Seeking Human Kindness

owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do. – brené brown

image | courtney

Well, January has really tested my focus areas for 2020 right out of the gates – Financial peace and the need for ease! Let’s see – a broken / replaced new phone ; new door lock on my car ; cracked / replaced windshield ; final SALT studio closing costs ; a flat tire ; frozen water pipes at the cabin ; work struggles ; a dead mouse in my house, I can’t! (my biggest fear and I almost stepped on it in the middle of the night) ; a vet hospital visit and eye ulcer diagnosis for Giorgio today, which happens to be his birthday! Never mind global warming, politics, fires, loss of life, the list could go on … it all impacts well-being.

Needless to say, I am SO ready for February – “Fresh Start February” I am calling it! The last few weeks have been challenging on a personal level. I recognize that far worse could be going on, but this is where my life is currently at.

I share this post as I practice vulnerability and accountability, and not for pity, judgment, or comparison. This is one of the more raw, potentially shame triggering posts I have shared, but this is how I am choosing to show up. To own my story – the beautiful and the messy parts.

As much as I love fashion – always have, always will … (I did happen to get voted best dressed in high school, which is funny because I chose to shop mostly in thrift stores then, and most likely to be like Mother Theresa for that matter, ha!), filters, and the fun-in-the-fast lane lifestyle (all “parts” of me), it’s important to me that I bring a blend of realness and wholesomeness (other “parts” of me) to this small corner of the world here. It’s my hope you’ll find some comfort and inspiration from this post, and in general from this mash-up of a blog.

Anyways, back to January’s beating – I’ve been joking the “best year yet” headband I rocked on New Year’s Eve jinxed me! It was the flat tire after touring a horse barn in Saunderstown for work (followed by the oil company calling to remind me of my automatic delivery set for the following day) that threw me into complete overwhelm! 

I called my dad to tell him what happened. “Dad, I am really having a rough go of things,” I started. Then the flood gates opened. “I can’t hear you,” he said. I somehow got out, “Sorry, I am crying. My car is broken down, and I’m having a breakdown!” It is quite laughable now, but at the time it felt as though I had just been thrown off the horse and kicked, let me tell you.

I had tears streaming down my face as the AAA guys arrived to change my tire to the donut. “Courtney, you can wait in the car,” one kindly said. I would normally have felt really embarrassed, but that day I felt comfortable to be my authentic hot mess (is this the kind of stuff people mean when you hear them say, “not caring comes with age?!?”). After I tipped them, a small gesture of my appreciation for their kindness and non-judgment, I collected myself and got back on the road.

I went to my parents house to borrow a vehicle and have dinner. I dreaded the conversations to come – as if I hadn’t been beating myself up enough for needing some help out of January’s hole. I listened, they listened. I spoke, they spoke. I felt mostly ashamed.

In my dad’s own way to relate, shown concern, and care, he spoke about some of his own experiences earlier in life when he struggled as an entrepreneur. He challenged me, and tried his best to offer guidance. I reminded him that since he had relatable experiences, then he could probably understand that empathizing, rather than (unintentional) shaming, would feel most supportive. I admire my dad – he’s my everyday hero, so it is hard for me when he’s hard on me. Of course, however, I know it is out of love, and I am better because of this.

We spoke about my experience with money – past credit card abuse and about my tendency to live off of bonuses rather than save or invest them. I silently reminded myself that my spending was meeting an unmet need. I shared about past behaviors, the resulting stress that I have lived with, and my frustrations from never really having been taught about proper money handling – I do not blame anyone for this, especially at my age and with my capabilities to seek help, however, it makes me sad, as i know i am not alone here. Maybe you can relate to some of this?

We shifted to my more recent efforts to be money conscious, and my dad shared about his credit card use history, or rather lack there of. I relayed that his way of living without one is a lifetime achievement goal that I have already started working on – I no longer use credit cards. I haven’t now for quite some time and I am proud of this. Dave Ramsey would be, too!

