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.
Tammy 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, 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.
1. 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
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.
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.