Tag Archives: compassion

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Kindness Matters: Canine Compassion

Furry volunteer offers comfort to humans in need 

BY ANGIE FENTON | PHOTOS COURTESY LORI JONES 

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In the last issue, I share this verbatim in my editor’s letter: 

For more than two years, I’ve repeated these same words to my now-3-year-old daughter every morning on the way to preschool: “Olive: You are smart. You are kind. You are important. You are beautiful inside and out. Everyone matters. Treat people with kindness.” 

It’s my adaptation of a scene in the novel-turned-movie, “The Help,” but it’s also a more poignant version of what I’ve told myself for decades. And depending upon where I’m at in life, some phrases resonate more than others. 

Lately, this one means the most: 

“Everyone matters. Treat people with kindness.” 

Despite the constant barrage of social media and news outlets asserting the contrary, I believe most of us care about our neighbors and complete strangers and are willing to make people feel like they matter by inserting small acts of kindness into our everyday lives – holding a door, letting someone slide in ahead of us in traffic, simply saying, “Thank you” or “I’m sorry,” or offering a helping hand. These minor moments matter. And, sometimes they can affect others far more than we ever imagined. 

Olive, my daughter, is old enough that she now speaks our daily affirmation without prompting. She recently said it in the grocery store and brought a fellow shopper nearly to tears. As rewarding as it was to see the fruits of my labor, my heart hurt: Shouldn’t kindness and the acknowledgment of its power be the exception and not the rule? Listening to a toddler as she looks at a complete stranger and says with complete confidence, “You are kind, you are smart, you are beautiful,” should evoke a smile, not tears — at least not tears of despair. But, the woman at Kroger explained her reaction: “You just don’t see this anymore.” 

Maybe she doesn’t – and I pray she sees more – but I do, and I know many of you do, too. 

Then, I requested to hear from readers of Extol, asking that interested participants submit acts of kindness you’ve witnessed or played a role in. Lori Jones responded with the following message and photos: 

I am hoping that your Kindness Challenge doesn’t just relate to the two-legged variety, but also to our furry friends. If so, I’d like to tell you about my dog, Rudy, who is the furry definition of kindness. 

About 6 and a half years ago, Rudy and I went through the training to be a Pet Therapy team. Since then, he — and I, but I am just the chauffeur, so I don’t count — has been visiting a local nursing home and University of Louisville Hospital on a weekly basis. 

We visit dementia patients, oncology patients, lock-down psychiatric patients and so many more. He enters a room on his own volition, puts his paws on the side of the bed so he can look directly at the person lying down in the eye or sidles up to their wheelchair, and waits for them to notice him. The reaction of the patient/resident is heart-warming. 

If the hospital patient has a dog at home, they pet Rudy and tell him how they miss their dog(s). 

A NICU nurse bent down, hugged Rudy and told him how she had lost a patient and baby in delivery earlier in the day. Rudy licked her tears as she vented to him. 

An employee at the nursing home was in tears when Rudy put his head on a dementia patient’s lap and patiently waited for her to pet him, which she did. Apparently, it was the first time since she had arrived weeks before that she had engaged whatsoever in her surroundings. 

When Rudy puts on his Red Cross vest, he becomes the kindest being in the world (so long as a squirrel doesn’t cross his path). He doesn’t have a voice of his own, so I would like to speak for him when I say that he perfectly embodies your daughter Olive’s mantra, “Everyone matters. Treat people with kindness.” Rudy expects nothing in return except for a few ear-rubs or booty-scratches, and he leaves everyone he meets at work in a better place than they were before he came into their day. 

Sincerely, 

Lori Jones (Rudy’s mom) 

So, here’s my challenge again: Send me your accounts of acts of kindness – yours or others. Big and small. They matter. Email me at angie@extolmag. com or find me by searching @angiefenton2 on Facebook. Let’s keep the kindness going, and the Extol Team will continue working to let others know and spread the good – kind – news.

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This Is How I Roll | Unity or Hate: The Ripple Effect

By Grant Logsdon

The holidays are an important time to bring families and community together.  They are a time of peace and love for all mankind.  Although this is great, it would be wonderful if we had peace all year, instead of just during the holidays. We can change our world one person, one family and one community at a time.

Mother Theresa said, “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”

Let’s talk about families.  Families need structure, respect and leaders.  Just as families are different, so are their leaders.  The family dynamic depends on culture, different geographic area and family makeup.  Leadership has nothing to do with age, sex, socioeconomic status, racial or ethnic makeup. It is all dependent upon circumstance within that family unit.

In my experiences traveling throughout Kentucky and other area of the country, I have observed how family culture impacts leadership.  I have met families where the youngest family member was the guiding force within the family, sometimes too young to carry such a leadership role, because of their life circumstance.  Society may not recognize or view them as leaders, but they are in that particular family. Whether identified or not.

When I think of family it is more than blood relatives.  To me, family means calmness, peace, no chaos or drama; it’s basically acceptance and understanding. It’s having people around you that you are at ease with, people who care.  I believe that is possible in any environment if people really want it and are willing to work toward it together. It is a personal choice.  It takes a strong family leader that sets the stage or paints the blueprint of peace within the family.

I’m not saying it is easy. People will disagree, argue and just be mad at one another.  Just because we do not agree does not mean we should turn to spewing hate.  We have to learn to agree to disagree peacefully.  We have to be able to hear people out and really, really listen even when we disagree.  Sometimes when you really listen it can awaken you to be more aware and look at the situation in a different way.

I have met families that were practically destitute but their home was calm and loving.  Families in eastern Kentucky come to mind.  They are a proud people, and if they welcome you in their home, you are special to them.  Anything you need will be provided if they possibly can.  They have few material things or services that most of us take for granted, but their home is full of respect and unity.  They make the most if what they have and are grateful.  I really think that is the answer, simpler lives and gratefulness. Perhaps stepping back in time, going back to the basics of kindness– good manners and love for one another– can mend our families, communities and nations.

It seems to me with the state of our world today, we are all so desensitized that we do not know kindness from evil or the next con-job.  We are suspicious of everyone and everything.  In my opinion, that has to stop.  I don’t blame anyone, unfortunately we have to be cautious and on our toes.  We have to be willing to have faith in others and give them a chance.

In order to restore our communities we need events that show people that others really do care.  It can be simple inexpensive things like town meetings, old-fashioned pot luck dinners, or ice cream socials;  maybe piggy backing on an already planned event.  Just get togethers where people could talk to one another and get to know one another.

As we approach the holidays, try to be more aware of others and more compassionate.  Smile at one another and say hello, or offer help if you think it is needed.  Just spread some happiness and goodwill.  Once the holidays are past, keep it up and see if your world is a little better.  Happy Holidays!