The Fortieth Year

I’m  40 today.  I said that to myself the moment I woke up.  I have no plans today that are the usual celebratory plans of someone who has just turned forty.  I’m also not being anti-social on purpose.  I guess I just want this day to unfold as naturally as it can and let the fortieth year of my life be as real to me as it gets.

It’s 11:52am and I’ve been awake for about 6 hours receiving the greetings and well wishes of many.  There are the very meaningful messages that made me cry and the messages from friends who I have not connected with in a long time but who I know have always been there all my life.

The years before 40 have been a rollercoaster ride.  It’s like a see-saw or a pendulum where I find myself going to and fro.  Back and forth.  Here and there.  Never really quite stopping or staying still enough to figure out where I’ve gone, where I am, and where I am going.  It’s brought some restlessness, some joy, some wrestling, and some pain. But ultimately I’ve realized that because it’s impossible to always know with full certainty where you are going anyway, the last 5 years have been an intentional choice to move myself towards a direction of peace.

I read this from an article I saw on my Facebook feed last night.  It’s a story about girl named Chiara whose life has been a sacred journey of love, sacrifice and loss. But despite this story she remains serenely anchored to what gives her life meaning and she says,

Whatever you do, it will only be meaningful if you think about eternal life. If you truly love, you will realize that nothing belongs to you, because everything is a gift

This is how I woke up today.  Thinking about how meaningfully I have lived my life.  No accolades, no loud applause.  But just thinking about the lives I’ve touched and those that have touched mine deeply.  How I am changed and moved to continue unfolding and becoming the person I am meant to become.

Being 40 doesn’t make life any more certain or clearer.  But being 40 does make everything that isn’t bringing me towards clarity and peace all the more clearer.  And because I can see it and bear it with more grace than I used to I’m able to embrace facets of my life with a whole heart and slowly not be afraid of being a little vulnerable before those who take are brave enough to receive how real I can get.

My life has been a kaleidoscope of memories.  And as it keeps on turning I know that all the pieces will fall together into one pattern woven with love, purity and truth.  It can get ugly and rough.  It can get messy.  But those who you sharpen yourself with become the very people you shine with.   Just like how diamonds discovered shine through the dust.

Here’s the road that has led to this fortieth year.  The memories and the meaningfulness of which I will always cherish.


Heeding the call to rest

There’s nothing like trying to come back on to blogging through an overdue post and feel the strained muscles of creative expression’s resistance to flow with you on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

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I’m trying to recover from a bad case of cough and colds almost a whole week now.  I was visiting our school in Cebu for a marketing training and felt the energy slowly being drained from me as I wheezed and sneezed and rolled tissue balls in my hand.  I hate having a stuffy nose and a sore throat.  It makes me feel like such an invalid.  I can’t talk. I can’t smell. I can’t breathe.

I don’t really get sick as often as I did but I’ve learned lately that the body has its way of getting your attention.  I sent a message to my cousin Br. John and he replied instantly saying, “Are you going to listen?”

That question reverberated quite strong inside me since I got back home and I haven’t completely sorted myself out to answering it.  But maybe now I should.

Bethel Worship Nights

I encountered Bethel Music a few years ago and started to listen to their songs and subscribe to their WorshipU Online Campus.  There was something about how they did worship that was different from the usual worship bands I listen to.  There was something that resonated deeply within me. It was how they were in touch with themselves when they worshipped God and it was their “being in touch” with themselves that allowed them to be in deeply in touch with the presence of God.

I found this to be really enchanting and I admired this about their ministry. I learned a lot by listening to them and felt the desire to to deepen my own spiritual practice through their music.

I have a love-hate relationship with music.  When I was 3 I had begun my piano lessons but grew up feeling stifled with the many music lessons that my life had revolved around. I felt like I wasn’t in touch with myself.  I cut class and got the scolding of a lifetime and started to go on autopilot when it came to my music practice.  For a while I found a creative season and found myself writing songs that started to attract a local recording company at that time.  I was in college and bands were part of that life.  A friend had urged me to record one of the songs I wrote and suddenly I found myself listening to it on the radio.

The contract to have a record with a company was probably a dream someone would like to have. But during that time I stared at it and felt the tension of not knowing whether I wanted that kind of life or not.  I handed it back to the manager and declined.

