By Melissa Ford
Ask yourself this question: If you have a tombstone, what would you like written on it? Answer it right from the gut. No ruminating, cogitating or contemplating. No looking for the right answer; simply tell yourself your truth as it stands right now.
Recently, I considered this unusual question, and as the answer bubbled up — I was surprised.
Love and kindness are powerful.
Wow! Wherever did I come up with that magnificent piece of wisdom? Parenting.
Before children, I thought being in control, appearing smart and managing my life and those around me equated to power. I believed getting what I wanted showed strength and determination. Then I had children and discovered that trying to control, being right, or attempting to manipulate to get what I wanted were the wrong kinds of power.
Wielding this pseudo-power frequently backfired, reaping limited results and leaving me feeling incompetent and insecure. With trial and error as my teacher, I found a happy middle ground where I still guided, advised and opined, yet I learned a vital lesson: if I truly wanted to make a difference — in other words, to be powerful — love and kindness delivered every time.
And the first place to start? With myself.
Can you think of a better substitute for self-judgment than self-love and personal kindness, especially when entertaining questions such as, Am I a good parent? Do others approve? Am I doing it right? My answers never produced positive results as I swung from wild parenting successes one day to public failures the next. Or when my emotions ran the gamut — deeply in love with my teen or toddler one minute and feeling disrespected or frustrated the next.
During those trying times, I experimented, letting go of self-judgment by filling myself with loving kindness, acknowledging my efforts and good intentions, knowing how much I cared and wanted the best for my kids.
I learned to let love and kindness rule.
Over the last month, my father suffered a series of strokes, leaving him unable to talk or swallow, paralyzing his right side. Upon hearing the news, I immediately reacted, feeling scared and upset, wondering what I could do. Then I remembered the power of loving kindness and immediately, my thoughts shifted. How can I help? What would support him? How could I respond in a caring way?
Choosing love and kindness, I went into action, printing out pictures of his beloved canines, believing these furry friends might produce a smile, a lopsided grin, and offer a glimmer of hope. They did.
Choosing love and kindness, I held his hand, staring lovingly into his eyes, expressing my heartfelt emotions without words, hoping he would feel the depth of my gratitude and love. He did.
Choosing love and kindness is generosity of spirit, which works equally well for ourselves, our children, our loved ones, even a stranger. It is a powerful way to make a real difference.
Answer Book 2019
To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2019 Answer Book, please click here.
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