Cardinal Kindness

If only we were this kind to each other

The last few weeks have been hard, calling me to be at a heightened awareness and to practice self-care. While I was able to identify some of the triggers for this stress, I became even more aware of the negative spiral I was swirling into—which was not beneficial at all!

Instead, I turned to reframing my thoughts, practicing gratitude, and reaching into my happy thoughts bank. I replayed moments to remind myself of the kindness that I have received or witnessed. This always helps me. One particular moment always heals and fills me with warmth and joy.  

I love watching the birds flock to my birdfeeders. During the summer months of 2020, I noticed a pigeon nest under the staircase leading to the front door of my home.  I watched as the mother bird silently sat on her eggs staring back at me with big eyes.  It was as if she was sizing me up. Was I a friend or a foe? I had a bird feeder on the balcony at the top of the stairs. I put some birdseed in a saucer and placed it just below the nest. She watched me intently. When I came back few hours later the seed was gone. I refilled it.

At this point I would like to believe she viewed me as a friend. She became quite domesticated. When the saucer was empty or birdfeeder was running low, she would perch herself on the railing of the balcony, bobbing her head side to side. She did not fly away as I approached (something she would do before).

And then, of course, pure joy one evening as I came home from work. The sun was setting, the beautiful orange hue filling the sky. In the nest under the deck, I saw two little pairs of eyes with beaks open staring back at me. I knew the eggs had hatched! I felt such joy as I stared, the mother staring back at me, her eyes with a fierce look of protection. Was I still a friend?

Trying to reassure her, I filled the saucer with an extra-large helping of birdseed and added a bowl of water too. Over the next few days I would sneak quietly to see the mother pick up each seed and feed the babies. I watched the little babies grow and learn to fly. Soon the nest was empty but the joy remained. What a beautiful addition to my happy thoughts bank!

A few months later I noticed a little baby pigeon sitting perched on the pergola at the back of the house. I have another birdfeeder there. A red cardinal was picking at the seed and suddenly we saw the red cardinal reach up and feed the little baby pigeon. It was lost; the parents were nowhere in sight.  I saw this unfold a couple of times. As I watched my heart just filled with joy, gratitude. Tears of pure awe, happiness and love flooded my eyes. A gesture of selfless love, intense care and kindness for another living being. What a gift!  I am grateful my dad captured this scene on his phone.

What if we humans showed the same kindness to every other living creature?

Last week as I was driving to work on Signal Mountain Road, I saw a billboard from a healthcare organization in our county. It read Human Kindness Is the Best Medicine. That was another confirmation and affirmation indeed! Dr. Steven M. Asch and his colleagues captured this well in their November 2020 article in JGIM, “If Kindness Were a Drug, the FDA Would Approve It.”

How can we make kindness a priority, in our work, in our lives, in every relationship? How can we make kindness a priority for ourselves?

As a start, I decided to post this thought to my weekly buddy check-in community:

“You cannot do kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Reflect on a recent act of kindness you received and the impact it had?


What Are You Doing in March?

If you’d like some time for reflection and rejuvenation with a small group, you are most welcome to join my virtual retreat, Reframing Resilience, Renewing Leadership. Reclaim joy and meaning with courage, exploring in a Circle of Trust® how to weave your life’s threads into life and work as 2021 unfolds.

Weekend Option: March 5-6 (a few spots are remaining).
4-Week Series: On Thursday evenings beginning March 18 (Fridays in Australasia).

Get details and register here before February 27th!


As we enter 2021, how will you tend to self-care, community and resilience? I will continue posting reflections on these themes and invite you to join in the conversation here or on Twitter or Instagram with your thoughts or what you are doing for self-care and care of others. My book explores such ideas too: Resilient Threads: Weaving Joy and Meaning into Well-Being.