Because you are.

How many times have you been driving and you stop to let someone go and they don’t go?  You just sit there waiting for them to appreciate your kindness and they seem oblivious.  So you tut and sigh and perhaps curse and say something along the lines of ‘well I’m not waiting here all day’ or ‘you’ve lost your chance now’ as you drive on irritated with them.

Or perhaps you bump into someone and immediately say sorry, the other person then looks at you and tuts or gives you a dirty look, perhaps even a stern ‘look where you are going next time’, and you instantly get annoyed, maybe even shout after them ‘well if you weren’t standing in the middle of the aisle’ or maybe even something worse?

How many times have you tried to be kind to someone but they are rude back and then you enter in to an argument with that person, you know full well it is their fault because you tried to be the better person?

Perhaps you have tried to be nice and then an argument has escalated and perhaps that person has gone as far as to push you.  To hit you even.  So, you of course hit back.  They started it, you were trying to resolve the issue?

What has happened in all of these circumstances is you have placed expectations on other people to act how you want them to act.  To do as you think they should do.  You have based who you are on their actions and when they haven’t acted as you expected them to you have become defensive and angry.

Now before I go any further I must point out that we are all human and therefore we will all have good days and bad days and sometimes do right and sometimes do wrong, but, if we can understand our behaviour then we can at least learn from it.  If you are a respectful person – or pride yourself to be – then you should be respectful always, not just when someone is respecting you.  You don’t have to tolerate disrespect and you certainly don’t have to match disrespect.  If you are a kind person, be kind always, don’t excuse cruel behaviour by blaming someone else.  Just because someone is cruel to you it doesn’t justify you matching that behaviour.

Be who you want to be, be the person that you think it is right to be.  If you want to be kind then you must be kind when challenged, when pushed, when provoked.  You always have the choice to close your mouth, hold your hands by your side or walk away.

Preaching that you are a type of person and then letting that be determined by someone else’s attitude is not being true to the person you say you are.  The person you want to be.

The other day I could feel myself getting irritated with a man on the train, I was tired and had a headache and I was in the middle of reading a really good book and this man was talking so loudly on the phone.  He was trying to get through to someone presumably talking to a receptionist first.  I looked over at the man and could feel myself wanted to shoot him an irritated look but I stopped myself, I stopped for a moment and thought ‘Rachel, it is your own fault you are wound up with this man, we have been underground for some time and he might need to make this call, stop being so rude’.  This was the telling off I gave myself.  I tried to go back to my book but couldn’t concentrate so decided to wait patiently until the man was off the phone.  A few seconds later I heard him say ‘yes sorry I haven’t been at work my mother passed away this weekend and I’ve taken a few days off but I will be back tomorrow and can sort it then’.  He then had to repeat it several times as the person on the other end of the phone clearly couldn’t hear him, which was perhaps why he was talking loudly in the first place.  Well didn’t I just feel like a prize idiot.  This man is grieving and trying to sort out his work in the meantime and here I am annoyed because I can’t concentrate.  In that moment I was so thankful that I observed my thoughts and took responsibility for my actions.

You never know what someone is going through or why they are acting out.  The angry woman shouting from her car, the man that bumps into you without saying sorry, the miserable cashier, you just don’t know why they are acting that way and by you being nice, or patient or just polite, you may be helping them more than you know.  More than even they know.

So be nice because you are nice.  Be kind because you are kind.  Be respectful because you are respectful.  Just because YOU are those things, be them.

Kindly respecting all of my lovely Pride.

Are you wearing yours?

I have seen cats fight off crocodiles and buffalo fight off lions…..because they believed they were strong enough! Believe you are bigger than your dreams, go get them!

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(photo from anonymous source)

Naughty or Ice?

So I am sure by now everyone has heard of and possibly taken part in the ALS ice bucket challenge. It has created quite a lot of attention and lots of different opinions so I thought it would be a good topic to discuss this week.

I first started seeing some shared videos on Facebook of celebrities having buckets of ice water poured over there head. They were also nominating other people to do the same. I had no idea what it was for or what the hashtag ‘ALS’ was about. Gradually I was seeing more and more videos and soon enough people I knew were doing their own.

I then came across a video on Facebook called ‘ALS the real ice bucket challenge’ that someone had shared. Having no idea why everyone was talking about this I clicked on to it. The video was of a man talking about a condition – ALS. He begins by making a bit of joke out of pouring ice water over himself dressed in a bright bikini top and shorts. He then talks about the people in his family that have suffered and are suffering with ALS. He too suffers from the disease. He very honestly talks about caring for someone with the disease and his own fear of ALS. I was so touched by this man’s honesty I decided to read up more about ALS. Below is the link to video I am referring to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h07OY8p8Oik

To those of you who are unaware of the disease here is a very brief overview of ALS that I have borrowed from http://www.also.org If you want more information please check the website.

‘Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease,’ is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.’

It is a terrifying disease that leads to an undignified dependant ending. I cannot imagine how hard it is watching a loved one go through the symptoms, let alone facing the disease yourself.

So, now we have covered the important facts I will get to my point. I have seen a lot of positive, indifferent and negative responses to the ice bucket challenge – as expected with anything that begins trending on social media. I have heard a lot of people dismiss the challenge because they disagree with everyone jumping on a trend just to ‘attention seek’ by uploading a video of themselves. I have seen a lot of people wanting to see proof of people donating money to the cause. I have seen people upload videos just to mock others taking part in the challenge and become frustrated that people have missed the point and should be just donating instead of filming themselves. I have even seen comparisons to people in Africa not having enough water whilst people are ‘wasting’ water with the challenge.

On the flip side I have seen a lot of people praise the cause and take part themselves. I have seen a lot of people get involved in learning about ALS. I have seen people try to raise awareness for other charities and foundations that are important to them. I have seen people show compassion towards others.

So which one is right?

This is what I think and before I share this with you I am not saying I am right or wrong, this is just my opinion and I would love to hear all of yours too. I am interested in the reaction that this challenge has caused so the more different opinions there are the better.

I believe that the ice bucket challenge has brought a large number of people together to stand up for something. It has been fun and people have smiled and laughed throughout it, hopefully some of the people affected by ALS have been able to laugh and smile at some of the funny videos too. People have generously donated money towards helping find a cure towards a terrible and frightening disease. Without the ice bucket challenge I would never have known what ALS is and I wouldn’t have opened my heart to want to help anyone suffering or caring for someone suffering from ALS. I wouldn’t have smiled at almost everyone I know getting a big cold shock and looking a little bit silly on a camera. I wouldn’t have felt that little bit of extra pride for my 9-year-old god-daughter standing up for something she wants to change in the world. I wouldn’t have seen extra awareness raised for the struggle to find clean water in parts of Africa. I wouldn’t have heard about some of the other important causes my friends were passionate about. I wouldn’t have felt the extra bit of faith I have been given in the human race.

Anything that raises awareness in the world and brings people together in a happy and positive light has to be doing a small amount of good in the world right? How can that be a bad thing?

What do you think about the ice bucket challenge, is it helping at all?

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