Prickly emotions, and thoughts about compassion

Dear friends,

Here we are again. It’s been difficult to motivate myself to write these past few days – I haven’t felt the tug to sit down and describe my life or share my thoughts. I guess this is the one downfall of letter writing – you can’t really just sit and actually be with the person/people who are receiving your letter, and that is precisely what I would like.

Oh well. As my family would say, “Tough toenails!” I can either mope around and not write to you, or I can choose to be grateful that I can write to you at all.

Maybe this is the motto of the past week for me – this idea that sometimes we just need to grit our heels, pull up our bootstraps, and choose do the best with what we have at the time (even when it’s not very much!).

The past few days I haven’t felt like I’ve had much of a capacity to give or be available for other people. Do you have days like that? Where you’re prone to impatience, negativity, and frustration, for seemingly no apparent reason? In times like this, I’m left feeling like I’m not being a very excellent version of myself. It can be easy to make excuses for my behavior, chalking it up to tiredness or lack of sunshine or whatever.

Yesterday I made extra time to sit in prayer and talk it out with God. I was gently reminded that my disgruntled emotions should not be taken out on anyone else – I know better than that. I was reminded to be humble when looking at myself and my actions. I think when we become adults we somehow convince ourselves that we are big and in control and can always handle everything, when we are actually very small. Don’t you ever feel small in the face of things? Why are we so afraid to acknowledge that?

We need a lot of help to handle life – something which I have not been very good at acknowledging lately. Life requires a lot of compassion. We don’t do very well without it. Not only do we need to give it to others, but we also need to give it to ourselves. How can we treat other people with compassion in the midst of the craziness of their struggles, when we cannot treat ourselves kindly in the midst of our own?

We need to be gentle with ourselves in clearing out the confusion and noticing the roots of sometimes-cactus-like emotional state, even when it’s completely bewildering. To look at that part of ourselves objectively and with self awareness, as well as the conviction that we have so much potential to show compassion to others. And so we pick ourselves up and try again, knowing that we can succeed.

So, again, it is time to re-invite some self-care into my life! Hooray for lessons we have to learn every other week! I might as well pull out my calendar and mark a bi-weekly, standing appointment titled, “BE KIND TO SELF.”

Also, I am so stinkin’ GRATEFUL! You walk around in a funk for four days and you forget how good you’ve got it. Shall we queue a list? It’s been a little while…

Megan’s List of Gratitude

  • For my dear friend at the coffee shop who dances, and sings, and goes on adventures with me
  • For early morning walks to open the shop when the snow is falling
  • For sweet, golden apples on sale in the middle of winter
  • For the sun staying up until 4:30pm
  • For finding a pair of rock climbing shoes at St. Vincent de Paul
  • For going to the grocery store with friends and having the best time
  • For tea-time and miso soup on cold days when everyone is sick
  • For Fr. Pat who gave me electrolyte drinks when I mentioned I was dehydrated
  • For kind-hearted fellow artists who agree to critique my work and encourage me
  • For rock climbing and good music and the awesome feeling of being able to climb a wall with my hands and my legs and my lungs and my mind
  • For coffee made in the quiet of the morning in my home
  • For the feeling of pencil on drawing paper
  • For my studio to work in
  • For my boss and my co-workers, who make it possible for me to work two different jobs
  • For ALL OF YOU

I’ve already told you guys that I’m sentimental and mushy. If it makes you want to roll your eyes, go ahead – it’s not like I can see it anyway, hah!

Anyways, coffee dates and studio time awaits me. Thanks for letting me externally process this crazy life.

Much love,


One thought on “Prickly emotions, and thoughts about compassion

  1. Reflecting on your thoughts here, and also some thoughts that are in my mind as Lent begins, it occurs to me that there is a Catholic intention of denying self, which can be a really good thing. ‘Self’ gets in the way of how God wants to work in our lives. To state it personally, my self gets in the way in how God wants to work in my life. But denying self does not mean beating oneself up. Jesus went into the desert to fast – but I don’t imagine he was unkind to himself. LIke most of life, there is a balance to be achieved and when in that sweet spot, we are able to give more fully to others because we are neither depleted nor full of one’s own importance. (All this is not to suggest that you, my dear Megan, are full of your own importance. These are just my own reflections that arose from what you wrote.)


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