Tag Archives: brave

Teaching Kindness and Training Warriors

As a momma-to-be, there are already so many things I worry about for this sweet child I’m carrying. Am I eating the right foods to help her grow big and strong? Am I picking the right bedding, toys, and accessories so that he’ll be safe, secure, and happy? How do I prepare for the unknown worlds of birth, feeding, and tireless newborn care?

My biggest worry, though, is the overall prospect of bringing this little one into a great big world that is so bright and beautiful, but can also be harsh and mean and scary. For a while she’ll be protected by the cloak of babyhood – being constantly supervised and surrounded by people who offer nothing but kind words for this tiny new being. But in a brief few years she’ll grow up and go out on her own – at pre-school, at the park – and someone will say something unkind to her or another child. And the thought of that shatters my heart…

So how do I teach my child to embrace kindness even in the midst of a sometimes unkind world? How do I let him know that, no matter how strong meanness may seem, kindness will always win? How do I encourage him to face each day, brave and strong, as a warrior fighting for kindness for all those around him?

With small daily acts and beautiful inspiring words.

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Fortunately, my lovely sister-in-law, Katie Moore, has recently published an incredible children’s book on exactly this topic. Her book – You Are A Warrior – tells a beautiful, whimsical, and truthful tale of a little girl who is doing just that – being a warrior by fighting back against bullying with seemingly small acts of kindness that yield huge results. What makes Katie’s book even more special are the delightfully happy illustrations that are a compilation of her four talented children’s artwork combined with her own wise words. Without a doubt, this is an inspiring book and a meaningful message for adults and children alike.

Since I’m fortunate enough to know this witty and wonderful author, I asked Katie a few questions about the book in hopes of absorbing some of her awesome, love-filled wisdom:

What was your inspiration for writing this book?                                                               

My inspiration for writing this book was to give my kids something to hold and read and know that they contributed to a real book. Something tangible that they helped to create and build and feel that they could put it in their hands and say that they were a part of. I’m working on a novel that is aimed for an adult audience so it was important for me to get this one out first. Also on my blog I write a lot of things that are adult humor that I would never (ever) want them to come across, but a book that is for kids helps confirm that their momma really is a writer. It gives me some street credit. Plus (and most importantly) I am a huge fan of children’s books that send out a positive message. I want my kids and kids everywhere to be kind and aim for good every single day.      

As a mother of four (incredible) kids, why do you think this is an important book and message for children?                                                                                                                 

I think that it is desperately important that children realize that small acts can make a tremendous impact on this world. Bullying is rampant in schools, playgrounds and probably the most detrimental of all, on all sources of media. Kindness isn’t a slight thing, costs nothing and has the potential to bring hope to every generation. Children of all ages have the power to bring change.

I love the artwork in the book! Can you tell me more about your process for creating the beautiful and inspiring images?                                                                           

Thank you! I am in love with collage work with mixed media. I wanted to create something whimsical with my own kids’ artwork and add some words and light to bring each page its own type of faithful magic. The process is really glue, hope, glue, repeat. Roll with the mess and the mistakes… perfection is overrated.   

What is the number one lesson that you hope anyone reading – both children and adults – will take away from your book?                                                          

Show up. Be kind. That really would be a dream if that was the takeaway. Oh and have fun too. Warriors are rockstars.                                                                                                                                                                            

Thank you dear Katie!

There is still time to get the perfect Christmas gift for kids of all ages (including those grown-up kids who may need a little kindness reminder) by ordering Katie’s book on Amazon: You Are A Warrior.

While you’re there, be sure to pick up a copy of her lovely inspiration journal – Dream a Bigger Dream – to spark your own creative potential.

For more of Katie’s wit, humor, and wisdom, check out her blog, The Naked Momma, at www.thenakedmomma.com.  Or get her daily dose of inspiration and fun on Facebook and Twitter @thenakedmommakt.

PS – it just so happens to be Katie’s birthday today, so share the love!

What small but mighty acts of kindness have you seen or done this week? Leave a comment below with ways to share some joy this season and beyond, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of You Are A Warrior – a beautiful gift just for you! Happy kindness spreading friends!

Facing Fears

Last weekend, to celebrate her birthday, my mom decided that she wanted to go to an amusement park. This is a fantastically fun idea, except for the fact that I am slightly terrified of roller coasters and thrill rides in general.

My husband has this theory though. He believes that we humans need to experience fear every once in a while to remind of us of our own humanity. He claims that humans have evolved so much that we do not often encounter things that make us fear for our lives like our Stone Age ancestors might have – which in many ways is a very good thing. Yet, we need to face such fears to show us that we are not invincible, but we have extraordinary potential to overcome terrifying circumstances. In doing so, facing the fears, he concludes that it helps us appreciate the ordinary relatively fear-free existence of our everyday lives.

Brilliant.

