Present Tense

We all need a “Buddy Bench”…

kindess 1

Be kind.  People live by a lot of mottos or platitudes or moral codes, but really those two words sum it all up, don’t they?  Be kind. Period.

Last week on our radio show, we brought up the  story of a local 7 year-old who talked his school principal into installing a ‘buddy bench’ on the playground.  The idea is that when a kid is lonely or doesn’t have anyone to play with, he/she can go sit on the buddy bench and the other kids will see them and include them.  Or maybe they’ll just find another kid in the same situation.  It’s sort of a sanctuary and a signal to the other kids to be kind and include the kids on the bench.

As cynical adults, we wondered if kids were really unselfish enough to offer help or companionship to a kid who needed it.  So, we asked our listeners to call us and tell us about a time when their child showed kindness and compassion, without any prodding or orders from adults.

The phones were packed; the stories were moving and sweet and inspiring.  As I listened to one story after another, I realized that kids get it.  They aren’t burdened by political correctness, prejudice or excessive judgment.  They don’t zip through their accumulated filters as to who is deserving of kindness.  They see a need and they act, whether it’s a physical, emotional or financial need.

As adults, we are jaded. We see someone who is struggling and compose a story.  “Well, they didn’t work hard enough…they deserve what they get…maybe if they didn’t drink so much…it’s not my problem…I don’t have time for this…nobody ever helps me when I need it…everyone wants a hand out…”

A child sees someone who is cold and knows they need warmth.  They see someone who is hungry and know they need food.  They see someone who is lonely or sad and know they need comfort. Kindness.  Simple.

I think we’re born with this capacity for empathy.  It’s what links all humans together. We all want the same things.  We want to be happy and loved and nurtured.  For the most part, we get that from our fellow humans.  If we’re in touch with our needs, rather than suppressing them or worse, denying them or being ashamed of them, we can connect with those in need.  Sadly, we humans also do a great deal of damage to others.  That begins the vicious cycle that is adulthood.  We were hurt, so we tend to hurt others in return.

Be kind.  We don’t have to go out of our way.  We can offer a smile during a difficult or embarrassing situation.  We can hold the door for a mom struggling with a crying child.  We can ask an agitated friend or co-worker if there is anything we can do to ease their pain or their burden.  It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture, but rather just a small step; a starting point.

Become someone’s ‘buddy bench’, even if only for a moment.  Be kind.  Period.

February 23, 2014 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

I Am (insert something positive here)……


I’ve been exploring affirmations.  I’ve always thought it seemed so silly to tell myself how great I am or how much I love myself, but once I stopped to think about how often I speak negatively to myself, I began to see how turning it around might turn ME around.

Think about how often you find yourself saying, “I’m so stupid/mean/lazy/unorganized/whatever negative thing comes to mind”.  That is considered normal self-talk for women.  It’s also considered normal to say it out loud, to other people.

On the other hand, how often do you praise yourself inwardly.  “I’m really good at my job/my marriage/parenting/spelling/cooking, etc.”  And God forbid we EVER actually say these things out loud to others.  “Well, isn’t she full of herself…who does she think she is, bragging like that.”

Funny how that works.  We are supposed to be developing a kinder, gentler, more PC nation and yet we (sometimes falsely) heap praise on others, while denigrating ourselves.  Ladies, I’m talking to you.  We’re supposed to be empowered by now.

It seems as if it’s required of women to constantly be too hard on ourselves.  Our looks, our brains, our abilities, our hormones; all of them are never good enough. Culturally, we’re branded as crazy and moody and cat-fighty and incompetent and silly.

This time of year, I’m always so annoyed at the Valentine’s Day commercials for teddy bears and pajamas.  The spots always feature a leering guy, happily purchasing something that would appeal to a 10 year-old girl (unless she was me at 10; I preferred a new baseball mitt) because he thinks it will ensure some hot sack time with her.  The message being “women are so simple and child-like.”

Would any of us consider buying the men in our lives a Tonka truck and Spiderman pajamas for a gift to show our love?  Men would feel disrespected and belittled by that.

There are a lot of crazy cultural messages flying around and unfortunately many of us gals embrace them, buy into them, foster them and add them to our self-talking points.

So, here we are.  Back to self-talk.  What do we tell ourselves about ourselves?  And by extension, what do we as a gender, radiate out to our culture?  Constantly reiterating what we’re supposedly not good at, becomes ingrained.  Men believe it, our daughters believe it, our leaders believe it, marketers believe it and it circles back to us and we believe it.

We are smart, competent, grown-up, reliable, innovative, creative, loving, nurturing and equal.  Let’s all start talking the self-talk and walking the walk.

Here’s one to get us started.  “I love who I am. I am grounded in my own power.  I am secure on all levels.”  And I don’t want a giant teddy bear for Valentine’s Day.

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments


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