How To Unfold Your Love.

It’s the fourth anniversary of 1,000 voices speaking for compassion, and I wrote this four years ago.

Today I’m standing (and very powerfully sitting) with 1,000 voices and more – speaking for compassion.


Who are we? We are the compassion writers and givers. We are 1000 bloggers, writers, artists and video-makers from all around the world coming together to speak for compassion on February 20th – to flood the blogosphere with goodness and kindness and caring and kittens. Here is a video message from Yvonne Spence, the creator of 1000 Speak For Compassion:

What’s funny about timing and chemistry and all of the little magic moments that make up your day when you’re a believer of the little magic moments, is that all of the answers come to you. You have to open your eyes wider and look everywhere.

Where did I look first? I looked at my daughter, Scarlet. To her.

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I set out here on my little handy dandy blogging calendar (the Notes app on my iPhone) and I wrote down, “On or around February 20th, 2015 – write about compassion! With compassion!” I set that note for myself, with no real idea of how I was going to fulfill this post. Sometimes compassion can be lacking within me. Often, it’s just frozen over and it’s absolutely boiling underneath my skin. I’d thought that since I’m the Mama and she was the five-year-old, I could tell her why it is that I had children. I could tell her why I’ve always wanted children. And I could tell her about love and light and feeling things for yourself and others so strongly, that it puts a skip in your step and an action to your words. You want to DO something. You want to do everything. And the problem is that you can’t do everything. I’m sad that I let it stop me sometimes. Still.

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So sometimes I freeze over.

It’s about what I want to teach her, and it’s about what she’s teaching me. I never know how to word it. Compassion is hard for me to define. I get confused when thinking about compassion and sympathy and empathy, and which ones mean feelings and which ones mean actions and which ones mean both. And I realized it didn’t matter. The words would come. And while I put on my Pandora to soothe myself through writing, as I do, my Wednesday post, I realized that somebody told me what I wanted to hear. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. And even though it’s a George Harrison song, I thought I’d stop you in your tracks with Eric Clapton’s version during the Concert For George, after his death. Like.. blow you away. Blow me away.

I don’t know why nobody told you
How to unfold your love”

Those are the words I was looking for. That was the song I was looking for. It’s about unfolding your love. I’ve always wanted to teach my kids to unfold their love. I never realized how much it would actually be the other way around.

I set out to teach her about compassion, but really she taught me.

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Her compassion layer is intact. Mine is like the ozone layer – with giant holes over widespread places. It’s when I’m grumpy and I complain about unpaved roads and she says, “Mama, the people who make this town (cute!) are doing the best they can.” It’s when we go to Dunkin Donuts and she asks to pay for someone behind us. It’s when she asks to make Valentines for soldiers and to check up on sick friends. And it’s when someone’s angry or rude, and she says, “There must be a reason.”

Look at this face. Just look at it.

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It’s when the pets are antisocial or sick, and I think I can’t bear another minute of caring for them, and she says, “Give them a chance. We love them. They’re ours.” It’s when she unfreezes my heart. It can be so cold. So wrong. And so right.

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It’s more than that, of course. It’s not really cemented in. The clay is always still wet. I don’t always find balance. I want to change it ALL, and when I realize I can’t, I get wound and my heart turns hard. I’ll feel things so deeply, that it’s hard to handle sometimes. I know I’m not alone. All along I’ve been trying to teach her how to unfold her love. And really, she’s been the one teaching me. Sometimes there’s such a lack of compassion within our own house. All houses. Spouses who won’t or can’t or don’t try to understand each other. Mothers who dismiss their pets, thinking they are unwilling to unfold their love, when really, they are just scared and not even a year old. And you know.. cats. Cats can be tough on hearts.

Clearly, there’s a story or seven there.

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Still Scarlet flourishes. There’s enough love. Des too, but this is about Scarlet because she’s old enough to express herself so eloquently. So I crowd-sourced my wonderful friends to get wonderful questions about compassion for Scarlet.

1. Scarlet, sweetie, remember that time Mommy bought coffee for the lady in the car behind her? Have you ever done something like that for someone? What was it? How did it make you feel?

I remember when she did it and I always ask her to do it every time we get coffee! Usually there’s no one behind us and my Mama says it’s because she wants coffee late in the day, when no one else needs it as badly by then!

2. Why do you think it’s important to help other people, even strangers?

‘Cause maybe they’re nice, and maybe they’re really poor. And that they are really sad.

3. What can you do to make other people smile and feel happy?

To be nice to them and to give them a hug and kiss! (giggles a lot)

4. How do you feel when you help someone?

I feel happy because I like helping people.

