The high note was reached with the lightest touch as she plucked the last note on her instrument, Siobhan Owen is a gifted Celtic soprano and harpist. It looked effortless with a simplicity that only the most sophisticated can execute. Labouring for decades with joy in her heart to deliver her gift to grateful audiences around the world, it was emotional, it was personal.
How do we uplift others with our gifts and make them visible? Some have an insatiable appetite to be seen, so the equation probably works in their favour. Just because something looks easy, doesn’t mean it is.
Finding peace in times of deep turmoil and making that peace visible is probably a sign of the emotional labour it took to get to that point to exude ease and calm. Nothing just happens, or if it does, it is rare. Most things happen because of years of effort, a few lucky breaks here and there, lots of losses, detours and inexplicable hurdles that have to be overcome. Many of those hurdles require you getting out of your own way, applying a softer lens and leaving the ego at the door.
I do a lot of work in systems and automating, designing and adjusting systems is only a scaffold; and even the best of functioning systems work-arounds may have to be found for that exception or exceptional circumstance. Growing, supporting, enabling leaders is where culture and therefore systems can change and the shift from by-stander to ownership happens.
So what has all this talk of leadership and change-making got to do with self-compassion? I can’t see without empathy, I can’t empathise without seeing. My losses have been great, but who do I think I am not to have losses? Some days it feels like a first world problem – that is not to diminish the real deep scars and sorrows that are within – but I have a roof over my head, there are always people willing to laugh and cry with me, there are birds and all kinds of creatures greeting me each day, I have friends far and wide – it is a rich and enriching life. It is a life full of opportunity and for all I know maybe the best is yet to come?
I have been sharing with a confidante the feeling of an empty bucket and I think there is a hole in it dear Liza. Despite all kinds of treasures and goodness filling it up, it is flowing out just as quickly and this is where the self-compassion comes in. It is the glue and feathers needed to mend that hole in the bucket. The kindness to myself to catch myself out receiving (to pick up from last week’s theme); it is allowing the surprises in and being empty enough inside for the bucket to be made whole again. I noticed that I have laughed heartily a few times this past week, it had been a long time. I am taking that as a sign and a promise of more to come. I listened to Krista Tippett from On Being interview with the co-founder of Illuminations, Mirabi Bush talking about how that business turned into a multi-million dollar enterprise almost exclusively on the back of the rainbow decals that became synonymous with the VWs in the late 60s. I bought a lot of Illumination products as a teenager and young adult – mandalas in particular – I gave them as gifts regularly and I loved the light shining through. It was a delightful memory and sunk me back to my roots listening to the interview. She helped establish Search inside Yourself mindfulness classes for Google! It was so instructive to listen to her journey never really leaving the corporate world, an evolution and revolution traversing different market places, but actually just being where people were – in the 60s in their VWs and in the 21st century in front of a screen. I thought my life actually hasn’t been much different, on a much smaller and definitely less corporate scale, but essentially I have travelled where people are and from time to time tried to get a little ahead to make a path for others to trek.
Acts of self-compassion are acts of whole-heartedness, acts of liberation. I noticed this week, when completing one of my last projects in Seth Godin’s altMBA, I am acting with my wings no longer clipped. This is the most free I have ever been in my life, and I am such a beginner, I don’t even realise what is possible just yet. I am beginning too … this could be huge. It might even look effortless!