Fast forward many years later, I find myself with a rowdy group of young people in my house typing, through the wee hours of the morning, the script of an original musicale that was to be the fundraiser of a youth retreat for the year. I worked with more than 15 of them to make this happen and birthed 14 original songs as an expression of their own testimonies of faith. We staged the musicale 11 years ago and the feeling of staying faithful to your creative work was worth the unsigned-recording-contract life I walked away from.

I’ve taken a break from a life of music and ministry for almost 4 years now.  It’s part of that hiatus that someone like me who has “burnt out” periodically experiences.  Ministry life isn’t so much like professional life.  The work never stops because the work is your life.  But there was something wrong with how I lived and held that life together with the rest of my life and that’s why I burnt out.  Of course, the circumstances surrounding my ministry and professional life were not quite easy as well but had I known how to do this one thing that the music ministry of Bethel knew how to do, I probably would not feel so spent.

That one thing that I didn’t know how to do was developing intimacy with God.

It takes intentionality to learn how to commune with a God who is real–seeking to know His voice, His personality, and His heart–than it does to pick up a book and dutifully learn about Him.  When you approach God–who just happens to be the most important, intimate, loving, compassionate, powerfully real relationship you’ll ever have–it seems kind of silly to just devote yourself to a lifetime of books to learn about Him with your intellect when He’s made a way for you to experience Him with all your heart. [Christa Black, Heart Made Whole]

I didn’t learn how to do this because it wasn’t so easy to learn.  There are different strokes with different folks and I just belonged to a group of folks where I had a bit of difficulty trying to really learn how to live this part of the spiritual life out.

Watching and witnessing Bethel’s music ministry and experiencing that night after a long season of not being in the worship ministry scene, God pointed out to me what He wanted me to do.

One Word

As soon as the first week of the year passed, I went on a vision fast as encouraged by my cousin Rinka.  It was a fast that involved praying for a whole week and listening in for a word that God will speak to you.  My word was establish.  It came from the verse written in 1 Peter 5:10,

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace–who imparts His blessing and favor–who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen and establish you–making you as you ought to be. [Amplified Version]

I really don’t go on a lot fasts (maybe I should). For this particular fast, I fasted on social media which I didn’t realize I could actually do and spent the time to listen for God’s vision for me instead of scrolling mindlessly through feeds to find my relaxation for the day.

I was ready to take on the new year and make it my best one yet. Equipped with a new resolve to gain more clarity and vision by leaning and pressing into God’s vision for me. I particularly this part of the verse above: After you have suffered for a little while.  

I don’t know if feeling compassion fatigue has just been a little while for me.  I feel that it’s gone on really long. But Peter says that it will only take a little while before God will begin His work of completing, confirming, strengthening and establishing me.

I liked that thought of that.  Even if I felt like I was suffering from this burn out for a long time, there was something very brotherly with how Saint Peter wrote those words for me in that moment.  Sandali nalang.  Konti nalang.  A little while longer, hang in there.

Almost everyday for the first month of the year I spoke those verses out loud and could feel a shift in my faith.  But it would fade again when I’m overtaken by circumstances like the pace of work, the concerns that required attention, the memories that would need healing, the relationships that needed nurturing.  It would fade when life would happen too fast and I would have to exert a lot of effort to get my entire self to keep up with the pace or else.

It’s the fourth month of this year and my cousin’s question reverberates again.  Are you going to listen?

I don’t know.  I know I should.  But I don’t know how.  I’ve been living this kind of pace for more than a decade.  This is how I’ve been trained to live.  But I suppose the stuffy nose that keeps me from taking relaxed breaths the past couple of days shows that I am in dire need of rest.

Christa Black

So I finished Christa Black’s book in just 2 days.  I got it in Kindle and found myself wanting to read more and just listen.  Listen for words of wisdom.  Listen for testimony. Remembering the process that faith brings to you when you feel like your life is moving disconnected from your heart.

And this is what I learned very simply.  I cannot keep on navigating my life from my head if my heart cannot catch up.  I need to check in with my heart and how it’s doing before it palpitates too fast or screeches to a halt.  I’ve carried a lot of lives inside my life and those lives I’ve taken cared of have also affected me without their knowing.  I need to process these things and find a gentler and creative way of holding them.

I need a rhythm that is anchored on to the One who is unchanging.  The One who I should have depended on completely from the beginning. The relationship and the life I should be nurturing and deepening even more.

Life can tire you out.  And sometimes the best thing one can do to find rest is to admit it. And it is in the holy honesty of one’s heart that restfulness begins to rise and embrace the exhaustion cradling you into a moment of surrender.

