Tag Archives: Women

Self-Compassion Saturday: Anne-Sophie Reinhardt

Today is the first official day of the World Domination Summit, (WDS). I am trying not to be jealous or feel sad when I look at all the pictures and updates being posted on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It’s kind of like having to stay home from summer camp or missing a school field trip because you are sick, knowing how much fun everyone is having, feeling a little left out and sorry for yourself. And yet, I know it was the right thing for me to not go this year, that Dexter needed me here, that I need the time to grieve his loss, (and besides, I spent so much money on it last year, I really couldn’t justify spending more, again, so soon).

One of the best things about WDS is the people you meet, the connections you make with those who are doing similar work and have similar ideas, who share your intentions and your experience. Last year at WDS, I was lucky enough to meet Anne-Sophie Reinhardt. Without planning to, we kept running into each other over the course of the weekend, sitting together and talking about the things we had in common. I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with her. She has the biggest heart, makes you feel immediately safe and at ease, and she has the best smile, the greatest laugh.

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Anne-Sophie in a WDS hammock, 2013

Anne-Sophie Reinhardt is a body image expert, self-love advocate and the author of Love Your Body The Way It Is. Join her newsletter and receive your free 3-part video series helping you to break free from your obsession with food and your body. On her website’s about page she says,

For the longest time, I was caught in a circle of self-doubt and self-loathing. Now, I’m free, confident and happy with myself and my body. My mission is to help you achieve the same.

And,

I write on, teach and live self-love and body-love. Sometimes, I even breathe it … I believe that every single woman can find peace around food and her body. I dream of creating a world where women love themselves unabashedly, completely and guiltlessly.

I am so grateful for the work Anne-Sophie is doing, the difference she is making, to me and in the world. And I am so happy to be able to share her perspective on self-compassion with you today.

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

To me, self-compassion means having a binge and not beating yourself up. It means looking in the mirror and saying to yourself: Yes, love, your stomach isn’t perfect, but I love you anyway. It means laughing when you make a mistake instead of going into self-attack and it means responding to your ever-present critic in the head with a loud and clear “Fuck You”.

Self-compassion is a skill that every woman can learn. It’s a process that you commit to and once you decide to go from self-attacking mode to self-compassionate mode, your life completely changes.

Self-compassion helps to heal broken hearts and wounded souls. It’s the elixir of self-care and the golden heart of a self-loving person.

Self-compassion also means taking a bath at the end of a hard day, learning to say no when you’re exhausted and hell yes when something really exciting. Self-compassion doesn’t always feel good to you but it’s always good for you.

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?

Big question. I think that I’m still very much on the path to learning self-compassion. I never had a specific teacher or even a guru, but through my recovery from anorexia, I’ve read a lot, sat in meditation for days, tried, failed and tried again. I’ve learned to first not act on the constant critic’s advice and then I learned to respond to it in a different way. There were days when it was easy not to be so very hard on myself and there were and still are many days, where WWIII is happening in my body and mind.

Two steps forward. One step back.

That’s reality, life and a true self-loving path. If you can accept that, truly accept it, then you’re one step closer to a wholly self-compassionate life.

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

My number one way of showing self-compassion is to nourish my body with healthful, delicious food. I’ve been negating myself food for 14 years and it’s still my weakness. Another way to practice self-compassion is meditation. For about 8 months, I’ve been meditating every morning instead of running to the computer and letting the craziness of the day into my world. This lets me start my day with deep introspection and I always feel more balanced, which leads to being kinder to myself.  I often treat myself to a mani/pedi when I’m in a big self-attack mode or I simply go for a walk in nature, which never fails to ground me and helps me to see what’s really important. Also, when I had a fight with a loved one or I’ve made a mistake, I am kinder with myself as I used to be. It takes presence and practice in those moments, but the more often I do it the more intuitive a self-compassionate response gets.

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?

Lots of things. How to not be so hard on myself when my business doesn’t do as well as I’d like it to go. How to be at peace even when I can’t work out for a few days. How to be present and grateful for being myself instead of always looking for the future. I still need to understand what complete peace of mind feels like, but I trust the process and I know that one day soon, I’ll know or I won’t. Either way, I’ll be more grounded, happier and kinder to myself and others.

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I am so grateful for Anne-Sophie, for her responses — so genuine, just like her. I love how she described self-compassion as “the golden heart of a self-loving person.” To find out more about Anne-Sopie, to connect with her:

Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Susan Piver.

