Author Archives: KD
Today a stranger challenged me to compliment every person I happened to talk to. It started off with a casual “thank you. Your idea is amazing” but my day soon transitioned into the absolutely unexpected.
I began by complimenting people on shallow things, such as their seemingly new shoes or their very large designer handbag, noticing the smile that grew on strangers’ faces and the pride in their stride as we parted ways. It felt nice to make people feel good about themselves.
I was casually walking through a parking lot when I spotted a homeless man that needed my full bottle of water more than I did. As I handed him the water, I told him that I loved his Lakers jersey and he told me that he loved my generosity. I noticed in that moment that I had been giving compliments on peoples exteriors all day, and while that made them, and myself, feel good, I wasn’t complimenting people on their choice of actions; things that they control that make them who they are, things that make them exceptional. So as my day went on I complimented people on their kindness, their aspirations, their lifestyle choices, their ideas, etc. The smiles were twice as large and that stride in their pride looked like some kind of happy dance. I was making friends with complete strangers, the woman at the checkout line at the grocery store, the mailman who dropped off a package, the nice man who always walks his dog outside of my house at 3:15pm every day, people I would have never taken the time to consider.
One woman at my dry cleaner asked me why I was so kind and although I wanted to tell her something along the lines of “I am always this nice”, I told her about the task given to me that morning. She said it was an amazing idea and said she would give it a try and update me on how it goes next time I happen to run into her.
Now I don’t know if she really gave it a full effort and that’s not what matters. What matters is that I planted the seed inside that woman’s head and inspired her to try something new, something that would benefit other people and not just herself.
So now I challenge you, blog-reader or whoever you may be, to try something new. Go out and give everyone a high-five or strike up a conversation with that guy in the coffee shop that you see sitting alone every morning. Go out and put a smile on someone else’s face. But don’t do it because I told you to, do it because “strangers are just family you have yet to meet”.
I challenged myself a simple task, NOT to look at mirrors for 5 days. Not so simple, mirrors are everywhere:
~ Car Rearview, Side View & Windows
~ Cell Phone Reflection
~ Store Windows & Doors
~ Yoga Studios & Gyms
~ Endless Places of Reflection…
I covered all the mirrors in my apartment although anytime in public I would ‘cheat’ for a split second without even noticing – check my face while washing my hands, look at my hair while getting into my car, and admiring my profile while walking by car windows in a grocery store parking lot.
So, I really wasn’t able to groom my face and I became this burly, scruffy man for about a week. My interaction with people became different – I made direct eye contact because I was self conscious, I didn’t want them checking out my face for so-called imperfections: pimple villages, nose hairs flaring out like vines, or crud on my teeth (thank you U11 girls soccer team for pointing out spinach remnants). This was a positive blessing in disguise – I made other people the focal point by eye-locking them like Top Gun Maverick. They become the center of ‘my’ universe, I was way interested in what they were saying and I felt connection – soul talking to soul, not my looks talking to their looks.
No access to mirrors led to less identification and more substance for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some cleanliness – just realized lately looks were becoming a larger part of my identity. This is how I grew up, Darren Star the producer of Beverly Hills 90210 and Sex and the City was a graduate of my high school. I look back now and have so much compassion for the girls who walked our halls – it was a fashion, body, and attitude contest.
People will say things will never change – this is society and looks are important…go live in a hippie commune, a cave, or choose the radical option of ‘I don’t care’ – choosing this choice can be considered weird, although again you are upholding some identity…maybe there is something beyond society and words – what if you forgot the concept of SELF? What if for just thirty seconds I could convince you that you don’t exist? Ask yourself when you were born, who gave you identity, who would you be without a name, what if you never believed a word of the ego?