5. What is one act of daily kindness you’d like to practice?

What does that mean? Oh! I could say “I love you”.

6. What do you think makes a person Beautiful?

What’s inside their heart.

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7. What act of kindness would you like to do for your mom, your dad, and for Des?

For my Mama, I’d like to snuggle with her forever and ever and ever. For my Dada, I’d like to give him a hug and kiss. For Des, I’d like to play one of his favorite games that we made up.

8. How do your pets make you happy Scarlet, and what do you do for them that makes them happy?

How cute they are and because they aren’t mean. That my cats don’t hiss and my dog doesn’t bite. To make them happy, I can snuggle with them, which means they’re with YOU because they’re always around you.

9. How do you feel when you see someone sad at school? Do you try to make them feel better?

It makes me really sad too. I try to help them by asking them what’s wrong, and they answer.

10. Would you give your favorite toy to a child who had no toys?

Of course because they have no toys!

11. How can you tell if someone is lonely?

If they look sad.

12. What is something nice someone had done for you & how did it make you feel?

Eva (at school) once said that she would maybe give me a pony I really wanted, and it made me really happy.

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  1. Absolutely perfect song and pretty much my absolute Beatles song sang by my other favorite, Eric Clapton. And the interview with Scarlet was the icing on the cake or cookies (sorry still dreaming of those cookies!).

    1. The cookies are very good! I’m not usually a red velvet person but these are something else. I think it’s my favorite Beatles song. It was my father’s favorite and he kind of looked like George Harrison!

            1. That was definitely in one of my top five! There’s sort of a sad story around it about it being on my friend’s mom’s list of songs she wanted played at her funeral. And then she did wind up passing away young! It was horrible.

              1. Actually it was played at my brother’s friend’s funeral. They grew up like brothers and he got into a car accident at only 21 years old and died on impact. So sad and definitely died, too young, too.

                    1. I wonder if they knew the kind of impact when they wrote it. I imagine they did. It’s like when I take a good photo or write a good post, and I know it. On a much much smaller scale.

      1. You know what is ironic, I literally just watched this exact video only two days ago on YouTube. I have totally forgotten you had it here back then. But still as good as ever and just can’t believe that this post was from over four years ago. Where does the time go!!!

  2. Ah….. this is PERFECT!!!! I love everything about this post- brilliant way to incorporate compassion Tamara!!! Oh that precious girl of yours… it’s amazing all that our children teach us, isn’t it?

    i love that so so much… “unfold your love”…. such artistry right there. We ALL need to unfold our love in places we don’t usually do that… where love is needed.

    1. I’m glad you like it! I was totally stumped. I never really get writer’s block, but I just didn’t think I was the person for the job to talk about compassion. Luckily I think we all are!

  3. One of the most beautiful songs ever (love that video, too). It’s so sweet she finds compassion even for those cats 🙂 They certainly teach us a lot about how to treat others, don’t they?

    1. Definitely! Especially when I get my road rage.

      It is certainly one of the most beautiful songs I know! I just love that his best friend is singing it in his honor.

  4. Perfection! Pure, compassionate heart. My kids often remind me to be more compassionate as well. It is amazing what they can see sometimes and that we have decided to ignore for the moment. Scarlet is such an amazing little person! I love it!

    1. It definitely makes me wonder if I had more compassion as a kid than I do now. Or more unfiltered compassion. It’s very possible! Although my start to life was so different from my kids.

  5. Awww Scarlet is such a blessing! The simplicity of her words spell compassion. I pray that more and more kids will be compassionate (and adults too). Do let us know if she gets that pony!

  6. Scarlet gave such sweet answers to these very thoughtful questions. I love her her answer “What’s inside their heart.” when she was asked “What makes a person beautiful?” The picture of Scarlet standing in her pretty plaid dress in front of the full length mirror just gets me every time I look at that smile. She looks so proud of herself. You should be proud of yourself Scarlet. Not only does your mommy learn from you, but we are learning from you too! You are a very compassionate young lady! I enjoyed watching this very special tribute to George Harrison video again, Tamara. What an honor it must have been for his son Dhani to be on that stage with Eric and Sir Paul and many other great artists paying homage to his dad.

    1. We have the DVD of the concert for George and after all these years, I still struggle with it. I still struggle that he passed away. You are right, though. What an honor.

      I love the pretty plaid dress picture. I think that was from her cousin’s baptism!

  7. Perfectamente my friend!! Kindness, love and compassion starts early and then moves on with us in life. You have a very smart little girl who already knows more about this very important topic than many people much older than her.

