winter 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?