Posts Tagged by Kindness
|January 18, 2017||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Mindfulness, Science and soul, Training/Behavior|
2016 was a relentlessly hardcore teacher launching mammoth lessons at us.
Were you paying attention in last year’s class? I was.
Buckle up; this is gonna get personal.
And real. And uncomfy in parts. But that means last year’s lessons hit home – deeply. I accept 2016 as my teacher.
I often joke that since my post-divorce awakening as a writer and an intuitive, I somehow hooked myself to a comet that’s plummeting thru life lessons at a ridiculously head-spinning rate.
Or I’ve caught an epic wave that must be surfed to its fullest. Or both – waves by day, comets by night. Regardless, it’s a master class and I relish it.
I could be ongoingly outraged. We all could.
Hell, we’ve all been politically outraged, haven’t we? But that outrage means the lessons aren’t getting through to us. If we’re right-fighting, we’re not listening, not growing, not learning. So deep breath, and repeat after me: “Puppies & kittens, puppies & kittens, puppies & kittens.” Picture that fluffy cuteness, keep repeating & breathing. Better? Good. Time to chill out and absorb the past year’s lessons.
Here are 6 of my biggest takeaways from 2016 –
about humans, affirmed by animals (my life teachers):
- If a loving relative yells at me, it’s because she’s scared & stressed nearly to death.
She needs my compassion, understanding & stability. It does neither one of us any good if I match her aggression with aggression. Similarly, a fearfully aggressive animal needs you to kindly provide time & space for them to calm. Ultimately, they need your patient guidance through their fears later, when they’ve calmed to a non-defensive learning mode. A fierce response to humans or pets does lasting relationship damage. Don’t go there.
- If a loving partner is occasionally critical or negative, it’s because he’s stressed by his day’s events.
Again, calm compassion. And boundaries. And space and time. (He gifts me these if I’m scared or sad.) He unspokenly needs me to hold a mirror up to him, inspiring self-reflection, returning him to presence. A simple question then silence succeeds: Why are you irritated with me? (I know he’s not, really.) I do the same with irritable cats & dogs: What is not ok for you right now? How can I make you comfy? Growls from otherwise sweet animals require the question: What lies beneath the behavior? Are you sick/scared/painful/stressed? Be safe, but be there to be aware when they answer you. They will answer you. Then get to your vet.
- When life presents challenges – and it always does – they are surmountable.
Rather than obstacles, they are lessons in disguise. I see two perspectives. For legit problems, by definition, if the problem exists then so must its solution. For questionable problems, I apply the “5 by 5” rule: If it won’t matter in 5 years, don’t waste 5 minutes of your energy on it today. Just let that shit go. Back to pets: I counsel my clients that obstacles are opportunities. For example: that barking dog behind the fence that your pup can’t pass without transforming into a leashed Tasmanian devil? Be grateful for this conveniently located & safely contained distraction, perfect for positive focus training for Fido. With all challenges, if it seems insurmountable, find a teacher-helper. Just do it.
- Something today might feel like a very bad thing you survived in your past, but it’s not the same.
Step back and evaluate. Is it really the same? Of course not. An example, please? I know a lot of women, myself included, who were badly affected by Trump’s rise to power because it felt too familiar. But he’s not that guy. Remind yourself of that, ladies. He’s just not. He can’t hurt you. You’re fine; you are. An animal example, please? Your new pet is not your last pet. If you were traumatized by the aggression, behavior, illness, etc. of your last pet, please know that this new animal-soul is not that trauma. If your last pet was your soul mate or behavioral perfection, your new furry family member will rise to her own unique potential if you don’t hold her back with unfair comparisons.
- Recognize mismatches and souls whose paths no longer overlap with yours. Let them go.
There is no need to keep someone in your life, even if you could, to the detriment of you both. I now know that a love that was never there to begin with can’t be lost and needn’t be mourned. While I give my heart fully, it is not fodder for others’ toxic whims. That’s where my path must diverge from theirs. It is meant to be that way. I see this play out with pets – as mismatches. A dog who needs time and space to evaluate or escape chaos likely won’t be his best with a hectic, uber-social, on-the-go family. A person who craves & insists on a cuddle-buddy cat is not best paired with a fleetingly affectionate, independent feline. Don’t insist on square peg-round holing it through life. It’s not good for anyone involved. Admit it doesn’t fit and move on. It’s a mismatch, not a failure. Letting a soul’s path diverge from yours gives them the gift to find their better fit. There are perfect matches to be found for all of us. And, it’s likely that your mismatched encounter was necessary to put you both on separate paths to better-suited, destined companions.
