A few months ago, I called my daughter and she answered the phone in the most jovial voice and said, "Hey Mom, how you livin?!" I paused for a moment, I smiled as I was happy to hear her happy voice but didn't know how to answer with a quick follow-up that was as upbeat as her greeting. I believe I responded with the usual, "I'm fine" and our conversation went on - we were just catching up. It was a mediocre, status-quo and standard response.
I've thought of that phrase that is probably a standard in a younger generation these days but from my perspective and the context of how it was asked makes a difference. It's not the passing "How Ya' Livin' " it's more like:
What does moving forward look like and how do you move forward when you are stuck?*
We all know how much we invest time, energy and money to lose weight or reshape our bodies. We diet, buy work out clothes, buy fitness equipment, videos, apps, join the gym, sign up for fitness challenges, run marathons and running or walking groups, etc... It's great that we are tuned in to the investment to physically keep ourselves together and hopefully the outcomes are what we envision for ourselves - beautiful bodies, healthy hearts and bodies. I'm all up for the investing in the physical!
What I want you to think about is investing in your lifestyle. Investing in a lifestyle that is uplifting, is colorful not drab, clutter free, organized, and free from overwhelming circumstances. And if you don't know how to get on that track (just as if you were investing in the equipment to work out) - invest in "how-to" books, invest in a life or personal development coach, invest time in a spiritual course, invest time on relaxing out doors, putting away the social media for a while, invest in plants and flowers for your garden, get new containers and file cabinets to organize the clutter, clean your windows and eat good clean food! So when someone asks you "How you livin'?! You'll be able to say, "I am living well!" A great response for what you are doing for yourself!
*Please note, I'm an experiential lay person without any certification for psychotherapy, counseling or even coaching (yet) but I make these statements based my own experiences, readings, teachings and learning. Resources that I appreciate will provided in a post very soon.
Join me on Sunday, August 5th at 1:00 p.m. for a summer reading book discussion of the powerful read, "Do the Work" by Steven Pressfield. Pressfield provides a direct approach on how to engage, get motivated and get out of your own way to accomplish goals, projects and dreams!
I found my copy of Do the Work at one of the newest and coziest book stores in Philadelphia's Germantown - Uncle Bobbies Coffee & Books owned by activist and scholar Marc Lamont Hill. The book was located in the self-help section. I was drawn to the cover more so than anything but once I flipped it open I was drawn to the directness of the words that screamed to me, "get yourself moving!" "run from the distraction!" and "fulfill those dreams!"
Meet me in Newark on Sunday, August 5th at 1:00 p.m for some light food, drink and good conversation. We will be at Launch Pad located at 625 Broadway, 2nd Floor, Newark, NJ 07102.
RSVP using the link below!
STAY WELL !
HOW DOES KINDNESS LOOK?
Last month I completed a "Thank You" tour. My tour was to show appreciation to and connect with three people I call my three pillars - my support system or the founding members of my new tribe which has been divinely placed in my life - "Thank You for your unwavering SUPPORT and KINDNESS."
Within a period of two years I have traveled to three states. I enjoyed the company of each member of my small tribe. They were there when the rough got tough. They helped me through some real tough moments. I picked up the phone and let each one them know I was struggling. My marriage of 24 years (at that time) was on the skids, I had been hurt, I was confused and was going through trauma. These three people were willing and ready to provide whatever I needed - without question. They listened, provided advice if I asked for it, they screamed when I didn't scream, laughed when I needed to laugh and were present for me. Each one of them held me up when I thought I was going to topple. I wanted to thank them in person for their KINDNESS. So, I have made face to face contact with them to say THANK YOU and let them see that I am standing, succeeding, blessed and encouraged about the path ahead.
My tour could also be called the "Kindness Tour" because my support group provided and continue to demonstrate their thoughtfulness and generosity with love and affection. Each one of these people have exerted energy by giving of their time and attention.
