Monthly Archives: August 2013

Self-Compassion Saturday: Tammy Strobel

go small, think big, be happy. ~Tammy Strobel

This is going to be another one of those introductions, one of the ones where I tell you that I can’t remember exactly how I first discovered Tammy Strobel’s work, specifically her blog Rowdy Kittens. If I had to guess, it was probably through Susannah Conway, maybe she shared a link or something, (here’s an interview Susannah did with Tammy last year, My Creative Life: Tammy Strobel). Or, it might have been Courtney Carver of Be More with Less who shared a link to Tammy’s site. What I can tell you for sure is that I’ve been reading her blog, following her work for the past few years, and I have so much respect and love for her.

tammyintheroundTammy did a lot of work to simplify her life, to create the perfect one for herself. You can read all about her transformation in her book You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too.

Once, Tammy Strobel and her husband were living a normal middle-class lifestyle: driving two cars, commuting long distances, and living well beyond their means. Now they are living the voluntary downsizing — or smart-sizing — dream.

Tammy lives in a tiny house with her husband and cats, spending her days reading and writing and teaching and taking pictures, contributing wisdom and creating beauty — essentially doing whatever she wants, but also what helps. She says,

[L]iving simply isn’t about becoming an ascetic; it’s not about denying yourself pleasure and joy. It’s not about austerity. Instead, it’s about building a life steeped in the only precious gifts that can bring lasting happiness: time, freedom, and community. The focus is on life, not stuff.

photo by Tammy Strobel

photo by Tammy Strobel, her tiny house

I did meet Tammy last year at World Domination Summit. She won’t remember it because it went something like this — she was volunteering the first day, answering questions and giving people their name tags and shwag. I saw her at the table, walked up to her and said, “Are you Tammy of Rowdy Kittens?” She answered yes and smiled, and then someone else was asking for her attention and she turned, probably not even hearing me tell her how much I love her blog. It was actually one of the moments when I thought to myself, “why did I come here?,” the introvert in me wanting to run away home, skip the whole thing.

A little over a year later, and I have a space where I share people like Tammy with you, kind and gentle reader, my own little tiny corner of the world where I can invite people like her into a conversation about things that matter, where we can connect, be comforted and inspired. I wasn’t afraid this time to “talk” to Tammy, didn’t feel like I don’t belong. My small life is deep and wide, linked to a vast space filled with folks wise and kind. Along the way, from there to here, Tammy Strobel has been a constant inspiration, a source of wisdom and comfort to me. I am so happy today to be sharing her perspective on self-compassion with you.

tammysepia1. What does self-compassion mean, what is it? How would you describe or define it?

I define self-compassion as being kind to myself and accepting who I am — flaws and all.

2. How did you learn self-compassion? Did you have a teacher, a guide, a path, a resource, a book, a moment of clarity or specific experience?

I learned about self-compassion from my parents, close friends, and from my husband. They are my teachers. I try to follow their example because they are incredibly kind to themselves and to others.

3. How do you practice self-compassion, what does that experience look like for you?

Unfortunately, my inner dialogue isn’t always kind or accepting. When I catch myself engaging in negative self-talk, I remind myself that I am enough, that I’m doing good work, and that I have friends and family who love me.

photo by Tammy Strobel

photo by Tammy Strobel

Happiness isn’t a stroke of luck. It’s something you have to practice every day. How? By choosing activities that spur your curiosity and engagement with the present moment. ~Tammy Strobel

4. What do you still need to learn, to know, to understand? What is missing from your practice of self-compassion, what do you still struggle with?

I struggle with negative self-talk and have a lot to learn about self-compassion. Looking toward my loved ones and using positive mantras to stay on track helps me stay centered and grounded.

augustbreakselfietammy

selfie by Tammy

I’m so grateful to Tammy for taking the time to respond to these questions. In all of her work, everything she shares, I am constantly reminded to practice self-compassion, to allow joy and rest, to know that even in chaos, connection and comfort are possible, and that as Mary Oliver says, all I have to do is “let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” To find out more about Tammy, to connect with her:

Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Kristin Noelle, (which is such a sweet coincidence — Kristin drew the picture of Tammy and her tiny house that you see in the header of Rowdy Kittens).

