Lessons in Mindful Self Compassion, part two: Core Values

This won’t be a long entry, and I didn’t get a chance to review my notes on my seminar yesterday. You see, I was up until nearly 4 a.m. tending to Louise the Foster Cat who suddenly decided she needed to explore the closet and making multiple trips to the bathroom since I drank about 24 ounces of water on the way home from work.

One of the concepts we discussed in our Mindful Self-Compassion seminar was discovering our personal core values.

I haven’t really considered core values since I attended an EOS management training through ProJeCt of Easton.

The point of core values on the personal level is to identify what is key to your own self and live according to those priorities. The example facilitator Vira gave was “spending time in nature.”

So what are my core values?

Let’s just consider some ideas:

  • To embrace new experiences and new ideas and keep expanding my horizons.
  • To express myself in words and sometimes other arts as well. Finish my recent publishing project and write more novels.
  • To gain new knowledge, pursue education and share information with others.
  • To engage in my animist pagan spirituality, practice yoga and meditation, exercise and hopefully someday resume bodybuilding efforts. I consider all of these part of my spirituality. I want to strengthen my abilities as a witch.
  • To travel more, but not as a tourist. See places as the people who live there do.
  • To eat well.
  • To help others in need and give back to the world. For me, right now, this primarily means my work for cats with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, hopefully guiding teenager #2 into independence and my work with local non-profits including my public library and ASPIRE to Autonomy.

Lessons in Mindful Self Compassion, part one

I push myself—hard. I can be relentless and tenacious.

It can come in the form of trying to get over that 90% hump in metrics at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse. (I picked 495 items on in my 5.5 hour shift tonight.)

It can come in my past fitness challenges (but apparently not in my current battle with stress eating).

It can come with my personal projects and grades and overachiever attitude when it comes to research.

I can go on and on.

When I saw that my friend Fausta and her co-facilitator Vira were hosting a free online seminar on Mindful Self-Compassion, I was very excited to sign up. The seminar was 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. which meant getting up early and potentially rushing out the door at 3 to get to work for my 3:30 shift but I had to do it.

I wasn’t even sure exactly what Mindful Self-Compassion was but based on Fausta’s enthusiasm for it, an educated guess that it involved some meditation, and with Fausta’s background in therapy and being a holistic life coach, I had to do it.

My therapist has been telling me for years to be gentle to myself and this Mindful Self-Compassion stuff sounded perfect for that.

I even requested a late start at work. Now me being me, that made me anxious. Should I start at 4? I might have to eat something. 5? (I never considered 4:30.) What’s the point of starting at 5 p.m. if break is at 5:30? I opted for 6. And it was approved!

And then this week happened—let’s just say teens and animals and an incident with the dog and the hammock and the new fosters and my body hurting and the hormones of a 40-something woman… I didn’t make it to work the night before the seminar. And do you know what? My supervisor told me to “take care of myself.” I felt like I was being treated like a person.

That time— that sick day on Wednesday night— gave me the space to rest, clear my head, and focus on the seminar.

And it was so worth it.

I’m responding to it now from memory and will gladly talk more about specific exercises and lessons if anyone desires. I bet we can ask Fausta for her input too. And my apologies to Fausta if I misrepresent any of the concepts as it is 1:30 a.m. and I am not looking at my notes.

I learned:

  • That Mindful Self-Compassion is a way to process emotions that combines meditation exercises and rational analysis to allow yourself to feel the feelings but also try to heal the feelings.
  • A big part of the practice is to accept/embrace your own imperfections.
  • We explored a Japanese concept of life’s purpose.
  • We examined physiological responses to different emotions.
  • We designed a personalized loving-kindness metta meditation.
  • We developed our individualized core values.
  • We grounded ourselves via a soles of the feet meditation. I’m using the word grounding since I’m a witch and that is totally what it felt like to me.
  • Meditation reminds me of the prayer practice of centering— and I had forgotten how good I was at that.

I’ll review my notes and write more soon. In the meantime…

My previous post on the seminar is here: https://angelackerman.com/2021/04/02/ironing-out-the-anxieties/

A Place to Ponder

For Fausta

Right now, I am in a mindset of hope and facing “a clean slate.” I am part of a Facebook group doing a virtual El Camino pilgrimage this summer and I find the timing of life to be at my speed right now.

