I received a compliment Wednesday on this blog.
You know how you sometimes get negative feedback and sometimes receive positive feedback on your posts?
Once, several months ago, I complained about a negative comment, which broke my heart temporarily. (Don’t go searching–the comment was tossed away.)
Today may I sing about a compliment that lilted the heart, that made me feel more fully seen, more fully witnessed?
Someone said that I was like water, you change, but you’re there.
It was as if someone validated what I’ve been trying oh-so-hard to accomplish on this blog: to show my deepest desire to be fluid, flexible, moving, never defined, always opening, always flowing past pebbled beaches and rocks and beaver dams and moonlit deer sipping sweet stream water.
To show it day in and day out through a wide variety of posts that illuminate the different parts of self, the wideness and deepness and shallowness and largeness of being human.
To flow like a river, endlessly, without allowing myself to shut down in fear or impatience or frustration because society attempts to define us, attempts to keep us in vessels, attempts to understand us.
Society does not want us to be like water. Society wants us to be anything else–preferably something solid; preferably something which conforms, which stays the same.
Society wants us to be predictable.
Here is the full compliment bestowed by Val from Arty Old Bird after she read the post I wrote last week called How vulnerable dare we bloggers be?
You, my friend Kathy, and I think of you as my friend – are a wonder. When I first found your blog, I think it was just after you’d finished your photoblog and I was curious to know who was the woman behind them.
I’ve read so many of your words and in them are so many different moods, thoughts, reminiscences, ideas, hopes, wishes, sadnesses, longings and philosophies. I say ‘philosophies’ plural because just when I thought I’d pinpointed one, another would come along. You are like water, you change, but you’re there. And like water, you need a vessel of some sort to hold your form and to show that form. I think blogging is one of your vessels, it shapes you and you help show what it is. Other of your vessels are your family, your friends, nature, your childhood, your need to write and your need to take photographs. Your need to talk and your need to be silent. Your need to be with others and your need to flee from us from time to time to just ‘be’.
I’m very fond of you and I hope that one day we might meet in person. Hugs.
Wow! Kathy is still so amazed.
I called over Christopher.
“Listen, listen, someone said I was like water!” I said.
He smiled gently. He’s a good son.
I shared with Barry.
He nodded, yes, Kathy, seeming to understand this importance.
I wrote one of my friends, copying and pasting the entire compliment.
She wrote back, dutifully, saying This is an awesome compliment! …you are water! moving, delightful, flowing, ever-giving! What a great way to say it! Thank you very much for sharing it! I am delighting in it too!!!
Thank you, dear Val. Thank you for seeing beyond the surface. Thank you for seeing deep. YOU are a wonder.
What makes a great compliment?
I think it’s when someone sees a part of ourselves and calls it forward, giving it back as grace. When someone reflects our image in a way that clarifies, strengthens, soothes. Perhaps it’s a part of self that others do not recognize…or perhaps we ourselves do not honor that part enough.
This is the outer physical world at its best: reflecting back to us what we’re attempting to create in this crazy sometimes confusing world.
You are like water, you change, but you’re there.
I think my biggest challenge in life (and maybe yours too?) is discovering the places within where we don’t flow, where water sits stagnant, where our riverbed dries up.
I am a river flowing to the sea, longing for the sea, yet attempting to enjoy the cliffs, the stream banks, the water hemlock, the abandoned bottles and cans, the stunning wildflowers, the waterfalls, the frozen ice, the snow, the melting of our waters, the slate, the fast brown trout, the lazy frogs.
What might you call yourself? Water, earth, air, fire?
Or are you a little bit of everything joined together tucked in human bones and soft supple skin?
Because I’m water, I’ll change form again and say I’m everything. My feet wear brown earth, winds sing between these ears, fire burns in this heart. Water sprays everywhere, a waterfall careening down the chest toward the knees, toward kayaks lazily paddling around the bend of this precious moment in life.
I hope to meet you half-way and honor your precious fleeting beauty. I hope to discover your own waterfalls, your own silver-finned fish, your own rocky shores.
I hope someone recognizes your unsung beauty. I hope YOU recognize your unsung beauty. How I hope that for you.
when someone takes the time to not only compliment but put a great deal of thought into it, you have been sincerely complimented –obviously you touched something in their lives that they want to give back –what a lovely, sincere, and beautiful compliment by someone who expresses themselves with such eloquence — see what you inspired
I just keep getting these people who tell me that my haiku are not true haiku (which I already know) and tell me that they are cute little poems instead and that they are glad I am so understanding of their criticism (I am not). Just hope they do not read your blog or this comment–I am venting here – but I feel safe with you.