Called to Rest 

Br. John Marmion chides me again, “So come and visit me in the monastery for 2 weeks yes?” I would love to say yes.  Maybe soon.  God-willing.

But the past few days of nursing a cold and cough has reminded me that the only way I can live out that one word God has given me to believe in this year is if I rest in Him. Surrendering  all striving.  Spending solitary time.  Soaking in His presence. And doing everything I can to sustain that.

I don’t really know how to begin.  But maybe the next few days into Holy Week can be a time to discover how to do just that.

Seeking Slow and Seeking Loud

I let yesterday’s moments pass as slowly as I could.

Two months have passed since the last chronicle and I can say that I have been choosing to make my way into learning more intentionally the much needed rhythm of rest.  It’s necessary after realizing how ungracefully I’ve been walking this journey of burn out recovery.

This scene from the new television series Pitch spoke deep into me and I saw memories flashing back before my eyes.

I’ve been working hard as far back as I can remember.

Two hours of practicing piano pieces from Mozart’s Sonatas or Debussy’s First Arabesque or Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique.  All nighters at the grad school to read Harvard Business cases back to back until dawn.  Sitting in board room discussions for 6 hours that depleted all creative inspiration. Taking apart process after process and sewing it back together.  Finding ideas to bridge gaps that need filling. Listening to the lives of people young and old in need of company, companionship and direction.

I work double the effort because I knew I’m just not wired like the rest. It isn’t always easy for me to navigate through the residue of extreme mental effort and extreme emotional intensity.  I’ve realized these moments all become tight  knots in my mind and take the experience of rest away primarily because of one thing — approval.

I want approval.

I’ve known this already but I’m still working this lesson out because it shows up again and again when the pressures of life come up.  Whether it’s work or relationship or your very own vision for yourself.  Each stage you feel you have accomplished leads you to wanting more approval or even aim for even more achievement and significance and meaningfulness because…you want approval.

The mind is such a stubborn place to rest while the heart can be such a turbulent one. But there is truth in that verse from the book of Jeremiah (29:17) saying,

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.

I would say to Jeremiah that I am there already  in that phrase, all of your heart.  Perhaps I was seeking with half a heart or three-fourths of a heart.  But the mental captivity you experience from the life stressors that burn you out can bring you to that point of desperation that you need to make this act of seeking the one thing that you really have to get right.

Seek with all your heart and you will be found.  That’s the promise.  You will be found in your wanting, in your longing, in your aching.  You will be found in your wandering, your lingering, your staying.

You will be found and seen and that knowing you are found and seen is what brings you to a realization that girl, your efforts are approved of.  Your tireless compassion is received. Your relentless wrestling has brought you to a place where you have come to know that  in your desperate desire to seek truth, the greatest Heart Seeker has long sought after you. 

It takes courage to preach to yourself especially when you’re bowed low in fatigue. But this episode of Pitch preached to me like a clanging cymbal.  And this is me doing this for me. This chronicling and digging and sifting.  Inspired by the stories of women who have taught me that sometimes you just have to live out the questions, sometimes you just have to keep your gaze to the sky, sometimes the broken way is the path to wholeness, sometimes by sitting through your gasping breath your lungs become desperate for deeper inhales and longer exhales.

That moving to and fro does not mean you are aimless but maybe it means you are riding the waves out as they ebb and tide. And staying still right on top of its crest is the way to catch the perfect surf.  That the swinging and swaying of restless time on restless days does not mean you’re wandering lost instead sticking it out can be the way you find your heart’s gravity so it can love wide enough to live free.

It’s a rainy Sunday and I have some books to read and some dreams to recover. And a cup of jasmine tea for a long and restful exhale.

There is the necessary, satisfying work of serving others in all the places where you are loved and needed. But there is also this: the soul’s work, which you ignore at your peril. And so, for today, anyway, you commit yourself to it fully: The journey inward to find your own truth. The stillness of your mind behind the noise of your doing. The willingness to see the beauty inside yourself, and to honor that. You are a little rusty and awkward in your quest. The privilege of solitude is also a skill that requires practice.

In a little while, you will walk the long road back. You will return home tomorrow a little different, still holding the hand of your wilder self, having touched for just a moment your own infinity.

(Katrina Kenison, On Being Blog)

He Knows How To Reach Me

When your life is a layer of moments criss-crossing one another and sometimes you get tired of how you’re part of this weave that you don’t understand, you come to a place of slight desperation and you begin to ask questions and really need some answers.

