Category Archives: Self-Compassion

Soul Kindness

JillPeacockWhen it comes down to it, doing the work of Reclaiming Beauty is doing the work of birthing your True Self. And any birthing process requires a tremendous amount of patience and intention to live in alignment with your beauty path.

As I am patiently waiting to give birth to the Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck, I am constantly aware of the parallel process I am experiencing of the Reclaiming Beauty work itself. In the face of the expected challenges of birthing this project, as well as my own life experiences during this season, I have noticed myself falling into old patterns.

Here’s a snapshot:

During Family Seminar for my work with middle school girls, we were addressing patterns. As a clinical team, we decided to represent patterns that we have worked through by wearing t-shirts of the patterns. I chose “Victim” – proud to share my transformation from victim to Empowered Woman.

Ironically, this week was filled with stress after stress with my life and my project. As a result I was experiencing insomnia, overwhelm, anxiety, mood ups and downs, and very loud voices feeling sorry for myself about being a single mama and having to do it all alone.

On the final day of the seminar, while wearing the “Victim” t-shirt, I arrived with a flat tire. I called for a tow truck. When the driver arrived he told me, “Miss, do you realize you have a spare in your back seat?”

I was horribly embarrassed. I had been waiting with a flat tire for an hour for a tow truck to come and rescue me with a spare tire in the back seat of my car – the whole time wearing a Victim t-shirt! I laughed out loud and shared how this situation really went against my whole Empowered Woman thing. As my mind began to head down the road of self-criticism, a supportive co-worker helped me reframe. He said, “You can be an Empowered Woman and still not know how to change your tire!” Or know it’s in your trunk, I suppose… but I know NOW!

This reframe made the difference in spending an evening in self-compassion rather than self-criticism. I was able to have a sense of humor about the situation, and practice A LOT of self-care that night. With every obstacle I face in the Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck birthing process, as well as with my own relationship with Self during this precious time, I am asking myself… are you living with Kindness towards your Body, your Mind, and your Soul? It is important to shine a light of awareness to the loud voices of criticism that paralyze our movement forward, and then bring in those actions of Soul Kindness.

Here are some suggestions for SOUL KINDNESS actions steps:

1. SOUL KINDNESS involves noticing the critical thought and bringing in a “YES, and…”

My thought was: “There was a tire in my trunk the whole time which proves I am powerless.” My supportive friend helped reframe the thought in order to recognize the possibility that the situation didn’t negate my truth of being an empowered woman.

2. SOUL KINDNESS involves taking a perspective that invites a sense of humor. Are you able to have a sense of humor about stuck places in your journey to shift from self-criticism to self-compassion?

3. SOUL KINDNESS involves taking self-care actions. When you recognize you are stuck in self-criticism, notice that your Soul is asking for some self-care to move you towards self-compassion.

Join the Reclaiming Beauty conversation! In the comments below, please share an action that supports you in developing SOUL KINDNESS. 

An action step for moving into Soul Kindness would be to join me for the Reclaiming Beauty and Freedom Summer Series in July co-led with Taisir El-Souessi of Taisir Expressive Arts. See details below. And stay tuned for the Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck release date!

Walk in Beauty,

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Image: Jill Houser

Reclaiming Beauty Summer Flyer (1)



Slogging through the Swamps of Rejection: A Veteran’s Guide


Skills: Beauty Lost, Beauty Found, Emancipate Yourself, Make Beauty Not War, Self-Compassion

from Contributor: Laura Eshelman

The past 18 months of my life have not been the kindest.  In the wake of failing to find employment, several fallouts with friends, and getting dumped like a sack of potatoes, I’ve spared no efforts to exorcise the residual “owch”iness of rejection.  Although writing a few letters mean enough to make Stalin cry and stubbing lit cigarettes through photos of my ex provided temporary relief for a while, I am still reticent to say it’s done a darn thing to help me move on.  Whether it’s a romantic partner, a best friend, school or a job that’s told you, “Peace out,” rejection can easily become its own beast to battle long after you stop caring about its source because we too often interpret it to mean we are inherently undesirable, or inadequate.  The harshness of the last year forced me to evaluate a lot of the unhealthy responses I developed to mitigate and protect myself from the pain of rejection—and I maintain that there’s little pain out there that compares.  So, here’s a seven-point plan to help others out there.  It might not speed up the process, but you might save some money on cigarettes.

1) Don’t feel obligated to minimize it Not to be confused with re-evaluating your perspective.  Getting stuck on ancillary details about your rejection, such as how long/briefly you held a position or knew the person (or people) who blew you off, does not help you lurch forward.  It can be hard if it followed a long-term and personal commitment, but it can also be surprisingly painful sometimes even without that, and there may be a temptation to harp on yourself for how challenging the situation feels when it “shouldn’t”.  Whether you were fired from a peon-type job that you held for a week versus a career several years in the making, there’s no biological rule for how much pain one individual to the next is “supposed” to feel as a result—no matter what we hear from third parties (and there’s plenty of those, with mouthfuls of nothing useful to say).  Regardless of how much sense your feelings surrounding a rejection make, acknowledge them without judgment…and once you can do that, it’s time to move on to problem-solving.

