kindness first to ourselves



“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” ~ C.G. Jung

“By surviving passage of doubt and depression on the vocational journey, I have become clear about at least one thing: self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.” ~ Parker Palmer, Let your Life Speak

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~ Marianne Williamson

In last week’s group, we focused our attention on compassion. So often, when we discuss the word “compassion” or “kindness” we think first about what we do for others, how we show these qualities to other people. We forget that in order to offer it others we must first give it to ourselves.

And even when we do offer it to ourselves, complications remain. Our hearts, like long-wailing infants, are surprised to be lifted and keep crying out, keep asking questions. In the pieces you’ll read below are two writers’ accounts of this. As they explore the idea of self-compassion, they are confronted with fear as much as their sense of self-love. As a group, we recognized that, just like everything else, to get good at giving yourself kindness and self-compassion, you have to practice.


You never know from one day to the next,
what will happen? Who will you become?
Minds seem to go blank,
I would like a fire to mesmerize me,
maybe the wind will carry me away.
Worry is intense, terrifying, blinding
will that pattern be explained?
All the years, where have they gone?
Waiting to shout: I’m ready, are you listening?
It’s me, I’m here, waiting.
Do you hear me calling?
Am I speaking in tongues?
I’m here, it’s me, are you coming?
I’m ready now to start a new life. Will you come?


*** Continue reading

a plea for kindness

Circle of Sisters

Circle of Sisters

Tensions flare. Personalities clash. Outbursts erupt. Judgements creep in. Kindness can be found in short supply when living in a close-quartered prison unit with 30-40 other women.

As facilitators, we sense the negative dynamics running between inmates before a word is even spoken.  Only rarely will a writer storm out of the circle upon another woman’s entrance in order to make her personal protest obvious.

..which is why we at writinginsideVT have several guidelines, but one in particular that we articulate aloud at every circle: interpersonal conflicts from the unit stay on the unit.  In other words, check your issues with each other at the door.

Yet in a surprising twist this week, one of our longer-term writers decided to address some of the backbiting in her unit head-on. (Our writing theme was kindness.)

Normally this kind of transparency might fall flat.

Yet in my view, CS did a masterful job of naming the negativity that has been swirling in her wing of the building, claimed her responsibility in it, and called her “sisters” as she referred to them, to a higher level of living together. On top of that, she read her piece with care and respect.

Nods, exhalations, and expressions of “beautiful” were the responses shared by all around the circle.

It is more than inspiring to witness these women coming to model healthy, mature behavior with each other.

Enjoy CS’s plea for kindness:


As I sit here among
the kindest creature
there should be of us all,
I sit in thought of how
wrong this really is …
Myself amongst these women,
we are supposed to be kind, loving,
nurturing and loyal mothers,
sisters, friends, neighbors,
and wives.

All I see is nothing

but drama, lies, hatred,
fighting, belittling.
Shall I go on – no,
because you all know what I mean.   Continue reading