  8. I love that in trying to teach Scarlet about unfolding her love, you shared how she is the one teaching you. I feel like I’m constantly learning SO MANY life lessons from my children in such profound and deep ways. And I agree with Jen, Scarlet is wise beyond her years.

    1. Since she’s the only child of expressive talking age that I’ve ever had, I always wonder if she’s advanced in the empathy department. I hope she is and I hope her little brother is too. I think she has a lot to teach him too!

  9. Scarlet seems like she is wise beyond her years. I think you and Cassidy have taught her well and have obviously been wonderful models of compassion. I hope I can do the same for Eve. And I adore hearing her words — it’s so cool when you incorporate her into your blog posts like this!

    1. Oh I just know you’ll do the same for Eve!
      I always feel like I’m the worst model of compassion, but I suppose if that were true, she wouldn’t be the way she is!

  10. Side note – your hair is perfectly gorgeous in that picture with Des!

    Love that you and Scarlet did the AAF, it pairs PERFECTLY with #1000Speak I love her answers and I love it that she would play a favorite game of Des’ that they just made up. Sweet! She is LOVE-ly!

    1. Thanks!! That was a summer day in which we went to Six Flags together. I miss good hair days!

      I’m so glad that this day fell on a Friday, because I wouldn’t miss ask away Friday but I also wouldn’t miss #1000Speak. Paired nicely together, like wine and cheese.

  11. Hugs and kisses from little girls are the best! There have been many times that my girls have gotten me through some tough moments with their sweetness. Scarlet is a wise little girl!

  12. So sweet. Yes, sometimes Natalie has to remind me to “BE NICE!” Especially when I’m driving. I probably turn really mean then, but in my defense, some people are pretty dumb when they drive. Still, Natalie will be like, “Maybe that person is sick.” I want to go, “Then why are they DRIVING?” but I swallow it down.

    Ha, and see, I’m opposite, I love cats, but I am not a dog person, so if we had a dog, I’d be feeling the same way about the dog and Natalie, who LOVES dogs, would be like, “But our dog is the best!”

    1. I definitely mutter a lot of things under my breath, both at her and the other drivers. Luckily I don’t think she hears me. It’s very hard not to get any road rage!

  13. Scarlet is a pure reflection of the love she receives from you and Cassidy. You two are doing such a wonderful job, I wish there were more Scarlets in the world!!! I think her and my Love 😉 would get along perfectly!!
    Isn’t it lovely how our babies have the ability to teach us. Keep unfolding 🙂

    1. I definitely think they would get along perfectly!
      I’m glad that she’s seen enough love and compassion from us. I always worry that it’s not enough, but clearly I’m wrong. We are all unfolding!

  14. So sweet! Children have such simple, innocent way of seeing things. As adults, we sorties have too much knowledge and experience I think and it makes everything a little muddy. We think that doing an act of kindness involves going out of our way, spending money, and/or doing something that takes planning. As Scarlet says, it can be as simple as just saying “I Love You!” Such a cute idea and such a sweet little lady!

    1. So true! That’s what trips me up. Wanting to have everything in order. Wanting to have money. When really just simple acts of kindness can be enough.

  15. Wonderful post and a great idea to combine the two Tamara! I loved Scarlet’s answers and I loved the part where you said you are learning from her as well. She is a smart little cookie and you have every right to be a very proud momma!

  16. I love everything about this. It’s amazing how our little ones have so much compassion. I have holes that I could work on. And I just got news of something I’m struggling with now.

  17. I knew she’d have great answers…what a great way to celebrate your daughter and teach her about compassion. I still don’t have my piece quite finished yet…shortly.

  18. I think your little girl’s answers are a testament to the fact you (and the rest of your family) are doing a wonderful job at teaching her compassion; that you see her as teaching you is, to me, a sign of a powerful mother.

    This was wonderful to read!

  19. Oh, Scarlet is such an incredible sweet girl!!! I love that she cares so deeply already. The fact that she would defend her towns roads even:) Love her answers to all the questions.

    1. It is funny that she defended the people who do the roads. They can often do a terrible job! We are all driving on snow. But good old Scarlet is compassionate!

  20. I absolutely love this!! I was like you. I write a lot of my posts and reminder in theNotes App on my phone and this was no different. I saw the cause and I felt a draw to it but then I drew blank. I love where you found your compassion and how Scarlet shows it to you daily. It truly is in the little things…and I know that you have it too for how else would she have learned it in such a beautiful way 🙂

    1. It’s funny that I felt blank too. I usually don’t feel blank with writing. And I knew the answer would come to me, but it was really last minute!

  21. Aww this was such a sweet post. Scarlet has a heart of gold and is really compassionate already. I can only imagine that she got it from her parents.

