Self Care 101

Pre-S

I’m teaching Self Care 101 at The Alchemist’s Kitchen at Stockton Market on Saturday December 1st, 2018. Workshop starts at 11am and will run for 1.5 hours. Tickets are $25. I hope you join me. It would be great to see you in person!

Now down to business. Self care is pretty popular these days. Whether you’ve just added self care to your to do list, are deeply committed to your self care practice or have never heard of self care this post is sort of an outline of my self care 101 workshop and is bound to give you some juicy new inspiration and understanding of what self care can look and feel like in your life.

We have plenty to do in our lives, we live busy, distracted, exhausting days that blend into weeks and months, years and decades. Often it can feel as if life is living us rather than the other way around. Enter self care. Self care is our understanding, awareness & commitment to ourselves. It is a practice that holds us accountable for our actions and how we treat our selves in the hustle and bustle of our daily experience. Self care is not the same for any two people. Inherent in the concept is that it is defined by your individual needs.

So what are your individual needs?

Common examples of self care displayed in social media and our society at large are often spa related and involve chunks of time and money. Drawing a bath is a great way to relax but it is quite unrealistic for a lot of people, or downright disgusting to others. Self care is not about creating more things on a to do list or spending money. It is about supporting yourself against burn out. It is about making sure you have what you need through out your day so that you don’t feel like a wet towel at bed time. It is about feeling at home in your life and your body.

So how do you self care if you don’t have $120 to spend on a massage?

Intuition. You are an intuitive being. You are your own magic.

There is merit in the saying ‘trust your gut’. That feeling we get in our gut that can guide us towards or away from something, is very powerful. We want to nourish that sensation of inner knowing. Start by listening to yourself, your body, the teeny tiny voice inside that whispers your deepest truth. This listening is process, it is something we continously teach ourselves. It is like a muscle, the more we use it the stronger it gets.

Asking ourselves questions to further understand our lived physical and emotional experiences can illuminate what we need to thrive. When I am trying to define something I like to start by brainstorming what it is not. Whether it is your practice of self care or your lived experience understanding what it isn’t can often teach us what we want it to be.

By examining where we experience frustration, devastation, grief, pain, & resistance we gain information about what it is we need, what is lacking in our life. Knowing what we are ignoring or not focusing on is important for understanding where we need to shift our attention and energy. This does not have to look any certain way. This is completely up to you. It is about the support you need and then figuring out how to get it. Whether it be asking for help, or holding yourself accountable, self care looks any way that feels good and helps you feel more you. This can be applied on both the micro and macro scales.

On the micro scale it can look like getting out of bed or staying in bed despite severe anxiety. Its putting one foot in front of the other towards your next task. On the macro scale it’s living your biggest and best in the world without apology.

We don’t know what we need till we listen. We develop our ability to listen by feeling our bodies in space, in movement, in energy levels. There is information in the way we taste and smell, what we crave, what we avoid and how we sleep. Getting into our bodies provides us with a wealth of information.

Feelings as information:

When we can observe our emotions without judgement, we begin to recognize patterns of behavior. These patterns tell us what we crave in our relationships, with our selves and others. They tell us if we get in our own way, if we walk blindly, or create boundaries we’re not willing to enforce. Maybe we eat our way through our emotions or perhaps we get high to hide our emotions, or maybe we drink our emotions. We do not need to assign morality to these patterns. They have no baring on our worth. Our worth is inherent in our existence.

Our behavior patterns are just raw data. This does not diminish the lived experience it is simply a way of creating space from the experience so it is not consuming, or triggering. The space created by this remove helps eliminate the shame and guilt we feel. By working to remove our moral judgements against ourselves, we begin to trust ourselves, to trust our intuition. Our smallest success’ support and reinforce our understanding and trust of our intuition.

Self care is setting ourselves up for those littlest of success’ however mundane they may be.

The more we give ourselves positive reinforcement, in the form of mundane supportive success’, the stronger our trust will grow in our intuition and therefore our intuition begins to grow and become stronger, leading us closer to our biggest and best lives lived with out apology.

So when developing our self care practices we can apply this process on both the micro and macro levels. For instance I just travelled to my in-laws. Previously I have had a hard time staying gluten free when I visit them. There are not a lot of food choices in their rural West Virginia town. But this past visit I planned and prepared a bag of gluten free options for myself. I asked my partner to support me in staying away from gluten loaded options. She was very helpful and having the food I needed to feel good made the trip so much more enjoyable.

That is self care. Supporting yourself to feel good in your lived experience.

On a macro level it can be applied to nourishing yourself so you have strength and capacity for the collective. Whether supporting a partner, raising a family, building an empire, hosting refugees, marching in protest, or breathing deeply, providing your own care in simple and tender ways is foundational for your calling.

I have introduced you to the idea that self care is setting ourselves up for mundane success. You may be saying that’s all well and good but wtf? How do I figure out what my self care actually feels like? What do I need to be doing every day?