It was such a beautiful compliment, LouAnn, thank you for acknowledging it. I am so glad you feel safe venting here–I understand totally. Your poems are haiku of your heart. I love them.
Addendum – the reason I am so bothered by the people who criticize my haiku is that most of the feedback I get is so kind and positive–so that when there is even an inkling of gentle criticism I get bent out of shape when I am not at my strongest
Yep, know what you mean here, too. Most of my comments are kind and positive, too. When someone gets the slightest bit snippy I can garummph and agonize, too. Someday we shall be strong enough that when others garummph we shall simply smile and not be bothered at all. I think we’re headed in that direction, don’t you?
Yes, this has been good therapy with good advice and understanding from friends like you – thanks a lot
What a lovely compliment! It seems to fit you perfectly. You wrote about it very well, too…this was an enjoyable post to read. Thank you!
It was such a lovely compliment, Cindy. It’s still affecting my life, all these days later. I am glad you enjoyed reading this. I enjoyed sharing it with all of you.
Kathy – Oh, to be on the receiving end of that lovely compliment – your heart must have soared!
Not only did I enjoy reading this post and seeing the accompanying photographs, I thoroughly enjoyed your definition of what a compliment is:
“…when someone sees a part of ourselves and calls it forward, giving it back as grace.”
My heart is still soaring, Ms. Laurie! And I loved that sentence, too, when the Universe offered it. Thank you for understanding and appreciating and expressing the joy of receiving a compliment such as this.
So happy for you, Kathy. It is indeed great when our readers compliment us.
And this post is beautiful as always. Your writing is what makes people give you such compliments and come back each time.
Thank you so much, Shieram! I am glad you liked this post. Compliments such as yours warm this heart again & again. Love to you!
Wow, Kathy. I’m nearly speechless. Well, no, not really. I don’t tend to do speechless, do I? I am glad that my comment touched you, and touched you this much. Before I posted it, I read a few of the comments you’d received and my thought was “yes, they have read her post, yes they are answering her questions, but have they actually seen the person who wrote them, and have they actually listened to the sound that was there – did they hear it?” You and I who, in our posts, ask questions and are curious of other people, who want others to feel good and want to help them achieve that – I think we often put ourselves further back than we should. So, in essence I’m helping you to bring yourself forward as you’ve done many times with me, too.
Thank you. Most of all thank you for being you! 🙂
Ha ha, Val, you were *almost* speechless! I am still so touched by this compliment. It didn’t just stay at the surface of my understanding~~it seems to have fallen deep within and changed something internally. It validated something inside and now I am able to flow deeper, surer, steadier, more connected to the Source of the Flowing. You also make me want to hear others more deeply instead of skimming over the surface of their sharing. A thousand thank yous, a thousand blessings!
Don’t be surprised if this sparks a post of my own…
What a lovely compliment. You truly must take that in. Know that you are also very good at giving delightful compliments and encouragements. You definitely deserve to get some yourself!
I do try to give compliments and encouragements, Lisa, as do you. It was nice to be able to receive this compliment deeply. Sometimes we brush away compliments, embarrassed almost, trying to push them away. I drew this one deep inside. thank you for acknowledging that compliments must truly be taken in at times.
Incredibly beautiful thought and words. I think Val hit it on the head, because you are indeed very fluid, often deep, constantly moving. It’s a great feeling, isn’t it, when you realize that someone really “gets you”?
Gosh, Carol, it means so much when others “get us” at a deep level. And when we can take a compliment and allow it to transform our lives deeper…that is precious, indeed. Thank you for understanding.
Kathy – This was truly a beautiful compliment. it struck me deeply because I always thought of “us” like water. I wrote a paper once and spoke of how subject we are to the winds and tides of life and that whether we are “dashed upon the rocks” or “sliding up a sandy shore” we always slip back to become, again, a part of the whole.
Your new friend put it so eloquently in explaining the vessels chosen for you to fill.
As you see, you DO truly touch our lives and give us so much. I often find that some of your most profound writings bring me to silence rather than invite a response. It is in those moments I am taken back into myself to process whatever you have shared. Please just keep doing what you are doing.
