Dear Park Mall Santa,

You had no idea when my little boy climbed on your lap tonight he’d just been crying. He was very worried he wasn’t going to be on the “good list”. He wiped his tears away, but when you sweetly asked him what he’d like for Christmas, the tears rolled again. I watched, a little nervous how you’d respond … And what you did cracked my heart wide open. You wrapped your arms around my sweet boy; you held him close; you wiped away his tears; and you whispered reassuring words to him.

You called me over and said “Mom, your boy was worried he’s not on my good list. But I told him he was. He’s on my good list because he has such a good heart and he’s working so hard at school. That’s what he’s on my good list.” He turned and looked at Cooper and said, “Everyone has bad days, but we just try our hardest and those bad days pass. But you have a good heart and that’s what matters.”

Dear sweet mall Santa, you went above and beyond your call of duty this evening. I’ll carry your kind words and compassion in my heart. You my friend, are what this season is about. 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,

This Mama

Add a Comment + Posted in: Parenting, Right now

I’m not going to lie. I cried Tuesday night. I sat in a bathroom stall at the newspaper and cried. Then, I wiped my eyes and went back to work. And once the paper was out — after 2 a.m. — I cried some more. 
This election cycle was hard. It was filled with so much anger, sadness and overall frustration. But it was also full of hope. 
I’ve been pretty open about the fact that I voted for Hillary Clinton. I didn’t vote for her because we both have vaginas, though that might have been the perceived assumption. I voted for her because I supported — and still support — her stance on important policies like healthcare, equal pay, radical acceptance, education, etc. But it was more than that … I had — and still have — serious issues with Trump’s behavior, lack of character and sexist, bigoted history. 

So what now? A few days ago, pulled a card from my deck of #truthbombs. I was looking for a idea or feeling to guide my day. The one I pulled said “The surest way to simplify your life is to focus on what matters most.” What great advice to adopted, especially in such a contentious, uncertain times. 

My first step? Took Facebook and Twitter off my phone. Deleted the Facebook bookmark on my Internet browser. Social media, specifically Facebook, has turned into a time suck for me and does nothing to lift my heart. It se ms like an easy step to simplifying my life and cultivating a more joyful existence. 

“The surest way to simplify your life is to focus on what matters most.”

Second, I’m looking for places to volunteer. I’m already involved with the Girl Scouts and volunteer regularly at the kids’ school, but post-election I feel like I should be doing more. I’m planning on volunteering with The Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona and I want to find a way to work with our Hispanic Community to get people registered to vote. I’m also planning on volunteering at a pregnancy outreach center and a literacy program. Doing things like this can affect change in my own community and that’s were we need to and can start

“The surest way to simplify your life is to focus on what matters most.”

Lastly, I’m making an effort to live more joyfully. Traveling home from Texas last week, I decided I was going to beam love at everyone. Lots of big, happy smiles. Please and thank you. Noticing those around me and offering help … and guess what happened? People seemed genuinely touched by my effort. And I I feel better. 

“The surest way to simplify your life is to focus on what matters most.”

Love wins. Kindness wins. Compassion wins. I will use my voice to speak love. I will use my actions for good. I will make kindness a priority. And I will let compassion guide me. 

It’s easy to think you can’t make a difference, that you’re one voice doesn’t matter. But it does.

“The surest way to simplify your life is to focus on what matters most.” 

Focus on what matters most to you and do what you can to make your little part of the world a better place. It will ripple out. It will be felt. Just so your part in your place. And the rest will come. 

Add a Comment + Posted in: Right now, Say Yes

Mike called me this weekend and asked me about some muffin pans. He was going to make banana muffins since we had bananas that were going bad.

“Hey, do you know where the muffin pans are?” he asked.

Immediately, I knew I was busted. I took the muffin pans to use for my encaustic paints a few months back and never replaced them. I planned on replacing them, but totally forgot I took them.

Mike abruptly got off the phone with me. He didn’t hang up on me, but I knew he was mad. He called me back a little later and said, “Do you know that whenever I make a decision I always ask myself ‘will this make Kimberly mad? Will it bother her? Or will she not care at all?’ I attribute the reason we rarely fight to the fact that I consider you in each decision I make.”

