Off the Mat: Constructively Compassionate at Home

Constructive Compassion

Open hands. Open heart. Loving gracefully begins at home.

My hubby and I are arguing in agreement. Again. This time about word choice in an online article about parenting boys. The content is almost irrelevant. Almost because these tiffs often arise when discussing parenting and gender. Societal messages to little boys and little girls. We argue in agreement, differing over minutiae born of perspective, gender, age, family of origin experience.

His tone feels charged to me. Attacking. Sharp. Dismissive. Defended. Defensive. I step back.

Why are we arguing about this? What did I say that upset you? I didn’t write this headline.

His answer is revealing. About me.

It’s the same thing again. You are sensitive to my tone but don’t pay attention to your own.


We make anemic apologies as he finishes the dishes, then he goes to bed.

I want to defend myself – but I’ve really been working on this! I’m trying! To get validation – haven’t you noticed?!

But the answer is in the empty kitchen. No. No it’s not noticeable. Not enough. Or I wouldn’t be standing here feeling sad and guilty for hurting the kind, sensitive soul I love most of all. Again.


Back in January, I was browsing online and found an old article by a favorite writer. In it, she shares about her 30 day experiment with her spouse and kids. She posed the question “how can I better show you I love you?” Her witty narrative about their answers and her efforts makes it seem possible to love gracefully.

Loving gracefully. I can do that. I should do that.

Fast forward three seasons, alone in the kitchen. I’m reminded my intentions are not enough. Compassion is not a writing exercise but the most important work I can do. The deepest way I can influence the lives of the people I love most.

The security of marriage and family is not an excuse for treating them poorly. We see this with toddlers and teens. They act worst with us because they can. We will love them anyway. Being taken for granted – being a given – means they trust us. Feel secure. We’re doing our job.

I practice kindness out in the world with store clerks and fellow drivers. I practice compassion with my clients and students. I practice at home with my kiddo and his playmates or with a struggling friend. I don’t get to drop my practice and be a shrew to my hubby just because I’m tired of being kind all day. Just because I can.


Earlier this month, I was browsing online for ideas for my class and blog about the Equinox and Full Moon. Among the musings on harvest and reaping, opportunity and fresh starts, was this idea:

There is no such thing as constructive criticism. It’s an oxymoron. Be unconditionally constructive.

This is my Autumn practice. To be compassionately constructive.  Constructively compassionate. To begin at home.

[Photo credit: (c) Eugene Goffredo]


Ginny Hamilton

Ginny is a yoga instructor, Reiki practitioner, gardener, activist, and middle aged Mama. She has put down roots in South Amherst with her spouse and young son. Daily she’s amazed by the beauty the Pioneer Valley offers, though her allergies beg to differ. She believes our natural state is to be balanced in body and mind so spirit can flow freely. Because modern life gets in the way, she offers self-healing bodywork to unravel imbalances and restore energy flow. In Off the Mat, Ginny explores how yoga’s physical and mindfulness exercises help her parent and how parenting shapes her yoga practice.

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