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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

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Snapdragon social

The hazel tree on the back lawn was the only tree when we moved here 16 years ago. 
Over the summer, when Euan was repairing the shed floor, he found thousands and thousands of empty hazel nuts under it, all neatly gnawed open by tiny, tiny teeth. 
Imagine those field mouse parties, the hazelnuts held up between tiny paws.

We tend to just pick the easy to reach nuts, tonight I’ll make a carrot and green hazelnut salad and I shall feel nicely smug at eating from the garden! 
I’ll leave the windfalls for the mice and the high ups for the red squirrels. They were here before us. 
Hazel trees fruit at a fairly young age. The ones we planted as tiny whips in the hedge 10 years ago are fruiting this year and I’m sure they would have been faster if they hadn’t been growing in long grass, part of a deliberately neglected wild area. 
I’ll put the recipe up on stories later.
When I was on holiday last month I messaged a number of close friends with a three point 'priority list' that I wanted them to hold me to. ⁠⠀
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It read-⁠⠀
1. Simplify things so that people actually know what the Studio Membership is.⁠⠀
2. Make amazing things for my members.⁠⠀
3. Talk about what I do to lots of people in lots of ways.⁠⠀
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The point was for the to stop me doing other things as a distraction from my main job, a job that is feeling more and more important, helping people being more small joyful things into their lives.⁠⠀
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I've been working on 1 and 2 since getting home - the website now has 1/4 of the categories that it had, the link to the membership is now actually on the home page, I've been finalising new products and working on next month's members e-course (about how to wrap beautiful natural seasonal inspired gifts without the Pinterest fuss).⁠⠀
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The third - the talking - is always a struggle for me and I suspect it may always be. There is too much conditioning there, too much being a nicely quiet, head down, work hard, Scottish girl at heart. ⁠⠀
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But I am trying hard . . . . and have resolved too email some people this afternoon and tell them what I do.⁠⠀
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I love bracken at this fleeting time of year - the burst of bright gold before it blends back into the forest floor. ⁠⠀
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An unusual photo for me perhaps but over in the Snapdragon Studio Bee we have been having a really interesting and honest conversation about what people look for when they are buying things - whether it is eco packaging or organic contents or everything made in the UK.⁠⠀
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It was such an interesting topic that it made me realise that I have really not done enough to show the thought and reasoning behind all the things in our products.  I think I felt it was a bit eco-smug at the time. ⠀
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Anyway . . . I have begun with the calendula balm kit and you can see the result above - making a flat lay of all the contents and a key as to what everything is, where it comes from and whether it can be recycled.⁠⠀
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If you want to join the Facebook group it is completely free and open to all - just google Snapdragon Studio Bee and let me know what makes you smile.⁠⠀
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And the balm kit now has all its info in place and you can see it on the website www.snapdragonlife.com
Natural dyeing.⁠⠀
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I think that the most amazing thing about my little foray into natural dyeing is how adding a modifier, in this case a little bit of rust, can transform a colour.⁠⠀
⁠⠀ Both of these were dyed in the same pot.  I chopped up willow leaves and bark and soaked them in water for two days, before simmering for an hour and leaving to steep overnight. ⁠⠀
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I then removed the willow and simmered my 2 hanks of silk yarn for an hour and let the liquid cool.  One hank was removed - which is the gorgeous pale pink - and I added some rusty metal to the pot and watched the silk turn dark grey as though by magic.⁠⠀
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Natural dyeing has been something that I have meaning to try at home ever since I went on a course with @debbiethedyer years and years ago.  I'm so glad that I actually thought to make it into a little project and actually put it in my diary this year.
Since I got back from holiday the bottles on my bedroom windowsill have been empty.⁠⠀
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They looked pretty - like an art installation - but also sad.  There was so little left in the garden that it felt a shame to pick it and turn all views from the house into a sludge of frosted stems.⁠⠀
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Yesterday I decided enough was enough - that there must be some small things that I could pick and Dixie and I went for a walk along the road with a pair of secateurs.⁠⠀
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This was the result - a windowsill that Euan claims is overstuffed! - berries and leaves and seed heads all tucked under the long grass.⁠⠀
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It was a lesson in remembering to venture out and look.  What have you seen recently?
Sometimes it takes a long time to see things clearly, to actually see what it is that is the heart of what you want to do with that ‘one wild and precious life’. I finally feel I’m getting there and I’m tagging a whole bunch of amazing people who have helped me figure it out and winnow it down over the past couple of years.
Who else is dreaming of planting spring bulbs at the moment? 
I can’t think of another activity that sums up that Audrey Hepburn quote “to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” - the tucking up of smooth bulbs in the cold ground, the watching for shoots in spring. It feels miraculous. 
This month’s Studio Members e-course is about Spring bulbs, how to choose, how to plant, what I have learned here over the decades. 
It has been lovely hearing about what people are planting and why.
Overwhelm - I wrote a blog this week about how I fell prey to overwhelm and what I did to get over it - you can read it by clicking through my profile.⁠⠀
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I had actually always thought of myself as someone who didn't get overwhelmed, who had so many tactics in place to stay present, stay slow, stay engaged and take action.⁠⠀
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I thought I was immune to getting caught up, tangled up in overwhelm.⁠⠀
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Until that wasn't the case and I ended up weeping at the sheer difficulty of everything.  All I wanted was someone to breeze in and do all my adulting for me.⁠⠀
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It was a lesson in not taking things for granted and to stop and take stock more often.  To avoid drama, to sit still, to do meaningful things.⁠⠀
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I'd love to know your tips, in a comment here on on the blog, or as a direct message.⁠⠀
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About Snapdragon

At Snapdragon we 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.

Through our communities, both free and paid for, through Jane's writing on the blog, through carefully hand crafted gifts and activity kits, and through our online and in-person workshops we aim to bring people back in touch with the rhythms of a seasonal life.

Learn more about why here

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