I am thrilled that you think of yourself like water, too, Susan! would love to have read your paper…do not like to be dashed upon the rocks, but do enjoy sliding up to that sandy shore. (Slid up beside one this afternoon with Chris.) I LOVE that my writings bring you to silence. That is a high compliment indeed. I think, perhaps, silence is a very true response, one that can be taken in very deeply. Love to you!
Yes, I agree, you are like water….always in the here flowing into the there which is not here.
Love to you, Linda…I’ve met you in the flowing, back and forth, little ripples of the waves of us.
What a thoughtful compliment and response. So wonderful that Val defined your indefinability. Having read your blog for a while, it doesn’t seem possible that there are places where your riverbed dries out. It seems much more like there are places that run low on water before you refresh them!
I sometimes feel more like I’m being probed by water, which can get in just about everywhere. Sometimes I discover a part of me that I didn’t even know was there.
Heather, isn’t it fun that Val tried to define undefinability? Bless her for putting words to it! Does my riverbed dry out? Maybe not. But it can get rather shallow and rocky at times. You are so right, my friend. And I liked your description of being probed by water and discovering new places.
Tao Te Ching at its finest, that you are.
I love the Tao, John! Blessings, my friend.
Kathy, this touched me. Oh, how I long to be understood, and you my dear, are understood. What a blessing. 🙂
Lori, my friend, I see you very clearly being understood…and the way your heart will melt as you are seen more clearly, when the time is right. Blessings to you!
I’d be giddy over that awesome comment too! Wow, was my first reaction. Then a smile because it was so well said and well deserved! 🙂
So sorry we couldn’t connect this summer but I know it is meant to be.
SuZen, the Flexitarian
OK, SuZen, what IS a Flexitarian?? I have a theory about compliments & dreams. When we share compliments and dreams they’re not just ours anymore. They belong in some way to all that hear them. 🙂 We shall aim our intent toward next summer, shall we?
Such a lovely sentiment! She’s absolutely right, you know! 🙂
Even though I may get busy and have to forego my blog reading for a while, I love when I finally have the time to come back here to see your beautiful photos and read your beautiful words, never knowing what I might expect but enjoying every post. 🙂
Dear withershins, I shall look forward to seeing you whenever you have some moments to read & look at the photos. It is always delightful when you come a’visiting with your kind words and insights. Hugs…
Yes, being like water… that’s why you can get into a kayak and paddle away so effortlessly. It is as if you are one with the lake and, indeed, the universe.
Flow on, dear friend.
Dear friend, thank you for the kayak. Thank you for the paddle. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for being the Earth.
What a beautiful tribute to you from Val ♥ Her words ring true in ways I could not express. I love how she said this “when someone sees a part of ourselves and calls it forward, giving it back as grace.” It’s a perfect way to describe a heartfelt and sincere compliment. And Kathy, you deserve every bit of her compliment! And how you said this “Because I’m water, I’ll change form again and say I’m everything. My feet wear brown earth, winds sing between these ears, fire burns in this heart.” really made sense to me. My heart skipped a beat at the part about “my feet wear brown earth” so I must be “grounded to the earth” ♥
Brenda, perhaps you are Earth’s steadfast and solidness, Earth’s trees and bright wildflowers, Earth’s garden soil and Earth’s beautiful stones. We must always pay attention when our heart skips a beat. The heart is speaking loud & clear then. Thank you for pausing to share your own sweet compliments and insights a thousand times.
Amazing. A wonderful compliment which you well-deserved, for the person that you are! Like water, and oh I love your description about it. How we all are. This is indeed a great post. You have touched many hearts. You have shown a way of living to the one’s who are melting down from within. You have portrayed life so beautifully through your posts. Definitely, you deserve a HUGE round of applause! Thank you so much for being there. You’ve always been so close. May God bless you abundantly.
Don’t you love, Sonali, that parts of us are like water, and other parts earth, and other parts fire, and yes, the wind blows through us, too. Glad you enjoyed this. I do try so hard to share what I’ve learned from this spiritual journey on the planet–without explicitly talking in spiritual language. God flows through all of us, but sometimes we need to still our minds to feel the language God speaks. Blessings to YOU! You are such an awesome being growing into yourself.
That was a very thoughtful, insightful comment! Lately I’ve been feeling so stretched that I don’t read anything thoroughly, blogs, work memos, mail, directions…and have found my self in trouble more than once because of it. I could tell the story about messing up the green jello. In fact I might. But when I think about what I feel like, I think it’s a bird of some time that flies fast along the surface of the water, maybe barely touching the surface before speeding to the next wave. Not quite here. Not quite there…but knowing that sometime soon I will have to land and rest. Soon.