  22. Love how compassionate Scarlet is! I agree we can all try but there can be times where we get caught up in things when we forget what really is important. (I think of this when I am helping my aging parents) Thanks for this timely post! Hope you are feeling better!

    1. That’s so true – aging parents. And for me – aging grandparents. I need to definitely show more compassion there.

      And yes – full recovery for me but Cassidy got it after me.

  23. I knew that this would be awesome and it’s even more amazing than I knew it would be. Oh to Scarlet’s heart. To yours. To #1000Speak. And THAT FACE!!

  24. All along I’ve been trying to teach her how to unfold her love. And really, she’s been the one teaching me. <– This is exactly how I feel with my son. I strive to teach him about compassion and love every day, but he's the one teaching me and helping me grow with him. Kids are such beautiful blessings and help us see things in ways we never would have imagined. I've grown and progressed tremendously in the past year and it was my son doing so much growing that it was making me do so much growing.

    1. I have only “known” you about a year or two, but I’ve seen you grow and blossom so much, and all I see is the blog part! So you and Noah are really on this great adventure together.

  25. Tamara you loaded the bases and knocked this out of the park to a standing ovation, my dear! Very eerie, ironic post for two reasons. The first being I was going to send you and email last night and just said to wait until the weekend. I should have sent it last night…telling you thanks for all of your rock solid, consistent support of me both as a blogger and as a friend in our offline talks. Then I read see this post 24 hours later. Very eerie.The second being I was having lunch with a really good friend of mine today. He’s known me for years and we were talking about my compassion with people both in my personal life but also very specifically to my work life. I mentioned (as he well knows) that I frequently wear my emotions on my sleeve to the things that are truly important to me. He said that was weird of me. It’s been 9 hours and it’s still bugging me LOL. Anyhoo, loved post 100 times over, my love to you and your family…you are some of my favs out there. Oh, and next time an Athena picture is overdue! Hugs 🙂

    1. Wow thanks, Mike! I totally thought I was bombing this prompt because I had no idea what to do until the end.

      I’m glad you were going to send me an email! I was going to send you one too! (holy cosmic)

      You can still send that email. Maybe I will too! Last night, my parent’s wi-fi was a bit sketchy so I couldn’t really do it on the phone with my dumb thumbs.

      The really good friend you had lunch with might be a really good friend but there’s nothing weird about how you wear your emotions. You should just spend a day with me and see how I get about.. everything.

  26. Lol I have thoughts but I can’t share. Either way, I digress from them. I love how your responses tell a story; they’re short but they say something. I’m half asleep right now, I am not even sure why I’m awake either way. I was reading about that compassion thingy earlier on Tricia’s blog – I’m an empath but I’m also pretty heartless. Not sure how that works but I have zero patience for weakness, hypocrisy, and idiocy. I’m very in tune to emotions and how other people are feeling the thing is I tend to put a block on that sensor as much as I can otherwise, it’s exhausting. I was joking with my coworkers because I’m like Brain from Pinky & the Brain; I can be an evil genius if I want to be. My coworker, whose the sweetest old man, has this stupid wooden camel he brings in religiously EVERY Wednesday for “hump day”. I kid you not this f’ing thing has a schedule as to which floor is going to “display” him all day and it changes every week. It’s like that joke that stopped being funny a really long time ago. So out of irritation and hilarity, I hung the camel using one of our Ethernet cables as a noose lmfao this guys face was priceless when he walked in and saw that ish hanging from the ceiling. Yeah so I’m not sure how compassionate I am but at least I’m entertaining… LOL Have a great weekend and stay warm Tamara!! -Iva

    1. Darnit, Iva! I want those thoughts!! What are they??
      I haven’t read most of the compassion posts because I’ve been away so I’m due for some major compassion reading tonight and tomorrow. And then I’ll get all compassionate.

      If you’re Brain, I’m Pinky, right?

      1. LOL just emailed them to you. Yes you’re Pinky 🙂 I’m trying to use my brain power for more good now. I’ve already traumatized my coworker, he looks around his desk before he sits. Hahaha!

  27. Such a lovely perspective on compassion, and beautiful photos. Sometimes I think I have learned more from my kids than they have learned from me as well. I had the privilege to hear Paul McCartney perform this song at a concert this summer. Thanks for the reminder to think of it when having difficulty “unfolding my love!”

    1. I should have given Sir Paul a shout-out too because he was part of the song as well! What a privilege. I would probably sob if I saw something so beautiful.
      Thanks for chiming in about your children too!

    1. Anytime!
      I never really knew how awesome five is. It’s wonderful. She gets screechy with me at least daily, but heck, three and four were rough!

