“What the world needs now… Is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of…” Thank you, Dionne Warwick for these beautiful lyrics and for reminding us that something as simple as love can make all the difference in the world.

Today, more than ever, our world needs to be reminded that LOVE is needed. That kindness matters. That each and every one of us can make a difference in the lives of those around us, those we know and those we don’t. It can also make a difference in our own lives. Thanks to the Blogging Meet-Up, I was introduced to the Kindness Challenge. I would encourage others to take this same challenge to see if we can make the world a little nicer, a little softer, a little better.

Thanks to Niki at The Richness of Simple Life for the Kindness Challenge. The first week focuses on being kind and gentle with yourself. Eeeek. Not sure why, but this one made me sweat a little. I assumed this challenge would be about doing nice things for others, perhaps volunteering my time or finding simple ways to let the loved ones around me know that I care. But to think or say nice things about myself? To give myself a pat on the back as a working mom of three?? Made. Me. Cringe. We are all too often much too hard on ourselves, myself included. It is easy to fall victim to being your own worst critic and assuming everyone else is doing life right while you stumble through with insecurities and anxieties aplenty.

Once I moved passed the squirming that this week brought about, I decided to dip my toes in the water with the idea of doing something nice for myself. In a typical day, as a teacher who is home for the summer with her three young children, I’m lucky to squeeze a shower in between tantrums and timeouts and tiny messes. Catch me mid-morning any day of the week and ask me what my wildest and craziest dream would be and my real-time answer would be TO WASH MY HAIR. Imagine my surprise when I scheduled myself a massage appointment for a Friday night!?!?! I can’t tell if I’m nervously excited or straight up losing my mind. Either way, I’m thrilled.

Now that my toes are wet, I’m going to keep diving…. Another challenge is to wake up and thing of 10 things that are beautiful in my life. Again, on any given day, I seem to be surrounded by all things NOT beauty. A messy house. Dirty dishes. Unending laundry. Fighting amongst siblings that doesn’t stop. How on earth could I find beauty amongst the mess that I feel like I’m living in?

As it turned out, it was quite simple. I came up with my 10 on the first morning I tried, and could easily keep going.

  1. My king size bed… IS BEAUTIFUL. The comforter that says “dry clean only” has been squeezed into our home washing machine a few (hundred) times too many, but underneath the tears and fraying fabric is a bed that is large enough to hold sleepwalking kids that wander in in the middle of the night.
  2. The memories I have of my mother… ARE BEAUTIFUL. My beloved mom was 52 years young when she suddenly and tragically died, with no foreshadowing available to her loved ones. The grief and intensity of that loss rocked my world and put me in a bad place. 5 years later, I still struggle with her absence but have come to learn that the legacy she left behind can and does sustain me. She lives on in the memories that I share with my children on a daily basis.
  3. Quiet coffee on an unstained deck, overlooking aged trees and green grass… IS BEAUTIFUL. As I sit on the deck this morning, I decided to put down the dishtowel and take a moment for me. The dishes can wait. The to-do-list can wait. Picking up the toys can wait. Rushing the kids out the door for the days’ activities can wait. For now, I will sit on our imperfect deck and transport myself to the most luscious estate on earth. I deserve this few minutes of tranquility. And boy, does it do a soul well!
  4. My stubborn-as-nails, strong-willed, negative-attention-seeking 7 year old son… IS BEAUTIFUL. Oh Brecken, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. The irony of disliking the qualities of your offspring that he inherited from you is thick. When I allow myself to take a reprieve from being angry at your inability to follow directions THE FIRST TIME, the patience to LET YOU EXPLAIN YOURSELF, and the comfort in knowing that you are WELL-INTENTIONED, everything changes. I see you for a 7-year old. Not the boy that isn’t listening or the kid that is mean to his sister. I see you as a young child who is learning from the world around him. A young child who is testing boundaries, seeking satisfaction, and has a glorious curiosity that often comes out in defiant mannerisms as you fight for what you believe in. I love you, son. You are truly a gift.
  5. My free-spirited, sassy and feisty, “stop and smell the roses” 4 year old daughter… IS BEAUTIFUL. Madiana Marie, my tootsie roll, my soul smiles when you walk into the room. You are fiercely independent, whether you are choosing your daily outfit of ice cream socks, a dance leotard, and cat leggings, OR committing to getting your own glass of water – Even if it means going to great lengths to move heavier-than-you-are furniture to a different location in the house to give you a boost. You have a light within you that shines with beauty, curiosity, kindness and compassion.
  6. My up-before-the-crack-of-dawn, no fear and no regrets 1 year old daughter…  IS BEAUTIFUL. Oh, Gretchy Boo Boo. Just yesterday I held you in my arms for the first time and wondered who you would be in this world. You have completed our family in a way I never knew could feel so complete. Your dimple. Your spirit. Your laugh. Your energy. Your kisses. Your new words. Your love for your family. You are beautiful baby girl, and I am lucky to be your momma.
  7. This rickety bundle of bricks, mortar, and wood that we call home… IS BEAUTIFUL. Underneath the outdated kitchen and the mismatched second-hand furniture is a house we are building into a HOME. It is quick to pick apart the things we want to change and feel like we are constantly working on never-ending projects to try to create our life here. I now realize that it isn’t the aesthetics or the decor or the well stocked liquor cabinet that creates the memories… It is the beautiful people that I am lucky enough to share these walls with.
  8. The man behind me, my better half, and my partner in life for 15 years… IS BEAUTIFUL.  I can’t begin to describe all that Eric does for our family. He is my voice of reason. He is my calm before (and during and after) the storm. He is loyal, dependable, thoughtful, the best daddy in the whole entire world, and I am lucky to share this crazy life with him.
  9. My friends & family, spanning several states, countries & continents… ARE BEAUTIFUL. The people in my life are instrumental in the person that I am. There are people I talk with daily, who give me guidance and advice, who share my tears and my laughs, who get me without explanation, who support me without being asked, and who drive me to be better. There are people I talk with infrequently but are no less important in my heart and soul. Relationships that can go years without a phone call and simply pick back up are some of the most important ones in my heart. My people are my past, my present and my future. I wouldn’t have survived the many ups and downs of life without them.
  10. Nap & Quiet Time in the afternoon… IS EXTREMELY BEAUTIFUL. There really doesn’t need to be any explanation or reasoning behind this one. I’d say the beauty behind nap & quiet time for a mom is pretty self explanatory.