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Pledge to My Heart

August 5th, 2015

I’m sharing a song I wrote and recorded with The Free Range Chix with you today and a poster to go with it. Share these with whomever you wish. The lyrics:


I pledge allegiance
to my heart
and to the compassion
for which it stands.

One planet
With dignity and abundance
For all

Neuroscience tells us that what we focus on grows. Being mindful of who we want to be in this world makes a difference in how we deal with challenges and what we bring out in other people.

A neighbor of ours loves to be contentious. He enjoys stirring people up and then not listening. Surprisingly, he has few friends and no girlfriend. No job either. Bless his heart, he has come to be who he is honestly, but who he is unattractive and will not draw love to him.

You and I have a choice to make every day: How will we start our day in order to always do our best?

One way to start your day is to play this song audio-icon and look at (download and print) the poster.

What you do matters and you are always doing something.


The Power of “Well Done”

April 14th, 2015

A Gift

Alive AliveA SONG: Well Done
from the CD Alive, Alive

I wrote this song as I was listening to keynote speaker Margarita Suarez at an Oregon Counseling Association conference. She encouraged all of us to jump off that cliff of safety and live our lives more fully. As a therapist for over thirty years, she told us that, in her opinion, the single most limiting factor in people’s lives is having never heard “well done.” She said men especially need to hear “well done, son.”

As soon as I heard these words, my inner Muse said, “That is a song!” I started writing, and at the end of the conference, as I had the group in a circle for the closing song (“It Takes a Whole Village” from my CD Alive, Alive) I heard my Muse again say, “Sing the song!”

“But I have not even sung it out loud to myself yet!” I protested.

“Sing the song!” my Muse insisted, and so I did.

After the conference, a woman came up and asked me for the words to the first verse, which was all I had completed at the time. I got a note from the woman later, telling me she had the words written in calligraphy, framed them, and given them to her son for his birthday.

I have sung this song at baccalaureates and at almost every presentation I have made for the last several years. A friend played it at her mother’s funeral. One high school class had the words to the song written in calligraphy for Mother’s Day. It is a simple song with a simple message, and it often makes people cry. I can hear Willie Nelson singing it, and I’m hoping he will want to record it. If you know him, will you ask him?

well-done-picsWell done, son, well done.
I love who you’ve become.
You’re just the way I hoped you’d be.
I love the man in you I see.
Well done, son, well done.

Well done, Dad, well done.
You’ve helped me to become
The best I could be; you set me free.
I love the you in me I see.
Well done, Dad, well done.

My daughter, my love, well done.
I love who you’ve become.
You’re just the way I hoped you’d be.
A woman strong, courageous and free.
My daughter, my love, well done.

Well done, Mom, well done.
You’ve helped me to become
The best I could be; you set me free.
I love the you in me I see.
Well done, Mom, well done.

Well done, friends, well done.
You’ve helped me to become
the best I could be; you set me free.
I love the truth in you I see.
Well done, my friends, well done.


When I wrote this song, the verse about my father was not true. He was a violent alcoholic and I had spent much of my life cataloging the ways he had failed me. In order to make the verse “Well done, Dad, well done” come true, I had to change my focus. When I stopped looking at how my dad had failed me and looked for the gifts he had given me I found he had passed on three very important qualities: his love of singing, his love of performing, and his smile.

My dad died in May of 2010. None of his three children or his seven grandchildren were with him. No one called to tell me of his death; I found out about it while searching the internet several months later.

“Well Done” helped me heal my relationship with my father in spirit. I forgave him and then forgiveness became a moot point. When I stopped being hurt and angry, I could see his cruelty as woundedness. He was responsible for his actions, and he was a deeply flawed human. He did not love me because he did not know how to love, not because I was not lovable.

Well done, Vicki, well done.

Be extra special kind yourself today, okay?

Radical Kindness, Holiday Style

October 31st, 2014

It’s November and Thanksgiving and other holiday gatherings are fast approaching.  In my next several newsletters, I will deal with the issue of what to do when you know you need to do something, but you do not know what to do.  In other words, I will be writing about Radical Kindness Warrior training.