With that, I enthusiastically ride the waves & comets into 2017.
I am grateful for 2016’s cosmic lessons. While teachers are often cleverly, even cruelly, disguised, they are placed in our paths because our souls need their lessons. Don’t be outraged; be a life student. Always ask: What can I learn from this? How can I grow from this? Then listen. Really listen. As you studiously wait, apply compassion, kindness & empathy. Then your truest answers will come….
If 2016 was The Teacher, I believe we should put our hard-learned skills to work this year.
In 2017, let’s become The Listeners. (To be continued in my next post…..)
So what did you learn last year about yourself, fellow humans or your pets?
Who was a powerful teacher-helper for you last year? How will your lessons help you this new year? Please share; there’s strength in learning together. Go ahead, get political if you want. But be kind, constructive & inspirational while you’re at it. Remember, you’re somebody’s teacher, too. xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
Words with wisdom:
- “Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.” ~Buddha
- “Remember, you’re somebody’s teacher, too.” ~Ruth Hagen
“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” ~Anthony J. D’Angelo
“Change is the end result of all true learning.” ~Leo Buscaglia
“I made decisions that I regret, and I took them as learning experiences… I’m human, not perfect, like anybody else.” ~Queen Latifah
- “Today, I find calm clarity. I am inspired despite the election. I choose happiness (not naivety, not helplessness). I choose a path of love & light.” ~Ruth Hagen, on her FB writer’s page
- “A fierce response to humans or pets does lasting relationship damage.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “Don’t be outraged; be a life student.” ~Ruth Hagen
“I take all of my life lessons, which some people might call ‘mistakes’, and apply them to my future so that I keep growing.” ~Kimberly Caldwell
- “When you get older, you learn certain life lessons. You apply that wisdom, and suddenly you say, “Hey, I’ve got a new lease on this thing. So let’s go!” ~Robert Redford
©2017 The Soulful Pet
|January 20, 2015||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food|
So. Let’s take the pulse of your year thus far, shall we?
Resolutions not-so-much? Whining & we’re only weeks into 2015? Right, that’s because you ran that rat race straight into the resolution mousetrap. Have no fear, overwhelmed whiskered-one. There’s a way out – if you’re open to it.
I have a devilishly long 2015 to-do list.
Believe me, I’m the type of gal who would/should, to my mind, accomplish everything by 1/2. Notice I didn’t say “could”. ‘Cuz I can’t…. and neither can you.
Here’s what we can do: Rewrite the rules.
Yep, new rules for the new year. They’re not complicated, they’re cheap & they payoff in spades. Best part: Break ’em & shake ’em if ya wanna!
I’m not a dictator, not even a benevolent one.
I won’t write rules for you. But I will tell you what Rusty & I came up with so far. It’s an evolving list, as it should be. We all evolve (Darwin!): body, mind & soul. To quote Mary Matalin: “Inflexible minds are boring minds.” Boring is not on this list, so flexible we shall be!
Ruth & Rusty’s “Happy Now & Here” Rules:
- No resolutions – ever. See? Easy.
- Always do a twofer. Whenever you can, double up. Buy 2 tickets to a show instead of one. Match a friend to the entertainment & take them. Buy 2 bags of pet food. Donate one to a shelter or give it to a neighbor in need. Make 2 batches of yummies & give one away. (See below for a very shareable recipe!) Buy a sandwich @ the deli, & treat the person behind you to one, too. Bring your trashcan in, and heck, drag the neighbor’s in, too. Got it?
- Take a vacation in your hometown. And talk to people. Learn their names. Take your dog; you’re guaranteed to see things through his nose/eyes you hadn’t noticed before. Convos are randomly uber-easy with Pup nearby, as you know. I find it fascinating how delightfully open folks are around animals. No Fido, & Fluffy just won’t play that? Be a solo tourist; ask people where they like to eat, drink, hike, or hang with art & books. Really listen to their tips and actually go do what they recommend. It’s the best. (Trust me, introverts. You can do it.)
- Purge with purpose. Right, I did it today. I filled & delivered 3 purpose-filled bags: donation, consignment & reuse. In the past, Rusty’s purged unused toys. He doesn’t miss them, but his pals love them. I wholeheartedly believe that less clutter in your space is less clutter in your mind & soul. Besides, Rusty just has too many toys. (Shhh….)
