A few nights ago, there was a really bad thunderstorm. It was the kind where you could hear the rain thrashing against the windows, and our bedroom was lit up from the lightening. Our sweet dog, Zoey, is Border Collie/Golden Retriever mix, and she is 11 years old. She gets very scared of storms, so she was not able to sleep. She cried and cried through the night, as we tried to comfort her.
If we know a bad storm is going to happen, we will give Zoey some special medicine from her vet that calms her down and helps her rest. I did give her some on this particular evening, but I only gave her half of a pill. The medicine can make her extremely drowsy the next day, so that was my reasoning for the smaller dose. Unfortunately, the half of a pill did not work, as it had in the past. So, Zoey did not rest and neither did my husband or me
I know there are some amazing people in the world who can function well without much sleep. I respect them, but I am not one of them. There have been some especially challenging nights recently where our 19-month-old daughter has been up several times for long stretches, and one of those happened earlier this week. I think I was still recovering a bit from that, when the sleepless night happened with Zoey. As a mom, I’ve certainly had my share of sleepless nights with the baby, but I now understand I’m becoming more and more sensitive to the lack of sleep in relation to my migraines. I can usually feel one coming on after a night of little to no sleep.
I’ve realized that I can be quite crabby, and my patience is very low on these “migraine days” with little sleep. I love my husband and daughter very much, but on these days it's harder for me to be calm with my little one and considerate with my husband. After surviving several days like this in the past month, I reflected and comprehended I need to try to make a change. I don’t have much control over our dog sleeping through the night and even less control of our baby sleeping through the night. To be fair, our baby is typically a good sleeper, but she has had some challenges related to normal growth milestones in the past two months. In the scheme of all of this, I see what I can change is my behavior. We control so few things in life, but we do control our behavior and reactions.
So, on the day after Zoey’s rough night, I was intentional about being extra kind to my husband and daughter. I went out of my way to do a few little nice things for them. This was certainly the opposite of how my behavior had been in past days without sleep. It turned out that leading with kindness made my day, as a whole, better.
Kindness can be a light through the dark for us. For example, it can be daunting to walk into a new job or a party where you don’t know anyone, but if you lead with kindness then you are doing your best. We don’t always know what to do in situations, but we do know how to be kind. That is something we can reflect back on, again and again. It will be our map to getting to know someone better or making someone feel comfortable. It really does fill in the gaps. There are many life situations where we don’t know what to say or do, but if we are kind, then what we do or say will be the right thing.
The next time I have a day without sleep or I’m in a social situation where I just want to keep to myself, I’m going to make an effort to act the opposite of my instincts. I’m going to do the opposite of what is easy for me, to be an introvert, and lead with kindness. You never know what doors you will open in your heart and the hearts of others by letting kindness lead you out of your comfort zone.
This is a beautiful painting I saw in San Francisco a few years ago. I think it represents hope and community.