I mentioned the book I am writing to my Zumba Toning trainer yesterday , and she told me a story.  Everyone seems to have a story when I bring up this topic. Here is her story:

When she was two her family gathered for Thanksgiving.  Her Uncle Ted, as I will call him, proceeded to drink too much and then sent himself on a mission to attack everyone individually. When he commented on her mother’s handmade dress, Jane, as I will call my trainer, had had enough.

“Shup up and eat your turkey!” she commanded, and the family exploded in riotous laughter.  Little two year old Jane had said what everyone else wanted to say but didn’t know how.

I would add that one turkey at the table is enough.

Here is an excerpt from my book Radical Kindness Tips for the Well-Intentioned But Ill-Prepared . Well, I’m still working on the title, but you see what I’m getting at. As always, I would love to know what you think.

Radical Kindness Tip #3: 

Knock Something Over

You are at Thanksgiving dinner and Uncle Ted is about to launch into a racist joke.  You can see that Aunt Minnie is waiting for an opening to comment on your thighs, as she usually does. What are you to do?  You do not want to shame anyone or create a scene, yet you absolutely cannot allow racist jokes to be told in front of you and in front of the children.

What can you do?  The answer: once again, is distraction, distraction, distraction.

You know you need to shift the energy, move the focus.  You need to do something, anything, to break into the telling of the racist joke and the compliant listening to the joke. To get away with it, you have to look innocent.   You are “accidentally” knocking a chair over, dropping a book on the floor, dumping the contents of your purse on the ground.

“Oh, my!” you cry. “How clumsy of me!  Shelly, would you help me pick this mess up?”  Make a fuss.  “Does anyone see my lipstick?”  Have fun.

Perhaps you can talk with Uncle Ted later in private.  “Uncle Ted, dear, I know you mean no harm.  You need to stop telling racist jokes. They aren’t funny. They are cruel.  They perpetuate hate and the world has enough hate.  Next time you start to tell a racist joke, I will leave with my family.  We’ll drive home and that will be the end of this Thanksgiving dinner for us.”

Okay, so you probably are not going to be able to say all of this to Uncle Ted in one sitting.  But you can move toward this. At some point you need to take a stand against racism, homophobia, sexism, and cruelty of all kinds.

Until you are ready to take it on, head on, knock something over.

Other ideas:

Pretend you lost a contact.  “Oh, no!” you cry.  “My contact fell out!”  You drop on all fours to the ground and begin looking.  “Could you please help me?  I just bought these!”

Have fun with this one.  Start patting the feet of the people you are trying to distract.  You do not need to wear contacts to use this ploy, but if you are wearing glasses, it will probably not work.  Or maybe it will work perfectly.  You will have made your point.  Remember to smile.

Note: Your intervention has to look like an accident, otherwise you may get confronted, and a confrontation is the last thing you want.

Practice looking innocent in the mirror.  You can do it.  You did it for years when you were a kid.  If you have children, ask them to practice with you.  This could be a great family bonding moment.  You might even share with them why you are practicing looking like butter would not melt in your mouth.

Never, never, never make the situation worse.

Always, always, always do something to stop cruelty

Radical Kindness Warrior Part 2: Incivility is Not Cool

October 22nd, 2014

The Worldwide Cruelty is Not Cool Campaign is gaining momentum.  For now I’m gathering people through this newsletter, but soon I will have a site devoted to this movement.

The time is ripe!  The world is ripe for change. I’m hearing about all kinds of campaigns to stop cruelty and increase kindness.  Here is a song I wrote to help you remember to keep on keeping on:  The World is Ripe for Change.

I’m adding humor and humility to the movement.  We have all been bullied and we have all bullied others.  Shaming people does not help them change.  If we think of someone as our enemy, our wish is granted.

When we unmask cruelty and hatefulness, we will always find a wound.  Always.  We must tend to our own wounds so we do not hurt others, and we must listen deeply to others to help heal their wounds. That is how we break the cycle of pain.

We must do this with kindness and firmness.  Respect, a tender respect, is essential at all times.  Easy to do?  Nope, just essential if we are to start solving our problems and stop calling each other names.