I’m not saying I’ve been off-track.  Maybe I have never been this on-track.  Closely paying attention to myself, my life and where I’m going.  But I suppose I’ve just been wanting to see a little bit more fruit in what I feel has been a little bit of a dry and barren season filled with a lot of effort with a few moments of rest.

Sometimes it’s not evident.  People have said that I carry things pretty well.  I’m pretty put together.  Maybe it is a gift to be that kind of person.  But sometimes I do wish people could see how despite my very able legs, I’ve been walking with a strain.  Despite my very outstretched and welcoming arms, I’ve been feeling like my arms are lifting lead.

Compassion fatigue.

It’s not easy to admit this for fear of being laughed at and being just told, “Oh, burn out? Just relax!” or “You’re taking life too seriously!” or “Just take things with a grain of salt.” or “Maybe you haven’t been attuned to God enough or you haven’t been praying enough.”  

But no.  It’s real.  And yes, it’s an experience people do go through and sometimes it takes years to heal.

And I still am…healing.

I guess it’s not so important to think about how I got here anymore or maybe those are stories for another day.  But what I find really meaningful to ponder about right now is how God continues to be faithful in not giving up on me.

When you pray everyday and hope for even just whisper, but there’s silence.  When you dutifully try to keep up with all the facets of devotion and there’s nothing but a dry and arid presence.  When you keep knocking and the door just won’t open.  Those seasons in the faith journey can be excruciating.

Thank God for these moments where I’m pushed into a place of need and the longing to have a deeper intimacy with the Author of my life, my days.  Perhaps that is the reason for these moments of weariness when the oasis feels too far beyond my reach.

It’s to keep on digging into what I say I believe.

Nothing else will makes sense unless you begin to see things with God’s perspective.  And you’ll only begin to understand what He sees and how He is moving in your life when yield your own version of understanding to Him.

Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways be mindful of Him and He will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

So I’ve been walking this new season of seeking and I have found myself in the most exquisite of conversations with the Lover of my soul the past couple of weeks.  But today’s conversation with Him was undoubtedly the most gut-wrenching for me.  Because He said the words that really described what I felt, through the preacher today.

“A dead battery does not need to be recharged.  It needs to be replaced.  If that is you, if you feel you loved it all out and you have nothing left.  If you feel depleted. Then lift your hands today and let me pray for you.” 

I’ve been in many prayer gatherings such as this one.  While I’ve taken a year and a half break from attending, I am not new to the ways of God when He pierces the atmosphere with a certain clarity that the message you just heard is unmistakably meant for you.

But this one was an arrow headed straight for the bulls-eye.

And there it stirred, the sheep does recognize Shepherd’s voice.  His everlasting arms can really reach the places no one can.  Who would’ve thought I would find myself in this place today.

But then again, why would I surprised, when the very desire that rises up from our hearts to seek our Maker is already our Maker seeking us.

Healing Stories

The Healing Workshop 

This week was like a culmination of many things.  I had attended a training workshop (that almost felt like a retreat) on arts based interventions for healing and learning.  While I’ve been exposed to the expressive arts practice for almost 3 years now, it is through this workshop that I’ve really begun to deepen my appreciation of the process and the experience that emerges from it.

During this workshop I experienced a deepening appreciation of the Filipino indigenous culture and have even experienced soulful connections with the Badjao tribe.  Their spirituality while different from mine speaks so universal about how  people in touch with themselves, their living traditions and their faith can find  a reservoir of strength that carries them throughout their lives and opens doors for miracles and new discoveries.

I’ve also discovered how simple rituals that you add to your ways of communicating with a team of co-workers can help you in being able to connect better to one another. Sometimes you need an instrument of peace.  Sometimes this instrument comes in the form of another person, an art piece, or a leaf.

Sometimes it’s hard to feel fully understood by another but I’ve realized that when you go through the process of deepening your understanding of yourself by engaging in the art of mindful expression you will find space inside to give room for another’s longing to be understood.

All of these things have helped me carry my own weight as I continue my journey of unravelling and this morning as I sit here silent and grateful, I am overwhelmed by a peace I cannot explain.  The creative act can indeed return you to yourself.  And when you are feeling more at home with yourself, something inside you opens up and becomes a refreshing home for others.

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Healing Stories

There are so many stories to tell about healing that I cannot even begin to enumerate them now.  But perhaps I shall start with one story that has healed me in particular this week.

