Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do

Journal

Radical Self Compassion - Should we begin?

compassion Amanda palmer

A strange thing happened when I turned 50 earlier this year. As that half century arrived I became aware of all the other selves that still were stored inside me - and I became aware that I was really not very nice about them.

It seemed that there seemed very little point in growing to a point where I was happy in my own skin - as I believed I had done - if I was still being mean about all those past versions of me. I decided that needed to bring some radical compassion and love them with all their faults.

So I went on a journey back in time, deliberately digging out past selves, looking at what I say inside my head about my younger self

"I was an immature, lying, boastful child who, unsurprisingly, had few friends."

It is a judgment that I have tried to atone for all my adult life - becoming truthful to the point of bluntness, never mentioning anything I'm proud of for fear of showing off, worrying constantly about friendships. It is a judgement that has cast a great shadow.

But when actually recognised the judgement and thought about it - gathering factual evidence as I would when faced with something in the present, instead of listening to that inner voice - it all looked a little bit different.

I began school half way through Primary 1. I was four years old, a year to eighteen months younger than everyone else in my class. Precocious reading skills and a new baby at home joined together to make early schooling a sensible option.

So the judgement was right, I was immature. I was at least a year less mature than everyone else in class. Sadly being able to read books doesn't guarantee being able to read social situations. No wonder teachers found me difficult, I empathise with them, for I cried easily if told off, I was terrible at anything needing fine motor skills, I played 'sick' a lot, I bragged.

But then, when I think back to my own children, a four year old is quite different from a five year old, and, when changing schools as a teenager meant another bump in age gaps - a fifteen year old is very different from a seventeen year old. When you are getting into pubs and clubs with your fake ID you don't want a 15 year old tagging along. I see that now. The not being invited to nights out probably wasn't actually anything to do with me at all.

This evidence based version is bit different from my memories of the insufferable boastful child trying to get attention, the nerdy awkward teenager drinking way too much, way too early to impress her peers. It turned out to be really easy to feel compassion for past versions of me.

I wonder how many of us carry these judgements of ourselves - not of our present day selves, but of the past ones - and I wonder if that stops some of us from feeling wholly loveable.

For me being able to laugh about how wrong I had been, feeling compassion for that little girl, that teenager, clicked a whole load of things into place around friendship.

For me, the feeling unworthy of having good friends, the feeling of everyone else being too witty and glamorous and clever and nice to be my friend, that shrinking that had been at the core of my being, and as though at a click of my fingers, it just disappeared.

It has gone in a feeling of 'Oh sweetheart' and a virtual hug and a shedload of compassion like a cheesy reality show.

I would love to hear from you if you have found yourself harbouring similarly out of date views of yourself - either as a comment here or email me Jane@snapdragonlife.com

Tags: life

Comments: 2 (Add)

Fiona on November 22 2019 at 11:23

I read this & thought 'yes!' - I hated being a teenager, always being put down & mocked by my Mother, I was prickly & defensive & felt hopeless & useless. Those unkindnesses have made me a better parent & given me a great deal of sympathy for the sad teenager I was.

Jane on November 22 2019 at 12:23

Thank you for your comment Fiona - I do absolutely think that appreciating these things makes us a much better parent - empathising with our children, rather than passing down judgement;
Much love,
Jane

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Small runs.⁠⠀
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The single thing that has made the most difference in Snapdragon Life's eco-footprint over the past 9 months has been choosing only to make small runs of products.⁠⠀
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I know that can be frustrating sometimes - people get upset when something sells out.  @amandabanhamceramics wrote about this recently - how she received frustrated, sometimes even nasty, emails after every online sale of her houses.⁠⠀
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Once upon a time I would make 100s, sometimes even 1000s, of a single design. ⁠Now I make 10 or 20 or 30 of something. ⁠⠀
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And that is it. ⁠Once they are gone they are gone.⁠⠀
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⁠The photo is of some allium embroidered lavender cushions, embroidered onto C19th handwoven linen - part of the Just Breathe gift set - a limited edition of 20. ⁠⠀
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Half have sold.⁠⠀
A big sky and a bright pond for the end of the working week.⁠⠀
#lochlomond
This week I've been setting aside time to make things.⁠ It has felt grounding in the way that gardening is when we aren’t ankle deep in mud. Carefully chosen materials, working with my hands, concentrating. ⠀
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These patches of antique linen, embroidered with the dark lines of allium seed heads, are for a new batch of the 'Just Breathe' gift sets which should be up on the website tomorrow.⁠⠀
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I taught myself to draw with a sewing machine⁠⠀
years before I learned to draw with a pen. ⁠⠀
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In many ways I still find it easier - as though there were something backwards in my head that is happier thinking in reverse.⁠⠀
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At the weekend I read Anne Lamott's 'Almost Everything: Notes on Hope' - a book written in 2018, ⁠⠀
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I copied out this quote ⁠⠀
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Oh this linen from @scottishlinen is wonderful to embroider on.  It has inspired me to try something I have been meaning to do for ages.⁠⠀
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All Summer I have been decorating order boxes with mugs and flowers.  I must have done a few hundred by now, the initial of the customer on the mug, fine liner on card.⁠⠀
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It is a design device I love - the wonderful works of @debbiegeorgeartist and @angielewin are my inspiration - and I wanted to see if I could get fluid enough to have it work as a freehand machine embroidery.⁠⠀
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I don't work from a sketch, there are no lines on the fabric, I just put my sewing machine pedal down and go.  It helps a lot if there is some level of muscle memory.⁠⠀
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This large lavender cushion is the result - this particular one is going as a gift to a Club Member who has agreed to write for my January edition of Some Seasonal Notes. ⁠⠀
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The link to have me make one is going first to Studio Club Members their e-mail this morning, but then will go up on the website later today. The last order date will be 30th November as I can't stockpile them and will need time to make them.⁠⠀
My Dad would hate this photo.⁠⠀
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Growing up candles were banned from the house except from on Christmas Day - and even then he spent his time blowing them out as he passed.⁠⠀
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This is a rosemary covered jam-jar.  I first saw these in 1990s when they were a speciality of the florist Paula Pryke and the tie was a silk taffeta bow.⁠⠀
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This rustic version - with a tie make from linen offcuts - is the 15 minute activity going out in tomorrow's Studio Club email.
Dixie is slowly getting used to being a Studio dog.  All last year - as  I changed the way Snapdragon Life worked - she spent her time with me working at the kitchen table, bossing the cats around, barking at the postman.⁠⠀
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Earlier this year, I moved back into the Studio full time and she came with me. To begin with it was fine, she was mainly outside and the doors were open.  She spent her days lying across the Studio threshold and watching out for trespassing pheasants.⁠⠀
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But now it is too cold to have open doors and I can't be bothered with constantly letting her in and out, so she is a full time studio dog, curled up on the chair by the stove.⁠⠀
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She very clearly finds it “boring, boring, boring” and thoroughly disapproves of both my music and the lack of biscuits. ⁠⠀
Now that we are in the season of mud I am spending most of my time looking up.⁠⠀
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Birds stripped the orange rowan berries within a couple of days, but these yellow ones were still hanging bright against the grey.
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About Snapdragon Life

At Snapdragon Life I gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

 

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