self care

When you know what feels good for you ...

When you know what feels good for you, it’s time to do it.

In speaking with one of my clients, we reflected on her fall and planning for the spring. We discussed unhealthy practices and habits that had developed last year and changes that she was seeking to make this year.

As we spoke, she struggled to see how she could balance fun and be focused on her work. She reflected on feeling overwhelmed and the need to unwind which often led to choices that did not serve her well. She thought about the friends and community members who promoted more of her healthy habits and those that promoted more of her unrestricted & unhealthy habits.

But … when we talked about the good moments last fall she led the sharing with “I had time to reflect …” So I highlighted for her, “You realize that for each of the moments where you felt good, you had time with yourself and time in meaningful solitude. Can you cultivate that time every day? Even 5 minutes to be with yourself?”

It’s so easy, isn’t it, to gloss over what really serves us? It’s easy to forget what helped us to make wise choices for ourselves and to feel reconnected with our internal compass. She reminded me of the need for quiet reflection, which also works for me, but mostly she reminded me of how important it is for us to take time and look at our lives, asking ourselves “what felt good for me and why?” And then, when we hear the answer, actually making time to do it.

Clearing Out and Catching Up to this Chapter of Life

I have been thinking a lot about clearing out and catching up as we settle into the new year.  I love metaphor, and am trying on a new one: looking on my life stages as chapters in a book.  This current chapter includes mama to a toddler, balancing life demands as a working parent, as an artist and as a cis-woman in a committed marriage.  I told my husband that our house carries all of the chapters of our previous and current lives in it: our Bay Area life together, our NYC life, our Ithaca life pre-baby, and of course, our Ithaca life post-baby. 

What this means for me now is that we have to clear out.  Clear out the stuff, the ideas, the systems that don’t actually fit for or work in this time of our lives.  I am considering what remains from old chapters that really does not make sense or actually serve us well.  I am in the thick of this right now.  Can you relate?

 Self-care requires honest inventory and reflection to see what actually is working and what is no longer working, in particular what is serving you to be healthy, engaged, inspired and present to your life and to the lives of those in your community.  I see several examples of what has remained in my life, but in reality needs a shift.  Old thoughts that no longer work.  Old beliefs about myself that don’t translate to me now.  Old hobbies that collected and reminded me of who I once was, but not in a good way … in the “I used to be a _______” way.  Old clothes that don’t fit or work well in and with my body.  Old books that I used to love or that spoke to a different chapter of my life but collect dust now.

If I take the metaphor as my life is a book with many chapters, then I need to outline this chapter.  What is the focus of this chapter?  The lessons learned?  The arc of this story?  What do I need to highlight and cut out completely?  Who is this book of life for anyways, the answer I hope will be for me, or for you.  The book of our life is for us.  So ask yourself, what makes sense for now?  What doesn’t make sense for now?  Are you willing to clear it out?  What will you need to put in place to clear it out?

Season Shifting, Late Fall Reflections

As we move deeper into fall in upstate NY, I am feeling the cooler air and seeing the beautiful fall leaves slowly drift away. I find myself thinking of winter. Preparing for the icy chill and the passing of another year, I am moving into the reflection time that often calls me at this time of year and asking what I’ve learned in 2018. In particular, asking what has been important for me to wrestle with this year, struggle with and embrace. Of course, as our son gets older, my husband and I are deep in cycles of letting go and embracing the new. The shift from infant to toddler time came fast and what it has called out in us as parents and as partners has required us to go deep in our emotional wells. I am learning, and I realize that as I prepare for my upcoming birthday, I am ready to recommit to the practices that serve me so well and encourage me to nourish myself: dancing, writing, meditating, visioning and praying. These are anchor practices for me. They remind me of who I am and what I am about, when I’m not doing these I find myself feeling adrift and unsure. I feel grateful for the pockets of time that allow me to reconnect and remember through these anchor practices. And I am grateful that I am looking squarely into the end of another beautiful and complex year on this earth and in this body.

Early Spring: what self care looks like this week ...

Meditating along with short Yoga Nidra practices through my Insight Timer app

Short restorative and yin classes on YogaGlo

Connecting back with daily sun salutations (I did (almost) 10 daily throughout 2014)

Planning dates with my husband and utilizing the great care providers we love to watch our son

Responding to writing prompts in my journal shared from Cosmic Cowgirls' Mary Macdonald:

  1. This is an exercise that the writer Abigail Thomas gives her students that I LOVE. Take any ten year period in your life and write two pages about it using only 3 word sentences. Then choose a sentence that hums for you and write two pages around that sentence.
  2. I know I should regret it but I don’t.
  3. It makes me so angry when….
  4. It’s hard for me to say what I want because….
  5. People expect me to….
  6. I feel most in tune with life and myself when….
  7. I’m so sorry I….
  8. Tough times have taught me….
  9. There are limits and mine….
  10. This taste reminds me of…

 

Here's to the ones who dream

What lies in your heart to create or to experience?  After seeing the beautiful "La La Land", I walked away thinking about commitment to our dreams and goals.  Not only did I feel inspired by the singing, dancing and story, I loved the messaging of honoring and pursuing our heart's desire. It can seem harder and harder to remember the dreams that held our hearts earlier in our life.  How important it is to honor these dreams, to defrost them and to lay them out in front of us.  Here are my lessons from La La Land:

1. State your dreams clearly

2. Seek out inspiration and honor the synchronicities

3. Identify those who remind you of what is most important to you, keep those folks close

4. Allow your dreams the time they need to be fulfilled

5. Do what needs to be done to give your dreams life

Slowing Down Shifting Identities

It's December 20th, 2016, one day before we head into winter season here in Ithaca.  As this year wraps up, I'm thinking about change and new identities I have been called to embrace.  This year brought big changes in where my husband and I live, where we work and the expectation of a new family member.  While there is much joy and celebration within those life changes, the newness demands more of us than our regular routines in our old home of Brooklyn, NY.  We are building a new life, and within that new life, we have to adapt to how our identities have changed, acknowledge who we have become and who we are becoming.  I think change can be so subtle. It can impact my well being in seemingly minor ways until one day I find myself spent: craving pizza, comfies, netflix and down time.  These are good signs that I am on the verge of a burn out. Ultimately, I am approaching this winter as an opportunity to listen to my needs, not always easy for me especially during the holidays, and slow down the speed of the changes I have been experiencing.  Slow down to try and catch up with myself.  Slow down and catch up with all of my many selves.