Stop Being Nice

Man, sometimes the words just come. I had been struggling with this prompt. A narrative? A story? A lesson? I gave in to the soft, easy and satisfying urge to list. My last task for the night (saving the best for last or procrastination), I was going to snuggle into bed with my computer and type up the furious notes I’ve been chicken-scratching into a series of well organized bullet points. OK, maybe also take photographs of each blurb in my notebook and make a collage, and there was my second favorite passage from the Bhagavad Gita to include, and integrate cool looking quotes over images…

And then the spirit grabs you.

Sometimes Vanessa, you’re too nice.

I was pinballing around the tiny kitchen, my brain chit-chattering like a small bird. I was listening to its birdsong in the background, an accompaniment to my dinner preparation. Head inflamed and heart prickly from a conflict-rife day, I was endeavoring to place each conversation, event, experience, frustration into context. Learning, understanding my part, undoing the braid. Processing and remembering the past few weeks, months, inevitably, years. I traveled back in time to a hike in the Pacific Northwest.

Sometimes Vanessa, you’re too nice.

That’s my Mom. Well, maybe it was my Dad. I don’t remember. No matter who said it, I’m pretty sure they were both thinking it. They were both right.

This was the wise counsel of my folks. I had just ended a not-so-happy, not-so-fulfilling, not the best long-term relationship with someone who had a not-so-healthy relationship with booze. I was beyond the heartbreak stage. Their words came from a place of care. They didn’t have to say anything else, I knew exactly what they meant. Summary: you stay too long and give people to many second chances and hand over too much of you and you treat others well when they don’t really deserve it, all at the expense of yourself. Yup. I got it then, I get it now. And no matter how much I get it, the compassion (and obligation) outweigh the grit, and I just. keep. trying.

[Sound of head hitting against wall.]

The small birds in my head parsed this into a lesson. “Stop being so nice.” And then the chirping in my head stopped. “Stop?” That starts with, “stop”. That’s the answer. That’s the answer!

Stop being nice.

And suddenly, the response to Thursday’s prompt from multi-talented visionary Charlie Gilkey arrived on my doorstep. Dragged in by the chirping birds.

“Pursue knowledge, daily gain. Pursue Tao (wisdom), daily loss.” – Tao Te Ching*
We often think too much about adding new things, when the source of a lot of our growth is eliminating old things.
What do you need to STOP doing in 2015?
And what do you need to do to make that STOPPING more than an intention?”

Stop being nice.

Say goodbye nice. You dirty, four-letter word. You semi-insult. Get out of my face. Get outta here. I’m not even going to be kind to you as I slam the door behind you. I’ve had enough, and you are not welcome here anymore. I’m just gonna take care of myself these days, and not give a whosywhat what you or any other ambivalent adjective thinks about me. Pack your bags, shuffle off, and don’t show your face around these parts ever again. I’m busy hanging out with my true old friends honesty, compassion, self-care, truth-speaking and ouch.

So, suck it.

And what do I need to do to make that STOPPING more than an intention?

Geez Charlie, why do you have to finish with the hardest question? I don’t have an answer, yet. I don’t have to. All I have to do is slowly put one foot in front of the other. Listen, check in with my heart before I talk, and practice doing exactly the opposite of what I have done in the past. That’s all.

– – – – –

 Curious what was on the list before interrupted by the birds?

  1. Stop holding your breath.
  2. Stop staying up so late.
  3. Stop judging your love of staying up so late, you night owl creative genius. (Yes, late nights make me feel brilliant and prolific and flowing and exhausted in the morning.)
  4. Stop grasping at every creative thought, sentence snippet, storyline, light bulb moment that a-ha’s into your head. Maybe if that thought poofs by the time you get home from the dog walk, step out of the car, finish the meeting (to which you forgot to bring a pen), maybe it just isn’t ready for the big world yet, and it has tunneled back into your brain and heart to metamorphose into something even better.
  5. Stop thwarting your routine.
  6. Stop pretending you are a person of routine.
  7. Stop believing there will be ‘more time’ when things are ‘under control’.
  8. Stop the tightening in your body when you write. Writing feels good for your heart, stop making it feel bad for your neck, shoulder and back.
  9. Stop getting distracted by big ideas. Record the big ideas. Claim it for the future. Write it down and put it in the mason jar on your desk, or slip it into the cash box in the egg shed. For the future. The on-farm yoga studio, writing workshops, egg-sandwich shop can all wait.
  10. Stop making excuses to not have fun.
  11. Stop putting off joy & relaxation.
  12. Stop putting yourself second.
  13. Stop anything that doesn’t serve you.

– – – – –

Oh, curious about that quote?

It is better to strive in one’s own dharma than to succeed in the dharma of another. Nothing is ever lost in following one’s own dharma, but competition in another’s dharma breeds fear and insecurity.

-Bhagavad Gits 3.35

– – – – –

Oh, and…

14. Stop. Sometimes, just #STOP.


  1. To try to wax eloquent about what you’ve just written would only detract from it. So, let me just say: I appreciate what you’ve said and how you said it so much. Thanks. See you along the trek.

    Liked by 1 person


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