Give Yourself a Break

December is usually a time of reflection and planning for the new year with resolutions, goals, and plans for a better life. Goals are good to have. They help you strive for more. But…

What if you were enough?

What if you decided to take a year off? No goals. No struggle for fitting in, being better, or pushing yourself? I’m not suggesting a year of sloth and gluttony. Allow yourself to just live in the moment. If every act is an act of love for yourself and others you won’t need goals.

What if you decided not to diet but just to love your body enough to nourish it well? It would simplify your eating habits right? No more measuring, no more counting or eliminating, suffering. Using your intuition and a basic knowledge of nutrient density foods to make a choice to be kind to your body. Eat only what your body needs. Instead of eating mindlessly, enjoy the process and think about how this food came to your table.

What if you ran when you wanted to or walked when your spirit called you? Take a walk to wind down from work or with a loved one to spend quiet time together. Run because your soul needs to. What if you chose to do yoga in the quiet of the morning to reconnect your mind and spirit with your body? What if you didn’t make exercise work but a connection between your body and your soul? Try allowing yourself to move intuitively instead of forcing it. Breathe.

What if you stopped worrying about your hair? buying the latest expensive beauty product? wearing the latest fashion trend? Love your hair by taking care of it. Nourish it along with your body. Feed your body well, drink plenty of water for hydration and your body will praise you with a healthy glow. Use skin care in your kitchen of natural products from the earth and don’t worry about keeping up with marketing. Allow yourself to be beautiful on the inside. Let go of anger, self-destruction, and hate.

What if you decided not to criticize your neighbor, spouse, or coworker? What if you just loved them as they are with all their imperfections? Maybe they would return the favor. Suffering and bitterness are a choice. We only suffer if we choose to react and take things personally. What if you just didn’t do either? The first couple of times you try it, it’s awkward but then when you see how much suffering is caused by perspective and not fact you stop the hurt. Not reacting doesn’t make you a victim, it empowers you. Non-reaction is something that you do for yourself. It feels so good to let others just be. Silence is very powerful. Try it.

What if you decide to say no? What if you didn’t go to every party, game, meeting, or volunteering event? Could you spend time in silence? Can you tolerate yourself without the TV, phone, or noise? What if you plan more hikes in nature, spent quiet time with someone you love, or meditated and prayed more? What if you reconnect with your spirit instead of trying to escape yourself? If you don’t like yourself well enough to tolerate the silence maybe you should give yourself a break.

We are our toughest critics. Most of the time, what we do is never good enough. We always find something we want to change, to make “better”. We buy into the marketing schemes that pray upon our self-esteem and make us believe that we are never good enough and that we can never own enough stuff. Stop. To continue to beat yourself up over what society deems worthy is an endless journey of suffering. It is needless. Everyone has good in them. Sadly, we compare the outside of someone else with the inside of us. We base too much of our opinions and actions on perceptions. Rarely do we take the time to really know the facts. The fix for this is truly simple. Love one another, beginning with yourself. You are enough. You are perfect just as you are.

Love your body, mind, and soul and the care of each will come easily.

Grateful Tuesdays: Lessons Learned

We think that people don’t notice when we go on about our lives. Often we go through the paces without thought about how our lives affect others. Rarely does the adult child consider that their parent lies awake at night worrying about their choices. We never imagine that our tardiness can be taken to heart. We go on mostly thinking about our next task and how it will affect us. We mindlessly go through the motions.

If we take the time to reflect we often see the lessons that those around us teach us. A conversation with our children reminds us to choose our words carefully. Not wishing to cause hurt but to be truthful is tricky. We forget to put ourselves in their shoes. The friend that is always late with a birthday gift makes us feel unimportant and yet makes us examine our own lack of thoughtfulness and our own tardiness in other things. At work we are reminded of how our image can be interpreted. One kind deed for a client or a coworker could be remembered for months. One mindless comment could be held against us for years. Adults influence young children more than we know. We forget that we are role models even for children that we don’t know. Our actions speak much louder than words. You never know what a child will find impressive or repulsive.
I’ve told the story before, but the most impressive thing my father ever did had nothing to do with money or status. He went back to school at 51, has endured many a trial including taking care of and burying my mother. Although impressive to anyone, these are not what impressed me as a child. My father was a farmer and he often hired teens for summer help. He expected them to work hard but he was always fair. He never asked them to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. One young man impressed him the most with his hard work. On his last day, my Dad cut a pole-like stick from a tree, wrapped some fishing line and two hooks around it and handed it to the young man. He was clearly surprised. My dad paid him to go fishing all day long. Why was this impressive? He didn’t have to do it. It wasn’t expected and yet it was the kindest show of appreciation anyone could have shown him. It made him admire my dad all the more. It was the moment that I realized that my dad wasn’t just the gruff old Marine that had no tolerance for imperfections. He had a heart, was thoughtful, and his action taught me to be kind and show appreciation to others. On the surface no one would ever think that such a simple act would influence someone else so much.
At first glance this week I was appalled at other people’s behavior. I judged them and reacted with anger, frustration, and silent contempt. Today I am grateful to see that I have an opportunity to learn from them and my reactions. I may not be able to change their behavior or the circumstance but there are some things I can do to learn and grow.

