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Self-kindness, dreaming, and other radical acts

They make panda Nutella. That's all.

They make panda Nutella. That’s all.

Self-kindness is a radical act. It sets us free to serve others, to live a life of courageous compassion, to create positive change. – The lovely Marianne Elliott 

I used to think that positive and negative were terms better suited to describing battery charges than human dispositions.

I used to think energy and vibes and the-feelings-one-projects-to-the-world were fluff. I have a confession: Part of me still does. When I hear people talk about how they “commune with their spleen” or they “shift the electromagnetic energies permeating a space,” I still roll my eyes. But I do believe this, with not a hint of shifting my pupils upward: Positive attitudes and kindness are contagious, inspiring more positivity and kindness wherever they land.

Here is another confession: It has been a difficult time lately. Post-conflict development work takes a heavy toll on the heart and, compounded with conflicts in other aspects of life, conflict is weighing me down. And so I decided that this will be my year of what Marianne Elliott has dubbed “radical self-kindness.” I will extend kindness to others and to myself because it is the kindness of others that has fed my faith in humanity and it is kindness to myself that enables me to continue dreaming.

I hope this will be a year of dreaming. Aware of my apprehension about anything reckless, a dear friend dubbed it “a year of realistic abandon.” Perhaps it will be the year that I become less shy about writing and photographing – the year that I will, as Mary Oliver would want me to, “let the soft animal of my body love what it loves.” I hope it will be another year of love.

So, cheers to kindness and self-kindness and the enabling of dreams. It will be a good year.


  1. Positivity is definitely contagious! I have experienced this at work–in the hospital–with my patients. Having a very upbeat patient rooming with one who is kind of melancholy tends to bring the melancholy one up. It doesn’t always work but enough for me to keep my faith in positive attitudes. 😉

  2. THis is completely inspiring Roxanne. I hope that you are able to extend more kindness than you ever believed possible. And I know that you’ll receive that much plus a million times more. Not in return, because you’re not giving kindness so you can get some. But with good always comes more good.

    Oh man, that was deep 😛

  3. And yes, Marjory – don’t I wish we listened. I wish we listened every day. That is why we return to her words, and to yours, and to all of ours: to listen a little better, and dig a little deeper.

  4. @Karen: Thanks for the audio – now streaming!
    @Marianne: Mary Oliver has the magic touch, I swear.
    @Mary: Here’s hoping it is another year of love. It is a privilege to share the journey with you.
    @Kim: Radical self-kindness for all! Yes, indeed.

    Thank you all for your support, your encouragement, and your kindness – to me and to yourselves. It is inspiring me in every step.

  5. YES. This.

    The best thing about self-kindness is that you can give yourself exactly what you need. Not close-but-no-cigar. Cheers to it and to another year of love.

  6. Roxanne,
    kindness, what a beautiful mantra to hold in our hearts this year. Love this quote by Oliver so much, how easier it would be if we listened..

  7. Hi, Roxanne. Let me start by saying that I find your writing and photography to be absolutely exceptional. I’m inspired by YOU so thank you for that.

    I, too, hope it will be another year of love for you. I am so looking forward to following you on this journey.

    All the best.

  8. What a beautiful post Roxanne and it certainly will be a good year.

    It was only because post-conflict development and human rights work wore me out completely that I explored radical self-kindness and discovered just how good it can be.

    And Mary Oliver really is the high priestess of all this isn’t she?

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