Category Archives: Forgiveness

Self-Compassion Saturday: Kerilyn Russo

I am one of the searchers.

There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know – unless it be to share our laughter. ~James Kavanaugh

There are some people that when you meet them for the first time, you feel like you’ve always known them. You are comfortable right away, love them immediately. For me, one of those people is Kerilyn Russo. When I was at World Domination Summit (WDS) last year, sitting with Rachel Cole during a break between sessions, this woman came up to greet Rachel. They clearly already knew each other, and Rachel turned to me and said, “you two need to meet, should know each other.”

But somehow I already knew Kerilyn. As Rachel introduced us, and I looked at that big smile and those dimples, a feeling overwhelmed me, a sense of “There you are! Where have you been? I’ve been waiting, looking for you!” I felt so happy, so relieved, like I might cry. It was the strangest, best thing. We didn’t get to spend nearly enough time together that weekend, but I kept running into her, and every time I had that same feeling of “there you are!” and that sense of an immediate, easy connection.

Since then, Kerilyn and I have been able to stay in touch. We’ve Skyped in our bathrobes, talked on the phone about deep and important things, became pen pals (regular snail mail, just like we were 12 years old again). She is the best kind of friend, helping me to go deeper, asking the best kinds of questions, but also making me smile and laugh until my face hurts. I absolutely adore her. Her smile is one of the best things on earth.

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Kerilyn describes herself this way, as a wife, friend, sister, and sensitive soul, (add to that mother-to-be, yay!). Interior Designer by day. Creator/Certified Life Coach of Married to a Chef, student of A Course in Miracles, lover of Reggae music, amateur Greeting Card Designer, novice photographer, Highly Sensitive Person, Searcher, and swimmer of the deep. You can read more about what she’d say about herself in her first post for Roots of She, Stand out: Meet Kerilyn Russo and see the power of stepping into your true role, or on her Who Am I? page on her website, Ancora Imparo, (which means “I am still learning” in Italian). I am so excited to share her perspective on self-compassion with you today.

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

Self compassion, from where I stand TODAY… is the continual process of forgiving ourselves (and others) for what we THINK we/they did to us, them… and the world. We have forgotten who we REALLY are (UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE) and self compassion (or RADICAL self forgiveness) is a TOOL to remembering our TRUE state. When we unconditionally forgive and accept ourselves and those around us (much harder than we think, which is why it’s so hard to maintain a feeling of self compassion)… we are remembering who we REALLY are and in that, our divinity.

kerilynlake2. 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?

What an exciting question! I love this one! My view of self-compassion has evolved as I have evolved and if it’s okay with you, I am happy to share a little bit of how it has changed along the way.

As I began my spiritual (not religious) journey (hee hee, how many of us have said that?), I was eager and hungry to attempt to understand how the WORLD worked… what made it tick, underneath it all. The seen and the unseen. I soaked up books on energy, reincarnation, and spirit as a way of understanding what was happening TO ME in my life. Still at this point, it wasn’t about how I had a part to play in it… it was like I was sitting in a theater… watching the movie about how the world worked, without my awareness of how I am a full blown contributor to it. I was unconscious to how my thoughts and actions toward myself was a reflection of what I saw. I think my former organized religion conditioned beliefs about how it was out of my control still had it’s grip on me, and while I was aware there was more to this than just praying to God and going to church, I was still unknowing of how my participation had to do with what I saw in my life. HOW could I have self compassion at this point in my journey, when I still believed that the world was happening TO me, not because of me. The limiting beliefs that doing anything for myself was selfish and how dare I believe the world, still revolved around me. This was challenging because it didn’t sit right with me, but I forged on… STILL feeling like I was still missing something.

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When The Secret and Abraham (Jerry & Esther Hicks) came my way. Blew the lid off of that I had nothing to do with my outcome. I heard “As you think, so shall you be.” And I was spiritually in shock for a while. WHAT? I have something to do with how my life looks? I am ultimately responsible?? As I got swept away in the loving current of this new philosophy… I was still quite unsure as to HOW to REMEMBER that it’s TOTALLY in my control. It starts with how I FEEL. How I feel includes feeling good about HOW I feel about myself and the predicaments I find myself in my life. When I remembered this, I felt wonderful and when I didn’t, I went back to that old thinking that it was outside of my control. (Those old beliefs really do have a hold on us… wouldn’t you agree?) STILL… I felt there was still something MORE to this. These beliefs filled me up, absolutely, but they didn’t answer the question about WHY the world (and still myself) were constantly in conflict, so I kept searching…

Kerilyn's sweet kitty, Pez

Kerilyn’s sweet kitty, Pez

Not too long after that, I found A Course in Miracles and all my questions have since been answered (even in my resistance of them). As I became a serious student of the Course, I began to learn that there are NO answers outside of myself. “Seek Not outside yourself” is still one of the most powerful messages of the Course for me. It is ALL about me. The OPPOSITE of what I’ve been taught at an earlier part of my journey. It is ALL about my perceptions of what I see, my projections of my OWN inner thoughts and feelings, is what I see in my experience, the role RADICAL forgiveness plays and the process of UN-learning we all must do to heal ourselves, and experience TRUE love, which the Course says is all there is.

