An “Opportunity” for Self-Compassion

I’ve been told never to pray for patience, because you get a lot of, uhhh….opportunities to practice. As I watched a couple of children goof around while I was standing in line the other day, I realized how much more patience I have these days with kids and even my own child…it only took 19 years. (Some of you caught that.) 

Well, I didn’t pray for more self-compassion, not directly anyhow, however, I have been (still am) getting ample opportunities to practice. IT. IS. AW-FUL! Especially for a self proclaimed perfectionist, because by “opportunities” I really mean mistakes. I’m literally considering praying for patience; it seems much more obtainable.

On many occasions, I’ve had friends or acquaintances comment on the fact that I am so incredibly hard on myself. I didn’t really understand what they meant. How else was I supposed to know whether I was doing right or wrong? How was I supposed to be better and keep improving if I wasn’t hard on myself? 

I often wondered what other people had going on in their minds, did they have a secret that I didn’t or did they just not give a damn if they were good or bad? Also, were their minds completely silent? My inner critic was a constant chatter from the time I woke up until I fell asleep and probably in my dreams too. My inner critic is very harsh and not only can I “hear” it, I can actually feel it in my body when I am in that rigid, harsh, belittling space. 

I have done a lot of healing over the years and the critic has somewhat subsided in volume and harshness. However, I recently had an incident where I made a mistake while driving and misjudged the speed of an oncoming car as I was trying to pass another vehicle, and by the grace of God, we were not involved in what most likely would have been a devastating if not fatal accident. Immediately (within 2 seconds of whispering, “thank you, God.”), I went into a deep spiral of shame, belittling and berating myself for my stupidity. I fell back into a dark and desperate place that I hadn’t been to in a really long time, I felt worthless, stupid, and basically thought I was the scum of the earth. I went down the crazy lane with my thoughts, my friends were going to hate me, my parents were going to be disappointed, I’d probably get kicked out of every group I was involved in and I would be the shame of the town. No one would forgive me. I couldn’t tell anyone, this had to be kept secret. Yes, you read it right. There was no accident, it was a near miss, it could have been tragic, but it wasn’t, and this is only a quick snip-it of the thoughts that raced through my mind. 

Thankfully, I was on the way to meet some friends and one of them noticed that I wasn’t quite myself and inquired about my well-being. At that moment, as I tried to push a “I’m fine” smile across my face and nod that I was okay, I broke. Tears that had been trained to stay in place from years of repressing feelings started streaming down my face uncontrollably, hot, messy and without hope of them stopping anytime soon. It was at this moment I was going to lose everything, the truth would be revealed. As I began to explain, I braced myself, shoulders locked back, poised to withstand the brunt force of the anger and disappointment I knew was coming my way. Instead I was met with open arms, love and kindness. They shared stories of their own near misses and driving errors. All of a sudden I found myself laughing along with them at our lapses of judgement and expressing pure gratitude that nothing more serious had happened. Grace, forgiveness and compassion flooded over me. My body released all of the tension it held from anticipation. 

Something I had heard for years, but hadn’t quite grasped, “the more grace you have for yourself, the more you can give others,” finally rang true for me. I knew I had much more grace and forgiveness for others than I would ever have for myself. I can’t imagine ever having the same thoughts or speaking the same words to anyone else that I did/do to myself. How could I possibly have more for others if I gave to myself? Yet, there in that moment, I was experiencing compassion, grace and forgiveness for MYSELF (even if only borrowed from those ladies at the time). I was so filled, it began pouring out of me as memories of past hurts, frustrations and resentments flooded my thoughts. I experienced a freedom from baggage that had followed me for years, most of which I thought I had either stuffed far enough down, forgotten or had mentally resolved already. Another layer of healing had begun.

This is only one example I’ve been through recently while GETTING to practice self-compassion. I’ve got a list, perhaps we can chat about a few sometime.

  • Leaving my friends water on while they were out of town…for 24 HOURS!
  • Losing my bonus because I turned in invoices 2 DAYS before the end of the quarter instead of holding them until after the first of the month. 
  • Dropping oily food on my brand new grey shirt that I said I didn’t need but ended up with it anyway…8 MINUTES after I bought it. 
  • Backing into a light pole because I was trying to miss the curb. 
  • Pulling out in front of someone…not once but twice (thankfully not nearly as scary as the above example). I didn’t even want to write this one out, I will probably never have a passenger again. 
  • Spilling my coffee on my lap, dropping my breakfast and then knocking over something else while trying to clean up that mess. 

Some of these seem trivial and silly, however, the inner critic I hear is generally of the same degree of relentless beratement, regardless of the offense. Some of these I was able to move into self-compassion much easier and others I didn’t even realize how much I was cutting myself down until a few days later when boiled over in a different area of my life. Healing is not easy work, and it’s not a One and Done (obviously, see list above) but I am moving forward and into greater freedom. Today I live a life worth living.

Be patient, be gentle, be kind…especially to yourself. 

“Our successes and failures come and go – they neither define us nor do they determine our worthiness.”