- Choose happiness. If you follow TSP, you know this choice is big. It changed my life. My first week of 2015 was a downer. But I brought it back to happy asap. How? I connect with friends & family I love, who truly love me back. I ask for help. I create beauty. I play with Rusty. (Get on the floor & play with your pet; it’s a whole other world down there!) I exercise, eat well, love with all my heart, sing, dance, bake, sip wine, hug, laugh, & smile with my eyes. I’m curious by nature. I consult Reiki masters, shamans, energy healers, Buddhists & yogis. I read everything. If it lights my soul up, sign me up. What lights your soul up?
Five easy things. Do them simply & sweetly, as often as you like.
Be kind to yourself & others in the process. Do not judge your progress or count how many you’ve done. Do not judge others by their response or count what you receive in return. Just be. Just do. Find yourself & your bliss in the being, doing, giving & receiving of each moment.
Speaking of giveable yummies, try this ridiculously easy recipe.
Each batch is an individual serving that’s frozen. When you’re ready, pop as many servings as you like into the oven and roast away! You can share it with your pets (no garlic or onions, please). Or deliver packaged portions to a friend who’s going through a tough time. Or invite a friend over for an impromptu home-cooked meal.
Ruth’s Rosemary-Mustard Roasted Chicken & Veggies
Ingredients (use organic when you can)
1 lb new potatoes, quartered
2 carrots, peeled & cut into 2-inch sticks
2 medium zucchini, cut into 2-inch sticks
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
course sea salt & pepper
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 1-quart resealable plastic freezer bags
In a large bowl, combine prepped veggies. Stir in 2 Tbs olive oil, 1 1/2 Tbs mustard, 1/2 tsp sea salt & 1/4 tsp pepper. Separately, season the chicken with ground sea salt & pepper, to taste. Divide veggie mix and chicken among the 4 bags. Add 1/2 rosemary sprig to each bag & seal. Freeze, until ready to cook, for up to 3 months. Each bag is one serving. (This cooks best from frozen, so get your chill on!)
To cook: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Empty bag(s) into a baking dish. Roast for 25 minutes. Stir veggies & flip chicken. Roast 20-25 minutes more, occasionally stirring veggies, until chicken is cooked through. Remove the rosemary sprigs & plate up the goodness!
(Rusty chowed on bits of veg & chicken from this dish. If I were making him his own bag, however, I’d leave out the salt & pepper. I’d replace the 1/2 rosemary sprig with 1 Tbs chopped, fresh parsley, mixed into the veggies.)
~Lovingly lifted & tweaked from Real Simple~
Wait…. this just in: Rusty said, “That’s a twofer you can drool fer!” You were expecting Shakespeare? He’s a poodle, peeps. He’s a poodle.
Happy Now & Here! xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2015 The Soulful Pet
|June 23, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Music, Videos|
I stood face-to-face with her, not more than 3 feet between us.
After desperately hoping that I’d excavate something acceptable from my suitcase for the surprise-to-me event we were headed to, I found myself in this position. Her eyes emotionlessly scanned me from the top of my head to the tips of my not-as-cute-as-could-be comfy travel shoes. Then, her silent review reversed itself, up again – finally resting on my eyes. I had felt her conditional gaze crawl over every inch of my body. By the time she finished taking it all in, her continued silence was too much for me. I averted my eyes & promptly kicked myself for not having brought something cuter that surely would have passed inspection. For the rest of the evening, I was certain that I didn’t fit in.
I could go on about growing a spine; clever retorts I should have/could have spewed; girl power; & women having a sisterhood responsibility to lift each other up. But blahblahblah.
Instead, I am nothing but grateful for that moment now. It taught me endless lessons that I want to gift to you. Maybe you’re already all over this stuff, & you could teach me a thing or three. But I remember the cold electricity of her examination all too well. I know that even the best of us gals (& guys) would be hard pressed to make peace with that scenario. Let me help….
I don’t hate the haters. I don’t take in toxic critics. I made peace with 4 simple promises:
I will never avert my eyes again. When I encounter a scrutinizer, I watch them peruse my person until our eyes meet. Then I smile – a genuinely gentle, warm smile with crinkly eyes. Just like I do with a dog or cat. What happens after that is on them.