I’ll be honest, what he said and the sadness in his voice crushed me. It was like he punched me in the gut. No one what’s to be told they are acting like a thoughtless jerk. When I took the muffin pan I didn’t think about anyone but myself. I wanted to use the pan to hold my encaustic paints and so I took it. What I didn’t realize was the impact it would have on Mike. Mike does all the cooking in our house. The kitchen is his domain. By taking the muffin pan and using for painting I was taking something of his without asking and without thought of whether or not he’d need it. Basically, I was giving him the middle finger.

But here’s the deal: I’m not a total asshole. I’m normally a very thoughtful and loving person, but sometimes, when I’m focused on painting, I forget everything and everyone else. Except, when you’re in a relationship you have to work hard to remember you’re part of a team and you can’t just do, think or say what you want.

You’ve gotta work for love. Mike and I have a really great relationship and truly love each other. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to work at. We have to work each day to be thoughtful of the others’ feelings. We have to work each day to makes choices that are good for both of us. We have to work each day to share our lives with someone else.

After Mike explained the message I was sending him by taking the muffin pans, I promised him I’d employ the same thought process when I’m making choices about things in our shared domain: Will this make Mike mad? Will it bother him? Or will he not care at all?

Keeping Mike (or in his case, me) at the front of my mind can prove to be tough at times, but I can tell you it’s one of the simplest ways to show him I care. If let him know I’m running late when he’s at home making dinner, I’m telling him I care about the time he spent making dinner for our family. When I immediately replace on the kitchen tools I “borrowed” for my art making, then I’m telling him I value the work he does to keep our family nourished.

I might be wrong, but I don’t think this comes naturally to most people. It’s work. It’s a practice.

I used to think that true love was magical and effortless. But seriously, that’s bullshit. I have a magical relationship because I work hard and I’m committed to love. Being able to work for love and being committed to your partnership … that’s true love.

P.S. My friend Hannah sent me an article about “Real Love” just days before Mike and I had this exchange. It’s a great read, check it out.

 

Add a Comment + Posted in: Relationships

Taking Sides | Kimberly Kalil DesignsA couple of months ago, I read a quote from Elie Wiesel that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind.

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Last weekend I posted a semi-political video on Facebook. Someone I went to high school with responded with mean and nasty comments. She and I don’t agree on politics, policy, life choices or just about anything … but I’ve never, ever posted something nasty on her Facebook page or anyone else’s for that matter. I went back and forth about whether or not I should respond to her. On one hand, I didn’t want to give her any attention. But on the other hand, it’s not okay to scream and yell people because they don’t agree with you.

I respond to her for a single reason: 

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

I’m not naive enough to believe that I what I might type here will change anyone’s mind, but I believe that staying silent helps no one.

I believe every voice, every person, every color, every sexual orientation, every everything matters. We should treat every person we meet with kindness. Even if we don’t understand or don’t agree with them, we can always extend grace and kindness to them.

I believe family and community are the keys to success. I don’t mean a traditional family. Your family can be whatever you want it to be, but everyone should have a tribe to love and be loved by. We should find a community to pour ourselves into.

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

I believe what I say matters. I believe I’m accountable for my actions. And I know that my children are watching and learning from the things I say and do. All children are watching us and we have a moral obligation to teach them right from wrong.

I believe we are all on the same team and we should act accordingly. Offer help to others. Cheer each other on as the battle through life.

I believe in the value of service. Serve your country. Serve your community. Serve your family. Lose yourself in service and you will find greater joy than you ever thought possible.

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

I believe every single child deserves a safe place to live, food to eat and an education. And I believe because I was blessed with all of those things I have an obligation to help those less fortunate than me.

I believe we don’t have to believe in the same God to find common ground. We can all believe whatever we what to believe and we should offer nothing less than respect to those who don’t share our beliefs.

I believe in First Amendment. Speak your heart, but don’t tear other people down in the process. We can all say our bit and that’s what makes America great.

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

I believe you stand up for the people who can’t stand up for themselves. I believe you don’t sit back and watch as others are tormented or bullied.

I believe I can change the world I live in through hard work, love and compassion.

I believe that our strength is in our goodness.

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

I believe love wins. Love always wins.

Add a Comment + Posted in: Right now

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