Kindness In All Directions

Let's be honest, we all believe in basic kindness, but sometimes it gets hard.

Other people annoy us, they say things to us that we wish they wouldn't, they do things we wish they wouldn't and they aren't always kind back.

Extending the same courtesy to others can be a challenge at times, and it's even more challenging when we start thinking about how we treat ourselves.

Trust me, I'm a firm believer in kindness, I always say my "please and thank yous," hold doors, smile at babies...the whole good samaritan bit.  But like I said, we're all human and we all have days where we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, get stressed to the max, or find out something that is pretty much a day or maybe even life changer.  In those situations it's even harder to find the place in myself where my kindess originates.

If you really think about it though, aren't most of us preaching kindness without really walking the walk?  Obviously the word has been thrown around so often its meaning may even become fuzzy, but how many of us know the true origin of kindness.

It's so easy to think or say we are kind, but the reason it gets challenging is because we aren't being kind to ourselves.

When we judge, criticize, nitpick, and get annoyed and frustrated at other people, we are only doing to them what we do to ourselves or what we perceive that others are doing to us.  Even if we don't recognize it at first, any harshness we feel begins inside of our own minds.

Universal law teaches us that every cause has an effect, and science has told us time and time again that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  So it's natural to assume that any unkindness we have for ourselves, will spill out into our environment and come back around to us in other ways.  Of course this is getting into a whole other discussion, but I'm sure you see where I'm going here!

Kindness should always flow in all directions, and that means starting with ourselves.  Our teachers, parents and for some us, our religion may have taught us that kindness to others was the golden rule, but I would have to disagree.  The kindness you show to yourself is the foundation of your overarching attitude toward the world, and the amount you get back will grow in proportion to the amount you give to yourself.

I know because I may just have the loudest and meanest inner critic there ever was, and I have definitely had to work very hard on how I treat myself.  I say things to myself I would never utter to another...that's how mean I've been to myself in the past!  Not good.  However, I've also done enough self-work to see the effect my self-kindness or lack of it has in the world.

When I take care with myself, and allow myself the space and forgiveness that I would easily grant another, I see everyone and everything as much kinder.  Conversely, when I let my inner critic out of its cage I end up basically verbally assaulting myself silently.  This builds that feeling of harshness that I was talking about earlier, and not only do other people seem far less kind, I find it much more unpleasant to live with myself.

An ancient and very wise Chinese proverb, one of my favorites, says:

A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses.

That's so true!  Being kind and helping others benefits us, not just because it makes us feel good, but because any time you put positive energy out into the world you make it a better place for everyone.  When you help another you help yourself, particularly if you see all people as connected.  However, if you're working on this principle and then berating yourself for making a simple mistake, you're kind of negating the effect of it.

So let's all just make a commitment, myself included, to try to be kinder to ourselves.  This will naturally create an inner abundance that we won't be able to help but pass onto others, thus making our own lives more rich and fulfilling.  Let's make sure kindness is flowing in all directions, including our own.


Shoes Matter. My Love Affair with Chacos!

I spent most of my college years working in retail.  Chances are if you went to college, the retail world isn't totally unfamiliar to you either, and like many clothing store employees I had to stand up during my entire shift (this was usually somewhere between 4-6 hours with a small break).  The standing up part was pretty standard, but at the particular store where I worked the longest we were asked to model the merchandise on our feet as well as our bodies.

Here's where the real problem comes in...this particular store did not sell anything resembling a full shoe.  They only sold flip flops.  That means that for approximately 20 hours a week for almost 3 years, rain or shine, winter or summer, I was standing up and wearing flip flops.  Seriously?  Yeah...unfortunately, this company was too focused on image to worry about their employees' feet, and I was too young to worry when my elders commented that I "needed more support" or I'd "be sorry later."

Clearly that day has arrived, and it wasn't too long after that I began to experience the increasing symptoms of plantar fasciitis.  I didn't know that's what it was at the time, but after a trip to the podiatrist and a necessary pair of Powerstep insoles (these are amazing too - I use these when I'm wearing shoes without arch support), I realized I had done some real damage.

Since then I decided I would make a marked effort to take much better care of my feet with the idea that this condition could improve, and even go away.  Of course it didn't, which makes sense given that scientists still aren't even sure what actually causes it.  Then again, I'm a glutton for punishment and I ended up in another series of jobs that required standing for long periods of time.  I've done it all, and standing!

Working outside at a local plant stand I met a coworker who introduced me to Chacos and my feet have been thanking her ever since.  Chacos were perfect for my outdoor job, because not only are they approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), which means they're as comfortable as ugly old people shoes, but they're also machine washable and virtually indestructible!

Kitty with one pair of Chacos.

This is why I mentioned the indestructible part.

I know I already said they were comfortable, but when you're used to having your heels feel like they're on fire, or your arches pulling like an old rubberband, you will feel like the word comfort is leaving your vocabulary.

Now that I've started my own business where I also, again, spend several hours at a time on my feet helping people organize, Chacos have become an important investment, a trusted travel buddy, and basically a necessity.  I now have a full on love affair going with my Chacos, and have since become a little obsessed.  I even had 4 pairs at one point, and am currently considering another.  [Here's my favorite style]  I don't go out of town without them, and my favorite pair has enjoyed many vacations around the world (see below for my favorite Chaco memories).  It's a problem, but not a bad one to have, so thank you Chaco!

My Chacos in South Beach, 2012.

My Chacos in Ft. Lauderdale, 2011.

So, the moral to this story (besides go buy yourself some Chacos) is that shoes are important, because they make or break your feet, which impacts your overall health and happiness!  Our feet are the base of our entire body, and we use them tirelessly and many times without even realizing the miles and stress we are putting on them.  Don't get yourself into the foot "situation" that I got myself into - care for your feet before they demand to be cared for and they will thank you.

There's no longer the excuse of compromising on look for comfort, because Zappos exists and it's basically a shoe encyclopedia   So, if Chacos don't strike your fancy there are thousands of other pairs out there waiting to make your feet happy...though I doubt their ability to measure up.  ;)

Chacos = 1, Norman's mini-Hurricane of 2011 = 0.

*This is not a paid advertisement for Chacos.  All content of this blog is drawn from my honest opinion and experience.  I really do love Chacos that much!