Doing What We Can

Our solar panels are installed! I remember a few years ago when I called myself a “reluctant recycler.” I did it. But I resented having to wash out glass jars, separate some plastic from others, and break down all that cardboard. Basically, I was lazy.

Finally, I had a realization that if I didn’t try to help the environment, who would I blame for the climate crisis? So now we use only glass containers, no more paper towels (old t-shirt sleeves do the trick), buy only organic food, and cook so we can eat leftovers for days, and take all old clothes and furniture to Goodwill, rather than throw things out in the landfill.

We haven’t figured out how to stop using kitty litter bags, but we do use the ones that disintegrate fairly easily.

These days I am no longer grumpy. We are doing our best.

What a Long Journey

Sometimes I wonder why I am so drawn to readings, podcasts, and videos about emotional health. Mostly, it’s because I had to clean up my own struggles, understand where they were coming from, and learn to recognize I would have good days but also bad moments. The human experience.

This takes time. And if often takes words from experts to get you through the dark spots.

What I’ve learned:

  • We must live with imperfection and failure.
  • We will all experience moments of doubt, hurt, and pain. It’s what we do with those times that will push us through to the other side.
  • Knowledge of how the mind works is essential.
  • We can only release shame when we become vulnerable and share our stories.
  • Focusing on breath solves many problems.
  • I really can’t change the past; I can create a future that heals my heart.

I love this Brene Brown quote: “Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness; it’s about creating a clearing. It’s opening up an emotionally clutter-free space and allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question.”

Ten years ago, the walls I had erected to protect me started to crumble. I’ve learned those walls had to go. When we are kind to ourselves, we open up fields and forests of relationships that can grow. Start by forgiving yourself and see what happens.

Self-Esteem or Self-Compassion?

I’ve spent the better part of the last two years studying self-compassion. In this podcast, Laurie Santos talks to Kristin Neff about why self-compassion is so important. Don’t let the term self-love or self-compassion bother you (I had to work through that, too). But know it is key to having a “fierce tenderness” about the world as you move through it.

Self-esteem in itself is good, but not if it comes at the expense of perfectionism, fear of failure, and an inability to function (all possible). Self-compassion, on the other hand, means to know that we recognize our common humanity, that we all make mistakes, and that we can recognize suffering but move on from it. We must limit self-criticism and embrace a tenderness toward ourselves. Really, it works!

The podcast is worth listening to as Kristen shares her own challenges with being compassionate toward herself as she raised her autistic child.

“Painful feelings are, by their very nature, temporary. They will weaken over time as long as we don’t prolong or amplify them through resistance or avoidance. The only way to eventually free ourselves from debilitating pain, therefore, is to be with it as it is. The only way out is through.”

Kristin Neff

Well, hello there new year

I read once that you should find a few things that are treats, things you love, to boost your spirits. So, in addition to capturing morning sunrises, I’ve discovered these:

  • podcasts while I walk (Ten Percent Happier, Untangle, Routines and Ruts, Hurry Slowly, Unlocking Us, Everything Happens and more… (they help me walk longer)
  • a warm really, fuzzy lap blanket that I crawl under to read or watch netflix. I mean, it’s so fuzzy I rub my hands over it constantly- it’s like a fake fur. And it’s blue!
  • hot chocolate in the morning around 10 am (not too late to cause stomach issues but a kind of a boost to keep me going)
  • a bath with lavender oil
  • white flickering fake candles on timers all over the house

I can’t tell you how these simple changes have improved my life. They are not things to be earned but ways to give myself a moment of comfort – just because.

“Have patience with all things. But, first of all with yourself.”

― Francis de Sales