Often, we get so used to those we spend our life with that we stop affirming their gifts, offering praise over how they parent so effortlessly or are quick to offer kind words or how they take-charge and get things done without blinking an eye. Each person has unique ways of being in the world and it is powerful to offer appreciation for who they are. I have found that the more I appreciate all that makes me an individual, observing my idiosyncrasies and how I show up in the world, the more I truly see others and can celebrate and affirm their gifts.
It doesn't matter how old we are or how much we have accomplished or how confident we appear to be. All of us need affirmed and praised! I invite you to explore this. Start by being kind to yourself, taking a pause to see yourself, taking inventory of your gifts - all that makes you "you". From this space, you can offer kindness to others, affirming them, reminding them that they matter. The coolest part is all the kindness you give others comes back to you so you will walk around feeling lighter and more connected.
Below is an excerpt from my book Passing On Hope from the chapter Tender Moments. At the time of this experience with my mom, I was 33 years old, already an accomplished entrepreneur, living a wonderful life but her kind and affirming words filled me more than I can possibly language.
KINDNESS MATTERS! Be kind to yourself so you can be kind to others...BE GENEROUS.
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As my mom lie in the hospital bed following a mild stroke, with her tiny body being swallowed by the one-size-fits-all gown, her gaze was far beyond the confines of the room, as if she were searching for answers.
Sitting next to her, I was looking for some way to bring her back out of nowhere. I surprised myself by asking her if she wanted me to read her a piece that I had written, which was a first for both of us. Her lips began to quiver from the start, and by the time I finished reading, she allowed herself to cry. I asked if it made her feel bad, and she shook her head side to side with her lips pursed together, trying to choke back her tears. I asked her if it made her feel good, and she nodded that it did. When she finally opened her mouth and broke the awkward silence, she spoke a few magical words, “You are a writer.”
In an instant, I was 8 years old again. I began to release tears of joy over her blessing as I laid my head on her chest in an attempt to get closer to her. She patted me like she had done countless times throughout my life in an effort to comfort me. This was something I had waited for my entire life, and it was sweeter than I had imagined. My mom’s words, spoken with sincere belief in me, meant more than a rave review from a renowned critic or any praise I could ever receive regarding my writing. It didn’t matter what anyone thought, because my mom told me I was a writer. She lifted me to a new height and validated what I knew to be true. No one could touch me where I was, standing on this higher ground safely wrapped in my mom’s approval that left me soaring, enlivened in a sense of self and purpose.
The physical therapist entered the room to assess
Mom’s mobility and make treatment recommendations. Now alert, Mom sat up, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. Staring at me with a girlish grin, she told the therapist that I was a marathon runner and a writer. The therapist inquired about my marathon training and asked if I did any coaching. Mom impatiently interjected like a child who couldn’t wait to say what she had to say, telling me to give the therapist a copy of what I had written. Taken aback by Mom’s boasting, which was completely out of character, I felt tongue-tied, not knowing how to act or what to do or say, but that quickly faded as I let in this unfamiliar experience that ultimately left me smiling. It was difficult to open my heart to Mom’s approval because I was just beginning to approve of myself after years of trying to be who I thought I should be. Grinning even wider, with her feet dangling over the bed, Mom then winked at me, playfully sealing the moment.