Why Should You Care?

The unyielding darkness has started to seep into the Northern Hemisphere. Abbreviated sunlight in November has always affected my mood, challenging my natural buoyancy by the stagger and sway of light deprivation. And this year we have an additional force to reckon with: a metaphorical shadowy veil that has been draped across our world.

Even in these pitch dark moments I see opportunity. We have a chance to stand brightly in the darkness and call out all for which we stand: peace, love, joy, beauty, grace, wisdom. The sanctity of life remains untouched for our willpower and minds remain free, even if we feel shackled by political, environmental, social, cultural and economic realities. We can make a difference. Show up for what you believe in in a non-violent, loving way. Others will notice and may be encouraged to do the same.

Self-care is especially vital when we feel this vulnerable. My hot water bottle has become my trusty companion, feeling its warmth on my lap as I type words and phrases and lines, sometimes blurred by distraction and an urge to check in on the world to see if it’s alright.

My sister graciously shared her strategy for comfort. A shower and a nap are the best remedies for sorrow. With gratitude she feels the spray of instant warm water that she knows so many in this world do not have. A mid-day respite, bowing to the altar of Slow, reenergizes the fuzziness and frayed edges. Jumpiness is replaced by a Zen-like calm and we return to that greater part of ourselves that knows this too shall pass.

It may be the end of the world as we know it, to quote REM, but it is not the end of the world. Apocalyptic thoughts leave no room for positive ones.

If you are struggling with how best to care for yourself, consider this:

  • Switch off the noise – both internal and external. Surrender to your need for rest when you require it.
  • Minimize your exposure to online vitriol. It won’t help you, but will only serve to fuel confusion, wrath and disconnection.
  • Eat vitamin-rich food. Especially now as the sun quickly genuflects to the horizon, Vitamin D is essential. Ensure you get natural sunlight. Compensate with supplements if you cannot.
  • Connect with others. Isolation feeds insanity. Gather your tribe.
  • Hug more often.
  • Watch a comedy. Laughter heals.
  • Express love and gratitude.
  • Respect our differences. Remember that you may appear as foreign to someone else.
  • Create a safe environment for dialogue with people you meet.

Why should you care? Because you can. Because you do. Because caring for self is the first step in caring for others. The opposite of love is indifference. Recent events have shown we are not indifferent, although we may feel powerless. Your power begins within you. Embrace the power of Slow. The result of its force is mightier than any politician on the planet.

The Harvesting Place

The best way to welcome love into your life is to give it first to yourself.

How is it that we learn this so late in life? Carving that love space within ourselves, or preserving it, is a life skill, but somehow along the way we learn to think of others first ~ be kind, be nice, be loving. And yet the greatest act of love is to direct that level of kindness to ourselves before extending it to others.

You cannot receive true love if you aren’t able to receive it from yourself first and foremost.

Easy to say, right? How many of us actually practice daily self-care?

We say we don’t have time to eat well, exercise or get a breath of fresh air, always serving our clients, our children, our partners or our friends. We feel the pulling demands that fill our days, breathless at night from the activity that pressed us beyond the breaking point.

Committing ourselves to authentic living can be pretty tough, especially for those of us conditioned to ‘make it right’ for everyone else. Making it right for ourselves can be wildly uncomfortable because it requires taking a stand beyond what we are used to.

It requires saying ‘no, that’s not right,’ in the face of someone else’s oblivion.

Somehow our egos think we will die or the other person will reject us completely if we speak from that deepest place within ourselves. The ego hides behind a mask to ensure it is safe, seeking agreement and acceptance wherever it can.

And yet that mask covers the most beautiful, naked part of our being.

When we speak authentically, we risk looking bad in the face of doing ourselves good.

Pretty ironic, huh?

As a recovering speedaholic who thought ‘getting things right’ would somehow make me acceptable in the eyes of others, I have learned a few things along the way:

  1. Perfection is a myth. Don’t expect it of others, and certainly not of yourself.
  2. Life is messy. So wear an apron. You can always wash it and move on.
  3. People may be persecuted for telling the truth, but the more people speak it, the higher the chances that the truth will prevail.
  4. Love is stronger than fear. Seek to love where you can, including yourself. Every day.

When we make a habit of loving ourselves, we create a vast space to harvest even more love for others. Go to the Harvesting Place. Remember to share it. And don’t ever, ever forget how worthy you are of the very love you give.

Live Your Amazingness

Have you forgotten how incredible you are? Have you lost your sense of amazingness?

When we are born, we are convinced of it. We learn to crawl, walk, run. And then we keep running. Away from who we are.

Some of us realize, midway through the thick of life, that our innate goodness has been buried in the experiences we all share: disappointment, dashed hope, the collective of what our parents/schooling/society calls reality.

But what is real?

Our souls know what is real. The trouble is that the language of the soul starts in a whisper. If we never learn how to listen to it, it remains at that volume and so we barely hear it, if at all.

Until our bodies catch up and tell us something isn’t quite right. Our hearts ache. We don’t know why. So we take a pill and diagnose our condition in medical terms.