I believe that kindness is within all of us but is often underrated because it is associated with meekness or weakness. Let me tell you that my three pillars are some tough folk! They are sound, tested, experienced and confident people. They are battled tested and know how to provide aid and assistance - they've been there.
What does it take to be KIND?
During the course of my journey there have been people who have embraced me when I thought I was alone. I realized that I had to be open to receive their embrace. My circumstance is nothing new or unusual but it was a deeply personal event that occurred to me just like death occurs daily. There is a process for grieving and during this process I could no longer hide behind the hush and crush of my transition of separation from my husband and the movement toward divorce.
I didn't want to walk around like nothing was happening to me - I felt no shame and didn't want to hide (51% of marriages end in divorce - no biggy, right?) Well, the hush comes from the fact that it's a death march, it's painful and can be demoralizing especially if you've been married for a long time and created a family. People don't want to acknowledge a transition that has so much perceived unhappiness, innuendo and derogatory (I'll write about this in a future post) Through all of this pain, there were people who opened their hearts to me when I felt I needed to open myself up and stopped hiding.
Angela was the first person outside of my original Three Pillars to just sit and listen intently to me. She absorbed every word I spoke. Unselfish with her time and concern, I felt that she would be a great sounding board to me because she has been someone I admire greatly. Angela has succeeded single-handedly raising a child, progressing in her professional and personal life while smiling through adversity. She's a Kind Warrior!
Some of my cheerleaders include: DeBora, Judie, Lori, Gail, Joy and Mychelle, Andrea - to name a few. They have smothered me with so much encouragement and compassion. They continue showing up kindly because they know who I am and where I come from. Their strength and non-assuming nature has provided a safe, soft space for me. With an open spirit, I have continued to receive kindness from some of the most wonderful and inspiring people!
Pass Kindness Around
The act of kindness is so special. It should be passed around daily as it is integral to our lives. It's my belief that we are in this world to assist, help, aid others for the benefit of all. If you can find some time to give to another, lend your ear to a troubled heart, make someone smile or laugh, provide energy and encouragement so that they may stand, get out of bed or feel that they are not alone - do it . Be Kind!
I had the presence of mind in the third grade to know that I wanted to be a writer. I started writing poetry at that time. But I caught the writing bug at the age of 6 when my Great Cousin Lep told me to write him a story (so I wouldn't interrupt him from watching his t.v. show). I sat in that reclining leather chair and banged out the longest story on a pad of paper that any 6 year old could write. Cousin Lep was my first editor. He let me know I needed punctuation and to stop using "and" between what were supposed to be sentences. Since the earliest of days, I recall wanting to write lyrics and make music after looking at the lyrics from albums. (Sly and The Family Stone, Ojays, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5)
Playing "school" and being the teacher game me a reason to write lessons, test questions and short stories that none of my playmates would read. All this writing went in the trash. What was the use? Well, I can say that all that early writing made me feel important, like I had a voice, that all my thoughts found a way outside of my head and spirit. The occasional diary entry as a teenager about affairs of the heart put me on the right track when I was heartbroken over some boy who didn't like or love me. (Laughing Out Loud!!!)
Even the physical process of writing is what I now know to be therapeutic.
It has been calming to write.
It's yoga for my hands, arms, fingers and back.
It's down right empowering to write!
As I put words down for my first and forthcoming memoir I've had to exercise my brain and stretch myself to deal with the sensitive subject matters of family life and the connection of mental health issues. I've had to reach inside myself to be authentic, transparent and expose my vulnerability. All of this exercise has left me increasingly empowered, charged and open to receive more clarity and enlightenment.
The therapy received from my words and thoughts through journaling or what I, at times, call "My To Do List", have produced such positive results in my life because they come from a place of gratitude, clarity, determination, strength, inspiration and motivation!
I encourage you to take a stab at writing on a sheet of paper, back of an envelope or, better yet, a journal. What about a book! Get your thoughts out of your head, creative intentions and lists of "to do's" on paper or a device. It may provide energy or power to your day and throughout your life. It has definitely done that for me.