Kristin Neff

PS. A quick THANK YOU to those of you that inquired about my next post, you encouraged me to keep going and to sit my butt down and write about the hard things. If it weren’t for you, I may have given up on this venture entirely, writing it off (pun intended) as something I tried for a bit and maybe I’d pick it up at a later time, knowing that later would never come. 

A New Freedom

During April (National Poetry Month) my local library was giving out envelopes of random words and the object was to arrange the words to create a poem. While poetry is not something I generally practice, this was a fun exercise and one in which I unexpectedly got to speak my truth. When I poured the contents of my envelope and flipped each sliver of paper over, one by one (as you do a new puzzle), it was hard not to believe this envelope was specifically made for me. After weeks of deliberation (with myself), I decided sharing this poem is a way that I can open the door to vulnerability a little wider. This was a topic I wasn’t quite sure I was ready to share on a public forum, however, it is a huge part of my story and I don’t feel I could fully express in future posts my journey to FREEDOM without being fully transparent.

NOTE: The bold words are from the contents of my envelope.

Looking in a drink

I found nothing concrete

Spiraling and broke

I finally awoke

Releasing my will

Was greater than a pill

This feeling is odd

A foundation in God

My hell is over

Today I am sober.

My recovery story is not one of sudden change, I didn’t become a Christian and immediately get sober and everything in my life was better. It has been a slow process, shifting one degree at a time. In fact, I became a Christian YEARS before I got sober, but it was definitely through my walk with Christ, that I was led to recovery. I also credit the 12 steps of recovery and the fellowship to laying out a path that I was able follow and it has helped me grow in my relationship with God and learn how to truly depend upon God. For me, my recovery and my faith are deeply intertwined; I don’t have one without the other. Without either of those, I am bound by addiction, imprisoned in my own personal hell. It is by the grace of God and the freedom I know today that I have been compelled to share my story through this blog.

If you are struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, there is help. You are not alone. I know firsthand how isolating it can feel, but if you are willing to get honest with yourself and reach out for help. There are others out there waiting to give you a hand up. You can find my contact info on the “Holler!” page of my blog or there are hotlines and websites with a quick google search. I will also note, you do not have to be a Christian or even believe in any type of Higher Power to get started, I share my story as it is, but there are so many paths to recovery and a new freedom.

Keep moving forward.

We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.

9th Step Promise

I’m Not That Mom

This is something I wrote several years ago for my daughter. July is her birthday month and this is the first year we are spending it hundreds of miles apart. As she continues to navigate her journey into adulthood, I continue mine as being a mother of an adult. I love her more than ever and I will never (as I’m sure most can agree) be able to fully put it into words. While I wish I had done many things different, I did the best I knew how. I love you daughter, forever and always.

I’ve never claimed to be Paula Deen or Betty Crocker, my idea of a home cooked meal is Stouffer’s Lasagna . . . I’m not that mom. 

I’ve never been the classroom mom, I don’t sign up to chaperone school dances or field trips. (I tried it once, it was a zoo, literally.)

I won’t attend every game, meet, concert, or banquet. I don’t even make it to all the Parent-Teacher conferences . . . I’m just not that mom. 

I’ve never sewn a costume, my holiday decor is non-existent, and even the tooth fairy is usually a day late.  

I don’t throw fancy birthday parties, end-the-year  bashes or summer extravaganzas. . I’m really not that mom. 

I won’t make you the center of my world, you are not the only one, this is a burden I do not believe belongs to you. . . I’m not that mom. 

For all the things that I am not, I am the mom that will love you the best that I know how.

I will sit at the table while we eat our microwaved dinner—no phones, no tv, just you and me. I am that mom. 

I will encourage you to pursue your passions in sports and music, just make sure to keep the grades up. (I’m even on the board of the Cross Country Booster.) 

I will let you stay up late at night to finish the homework that is due tomorrow, and I’ll remind you that I suggested you start it weeks ago. I am that mom. 

I will MacGyver a fix for your dress, your hairstyle is up to you, and I will even paint your room to your taste. 

I have embarrassing talks, insist on meeting your friends, and have dance parties in the car. I am soooo that mom. 

I will make God the center of my world, He is my Number One. I pray you will also put him first in your life. I am that mom. 

For all the ways that I am, He will love you even more perfectly than I know how.

I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living,

my baby you’ll be.

Robert Munsch, Love You Forever

Lessons Along the Way

When I uprooted myself for a 750 mile move from a busy suburb of OKC to a small Colorado town I had never heard of before, I was definitely expecting adventure. However, I hadn’t really counted on learning so many life lessons, especially in the first 90 days. Here’s a quick snip-it, in no particular order. 

1. Expectations don’t hold nearly as much weight as I thought. 

Within a few days of living here, I noticed  there was a level of expectancy that had been lifted. One that I now question, if it was put there by others or was I in fact the one that put it there? Maybe a little of both? People don’t really care, nearly as much as I think.  I legit have days that I swipe my eyeliner over yesterday’s, brush my teeth and call it good…sometimes this doesn’t happen until 2pm. Rare, but it happens. One day when I confessed this to a friend, she and I laughed, shrugged our shoulders and in unison announced “Eh, it’s Paonia.” 