I agree with this wise man; on a figurative level. Yes, I can be brave and vulnerable and face those emotional things that bring me fear. But literally? I’ll just stay on my carousel thank you very much.

No, my husband persisted, that’s not how it works. He was referring specifically to the physical fears we must face, propelling us out of our comfort zone and towards a sense of accomplishment. In other words – get on that roller coaster missy!

So with trembling legs I climbed the steps to the Wild Eagle – the newest, fastest, steepest roller coaster at Dollywood. As the friendly attendant strapped me in, she took one look at my panic-stricken face, gave me a knowing smile, and asked, “Scared?”

Then the coaster was off, scaling the slow vertical ascent to the peak. As we hung suspended, Andrew kept reminding me – deep breaths, just breathe. I inhaled as we crested the metallic summit, bracing for the worst, and wooosh.

I loved it.

As we soared and dipped and inverted and whirled, my anxiety melted away and was replaced by a refreshing feeling of accomplishment and, dare I say, joy.

My whole body was shaking as I emerged from the ride – pulsing with a delicious mix of adrenaline and pride. I was still terrified the second time I rode, and the third. But I also now knew my husband’s words to be true – it’s not just the rush of the ride that makes the thrill worthwhile, but the way that your feet touch the ground afterward with enhanced appreciation for the security of our ordinary lives.

Facing our physical fears forces us to get out of our own minds and bodies, too often hung up on meaningless modern worries, resetting our perspective on life. Bonus: you might just find you actually enjoy doing something you fear.

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Victorious!

Have a fantastic weekend of facing fears and finding joy!

Don’t Get Over It

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When bad things happen in life – big or small, your fault or not – it’a a common refrain to hear from yourself or others, “Just get over it.” Depending on the severity of the situation, it may not be directly said, but there is an implication in society that in order to be strong and independent, we just need to get over things and blaze our own sure-footed path forward.

But I’m not convinced that this is the best option in many cases, or even possible in some instances. Just getting over something implies that it doesn’t or it can’t affect us anymore, and sometimes that is just too hard in the current moment. To get over something means that we turn our back on the problem or the hurt – a hurt that really needs to be faced head-on.

So what’s the alternative?

Are we just supposed to “get under it” and remain in that place of pain and hurt, continually blaming ourselves or others? There are times when staying under it is all that we can do, but in the long run this method doesn’t prove any more productive than ignoring the issue and getting over it. It’s a pit rather than a path forward – and pits become dangerous and deep far too fast.

Life, especially pain and struggle, is like that old book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – “We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. We’ve got to go through it!”  Through it is the hard way – filled with lots of slogging through messy mud and wading in deep water. Yet by going through it you really experience life – the good and the bad, the guts and the glory.

And that’s what life is really about isn’t it? The journey, the learning, the honesty of having dealt with and overcome obstacles. Anything else is just skimming the surface, and it’s in the deep blue of “through” that the beauty of life lives.

So if you’re experiencing a tough time, don’t cave to the pressure of having to get over it, but don’t let it crush you either. Hold your head high, be brave, and march boldly through.

Karaoke – Do you Dare?

After an easy-going Saturday, I was expecting a quiet dinner with my visiting friend Cathy.  Little did I know that we would enjoy a fun-filled dinner joined by her adventurous parents and other good friends.  Even less expected was that the night would end up with me belting out a few classic tunes in front of a bar filled with strangers.

Following our delicious and rambunctious dinner at Knoxville’s awesome new Central Flats and Taps, we headed across the street to the local favorite – Toots Little Honky Tonk.  Toots is one of those places that epitomizes “dive bar” – a small room filled with cigarette smoke and an eclectic cast of local characters.  It doesn’t put on any airs and it’s far from fancy, so the great atmosphere is thanks to the energy you and fellow patrons bring – and of course the karaoke.

Such patrons range from the experienced vocalist to the novice songbird to the inebriated crooner.  A few take their singing very seriously, while many are just there to have a good time.  But they all have one thing in common – the crowd is unwaveringly supportive.  Sure, there are some performers or songs that are bigger hits, but no one is getting booed off stage for missing a note (trust me, I missed many).

Emboldened by the group’s good nature and my friends’ accompaniment, I mustered up the courage to get up and sing some songs.  My repertoire for the evening included: “The Sign” by Ace of Base, “Africa” by Toto, “I Feel the Earth Move” by Carole King, and our biggest crowd pleaser – “Dixieland Delight” by Alabama.

I should probably say that I am by no means a performer.  Although many find it hard to believe that I’m an introvert, getting up in front of people – even just to speak, much less sing – makes me pretty nervous.  Yet, after each song I sang, I felt a little more brave and a bit more proud.  Though I’m not vying for any Grammys, I found it really exhilarating to extend myself beyond my comfort zone; to shock my system out of the status quo of daily life.  It builds confidence, plus is just plain fun!

As the author Neale Donald Walsh wisely said…

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What are you doing / have to done to break out of your comfort zone? B e brave today!