I shared about my experience of having opened and closed a business, and my regret / learnings from having entered into the SALT studio as the sole financial contributor. My dad shared about his stress of owning a convenience store in the earlier part of my parent’s marriage, and how financially stressful and unsuccessful it was. He expressed appreciation for some people, including my grandparents and a friend, who helped him financially through the hard times. Today, you would not outwardly know this of his past – again, goals. He stressed the difficulties that can surround business partnerships, as he has had and still has a few, suggesting I avoid them in the future. Tearfully, I agreed.

I shared about the changing landscape of healthcare and how the formation of alliances has lead to changing and growing competition, thus impacting referrals and hence, my compensation. I shared about the overwhelm and the disheartening reality around the complexity of healthcare and the impact on choice. Thankfully, I am creative. I always pull myself out of times of struggle. Times of transition are undoubtedly challenging. And still, I rise.

I shared about the heartbreak of not having yet found a compatible partner to share my life with, especially as i approach 37. As someone who believes we are all here for connection, and who works in the death and dying field, understanding how short and fragile our time here truly is, it often saddens me. Tears really flowed as I shared this with my mom. She reminded me that all of these struggles are temporary and to keep faith. I do. I choose to persist on, and remain hopeful.

So, when I saw a unhoused man standing in a median the other day holding a sign that read, “Seeking human kindness,” I naturally got all teary from being in this trying place, and handed him some money as I drove by. Now, I don’t usually give money because after a year of working at the homeless outreach center in South Beach, Miami, you learn there are other ways to help, but this time I just couldn’t help myself! Sometimes seeing how others are struggling puts my mindset in a different place. I do not minimize my feelings, but I do gain meaningful perspective. It also reminds me we all have common needs. I could not agree with you more, sir.

image | courtney

The lyrics (from another song in the movie Beaches), “Human kindness is overflowing, and I think it’s gonna rain today,” got stuck in my head as I drove away from him. I reflected about my mom, the Beaches post, the mother / daughter relationship path we have had, and the respect and appreciation I have for my parent’s ability, and choice, to step in and help me out when needed. Their kindness does overflow, especially on my rainy days. I am grateful.

I think often lately, well in between my breakdowns (let’s be real – social workers have problems, too), about how empowering struggle can be. Even Kobe Bryant, often spoke of this, and it is in the tragic loss of his life and others, that we can be reminded of this. every waking day I can choose my course.

I can ignore and suppress, or I can acknowledge that it’s solely up to me to make changes ; I can choose to sit and “be” with the uncomfortableness of my choices ; I can choose my self-talk ; I have the power to choose different ; I have the ability to explore options ; and I am capable of optimistically moving forward knowing that, as NVC reminds us, there are many, many, ways to meet my needs … and the same is true for you.

As I reflect, own, and share this part of my story, I am strengthened. I believe that it is being vulnerable in these ways that will allow for more authentic connection to happen – to myself and others. I often tell people in my life that my money handling is the most shameful part of me. I make a more than decent living and have no excuses. As I work through it, I feel empowered and hopeful. Money surely isn’t a topic to make the top liked posts for many lifestyle bloggers, but is one that touches us all and impacts our well-being in countless ways.

One really easy step to help with working towards financial peace is to surround ourselves with positivity – whether it be people who we can be vulnerable with and who can mutually be vulnerable back (I am blessed with having people in my life like this), or it may be what we watch, listen to, or read. I keep my soulcollage card titled, “Kicking the spiral of emotional spending,” on my make-up station so that every morning and night I confront this to some degree. One awesome podcast that I have listened to a few times this month, and that I recommend, is on “Money Therapy” – who knew?! You can listen to it on ManTalks.

image | courtney | “kicking the spiral of emotional spending” soulcollage

May the force of having it all – money, life’s luxuries (however that looks to you), support, choice, and love – be within and with us along this unmapped journey. Thank you for trolling along. 🙏🏼

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