If you have been following me over the past year or so then you know how much I love being outdoors. I enjoy walking, hiking and cycling and I often choose to be outside on a stormy or
rainy day. In fact, I notice I am energized by strong winds or a snowfall. Mother Nature offers me challenge, solace and a sense of being connected to something bigger than me when I go and play outside.
This past weekend I discovered a new hiking trail near my home in Abbotsford. We explored it as a family on Good Friday and I was inspired by my grandchildren’s energy and playful spirits as we trekked along together. Then, I hiked it again the next day! This time was a quiet, reflective walk with my husband. I stopped often along the way to breathe in the smells of spring. I saw things I had missed the day before and I enjoyed taking pictures of the beauty around me.
As I followed the trail, I was struck by the feminine energy of nature. I have been learning about how to honour my feminine side and so I am looking for ways to do this, no matter where I am or what I an doing. What this means for me is that I am leaning into being okay with uncertainty.
Feminine energy embodies flow and surrender to what is next, rather than grasping for a specific outcome. It reminds me of my word ‘Play’. There is a willingness to be surprised and a curiosity as to what is around the next bend in the trail.
New growth is abundant signifying birth
There are hidden treasures in the messiness of last year’s undergrowth
Colours of every possible shade
Curves are everywhere in nature
Texture and flow in nature
Georgia O’Keefe would love this
Do you see her?
Have you experienced the feminine energy of Mother Nature today as you traveled with me along the hiking trail?
My desire is that you are inspired to get outdoors and connect with nature. I would love to hear what you do for your adventure. Share in the comments below or drop me a line. Let’s go play!
This week I had a day full of surprises and unexpected events.
After weeks of rain, the sun was shining! I was excited to walk in the woods on a clear, crisp spring morning. I laced up my runners and headed out.
Wait a minute!
What is that I see?
A flat tire on my car. Not just slightly low on air. No. It was flat. I knew I could not drive anywhere on that tire.
So, instead of enjoying my ‘date with Mother Nature’, I phoned the Automobile Association and waited for help.
That is when another unexpected thing happened. Instead of a long wait, the tow truck arrived in record time. A friendly expert quickly and cheerfully put on a spare tire. A short while later I drove to the Tire Shop where my flat tire was repaired and I was set to go.
I am much happier when I respond rather than react
Ease and flow surrounded me as I dealt with what could have been a major upset for me. I was happy for how quickly the tire was fixed. I was never in danger. All was well.
Another surprise awaited me that day.
I have been feeling into the best time for me to visit my parents. My mother is frail physically and mentally. She doesn’t always recognize my father or other family members. The ‘dark’ days outnumber the days of ‘light’ and comprehension. I am grieving the loss of the mother I no longer have.
On this day I felt a strong sense that I wanted to book a flight for a visit in the next few weeks.
And, this didn’t fit with ‘my’ plans.
What about my client sessions? The Women’s Circle I lead? And, the Retreat I am hosting in less than a month. How can I go away now?
And, yet, my heart is saying ‘Go’.
Then the magic happened. I called my travel agent who is also a dear friend. She effortlessly booked my flights. As I completed the transaction she said, ‘Oh, that is the last seat on that flight’. The wonderful gift in this is that my two sisters were booked on that flight. Now we will travel together and I will share with them the beautiful mix of emotions as we visit our mother and father.
What could have been a stressful process was an experience of lightness and ease. And I have a joyous partnership with my travel agent and my sisters.
What is the secret to the way in which I was able to face the stressors of that day?
I have times when I get angry at events that are not in my plan. When my schedule is changed unexpectedly I don’t like it. I enjoy being in control of my life and having my plans unfold as I envisioned them. I also notice that I am much happier when I respond rather than react at these times.
Here are some actions I am practicing in my life to support me when ‘stuff happens’.
1. I notice my experience
I take note of what is happening and my reaction to it. Sometimes I ask myself, ‘what am I making this mean?’ Often it is not about me! I feel my feelings and accept them without judgment. Then I choose to focus on what I want.
2. I put my energy into what I have control over
I do not want to have a flat tire. However, that is already the case. So, I take action to get it fixed, rather than just complaining about it.
3. I remember what I want to feel
I want to have ease, joy and play in my life. This means being willing to expect the unexpected and to remember what is important to me. This is how I chose to visit my parents at this time. I got clear on what I wanted and then took steps to create that experience for myself.
I am learning that I am strong. This does not lead to the kind of behaviour that ‘pushes’ through, ignoring my feelings and what I want. Instead, I see myself in the light of beautiful feminine strength.
Let go of control and surrender to what will be
I am no longer the ‘Marjorie that Manages’ at all cost. I am the Marjorie who allows herself to feel emotion deeply and authentically. I am not a victim. I see myself in a favourable light and from this place of love and self-compassion, I attract all kinds of abundance and relationships to support me.
