Courage, kindness and a certain wtf
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Well hello there.
I intend to use this forum to share little stories, snippets of writing from longer works and to write a bit about what is on my mind on any given day. I am going to aim to get the newsletter out weekly, but we’ll see how it goes.
My name is Jamie, I am a non-binary pansexual living in Auckland, New Zealand. I write optimistic urban fantasy full of queer characters, romance with queer characters, I dabble in horror and whatever else happens to inspire me.
For today and for opening this newsletter I want to talk to you briefly about self-compassion. In the last decade I’ve gone through a lot of life changes, including coming out, moving cities, changing careers, taking myself seriously as a writer, publishing work and dealing with grief of various sorts. My journey has been all over the place, and I know I’ll go deep at different times about different things but for now - self-compassion.
I’m suffering from Long Covid, mostly of the sort that gives fatigue and brain fog. It sucks. I’m in my 8th month of it, some days are better than others, but I am struggling to do all the things I used to do. I have a good routine, a list of things to eat and drink, meds to take and so on, but mentally and emotionally it’s a challenge.
So - Self-compassion.
It’s different to self-esteem, because the very nature of self-esteem is about building yourself up, focusing on what you’re good at, what you have achieved and attaching worth to it. Self-compassion is simply about being kind to yourself no matter where you’re at. Simply put: treating yourself like you’re your own best friend.
The universe has been sending me this message over the last 8 months. I read a beautiful book called Into the Magic Shop by Dr James Doty, in large part because the K-Pop group BTS have songs based off it. But it is about brain patterns, neuroscience and the power of mindfullness through meditation. One of the tenets of the meditation described in the book is to think of yourself with love.
Inspired, I found a meditation course on Headspace called self-compassion and it further expanded on the practice Dr Doty explained. It’s a beautiful course, very healing if you’re into meditation, I highly recommend it.
Then last week I went to my GP about chronic rhinitis and long covid and she referred me to a health and wellness consultant (free service in the medical practice I go to) who gave me so much compassion and reassurance that I just full on cried in her office. Then she emphasised that self-compassion was what I needed to be working on. (Basically she had a lot of suggestions but I was already doing them all.) She referred me to Dr Kristen Neff, website below, who has written papers and books and has free exercises available on her site.
The TED talk is very good, I just want to give a content warning for near the end - she talks about her reaction to her son being diagnosed autistic and although the message is generally good, there’s language used that rankled with me. So maybe watch the first half or two-thirds of the TED talk and then turn it off.
So. Alongside various writing goals, and keeping up my routine of keeping myself as healthy as possible, my goal for January is to practice self-compassion.
I do this with meditation - as mentioned, the guided ones on Headspace really work for me but there are definitely other sources
Also with journalling: I like to unload my brain and empty it onto paper, and then once I’ve gone through the events of the day, unpack some of those emotions. Even just writing out that I accept my feelings and that it’s okay to feel them can help.
I’m giving myself permission to rest, to do fun things like read, paint, draw, colour-in, watch TV, watch movies and instead of making them ‘rewards’ for achieving, I’m just doing them. I don’t need to withhold joy from myself.
It’s a journey for sure, and I’m sure that I’m going to add more methods to this list, and learn some more, and grow some more.
But for now, this is what I’ve learned, and if I can suggest anything to you, it’d be to consider your self-talk, and to try to address yourself as if you are your best friend, and not your worst enemy. You don’t have to love yourself, but you don’t have to bully yourself either.
Tune in next time for more writings from me, and maybe some fiction!