I love to people watch. I admire a pulled together, tatted-up hipster; a boho beauty; or an accessory maven. I will look at their effortless style with an eye to translate it to my style. However, I never judge. And I always approach them to let them know that IMHO they knocked it outta the park. The BEST convos come out of this last bit. I met a charming barista with an amazing fly tattoo. It was art on his arm – a true inspiration for my wanna-be dragonfly tat. I spotted a gal whose style completely matched her energy: quirky, comfy wedges; rolled-up boyfriend skinnies; cropped floral jacket over a longer flowy blouse; cat-eye glasses; & mid-length curly-curly red hair. I walked across the restaurant to tell her how adorbs she was (“I love your style!”), and her jaw dropped. She said, “Really?! My kids are always telling me I dress too old.” I told her I thought she rocked it. One drink & 5 more minutes, and I think we could have been besties. Loved her!
Learn how to accept a compliment. Gone are my days of deflecting kind words & letting unkind silent stares scar. If someone gives the gift of a compliment, at the very least, allow them as a kindness to them. Trust me, take it in with a heartfelt thanks as a kindness to yourself, as well.
This is a biggy that I learned from my pets. They bounce out of bed with gunk in their eyes; pottying & breakfast on their minds (usually in that order); & big goofy grins on their bedheads. No one looks in the mirror. No one comments on my appearance. My takeaways: Skip the mirror & the scale first thing in the morning. Love yourself and your family of pets & peeps. When you do get cute, get cute for you alone, wink @ yourself in that mirror, & move on. Take this in: You are lovely & loveable. Your pets know it. If your humans don’t know it, give them a warm smile & move on.
This is not all as shallow as you might think.
It’s not about appearances. It’s about basic decency & kindness. (I almost said “human decency”, but I think we have too much to learn from animals on that concept to claim it.) Truth is, as a wise friend just pointed out to me, I would never have passed that inspection. And that’s ok. That’s on her. Stick with me….and P!nk:
Zoom way out from fashion to see the greater truth:
We are part of all life on this planet. We’re linked with all sentient beings. If you’re not sure about that, feel the difference in your soul between doing a kindness for a person or an animal vs judging or turning your back on them. Take time to be grateful for kindness gifted to you rather than dismissing it as minor in comparison to life’s negatives. Soak up those feelings; remember them. Take them in, my friends. Call on them when you’re down. Pay them forward. Today, do a kindness. It will ripple through the links more than you know. The Universe will take it in and hug you back.
There’s tons to think about here. Please join the convo.
Be as shallow or as philosophical or as zen as you like. We won’t judge you. We think you’re adorbs just as you are. (Say thank you, cutie!) xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|May 21, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle|
I know nothing about poetry. Yet, the writer in me is insisting on this post. Who am I to deny her?
Please let this speak for those who feel misunderstood & unseen (kids, animals & adults). I hope it inspires you to set aside Ego, to not assume about, impose upon or harm others – physically or emotionally. Words have as much if not more power than fists. Growls have as much if not more power than bites. Use your words kindly & wisely to do no harm, just as pets use their growls to prevent bites.
With Rusty by my side, I hope you enjoy our wanna-be poem.
“You Don’t Know Me” by Ruth Hagen
You don’t know me if you’re sure you do.
You don’t know me if you think I am judgement, criticism, spite, envy or revenge.
You don’t know me if you’re impatience or judgement.
You don’t know me if you say you love me, call me friend, call me family, earn my trust – then hurt me.
You don’t know me if you think my love, trust & friendship aren’t fragile yet loyally true.
You don’t know me if you devalue me, dismiss me, disrespect me or take me for granted.
You don’t know me if you silence or censor me.
You don’t know me if you rely on others to tell you about me.
You don’t know me if you won’t hear who I say I am.
You don’t know me if you don’t know or want to know my side of the story.
You don’t know me if you mistake my kindness for weakness.
You don’t know me if I don’t trust you.
You don’t know me if you don’t unconditionally accept all of me.
You don’t know me if you can’t see me grow or won’t let me grow.
You don’t know me if it’s all about you.
We’d be honored if you’d share this to spread empathy, kindness & compassion.
If you’d like to add a line to the “poem” or tell us how you or your pets relate to these words, please do in the comments. Wags & hugs to you, from the bottoms of our hearts. xxoo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|February 9, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food, Worthy reads|
Sigh. My cholesterol’s high.