I shared the example of me planning and preparing myself to be gluten free at my in laws. It is as simple and mundane as that. What is the easiest way you can support yourself?

Often it is getting a bit more rest, holding deeper connections, more focused concentration. Because we feel better when we have a bit more room in our lives to breath. To hug ourselves, to eat by candle light instead of in the car. These small tasks, that can seem monumental to shift, give us space to live our lives rather than have our lives live us. And the littlest bit of planning and preparations can go a long way.

For the longest time I have called self care a strategy. People have asked me if that was the word I wanted to use, since it has connotations of conflict, marketing, business and war, but I think that being strategic is about being aware. It is acting with informed intent. It realizing goals and making steps towards them, however small or mighty they may feel. So in recognizing our behavior patterns and spheres of our lives we neglect or ignore we can start to see where we need to support ourselves avoid burn out and unhappiness. If we are always waking up exhausted and which leaves us grumpy with co workers in the morning. Perhaps planning bedtime routine you can stick to would help your relationship with your team mates. Recognizing cause and effect can go a long way. If you have terrible indigestion in the afternoon that keeps you from concentrating on your client meetings, perhaps packing a lunch that sustains your brain and your belly enjoys. Does that mean going to the grocery store? Does that mean learning what foods make you feel good and what foods make you feel gassy and bloated, or tired and cranky?

These questions about your mundane routine are very micro applications to our self care. But often the most accessible solutions are the ones that completely evade us. The more we support our selves to live out our biggest and best expression of ourselves the more we are able to achieve. Because when we live without apology or self deprecation that is when we get to realize our truest expression of self, which is when you are the best for you and yours.

So meditating while your doing the dishes, is the first step to enlightenment. It doesn’t have to be 90 minute yoga classes 16x a week. It has to be the thing that you do. The thing right now that will help you feel better when your head its the pillow tonight. How can you take care of your self?

Doing my damn thing.

Here we are in January and I am feeling like I need a lot of boundaries in place.  I am feeling protective.  I am practicing asking for what I need, slowing down a bit and tuning out some noise.  Yesterday I took a day off from my computer.  I checked all my emails on my phone while I was having tea and while looking at my monday I realized I could carve out a day of writing, reading and taking care of myself.  As you know I am hosting the #radicalresolution challenge on instagram and I even took the day off from posting on there.  

 

I am feeling the need for boundaries because I want to hold on to the spark of my intention longer.

I am not ready to share all of my plans, and I want to leave more (parenthetical space) in my year for sitting and dreaming, spacing out in the garden, or walking in a snowstorm.  Bears get to hibernate and after the temperatures of the last few weeks on the east coast I want to hibernate too.  It is not that I feel the need to sleep I just feel the need to be with myself and my people around the hearth without screens.  I am not ready to share all the things I want 2018 to bring because I am just easing into the feelings I want to cultivate in 2018.  That process is not fast, or immediate it is daily small consistent acts that accumulate to the year of 2018 as a cohesive, consistent whole.  

Tap into the speed your body is asking for.

So the flavor of those daily acts; your daily strategy, is how you build your intention for the year. If you focus on what you need, what your body is craving, if you can tap into the speed your body is asking for, then you can sink into your own body, your own rhythm.  You begin to feel at home in your body by listening, giving yourself some time.  Don’t assume that change happens on January 2nd.  Allow yourself the grace to root yourself.  It takes time to get into your body, it takes work.  There is no need for shame or frustration when the first try doesn’t work.  You get to try again the next day.  Even the slightest shift in focus is a huge accomplishment.  Awareness is the beginning.  

I guess I am writing this as a reminder to myself that I get to feel this out.  I have to trust myself that I know what I am doing.  After all my #radicalresolution is to trust myself.  It may not look like anybody else’s way of doing it but I am doing my damn thing.

I'm on a PODCAST!!!

Hey all,

My friend Amy Kuretsky interviewed me for her podcast and today the interview went live!  So go take a listen, we talk about the restaurant industry, we talk about herbs, about self-care and how important it is.  It was super fun to get to talk with Amy and to get over my fear of my recording voice.  So go check it out! 

Then let me know what you think.  I would love to hear peoples feedback.  

Routine.

We all know the feeling; "If I could only get _________ done then I would feel better about myself."  For the longest time I was very hard on myself because I thought my life would be everything I dreamed it could be if only I could summon the discipline to put into practice all the things I knew would make my life better.  Going to the gym on a regular basis, eating green things at every meal, having a consistent creative practice, meditating daily, going gluten free, cutting out sugar, becoming vegetarian, and on and on.  A long list of shoulds.  These were always on my to do list but never got checked off.  I am sure you can relate to a similar struggle.  

I have procrastinated my way through many a day, organizing my schedule, filling in new calendars, logging food, and counting calories.  To no avail.  I was still frustrated, still had a no "discipline", and still felt like a complete stranger in my own body.