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

An open love letter to “this i know: notes on unraveling the heart” and Susannah Conway

I first discovered Susannah Conway’s blog the way I’ve discovered all my favorite women on the internet: through a link on Andrea Scher’s Superhero Journal blog. For me, Andrea has been the sun at the center of a universe of female planets, the shiny middle that all the other bright and precious things orbit around. The next love letter I write will be to her.

Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
“You owe Me.”

Look what happens with
A love like that,
It lights the whole sky.

~Hafiz

I started following Susannah’s blog and immediately adored her. She is consistently honest, open-hearted and funny, willing to share her “wobbly bits” along with the brilliant beauty of life. Her words and photography are gorgeous and authentic, and at times heartbreaking (in the very best kind of way, cracking you open to let in the light).

In March, I took her Blogging from the Heart course, which was absolutely brilliant. I am currently taking (and falling miserably behind) her Unravelling: Ways of Seeing Myself course, which I am also loving. Her lessons and prompts are full of opportunities to unravel, which she describes in this i know.

It’s not coming undone or losing control. It’s letting go in the best possible way, untangling the knots that hold you back, unwrapping the gifts you’ve hidden for too long, unearthing the potential that’s always been there, finally ditching the labels and should-haves, and letting yourself be what you were always meant to be.

For two back to back afternoons, I sat under a tree in a lawn chair in my backyard, reading this book, the sun making leaf shadows on the pages and birds singing in the background, taking the occasional break to throw a toy for one of the dogs or to stare at the sky.

At first, I didn’t want to mark the pages of this copy, sent to me and signed by Susannah, the most precious of gifts. I wanted to keep it pristine and protected. But as I turned the pages, read the words, I felt exactly the way I do about cake, not knowing if I should go slow and savor every bite, make it last, or gulp down huge handfuls, devouring every last crumb as fast as I could. I found myself wanting to tear out the pages and eat them, taste the colors in the photographs.

Then I remembered the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, which is all about accepting transience, and about knowing what is beautiful is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Something is wabi-sabi if “an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing” and this view “nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect,” (Wikipedia entry on wabi-sabi). I got out my pencil and started underlining my favorite bits, making notes in the margins, loving this book in a real, messy, wabi-sabi way.

At the end of those two afternoons of reading, something had shifted in me. A calm determination had settled into my core, a deep knowing–this was absolutely possible and so certain it might as well have already happened. Confidence bloomed in my belly, the kind that Susan Piver describes as “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.”

This confidence has to do with two things. First, I know I will stop smashing myself to bits, I will manifest my basic goodness, I will embody my inherent wisdom and kindness, I will save myself, I will be a beacon to others looking to do the same, I will live a wholehearted life. I will do as Susannah suggests in the book, “Living mindfully, appreciating what I have, learning to let go of what I no longer need, and practicing kindness as often as I can–especially toward myself.”

Second, more than two years ago, I had a vivid dream about a book. At that time, I was sure it was the book of a friend–must be, because I was not an artist, and in my dream, the book was a mix of art and text–so I told her about it, that she needed to write it. Two years later, she still hadn’t, and I realized it was my book I’d dreamed. I started to see books that reminded me of it, were physical manifestations of what I’d dreamed, showing me it was indeed possible. But it wasn’t until I held Susannah’s book in my hands, the weight and the color of it, that I knew for certain. My book hasn’t yet been written, nothing exactly like it done by anyone. It’s waiting inside of me to be born, will never exist if I don’t make it–messy, raw, small and simple, brutal and beautiful.

I held in my hand a love letter to my own possibility.

image by susannah conway, her beautiful hand, her brilliant ring, and her precious book

Any woman who has experienced grief and loss (that is, every woman alive) should read this book. For some of us this is the loss of a loved one, for others the loss of self, or for others still it might be the loss of both. This book is a map of one woman’s personal journey through bereavement and rediscovery of self, but it is also offered as a guidebook for those making their way along the same path, traveling through that same territory of loss. And yet, as Susannah says, this “is not a story about grief, although it informs everything I’ve learned about life. This is a book about unraveling the layers of our lives and exploring what we find in order to better understand ourselves, our relationships, and our path.”

This book embodies, through both word and image, the tender heart of that sadness, not shying away from the reality of it, the truth that life can kick your ass but that we can also lean into joy and be softened by beauty, can and will encounter grace, and know love. We may have tears streaming down our face or feel bad about our thighs, but with our eyes and heart open wide to both the brutality and beauty of life, we can heal, we can live a wholehearted life.

