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The Myth of Kindness

When I was in high school my girlfriends and I used to classify people as "nice". It wasn't a term of endearment. To us, "nice" meant they weren't a bad person but they also didn't really bring much to the table. We didn't aspire to being nice. It was condescending and derogatory in our definition. I don't think we really understood what it meant to be kind.

Don't get me wrong, I was brought up with a strong, caring, and incredible group of women who continue to be the root of my strength today, and we've all come a very long way since high school. As teenagers we weren't inherently unkind, we were just led astray. We learned that kindness was a "feminine" trait and by proxy, a weakness. If we wanted to succeed, to truly leverage our intelligence, drive and ambition, we had to leave kindness behind.

It didn't make us unkind, it just made us undervalue the power of kindness. We saw strength in sarcasm, in judgement, in comparison and competition. At the time, it may have been said we were trying to play in a "man's world", but we've learned since that this, too, was misguided. 

Maybe you are familiar with "Into the Woods"; the chorus of the Last Midnight captures our juvenile distinction of "nice":

You’re so nice.
You’re not good,
You’re not bad,
You’re just nice.
I’m not good,
I’m not nice,
I’m just right.

Niceness is foolish in this definition, it's useless. It becomes the "wet blanket", the pushover. Nice is another word for "yes-man", and that's just unfair to the value of kindness.

I've only recently rediscovered the true power of kindness and of MY kindness. Throughout my life, I've been told that I'm kind and I've also been told I'm not that nice. It's confusing because ultimately it's a battle of semantics. You can argue the distinction between good, nice, kind, caring, compassionate but eventually you have to ask, why? Why do we need to so specifically qualify this somewhat indescribable quality of humanity? Perhaps because it is so powerful. If you've ever experienced true kindness (and I imagine and hope you all have), you know that it's transformative. Kindness grounds you. It reminds you of the wonder of being human, of the connection between us all, of the commonality we share before you begin to notice the many ways we classify each other and ourselves.

Kindness is a special type of power. In embracing my kindness, I've seen the unease and distrust that comes alongside. I've seen the definition I understood as a teenager active in my adult life amongst my peers. It goes deeper than misunderstanding the power of kindness, there is also a misunderstanding of power in general. In my day job, I often have to, for lack of better words, persuade people to do the things I need done. Sometimes, it comes into question if I can, in fact do this. If I can ask someone for what I need and receive it. Because I'm "so nice". This unsteadies me, but it also drives me to continue to be kind. To spread the knowledge that, no matter how "important", how "pushy", how "demanding" you may be, you hold the greatest power when you ask for something in kindness. Kindness is rooted in self-respect. When you practice kindness, it's unto yourself first so you may replicate it unto others. Kindness invites boundaries, honesty, passionate discourse, patience, empathy, authenticity and respect. Often, the kindest thing you can do for someone is to say "no", to disagree. Kindness is not politically correct. Kindness is real.

If you practice yoga perhaps you are familiar with doing what you need holistically instead of what you want mentally. A great example for me are the days the teacher says we can do chaturanga or just meet in downward dog, then mentions it's those of us that need the chaturanga most who don't do it. Then, dammit all, I do the chaturanga against my mind and my body is so grateful. That's kindness.

Kindness is giving what's needed. It's messy, and it's complicated, and it's hands down the most rewarding thing you can do as a human. Kindness is never a weakness. In moments where this feels challenged, remind yourself to be empathetic. Be kind to your challenger and gently, but firmly, teach them about true kindness.

 

Namaste.

Thank you for reading!

xo,

Lo

 

Call me a Quitter

I started this blog with the intention of focusing more on cooking, improving my food styling, photography, and reviewing skills, and eventually developing recipes. All worthy ambitions but I didn't realize one BIG thing - blogging about cooking changes the entire experience of cooking in a way I don't enjoy. When I'm in the kitchen it's ALL ABOUT FLOW. Cooking is my zen. 

When I’m in the kitchen it’s ALL ABOUT FLOW. Cooking is my zen.

I am an intuitive cook adjusting dishes as I go, always trying to respond to what my food needs. I rarely follow a recipe and usually can't replicate a past dish exactly. To blog, I need to step back to take photos or make notes. Shifting from participant to observer makes it difficult to maintain my flow, make intuitive choices, and move swiftly enough to complete dishes well.  I thought blogging would really inspire me to work harder in the kitchen but it didn't. I wrote a few posts that I was definitely proud of, but they were also very strange personal cooking experiences. I realized what I really enjoyed was snapping a photo (maybe two) and sharing on Instagram after enjoying my fresh meal. So I quit blogging because it wasn't working for me, and you know what? I'm glad that I did.

I quit blogging because it wasn’t working for me, and you know what? I’m glad that I did.

We don't hear enough about the value of quitting. We all know we have to do the work. That good things don't come easily, and that we are going to fall down a hell of a lot more times than we succeed. Don't misunderstand me - I'm not talking about giving up on those good, hard things that get you closer to your goals. I'm talking about those things we try because we think they will be fulfilling, or will help us along a path, then we realize that they aren't giving us what we need.

There is a stigma around being a quitter but the rhetoric doesn't make sense. If we want to be fulfilled creative beings we have to dive into new things head first. Sometimes those things are amazing and we love them; sometimes those things are unfulfilling, not at all what we expected, and the thought of continuing them is upsetting (at best). When the latter happens that's when it's time to quit, with a flourish! Quitting feels AMAZING. It's akin to losing ten pounds, getting a brand new haircut, the first time you wear those brand new shoes. It's refreshing, liberating and HEALTHY.

Quitting feels AMAZING. It’s refreshing, liberating and HEALTHY.

The best part about quitting (about life really)? Our choices don't define us, and most of them aren't permanent. I quit blogging in February. Recently, I returned to school and started a new personal project, reminding me of another intention I had for blogging - to share meaningful content. With that in mind, I'm hoping to slowly return to blogging over the coming months. Food and cooking will be a central theme, while bringing my other interests into the mix. So you can call me a quitter and a "flip-flopper", a DO-ER and a TRY-ER. I'll gladly own them all and keep on moving!

Be a quitter. Be a failure. Be a loser!

Xo,

Lo