Solace for Softness

Alice in Wonderland illustration, Alice with a key, bending down over a too-small door to a flower-filled garden.
(Alice in Wonderland illustration by Hyuga Fusako.)

For when the world is too harsh and tries to rid you of your softness, some words to remind you who you are, so you will stay kind and will not lose your way.

Pixel art of a wooden welcome sign, adorned with flowers.A wooden, white door with a small, hanging flowerpot with pink flowers besides it.Pixel art of a hanging bouquet of pink flowers.Pixel art of Alice seated, blinking, with a happy expression.

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, gentleness is not found in anything but that it beautifies it, and it is not removed from anything but that it disgraces it.”

What is the opposite of a gun? "The Opposites Game" by Brendan Constantine—the subject matter is somber, but it's undeniably moving.
Text of The Opposites Game by Brendan Constantine

Tumblr post by constellateddove

tumblr post by constellateddove: it's easy for hobbies to turn into things we avoid because of the pressure we put on ourselves. But I promise, you have nothng to prove. If you enjoy drawing, draw!! It doesn't have to be museum worthy. Your baking doesn't have to be master chef worthy every time you do it. Hobbies are hobbies because they make you happy and you enjoy doing them. There is no pressure for you to become a professional in everything you enjoy; enjoy it for the lack of pressure. Try and let yourself participate in things without tying your worth to the final products. If it makes you happy, anything that comes from it is worth it.

Pixel art of dolphins leaping over the sea, then diving back in, with wispy clouds hanging in the sky.

maggie and milly and molly and may by E. E. Cummings

"maggie and milly and molly and may went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea"

Pixel art of the sea, with a palm tree, a sailboat in the distance, and a flying seagull. The edges of the image softly fade away into white.
Always remember, my child: if you're ever worried or upset, go through the woods with open eyes and in every tree, in every shrub, in every creature, and every flower, the Almighty God will reveal Himself to you and give you solace and strength.
"Always remember, my child: if you're ever worried or upset, go through the woods with open eyes and in every tree, in every shrub, in every creature, and every flower, the Almighty God will reveal Himself to you and give you solace and strength." -Sissi's father, Duke Max in the 1955 film, Sissi.

Eleven by Sandra Cisneros

"What they don't understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you're eleven, you're also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don't. You open your eyes and everything's just like yesterday, only it's today. And you don't feel eleven at all. You feel like you're still ten. And you are—underneath the year that makes you eleven.

Like some days you might say something stupid, and that's the part of you that's still ten. Or maybe some days you might need to sit on your mama's lap because you're scared, and that's the part of you that's five. And maybe one day when you're all grown up maybe you will need to cry like if you're three, and that's okay. That's what I tell Mama when she's sad and needs to cry. Maybe she's feeling three.

Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one. That's how being eleven years old is.

You don't feel eleven. Not right away. It takes a few days, weeks even, sometimes even months before you say Eleven when they ask you. And you don't feel smart eleven, not until you're almost twelve. That's the way it is."

When the world feels too harsh, it's nice to remember and appreciate the little things in life that make us happy, as that'll also help us be kinder and gentler despite everything.

Tumblr post by flowerais

What if the things you love are childish? Here's a very well-put answer from American Girl on the topic of toys—if you can't view the image, I have the text version on my Dollroom if you scroll down to the Odds and Ends.

Pixel art of a teddy bear with blocks.

Growing up doesn't mean you have to stop loving what you love, even if you might be more careful who to show them too if you can't stand teasing; some people are very bitter, narrow-minded, love to make assumptions and judge others to feel better about themselves because in truth, they hate themselves and resent your freedom and happiness! They want you to be as sad and bitter as they are. They think their miserable existence is the only right way to live and there must be something wrong with anyone who lives differently, because your happiness and genuine nature threatens their worldview; it's easier for them to reject what they don't understand than consider that maybe, just maybe, what they thought was the only way to be wasn't and maybe they could have hung onto some other things they were made to believe they had to give up too.
The true measure of how mature you are is how you conduct yourself, how you restrain yourself from saying every mean or hurtful thing that might come to mind in a moment of anger, how well you treat others, and how responsible you are (within your capabilities.)

A page from The Twits by Roald Dahl
A page from The Twits: If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.
A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.

Screencap of tweet by user iambrillyant: Your growth doesn't entitle you to a second chance with me. The part of me that cares about you is proude of the strides you made, but the part of me that cares about myself knows not to indulge in your energy ever again.

"Do you ever want to run away and start over? Wipe the slate clean. Begin all over again with a blank canvas? It’s okay, we all feel that way sometimes. It doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t give your last breath to see them happy. Sometimes when we yearn to be selfish, it means we have been selfless for too long."
—Lang Leav

Artwork by TheLatestKate
Art by TheLatestKate of two goat kids nuzzling each other captioned with 'When it's hard to find kindess, I will make it myself.'