Humans are pulled to connection, it’s wired in our DNA, it’s where SELF is lost and this is when I feel most alive. I have spent months alone to figure nothing will ever trump the choice of love – no matter how cliché that sounds, I always come back and ask: was l loving to myself, others and the environment in this moment – even when situations/people are toxic, I accept the reality and then take action with love. I am less attached to this SELF I’ve been protecting for years, what in the world am I protecting? Nobody will remember my body when I die, I’ve been to many funerals and I remember the way people made me feel and treated me in life. It’s never too late – live a life with love…print out your favorite quote, make your own, and tape it to your bathroom mirror – directly over where your face is center stage, read it every morning – memorize it, or use below…
“Live this day as if it will be your last. Remember that you will only find ‘tomorrow’ on the calendars of fools. Forget yesterday’s defeats and ignore the problems of tomorrow. This is it. Doomsday. All you have. Make it the best day of your year. Take the baton, now. Run with it! Beginning today, treat everyone you meet, friend or foe, loved one or stranger, as if they were going to be dead at midnight. Extend to each person, no matter how trivial the contact, all the care and kindness and understanding and love that you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.” ~ Og Mandino
Positive Present decided to take our act to the street, we wanted to fundraise for our cause (apparel line) and to leave our comfort zone with the hope of learning something positive…gorillas and saxophones!
Location: Seaport Village – San Diego…tourists central!
PP Accountant Intern: saxophone statue player.
PP Founder: Gorilla with a hockey stick and pasta pot.
Action: Gorilla plays pasta pot across on walkway (hockey puck) in front of walkers (families are the best)…we freeze like statues and hope for donations/tips. If we get money, we go ape sh*t – gorilla dances loco and saxophone jams out!
Revenue – $7 to the saxophone intern for his skills and gas money, $2 for the Parrot Guy (we took over his turf), $5 to a homeless shelter vendor, and $16 for parking…ended up $6 in the red.
Positivity – The kids loved us, except for that one time and I approached a girl too fast, something out of ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ and she cried for help. Besides scaring a young child for life, we had fun!
Personally I learned about my own ‘mask’ – oddly I had to put on a gorilla mask to become loco, spontaneous, and loving when I am free to live this way daily. We are so consumed of protecting an identity that lives in an organ that we forget the goodness and carefree attitude of our true nature. People put on ‘masks’ all the time to protect their vulnerability – their thoughts and emotions have that much power over them…instead of perhaps saying I am love – beyond this temporary body and self-image.
Mark Nepo says it best, “We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are, when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed, and beneath every sadness is a fear that there will not be enough time.
When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances for joy. It’s like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting that we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real.
In this way, our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world, but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold, and the car handle feels wet, and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being soft and unrepeatable.
As you breathe, let each breath undress your being–of attitude, of mood, of history.”
Try the ‘mask’ of vulnerability, let your heart pour open…yes, hurt might happen although at least you will be alive instead in the prison of ‘what if’ thoughts. Go ape sh*t and enjoy the video!
Our challenge was to literally “carry our ego” for one day. A blue, glass water bottle (rubber encased) represented my ego; the handle had one end of a green ribbon tied to it, and the other knot tied to my wrist: zero detachment.
The actual weight and carrying an object made me more aware of what I was doing, I was taking care of a tangible thing. While sitting multi-tasking at my computer, I decided on a whim I needed to attend to soup on the stove…I went quickly to adjust the temperature and forgot my ego was tied to my wrist – CRASHING bottle on my keyboard. I become engrossed in a quick to-do list and forgot my ego, but it didn’t forget me.
Taking a shower is usually a private matter, although the water bottle attended. Usually, my mind flutters on many things in shower-time, but I was more conscious of my actions since my ribbon was only so long which constricted movement. There were less thoughts – just the mode: clean body. Instead of getting lost in an infinite daydream shower and wasting water, I took a relaxing shower.
Now in public, the mind reading began! My ego really spoke up at Whole Foods, patrons in salad bar line were ‘thinking’: why does that dude have a wet leash connected to a water bottle – a compulsive freak, hydration reminder, what da bleep?