This book might first be about one woman’s individual journey towards wholeness, but in the end, it is an offering to the reader, an invitation to unravel our own hearts. Sometimes, simply knowing that others have walked a similar path is all the medicine and advice you need, but Susannah Conway takes it one step beyond, offering a reflection at the end of each chapter, small creative exercises that invite the reader to explore, to unravel. In this way, it is a book that one could come back to again and again.

In the end, this book is like a long, intimate conversation with the best girlfriend ever, one who has been where you are, can authentically sit in that dark place with you, but who also has a map that shows the way out, an invitation to the rest of your beautiful life.

I’ve already given away one copy of this book, and I plan to give out many more. The brilliance at the center, the wisdom at the heart of the book is this:

I believe that by being the best and most healed version of ourselves we can truly make a difference in the world.

Amen.

Gratitude Friday

This post is a mashup of The Little Bliss List and Joy Jam, and as such is meant to celebrate: the little things that brought me hope and happiness this week, the sweet stuff of life, those small gifts that brought me joy this week. By sharing them, I not only make public my gratitude, but maybe also help you notice your own good stuff and send some positive energy out into the world.

1. The flower bed in front of the building where I work is in full bloom.

2. A good night’s sleep. After a week of not sleeping well, and the full on insomnia the night before, sleeping well last night was so nice.

3. I forgot my lunch again. But, the good news is that means I get to have lunch with a good friend, two times in one week!

4. Lots of rain in the forecast this weekend. Okay, when I say “lots” I mean Colorado lots, not Pacific Northwest lots. This is good for my yard, but also means I will be getting extra rest this weekend and the temperatures will be cooler.

5. Dexter wagging his tail again. I mentioned yesterday that he’s suffering a bought of Cold Water Tail, Broken Tail, Dead Tail, Broken Wag, or “broken butt toy” as a friend calls it. But it’s getting better, and seeing him wag his tail this morning was one of the best things all week.

dexter and i, much much younger

6. A Prayer for Moving Forward from Sandi Amorim of Deva Coaching. I left a comment for Sandi explaining that I think I’ve been praying this, wordlessly, formlessly, for a long time, but she gave me words, so here goes:

Are you there God [the one whose real name I do not know]? It’s me Jill.

I’ve had it, I’m done, I surrender.
I hereby give up my need to do it my way, and I’m asking for help.
Help me be clear, and of service.
Help me show up and share my gifts.

And please. . .

Help me get out of my own way.
I want to shine so bright that even you God, have got to wear shades.
I know what I’m here to do.
Help me do it.

Amen. And thank you, Sandi.

7. Speaking of amazing women… Two things were announced this week that are going to be so fantastic wicked awesome, I can’t hardly stand it.

Susan Piver announced her new Open Heart Project “Practioner” option, a year long paid subscription to so much good stuff I almost can’t bear to think about it, I get too excited, breathing becomes difficult, my chest gets tight, and I tear up. She will continue with her Open Heart Project “Basic,” so if you are interested in starting or maintaining a meditation practice, you should sign up. Since the new project doesn’t start until June, once you get on the mailing list, you will hear all about the “practitioner” option, if you are interested. For me, it’s such a perfect fit, such good timing, it feels like something Susan is doing just for me.

And, if that weren’t enough, I’m on the Roots of She mailing list, and this week Jenn Gibson announced the guides for the upcoming session of her Self-Love Warriors ecourse (hang on to your hat, tighten your seatbelt!):

Body: Hannah Marcotti, business and life coach and creator of Joy UP [soft and tender hearted warrior mamma whose presence is like an embodied lullaby]
Mind: Susan Piver, writer, teacher and New York Times best-selling author [amazing being of light and wisdom, fearless, brave and open hearted warrior]
Heart: Susannah Conway, photographer, author, retreat leader and creator of Unravelling [creative visionary, giggle instigator, maker and sharer of beauty & encouragement]
Soul: Jennifer Louden, bestselling author and the leader of the Savor & Serve movement [the queen of everything, who will show you how to be queen of your everything]

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that these are four of my very favorite women and self-love is one of my very favorite topics, so I can’t wait for this course!

Bonus Joy: Mother’s Day is this weekend. I have a mom, she’s great and she loves me, and I love her, and I get to remind her tomorrow. “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body,” (Elizabeth Stone). I’m so glad she was willing to make me, to care for me, to love me, and to let me “go walking around” outside her body.

Wishcasting Wednesday

image from Jamie's post

What do you wish to experience?

Contentment. Satisfaction and peace, surrender and acceptance, ease and relaxation, fearlessness and joy, simplicity and engagement.

Love. On every channel, all the time, 24/7. Know it, feel it, be it. Love, love, love. And then, more love. Keep it coming, keep it going.