Dawn, I actually can relate to what you say. It can be sometimes so easy to skim the surface of life. We humans are moving so fast sometimes, trying to get a little here and there and here and there that we miss the depth of attention. So often I read way too fast and feel like it’s so hard to slow down and feel the current underneath the words. It’s hard to slow down sometimes. I want to hear about green jello. I also know that your heart will guide you when it’s time to rest.
And as you can see I can’t spell either! 🙂
Spelling is overrated! LOL!
That was a beautiful compliment and you have such a wonderful way of sharing it with us!
Well, I couldn’t keep this compliment to myself, Patty. Especially since I told about that criticism that time last spring. Did you read what I said up above? Every time we share a dream or a compliment it no longer belongs solely to us. Everyone who hears now lives a part of it. 🙂
That is a beautiful truth, Kathy!
I agree 100% with everything your friend said. You ARE all that! The thoughts you pen, your quirkiness shines through, and it’s true….you cover a lot of ground 🙂
Your blog is pure love.
Awwwww Munira you are so sweet!!! To think that someone could look at us and see that pure love….well you know what it means, don’t you? Only someone who has that pure love can see it in another. Therefore, YOUR BLOG is pure love! **grin**
Beautiful, Kathy! Thanks for sharing such heartfelt words.
Dear Marianne, I am glad you enjoyed this. It’s been a very interesting week with Christopher being here. You and I must talk soon…
I saw that compliment and thought it was one of the most beautiful comments I’ve ever read. It suits you. 😀
Dear Robin, WASN’T it a beautiful comment? To think that a comment can reach across cyberspace and actually change our lives a little bit. Have you ever had a comment that actually changed the way you looked at yourself for a while or forever? Thanks for resonating with this. Love!
I’ve been on vacation in Canada and so glad I came back in time to read this lovely post. Love the way you wrote your post and the great pix.
What I think is the *best* part of the whole complement from Val is you HEARD her (sorry for shouting). So often we get complements and listen to the monkey mind chattering in our ears so tell ourselves it’s not really meant for us, who are we anyway…
So I’d like to add my congratulations on receiving such a beautiful complement, hearing it, and sharing it. It really is a beautiful comment.
Rosie, that is such an interesting interpretation. How right you are! It wasn’t just that she gave the compliment–it was that I was able to hear her. And was able to take it in so fully. Thank you. That is really insightful.
How beautiful you both are!
And you, too, Colleen! Don’t you love it when more beauty comes into our world?
Bravo – well said, and I agree – you are like water. One thing I enjoy most about your writing is I never know what to expect: introspection, humor, love…in essence, all facets of life. ❤
I never know what to expect, either, Stacy Lyn. And I love that! Don’t you want to become so unpredictable that Life itself can flow through us with its infinite quirkiness and mystery? 🙂
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And I LOVED this post, Val! Loved reading your further insightful thoughts…
A well-deserved compliment, Kathy. Sometimes a person can see inside us and call forth our soul’s deepest longings. I don’t think it happens every day, so enjoy that it did happen that day for you!
It certainly doesn’t happen every day, Barb. I am voting that it happens more often to ALL of us!!
Kathy. You bring out the best in us.
Sybil, maybe sometimes in the people who are still reading this blog. The others–the ones whom I bring out the worst–are probably all long gone! (Ha ha, I wasn’t very good at accepting this compliment, was I?) THANK YOU, my friend.
What a wonderful compliment! 🙂
It really is the little things that mean the most, isn’t it?
It IS the little things, Michaela. Like joining you at Java. Like looking at your daughter’s artwork. Little things. So big!
Yes, that sure was a nice afternoon (much too short, though.)
**pushing the like button** **much too short, indeed!**
There needs to be a ‘love’ button for this post. More so, after what you wrote in the end… Thank you Kathy, for saying that 🙂
I agree with Rosie, too. That you were able to hear what Val said, deserves a pat on the back. How many times we miss out, because of our own closed vision and hearing. Looks like I will want to keep coming back!
Dear Idealist Thinker, I had never before thought that part of the equation is our willingness to hear & take in a compliment. May we all continue to open our vision and hearing. Love to you for pushing that **love** button in words!