Kindness Looks Different Every Day

I just finished writing my post about being kind to yourself when I completely flipped out on the family of disgusting pigs I live with. I have a fairly long fuse when it comes to building-blocks-1563961_960_720clutter and everyday filth. I quickly learned that nap time is my time and I rarely clean or do chores. The playroom is a constant source of stress but not enough for me to actually do something about it. I have an idealistic hope with realistic expectations of what living with young kids is like.

But when the end of my fuse is reached, there is absolutely nothing that seems right. Every speck of dust makes me think that we are wallowing in the depths of unhygienic dispair.

After skipping church for a much-needed pajama morning, we were herding everyone toward the car for some playground and pumpkin picking family time. I looked at our toy-strewn dining room table with crusted leftover sauce from dinner a few nights ago and the idea of leaving this house became too much.

Frank suggested I stay home and write. His go-to solution for these moods is that I need quiet time to read or write. And he’s mostly correct. After he drove the girls off, I recognized that I couldn’t write when I knew what was looming upstairs. So, I did a quick tidy, vacuumed, and wiped down the table. Our bathroom and kitchen counters still need to be cleaned. There are toys on the floor that I vacuumed around. Yet, it was just enough for me to be in a better space mentally.

I think it was Elizabeth Gilbert who said something along the lines that if you want to pursue creativity, you have to give something up. Meaning, there is not enough time in the day to write and clean and make beautiful fall memories and take a nap and exercise and…. We have to choose. We have to prioritize. We can’t have it all. (Does anyone know this quote? I googled all sorts of ideas but couldn’t find it.)

I need to remember this in my own path toward kindness. Sometimes (most times) being with my family wins above writing or cleaning or whatever else is on my to-do list. But sometimes, I have to skip the pumpkin patch so that I can vacuum and write and be quiet.

The vacuuming took less than ten minutes. Could I have done it another time? Sure. But, it was getting in the way of my outlook–toward myself, toward my kids, and toward my mental wellbeing.

I’m learning that there’s no prescriptive formula for self-kindness. What I need one day will be different from what I need another day. I need to remember this as I pursue loving kindness toward my neighbors. What they need one day won’t be the same isn’t what they might need on a different day.

As we learn to love kindness, I think this is important to remember. We are complex beings who need all sorts of different things. When we remember this and learn to shift with our ideas of kindness, perhaps we’ll understand each other a bit more.

How do you enter into a creative space? Do you have to have a clean workspace or are you ok with a bit of clutter? 

BackyardThis post is Day 17 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the Backyard Justice. You can find the entire series over at my Backyard Justice page.

Celebrating Strong Women: How to Do it All

I’m pleased to introduce Renata Pepper as our Strong Women contributor today. Renata is a Franco-Italian-American living in Paris. She is a mother, works as a location manager (, and loves anything food-related.

How to Do it All

I am one of those people who likes to be involved in many things and who thrives on activity. I am a mom of two young, active girls, I have my own business as a freelance location manager for film and photo shoots in Paris, and I have a tendency to say yes when asked to be a part of anything exciting. A lot of people look at me as I muddle and juggle through these roles and ask me how I do it all.

The answer is simple. I don’t.

It’s impossible to do everything, and especially to give every part of your life the same level of intense commitment.

Recently I have been realising that maturing means learning to let go. On one hand, letting go of expectations, of disappointments, of not getting what you want, of restrictions on yourself and others, and of many other things that don’t matter when looked at through the wide-angle lens of a lifetime.

On the other hand, letting go can also mean to lose grip on something, and therefore to not have a handle on it. It seems that keeping it together and keeping up appearances continue to be strict expectations that we and society put on ourselves. In order to be capable of handling the season of great self-sacrifice, risk, and responsibility that comes with parenthood and also with starting a business, I have come to accept that I will never have a firm grip on every aspect of my life simultaneously. In fact, it has surprised me to see that at times, the looser the grip, the better. I accept that I will often reach the end of my reserves of time, inner strength, patience, and resourcefulness. It is an uncomfortable place for me to be in, but I am trying hard to learn to accept limited energy and a constant vulnerability.

Practically, I aim to be realistic about what is actually achievable in one day, streamlining and shedding superfluous tasks as I go along. I invest myself and my time in fewer things, but try to be fully present in every moment for those that I choose to be a part of. Considering that I am so much more aware of my limited reserves, I try and rest more, and I also lean more on my faith in God and on those around me.

This is a season of strength in weakness. I am learning to take joy in this season, and take heart because there will be others.