  28. Oh my gosh, your daughter, Scarlet, is such a gem! Friendly, unselfish, caring, compassionate and – yours. You taught her well (despite your probably not believing you did much of anything, right?) I hope she keeps her youthful enthusiasm for a long, long time or more like, forever.

    p.s. I hope you made it home in one piece and before the snow hit us…

    1. It’s true. I still have trouble believing I had anything to do with it. I credit her father and her grandparents way too much. I suppose I’m also part of this!

      Got home, thanks! I was in West Orange today but it was so rushed and stressed. I just know one day our schedules will align.

  29. This is such a lovely post Tamara, your daughter could unfreeze the hardest of hearts. She has such beautiful ways of expressing herself. I love those questions and may ask them to my daughter!

    1. Sometimes, she really does have to unfreeze the hardest of hearts – her mother’s heart! I love her for it so much.
      Let me know how your daughter responds if you do that!

  30. So beautiful. If we could just remember to look to our children, we would never forget how to be compassionate. Love the idea of unfolding our love. Your daughter’s answers are so beautiful – and a lot of who she is comes from you :)!

    1. I only wish I could credit myself with coming up with the term “unfolding your love.”
      It’s so true that we just need to look at them and see so much beauty in the world.

    1. I love her cute little answers. I actually recorded it to write them down verbatim, but I couldn’t include the video because it wound up that I missed the camera on her face and it was just on a magazine!

  31. Excellent post! With so much talk about “bullying” these days, it’s good to be reminded of where children learn that from, and that children who are loved tend to be loving and compassionate in nature. Clearly, you’re doing a great job with Scarlet!

  32. This makes my heart happy. I adore Scarlet’s answers, especially what makes a person beautiful. And the whole prelude to Ask Away Friday? There was so much in all that you said – the feeling that your words stir up is why I love reading your words. I think that you captured it so well, how our kids’ compassion is in tact and how ours can often feel like the ozone layer with big gaping holes. I can only hope that I can be as compassionate as Scarlet!

    1. Me too! It’s just a regular heart and eyes oozing fest over here.
      I’ve been away since Thursday so I haven’t gotten to read the compassion posts yet. I can’t wait to have my heart grow bigger.

  33. I need to practice more compassion. I get grumpy a lot, like when the house is a mess and my 6 year old daughter refuses to wear nothing but underwear all weekend. My attitude affects the entire household. I need to learn more from the joy and happiness that come from my children. Which may, of course, require me to also wear nothing but underwear. That may be the secret. xoxoxo

    1. That means a lot! I was away all weekend so I’m only now starting to read all of the posts. They are so amazing.
      My daughter is my teacher at least daily too.

  34. I am finally getting around to reading Ask Away Friday posts and here it is Tuesday. It’s been a crazy, busy week already. That was such a beautiful post about compassion, Tamara. Scarlet is adorable and I think we can learn a lot about compassion from our kids. Have a terrific week!

  35. Aw this is just so great. You’ve reminded me of the time I bought ice cream for the couple in line behind us. They’d left their money at home and were left holding dripping cones. How could I not pay? My son was so startled he told everyone, I mean everyone, about it. It made me realise it was something I never do and it made me realise I need to do it more often.

    1. I’m glad your son told everyone about it! Scarlet still tells people about the time I paid for the car behind me at Dunkin’ Donuts! That was really cool because it caused a chain reaction of up to nine people doing the same thing, I found out later!

  36. “unfold your love” !!!!!
    that’s it… right there… come on, we’re getting a tattoo.
    Because it needs to be a permanent mark upon us! A daily reminder. A daily mantra. The refrain to every song in our hearts. The prayer we whisper when there doesn’t seem to be any MORE left inside us, and we just are not Enough. Just let it unfold.
    brilliant my friend. <3

    1. Thanks!! Although I have to credit George Harrison, don’t I? Sigh.

      You seem pretty excellent at unfolding your love! You’re a regular love unfolder.

  37. Her responses are soooooooo beyond precious! I want to bottle her personality and charisma up and show it to her when she’s an adult so she can feel as proud of herself as we all are by her beautiful spirit. The people who make the town???? SWOON!!!!!! Give them a chance???? I need a scarlet in my life to slap me back into compassion!!!!

  38. I remember this very special blog Tamara, and it doesn’t seem at all like four years have passed! I’m enjoying the pictures on Pinterest that I missed the first time around. Now to be blown away again by this video….

  39. This is so wonderful, Scarlet is very wise, and you are reaping some reward from all of the good things you have taught her so far! She does seem to have a tender heart and more empathy than many. I loved the interview!

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