyday life. People around us, people on TV, commercials, everywhere. He said him, as a Logician with extremely advanced reasoning skills and nearly flawless logic, couldn’t turn off his ability to instantly detect flaws in reasoning even when he would be out with friends having a simple or trivial conversation, watching TV whether it was comedy movies or political or religious debates, reading, everywhere. His knowledge of Logic, fallacies, arguments…is so superior he can’t help but just see how everyone else’s logic is just so flawed. He often had to resist the urge to correct everyone everywhere. 

I had a few philosophy professors who told us, although probably mostly in jest, that we may soon regret taking the class because all of  a sudden everyone around us becomes so “stupid,” unenlightened, or unreasonable that it’s nauseating. Lol 

They said we may become arrogant, inpatient, intolerant of everyone who has never taken a logic or critical thinking class. And it was true. I did start to detect flaws in people’s reasoning everywhere I would go, even in simple, everyday conversations. I noticed how fallacious so many arguments really are. Sometimes it was so frustrating to know so much more than the average person about certain things.

And years later when I began to actively practice and meditate upon universal compassion and general tolerance more than ever before and realized it’s the best way for me to be, I started to sometimes catch myself judging others who weren’t that way.

Sometimes I would give myself a pat on the back for being “just so much more evolved” than most people I know or come in contact with.

When someone would get worked up during an argument, sling an explicit insult at an opponent, argue in flawed ways like I used to do, I would be critical of those people, praising myself for being “beyond that.”

Now I quickly correct myself if ever I catch myself doing that. I’m usually patient in the face of other people’s impatience, gentle with other people’s aggression, non judgmental of someone else’s judgments, tolerant of other people’s intolerance and accepting of someone else’s lack of acceptance. I understand that not everyone will be understanding and I have more compassion than I used to, for those who lack compassion. 

Constructive criticism is often a good thing but it can be delivered in a humble way. Assertiveness is necessary in some cases, firmness and unwavering confidence and strength in the face of some injustice.

Love & compassion & acceptance that I write or speak of, in no way means backing down and not speaking up. It doesn’t mean letting people get away with things they should not get away with. It simply means knowing bad things happen, injustice exists in the world, people have differing and horrible opinions and do horrible things but we don’t have to sink to the level of getting even, wishing horrific things on people as punishments, slinging insults and hurting others to seek retribution.

It’s possible to be firm, assertive, grounded, loud, opinionated but loving. 

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It’s important to stand up for whatever our Truth is, to advocate for what we believe in, speak out against injustice, abuse, cruelty in any form, to defend those who need us, speak up for those who need supporters…but we can do this while promoting love instead of bashing those who disagree. “Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.”

It’s not always easy but I believe it’s worth the struggle.

I’m very into Buddhism which teaches universal love and compassion. I’m not a Buddhist but I read about it everyday and practice many of their principles. There are more things I don’t know and understand about Buddhism than things I do know and understand. But I learn more and more each day.

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to incorporate many of their virtues into your own life.
And it’s compatible with religions including Christianity, Judaism, and others. Some people disagree or don’t realize. But Buddhists don’t necessarily believe in any specific god and their principles can go along with the principles of various religions.

You can think of Buddhism as a philosophy or as a religion.

Monastic Buddhists are seriously dedicated, hardcore Buddhists who follow everything in the Lamrim, every principle in excruciating detail and lay Buddhists are looser in their views or lifestyles. They take Buddhism seriously but don’t necessarily follow every principle of Buddhism.

One of the things I love completely about genuine Buddhism and true Buddhists or pro Buddhists is that they teach and promote certain principles and ways of life but they do not enforce them or judge those who do not adopt those views, attitudes, and ways. They teach, guide, advocate for but fully accept that others will not and they embrace those people anyway. This way they remain peaceful within and allow others to be what they will.

I think sometimes when some of us become enlightened on something or think we have and realize we were wrong or utterly ignorant or clueless previously, it can instill embarrassment into us, embarrassment that we did not know or realize this all along, it’s now so obvious, how wasn’t it always this blatant? And the humiliation is so strong we want to avoid it, repress, deny it and run fast away instead of facing it. So what do we do in this case? What makes it easier to avoid confronting ourselves on how wrong or clueless we were before? What’s often easier than admitting I was wrong? Judging, criticizing others who are in the place I used to be in, those who know less about something I now know more about, those with an opinion I once shared but now converted to a “better” one. It’s easier than confessing that I was wrong before and now realize or have become enlightened or changed. It’s easier to verbally attack the me I see in someone else than the real me, my own flesh and blood.

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I believe it’s important to stay humble no matter how much more I think I know. Or how right I think I am.

There will always be those who know more than me and those who know less. Those who are more primitive and those more evolved, people who are cruel and seem stupid and those whose intelligence is way out of the average person’s league, people with extreme compassion and deep understanding of others and ones who couldn’t care less to try to understand, open minded and narrow minded, educated and uneducated, enlightened and still in the dark….and to me, they all deserve compassion, empathy, and to be embraced in universal love even if they don’t display that same love or care to be embraced in it. I can still wish them the best and let them go their own way while going my way. That is true, pure, selfless love. At some point I have been and will be again, many of those things I mentioned above. 

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~Hug the hurt
Kiss the broken
Befriend the lost
Love the lonely~ 

I believe in Universal Love, higher love, all encompassing love and compassion, being One with all that is. 
Not everyone will agree and that’s ok.