Finding The Compassion We Need

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“Today I began to criticize myself and look at myself with a judgmental eye… but then instead of going all out in that direction, I stopped and I began to understand me. And then I began to be patient with me. And then I began to feel a softness in the middle of my chest. So then I concluded that I can understand and be patient with me, just like how I am always understanding and being patient with everyone else. Why? Because I deserve that, and more.”

C. JoyBell C.

 

 

Recently I was able to participate in two online courses about self-compassion.  Even though I felt that I had made great strides in this area, when both of these courses almost simultaneously hit my Inbox, I thought I would explore this topic a bit more.

 

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Surprisingly at first, I encountered all sorts of resistance within.  But this only confirmed, I needed more work on self-compassion, and  I knew I was going to learn more about this very important topic.  As the above quote says we deserve understanding, patience and above all else love.  And not from outside ourselves….no we must seek that love inside first.

 

 

In life we all face circumstances that are difficult to handle…challenges like the death or illness of a loved one….pressures at work or of losing a job.  Busy schedules where we try to juggle more than is humanly possible.  And with these trials, we also find failure.  All of these can seem to happen at once until we fall into a heap thinking we can’t handle much more.

 

 

DSCN4421And what I have discovered in these impossible moments, is that I need to turn inward, and tap into my hidden reserves.  What powers these reserves, and allows us to survive?  Quite simply it is love.  Not just love from others, but love of ourselves….really the most important gift we can give to ourselves and others.  For when we love ourselves, the tribulations of life can seem to melt away, and our capacity to love others increases tenfold.

 

 

One of the most important things we can do when building our self-compassion, is to identify the barriers to love we have created.  For me the need for perfection used to bog me down.  Starting from childhood, and on into my adult life, I would berate myself for making, what I viewed as, stupid errors.  I have had a long history of putting myself down that was perpetuated by some well meaning adults and teachers who continually pointed out my mistakes.

 

 

DSCN4542Changing an answer on a final that resulted in a grade of 98 instead of 100% would put me in a tailspin where I would call myself ‘stupid’, say ‘how I knew better’…’what was wrong with me’…and causing me to obsess on this mistake for months.  Nothing was acceptable to me but perfection.

 

 

And there were other thoughts and emotions that built up barriers causing more negative talk.  The list can be endless:  resistance, worry, fear, self-doubt, procrastination and frustration to name a few that have plagued me.  I have worked hard over the past 5 years or so to break through these self-imposed barriers.

 

 

DSCN4478What did I do?  It really is quite simple, and a bit brave, if I say so myself.  I recognize these moments where I engage in negative self-talk, and I stay in the moment with them….I feel them, where they reside in my body, and then I give myself a bit of self-love.  I tell myself, out loud usually,  ‘I am doing the best that I can in this moment’.  Then I recognize that indeed I am doing my best….and I let go of the emotions tying me down.

 

 

Sometimes when I would rush and drop things or make a mess, I would look at why this was happening….and again this would require me to stop, focus and be in the moment.  It became easily apparent, that I was rushing because of time constraints or wanting to finish…. so I would tell myself to take it slow and be in the moment more.  And when I slowed, and focused, I would enjoy the task.

 

 

DSCN4664Each time I focused and stayed in the moment I sensed an easing of these negative emotions and self-talk.  There are many practices to help with this process, and I have learned some new techniques, from the courses I took recently.  I highly recommend Open Your Heart To You from Sandra@Always Well Within, and Self-Compassion taught by Kristin Neff & Brené Brown@Courageworks.  Check these courses out to see when they will be offered again.

 

 

We can easily turn our self-doubt around, and embrace our own inner love.  We just have to have a little courage to stay in the moment, and break through any barriers we have encased around our own hearts.  And you can start by smiling at yourself a bit more, and realizing that you deserve love too.  Speak to yourself as you would a good friend…..you wouldn’t berate them, right?  Give yourself a few words of encouragement by being your own best friend…..you will be amazed at what that self-compassion can do for you!

 

 

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How do you give yourself the love and compassion you need and deserve?

 

 

 

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Special Note:  The pictures here are of different purple irises that bloomed in my garden this spring.  In the Language of Flowers, they symbolize ‘Compliments to you’.  I can’t think of a better way to express self-compassion.

