Thursday, October 1, 2015

True, Heartfelt, Loving Kindness

by Giselle Renarde


My mother recently told me about something that happened when I was a child. There was some kind of workshop for parents at my school. The leader asked everybody to write down five things they enjoyed doing, but none of those items could be family-related.

While everybody else wrote their lists, my mom sat staring at a blank piece of paper.

The workshop leader came over and asked what was wrong.

My mother said, "I can't think of anything to write. Everything I do is for my kids."

"Well, what do you do for fun?" the leader asked.

"I spend time with my kids."

"But non-kid things," the leader said.  "Do you take time just for you?"

My mom didn't understand that question. She didn't understand the concept of ME TIME.

"What about reading?" the leader asked.  "Do you ever read a book to relax?"

"No..."

"What about friends?  Do you go out for drinks?  Have a girls' night?"

My mom didn't have friends, aside from other parents at my school. And everything they did together involved us.

The workshop went on, but all my mother remembers was the fact that she had no interests.  Twenty-something years later, she told me she felt like a non-person, in that moment.  "What kind of a person doesn't have even ONE thing that they enjoy in life?"

I actually think it's sweet that my mom's joy came from us, her children.  It showed.  She never told us to quiet down or give Mommy a moment.  I don't remember ever feeling like our mother resented us being around. That must have been because there was nothing else in the world she wanted to be doing. She just wanted to be around us, because we were the most important thing in her life.

Is there anything in my life that I would call THE MOST IMPORTANT?

The usual, I guess: my family, my girlfriend, my cats, my career.

But that one THE MOST IMPORTANT thing is rather more nebulous. It isn't a person or a thing.  It's more like a feeling. It's kindness--which probably sounds weird, coming from someone who regularly swears at strangers (but, honestly, why do so many people try to run me over? and if a jogger shoves me into a mud puddle, oh yes, that jogger WILL be called an asshole)...

What was I saying?

Right. Kindness.

I don't always live up to my own ideals, but when I do, I make a conscious effort to treat everyone I encounter with the same big love I feel for my family. I see no reason not to. Sometimes it's really easy, but often it's a challenge. Many humans are not friendly. That's when I need to redouble my efforts, because the people who are meanest to me are probably the ones most in need of kindness.

True, heartfelt, loving kindness is important.

That's not a bad answer, eh? 

On that note, I've got a new anthology on the market and I'm giving ALL my royalties away. I'd love it if you could help me spread the word about LGBT Love:

LGBT Love
10 Queer, Trans, Bi, Lesbian and Gay Romance Stories
by Giselle Renarde

***All royalties from the sale of this anthology will be donated to charitable organizations supporting LGBT individuals and communities.***

Barnes|Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lgbt-love-giselle-renarde/1122642963
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1038917868
All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-lgbtlove10queertransbilesbianandgayromancestories-1894075-166.html
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0155ZIXXU?tag=dondes-20
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/LGBT-Love-Lesbian-Romance-Stories-ebook/dp/B0155ZIXXU

12 comments:

  1. You are great, Giselle. I have to agree that kindness is the most important thing (and have you seen Annabeth's recently published letter to her young self, which is also germane to this?). And there you are putting your money where your mouth is by donating royalties. In some of your other pieces here, you've made it known what a struggle it is to live on what you earn from your books, so it's clear what a very generous act this is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awww thanks, Jeremy. Yeah, my girlfriend was like, "You're already poor and now you're just GIVING money away?" haha, yeah.

      Delete
  2. Kindness is certain what the world needs, even more than love. Sometimes it's hard to know what the kindest thing to do is in complicated circumstances, but we have to try.

    I'm involved in an anthology project (finished now, probably coming out in November) with part of the profits going to two agencies providing services to LGBTQ seniors, which seemed appropriate since the theme is historical lesbian romance. It will be interesting to see how it works out, although I don't suppose we can ever tell how much the charity aspect affects sales. This isn't a particular sacrifice for me, though, just a bit of editing time well spent; the very small publisher is the one who'll be paying for things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love this whole idea. Can't wait to see the book!

      Delete
  3. If we all simply came from a place of kindness instead of judgment, we'd all be happier for it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi giselle

    at my unitarian church we welcome and even do marriage ceremonies for lgbt couples. We're on it.

    Garce

    ReplyDelete
  5. Is kindness different from love? I rather think of it as love embodied. And it means a lot more than the abstraction.

    I'll try to put out the word about your antho, Giselle. I hope you sell tons of copies!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Speaking for myself... I show kindness toward a lot of people I definitely don't love! But I suppose if someone really "loves humanity" in a blanket way, the two things might be more interwoven. Personally, while I'm very committed to human rights and the goal of treating everybody nicely as much as possible, I can't say I "love" humanity in a generalized way. I have very mixed feelings about humanity as a whole, and my love is limited to the people I find actually "lovable." Of course, most of humanity consists of strangers, so there are millions of people out there whom I'd love if I knew them (cue song)—but not the majority, I suspect. But I want to be kind to all of them, in my direct and indirect actions.

      Delete
    2. Just saw a link to this article:

      http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/happily-ever-after/372573/

      I haven't read it, but the subtitle interestingly suggests a thesis that might invert the idea above that kindness is love embodied—i.e., that love is kindness embodied.

      Delete
  6. Yeah, I'm a sucker for the outstretched hand of a homeless person - being kind is easy sometimes, but I sure don't love them. They mess up the sidewalks and generally give the town a bad look, but then I think there but for the grace of the goddess go I - or something like that - and dig into my pocket, again.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Giselle, this is a lovely post, and it embodies a lot of what's always drawn me to you. The kindness in your soul shines through, always. <3

    ReplyDelete
  8. Giselle, I'll look for the book too.

    ReplyDelete