2)  Do something amazing One of the most awful things about getting dumped, fired, snubbed, etc. is the sense of sheer worthlessness that you’re often left with in the wake.  If you find yourself questioning your intrinsic value or even struggling with guilt, take a detour before you get to Wallowsville.  Learn a skill, discover a new area of expertise, or get involved in something civic.  Taking up a new or unique hobby doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, especially if it’s volunteering—and that goes for any Good Samaritan act, whether it’s an afternoon at an animal shelter or helping a friend move.  Recently, I began volunteering with a local organization that works to reduce HIV rates by distributing contraceptives and other sanitary materials in low-income communities.  In addition to having fun and meeting people who express gratitude for outreach, it’s also forced me to count blessings I usually overlook.  It’s hard to sulk when you realize how lucky you are to be able to afford a simple box of band-aids.

3)  Do something crazy Sometimes the best therapy for going crazy is more craziness.  Be careful with this one if you are emotional and/or prone to rash decisions (perhaps review them with a more level-headed friend first), but I’ve found that doing something like getting a dramatic haircut, a piercing, a pet, or going on a random vacation can cleave some distance between you and the origin of the rejection while waiting for time to do its job.  This tip is the equivalent of a rebound after a break-up, because it can either be very good or disastrous, which is why I stress wariness surrounding spontaneity.  But when craziness is carried out with a little measured judgment—contradictory though that sounds, I argue it is possible—it can be a great mood-lifter.

4)  Build a pillow fort This is both a literal and a metaphoric suggestion.  Literally speaking, pillow forts are never bad ideas, especially if you are feeling at odds with the universe and/or have little money for entertainment.  Symbolically, they represent a cushioned safety-zone from harmful elements, and a return to simpler times.  Nothing makes me want to turn into a kid more than when the ‘real world’ shows its ugly side, and what kind of heartless element shuns a child?  Sometimes this is a good method for self-acknowledgment when we’ve gotten distracted by something that causes us to put our own preferences on the shelves.  The “pillow fort” strategy doesn’t have to necessarily involve childhood nostalgia, either—namely, it’s about re-affirming that you still deserve to feel comfort, no matter what has precipitated a rejection.  Rediscovering lost, forgotten-about pleasures is my own preferred go-to.  Watch an old favorite feel-good movie that you’ve forgotten the lines to, hit up a longtime friend who you haven’t talked to in a while, find an empty playground to take over, or drink something soothing from your favorite mug (as long as what you’re sipping doesn’t compound your problems).

5)  Find meaning in this Remember how Marty McFly’s hand started to disappear in Back to the Future after altering his parents’ pasts almost costs him his own existence?  Not the most pertinent example, since that more to do with plutonium politics and magical DeLoreans than coming to terms with rejection, but I use it because most of our most treasured experiences and relationships come from delicate circumstantial happenstance.  Take a moment to think about the people and opportunities that have sprung up in the wake of being ditched at some point in your life.  Some of the richest friendships in my life are with those who offered allied support after others unexpectedly flew the coop.   It’s a cliché adage, but doors don’t close without opening one or two others on impact.  Sometimes in retrospect, rejection becomes less of a door slammed than a bullet dodged.

6)  Be patient with yourself.  At all costs.  To anyone’s knowledge, yelling at an injury to hurry up and heal has never, ever worked.  But nursing it can be especially hard if you feel you’ve gotten the short end of the stick, and some wounds are particularly prone to infection.  If you’ve been laid off or fired from a successful business, or your old flame starts dating someone else, the temptation might be to decide that the world is out to screw you and to add an extra shot to your mug-of-something-soothing.  I don’t think it’s necessarily unhealthy to secretly hope that your rejecters fail at life (and for your sake, I sure hope they do), but preoccupation with revenge fantasies or those abstract “why me”s definitely prolongs harm, like repeatedly picking at a scab.  The best result you’ll get is a scar, and who wants a constant reminder of lost dignity?  Which brings me to point seven…

7)  Fake it ‘til you make it This one sucks.  Point blank.  But eventually, after trudging through one day after another, going through the motions, and doing whatever necessary to keep your head propped upright, there will be a morning when you wake up and don’t immediately think about this latest rejection.  Before you know it, there will be another morning like it.   And another.  The time lapses may seem long and arbitrary at first, but they will pick up succession until you can usually count on feeling normal and out of pain.  Rest assured, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you again down the road, but always make sure that the people who leave you are the ones missing out while those who support you are cashing in.  For instance, executives at Decca Records Company dismissed a small-time band in 1962 by stating, “They have no future in show business”; unfortunately for Decca, the band called themselves the Beatles, and that quote is now one of history’s most laughable. Living well is the best revenge of all—and it doesn’t have to be a fantasy.