 

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I leave you with a few additional words self-compassion.  I welcome you to download this photo and share it.

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All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Conversations in the Garden-On Self-Nourishment

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“There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling leaves and remember that it is enough to be taken care of by my self.” ~Brian Andreas

 

 

A few months ago I participated in a free online course where 30 inspiring people shared their thoughts and practices on self-love.  It was coordinated by Susannah Conway and called April Love.  It was a time to explore and celebrate ourselves, so it was right up my alley.

 

 

One of the early subjects was about self-care.  The question posed was, “Where did you learn about self-care?”  I was intrigued because I had never thought about this question specifically.  And when I tried to recollect where I had indeed learned about self-care, I couldn’t recall anything concrete, which wasn’t unusual as I found out.

 

 

Sure I had heard about good nutrition from my parents and teachers…read about it throughout my life as I tried diet after diet.  Knew my diet was atrocious as I was a sugar addict.  I knew it was important to be active, and that once I graduated high school, my college days found me putting on weight that was hard to take off.  I participated in exercise programs and did the yo-yo diet thing.  So this was really the sum total of my knowledge on the subject for quite a while.

 

 

My parents were great always encouraging us to try new things, do our best, work hard and cheered us on.  They let us stumble, and they were there to help us pick up the pieces if we needed them.  So I had positive experiences, and had learned problem solving and resilience.

 

 

And as I delved into this topic of self-care, it seemed it was asking me to consider so much more when thinking about self-nourishment.  What were the practices that helped to nourish more than just my body? And why is nourishment so important?  Well if we don’t fill our bodies and souls with nourishing foods and practices, then we will be empty, depleted and not able to give to ourselves and others.  I saw this happening when I was working in my 9-5 or really my 7-7 job getting little sleep.

 

 

And I see it now with friends and family who are caring for aging parents….we empty DSCN4806ourselves, get sick and our bodies are in turmoil.  We consider our needs last many times, or we think we can push ourselves through and then find time to replenish…a mistake I made too many times as I never did find enough time to replenish all I was taking away from myself in terms of nourishing food, sleep, time for myself to be quiet and at peace.

 

 

So that is why in my first year of retirement, I learned finally about self-care and about how to nourish myself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  I discovered that complete health requires all these pathways be nourished.  I am no longer shy about setting limits for myself, and adhering to them when I feel my body, mind or soul out of sorts.

 

 

So what do I do to nourish myself these days?  Sleep…lots of sleep as my body dictates.  I have also cultivated some wonderful habits and routines that really bring me peace of mind.  I start my day with meditation, journaling and quiet solitude.  It is a must for me to wake with a quiet mind so my soul can feel nourished.  No crazy busy schedules to ruminate on.  I now make sure my schedule is workable for me, and change it if it is not.

 

 

After about a half hour of quiet time, I roust my husband and we take a half hour walk in the neighborhood.  It is great to have him walking with me as this close personal time is also nourishing both our spirits.  And we each crave the quiet time watching and listening to the world wake around us….breathing in the cooler air scented with grass and flowers.  We watch baby birds and bunnies stretching their young bodies and trying to forage on their own.  What a delight and such immense peace and solace gained from being immersed in nature.

 

 

Of course a healthy breakfast is a must (lovingly prepared most mornings by my husband), and then it is on to the daily chores and appointments and my work of gardening and writing.  I have settled into this new role as a writer, and it is nourishment as well for my mind and spirit.  Finding this new work that brings so much satisfaction.

 

 

I have discovered recently that I need an evening routine that helps to soothe me and quiet my mind so I can sleep more restfully.  I am a voracious reader, and always find reading at night helps to tire me, and quiet my mind somewhat.  But I need something more.  So I am working to add a short meditation and stretching routine.  My old habit of “vegging out” in front of the TV is not the best, but at one time it was an effective numbing technique I used to use.

 

 

My garden is always a great teacher.  Recently it has been nourished by the rain, DSCN4807replenishing itself by putting on new growth, sending up more flowers.  Without the needed nourishment from the soil, air and rain, it would not thrive.  We are like that garden needing to replenish and feed our bodies, minds and spirits lest we dwindle too.  So as my life changes and I grow older, I am finding it even more important to nourish myself in new ways I may not have considered before.  Stretching my mind as well as my body, and touching deep into my soul to fill up the wellspring of my being.