Not disastrously so, but it surprised my doctor & I @ my last wellness checkup. How could that be? My doc gave me homework, “Check your family history, and change your diet.” While my diet’s not off-the-hook horrible, I can certainly make changes. I won’t be guzzling 6-packs of highly caloric Ensure anymore, as I did a few months ago to survive my 2-week complete appetite loss that followed the news that my husband’s divorcing me. And I won’t be stress eating the quickest sugar-laden, simple carb within reach, as I did once my appetite returned. I will reduce saturated fats & increase fiber. Upon recheck, my cholesterol’s down but still a tad high. Good news! I’m on the right track, but, as it turns out, I have work to do on two fronts: self-care via diet & battling genetics.
I just finished reading “Am I Being Kind?” by Michael Chase.
It’s a lovely book; you should read it. I intend to revisit it @ least twice a year. Each read will impact me differently as I journey through my life’s recent & rapid changes. In the book, Michael recommends asking yourself as you go about your day if you’re being kind to yourself, others & the Earth. Being kind to yourself is a must, if you wish to give kindness to others. In short, wellness matters; it’s self-kindness. So now when I eat, I ask myself, “Am I being kind to my body if I eat this?”
I also recently read Lissa Rankin’s book, “Mind Over Medicine“.
My take-away (one of many) from her science-based, must re-read gem is that our minds contribute to good health or a lack of wellness. Our beliefs are powerful enough to create & compound illness. So, for example, if I walk around thinking that I’m bound to have high cholesterol because it runs in my family, then I’m more likely to have it. If, however, I genuinely believe (& I do) that I can affect my health in a positive way by reducing stress & improving my diet, then that’s quite possibly my future reality. Since my numbers & my family’s history both surprised me, I’ve got a real shot @ positively thinking my way to wellness.
I plan to thrive, not merely survive.
I choose a life of happiness & kindness shared with friends, family, pets & clients. I would give nothing less to Rusty. Now, I promise me that I’ll give nothing less to me. Wellness is now a priority. Having said that, I delight in good food & wine. Baking feeds my soul; I believe in real butter, cream & dark chocolate. What’s a high-LDL gal to do? Moderation, variety & creativity, of course!
Pears? Not so much.
Yes, they’re in season. Yes, they’re adorable. So much so, they’ve inspired countless artists’ still lifes. I want to take them home & fill a bowl with them – or bake with them – or drink them. I cherish a nice pear cosmo. And, a chocolate-pear scone would be divine but not kind to me now. But to eat a plain pear is dicey. While Rusty loves them, I detest their fuzzy grittiness. It’s a texture thing. My challenge: make fiber-rich, fat-free pears visually and tastefully appealing to me. How? You’ll see….
Ruth’s Spicy Chunky Pear Sauce
8-10 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored & cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup currants
2 t fresh lemon juice
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low & simmer, stirring occasionally, until pears have softened, about 25-30 minutes.
Mash with a potato masher. (If you want a smoother sauce, wait for it to cool. Then use an immersion or upright blender or a food processor.)
Once the sauce has cooled, store it in glass containers (healthier than plastic) in the frig for up to a week. To keep it longer, freeze or can it. Pear-fection!
~Tweaked from Two Peas & Their Pod~
Rusty LOVES the pear sauce as much as I do.
I picked the currants out of his portion. (No grapes, raisins or currants for dogs. The spices in the sauce are dog-friendly.) If you have pears but aren’t feeling saucy, just share them with your dog as is. (Don’t let Pup have the core or the seeds. Give one cube a day, as a little fiber for Fido goes a long way.) Or, pop them in the oven as I did to make Rusty’s Roasted Pears: Preheat oven to 375°. Peel & cube pears to desired treat size. Put pear chunks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast until pear pieces feel dry to the touch and look a little browned underneath, about 20 minutes. Cool completely. Roasting makes them sweeter (not gritty) for you & Pup!
Moderation, variety & creativity are truly the spices of life & wellness.
My pear sauce is undoubtedly heavenly on fiber-rich oatmeal. It’s amazing on fat-free & yummy Cardamom-Pistachio Biscotti. But this girl knows a good thing when she tastes it: spicy pear sauce, warmed & spooned over coffee ice cream makes me do a happy dance! Listen, wellness isn’t about deprivation, ‘cuz YOLO. It’s about respecting and nurturing your body & soul. Pear-fection, indeed!
How do you strike a balance between health & happiness?
Please share your stories & recipes. We’re drooling with anticipation! xxoo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet