In our wonderful country, I love that I get to make decisions that best suit me and my family. I love that I have choices. I love that I have freedom. What I do not love is the constant feeling of being judged by others for my decisions or my choices… although I am keenly aware that I am judged daily. This spring I have decided we would be a much kinder world if we all focused more on lifting others up rather than being so quick to tear others down; we need to stop placing judgment on others that we know little about. I believe that we have become a society that cares more about being right than being kind and, quite frankly, this makes me profoundly sad.

I can attest that I am far from perfect and sometimes fall short. But, the bottom line is that I care deeply about being kind and being mindful. I want to be a role model for my children, for my community and my friends. I want to raise kind, caring and respectful children. It is safe to say we are a continual work in progress. I must lead by example if I expect my kids, my community, or my friends to follow me so I have thought about kindness a lot lately… how one small act can have truly profound effects.

Let us start with following the “you do you” scenario. I am not talking about walking away when others are in harm’s way, I am talking about being kind enough to respect other people’s decisions or opinions. The Urban Dictionary defines “you do you” as “the act of doing what one believes is the right decision, being oneself.”

Learn to become a good friend and, most importantly, become a good listener. There are many reasons that individuals may feel differently about things or make different decisions than you do. When we listen and show respect we may even understand or learn something new. I pose the question: “Do you know my journey? Do you know my life story? Do you even know me?”

Everyone can be so quick to pass judgment that we do not take time to listen, learn or investigate. We spend too much time assuming we have all the answers and know what is best for the others. So, my mantra for the summer is “you do you.” I love all that these three little words imply. Stop worrying so much about the decisions of others and focus on being kind instead. Sounds easy right? What is your kindness plan for the summer? How can we lift others up?

A topic that has caused issues with people lately is getting the Covid-19 vaccine. Although I believe in the Covid-19 vaccine, and I am vaccinated, I also respect and understand the choices of others. Getting the Covid-19 vaccine is a difficult decision for many. I cannot begin to justify the act of judging those who are waiting, those who are cautious and those who simply do not want to get it.

I came to this space by having many wonderful and thoughtful discussions with friends and family members. If I love and care about them why on earth would I judge them? I believe that we need more listening, more love, and more compassion across the world.

So, I say “Start today!” Start by having kind, insightful conversations that make you think. No shouting is necessary if you have a difference of opinion, just listen. Compassion, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is the “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” Show pure compassion towards others, many are still struggling after this crazy year. Try every day to do one kind act. Hold the door, say hello to a stranger, buy a small gift card for someone extra special, be patient and maybe instead of assuming we have all the answers just listen. At the YMCA we practice our “Listen First” skills on a daily basis. It is not always easy, but it always matters.

So, I end with “You do you”. Spend some time this summer being kinder with your words, being more compassionate towards others who think differently than you do, and maybe just maybe we can grow together to be a more caring and kinder community. Happy Summer!

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