mauiAbout the Contributor: Laura Eshelman is a 2008 UNC Asheville alumna with a BA in mass communication.  She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in criminal justice from UC Denver and holds a master’s certificate in domestic violence studies.  Laura is an avid writer, political junkie, and an advocate for various social justice causes; at present, she is an intern with Witness for Peace Southeast and volunteers with NC Harm Reduction.  She enjoys travelling, cooking, hula hooping, and long walks up steep mountains.

Image: Leah Joy

Three Little Songs

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Since hearing the tragic news of the shootings in Connecticut, I have been looking within myself to see what I am doing that either contributes to or can help prevent such horrible, violent events. I believe in the power of one to make a difference. One person can make a difference by assessing their most primary relationship – their relationship to them self. Ask yourself – is this relationship violent or loving? Cultivating a non-violent, loving and compassionate relationship with ourselves ripples out to create non-violent, loving and compassionate relationships with family, friends, community members, neighbors, people everywhere, animals, the whole earth, and all beings…

I pledge to take action every day to create a more loving, compassionate and non-violent relationship with myself and therefore create more loving, compassionate and non-violent relationships with the world.

I pledge every day to make beauty, not war

I offer three little songs for helping shift your relationship with yourself. The first two songs were shared with me by two Reclaiming Beauty Queens, Marybeth and Stacie, who found them helpful on their journey towards self-compassion. The last song offers some comic relief and is especially for any one in a similar place in their reclaiming beauty journey as myself.

Make a healing offering to the world in the face of this most recent tragedy, an offering of non-violence in all of your relationships.

Love you all,


Phillip Phillips: Home

I like to think the home he sings about as myself… being at home and safe with myself. ~Marybeth

Glen Hansard: You Will Become

A song of hope, and someone offering belief in you. Today I must believe in myself to truly grow.

Your beauty is nothing compared to what you will become.

Garfunkel & Oates: Self-Esteem

And this song is for me, and all other women grappling with the modern day dating scene…

My self-esteem’s not low enough to date you. It’s close, but not quite there.

Skills: Self-Compassion

More on Self-Compassion. Hot Topic!

“If you’re committed to change this new year, replace the hard-headed discipline with self-compassion. Studies show it’s more effective for making all kinds of behavioral changes.”

Yoga Journal – Yoga Philosophy – Nurture the New You.




Yoga Journal – Yoga Philosophy – Nurture the New You

Make Beauty Not War

Check out the new skill added: Make Beauty Not War

Make Beauty, Not War is a Reclaiming Beauty call to make peace with yourself in order to gain access to your unique gifts, talents and passions to make a positive impact in the world.

I need a graphic designer to help me make this slogan into a t-shirt. Anyone out there feel inspired to help me with this?

Image: Documents & Designs

Skills: Self-Compassion

Check out the article that inspired me to add Self-Compassion as a Reclaiming Beauty skill:

Self-Compassion : Spirituality & Health Magazine.

Self-Compassion : Spirituality & Health Magazine

Nature’s Greatest Creation

Skill: Self-Compassion

from Contributor: Sandy McGrath

Seven months ago, I began my journey back from the Underworld. It has been an incredibly trying quest, but worth every painful step. As a reflection of my experience in the Reclaiming Beauty Playshop and a tribute to the amazing woman that have walked this journey with me,  I wrote the following poem:

Mother Nature has a way with creations
She modifies size, type and destinations
There is one that is so pure
And of this I am sure.
When she created women
She designed them strong for protection
As she also made them very resistant.
But as the time passed along with the days
She noticed that women were unhappy in many ways
So she gave them what they needed for their stay
She visited the surface of the Earth
To unveil her ultimate creation before things got worse
There before women she stood and softly spoke
I am mother nature as you may see
I am your creator and everything that you claim to be
I have come to grant you what you all may need
She lifted her hands as golden light began to shine
From within the hearts of women divine
This is my gift to you she said
I’ve given it my mind so everything she may comprehend
A heart remarkably large so violence she does not intend
You may not abuse her for you were created to protect
She will be forever with you so consider yourself blessed
As she will help you find solutions and do her best
She will be there to guide you from one day to the other
This gift, you may say, is your ‘Inner Mother’

Image: Image is copyright ©Ardengrafix 2008

Hot Tip Tuesday: Self-Blessing

Saint Francis and the Sow
by: Galway Kinnell
The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
Image: Bell Pine Art Farm