My friend Fausta, also on the pilgrimage, posted about having a place to ponder. As a life coach, she’s name her business “Fausta’s Place to Ponder.” She encouraged all of us to think about and share our individual places.

Here is her original post: Fausta’s Place to Ponder

I immediately wanted to join the discussion but I needed to reflect upon my “place.”

I realized that I have several.

My morning spot is my enclosed sun porch.

I love to gaze at the roses and use them to center myself and focus my thoughts. Two months ago the entire bush was covered with massive blooms, which of course, faded. So I trimmed them. And now I see these long, hearty stalks (an amazing amount of new growth) about you bless us with new flowers.

Life is much the same— we bloom, we sometimes get chopped, but we come back.

But I also like to ponder in my bedroom with my birds, often in the evening after a long day.

But I also love to ponder on road trips, solitary drives. These are the times when I often face my own versions of hard truth and decide on life change.

The shifting psychology of chores

As one of the perks of the online writing community, I have had the pleasure to meet Fausta, a life coach and therapist who has a wide range of capacities and wicked sharp writing skills. She has been working on her blog, and her business, Fausta’s Place to Ponder.

People often influence and inspire each other in the most unexpected ways—often without trying—and I’ve admired and respected Fausta for a long time in just that kind of subtle way.

Like most of us, she’s a real and imperfect woman with a quiet vibrancy. She’s touched me with her honesty about life as a woman and the everyday struggles as a mother, building/continuing her career/business, dealing with her own and her family’s health and keeping her heart and emotional state strong and well.

Isn’t that what most of us are trying to do? In a recent blog post (linked below) she talks about our attitudes and how our mental framing of tasks impact how we perform them. I have continued to ponder this.

Mindful Self Compassion Can Help You Get the Dishes Done

I love routine, order and cleanliness. But with 4 cats, 4 birds, 1 teenager, a full-time job, my own physical and emotional issues and a coronavirus pandemic, I can’t always achieve/complete/do everything I want to do.

I have to employ more mindful self compassion, and with the teenager’s help I am growing in this regard. She and I have been discussing the differences in how our brains are wired. This helps me look at my setting from multiple points of view.

My goal, in what used to be Standard American Life, was to workout either at the gym or at home 3-5 times per week and never leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight.

Now, the gyms are closed. I’m eating too much fast food. And my goal is to clean the kitchen every morning— as my energy levels are higher and it reinforces the idea that every day is a clean start.

But I still need to examine my motivations. There’s a flip side to chores.

Today is Sunday. Yesterday, I got up, did a load of laundry and started the dishwasher. I cleaned all the litter boxes— no small chore with four cats, but oh so worth it.

Two kittens and 3-legged Overlord

I did some other odds and ends too but I’ll be darned if I remember them.

And then I attended a business meeting, had coffee with a neighbor, cleaned up after the birds, let the teenager give me a haircut (a rather severe one that doesn’t exactly match the crazy hair I have, but give it two weeks and it will be perfect), split a ginormous, super-sweet cinnamon bun from Cake and Corolla, enjoyed dinner from Dairy Queen, and watched Hell’s Kitchen for the rest of the day.

And I’m not beating myself up over “not doing more.”

But this morning— I got up, washed the pots and pans, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, did two loads of laundry and hung them on the line, fed the menagerie, scrubbed them kitchen counter, took out the compost, emptied the garbage, carried the garbage outside, and vacuumed and washed the kitchen floor.

All before 9:30.

And I feel good about the work I got done. Even if I am still worrying about cutting the grass, working out this week’s budget, and dealing with this week’s groceries and work stress. I dread both. I *don’t* want to do the grocery shopping and I never know what will happen at work on Monday.

So I have a delicate balancing act— what can I do to feel good about myself and my house and what can I do to not exhaust myself?

Because you see, I know I also do chores and scrub the bathtub to avoid facing my fears and emotions in the stillness.

Chores let me use the energy of my angst to achieve something positive, but in the end, that’s not always the best approach to my emotional health and physical self.

PS—

Early on in this pandemic I invested in good old fashioned cleaning products: Pine Sol, Ammonia, Fels Naptha, Borax, etc. I opened up the Pine Sol today. Just felt like my neglected floor needed something extra. I got this at the Grocery Outlet and as you can see it’s not traditional Pine Sol. It’s like super floral. “Fresh Scent” by patooty. Someone just exploded a fake floral bomb in my house.