I saw 5 butterflies dance just right outside the school parking lot before I went into the office.  They were light yellow and they flew from the bamboo trees that lined up the house across the street.  The sun was shining softly against the leaves and the rays of light made them flicker.

I was on the phone with a friend who needed advise on which path to take in his life given the pressing issues of his predicament.  We had been on strained conversations for almost 3 weeks and I had started to feel helpless.  But last Monday after my morning meditation and prayers I felt a surrendering yet again.  Perhaps it is another layer of weight being peeled off of me.  In the call, I had shared with him about the butterflies instantly.  He told me he had been asking God for  a sign and he felt that my telling him about the butterflies was one that confirmed it.

There I felt an exhale. A sigh of relief.  A connection revived to be more life-giving. But most of all I felt grace pour out and just heal.

I don’t know what it is about butterflies that have made me so attuned to nature of late. But I have been seeing a lot of butterflies since last year and sometimes I feel like they follow me or are actually angels in disguise.

The Healing Journey

Now that I think about it, this healing journey of mine has actually been going on for more than a decade.  And it’s a mix and match of many different ways of healing.  I would say I’ve spent over 15 years going through spiritual healing and getting to know God in a more personal way and getting to know the traditions of my own faith so that I can appreciate living it out better.  While that has helped me for the most part, there was something missing.

The more I became “spiritual” the more I wanted to disconnect from my own reality.  It was as if spirituality became an escape for me because I didn’t want to face the things I felt discontented about in my life.  I needed to understand why I felt this way and through the expressive arts practice and the disciplines of psychology I have found a path emerge that converges with the path I’m currently on.

I have grown to understand the different modalities of healing and that there can be many across disciplines and cultural traditions.  It’s been a wonderful patchwork of discoveries that aside from the expressive arts, I’ve gone into a journey of understanding the physiology of my own brain.  Where the psyche resides and all the mysteries of my life are stored in my memory.

Two weeks ago I decided to participate in the study of neurofeedback.  An emerging technology that allows you to map out the different ways your brain responds.  I got myself a brain map and there I also discovered how my life experiences have affected the way I cope with stress and trauma.  I’ve started to take neurofeedback sessions and see a neuro-therapist who has helped me understand how my responses are not just “a mood” or “a behavior” or “a personality”.  This part of my healing process has made me understand that a large part of how we heal is also dependent on our physiology and our brain.

Why have I found this to be important? It is important because I didn’t think that the spirit, mind and body have such great parts to play in a person’s healing.  More than just forcing myself to exercise or eat right (which ends up not really lasting anyway) I had to realize the meaning of why an integration of these aspects of my personhood needed to happen.

It’s a beautiful thing to discover that while we are not of this world we can be in this world and still continue to love it.  That there can be gifts in the daily experiences we go through even if it’s difficult.  That with an outlook of curiosity and love for learning and discovering, one can live life more meaningfully by being compassionate to oneself so that we can be more compassionate to others.

The Stillness of Breath

It was a rollercoaster week for me.  I can’t even begin to describe what it has been like. It’s a mix of all the things that need to be done, to be figured out, to be fixed.  It’s experiencing the wrestling of everybody else’s well-being that begs for space to be heard. To exhale.  To be given breathing room.  It piles up moment after moment and when you start losing you’re awareness of your own self, you begin to feel fragmented all over again.

Thankfully, it didn’t last  that long  for me.   Somewhere in between I caught myself. It was my body in restless sleep waking at the wee hours of the morning praying for a dear friend’s aching soul, lost in a tangle of knots that I’ve been trying to help unravel only to find myself caught in them.  It reminded me again of why I needed a deeper anchor.

I went to church to pray that morning and found myself practicing what I’m learning about meditation lately.  Pay attention to your breath.  Be present to yourself, to your body.  Slow down and do not abandon yourself.  

It’s not easy to be still when there are a million thoughts racing in your head and your phone vibrates with messages that are strained and seeking for help.  If only there was something I could do.  If only I knew what to do.  If only I can help everyone or fix everything.  But I can’t.

That reality sunk in and as I surrendered to it the restlessness began to cease.  I found myself looking at the altar and let the silence of grace fill my mind and calm the rhythm of my anxiety filled breath.  I found an acceptance for the situation.  An acceptance of the frailties and the limitations of what I cannot do when I am trying to do too many things at once.  An acceptance of what I cannot help with when your friend chooses to keep the door closed.  An acceptance that there really are many things that need to be fixed, but I’m not the one who can fix them all.

