Saturday, February 1, 2014

14 Days of Loving-Kindness: Embracing My Imperfections

Day 1: Loving-Kindness Towards Myself. 

I love the word maitri, which commonly translates as compassion toward oneself or unconditional friendliness to oneself. How many of us are actually not friends with ourselves? I know I am not the only person, and definitely not the only mother, who struggles with this. As mothers, our flaws or mistakes stand out. Our kindness towards ourselves goes to the bottom of our priority list. However, I believe if I cannot be kind, loving, compassionate toward myself, I cannot be kind, loving or compassionate toward anyone else. 

Today, it's simple. I am going to cut my haircut. Yep. That's it. I do this, maybe, twice a year. However, deciding that I will do this thing for myself symbolizes so much more than needing to get a trim and taking the time to do it. It symbolizes that I deserve to feel beautiful. 

I deserve to treat myself -- physically and mentally and emotionally -- with kindness. 

As part of my focus on compassion this year, I understand the importance of focusing on love and acceptance of myself "as I am." Just as I gained so much in 2013 from focusing on the abundance and fullness of my life "as it is," rather than focusing on all of the ways my life would be better "if only," I am working toward self-acceptance this year.  

Regarding self-acceptance, I immediately think of the moles on my face, of which I am quite self-conscious. One is on the side of my face and hardly noticeable, particularly when my hair is down, but the other is right there above my lip and not small and dainty like Marilyn Monroe's was. It's rather large or "fatty" as one kind internet stranger recently pointed out. It's something I've had for as long as I can remember. 

Wild Thing took this photo of me this past summer.
Both of my brothers also have moles on their faces -- in fact it was kind of cool to meet my eldest brother for the first time several years back and see this common genetic marking. I also remember being a bit sad when my dad had his removed, like he was betraying a part of himself and a part of me. 

Given all of this, then, I wonder why I still find myself to be so self-conscious about it and wanting to wish it away. This "blemish," so to speak marks me as uniquely me. It marks my family heritage. 

I have dimples on my shoulders, which Caterpillar also has, and I love this almost secret trait that I sometimes perceive as a physical representation of our bond as mother and son. I'm working on learning to embrace my physical flaws in the same way I embrace my dimples. 

The mole represents my connections with my brother. 

My c-section scar tells a story of part of my journey to motherhood. 

The scars on my knees tell the story of a happy childhood spent riding bicycles down bumpy, hilly neighborhood streets and the type of rough and tumble play I savored and cherished. 

My broad back speaks to long hours spent over a piano and the engagement of muscles that might otherwise have not been so used. 

My injury-prone ankles and knees tell the story of hours and hours spent on a basketball court for nearly a decade. 

All of these things (and many others) keep me miles and miles away from the beauty ideals for women that society puts forth. Yet, without each of them, I wouldn't really be me. So, I seek this year to embrace each of these (and all of the rest). I seek to appreciate that I am sharing my life with three individuals of the opposite sex (my husband and our two sons) that truly love me "just as I am," and who tell me, almost daily, that I am beautiful. I am reminded that beauty is much more than skin deep. I am urging myself to focus on the solace, peace and healing that a regular swim and yoga routine will bring and to embrace, cherish and love myself "just as I am." 

If am hoping to build a more compassionate world in this new year, I must remember that if I cannot show myself compassion and love, I certainly will not be able to truly give compassion to others.   

Today's challenge for Wild Thing and Caterpillar includes being kind to themselves, as well as to each other. At times, Wild Thing (4) gets very upset if he tries to do something, and it isn't "just right." Fostering his ability to treat himself with loving-kindness is important and nurturing their compassion and understanding with each other is invaluable. 

As I focus on encouraging their kindness toward themselves and toward their sibling, I'll be creating a magic moose, since I like to say that seeing the need to act kindly and doing it sometimes requires that they use their "magic eyes." When I see those magic eyes in action, the magic moose will appear! I'll be back on the blog later today with a new post all about the moose! (This idea is inspired by Pennies of Time's Kindness Crocodile and Frugal Fun For Boys' Kindness Car.)

As for us mamas, does treating yourself with loving-kindness, with unconditional friendliness, with compassion come easily to you? Do you also let your own needs fall to the bottom of the priority list? If, like me, that happens, select just one thing today that you can do for yourself and make it happen. 

Here's a couple of related posts from others that I wanted to pass on: Connecting Family and Seoul: How the New Year Will Guide Us. Gina discusses the value and importance of creating a family where everyone's needs are being taken care of as best as possible. Please pop over and check it out, and check out Toddler Approved's Give Yourself a Break.

For the introduction to the 14 Days of Loving-Kindness Challenge, click here and you'll see my goals and plan for all 14 days.  

You might also like: 
Compassion - 2014
Saving the World by Saving Yourself
25 Acts of Kindness


  1. Great post. I love that you are starting the 2014 year of compassion with compassion towards yourself, which is so hard for Mothers to do as we are focused on our families. I love that you looked at the things that are genetic markers in your family and the sense of connection that provides.

  2. I've been thinking quite a lot about this lately, and had a bit of a blog post going around in my head that I haven't got around too yet. Thanks for your perspective on it.

  3. I've been thinking quite a lot about this lately, and had a bit of a blog post going around in my head that I haven't got around too yet. Thanks for your perspective on it.