Based on the Courses teachings, we have not been taught love, but attack. The ego (the part of us that wants us to believe we’re separate from everyone and everything else) has us brainwashed with thoughts of self hatred to keep us believing we’re separate from everyone else. SPECIAL. Attack with everyone we see (whether we’re aware of it or not) and everything we think… that includes our thoughts about ourselves.

NO WONDER we cannot sustain self compassion for long, we’ve been believing that we are not worth UNITY with anyone or anything, including ourselves. It’s this belief that keeps us in that feast or famine vicious cycle. *Secret: To keep us believing we’re separate, the ego has to give us good experiences (FEAST) to keep the pendulum of duality (GOOD AND BAD) in motion.

That is where you will find me. In the process of UN-learning those old messages, infusing them with a practice of RADICAL Forgiveness that even I cannot even fully grasp at this time, facing my resistance and regularly in forgiveness when I attack my brothers, and more importantly, myself.

Picture by Kerilyn, taken in Savannah, GA

Picture by Kerilyn, taken in Savannah, GA

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

Self compassion (or what I call RADICAL forgiveness) is just that… a practice. It’s a TOOL. I pick it up and use it when I need remember that have a CHOICE to make… continue to feel yucky, continue to not understand, continue to believe in my victimization OR to live from another way of being. It’s totally up to me. Maybe one day I have to pick it up a handful of times, and maybe other days I have to CONSTANTLY be picking it up, hundreds of times a day. To ask myself, “Do I want to be RIGHT, or do I want to be HAPPY?” Challenging those beliefs of separation and lack and remembering my natural state of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. At this point in our evolution, we are not able to LIVE in that state of radical forgiveness (which is okay) but for me, I know it’s at my fingertips… whenever I REALLY want to understand why I am feeling, the way I’m feeling. *Oh, and If I don’t REALLY want to understand, that’s okay too… I’ll want to forgive myself for not wanting to understand and keep on moving forward. Again, it’s a CONTINUAL practice of forgiveness.

Oh, and how do I practice self compassion? Easy. I am constantly forgiving myself. Forgiving myself when I judge another to be wrong, when I judge myself as less than… and judge the world for what I see as “bad”. Practicing self compassion is saying “I forgive myself, for I know not what I see/do.” over and over again.

Why don’t you try it now… Forgive yourself for something you THINK you or someone else did today. Forgive them or yourself in your MIND. That’s all. No need for an outwardly expression of forgiveness. Go inside and FORGIVE. *And if you find it too hard to forgive… that’s okay… forgive yourself for not being able to forgive. Let yourself or someone else off the hook today.

Kerilyn and Peter at their wedding

Kerilyn and Peter at their wedding, (read more about their love story)

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?

Oh my goodness… What do I still need to learn? That my shift in perception (from conflict to peace) is a reflection of how often I practice. Practice a little, get little results. Let this philosophy fold into my day and I am able to be happier, more at peace. It’s about CONSTANTLY practicing. Why don’t I constantly practice? Because I think I’m here in this world, this dream, ALONE. That I can “do it” myself. I need to learn that I am not and CANNOT do anything alone. (Remember the EGO has done a doosy on us, having us think we’re SEPARATE and therefore ALONE.)

I struggle with my resistance to really KNOWING this information to be true. We have been brainwashed a LONG time.. and I still have quite a bit of resistance toward unlearning. There are days when I want to seek for my specialness.. where I would rather be RIGHT than happy… where I feel where I have been wronged… and in that awareness I need to remember that I can always choose differently.. whenever I am ready to. The option is ALWAYS there for me, it’s a matter of my little willingness.

kerilynI am so grateful for Kerilyn, for her responses, (especially what she had to say about forgiveness), for her support and friendship and wisdom, her constant effort and curiosity and sense of humor, her big heart and big smile. To find out more about Kerilyn, to connect with her:

Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Rachel Cole.

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

Self-Compassion Saturday: Judy Clement Wall

I will be tender with other people’s hearts.
I will be fearless with my own.
~Judy Clement Wall

I have been deep in practicing self-compassion these past few days. The loss of our sweet Dexter offered an invitation to be fully present, experience the full measure of life, keep my heart open to the bitter and the sweet, receive big love from so many, honor all that is precious and impermanent, sink into the comfort of being connected, and be gentle with myself.

It seems so right that it would be Judy Clement Wall’s responses I’m sharing with you today. She is one of my dear doggy loving friends (in fact, in her Ten Things About Me list on her website’s about page, she says “I feel sorry for people who don’t have dogs”), a woman who “gets it,” a member of this awful club of those who’ve loved and let go. As I’ve said about her before, “In both moments of celebration and grief, Judy has offered her encouragement, inspiration, and support. I am so lucky, so grateful.”

DoodleLove

I’ve written about Judy before, “writer. doodler. love warrior.” In that post, I said,

I can’t remember how I first encountered Judy’s work, but I do know the first community project I took part in was her collaborative project with Julia Fehrenbacher, 41 6-word Days … I immediately adored her gentle, kind, brave and funny spirit, and her ability to connect people.