Don’t Take Anything Too Personally
Most times people’s actions and words are about them. It’s not really about you. Instead of taking life so seriously, note how their actions or words made you feel. Then ask yourself what you can learn from it. Are you guilty of the same thing in different situations? What can you change that would make a positive instead of negative?

Don’t Assume Anything
We often assume we know and understand other people’s motivations. We think that we know what is going on. We make a conclusion based on our perspective rather than actual fact. Although the opportunity may never come to get the facts, we still can’t make a move based on assumptions. It’s dangerous territory that opens us up to a whole lot of stress and trial.

Don’t Lash Out
Unfortunately we are all guilty of not being mindful at times. We won’t always say or do the right thing. We may be on the receiving end too. Lashing out with hurtful words doesn’t fix anything. It only feeds a string of negativity that will then flourish. You don’t have to point out every mistake that someone else has made. Silence is truly golden. Most often people will realize their actions weren’t the right thing to do.

Remember the Pack
As much as we think we are all unique and separate, we are not. Our lives intertwine with the world. What we do every moment affects someone else. Before you speak or act ask yourself, “Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it the right thing to do?” The more you are considerate of others, the more often that will be reciprocated.Also consider that even small actions could influence a child. Take this to heart.

Look for the Good
Stop looking for the bad in people. Start looking for the good. Give others the benefit of the doubt. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use your brain. There are situations and toxic relationships that you should just walk away from and not tolerate. Only you can make that decision. Most people do even more good work when they are praised. Positive reinforcement goes a long way. If the only good you can find in a situation is the lesson of “what not to do” then take it and run with it. Don’t let negativity win.

Today I am grateful for the people in my life that are truly kind and for those that have helped me learn more about myself. I’m grateful for the people that cut me some slack when I mess up and for those that recognize my efforts. I’m thankful for being raised with a sense of right and wrong along with kindness.
I’m grateful for having to struggle in the past because it makes me thankful for the good times now.

My birth- my body, my process, and my baby- are not disgusting.

Compassion Changes:

“Beauty and achievement in this world should not be defined by aestheticism and melody.”
Compassion Changes is a community that wishes to provoke thought and discussion on subjects such as this one. Thanks Kate.

Originally posted on Kate's Apartmentsteading:


There I was. My before- bed Facebook checkin that I do every night to symbolically sign out, shut off my brain, and go to sleep, and I scrolled down my feed. I saw a variety of the usual- pro-vegan links, the days accomplishments by my friends, a few photos…and then….

“………..But pictures and videos of people giving birth are disgusting. Seriously.”

What preceded it? Honestly, I’d have to re-read it over and over to paraphrase it, because the latter made it insignificant. I mean, does it really matter what sort of compliment sandwich I would have found that in?

“But it was from a teenager, right?”

Nope, try again. In fact, it was from one of the very VERY few people who had supported me as a single mother, as the mother of a child from assault, and some of the most trying events of my life. I was completely…

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Creating A Tight Knit Community Through Fiber Work

Compassion Changes:

Great things happening in one more community. One person’s generosity of time and resources changes so many lives!

Originally posted on Behailu VOICES!:

Last week we began our new session at Behailu Academy.  This Winter we’re focused on the theme FACES – we want to look into the ways we interact with people based on appearance, the ways in which we create masks for ourselves, the ways in which we use the term ‘faces’ in language to mean a wide variety of different things.

During our first class, a local shop owner – Christopher Wysocki of Yarnhouse - came and taught our kids how to spin.  He generously supplied knitting needles and a big bundle of roving!  We had a great time.  Throughout all of this, our students have begun talking about topics related to our FACES theme.  We’ve talked about the whole process of creating something – from getting wool from a sheep (or other animal) to the cleaning, carding, and drafting of the wool – to the spinning.  We’ve also decided…

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Making a Blanket of Intention

As I begin to construct the blanket for our bed this year I stumbled across the idea of a blanket of intention. It can be done with any material or technique. You can make a quilt, sew a simple pattern, or craft it with yarn. There is only one simple rule for a blanket of intention:

Every stitch, every moment, every effort, must be made with positive thought, prayer, or meditation. You must craft with care to ensure that the entire blanket reflects love, gratitude, kindness, and peace. In the end it is a symbol of all of this intended to be used to envelope the recipient in it.

Will you make one? Pass it on. Let’s see how many we can get and send me your pictures so that I can post them.

A Buddhist Grace for Thanksgiving

Compassion Changes:

How do you show gratitude for the food you eat? What is your version of grace? Is it heartfelt or just a habit to recite it?

Originally posted on Metta Refuge:

A Timeless Thanksgiving Message from Thich Nhat Hanh

“We like the idea of being thankful to the cosmos, to everything that offers itself to us as food. That is why in Plum Village we organize a Thanksgiving Day, and we address our thanks to four objects: first of all to our father and our mother, who gave us life; to our teacher who gave us spiritual life and helped us know how to live in the here and now; we thank our friends who support us, especially in difficult moments, and we thank every being in the animal, vegetable and mineral world for our support and maintenance.

So the Buddhists also celebrate Thanksgiving, with that kind of insight. And while we celebrate Thanksgiving, we relate to everyone who is there, and this is a very good practice so that we don’t cut ourselves off from reality. The feeling of gratitude…

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