Awareness is opening a door that leads to light, love and freedom.
Open your mind, listen, look around and receive awareness!
Lately the themes in my writing have focused on awareness. The mind's ability to open up and receive knowledge. Knowledge can be good old horse sense. Of course, knowledge is imparted in a high level discussion from an expert in her field. Or better yet, knowledge can be (are you ready for this) a whisper from God! The ability to perceive and feel are forms of awareness that I'm tapped into most.
Awareness has been a life changer for me during this season of my life - an upcoming divorce after 28 years of marriage! Who knew that I'd be transitioning to a life without the man I met over 30 years ago! They call it a Golden Divorce at this stage of the game. (soothing sounds of Jill Scott come rolling in about now!) I'll say it - awareness has saved my life! When I became aware that my husband/life partner/father to our children and I weren't meeting at the table, acting like we were married and doing grown folks business it was time to listen to the Whispers.
I often talk about the morning I received the Whispers because the message was so clear and brought me to a higher level of awareness. It was a beautiful sunny day and the strong and definitive voice said, "Get up and don't turn back", "Keep moving and don't look back". I laughed but did just what the Whispers told me. I am chuckling to myself as I put these words down because I had received other forms of knowledge, perception and AWARENESS without budging but on that day, about a year and half ago, I promptly got myself out of my bed and gotta' steppin'! I decided I was no longer going to question or hesitate, I just knew that I needed to make a difference and follow the steps. I was curious about where I was being lead.
Be quiet so you can hear the Whispers!
I've always been a curious person. I believe curiosity is the seed that sprouts awareness. It's not being nosy or sneaky but the desire to know:
At this time in life, awareness has saved me from trouble or what could have been troublesome had I not had the intuition, the feelings, the notion that things were not what they appeared to be. I'm thankful for my questioning, lack of fear, probing for answers and seeking the truth. In fact, when going through the gut wrenching decision to end my tattered marriage, I gained strength, self-love, self-worth and a new world just waiting for me to explore.
I'm writing my first book and the genesis of the book comes from curiosity, knowledge and an awareness of my larger family regarding issues that were never discussed and for the most part aren't discussed currently. It took decades for me to acknowledge what I had felt and ultimately now know. Most families store all of their knowledge and awareness in closets, under rugs or in the depths of their minds - never to be seen or heard of. As a storyteller, I will focus on the yoke of mental illness and depression throughout my family.
Well, you might say, "So what, she knows stuff. People know a lot of things. Who cares?" "Ignorance is blissful".
It's not simply knowing stuff, it's knowing the answer. It's about being aware of the how, what, why and even who that makes it important. Young people call it being "woke". It's a deeper meaning of knowledge and awareness. When one is woke, the lights come on, there is a clarity and brightness that comes with the knowledge. The darkness is gone and you can see the path or person you have been struggling with seeing or getting to know.
I encourage you to be fearless. Don't fear what's on the other side of the divorce, the acknowledgement of physical or mental health issues, the light being shone on the depression or anxiety. Reach out for help. Listen to the Whispers, be quiet and still and allow knowledge, feelings, good ole' common sense awaken you to AWARENESS. It is a beautiful thing.
Welcome to One Day Written. . .
I’ve started up again and I can't quit, get distracted or delay. I've been writing but now I'm letting everyone see, judge, criticize and admire my words. I've got a lot to say and so many stories to tell. It is my intention to help, inspire and motivate readers. My story telling will focus on betterment and wellness of the mind, body and spirit.
Join me here in this space for my views, my friends perspectives and announcements of forthcoming published books and events!
My friends and family have been encouraging me and I have decided to go down this path, they have said, "Kathy, Write On!"
Kathy A Hampton is a writer, storyteller- focused on "wellness writing"; research analyst, creative thinker and advocate; she has a love for learning and is the author of the forth coming book On a Good Day My Sister Speaks Mandarin. Educated - Howard University, Army Brat, Hometown - San Francisco; currently residing -Newark, NJ