Bringing Kindness to Life

Picture of puppet referred to in this post

This year, I’ve discovered a new “hammer,” and as often happens, everything looks like a nail to me now.

The hammer I’m playing with is kindness. Bringing kindness to everyday interactions. And particularly being kind to myself.

I’ve discovered immense power in taking a moment and telling that scared part of me “I’m here with you.” When I’m hurt, I acknowledge that part “I see your pain.” Even that caustic, critical part of me deserves hearing “I honor your commitment.”

This new year in particular, I think I need all the kindness I can muster. Fear and hope and anger and pain swirl around and through me. There’s so much possibility and newness, and so much fighting and hatred.

Be kind.

The more kindness I bring to myself, the more that spills out on my friends and loved ones. The more space I bring to my weaknesses – and my strengths – the more I have for the foibles of my fellow travelers.

This week, I’m carrying around a wonderful Tree puppet, who’s standing in for my harsh inner critic. And whenever I catch that voice speaking up, I cast it out to the puppet, and love and acknowledge and appreciate my little friend.

Where would bringing kindness make a difference in your life? What can you do this year to be kind to yourself, your loved ones, even your enemies? What practices do you have for being kind? We’d love to hear from you!


I have two of Flame’s pieces to share. The first, Sweet Slumber, is a perfect reflection on kindness. Such a peaceful scene, with a mountain Goddess sleeping in her favorite spot.

Peaceful spring meadow with sleeping giant

“The meadow was originally inspired by land my sister owned in Florida, a peaceful sanctuary for me. The background is inspired from my time around the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. These imaginary peaks called for a woman in repose.

“This painting expresses my yearning for being out in fields like this, with the soothing sounds of running water.”

Flame

I’ll likely revisit Persephone’s Promise a few times. There are so many layers to this painting for me. For today, it’s the perfect piece to explore my inner critic. Rainbow colors turn into a clashing, angry background to a somber, enigmatic Dryad. When the critic is active, I picture it in a world like this.

Deep among her roots, though, are a new generation, new ideas, new goals, new promise. It is because of these that my critic deserves kindness.

Discordant rainbow sky looks on as dark dryad nurtures her embryos for the eventual spring

“The world can seem so dark and intimidating sometimes. Even at it’s most barren and bleak, there’s life and creativity under the surface, and even on the surface if we look close enough.

“I originally started this painting with fiery spirals under the tree, with the roots growing through them. They were so vibrant and lively, though, that I began to see embryos. They are the promise of life to come in Springtime.”

Flame

4 thoughts on “Bringing Kindness to Life”

  1. Kindness is one of those practices that requires near constant attention, because the opportunity to practice is always present. Always! For me, that is the challenge. In many moments it’s easy, it comes naturally and spontaneously. But it is the moments when it is most needed that I can find it oh so difficult to achieve!!
    Honestly, sadly, it is in my day-to-day interactions with my spouse that I am deficient. Yet that is exactly when and where I want kindness to be the first response. Perhaps I shall find my own puppet/receptor for my unkind thoughts, my helper to redirect them away from the intended target and give myself another moment to bring forth my better self.
    Thank you, Raven, for sharing your work with kindness and inspiring me.

    1. Thank you, Patience!

      It took years for me to have kind conversations around, for instance, finances. When I’m scared, it’s so easy for me to lash out. I think in times of pain or fear, kindness is never the initial response. For years, kindness came later, after the blowup. Over time, it came sooner and sooner. It’s still never my first thought, but it more and more often is the first words from my mouth.

      Flame, of course, has been a big part of my learning. She is so often naturally kind and positive!

  2. Well spoken, Raven!
    One of the most indelible images I hold of the Dalai Lama saying “my religion is kindness.” How much pain and suffering we would all be spared if we all practiced this simple way of being.
    And I also agree with the commenter above that kindness often comes hardest with those we live closest to. That’s certainly been true for me.
    I would add that for me, this practice has had a long arc. I showed kindness in some ways in my earlier days, but it was often a mask that papered over underlying negativities. It has taken a long time to worth with those, and I am still working with them. But over time, I observe that I am more often able to get to kindness. Those changes feel great, no matter how small.
    Finally, there’s a Rumi poem excerpt I hold in my memory: “If you go even three feet toward Solomon’s mountain, others will use that as a yardstick to measure their lives.” Which is to say, each little act of kindness matters, and may change someone’s life.

  3. Thanks for this reminder (I need them, often!) to pay attention to my emotions and turn to the hurt, angry little Me inside who needs my adult self to pay attention and give attention and support. It makes all the difference. You’re right, Raven , that, when I can do that, I can then be kind to others! What a wonderful to try to achieve!

    Blessings,
    Shirley Paul

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