The ego is always with me: it banged up my keyboard physically reminding me it can hurt/love with actions that come from an absent center, showed mindfulness of an individual activity like showering can bring peace and efficiency, and exposed its insecurity, analyzation, judgment in a salad bar line.
Even the thoughts I write, are the coming from my mind, the ego, a mixture? What is authentic? Authenticity: a definition that can be subjective, as a culture we lie so much so where to begin – start being yourself? Confuse the fick out the ego, create a panic mode…wait, this dude is being real, WE have an image to withhold – no, put organic plain hummus on the salad, not bright yellow cheese – we are vegan warrior, I thought we were a team!?
So the tricky part, the whole purpose of this blog – doing something in the name of positivity. Ego has no clue how to differentiate good and bad…it just wants to be noticed. How was carrying the water bottle a positive act? The water bottle awoke whatever watches my ego at a heightened level, I became a witness to some of the insanity I listen daily (the mind averages 70,000 thoughts a day), a deeper compassion for myself and others, more inviting feeling to what is, less analyzation, more presence…I actually laughed at the loconess.
I will try to be more mindful of my ego, pause to give it attention with zero judgment which will create room for zero attachment.
Hey it’s Ian! There is a cause that has become really important to me. The story of the children whose lives have been displaced, and bodies destroyed because of the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Children are taken from their homes at a very young age, trained and forced to go into battle. The children who are too small to hold and fire guns are given whistles and sent to the front lines! there they are told to blow the whistles when they see “the enemy”. Obviously they are the first casualties in the battle. The idea of this going on in the world i live in hurts bad.
The Falling Whistles Campaign (takes it’s name from the whistles the kids are to blow) raises money for the advocacy and rehabilitation of these children. The money is raised through the proceeds of a necklace fashioned from a whistle. My request is a simple one, take MY whistle necklace and wear it on your journey, research this amazing organization at http://www.fallingwhistles.com/main/
and share the story. Spread the word, and the website info… You know where I am, or email me a time we can meet, to give you my whistle! Don’t worry, i will get another one! Thanks Keith, for what you are doing, and for letting me share this with you and your readers!
It was great to meet you today and hear some of your heart behind your vision. I want to hear more. This is my challenge for you: to share your life story with me and a few friends from Nieucommunities and allow us to speak back to you what we see and pray for you. We want to listen. – David Jauregui
Great being with you Keith and seeing your heart, home, and hope!
It was an honor to meet you! Thank you for sharing your story with us. 🙂
I think it would be really cool if you were to take out a homeless teen for lunch at In n’ Out. That would give you a chance to enjoy the wonders of In n’ Out, and also see what the day to day life of a homeless teen is like. Best of luck!
-Tea Room Storyteller
Hi Keith! Moving to San Diego opened my eyes to an issue that I didn’t give nearly enough thought to before – homelessness. There are so many people here struggling to get by who probably don’t see it as the paradise that I do. Knowing how stressed and imbalanced I get when I’m low on cash, it breaks my heart to think of the daily lives these truly impoverished people live. But acknowledging everything that these people do not have also gave me a new appreciation for what I have, and often take for granted: a clean bed, hot water, fresh food.
I would love to be able to share this enlightening new gratitude of what we have, instead of focusing on what we don’t have, with others, including yourself.
As a future counselor (school), I innately put others first. In turn, I also spend quite a bit of time throughout my day talking to family members and friends. So as one can imagine, I often find myself putting things off that I should be getting done. I recently came to the realization that “being connected” all of the time is not conducive to productivity and above all my sanity lol. However, as much as I would love to chuck my blackberry out the window and check out of gchat for the week it’s not realistic. I simply cannot not answer a call from my dad, or an urgent bbm from Pauly d yadda yadda. So I guess a wish for me, as I forge through my first draft of a journal article late in the evening would be to go without a cell for day! Have someone else answer my calls, bbms, texts, e-mails, and gchats…