Artwork by TheLatestKate
Art by TheLatestKate of a galaxy-coloured bear sleeping with the caption 'You deserve the same kindness and patience you show others.''

People Pleasing VS Authentic Kindness by the.holistic.psychologist
People Pleasing VS Authentic Kindness

"Letting go of people pleasing is a spiritual journey. It feels so good to get validation and approval. It feels great to play a role that’s neutral, familiar, and doesn’t ruffle any feathers. It’s also a slow death for the soul— an unconscious manipulation, because we actually aren’t pleasing someone else we are pleasing ourselves by getting the false validation.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned is that to truly create your life, to be conscious, to birth something into the world that means anything means you have to say SOMETHING. You have to go within and connect to the true self— the self that whispers in a culture that screams (and mirrors back) trauma dynamics of dysfunction.

True acts of kindness come from a space of self love (which includes self forgiveness), curiosity, and a desire to uplift another because you’ve done the work to uplift yourself.

Recovering from people pleasing is actually recovering yourself."

Maybe Right Now Your Journey Isn't About Love by Bianca Sparacino (link to text version).

The point of all of this isn't to forget or ignore that there can be darkness and pain in the world, but that we can be the difference we want to see in the world and try to be kinder and hope for something better, even if it's difficult sometimes...

One of my favourite examples of that hope is actually these photographs of an old Palestinian woman who uses the empty canisters of Israeli grenades as flowerpots for her garden... Palestinians have no bomb shelters, they live under apartheid, having to pass through checkpoints with armed Isralei soldiers everyday menacing and even detaining even schoolchildren, but her little garden is of such resilient beauty. I think everyone of us needs to cultivate something like that, maybe not a literal garden, but even a metaphorical one!
... if you do prefer a literal garden, consider letting part of it run wild or planting bee-friendly flowers natural to your area for the environment's sake! ♥

Innocence by Princess Skye (she's one of my biggest inspirations, after all!)

“There is nothing more precious than innocence. It is a quality so rare, and a state so fragile that it seems like the wings of a butterfly – once touched it will dissapear into dust. We speak often of the loss of innocence. The first time we burn our fingers, or experience death, our first heartbreak. These things lead to a disillusionment with life, once shown this cruel and ugly side of the world we loose faith in love and beauty and dreams. It is fear that steals our innocence, fear of loss, disappointment and pain.

However, is it possible to recapture innocence? Once a pure white sheet is stained with blood, will it ever be clean again? It is now we must explore the difference between Innocence and Ignorance. To be Ignorant is to ignore, to pretend the big bad wolf does not exist, to block our ears to suffering and hum a tune so loud we can not hear him howl. It is not good to be ignorant, for one can not hide from life forever, the big bad wolf will find you someday.

What then is Innocence? It quite literally means “not to harm” (in- “not” + nocentem (nom. nocens), prp. of nocere “to harm.”) It does not mean that we have never felt pain or misery, rather that we are not bound to these evil things. To be innocent is to live one’s life in a way that does not cause unhappiness to oneself or others. To be free of all those negative emotions, spite, envy, hatred ~ does this not make us innocent?

Do you see then how easy it is to choose the path of innocence? Once one removes from their heart the thorns of cruelty, there is room once more for the beautiful things in life, for love and wonder and joy. Nobody else can steal your Innocence, for it is yours to create or destroy. The more pure of heart you are, the kinder the world will seem. Others will scoff at this, saying bad things happen to good people, but they have never tried it. Live your life innocently and you will be amoung the most beautiful people in this world.”

Being kind might be awkward at first if you're not used to it, but it'll come naturally over time, and you will see how it changes people and bring blessings into your life—those who are used to it know it's much easier and more beautiful a way to live! Even if it hurts a little bit more sometimes, the good outweighs the bad, and the world is a gentler place when you are, excepting only the worst of people... for those, you must learn to have very clear boundaries, so they don't take advantage of you or bleed you dry!
Kindness will always return to you because every act of good is rewarded, even if you do something good for someone who cannot or will not repay you, don't worry about it! It drives away calamities and opens closed doors. You never know how much a kind word can mean to someone... so say "good morning" to everyone, even the people others tend to ignore, like the cleaning crew at school or work, and thank everyone, even those people who are "just doing their job," they're human too and it's always nice to be appreciated!

If you have something kind to say, please say it! You might think little of it, even forget about it immediately after saying it, not knowing that by God's grace it will save someone else's life.

A wooden wheelbarrow of pink flowers.
Pixel art graphics from Alice Home.

Go back home!