Incivility is Not Cool

Hate is cruel and cruelty is not cool; therefore, hate is not cool either.

It’s logic.  Look it up.

Imagine this:

You are at some political gathering.  One of the speakers calls the other speaker a name, or speaks with contempt, or is hateful in any way.  The politician may be on the same side as you are, fighting for what you deeply believe.

Still, because you believe cruelty is not cool and incivility is a form of cruelty, you start singing “Happy Birthday.”

The entire crowd joins in.  Reporters are stunned. What is going on?  Why are all these people, Democrats, Republicans, and Anarchists, singing “Happy Birthday?”

You are seeing Radical Kindness Warriors at play for civility.  They are demanding it with a smile and a song.

Eureka!  The world is transformed in an instant!  The politicians start actually listening instead of yelling at each other.  Common ground is sought and found.  Creative solutions are hatched before our very eyes.

Want to add your ideas to the campaign?  Just reply to this newsletter or share it with your friends.

Still getting a little braver every day,

Radical Kindness Warrior

October 17th, 2014

My last newsletter announced the start of a worldwide campaign Cruelty is Not Cool.  If you missed it, you can read it on my blog  Always feel free to pass on any of these newsletters.  Once we unleash the creativity of all the kind-hearted, creative people out there, this campaign could go viral.

Many of you responded to the video showing a young man with Down Syndrome being called a dummy.  Your passion helps fuel my commitment.  Thank you!  I am resolved to do all that I can to help people take a stand for kindness whenever they feel anyone is being mistreated.

I’m calling us Radical Kindness Warriors because we need to be courageous, creative, and caring. RK Warriors ask themselves, “What does love look like now?” and then they do something. The goal of the campaign is to train a world of Radical Kindness Warriors, people who know how to take action when they see people being treated in a way that may cause emotional or physical injury.

We are all innocent and we are all guilty.

Calling people bullies does not invite them to wake up to the harm they are causing.  On the contrary, it invites them to get even worse as they prove they are good at something: being bad.

RK Warriors know that everyone has been bullied and everyone has bullied someone.  We are all in this together.

RK Warriors are aware of their own feelings and notice overt forms of cruelty as well as more subtle, less intentional shaming behavior.

Extreme examples of hurtful behavior are easy to spot:  such as calling people the “N” word or a retard.

But we often miss more subtle acts of cruelty:  laughing at people when they make mistakes, telling people they can’t carry a tune in a bucket, or commenting on their bodies: “Carrie is getting quite a butt on her” said to a seven year old girl by her mother, and a skinny seven year old girl at that.

What if this girl were trained as an RK Warrior and started singing, “No bad body talk!”  Click here for the song.  Wow!  That might save her decades of worrying about how her butt looks.  She might never ask her boyfriend or husband the dreaded question:  “Does my butt look good in these pants?”

RK Warriors live the vow:

I will never, never, never do anything the puts me in jeopardy.

I will always, always, always do something to shift the situation.

My role is to build a toolkit of Radical Kindness Warriors.  I’m working on the book right now, Radical Kindness Tips:  What to Do When You Do Not Know What to Do, and You Feel You Should Do Something.  I’m including tips from readers, students, and AARP members.  Send me any ideas you have, and, with your permission, I may include them in the book.

The tips are creative, surprising, startling, courageous, compassionate, and sometimes even funny.  The goal is to shift the situation without adding emotional or physical violence, while remaining serene and strong.

Just like little Carrie in the example above, you will be able to shift the situation successfully because you have a skill set:

Awareness:  You recognize abuse quickly.  You are aware of your own feelings and you take time to get centered before you respond.

Action:  You dip into your Warrior Tool Kit to find something to do to shift the energy.  You know you can always do one of these three things:

  1. Sing Happy Birthday.
  2. Fake a coughing attack.  Make lots of disgusting sounds
  3. Drop something or knock something over.

 Cruelty is Not Cool Worldwide Campaign.

Reply to this email if you want me to put you on a special list.  I’m updating my educational website, Outrageously Alive Education  I will let you know when I have the Cruelty is Not cool Starter Kit available.

Start with being radically kind to yourself, and you will be able to share that kindness with the world

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