I am convinced that this phenomenon is more about what our culture and society tell us we need to do than what our bodies are telling us to do.  You are a smart person.  You know what your body wants and needs to be healthy.  The hard part is putting it all into play.  The hard part is making it work with life.  This is where routine helps.  

Believe it or not there are places in our lives that we have supreme control.  Sometimes it may not feel like it, but most often we can create routine and space within our lives to listen to our bodies and minds, and give them what we need to survive with grace.  

It takes some serious listening.  It takes trial and error.  You have to be willing to mess up and make mistakes.  But the reward is a built in routine that feeds you and yours with nourishing self care practice, healthy simple food that tastes fantastic, and energy to have fun and love yourself.

It is not magic.  It's routine.   

For example, I know that my job is a lot easier if I write every morning.  This writing has nothing to do with work.  It is just a brain dump.  But it truly makes my work day easier and more productive.  So I wake up early enough every day so that I can give myself half an hour of uninterrupted quiet time to write.  This is a non-negotiable for me.  I can't check email during this time, I can't scroll through instagram, or play words with friends.  I can only light a candle, sip some tea and write.  In order for me to do this I should go to bed around 9:30pm or 10pm.  

Do you see how this one thing that makes my life so much easier, starts to give structure and routine to the rest of my life?

So try it out.  What are some of your non-negotiables?  What has to get done so that you feel like a sane person, in charge of their own life rather than playing catch up all the time?

Build it into your schedule.  Write it on the calendar.  Then start to rearrange your days and your weeks so that this priority gets done.  Maybe you will have to ask for some help, we don't have to do everything ourselves, we can delegate to family and friends or hired help.  

Creating routine, begets more routine.  I write every morning, so that when my partner wakes up and is ready to go to the gym so am I.  Then we come home and have breakfast together.  This routine has together time built into it.  Has exercise built in.  It clears my head so that I am on automatic pilot.  I know when I wake up that I am going to make tea and write, and when I am done writing I am going to get dressed and go to the gym.  My mind doesn't have to think about what is next.  Which in turn creates space for creative brainstorms while I am lifting weights, or if I want to shut my brain off completely I will plug into a podcast and be entertained while I walk it out on the treadmill.  

Setting up parameters, boundaries & routines, is not about discipline, it is about freedom.  

Sometimes the Universe yells at you...

 

Monday the universe yelled at me.  It wasn't pretty crying, it was sobbing guffaws and catching my breath through the tears.  It was the realization that I have a lot of work to do.  So today I took it slow.  I was gentle with myself.  Self care in action.  

Lately I have been thinking a lot about balance and how vital it is to my sanity and success.  I have always thought of balance as something that I have to achieve.  As if there is a magical formula to being balanced.  It has always been a very stagnant concept in my mind.  Something to attain and then hold to with clenched fists.  But that hasn't worked for me.  I am still searching as if hunting pirate treasure at the bottom of the sea.  So today, as I sunk into my favorite chair with a juicy book and my third cup of tea, I realized I was balancing.  My willingness to be gentle with myself after having an emotional rollercoaster day on Monday was balance.  I was balancing the high energy of the universe yelling at me with the calm of being quiet and following my nose rather than my to do list.  

Balance \'bal-ən(t)s\ n [ME, fr. OF, fr. (assumed) VL bilancia, fr. LL bilanc-, bilanx having two scalepans, fr. L bi-lanc-, lanx plate] (13c) 1 : an instrument for weighing: as  a : a beam that is supported freely in the center and has two pans of equal weight suspended from its ends b : a device that uses the elasticity of a spiral spring for measuring weight or force   c : cap : LIBRA  2  : a means of judging or deciding  3  : a counterbalancing weight, force, or influence  4  : a vibrating wheel operating with a hairspring to regulate the movement of a timepiece  5  a : stability produced by even distribution of weight on each side of the vertical axis  b : equipoise between contrasting, opposing, or interacting elements  c : equality between the totals of the two sides of an account   6  a : an aesthetically pleasing integration of elements  b : the juxtaposition in writing of syntactically parallel constructions containing similar or contrasting ideas   7  a : physical equilibrium  b : the ability to retain one's balance  8  a : weight of force of one side in excess of another  b : something left over  : REMAINDER  c : an amount in excess esp. on the credit side of an account  9 : mental and emotional steadiness

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary

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 When I am stuck or stagnant I will often read the dictionary for inspiration.  

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elasticity. deciding. stability. equipoise. integration. juxtaposition. steadiness.  These words spoke to me.  They illuminated a new way of understanding how I can cultivate balance in my life.  They helped me to hear what the universe is yelling at me.  They are how I am going to move forward into those dark tender spaces in order to love myself more fully.  Thanks universe.  I get it.  I hear ya.  I am going to do the work.