Me in the Middle ~ Self-Compassion

 

Self-Compassion

Compassion ~ Brene Brown

One Mother’s Day I went to the church service at my son and daughter-in-law’s place of worship.  We were a group of eight so getting ready in the morning and getting out the door was a bit of a challenge.  My son was ready before all of us and just smiled and said “It’s an exercise in patience.”  When we arrived for the service, we were late and had to tip-toe in during the Mother’s Day sermon.  It was a sermon on ‘Patience’.  😀  As we made our way to our seats, the pastor was saying “And if we find ourselves always arriving late, we need to have patience with ourselves.”  It really gave us all a laugh!  😀  It helped to give us ‘self-compassion’ and lightened up the moment.

What I took away from that sermon was the message on a photo on the huge overhead screen.  The pastor was sharing the story of what was written on Ruth Bell Graham’s tombstone.  It was a message of Self-Compassion and Humility.  It was a reminder that we’re all ‘under construction’ in this life.

“End of Construction – Thank you for your patience.”

Ruth Bell Graham

 

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I remember those times when things were particularly stressful in my life and I felt I wasn’t measuring up to my expectations for myself.  I was being my own worst critic and definitely much too hard on myself.  Then I read the quote below in a book I was reading for inspiration.  It was such a kind and compassionate image of God being there with us through it all.

“Please be patient. God isn’t finished with me yet….”

Self-Compassion Meditation

~ Chinese Symbol sketch by Mary Lou ~

Me in the Middle of 2018 Roundup

Out with the Old and in with the New!  Here’s a wrap-up of 12 of my posts from 2018.  Hope you enjoy!!

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January 2018

Me in the Middle Rising Strong

Artwork by mlq

February 2018

Me in the Middle of Fabulous February

Feb Grid

Artwork by mlq

March 2018

Me in the Middle of Ireland

Shamrock, Clover, Saint Patrick, Luck

April 2018

Me in the Middle Pulling the Plug on Cable

cable-tv

May 2018

Me in the Middle of Lessons Learned ~ Letter C

DSCN3239

Artwork by mlq

June 2018

Me in the Middle of Lessons Learned ~ Letter N

Nature #4

July 2018

Me in the Middle of Lessons Learned ~ Letter R

regrets #2

August 2018

Me in the Middle of Sleep Apnea

Image result for dreamwear nasal mask

September 2018

Me in the Middle of My Third Year Anniversary

Third Anniversary #2

October 2018

Me in the Middle of Inktober 2018

I Survived Inktober 2018

November 2018

Me in the Middle of Well-Being and Positive Aging

Successvul People

December 2018

Me in the Middle ~ Welcome 2019

New Year 2019

Design, 2019, 2018, To Reach, New Year

Image by Pixabay

 

 

Me in the Middle ~ Welcome 2019

New Year 2019

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Courage, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Tolerance, Joyfulness and Service.

So how did I do over this past year of 2018?  None of these virtues come to any of us that easily.  It takes a transcendent mindset to be able to rise above the very human struggles we all go through no matter what our age.

Courage ~It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
— Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Forgiveness ~ “It doesn’t mean that you’re excusing someone for past wrongs, but it does mean you’re no longer going to allow those wrongs to rule your life” ~ Sue Fitzmaurice

Gratitude ~”I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness–it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” ~ Brene Brown

Tolerance ~ “I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

Joyfulness ~ “Joy is a door opening to the Divine, to God, to the Universe.  Joy is the flow of Spirit within us.  It is so powerful that it can heal our bodies and soften our hearts at the same time.  It is the manifestation of love and has the power the change the world.” ~ Sue Fitzmaurice

Service ~ “If you’re feeling helpless, help someone.”  Aung San Suu Kyi

New Year 2019 #5b

Image by MLQ

Me in the Middle of Christmas Once More

Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.” —Dr. Seuss

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Image from Pixabay

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With each passing year I find myself withdrawing from all the ratcheting up to the holiday season.  I think it’s partly due to my surrendering to the December years of my life.  It’s also because I find some of the noise and chatter to be superficial.  The true meaning of Thanksgiving through Christmas seems to settle into my life no matter how many carols I listen to, no matter how many ‘Merry Christmases’ I say and no matter how many parties I attend.  Each year I see more and more people realizing this and choosing not to frantically hustle to get things accomplished within that one month.  So, when I read this wonderful essay on the Becoming Minimalist blog I decided to re-post it here.

