Kindness and Compassion

by Robbie Schlosser · 9 comments

Thanks in advance for reading this article. I appreciate your interest and hope you get a few good ideas. I'd love to hear what you liked. Please write me a little COMMENT below. Start a conversation. Tell me what you think, and I'll reply. Promise.
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Are Kindness and Compassion useful for business?  Particularly for managing a jazz band?  Why not ask are Kindness and Compassion — and also humility, patience, and gentleness — useful for being a good person and leading a good life, no matter how you make a living?

My answer is YES, of course, as long as you don’t spend your life alone in a cave and you really do business with actual people.  And my jazz band certainly qualifies on both counts.  How about you?

What’s that?  So you DO deal with people every day.  One way or another, you serve to help their dreams come true.  Big dreams, little dreams, whatever — this is one way of looking at what we’re ALL doing.

Your success in business (and in life) depends ultimately on how you treat people.  Be a good person first of all.  Life isn’t always fair, of course, but good fortune usually follows kindness.  Some say it’s your reward from the Deity.  We’re also taught that thoughtful preparation and hard work are important, too, so everything you do counts.  Let me make my point with an example.

Bernadine Plasencia and Robbie SchlosserBernadine, my mother-in-law, is the cheeriest person I ever met.  Always, always pleasant and jolly.

Bernie has been living with us since January 2009.  At 91, she is seriously ill and gradually declining.  She can still take care of a few little personal tasks, like toothbrushing and drinking her favorite coffee, but not enough to live without constant help — washing, dressing, eating, reading, walking.  So my wife and I keep her company every day, nearly every minute she’s awake.  Usually both of us, and when one has to be away, the other usually is here.  A few friends visit once or twice a week, to relieve us for a few hours of “family time”.

Our mission is to keep Bernie safe, healthy, and happy.  We’ll keep her comfortable and take it one day at a time.  My wife is very devoted to Bernie, and I’d expect nothing less, because I know there’s usually a strong bond between a daughter and her mother.  But I’m surprised to recognize how strongly the experience is affecting me.  Grateful, too, for I’m learning wonderful lessons, helping me develop kindness and compassion, as well as humility and all the rest.

Nearly blind and hard of hearing, Bernie moves slowly and cautiously.  She has her moments of sharp clarity, but usually she’s able to remember only very little — like perhaps what she ate for breakfast an hour earlier — so she’s REALLY living in the ”here and now”.

To avoid frustrating her but to help her brain stay agile we seldom ask her to remember anything, but often ask her to recognize something (“Oh, yes, this is applesauce”).

Through it all she stays upbeat.  Cracks me up whenever she replies to my teasing with one of her quick wisecracks.  Every day brings a new adventure for her, and we help her find something positive and enjoyable in whatever she does.

Bernie can sit quietly for a while, as though worrying about something, but she stays smiling.  I often wonder what’s on her mind.  Maybe nothing much, like the tree out front, or maybe it’s a bewildering swirl of confusing thoughts, sounds, and images.  Perhaps it’s distressing, if she senses the loss of yet another ability.  That certainly would be worrisome for me.

Most likely, though, I like to think she’s enjoying a few moments of calmness, reflecting that she feels happy and well cared for.  And on those brief occasions when she gets agitated, she’s probably feeling she’s supposed to be doing something, but can’t remember what.

A cute little cat used to live with us, and I’d often stare into her eyes and wonder what’s on her mind.  I never managed to answer that.  I’ve never raised children, either, and I presume all parents ask themselves a similar question:  What’s this kid thinking about, and how can I capitalize on that to make her life better?

I’m sure I’m a better person for what I’m learning from Bernie.  She’s setting a fine example for appreciating what’s actually here right now, and being pleasant in the face of the unknowable.  And I’m learning to slow down my pace to match hers, see to her needs, be with her, and help her deal with an increasingly confusing world.

I suppose this experience ultimately is helping my jazz band business, too.  For example, in conversations I listen better, particularly to grasp what people mean when they speak.  And I’m better able to let my jazz band help people enjoy their celebrations.  Better able to put myself in their shoes, share their dreams, help them find what they need, and deliver the goods.
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Bottom line:  This adventure is making me a better person.  That’s foremost.  Improving my business, and all the rest, will surely follow.  Meanwhile, what is making YOU a better person?
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The Magnolia Jazz Band entertains regularly at weddings and parties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.  If you’re ever nearby, you’ll love catching us in action, seeing and hearing us create a great mood.  In the meantime, please join our Facebook “fans”, and you’ll get reminders for our public events.