P.S. If you didn’t see the first post in this series, you might want to read Self-Compassion Saturday: The Beginning.

Gratitude Friday

1. Lunch with good friends, wise conversation and joyful laughter.

2. Brene’ Brown on Oprah’s Lifeclass. I stumbled on the live streaming version of the first two sessions the other day. So good.

3. Plenty from our garden. We are in the sweet spot where we pick this many tomatoes e v e r y day.

harvest4. Three day weekend AND payday, falling on the same weekend.

5. Making reservations for a month in Waldport. Maybe it seems too early to be making firm plans for next summer already, but I didn’t want to risk someone else getting “our” house.

Bonus Joy: my little family.

napsortof

#augustbreak2013 Day 30

Sign

I don’t like graffiti, the destruction, the aggression it represents, the assertion of dominance and ownership so like one of my dogs peeing on something, intending to mark it, claim it.

Other times, I think it’s kind of beautiful, like the one here.
Sometimes, it can feel like a sign from the Universe, a message just for me.

Sometimes, it’s even funny.

#augustbreak2013 Day 29

Your Fave Thing

favoritepenI wasn’t sure how to answer this one at first. My very favorite thing is of course Eric, we say to each other all the time “you are my favorite,” but he’s not exactly a “thing.” I was considering this prompt as I sat at my writing desk this morning, started to look around, see what might be my fave thing. I love many of the things on my shrines, but I already shared those the other day.

Then I looked down and saw one of my favorite things, my Pentel Clarius refillable pen, made in Japan. When I think about it, how I have two, one that stays home and one that travels with me, how it’s what I always use to write, it makes me tear up a little, makes me feel like a “real” writer.

Wishcasting Wednesday (on a Thursday)

What Do You Wish to Savour?

…my mornings. I get up at 4:30 a.m. and for the first hour or two, my only responsibility is to feed the dog. I pull a tarot card, meditate, write, check my email, Facebook, Instagram, maybe read or write a blog post — time just for me, to practice and contemplate.

…time alone with Sam, having just one dog, just him for a brief time.

…my yoga practice, as I continue to direct compassion towards my body, to be present with it, as I prepare to start teacher training.

…my mediation practice, to relax into that vast, open space, to trust that is always there, always available and accessible.

…my writing practice, the opportunity to go deeper, to more fully experience and understand, to open my heart.

…the transition between seasons, summer to fall, even as I chant “it’s too hot” to remember this time is passing, to notice that things are manifesting their final foliage, blooms and fruits.

…the plenty from my garden, this time of so many tomatoes and cucumbers that we can’t possibly eat them all ourselves, the temporary sweetness of their full, fresh flavor.

…the opportunities coming, the chance to spend time with amazing teachers and good friends.

…each task, seen through until its completion, rather than rushing past some of the details to hurry to the next thing.

…the abundance that is my life now, how simple and small, how deep and wide, how perfect.

Like my dear friend Julia wrote in a recent poem, I wish to savour this life, this experience, and to

Slow way down
get close and closer
listen like crazy
to your life

#augustbreak2013 Day 28

Smell

coffeesmellI used to hate the smell of coffee. I can remember washing my hair in the kitchen sink, my dad running the water in the sink next to mine until it got hot, then filling his coffee cup. As soon as the water hit the instant coffee at the bottom, a strong smell would drift over to me, and I would say something like “Gross, how can you stand to drink that?!”

Now I get it. I only drink half a cup, but there’s something about the ritual of that each morning, and the smell is a big part of the experience. All I have to do is smell hot coffee and I perk up, feel a little more awake. Luckily, I don’t have to put up with a kid telling me how gross it is. Sorry, Dad. I didn’t know then how wrong I was — about a lot of things.