This  was My First Reflection on how my views have changed.  I think the politicizing of Christmas intruded into my yearning for what I’ve experienced down through the years.  There is no ‘War on Christmas’.  It happens in our hearts no matter what’s going on in governments.  When we get caught up in the political aspects of the Season we lose sight of the spiritual gifts we all receive no matter how we believe or worship.  The Gifts of Faith, Hope, Love, Peace and Joy are given to each of us no matter where we are in life.  It’s a time of good will toward all men and women.  It’s at times like these that I’ve experienced what the real meaning of Grace is.  It’s at times like these that I’ve learned that Christmas  can happen every day when we’re open to it.  ~ Me in the Middle of Feeling Christmas Spirit.

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madonna-with-child-1051897__340

Image from Pixabay

A Lighter, Simpler, More Beautiful Holiday 

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Allison Vesterfelt of AllisonVesterfelt.com

simple-holiday

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.” —Bob Hope

I believe it is possible to do less, buy less, cook less, work less and even decorate less and still have a full, happy, satisfying, beautiful holiday season. But in order to get there, and stay there, we’re going to have to focus on a few changes of mindset.

Or, at least I am.

The other day my husband and I were driving to an event together and, out of nowhere, he asked, “Hey, do you realize we’ve never bought each other Christmas presents?”

Honestly, when he asked that question, my heart leapt a little. I knew it was true, but it sounded so harsh to say it outright like that. In fact, I found myself feeling a little embarrassed, thinking of a million excuses for why this was the case…

“We’ve only been married for two Christmases…”

“We’ve been trying to get out of debt…”

“The first Christmas we were together, we were busy planning a wedding…”

But just as I started to let my thoughts get away from me, my husband spoke up again. “Honestly, it doesn’t bother me if it doesn’t bother you.”

The truth is it doesn’t really bother me. But I find myself thinking it does. I find myself worrying what people will think, or what they’ll say if they find out. I find myself thinking about what others are doing for the holidays that I’m not doing; and feeling pressure to make my holiday season look and feel a certain way.

But our decision to forgo Christmas presents (which was mostly out of necessity at the time we made it) has actually opened space for us to have a lighter, simpler, more beautiful Christmas. I’m not against celebrating, or against buying presents. In fact, my husband and I may buy each other presents one day.

But I do believe the common maxim “less is more” applies to the holidays more than it does to just about anything else. And I think each of us will discover a more satisfying holiday if we’ll focus on the following changes in mindset.

1. Don’t get too stuck on “the way you’ve done it before.”

If you grew up in a family or neighborhood (like I did) that went all out for Christmas, maybe scaling back for your own holiday celebration makes you feel a little bit like I felt when my husband reminded me we have never bought each other presents—like a failure. Or, like you’re doing it wrong.

I have good news. There is no wrong way to do it!

Try not to get too stuck on the way you’ve always done it before. Instead, focus on the values you want to cultivate in your family or community or home this year, and experiment with creative ways to promote those values. Also, if you’re entering a new season of life (newly independent, newly married, have young children, or have a newly empty nest), what better time to start fresh with a brand new “way?”

If you’ve always been extravagant in the past, you don’t have to “live up” to that version of yourself, or to anyone else. Take a deep breath. You’re not a failure.

2. Focus on experiences over possessions.

One of the reasons my husband and I have never bought Christmas presents for each other is that we are always traveling for the holidays. We live far from all of our extended family, and in order to spend time with family (without breaking the bank) we have had to choose between plane tickets and Christmas presents.

