A reflection from the Dare to Lead program

While safe, and at times a little stir crazy at home, I’m participating in Dare to Lead, a program based on the research of Brene Brown, and facilitated by Helen Sanderson and Emily McArdle. A thought-provoking journey of self-discovery and bravery, we talked about self-compassion last week. When asked, “How do you care about and care for yourself in the same way that you extend yourself to others?” I was able to write my responses in a space smaller than a postage stamp. Much to my chagrin, I was awakened to, or more honestly reminded of, the connection between self-compassion and compassion for others.  As part of the reflection, I completed Dr. Kristin Neff’s “Self-Compassion Scale”  You can complete the free survey here:

I wasn’t surprised by my results, I know I’ve always had difficulty keeping balance in my life and as is frequently the case in “helper roles”, often put myself at the end of the line when it comes to serving up self-care.  The results were, however, a sort of “in my face” reality check that provided a valuable perspective on my relationship with busyness and stress.  Faced with my real time habits, I gave myself permission to build more self-compassion into my days by asking each morning, “How will I be kind to myself today?” 

Here’s how my first week went.

I chose Five Ways to Wellbeing to serve as a compass while practicing self-compassion.  I confess I do love frameworks and containers and how to guides.  The Five Ways (Connect, Take Notice, Be Active, Keep Learning, and Give) provide a way of knowing how well I’m doing as I try to introduce new habits.

Week 1 – Five ways of being kind to myself

My first act of self-kindness was to give myself permission to be present on the course.  No multi-tasking!  I put my phone out of reach.  Helen had us write a sticky note with our permission slip and place it in a visible space while we were engaged through Zoom.  It’s helping.  When a feel a distraction, I look at the permission slip and it draws me back to my reason for being on the course. I found myself Taking Notice of my own distractions…baby steps! My second act of self-kindness and Taking Notice was to give myself permission to sleep a full 8 hours.  I can’t remember the last time I did that. I’m sure you all know what it feels like to wake up rested and ready for the day.  It was glorious, need I say more? When I woke feeling rested, I started the day with an entry in my Gratitude journal.  The first blank page fell after my last entry from 2018!  Yes, a bit of a lapse…but today is a new day. I’m giving myself permission to try again, with a bit of grace.

That week I Connected with family members 3,000 miles away through Zoom. We had four generations and 30 people on the call, complete with all the silly and awkward moments that come with Boomers being new Zoomers. We laughed and commiserated and promised we would connect this way weekly, at least for now.

Yoga and long walks have helped me to Be Active, and while I can’t say I did this every day last week, I did it a lot more than the week before…again, baby steps! 

I spent Thursday morning sewing face masks.  I’ve been making them in evenings and on weekends, but on Thursday I sensed I needed a creative outlet so I set out to sew.  Quilting, sewing, textile design has been a long-time passion that has been pushed to the back burner for many years. Sewing masks gave purpose to the passion and made it easier to build into my day.  Being able to Give through the donation of face masks helps me feel like I’m making a contribution and have a bit of control over my situation. It felt good. I was being kind to myself by responding to what I needed in the moment.

In this week since my reflection of self-compassion I Keep Learning new insights, sensing what is happening in the moment, learning to be more present and mindful of day to day activities, what brings me joy and what are the things I spend my time on that I can let go of.  It’s like creating a LifeCourse Trajectory in real time, revisiting my vision of a good life and living the steps that keep me on the path toward the vision I do want, and releasing those things (and the tensions associated with them) that keep me on a path toward the vision of a future I don’t want.

Slowing down, revisiting what matters most, finding my focus, being kind to myself, all so that I will have more peace and joy while providing good support to myself and others. A work in progress, I believe that spending time in this way is good, exactly what this time is meant to be for me. For this first week of kindnesses and acts of self-compassion I am grateful. Easing into this leadership journey I have a newfound openness to what may come.

How will you be kind to yourself today?

Be well, in all ways.

Mary Beth