Everything she writes … invites readers into a conversation, into connection, to community. It might be her superpower, that and love, which is also her religion.

Judy always challenges me to open up a little more, to contemplate, to feel and to think. We have a lot in common: writing, dogs, hiking, and yoga. We also both apparently tend to be a little Lucille Ball-ish, slightly clumsy and adorably goofy from time to time. We both are in love with love. I think it’s the answer to every question, and she wrote a manifesto about it.

lovemanifestoprint

I admire Judy for many reasons. She’s a mom, (dogs and kids), a wife, a yogini, a warrior of love. She’s a shared project instigator, a master doodler, a practitioner of hiking, a seer of beauty. But most of all, I admire and aspire to her writing success. She’s both self and other published, (I’ve heard a rumor she’s working on a novel, among other things), committed to her work, to engaging with the world and her experience, and sharing that with her readers, inviting them to do the same.

Since I wrote that post, Judy has also begun to pursue her art in earnest. She is simply one of the most loving and real, creative and playful, gloriously messy and brilliant women I know. When I think of her, I can’t help but think of what Gandhi said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” I’m so happy to be sharing her perspective on self-compassion with you today.

judy

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

Once, when my son was little, he drew me a picture. I said I loved it, though I couldn’t tell what it was. I started pointing out specific parts of the picture that I liked, and then he’d say things like, “See how I made the tail long?” and “I know she has spots, but I wanted stripes.” Eventually, I figured out he’d drawn our Dalmatian and I declared it the best Dalmatian drawing ever.

Of course, there’s no other way that story could have gone. I would never have risked crushing his budding creative impulses by offering anything other than praise and encouragement. We do that with the people we love. We see their imperfections and we encourage them to spread their wings anyway because we were never expecting them to be perfect, and we absolutely know, with every fiber of our being, that they are capable of flight.

Self-compassion to me is when we turn that same sort of deepest truth and nurturing attention on ourselves. It’s when we stop expecting ourselves to be perfect and then beating ourselves up (mercilessly!) for falling short. It’s when we’re patient with ourselves the way we’d be with a child or our best friend, knowing that they are worth all the tenderness we are giving them and so much more.

weneedtobelieve

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 guess I had a moment that set me on the path. At a very difficult time, I’d made some truly disastrous decisions, one after another, putting at risk the things in my life that are most important. The problem was that even after I’d realized the magnitude of my mistakes and was well into the work of repairing my life, I was still lost in my guilt and shame. I believed I deserved every bad thing that happened to me, and, maybe even more damaging, I couldn’t accept anything good.

In my moment of clarity I understood that if I didn’t forgive myself – truly forgive myself – I would never be able to move on. Of course, the realization and the making it so didn’t happen simultaneously. I still felt lost, not knowing how to get where I needed to be. I looked for teachers, guides, a path, resources. I read Eckhart Tolle, Martha Beck, Jack Kornfield, Sugar (Cheryl Strayed), and so many others. I devoured anything written by smart, soulful people talking about being human.

I took up yoga and meditation, and I wrote about my experiences. Over time, step by painful step, I accepted myself, realizing that (just like everyone in my life that I cherish) I’m exquisitely human, capable of fucking things up royally… but also of stepping into grace, gratitude and forgiveness.

myreligion

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

I’m still learning this, but I think it’s about consciously being a friend to myself. My tendency, and I think this is true for so many people, is to be incredibly hard on myself. Mean, actually. The voice in my head can be very vicious. And the problem with having a constant inner dialogue that is undermining and judgmental is that I start to look for love and validation externally, and that’s like running on a hamster wheel, or trying to stand tall on shifting sands.

So I’m learning to be gentle with myself. Patient. Forgiving. I’m using the “What can I learn from this question” instead of berating myself for mistakes. And I try to think what I’d say to someone I love if they’d screwed up or been rejected or produced something that was less than perfect. I would never tell them (as I do with myself), “Of course it didn’t work out. What made you think you could do that?” I’d love the crap out of them as they work their way through their disappointment and pain, and I’d tell them this is how life works. For everyone.

More and more, I try to love the crap out of myself.

lovecard

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 get better all the time, but I still struggle with not being enough validation for myself. I’ll write a piece and feel good enough to submit it, but if an editor doesn’t get back to me or rejects it (a fact of life for writers), I doubt the quality of my work, rather than assuming it wasn’t a fit for that publication and trying again somewhere else, which is what I would tell any other writer to do. I’m using writing as an example, but the pattern of assuming I’m not (good, smart, savvy, talented, etc) enough exists in all parts of my life.

I think being self-compassionate requires me to value my own opinion, my own voice, as much if not more than I value the opinions of others. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done, but I’m learning. It’s a practice. It involves doing things I love – writing, doodling, yoga, hiking, connecting with nature, building community  – because I love them, and doing them consciously, grounding myself in a life that makes me strong.

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I am filled with love and gratitude for Judy. Ever since I received her responses, I’ve been trying to “love the crap out of myself,” and continuing to love the crap out of her. To find out more about Judy, to connect with her:

Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Anne-Sophie Reinhardt.

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