We’ve agreed together that, when it comes buying habits, we will always (not just at Christmas) value experiences over possessions. Possessions are nice, but they rust, rot, get stolen and burn in fires. Experiences can’t be taken from us. They have eternal value.

Consider how you cultivate experiences this year, rather than just buying gifts which will likely end up in the Goodwill pile in a few months or years.

3. Do the best you can with what you have.

This is advice a mentor of mine once gave me about a totally different subject, but I think it applies here, as well. When I was getting ready to go on a date, she would advise me not to go buy brand new clothes, or to feel like I needed to lose 10 pounds before the date, but simply to, “Do the best you can with what you have.”

In other words: be the best version of yourself.

I would give really similar advice when it comes to Christmas. Do the best you can with what you have. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy presents, or that having a Christmas tree is a waste. It simply means don’t go into debt over presents or trees. It means decide what you’re going to spend on Christmas—and it doesn’t have to be extravagant—and then do the best you can with what you have.

4. Turn off the TV (or find other ways to avoid being swayed by advertisements).

You’d be surprised how influenced you are by advertisements. Suddenly you begin thinking that everyone has a better Christmas planned than you do. Everyone’s Christmas tree belongs in a department store, and everyone’s husband is buying them diamond earrings, and everyone else is buying their kids new computers.

That’s simply not true, no matter how convincing the ads make it look.

The other thing that’s not true is that families who have these things are automatically happier (like they are in the commercials) than your family, or other families who go without. Presents are nice. But they can’t make you happy.

If you want a truly happy holiday season, you’ll have to find ways to cultivate happiness from the inside.

What tips do you have for creating a lighter, more beautiful life?

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Allison Vesterfelt blogs at AllisonVesterfelt.com where she inspires and encourages others to live with less. Her book, Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage is helpful and compelling. I highly recommend it to you. She is also worth following on Twitterbecoming minimalist@gmail.com

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My Grown-Up Christmas List

 

Me in the Middle of Writing

 

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The Eternal Sea of Creativity

The Eternal Sea of Creativity

© Mary Lou

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“I must write it all out at any cost.  Writing is thinking.  It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.” 

~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh ~

Why Do I Write?

I write because I have a story to tell and memories to share.  The story and the memories are through my eyes and not a reflection of someone else’s perception.  Sometimes our stories can be lost or hidden from view unless we find our own voice.  Writing allows an expression of that longing to be heard when we’re surrounded by other versions, other perspectives and other agendas that can distort and embellish the validity of our own experience.

Writing has been a path to my middle ground.  It’s there at the center of my thoughts where I’m able to find that thread of continuity of my own self.  It surprises me when, after procrastinating on getting started, I find a joy and freedom that begins to awaken and I wonder why I waited to begin.  It’s an awakening that points to the whole ‘me’.

What stands out in my memory about my writing experience over the years, more than the keeping of a diary or writing a personal journal, is that writing has become a way to be able to identify the process of finding out where I fit within the middle of things …… my reality.

I remember an award I received in an Anthology of New York-New Jersey High School Essays ~ “Young America Speaks”.  I was genuinely surprised that my essay was chosen and I felt mine wasn’t as good as the other high school writers.  When I reread what I wrote at this time of my life, I can clearly see that what I wrote was helping me to find my place ……. where I belonged in the middle of things.  I belong to a family of writers ~ my father, my mother, my two brothers.  When I wrote I was saying I was a part of it all and that I belonged here.

Whenever I attempted to write poetry, it was usually at a more challenging time in my life.  When I was sorting through life’s paradoxes and finding my way through the complexities and seeking answers.  When I wasn’t able to find the words to express what was going on inside, writing poetry helped to define that struggle.

There’s value in writing!  Sharing what we write is secondary to just the pure act of putting pen to paper.  When it comes to the gifts and revelations we receive about life, both now and in the future, writing is a priceless contribution to ourselves and others.

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 free-canva-write