Health. Full body and full life wholehearted and embodied wellness. I want to light up, shine with it, glow, radiate.

Confidence. Certainty, courage, daring, determination, faith, tenacity.

Self-love. This is most likely a combination or culmination of the rest, what is at the center, the heart of everything else, its foundation, but it seems to be worth an independent mention. I want to move through the hours and days of my life with supreme confidence in my innate wisdom, compassion, strength, and fundamental goodness.


That part of the list is states of being, but there are also “things” I wish to experience.

Playing the ukulele well enough that I wouldn’t embarrass myself. The secret wish underneath is to someday be able to do a duet with Danielle Ate the Sandwich. Just once, please. But I have a lot of work to do first, like learning to play.

Publication. I’m okay without it. I have a full writing life, even if it never happens. Writing is like prayer for me, a spiritual practice, and I am utterly devoted to it. But…I’d also like to be published, as in paid for my work, as in people curled up in hammocks or in front of a fire on the couch cuddling with their dog reading my books.

Paid work that isn’t work, but rather pure love, aligned with my calling, maybe even God’s work. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating that I don’t need what I love to pay my rent, or turn into a business, and yet…it might not be the worst thing if what I love, the work I would do regardless, the thing that wakes me up in the middle of the night thinking and planning, the stuff that makes me wake up and rise at 4:30 am every morning, and the money, the means to take care of what needs taken care of, would be in the same location at the same time, would feed each other, work together, and then I could just do what I love, all the time, instead of trying to juggle full-time paid work with everything else I want to do. It is sometimes like trying to live two lives, and that can be exhausting, and lonely.

Hike the Appalachian Trail with Eric.

My very own writing cabin.

A whole summer in Amsterdam.

Dathun, a month long meditation retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center.

An in-person workshop with Brene’ Brown.

P.S. The magic power of wishing, part two: Holy wow! Brene’ is going to be in Boulder for a two day workshop in May, and I am going.

A yoga retreat with my friend and yoga teacher Jessica.

A writing workshop with Natalie Goldberg.

Church with Anne Lamott.

A meet-up with Susannah Conway. Really, what I would love is a long weekend on the beach with her, writing and blogging and taking pictures and talking and taking long naps and eating and laughing.

P.S. The magic power of wishing: I just found out this morning, less than 24 hours after making this post, that Susannah is going to be at the World Domination Summit, and has proposed a writing workshop. Even if the workshop doesn’t go (it so will), there is a very real chance that I am going to be able to at least tell her in person how much I adore her. I can hardly believe it, but it’s true!

Walk and talk with Mary Oliver. This is most likely the craziest wish on this list, but I would just love to be near her and able to tell her just once in-person how much I love her, how much her words have meant to me.

Swim without fear.

Hike with Judy Clement Wall.
A walk on the beach with Julia.
Take pictures or paint with Andrea Scher.
Sit with Jen Lemen at her kitchen table.
Sit in stillness with Erica Staab.
Meditate with Susan Piver, (oh wait, I actually get to do this in a few weeks!).
Discuss writing with Margaret Atwood, and not embarrass myself.
Trust over a cup of tea with Kristin Noelle.
Make art with Patti Digh.
Take a yoga class with Jennifer Louden.
Ask Pema Chödrön one million questions.
Take a Nia class with Jamie Ridler.
Go on tour with Aimee Mann.
Teach an art and writing class for girls with Kandyce.
Draw with Hugh MacLeod.
Listen to Neil Gaiman read.

I could keep going with this list forever and ever…so many good people doing so much good stuff and I want to just hang out with them and soak up all that goodness and tell them to their sweet faces how much I adore them.

International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day, a global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women. Two of the Kickstarter projects I pledged are now fully funded, but there’s one, Global Sorority, that needs more backers. The aim of this documentary is “to show that all women, regardless of where they are situated in the world, have the ability to be equal and inspiring” and “to show how women are all connected, and can support each other despite…[their] differences.” It’s a documentary “bringing together the mind, heart and spirit of young women around the world, so we might discover our common ground.”

It reminds me of one of my favorite books, Women in the Material World: “In first-person interviews of startling candor, the women share their feelings about family, children, money, love, sex, and marriage. These interviews, together with 375 stunning full-color photographs, create a powerful multicultural portrait of the half of humanity that all too often remains invisible.”

A day like today would be the perfect time to contribute to the Global Sorority project. I really, really want to see the finished product, but can’t fund it alone. I believe if the project is realized, the world will be a better place, suffering will be eased, and I am all in for that.