Even when we reach that state, we have the power to recapture our amazingness. Perhaps especially when our bodies start to hurt, we have the chance to reignite the magic with which we were born.

The solution to our human condition does not reside in our minds. It is housed in our spirits, the essence of ourselves that never vanishes even when our bones turn to dust.

You can live your amazingness by remembering you are more than the body you have. You are more than your job title, your marital status, or your role in this world.

The “you” of which I speak dances outside of time and space. You are eternal. And you can access it any time you want.

How?

By asking yourself where your soul is located within yourself. Then listen to what it says.

Take a moment today to reconnect with your own divinity. The world needs the real you that lies beneath the piles of history laid upon you.

Welcome.

Where is Your Entrance?

Usher sings about searching for himself in his title album Looking 4 Myself. He says he finds himself in someone else. I think that is partly true. We are social animals and we need each other to serve as mirrors of our true selves. Sometimes we meet people who help us discover what we already have inside. They tease it out of us, sometimes on purpose, other times simply because that is who they are.

Self-discovery is a necessary part of our lives. It is an exciting journey that ends with our last breath. One of the most encouraging things I heard was an eighty-year-old woman who said she recently found herself for the first time and she liked what she saw. With a gleam in her eye, she had unearthed her true self. It took eighty years, but there she was! Hopeful for the future.

Entering into all parts of ourselves can be a daunting task because we sometimes find things we didn’t realize we carry with us. It forces us to reshape how we see ourselves and the world around us. Yet it is the most rewarding experience if you really allow yourself to see.

Being forward-looking is a part of our anatomy. If we wouldn’t have a vision for the future, how could we make sense of the now? Yet sometimes we get caught up in the what-if scenarios that we forget how to live right here. At this very moment.

The paradox is that although we are set up to live into the future, all we really have is now.

So it is up to us to juggle our future desires with our current condition and to find a beautiful balance between what is and what could be.

Now go find that entrance into yourself and explore those caverns. Perhaps we will meet somewhere along the way to share a moment of now.

I’d like that. Would you?

The Fundamental Principle in Life

Pilates. The single most fabulous way to come into alignment with oneself. Most Wednesdays I take a pilates class at my gym. The teacher is beyond amazing. It is as if we are one, experiencing what it’s like to move our bodies this way. It is a delicious time-out in the middle of the week, a gift I give to myself as often as I can.

Exercise can be an act of self-love, an empowering part of your self-care program. After all, our bodies are the temples of our soul. And when we care for them, great things can happen! Take your feet, for instance. Have you thanked them lately for carrying you every which way? Or your hands? What marvelous instruments they are! They can do all kinds of things (such as playing Mozart ~ yes, I am still just shy of heaven after that Salzburg concert. Sigh.). Or what about your ears? Have you shown them appreciation for all that they do day in and day out? What do you tell those ears of yours? Have you really listened to what you say to yourself?

“I don’t have time to exercise, eat well, sleep enough, have fun, fill-in-the-blank…”

My guess is you have said one of the above a time or two. I know I have.

Taking care of oneself is a fundamental principle in life, yet so often we are torn between our own needs and the needs of others. If you are a helping kind of person, you may make decisions based on the welfare of everyone else and not on your own. That might work well for a while, but soon enough you may start to notice a soul-level wear and tear that can lead to extreme exhaustion and even burnout. That’s where Slow can truly help.

There is Slow in the word ‘no’. As my friend Donald Pillai so brilliantly said recently:

[L]ife is not about being in ‘yes’ with others as much as it is being in ‘yes’ with yourself.

That includes saying ‘no’ to certain things, even if you could do them. It’s not about the ‘could’, but about what’s most important.

If we are going to change the world, we need our rest, nourishment and a high level of fun to sustain us for those times when we need our energy the most.

If you could do just one thing to take care of yourself today, what would it be?

Momshell – Self-Care the slow way

“Never leave the house without your lipstick and pearls,” my grandmother would say. As long as you had those things, she claimed, you were considered fully dressed. She was of an era of up-dos and crinolin. She had class, style, and charisma.

The Associated Press recently asked me what I thought about the term ‘momshell’. Quite honestly, I had never heard of the word before. But it says a lot about self-care today. We women want to be visible even when we have children.

michelleI remember the first time I felt invisible. All eyes were on the baby, and I was the backdrop. It felt strange, and oddly comforting, as if I didn’t have to be on display anymore, sporting a size 4 or sucking in my stomach to look like all those 18-year-old models. Being pregnant liberated me from belts and other restrictive clothing.

Then came the transition into toddlerhood, when the children and my parenting became more transparent. Their behavior reflected on me, and suddenly I became centerstage again. Only this time the stage was cluttered with rotten tomatoes thrown at us non-perfect moms.

Momshells are women who care for themselves, who want to look and feel good. I mentioned Michelle Obama as an example of someone who is beautiful inside and out and who has made the sacrifices of motherhood more visible. That, to me, is beauty in motion. And a dash of lipstick can never hurt.