Compassion is My New Mode of Operation

Kira Elliott Green Cabneit Kitchen

Kira Elliott Green Cabneit Kitchen

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” – Anna Quindlen

Today I am learning how compassion is my new mode of operation. This morning I sat at my writing desk. It was cluttered with half empty mason jars of water and tea, small index cards scribbled with notes for different projects and crumpled tissues. The cats were relentless in their pursuit to sit in the morning sun slanting across the desk. There simply is not enough room for both of them on the desk. Lupe didn’t understand she can’t sit on the keyboard while I am typing, yet I am too much a softy, so I tried to make it work. I repeatedly stopped to pet her gently and tell her to move off the keyboard. All this did was make her move in closer to me. It was a losing battle. One I admit, I gladly welcomed the distraction. The words were not flowing this morning.

My plan was to get at least 6 to 8 hours of writing in today. I have multiple projects that I am working on and all of them have deadlines, which are fast approaching. I needed to stay focused and I was not only losing the battle with the cats but also Facebook and my honey, who came into my office, his coffee in hand wanting to hang out. I gladly turned from my computer and hung out. Even made an extra pot of coffee.

As I wrote last week, I have been struggling to show up to the page. The darkness of winter is wearing my soul thin. I am resisting the urge to berate myself for not getting more done, for hibernating the last month or so. I know from past experience that my writer self does not do well when my irate inner taskmaster starts barking orders and throwing me down the shame gauntlet. My writer self seeks for cover and retreats further away when this happens. The urge to snuggle on the couch with my kitty and binge watch The Fosters becomes almost impossible to resist.

So what do I need to coax my artist self to show up and write? Compassion, my new mode of operation.

Compassion and acceptance for where I am at in this moment. The older I get the more I realize compassion is not only the foundation of my writing practice, but for my whole life. It is how I actually get things done. I thrive in an atmosphere of kindness and compassion. This is bit counter intuitive in our culture which values a "no pain, no gain" attitude. But it is only when I am able to tell my inner taskmaster that, "Hey, it's okay, I got this. You can go away," am I am able to start to write.

And I often have to make bargains with my writer self too. Today it was, I will write for three hours this morning and then hang out with my honey (it’s the weekend for goodness sake), then write a few more hours, then go workout (yes, this is a reward for me). I told myself, I will get done what I get done—perfect is the enemy of done.

I did get some of what I had on my little to do list scribble on one of those note cards on my desk. Not all but most. I feel good about that and so I told my writer self I will go spend some quality time in the kitchen to make a special dinner. Shrimp and scallops simmered with garlic, basil and a triple blend of mushrooms served with kale, roasted eggplant and polenta.  Baked apples with almond flour biscuits for dessert.

The most important thing is I am not demanding, I am not focusing on what I should have done or all that needs to be done. I am simply showing up and guess what? The words flowed enough today. I feel connected to something larger than myself. Today it helped that I had deadlines but even when I don't approaching myself and my writing with compassion always works better than not. Today compassion is my new mode of operation.