Bees are my favorite insect. They are industrious, hard-working and community minded. They are part magic, part weapon. Their feet are dusted with the spices of thousands of flowers and yet their stinger can cause great damage. Bees are a balance of beauty and pain. As a true crime producer, I have to have a similar balance.
With years under my belt. I’ve worked with federal agencies, interviewed federal prosecutors, spoken to victims and the perpetrators. These stories are as important to tell as they are hard to live and dwell in when producing. After spending years sitting with these stories I have learned that compassion, grace and kindness can all be practiced– if one begins to practice these qualities with themselves.
One of my first prison interviews was in a high-level men’s prison hundreds of miles away from Los Angeles. I had awoken early on a Saturday to go for the interview. As I drove the inky dark of the sky blossomed into a beautiful sunrise. In the visit room where I was conducting the interview I could observe those around, families, friends and loved ones communing and sharing in a moment of togetherness. I felt somewhat out of place. I was the anomaly here. The man I was interviewing entered the visit room and shook my hand before pulling out my chair for me. I was perplexed. Shouldn’t this person be boorish, mannerless, without insight and care for others? I was wrong. Kindness and compassion can bloom anywhere, even in the most arid of spiritual and social settings.
Through my years of delving into these unhappy stories, I have learned that while there is an absence of kindness, grace and compassion, these too can be restored. In order to exhibit kindness, you yourself must experience and know kindness. In order to share compassion, you first must learn empathy. In order to show grace, your heart must have been hurt and capable of forgiveness. In order to practice any of these qualities, you must first practice them on yourself.
There is a saying “in a world where you can be anything, be kind”. I agree wholeheartedly and add “in a world where you can be anything, be kind to yourself.” When you begin practicing kindness, speak to yourself the way you would to someone you love and care about. Treat yourself as you would a guest in your house– don’t scrimp on treating yourself with care and respect. Also, you can’t pour from an empty cup. To make sure you are refilling your cup, refill with clean and healthy water. Filter out the negative qualities so your cup is being filled with the qualities you would want to spill out when life bumps you.
So that way you too can believe, be kind, be compassionate and mostly– so you can be.