Start Where You Are


One of the ways I beat myself up is when I haven’t done something I love for a long time. Or I should say that is how I used to treat myself. I would hardly criticize you, but it is very easy to criticize myself. Actually, it is a bad habit, to criticize and browbeat ourselves for our very human flaws, held in common, with all humans around the world.

Everyone disappoints themselves from time to time. It is natural. Some of us become critical and shrewish to ourselves rather than offer a little solace, as we would for a friend. I suspect this comes from our North American cultural conditioning that goes all the way back to the Pilgrims. We may have been taught that to be a better person, we must avoid self-pride and moral complacency, so it is best to blame and punish ourselves for something. We can never be good enough.

The truth is, just as sure as our death, we will fail, make mistakes, say the wrong thing, forget a birthday, be late and any number of other things. Offering some self-compassion to ourselves is not about an anything-goes attitude. Instead, it is about joining hands with the rest of the flawed humans who are doing the best they can, and understanding that things go wrong.   I can suggest that when we notice our self-criticism, we can treat ourselves the way we would treat our best friend – extend a hand, suggest what to do now, and offer words of comfort. We don’t make ourselves or others better people by using a stern, blaming and critical language.

Take today:

I went with a friend on my first bike ride of the season. I felt apologetic and slightly embarrassed that September 20 was my first outing on my bike. However, I looked at the facts. I was away for four weeks, and it was way too hot for me when I was home. Yes, there was the odd part of a day that I might have gone, but there were other reasons why that time didn’t work. The truth is that today, the weather was perfect, and we were both free to go,  even though there were reasons not to.

We started where we were by getting air in the tires, plotting an easy and newish route that would take us to a brand new refurbished rail bridge connecting Ottawa with Quebec. It is now a pedestrain bike bridge and it’s great. And we went! Sixteen km of joyful riding, stopping in Little Italy for lunch and passing through gorgeous public gardens for the last 3 KM. With promises to do this again next week and every week until the snow flies.

It is easy to stop doing something altogether when we get out of the habit. We start a drawing course and never draw. Why? We criticize our work? We compare it to others. And our harsh judgements up the chance that we won’t continue. If we could be encouraging instead, we may continue and enjoy the act of drawing or painting or learning a musical instrument. Furthurmore James Clear, author of Atomic Habits states, “The odds increase the more you try.

Sketching – Yikes

Take my Tuesday art journalling program I am doing this month. I am shocked that I have no self-judgement about my whimsical sketches. I actually like them. They are for me, not the world and I look forward to my class.  After all these years, I can enjoy this rather than dread it.

September has been an exceptional month of fresh starts – some new, some old favourites revived, and a different way of looking at things – not dividing them up between good and bad or better and worse. Experimenting with the freedom to learn things I believed I wasn’t good at, and I don’t need to be good at, and I love it anyway—so much joy.


1:) I hope you will reconsider brow-beating yourself.  Self-compassion is simply showing some kindness to yourself. (nothing to do with self-esteem)

2:) Stanford Medicine on Self Compassion for those wanting to learn a little more. Click Here There is so much information on this topic now and Kirsten Neff is often quoted as an expert, in the articles you read.

3:) Some lively music to get you moving on the floor or in a chair.

4:) This year, the autumn equinox will begin this Saturday, September 23rd—my favourite season. 

5:) Thank you for reading my scribblings. Warmest wishes, Trudy

PS thanks to Rob for this photo.

6 replies
  1. Judy Bernstein
    Judy Bernstein says:

    Yes, yes and yes. Why are we so hard on ourselves???!
    I love that you are enjoying drawing!
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Oh Darby: I hope you treat yourself as kindly as you treat your best friends. Self criticism is such a bad and unnecessary habit. We can make changes that we want to make without being mean to ourselves. We can all benefit with a few words of comfort. Warmly, Trudy

  2. Connie Youmans
    Connie Youmans says:

    Dear Trudy,

    I love your description of this wonderful day touring around on your bicycles. It helps me to look forward to next month when we, here in Phoenix, Arizona, will finally be able to enjoy the outdoors again after record breaking heat this summer (119 degrees in July). I’m always grateful for your words, encouraging and reminding me to take time for simple pleasures and to be less self critical. Thank you and happy belated birthday!

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Thank you Connie. I’m glad to hear that you survived 119 degrees in July. I can’t imagine what that was like. I appreciate your birthday greetings. It has been a wonderful month. I highly recommend 77 and I hope you get to enjoy it too.All the best, Trudy


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