Posts Tagged ‘compassion’
For many of us in the world, autumn has arrived in its full beauty and darkness. The leaves turn magnificent colors and then fall, leaving a barren tree and a dark landscape. The days are shorter and colder. Warm sun is harder for some of us to find, and impossible for others.
I’m very connected to the changing seasons, and so I feel some of the beauty and darkness within my own internal landscape. It manifests as a great desire for more sleep… snuggling on the couch with my family… open days on my calendar with no appointments or expectations of myself… canning applesauce… and ample time to meander, change course, or take a nap.
For years, I called my autumn mood depression because I had much less desire for projecting outside my small circle and less patience for busyness. Now I call it …
Last week our NVC Academy Team was meeting, and I asked if anyone had any ideas for a topic for our October issue of Growing Roots. Fellow co-founder of the NVC Academy, Mark Schultz, said: “Witches and goblins need compassion too!” We all chuckled.
And yet it is the truth, isn’t it.
There are days when I can meet the so-called witches and goblins in my life with empathy, compassion, and love in abundance. On those days, I know my life is in greater balance and my spiritual / emotional tank is full. And I feel grateful to Marshall Rosenberg for teaching me how to take better care of myself and for inspiring my natural compassion to grow.
Other days, it seems my own internal witch or goblin needs tender care, and she has little to offer others. That’s a sign that my spiritual and emotional tank is low and needs a tune up. My favorite tune up methods are: asking for empathy (I have two empathy buddies); reading books that remind me of my own and others’ divinity; meditation; simply talking to a good friend; helping someone else (service); and going for a walk in nature.
The truth is that when I first came into NVC I thought I didn’t have a compassionate bone in my body. And I thought there wasn’t enough empathy in the world to heal me.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in my living room when my entire building started to rock, my glass of water trembled, my heart raced, and my cat flew out of the room in fear. It was an earthquake. A week later, it happened again only this time everything rocked even more.
Earthquakes are one of the disadvantages of living in California; so far we have been very lucky that the magnitude has been low.
The thing that was most striking to me was that once the earthquakes were done, my cat bit me. An angry bite that didn’t hurt, but her ears were down and she looked mad. She looked mad but I knew she was acting out of fear so I picked her up, kissed her face, and snuggled with her until she calmed. I think it was nurturing to her and I know it was to me.
Have you ever been scared and responded with anger?
Lately, I’ve been ruminating on aging.
Eight months ago, I turned 60 and I’m still letting it in. Suddenly, retirement isn’t a lifetime away. Suddenly, I’m watching myself physically age faster than I’ve noticed or even fathomed before. Suddenly, I’m aware of the potential of having just a few decades left rather than what seemed like an endless length of time.
I don’t feel old… yet time seems more precious than it ever had before. My oldest and dearest friend died in March, so tending to my relationships has taken on a new, laser-sharp focus.
I’m increasingly aware that something inside me is shifting towards what’s most important, such as how and with whom I want to spend my time, and what my priorities are for the next 10 years. My definition of and experience of beauty and wisdom are also taking on new meaning. And self-care takes up more time and and has grown in importance in my physical and emotional life.
These aren’t bad things. They’re new things. I recently read a quote from Parker Palmer, one of my favorite authors, where he said, “I want to collaborate with aging.”
One of the paradoxical aspects of my life is that I consider myself a small town, rural person and I live in a big city. I’m here because of a strong inner call that led me here, and I have many needs that are met by this decision. I love my life – and I miss nature – so one of the ways I make this big city life more enjoyable is by visiting our local nature center several times a week to commune with natural life of all kinds.
And, I have great news to report…
We live in an intensive time, don’t we? Many of us are confronted with loved ones whose perspective is remarkably different from our own – and both sides often feel quite desperate and overwhelmed.
So I’m thinking it’s time for me to come back to the basics, and maybe this is true for you too. I frequently come back to the basics when my relationships seem challenging or harder than I think they need to be. So, please join me in NVC Basic 101…
I love gardening… Do you?
My favorite part is in the spring when I get to pull out and clean up all of winter’s dead stalks and make way for the year’s new seedlings and young plants. And seeing the tiny heads of their new leaves poking through the once-frozen dirt – ahhhhh, there’s something so healing and nurturing about following this practice every spring.
My least favorite part is planning the garden, and as a result, I have relied on untrained instincts and luck, a plan which used to work pretty well until I moved to California. I was told anything could grow, but almost nothing I’ve planted has thrived. Hmmm.
Do you ever experience this in your life? A time when it seems that you’re bumbling along without much direction or clarity? Or when you seem to run into more roadblocks than open doors?
When I lived in the mountains, March meant a slight lessening of the chill in the air. There was a lot of snow still, but it was wet and heavy and was often followed by a rain that would melt it quickly. And then, magically, I’d see a daffodil bloom poke its head out of the snow and feel gleeful. Spring is on the way! And it’s time to ready myself for it.
This morning I’m thinking about Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), and feeling deeply grateful for my own emotional thawing that happened as a result of my NVC work.
I came to NVC angry and heavy with pent-up and unexpressed emotions. I didn’t understand the impact of all I had been holding onto until one moment in a workshop when I received full-on, connecting empathy for the first time. My emotions burst open and I felt completely free in a way I had never before experienced: the kind of freedom that happens when we are seen and understood – and there’s an allowing for all emotion.
What’s the weather like where you are? It is pouring full-on outside my window and has been for two days. I’m bundled up in a long-sleeve t-shirt covered by a heavy plaid flannel shirt, heavy pants, and big fluffy socks… and I’m shivering as I type this.
I love weather like this! It calls me to hunker down, stay close to home, snuggle more, and tend to my inner, emotional weather. Hmmm. Giving myself a chance to check in with myself, I remember that – besides loving the rain – my heart is heavy with sadness.
Several years ago, at a time when I was feeling especially judgmental of my parents and how they raised me and my siblings, I was driving down the road ruminating on their lack of generosity.
Have you had times like this? Times when you found yourself running the same stories through your head, and they all have the same ending: the ending that makes the other person — or yourself — stay in your bad graces?
So on this particular day, I was ruminating on my parents’ lack of generosity while driving down the road and heading to a cabin by the ocean, near where I was raised in Washington State (one of my favorite places in the world), when it occurred to me: