Buying a new home and selling your home can be stressful, they tell me. Last time we moved, we were leaving a one-room apartment in Boston. We packed up our tiny Honda Civic, hitched up the UHaul, and headed south to Maryland. We had no children and not much furniture. It was easy to buy a home then. I walked into the house we live in now and I said, “Oh, this is it!” This was before school districts and playgrounds became a deciding factor in our home selection process. Today, we have two children. High school doesn’t seem that far off anymore. We’re looking for a home while managing everyday life of soccer practice, end-of-the-year chorus concerts, and summer planning. And did I mention I have a new book out, too?!
Last week, Brian and I were sitting in the car after seeing yet another property that just wasn’t “it.” It was hot. We both were tired and discouraged. I needed to get back home to work and also check on the workman refinishing our deck. Then I needed to pick up the kiddos, figure out what we were having for dinner, and get the kiddos to soccer. We both knew we were going to be up late tending to every single last detail in our current home to get it ready for the photographer. I was quiet. I really wanted this to be “the house.” But it wasn’t.
I looked over at Brian. He was looking at me so lovingly. Caught up in stress mode, his tender look of love caught me off guard. I looked back at him and noticed his beautiful blue eyes. Suddenly, I realized that it had been awhile since I looked at him this way. There was such kindness and love in his eyes. I hadn’t paused long enough lately to see this. My heart melted and softened. I was conscious of and remorseful over the irritated tone I had been using with him in the last few weeks. I remembered we were in this together. I remembered that the love between us matters most. I remembered that, in the scheme of things, even finding a new house and selling ours wasn’t a big deal.
It was a simple moment that happens “in the ordinary” but can easily be unnoticed and swiftly swept away by the tide of the long list of “to do’s” and getting a house ready to sell.
Whether you are buying/selling a house, taking care of an aging parent, or trying to figure out what you’re going to do all summer long, all of us need these tender moments. We live in a world full of harshness – on the highway with honking and finger-flicking, in our schools with bullies and cliques, and in our politics with elected officials who act more like bullies than wise and ethically responsible leaders.
When Pope Francis first called for a Revolution of Tenderness, I stopped in my tracks. “Yes,” my heart exhaled, “That’s exactly what we need right now.”
We don’t need more information or super plans.
We need experiences of tenderness.
Many years ago when I was living and working El Salvador and just learning Spanish, a woman said to me something like, “Tu tenura es tu belleza y fuerza, Lisa.”
“Tenura?” I asked her. I didn’t know that word. She tried to explain it to me, but in my limited Spanish at the time, I still didn’t understand. “Tenura” was my beauty and strength?? What was tenura?
I had to look up “tenura” in my Spanish/English dictionary. There it was. Tenura meant “tenderness.”
“Your tenderness is your beauty and your strength, Lisa.”
Tenderness was my beauty.
Tenderness was my strength — not my excellent project-management skills. Not my clinical skills. Not my great ideas. Not my ubber responsible “I’ll take it on and make it happen” attitude.
Tenderness is our beauty and our strength.
Haven’t we all experienced this to be true?
In the middle of getting your children to school on time, lunches made, breakfast eaten, and homework completed…
In the middle of helping your aging parent who has started to show signs of forgetfulness…
In the middle of long discussions late into the night with your partner about a possible separation…
In the middle of battling a health issue…
In the middle of getting a flat tire on the way to work when you are late…
In the middle of another miscarriage…
In the middle of trying to keep it all together on a hot summer day on vacation and patience is wearing thin…
Someone offers tenderness.
A stranger holds the door open for you.
Your child unexpectedly pats your shoulder and you realize how tall he is getting and he says, “It’ll be okay, mom.”
A neighbor brings you a meal and it’s something you actually can eat.
Your partner looks at you with loving eyes that reminds you of the depth to which you are loved.
Your aging parent touches your hand and says, “Thank you.”
You see an elderly woman tenderly, patiently guiding her more frail husband through the grocery store.
You witness your shy daughter being included by a fellow teen at the new school.
You see your husband embrace your college-bound son and say, “Excellent job. We are proud of you.”
These moments of tenderness in the midst of trying times break through the hard edges within us, they open our tightly clenched arms, and love cascades through the harsh, parched places within us and even between us.
Lao Tzu said, “Water is fluid, soft and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.
We are in interesting times, friends. The tides are turning. While we hear of and see harshness around the world, there is a revolution of tenderness and compassion growing. Many of us are realizing that harshness, “power over,” and individualism don’t “work.” I see this all the time in psychotherapy and Compassion Coaching.
Turning away and closing myself off from him doesn’t bring me any closer to being happy, one client told me.
Being right is lonely, another client told me.
Yelling doesn’t work, another client told me.
Tenderness works. Compassion works. Regard works.
And the revolution of tenderness begins at home. It begins WITHIN each of us. It is practiced and lived in the ordinary moments of our everyday lives.
This revolution of tenderness is carried out by remaining steadfast to a sacred intention.
It grows stronger as we learn to truly linger – with mindfulness and compassion.
It changes the way we see ourselves, each other and the world as we choose to open instead of close ourselves off.
It is practiced over and over in triggering moments when we choose to stay with discomfort, connect, soften, and we humbly begin again (and again).
It is embodied when we harness the heat within us of anger and transmute it into creative, social justice action.
And this revolution of tenderness is embodied when we honor the “wild call” within each of us to live according to what is most sacred to us.
Need more tenderness in your home? Your life?
We can heal the harshness and embrace a way of life that is sacred to you. We are all agents of change in our world — and it begins within each of our hearts, bodies, minds, and homes. I want to support YOU having tenderness with your own self and your dear ones. I also want to support tenderness growing and deepening as a radical response to the harshness in the world. Accompanying you is my way of living out this truth by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Schedule your free half-hour coaching consult with me (See it in the bottom right corner?! Just sign up. Pick your date!) We can address issues of parenting, partnership, life direction, and work. I have a few spots open to support summer clients. I’d love for you to be one of them.
*If you are a parent, a professional, or a person who influences the life of a child, check out Regarding Our Children, my 30-day online class. This is all about setting our children up to thrive. I bring in my clinical, trauma-informed expertise working with clients; my decades of mindfulness; and my experience being “in the trenches” as a mom to share with you researched-backed ways to instill a sense of resilience in your child, empathy, compassion, a growth mindset, and how to support them to be “leaders of their own lives.” Get on the waitlist and get notified when registration opens for the next session.Blessings,