Thursday, November 12, 2020

A Poem to Calm Yourself

"Pigeon Man, Clarion Alley, San Francisco"  Photo by ricardo.

Three things in human life are important. 
The first is to be kind. 
The second is to be kind. 
And the third is to be kind. 
– Henry James
Overheard by his nephew, Billy James, in 1902; 
quoted in Leon Edel, Henry James: A Life, vol V: The Master 1901-1916 (1972).
Happy World Kindness Day!

Celebrated globally each November 13th, World Kindness Day promotes the importance of being kind to each other, to yourself, and to the world. Its purpose is to help everyone understand that compassion for others is what binds us all together. 
When I considered what poem to share today, my first thought went to "Kindness" by Naomi Shihab Nye. You really can't go wrong with Naomi Shihab Nye—it's a beautiful poem, without doubt. I was also reminded of Rebecca M. Davis's November 2015 DMC challenge to write poems about acts of kindness. Remember that one? What I finally decided upon is a lesser known poem by psychiatrist Helen Montague Foster. "For a Patient..." appears in Rattle's "Tribute to Mental Health Workers" (Winter 2010) issue. Given the fractured mental state of our nation and our world, I found it to be spot on.


because you didn’t get what they meant.
I said poetry is a language of pictures.
I meant to show you how to pick a calming
song for singing to yourself. You asked:
How can you calm yourself; you are yourself.
I said: None of us is single-minded.

                                                            Read the rest HERE.

For more about World Kindness Day, visit To their list of 13 Ways to Participate in World Kindness Day 2020, I suggest adding "give someone a poem." It's a random act of kindness that works any day of the year!

For this week's Poetry Friday roundup, visit Robyn Hood Black (one of the kindest people I know) at Life on the Deckle Edge.

While the Ditty of the Month Club continues its extended hiatus, this is a great time to peruse the TLD archives. You'll find an alphabetical listing of spotlight interviews HERE and links to all 50 of our ditty challenges HERE. You'll also find The Best of Today's Little Ditty (2014-2015, 2016, and 2017-2018) available in paperback and ebook versions on


  1. Your poignant poem left me a bit teary, Michelle. Thank you for sharing and reminding us of this day. We all need a little kindness these days, and we need to remember to be kind to ourselves, as well.

  2. Such kindness in For a Patient, a psychiatrist suggesting something healing: being kind to oneself.

  3. I am touched by "None of us is single-minded." giving permission for all ways of kindness. Thanks for this, Michelle, needed thoughts.

  4. You are so kind to share all the kindness, Michelle! Love the quote that you chose to kick off this 'kind' of post. ;)

  5. Stephanie Farrow Kindness. How we need it! Thank you for sharing your own special kind with us, Michelle. I do love the idea of having a bottomless sand box. Our digging should never end.

  6. I love the sandbox-with-no-bottom image. Thanks for spreading kindness!

  7. Thank you for this beautiful poem. I have now discovered Rattle, and have ordered a couple of collections. Thanks!

  8. Lost girl, I've found you. What a loving thing to say to myself today.

  9. What a blessing to be taught that it is possible to soothe oneself. Not everyone is given that gift. This is the most beautiful poem. Thank you.
    When I think of you, Michelle, I feel kindness that you've shared many times.

  10. Oh, this is so tender. Thank you.

  11. I can SO relate to this poem. Earlier this week, my psychiatrist self talked my patient self off the brink (Tuesday's haiku). Hallelujah that "None of us is single-minded."

  12. Yes for our not being “single minded, for bottomless sand boxes, and Henry James’ being kind! Thanks for your dose of kindness with this post Michelle, and speaking image, xo

  13. Thank you for reminding us about World Kindness Day! Your suggestion about giving a poem is a lovely idea. (I recognized "For a Patient," so I went back to see if I had posted it...2014! Makes me feel like I've been at this for a long time, haha.)

    1. Why am I not surprised? Judging by my comment on your 2014 post, you probably were the reason that I have that poem in my "keepers" file to begin with! Thanks for that, T. <3 And don't be surprised if I do it again sometime in future with another poem. ;)

  14. Wow! That one brought tears to my eyes!

  15. Michelle, thank you for posting for World Kindness Day. The poem you chose is a special gift with its self-care feelings of rescuing ourselves from frenetic moments of an upside down quarantine life. The line that stood out to me is: "I said poetry is a language of pictures."(and poetry is a healer as a nugget of goodness)

  16. Scoop her up. Scoop yourself up. It is so easy to say to Frank whose electronic register is playing up and we wait for help, "How long have you worked here, Frank?" and then to let him tell you "Five days. I had to close my limousine business, let all my drivers go, sell my own limousine for half its worth to pay my rent." It is less easy to walk out with my shower curtains, printer paper and that story. I scoop us up.

  17. I sent this post to my psychiatrist-hubby on Friday - such a powerful poem. (And powerful story there, too, Heidi.) Thank you for sharing, Dear Michelle, one of the kindest People I know, all around. XO

  18. Michele, wow and thank you so much for both emotional poems. They moved me. Thank you for also including the Kindness website, which I have never been to before and I found it inspiring! I love the first poem posted and the painting, also. I appreciate you spreading all the kindness you have shared today. Thank you, Michelle. You are a kind person.