2. Drive friendlier. 

Allow people to walk across the street, even if they are not on the crosswalk. Allow more space between cars, it’s not a 6 lane highway with bumper to bumper traffic and when you leave a car length someone thinks you are letting them in. This took 3 people pulling over before I realized what was going on. They like a little more space between cars around here….and there’s plenty of room on the 2 lane highway. My ex husband tried to hammer this into my head for years, but I learn when I learn…and it’s always the hard way. 

3. Wave to everyone like you know them personally. 

I was convinced people were mistaking me for someone they knew for the first couple of weeks, they do not just throw up a couple of fingers as a courtesy, they full-fledge wave to you as if you were long time friends. Now I wave back without hesitation, I figured if I haven’t met them yet, I might tomorrow and they could very well be my next best friend…or the connecting dot in my next endeavor. 

4. There’s a whole lot of world out there. 

I’ve learned more about different cultures and lifestyle choices in a town of approximately 1,500 people, than I did living in a suburb of a large city with a population near 650,000. I don’t blame this on the city, rather my comfort level. While I can get along with most everyone, I definitely surrounded myself with those most like me and I rarely ventured outside of my normal venues. 

5. Community may look different, but it’s essential. 

Community has been a big part of my life and I work to be intentional about building a supportive group around me, but the importance of community is ten fold. In a small town it’s vital to take care of each other. No matter what the fb argument that happened yesterday, if a neighbor is in need today, it is forgotten. 

6. Friends are important, but not at the risk of losing myself. 

I had to come face to face with the reality of wanting to seek the approval of others or if I wanted to serve God boldly. I cannot serve both.  I’m an extrovert and love people and I like having a lot of friends. Having moved to a town where I had absolutely no connections was a challenge, emotionally and mentally. I wanted to make friends, but was really struggling with being authentic in some of my interactions. People pleasing and being a chameleon is manipulative and that’s not the life I want to live anymore, but dang it’s a hard pattern to recognize and break. 

7. God will take care of every stinking detail. 

I can absolutely let go of trying to run the entire show. He’s got details planned out years in advance, ones I didn’t even think to consider. He loves me so unconditionally and very specifically. I am blown away as I have seen it unfold in this journey. 

8. Water is a precious resource, so is our planet. 

When you live in a high desert, especially during drought, you become much more aware of water usage. I started making changes in my water usage that has now transferred over to awareness of the environment and am working to remove some plastics from my household. I’m not making any radical changes, but a few small ones to help do my part. . 

9. Not everyone works on the same timeline. 

Ever heard of Mountain Time? It’s real. It’s a lot slower and more relaxed. Oh, yeah…this one is definitely taking some adjustment for this color coordinated (multi) calendar keeper. Yes, multi…but I’m down to 2 digital and my paper planner is specific to goal setting. I have also noted in the last couple of weeks, I’m not nearly as diligent at keeping my calendar accurate.

10.  I believe with everything that I am, God wanted me here. 

I don’t know for how long, but definitely for right now. It’s quite obvious (see 1-9 above) that I have a lot to learn, however, I also pray he has work for me to do here. I’m not sure what it is yet and I have given up trying to plan it as I see fit (at least temporarily, I’ll probably need a well timed reminder). I pray for the courage to step boldly and with obedience into whatever He has planned for me. I pray that I have the wisdom to keep my own ego out of it and to let him use me as his vessel. 

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Beginning

Well, I have been wanting to write a blog for quite sometime, however, I have let fear and distractions keep me from pursuing it. Today, I hit the wall. “Nothing changes, if nothing changes,” as they say. I’ve let excuses keep me from doing this for far too long, so today, I am learning to publish a blog at the same time as I am writing.

I actually bought the domain about 6 weeks ago and kept telling myself I would learn how to set it up and THEN I would post….well, that’s got me a whole lot of nowhere. So if you are reading this early on, beware, we might be walking through a mess together.

Originally, I wanted to title the blog “Random Running Thoughts” as a play on words for the thoughts that were running through my mind…which happened most often when I was out running. Well, it’s been years since I’ve been an avid runner (which tells you how long this idea has actually been in my head) and as God does, he works even when I’m not.

While life has changed dramatically, I still have the urge to share these random thoughts, however there was a slight change in the title, as I have a little more clarity on the reason I feel so deeply that I want to share. My life was changed because of the work God has done in and through my life; I went from a girl that was striving to prove who she was to the world to a woman who is content in being the work in progress to become the woman God called her and live in true freedom.

With that being said, I have no timeline or deadlines set on how often I will post… that would kinda kill the whole “random” thing, now wouldn’t it? However, my personal prayer for this year is for the courage to step boldly and immediately into obedience. Well, it’s 6 months in 2021 and here were are…not so immediate, but it is definitely a bold step for me. I also have a few posts already in the works and I am praying that as I am obedient, God will bless me with more words to share.

“Courage is fear that said it’s prayers.”

Dorthy Bernard