My dear friend and colleague, Tamara Noyes, wrote this powerful piece that I wanted to share with you. Tamara is multi-talented! She is not only the Business Development Director at Center for Change, but she is also a beautiful singer. In fact, you may have heard her sing harmony with me at one of our events.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments about the power of kindness in our world.
Tamara and I at the Napa NEDA Walk in 2011.
The Power of Kindness
As a kid, whenever I would leave the house my mother would say, "Remember who you are!" As a youngster, I blew it off and just assumed that my mom was a bit crazy because she thought I couldn't remember my own name. However, as time passed and I matured, those words began to have a greater impact on me and how I chose to live my life. My mother's words were reminding me to present my authentic self to the outside world…that I was part of a family and my actions also reflected on those that I loved, and who loved me.
As I navigate in the world today, I often find myself remembering my mother's words – especially when I am observing or interacting with other women. I am sometimes saddened by the way that we, as women, treat each other. I believe that women are born with an innate sense of nurturing, with hearts full of love, and with souls full of kindness. There are women in the world, and in my life, who demonstrate these gifts in every area of their life – in the way that they "show up" with their families, friends, colleagues and total strangers. But there are also those of us who somehow, along the way, have buried our innate qualities and have taken on an air of judgment, mean spiritedness, and unkindness in the way we treat other women. We look each other up and down, making instant judgments and assumptions, and then publish our judgments in our eye-rolling, our colluding with others, or our verbal assaults on our sisters of the world. Early in my career, I was involved in a conversation with an older and much wiser colleague wherein I made a snarky comment about a competitor. My colleague said, "Is that how you would treat your sister?" Her comment gave me pause. I have 3 wonderful sisters, whom I adore. No, that is not how I would treat them, and I was grateful my colleague had the gumption to point out my unkindness.
So, how did we get to this point? This place where it is ok to be a "mean girl", where the "b-word" is thrown at each other like knives, where we sit in judgment of another woman's physical appearance. I believe that there are many factors that contribute, not the least of which is media scrutiny, pressure to look a certain way, and movies, television and books depicting meanness and unkindness as funny or entertaining. We are taught to hate our bodies, so we compare and contrast to our sisters in an effort to feel better about ourselves. Along life's path, we stifled our nurturing spirits. We layed down our arms and allowed ourselves to be devalued. We surrendered our power to be kind.
I am here to say that it is time to take back what is rightfully ours as women – our nurturing, compassionate, and loving selves. It is time to be the powerful women who bring light to our sisters in their darkest hours, the amazing women who right a wrong, who stand up for those who cannot stand for themselves. It is time to be the incredible women who cherish each other and choose not to stand in judgment, but rather stand side by side, arm in arm in this righteous battle to take back our power to be kind.
With awe and gratitude I acknowledge those women who already embrace kindness as a virtue, as a way of life. I am moved by the brave girls and women in our Center who demonstrate tenderness to their sisters in treatment, even when they are unsure of their own incredible worth. I marvel at the professional women in this field who reach out their arms in loving support of their clients and colleagues. These are the women who get it right. These women are my heroes.
So, my sisters, as I take on this challenge myself, I would like to say "I am sorry" for my own participation in this unkind game. I forgot who I was. I forgot that I am part of a universal sisterhood and my actions reflect on those that I love, and who love me. Will you join me in the fight to reclaim kindness? Will you stop thinking and saying unkind things about your sisters? Will you stop thinking and saying unkind things about yourself? Will you gently help others refrain from any unkind or judgmental comments so that we can, together, lay a new path toward reclaiming what is rightfully ours: the power to be kind?
Please…remember who you are.
Director of Business Development
Center for Change