So I posted the above picture on Instagram the other day and wrote under it, “It’s the holidays. Everyone’s running around like crazy. I’m packing my life into 2 suitcases again. Everything feels stressful and like it’s just going too fast and I just can’t keep up with the swirl of it all. And then…. constantly, consistently, I try and pull myself back into the tenderness of it all. Tenderness towards the moment, towards myself, towards others…if I can stay tender, I know I’ll be okay. Today, tomorrow, forever. When I die, I’ll be satisfied if all that’s remembered about me is, ‘she was such a tender woman. Her strength always came from her tenderness.’

Nice huh? Nice and emotional and, yes, genuine…. But then that night I went to my moms and cried, hot, ugly tears on her couch and said I was convicted to my core from my own damn Instagram post. Don’t ya HATE it when that happens? Ugh. I do. I sat on her couch crying and realized WHEN am I actually tender? Like, in all honesty? When am I kind? I can be polite but am I kind? To my bones? No. I’m not. It comes in waves. Stick me in a garbage dump or slum or red light district and you’ll find the most compassionate, tender woman you’ve ever met. Stick me in Target at 2pm on the Saturday before Christmas and you find the complete opposite. Or even just day to day life? Am I kind to my barista? Not nice, kind. Like, I smile and say hi, but do I care? Does she walk away from our interaction and go “I feel seen. I feel valued. I feel human”, even just for 5 minutes?

No. I’m lacking. I’m tender on my own time. I’m kind on my own clock. It doesn’t ooze out of me. It doesn’t spill out from every word I say. And I realized that. And it stung. A lot.  

 I’m still convicted, a week later from the crying fiasco at my mom’s. I want to live kindness. To the cashier when I’m annoyed at the price of groceries, to the barista when I’m in a rush, to the Target employee when it’s crazy busy, to my mom when I’m cranky, to my best friends when I’m tired. I have a long way to go. But I want to learn and improve. 

My yoga instructor always says, at the end of each class, “The light in me honors the light in you. We are here on this earth to heal ourselves and then help heal each other.” We are all so connected. We need each other so desperately. If I actually realized how deeply I’m connected to the lady who makes my coffee, or my bartender, or sister, or the black kid who was recently shot, or the cop that just died in Alaska, it would change everything. The circle of connection spreads out further and further the more integrated we become to it. It deepens out until I realize the children in Aleppo dying and being poisoned are as connected to me as my own future children. We need each other. And more than anything we need each other’s tenderness. 

I always seem to think it doesn’t matter to be kind and tender to others unless its extravagant (like in a slum somewhere holding a baby dying of HIV), but when I think about it deeply, the most life changing moments of my life weren’t extravagant, they were tiny acts of kindness. Like flowers sent to me after my dad died, or that one lady who worked at the airport and stopped me to tell me how beautiful my smile was, or that little kid who ran across the store and hugged my leg when I was really sad, or the strangers who have randomly bought my coffee. It’s the little stuff. So, if that little stuff people have thoughtlessly done that have changed me, why am I so ignorant to think that my tiny, minuscule acts of kindness couldn’t utterly change someone else?  

I think ultimately the cry of every single human on this planet is, ‘am I loved? Am I seen? Am I worthy.” If I’m honest, that’s the underlining question in everything I say and do. The cry of a lifetime. “Please tell me I’m loved and seen and worthy.” What would happen if we started saying that in a million different ways to each person we meet? I know this isn’t new – at all. I know far too many Blogs have been written about this, but it’s something I want to be so intentional about until it becomes second nature to me. Like I asked the barista ‘how are you?’ really tenderly and intentionally and she stopped and said, ‘Ya know. I’m better now.’ And instead of just being a robot and checking out I asked the Target guy how his day was and he lit up like a Christmas tree. It feels awkward and way outside of my introvert comfort zone of just gliding through life, but I feel like it matters. Somewhere in the grand scheme of things, it matters a lot.

I’m not trying to preach (gross) I’m just saying it matters. A hell of a lot more than I’ve let on for the last 27 years. I want to make it matter a lot more. To be tender with each other. Holy cow, we all need it so desperately. Let’s go into the near year together, vowing to treat each other (and ourselves.. a whole other blog topic), in the littlest of ways, with just a smidgen (or a lot) more tenderness.