Eased by Kindness

I was feeling nervous about an upcoming social engagement. I had no idea how my body would respond to being one hour way from home, socializing with people I hadn’t seen in years and worrying about having to hide my nervous energy with smiles and nods. 

The weekend before at a community event I experienced a level of anxiety I hadn’t in a while. I honestly couldn’t pinpoint what triggered it, but I was stuck in that environment for hours too long. My husband told me that I was friendly and pleasant, and if it wasn’t for me letting him know that I was struggling, he would have never guessed. Those who actively prioritize their well-being are aware of their internal pulses and do a great job coping – even when highly stressed. The hours after the event were reserved for repair – a calm, quiet time at home.

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Having not experienced the emotional success I had hoped for the weekend before, I was concerned about the upcoming social engagement. All week I told myself, “It may be fine. It should be fun!” and when Saturday night rolled around, I had butterflies but still felt alright. 

When we arrived we were greeted with a spread of delicious appetizers. I sat on the living room floor, closest to the ottoman where the food was set out. I was quickly encouraged to take a seat on the couch and make myself comfortable. So we sat on the farthest end of the sectional, away from the other couple. From the conversation I could easily tell the extroverts from the introverts. I was taking everything in – consuming myself with every framed family photo on the living room walls, everyone’s unique tone and body language and conversation topics. I was quiet at first but as I relaxed I jumped in on hot topics and made sure to add my take. As the evening went on, I had moved to the corner of the sectional (the comfiest spot). I was settling in nicely. 

Close to 11pm we were served the most scrumptious array of food – some familiar dishes and a few new ones. We filled our plates – the kids ate at the kitchen table while the adults resumed in the living room. It was casual and perfect. Indian food is unlike any homemade recipe I grew up on. It’s colourful, fragrant, full of texture and spice. I wished I could have eaten the second helping I was urged to take, but I was satisfied with just one. As we cleared our plates, I assumed the evening was coming to a close…until the hosts brought out multiple desserts. “If only I had worn my sweatpants,” I thought to myself as my top button pulled. At this point I thought I might as well just lay on the sectional. 

Near midnight we got up to say our goodbyes, and as I was walking to the front door, I was scooped up by the host. She wrapped her arm around my shoulder, and with a warm smile guided me back into the kitchen to fill take-home containers. Her kind gesture was so natural for her. Here in this moment, she eased all my prior concerns.

As I moved at my own pace from the carpet to the corner of the sectional, I gained courage and opened myself up to the warmth I sensed in the room. Thanks to their hospitality my heart was reminded of the kindness of others.

Cozy Nights

We settled on the couch after dinner with the intention to watch a Halloween movie. With Halloween only a few days away we thought it was a good idea to get into the spirit. We nestled on our loveseat with an extra cozy blanket and Winston (our little dog) curled up on the puffiest section. I suggested that we watch the movie with all the lights turned off – not that the Halloween movie we chose was super scary, but it would add to the overall movie-watching experience. 

We were half way through the movie when Winston decided he was bored and wanted to play. We took turns tossing his toy and wrestling, meanwhile trying to keep up with the movie’s plot. Once he was done with playing, he settled back on the couch for just a few minutes before he was wandering the living room again, giving us the glare that if he spoke would say, “I’m bored. Let’s do something.” I replied to his concern with, “We’ll go for a walk after the movie.” he responded by walking to the front door and waiting patiently for the movie to conclude. 

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Parts of Me

I am not quick to write about just anything. I wait, mull over my recent interactions with the world, and finally settle on something I want to share with you. This month I waited, writing almost daily but with only a few shareable insights. I have been feeling a pull in opposite directions. On one hand I have felt courage and with it, an openness to reveal more of the playful, vulnerable and humorous part of me. Alternately, I have felt unsafe, shy, and wanting to hide. When I consider both of these parts (let’s call them Openness and Safety) it’s easier to talk about the bright smiling playful part and less about the part of me that wants to hide away.

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I felt inspired to organize. Maybe it was a post I saw on social media of neatly organized rooms. Nonetheless, I was motivated. We lifted an old shelf originally housed in our living room up to our Office/Record Room. My plan was to gather every ball of yarn I own and organize them on the display shelf. This was quite the job seeing that I had yarn tucked under my bed, hidden in closets, totes, and baskets all over my house. If you’re wondering, along with blogging, crocheting is also a passion of mine. It’s a skill I picked up from my Grandma, and over the past few years I have expanded my collection from simple doll scarves to winter hats, dog sweaters and various clothing that I love to wear. 

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My YES Day

Counting down to summer break, a young boy could not wait to tell me that he and his family were going to have a “YES Day.” Excitement took over his whole body – his eyes widened, his body wiggled and danced as he scrambled to find the words to describe what this new family tradition would look like. YES Day was a day he could have pizza and ice cream for breakfast, go to a theme park for the day and watch a movie way past his bed time (while eating a second helping of pizza and ice cream). It was a day of breaking routine and endless fun.

His excitement was contagious and got me thinking, “What would I do if I coloured outside the lines for a day?” As an adult I could choose to eat pizza for breakfast, spend money on a theme park or stay up late. So what would it look like for me to break my routine and be as playful and carefree as a child? My curiosity seemed to be sparked at the perfect time… 

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Welcoming Warmth

I peered out my open window as I lay in my bed. I’m in no rush today and want to lounge as long as possible. The season is changing, and for the first time I am hesitant of the switch. Winter has felt safe – nestled inside under blankets, just the three of us, familiar. My beloved spring has felt like Mom ripping back my blankets and telling me I’m going to be late for school. I’m uncomfortable with this change and prefer to be bundled in safety.

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Spring Cleaning

I am all about being safe. It’s been my top priority for the past few years. This need to be safe has turned my ‘introvertness’ into possibly ‘hermit living.’ And the weird thing is I don’t mind it, to some extent it has helped me regulate my overworked nervous system.

By pulling back from socializing, I’ve had time to reflect on the principals that drive my life. I would call it a healthy spring cleaning where every belief is pulled out of the dresser drawer and analyzed: “Do I keep this item or toss it?”

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Mind & Body

February was a turbulent month and I struggled to write a post. In short, a few years ago February was the month that my body collapsed. And each year my body seems to recall this terrible time. 

Years prior to having a breakdown I had conditioned my body to a high level of stress. My mind and body acted as two separate entities. I was the master of ‘mind over matter’ and my body simply needed to submit to the physical and psychological demands. My body did as I requested, and if she voiced her concerns I was quick to talk her out of them. I was too proud, determined and afraid that if I listened to her she would have embarrassed me, and I wasn’t going to let that happen. When I felt her speak I ramped up my mental script: “Quitters never win! Fight through the exhaustion! Just one more year!” There was no way her warning signs were going to obstruct my plan to prove my endurance. I was quite successful at taming her wild nature…at least for a few years. 

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A Wish Star

If it wasn’t for having a dog, there is no way I’d be going for a walk on one of the coldest days in January…and on a day so cold that you would think Winston would walk quickly around the block. Instead, he was stopping and sniffing as per usual as if it were a lovely spring afternoon. To him, it was a casual stroll – for me, a lesson in patience. Tucked in my jacket like a turtle in its shell, I prayed that he’d hurry up. It was feeling like a dreadful responsibility and not a “mental health walk.”

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