This support came to me in the person of the tow truck driver. And, in my friend, the travel agent.
I am filled with gratitude and joy as I reflect on my day. I am not alone! I have a choice as to how I view my life circumstances, and I celebrate this beautiful day of surprises and love.
I am curious to learn more about the impact of PLAY in my life as I explore ways to be calm in times of stress. I believe that Play includes letting go of my control and surrendering to what will be.
What is the impact of Play in your life? Does it support you in the times you are faced with a stressful situation?
At my Day Retreat on April 29 we will be exploring this and other aspects of Play. Check out the poster below and come over and join me and the other women for a day of pleasure and play!
I was enjoying lunch with a dear friend at my favourite garden cafe. As I was digging into the savoury frittata, she asked me, ‘Do you ever have the feeling of being a ‘hamster on a wheel’ going nowhere quickly? Where your mind is spinning and it seems impossible to stop the thoughts whirling around in your head?’
I took another bite and gave myself a moment.
‘Yes’, I said, ‘I have had times like that. Usually they happen in the dark of the night. You know, that hour just before the dawn…….let’s say 3 or 4 in the morning. Everyone else is sleeping and I am consumed by my ‘to do list’, my worries and my feelings of inadequacy.’
The two of us compared notes. We shared our experiences and similar challenges. I thought about the pattern in my life and I realized that this experience is less frequent for me than it used to be.
What has made the difference?
In the past, whenever I felt worried and anxious, I would be impatient with myself. I would tell myself to ‘snap out of it’. I scolded myself for being so weak and such a wimp. Why couldn’t I just push myself to be relaxed and happy? Look at everyone else who seemed to be managing so well. What was wrong with me?
Self-Compassion is valuing myself, with kindness and understanding.
You will not be surprised to know that this strategy rarely worked for me. In fact, things often got worse as I shamed myself and amplified the negative energy already within me.
Kristin Neff was one of the speakers. She is a researcher who has studied Self-Compassion for over ten years. She has written a book titled, ‘Self-Compassion’. She has a web site filled with practice and theory to ground me in this concept.
Her work taught me about Self-Compassion, what it is, why it’s important, and how I can practice it in my life.
What is it?
Self-Compassion is valuing myself in a way that will lead to better health and happiness. It is not self-pity, or wallowing in a victim mind-set. The purpose is to heal suffering in myself. As I do this, I will be more connected to those in my life who may be requiring compassion.
According to Neff’s definition, there are three components of Self-Compassion.
Self-Kindness instead of Self-Judgment
This means being warm and understanding to myself when I suffer, fail or feel inadequate. I change my critical self-talk from contempt to kindness when I have a disappointment and feel pain.
I may think I am the only one in the world that is suffering when I feel down or discouraged. However, everyone suffers. Self-compassion involves recognizing that suffering is part of the shared human experience.
When I step back and notice my experience, I am more able to put it into perspective. The key is to focus on the pain I am feeling, rather than the failure. Often I minimize the sorrow I have when I ‘blow it’ or am upset. This is true suffering and it is important to acknowledge it. As I do this I am able to feel the pain without ignoring it or exaggerating it.
Why is it important?
When I actively comfort myself, I calm myself and I am more likely to make wise choices.
The hormone oxytocin is released when I am kind to myself. This means I actually feel better. I feel more loved, cared for and connected.
I feel understood and I remember I am not alone in my suffering.
I have more emotional resilience which means I have increased patience with upsets in my life.
I have more compassion for others when I love myself.
I sleep better! I have learned practices to manage those moments in the dark of night when I am suffering from the fears that used to overwhelm me.
How do I practice it in my life?
There are many practical ideas for incorporating Self-Compassion into your life.
Use the components of Self-Compassion to comfort yourself. There is an audio guide on the web site that is helpful for this:
Write a letter to yourself. Imagine that you are taking the role of a dear friend and write the letter as if this friend is writing to you. Use the loving words and expressions that this friend might use in comforting you.
Change your critical self-talk. Start by noticing when you speak meanly to yourself. Then, change your tone of voice to be softer and less harsh. When you are ready, speak to yourself the way a dear friend might encourage you. Or the way you might comfort a hurting friend.
Keep a self-compassion journal. Note an event that you feel badly about and use the steps of self-compassion to work through the event in a self-compassionate way.
Back at the garden cafe, I was happy to share some of these ideas with my friend. It took her question to remind me of all that I had learned about Self-Compassion. I trust that some of these ideas will resonate with you.
Here is my desire for you as you reflect on what you have just read:
Relax. Allow life to be as it is. Open your heart to yourself.
This quote, from Kristin Neff’s book, ‘Self-Compassion’, paints a picture for me of what is possible as I practice the art and science of Self-Compassion.
I would love to hear from you. What is your experience of learning to be kind to yourself? Share in the comments or send me a message. Join me on this life-long journey of Self-Compassion!