Surrendering and being present to myself in the midst of what I’m feeling helped me accept the hustle and the bustle, the choking and the wrestling of life around me that needed attention, needed care–including my own.

I found my breath.  I found the rhythm of my heart beating into my prayers and I felt heard.

I am not alone.  I am held.  I am seen.  I am loved.  I began to be aware of the light inside me, of God’s presence stirring and I find the stillness soothing, anchoring deeply into the truth that I am still here. I am making meaning.  I am making things count.  I am doing something of significance.  I am alive.

The silence slowly eased from its tension and began to move inside me like a silent breeze clearing the clutter and making space.  I felt less disturbed as soon as I surrendered into what I felt and the reality that God’s presence holds me through it.

It’s easy to be shaken by outside circumstances when your inside world is not well kept. While I’ve been trying to keep up with tending to my interior life as I’ve told myself with great intentionality this year, I still need to learn how to keep to a healthy rhythm of self-care.

So today, I finally went for that break and found myself enjoying a day with Adi and our spontaneous discoveries because of an accidental turn of events.

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The Softening of Days

I invited my sister to my room  yesterday morning because the sunlight comes through my window a little bit brighter in there.  The chair I let her sit in is a chair that’s been in my family for as long as I can remember.  When I was a little girl I used to be able to fit both my feet all huddled up in that chair reading a book.  And now here’s my younger sister with her son, my nephew Ryce catching some rays before 9:00am.

These are moments of softening the heart and mind especially when days go busy and there is no time to slow down.  I’ve been attentive to my need to slow down lately and have been learning how to choose moments where I participate in motion or rest.  I don’t think I still know how to completely rest yet.  I figure that there is a kind of rest that is lazy and there is a rest that is mindful.  The rest that leads to laziness becomes a futile kind of relaxation.  It’s that kind of rest that happens after a really long busy day where breathers weren’t taken and all you want to do is slump deep into your couch and not think of anything at all.  These are the kinds of moments that make me feel restless after a while.

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The mindful kind of resting is one that awakens and rejuvenates all your senses and makes you feel you’re flowing moment after moment even when you’ve paused from the usual rhythm and motion.  This is the kind of rest that I feel I need to learn how to do even more.  And this restfulness, if I may, only happens when I am able to cultivate a gentleness of heart and kindness to myself and others.

I feel emotionally fatigued easily because of my own recovery from burn out and this isn’t always easy to do.  I have made myself aware of what moves me away from this state of rest and it’s usually when I am put in a situation where I feel like I have to fix something and it needs to be done urgently.  I’ve often prided myself for having survived a lot of transitions in life and helped others in their own transition seasons as well.  But being this kind of person both in my professional and personal life has made me exposed to a disposition where I have to always be alert and quick to act.  In a way, it feels like I’m always in a battle and if I am not able to act right away, something is going to give way or someone will die.

This performance and achievement focused mindset has allowed me to experience  a great deal of growth but it has also turned me into someone who cannot stop until the work is done or the problem fixed.  And it’s that kind of disposition that leads me to believe that my worth is only evident when I’m able to do something instead of be somebody.

It is during these moments when a balance in paradigm is much needed.  Achievement is noble but so are moments of rest.  As I navigate these situations, I’m learning more about self-compassion and how being compassionate towards oneself is much needed today.

Self-compassion involves wanting health and well-being for oneself and leads to proactive behavior to better one’s situation, rather than passivity.  And self-compassion doesn’t mean that I think my problems are more important than yours, it just means I think that my problems are also important and worthy of being attended to.

Rather than condemning yourself for your mistakes and failures, therefore, you can use the experience of suffering to soften your heart.  You can let go of those unrealistic expectations of perfection that make you so dissatisfied, and open the door to real and lasting satisfaction.  All by giving yourself the compassion you need in the moment.

Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

I have found ways in the past to bring me to a place of compassion for myself.  It largely revolved around prayer and community service.  However, this hasn’t been as helpful as I had hoped it to be all throughout because I felt limited in my ways of expression and longing for the deepening of self-discovery.

I’ve realized that what has worked for me lately is being mindful of my unmet needs of creative self-expression, slowing down to soften into moments so that I can capture them in a photograph or a poem, weaving a story of what I see and making new meaning from what has distressed my days, moving at a rhythm that is intentional but graceful and un-rushed.

There is something about the arts that helps you be brave enough to go soft into the moments that feel hard to go through so that you can keep the tenderness in your soul and the light in your heart.

I’m finally admitting to myself that I’m incomplete without it.