Thanks for reading this article. I appreciate your interest and hope you get a few good ideas here. Got one or two? I'd love to hear what you liked. Please write me a little COMMENT below. Start a conversation -- I'll reply. Promise.

By the way, does a friend need help selecting wedding or party music? Do them a favor: EMAIL this article, or SHARE it on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

And if you find my blog useful, please LIKE it, TWEET it, and SUBSCRIBE for more ideas. Use those cute little icons below.

Meanwhile, the Magnolia Jazz Band entertains at weddings and parties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. If you are ever nearby, you’ll love catching us in action, seeing and hearing us create a great mood.

How can I help you? Call 408-245-9120 or use Robbie@MagnoliaJazz.com. Planning a celebration? Ask about our availability.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Kirk Zacharda

Very nice Robby Kindness and Compassion are human traits that I feel come from the Soul that is at peace with the situation. It takes courage to be with someone in the decline stage of life.  Enjoy the quite moments with your loved one and just allow them to be who they are in your presence.  This experience is something that will for sure help you grow and at the same time I feel will open up the channel for your business to grow.  Thanks for sharing such a personal experience.

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Robbie Schlosser

Thanks, Kirk. Glad you enjoyed this post. I agree: the more comfortable you are with yourself, the more you can give.

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Jan Tallent

What a touching story, Robbie. I am so happy she has you and her daughter to help celebrate her life and happy nature. I am sure there are some sacrifices and frustrations BUT I am also sure she appreciates you both and that God will bless you for this devotion and dedication.

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Brenda Jones

Beautiful story and I wish more people understood the importance of kindness and compassion on a daily basis, not just for loved ones, but the stranger passing by as well.  It’s come to a point, depending on where you live, that people put their guard up just because someone smiles or makes eye contact with them. 

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Julieanne Case

What an amazing post.  And how insightful you are.  Yes, it’s hard to imagine losing your abilities one at a time.  In hospice training, you go through an exercise about it so it makes you understand a little bit better what it’s like to be so ill and have everything slowly taken from you.  It sounds like she is doing it with amazing grace!  How lucky you all are to have each other.

Julieanne CaseAlways from the heart! Blog: http://www.julieannecasefromtheheart.comReconnecting you to your essence, joy, vitality, youth.| Healing you from the Inside Out |Reconnective Healing | AgeLoc Skin Care | Pharmanex Supplementswww.thereconnectivehighway.com

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Rita Brennan Freay

Wow Robbie, you are awesome!  It is wonderful to hear Bernie has you both, and that you are able to slow down to her pace, enjoying the time.  You made me think a lot about growing old, my parents, and where things will likely be headed…it gave me insight and a sense of calmness, that I can do this if called upon….knowing it won’t be easy.  I admire you and your kindness and compassion, we can all learn from you…..and need more of you in this world!  I am grateful for your sharing this personal side of you:)

Rita Brennan Freay
http://ritabrennanfreay.com

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Louise Edington

Robbie I do believe that this is one of the best posts you have written! It’s lovely to learn lessons from all things in life and the bit where you said “A cute little cat used to live with us, and I’d often stare into her
eyes and wonder what’s on her mind.  I never managed to answer that. 
I’ve never raised children, either, and I presume all parents ask
themselves a similar question:  What’s this kid thinking about, and how
can I capitalize on that to make her life better?” really touched me as that’s exactly what I do with my kids. I worry what’s going on in their heads and want to make everything good for them. I am also grateful that you shared such a touching story.
Louise Edington
Breaking Through Online Frontiers
http://louiseedington.com

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Pat Zahn

I’m sure the kind of patience you are exhibiting with your mother-in-law is the same as the patience you must muster in dealing with people planning music for their events. After all, you do this regularly, but this may be the biggest deal of their lives and they don’t want to mess it up. Honestly, I hope I never have to take my mother in (interestingly, I could probably handle my mom-in-law better) – not that I don’t love her, but she drives me crazy in somewhere between 36-48 hours.

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High Heel Shoes

I always see that I have become a famous and rich business tycoon in my night dreams. I think mostly every person seen this type of dream in their life atleast once but it is another thing that they cannot fullfill this type of dream as of dearness in the country……

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