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“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” – Kurt Vonnegut
Becoming an adult often means we swallow pieces of ourselves, hide vulnerabilities under the guise of responsibilities. Frequent crying is labeled juvenile, a personal weakness… Yet if ever there were a period to be gentle with ourselves, it is now, when the energy in the world tugs at us daily, assaulting our psyches.
As women and Moms we are relentless with self criticism. I wake up with a mile long to-do-list and silently berate myself when things fall by the way side. Often I struggle to even feel worthy of rest.
There is so much to do, I tell myself – homeschooling, blogging, planning meals and errands for the week. How can I possibly lay down, or go sit in a cafe and read (one of my favorite past times)? And yet, each time I surrender to rest or doing something only for me, I feel renewed.
Why is it so tough for us to show compassion towards ourselves? It’s a habit, y’all, and like everything which becomes part of our daily lives, we have to do it over and over again.
When you and I feel overwhelmed the next time, the weight of responsibilities suffocating us, we have to first begin to breathe. It instantly centers you, becoming your sole focus during that moment.
The hubby, Kes, says that to me whenever I become frantic. Take a deep breath, baby. And then, because he’s perfect for me, he follows up with something hilarious: “I’m gonna start calling you ‘Mel & The Frantics’ cause you always in a panic.” Now I am laughing so hard I almost snort. If y’all could see his face, eyes wide with amusement, you would bowl over with laughter, too.
Audrey Hepburn, whom I admire for her kindness, humanitarian work, and gracious beauty said: “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”
All of us need those moments when joy erridicates worry. Sometimes, we have to look in the mirror and crack up at our own mess!
Releasing judgement, anxiety, and silencing all those “should voices” in our minds is another essential part of embracing gentleness. American culture is very much rooted in a kind of personal gratification based on what you do (work hard and then play). Yet there are days when we must relax without having done everything.
This is a tough on for me, y’all. I am goal / project / achievement-oriented-person. But the longer I foster self care and love in my spirit, the more I come to increased clarity, understanding gentleness means releasing fear, the fear of not measuring up.
You and I are enough. Our strength and beauty is not inextricably tied to productivity. We are more than our accomplishments. Gentleness, compassion, honesty and humor are the way forward, illuminating our day-to-day paths. Each one of us deserves a life overflowing with lasting gentleness and joy.
Are you gentle with yourself? If so, in what ways? If not, how can you start?