Monday, January 4, 2010

Kindness in the New Year

For a few months this has been floating around in my head:

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: Kind.

A bit Pollyanna? Ehh...maybe.

I like to think I am kind. But I do have moments when I come lashing with claws and fangs.
And, thankfully, my life is filled with kind people.

When I think of the New Year I can quickly make a mental list of Resolutions but they usually pertain to the things I don't like about myself.
Then it occurred to me.
What if my only New Year's Resolution was to be KIND?

The Q & A I shared wants to be a piece of art but I haven't been able to figure out the approach.
This morning it dawned on me I should ask all of you.
Please make your suggestions: large, small, drawn, painted, collaged...a specific color, a texture...abstract, realitisc...etc.
I would love to have your input and then I will do my best to incorporate them into the art.
(Mom - I know you want to see hands and feet.)

Thank you!

Drawing - 16 x 20 inches, No.2 pencil on canvas paper coated with white gesso. Image was drawn left handed and shaded with the right.
I completed this over the weekend.
Photo (not the best quaility) was taken with the computer camera and edited in iPhoto.


  1. I was just about to close Firefox and walk out the door, when the song "Kind and Generous" by Natalie Merchant came on Pandora, and I had to come back to this post and comment.

    There was a time when my selfish arrogant blind self-destructive scared little life came crashing all around me and I had to finally admit that I didn't know what the hell I was doing, and the word that came was Kindness. And I realized I had never valued it, never cultivated it, and that it was really the only important thing.

    I can still go back to that moment of epiphany and feel it wash over me, the relief and gratitude and humility of simply recognizing the value of kindness. I'm still learning to remember it, how to embody it.

  2. i'm still in my 'novitiate' phase (i hope i grow out of it...) but being a 'vocational kindness spreader' is an aspiration of i think this is a very fine goal/resolution/post....

    you mentioned hands and bout some embracing arms?...of whatever shape, size, or length?

    as dj lance rock from 'yo gabba gabba' says, 'hugs are awesome (with a long echo)!'

  3. It's sometimes difficult to be a kind person and having people walk all over that kindness. I suppose I am by nature a kind person, but not one to take up for myself all the time. I think recognizing kindness is as important as practicing it. I personally am thinking of an art piece with small random acts of kindness drawn in. You know, holding a door or letting someone in front of you in a line. Hopefully without sounding like a PSA, those are things that are appreciated by this little old gal.

  4. hi jenny - kindness is an act of quality and exists outside of judgement or expectation. it's an act without thought and often without reward. that's what makes it a kind act. being truthful and caring with no expectation of anything in return is true kindness. in my life i have known people like this. indeed, the relationship i enjoy with my closest friend is like this. i am astonished at my fortune each and every time i realize this simple feature of my life. have a lovely day jenny stevning! steven

  5. Hi, Jenny....

    Being kind is a noble aspiration. I join you in it. My KINDergarten classroom operates on just three clear values: Safe, Happy, Kind.

    One way to cultivate kindness is to first set the intention. You've done that. What I have found helpful in keeping the claws and fangs under better control is to develop a meditation practice where the focus is concentration.

    For me, meditation developing concentration and kindness intention has helped me slow down my thinking enough to see the choices I have instead of flaring up in anger. It's a years-long process, but progress is possible.

    In regard to the art: color, paint.

  6. Oh Dan, it IS a years-long process, isn't it? I'm feeling very discouraged about that today. I failed at "quiet love" today.

    Jenny, I forgot to make a suggestion about the art earlier. For some reason just now I pictured sort of a snow globe with a collage inside it. Is that weird or what? Anyway, I totally trust you to make it perfect, whatever way you decide to do it.

  7. This has turned out better than I could have imagined! YIPPY!!
    Thank you, everyone, for the input and insight!
    I have two renditions I feel I will have to create. Gonna get to work so I may share them soon!
    Thank you!
    Thank you!

  8. Jenny
    I am doing some catching up here on the office computer...

    If you thing about it kindness encapsulates so many admirable qualities that it is almost able to represent all those aspirations we have for ourselves. I find it very simplifying and freeing to think this way...all I have to practice then is kindness... and also, we only know kindness, as with any other quality or characteristic by its pairing with opposites therefore when we feel short tempered for example, we can use that experience to hone us towards you see what I mean? it serves a purpose and each emotion we feel needs to be owned by us. Awareness seems to be a prerequisite for change. So we can think of the lapses as gifts...rather than berate ourselves...

    I need to look over your past posts of your art work now...

    Happy days

  9. of course it is supposed to be think...dang...

  10. Delwyn - I must say that your comment here is some of the best thinking and most succinct expression on this subject I've come across.