 

 

So where did you learn about self-care?  Were you self-taught?  And what do you do to nourish yourself these days?

 

 

 

Special Note:   The velvety foliage pictured here is from Lady’s Mantle or Alchemilla mollis, a wonderful plant to capture raindrops or dewdrops.  They look like they are bedazzled with diamonds.  In The Language of Flowers, Alchemilla mollis, means “the little alchemist”.  A perfect plant to feature as I talk about self-care.

 

I am also featuring my dwarf willow tree in the picture below.  The Ancient Celts used the willow in bringing about psychic visions that produced a clearer understanding of the world.

 

 

 

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I leave you with more thoughts about self-care.  Feel free to download this photo and share.

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All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

End of Month Potpourri-April 2015

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The potential of the average person is like a huge ocean unsailed, a new continent unexplored, a world of possibilities waiting to be released and channeled toward some great good. ~ Brian Tracy

 

 

For this month’s potpourri, I am continuing my thoughts about self-love.  Self-love and self-care are things we are not routinely used to considering…we are not brought up to think about ourselves first….it is thought of as selfish.

 

 

But in reality it is the most self-less thing we can do to care for ourselves….I feel if we don’t care for ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, then we cannot adequately care for others.

 

 

Part of that self-care is making time for ourselves….not easy in our busy lives, but essential.  It is important to connect to our inner core….to find ways to replenish ourselves.  I disconnect from the world for chunks of time.  It gives me space and solace to think or not think…to go with the flow or put my ideas down on paper.

 

 

But the best thing I do somedays is to celebrate.  With the coming of May, I find it a perfect time to celebrate as it is my birth month.  It is a standing joke that in May….I don’t have a birthday, but I celebrate my birth month.  But that joke has really become a reality for me, as I think it is a perfect idea.

 

 

And while this is something I do in May, I have begun to realize that I need to celebrate more….not just the big occasions, but the smaller moments in my life.  A glorious day….a perfect sunset….the return of a beloved flower or bird to my garden…..a mother rabbit nursing her young.

 

 

These times don’t need a big celebration…they just need to be noted in a journal, or for me with my camera.  So as I look back at some of these special times this past month, I thought I would celebrate them here with you as I saw them through my camera lens.

 

 

 

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As the snow finally began to melt in the beginning of April, fog came to the garden.  This was the foggy sunrise that met me on that glorious morning.

 

 

 

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The willow trees outside my front door, capture the droplets of rain and hold them making sparkles and reflections.

 

 

 

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And those same trees are a perfect perch for many bird visitors seeking shelter, a home or just a spot to watch the sunrise on a foggy morning….like this Junco.

 

 

 

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The first flowers of spring were a daily occurrence as the snow melted to reveal them already blooming.  And with spring rains, the flowers were bathed in more beauty.

 

 

 

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The first daffodils shimmered like the snowdrops above.

 

 

 

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As the ground warmed, and the bright spring sun shone down, more flowers bravely bloomed for me…Iris reticulata here…..Chionodoxa in the first photo.

 

 

 

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And Crocus tommasinianus blooming through the new green grass.

 

 

 

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This Scilla siberica is finding the first light of the new day…what a glow it is giving off that is captured here and in my heart forever.

 

 

 

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And finally the silver maple flowers are blooming already as the spring sunlight makes them shine like diamonds on the branches.

 

 

These are the celebrations I see each day…and so many more I hear with each new bird’s song.  Each a delight…each renewing me helping me to SOAR higher.  Each and every day now I am making time for me…I take it slow with no set plan…just kindness, gentleness and a child’s curiosity regained.

 

 

 

Note:   Each photo was taken on my daily walk around the garden in the month of April, 2015.  Some required me to lay on the soft, wet ground and see the flowers from a new perspective.  Oh what breath of life I found there as I reconnected with Mother Earth.

 

If you like gardening, and want to see more pictures of my April garden, I have a monthly journal post at my garden blog, Gardens Eye View, the first Monday of each month.

 

 

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I leave you with more thoughts about self-love and giving love back.  Feel free to download this photo and share.

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All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.