Category Archives: Happiness

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.

Something Good

1. 75 ways to live a positively present life from Positively Present.

2. Karen Walrond at TEDxHouston 2012, shared on Upworthy in their post This Is Why Your Lover Thinks You’re Gorgeous In A Holey T-Shirt And Sweatpants. I recommend her blog too, maybe start with this recent post, random thoughts: on happiness, gratitude & meaning. She’s a speaker, photographer, writer, and all around superwoman “wildly convinced you’re uncommonly beautiful.”

3. Sh*t Hipsters Say.

4. This wisdom from Aart Van Der Leeuw,

The mystery of life
is not a problem to
be solved,
but a reality
to be experienced.

5. When I Read This I Think of You and 10 Things to Do When You Get Up Before the Sun on Elephant Journal.

6. Wisdom from Anne Lamott on Facebook.

7. Wisdom from J.M. Porup, “The job of the writer isn’t to answer questions. The job of the writer is to ask the questions for which there are no answers.”

8. The Daily Life of a Grandma and Her Odd-Eyed Cat, a sweet series of photos by Miyoko Ihara on demilked.

image by Miyoko Ihara

9. The World’s Top 10 Most Unusual Bonsai Trees.

10. One of my favorite websites, Humans of New York, now has a theme song, and I have a new favorite band.

11. This wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook, and what she said about morning.

12. 11 Habits You Need to Give Up to Be Happy and 7 Effective Ways Happy People Think from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

13. Your Daily Rock from Patti Digh: your daily rock : make peace, and your daily rock : recharge your soul, and your daily rock : wholeheartedly.

14. What if the Gift is the Ending? We Can Reimagine Our Lives? from Rachael Maddox.

15. Just Because He Breathes: Learning to Truly Love Our Gay Son on Huffington Post. On her website’s about page, this mom says,

Although I am a Christian, I feel broken-hearted by the things that the church in America has become most known for. You will never find me marching in a parade against gay rights, abortion rights or immigrant rights. I do not resonate with those who are known for being AGAINST things, especially when what it amounts to is being against people’s hearts and souls.

16. How to Enjoy a Chore-less Weekend from Be More with Less.

17. Turning kindness inward, what Judy Clement Wall had to say about her Self-Compassion Saturday post.

18. How to Let Go: 5 Essential Tips on the Positivity Blog.

19. Home Retreat: The Practice of Doing Exactly What You Want from Susan Piver.

20. “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” ~Gloria Steinem

21. Wisdom from Natalie Goldberg,

There is no ultimate goal in meditation. Meditation is an acceptance of the mind, however it comes to you. And the mind changes all the time, just as the ocean waves change. Sometimes the water is turbulent, sometimes calm. Thoughts rise and then disappear; you don’t grab hold of them. The heart beats, the lungs breathe, and the mind continues to produce thoughts. Even if you’ve practiced for a long time, it will still produce thoughts, but you’re no longer thrown by them. You don’t have control of your mind; it goes where it wants to go. But with practice, you can have a relationship with it.

22. Discipline, devotion & dazzling charm: what I learned from three of the most famous bloggers in the world from Alexandra Franzen.

23. Wisdom from the book Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong by Norman Fischer,

We admire people who are wealthy, famous, or skillful in some way, but it’s not hard to be like that. If you are born with some talent, a little luck, and you know the right people, you can do that. Many people do that. Much more difficult and much more wonderful is to be a bodhisattva. Not someone that many people know about and talk about but someone who has the almost magical power of spreading happiness and confidence wherever he goes. What a vision for your life, for your family, to be a light for those around you! To think of everything you do, every action, every social role, every task, as being just a cover for, an excuse for, your real aspiration, to be a bodhisattva, spreading goodness wherever you go. This requires no luck (even if everything goes wrong in your life, you can do it), no special skills, no need to meet special people and get special breaks. We can all do this. This is the aspiration we should all cultivate for training the mind.

24. Wisdom from Tama J. Kieves,

When I was younger, “being different” cost too much. I did anything I could to fit in. These days, “being normal” costs too much. I’m not willing to fit in with the pack, if it costs me my soul, my strength, and my reason for being. I didn’t come here to duck. I came here to fly.

25. Becoming More Authentic: Accept Yourself and Stop Seeking Approval on Tiny Buddha.

26. Wisdom from Tulku Thondup,

For any spiritual training or mental activity, we need concentration. Learning how to concentrate makes our minds strong, clear, and calm. Concentration protects our inner wisdom, like a candle flame sheltered from the wind. If our minds are cluttered with plans, concerns, thoughts, and emotional patterns, we have no space for our true selves.

And

Learning to live in the moment is a great and powerful skill that will help us in everything we do. To ‘‘be here now,’’ relaxed and engaged in whatever we are doing, is to be alive and healthy. In Buddhism, the awareness of what is happening right now is called mindfulness.

27. Every place is under the stars, a really great quote shared on A Design So Vast.

28. Appreciating My “Regular” Job and 50 Ways You Can Be Brave Today on The Self-Compassion Project.

29. Twenty seconds away from more joy! on Cherry Blossom Soup.

30. Whitney Cummings on The Conversation

31. From Brave Girls,

Today we have a sweet little challenge for you. What if for the next 24 hours, you focus on what is right, and not waste a single minute thinking about what is wrong? What if you run towards what you want, instead of running away from what you don’t want? What if you notice the beautiful little miracles and ignore the big distractions. What if you listen to the voice inside of you and let all of the other voices go? Just for 24 hours? Will you take us up on it? We suspect that it might just end up being one of the best days of your life. Enjoy it! Every single second of it! You are so loved. xoxo

32. Wisdom from Mr. Rogers, “There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.”

33. Mark Bittman’s Spicy Cheddar Shortbread recipe. I make a biscuit like this that my friends call “crack biscuits,” so I am totally going to try this one.

34. From Positively Present Picks: How to let go of your ego, How to buy happiness, and A Dad had some weird conversations with his two-year-old daughter. So he reenacted them with two grown men, (two new episodes!).

35. From Rowdy Kitten’s Happy Links: Xanthe Berkeley Photos and Films, which led to this, her video set on Vimeo — really beautiful work.

36. From Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend list: honeysuckle biscuits with sea salt peach butter + honeysuckle mint vinaigrette, gorgeous food, luscious recipe.

37. Lots of new episodes on Why We Rescue.

38. When Facebook Likes Meet Real Life, Things Get … Complicated on Upworthy.

39. This wisdom from Hafiz, “You yourself are your own obstacle – rise above yourself.”

40. This wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

Whatever we’re doing could be done with one intention, which is that we want to wake up, we want to ripen our compassion, and we want to ripen our ability to let go. Everything in our lives can wake us up or put us to sleep, and basically it’s up to us to let it wake us up.