Setting the tone for yourself

…begins the night before. How you go to bed really matters. Don’t go to bed with problems on your mind. Because you are creating feelings and beliefs that you have problems, and you take that to bed with you and right into your subconscious mind. It doesn’t work it out during sleep. Have you ever woken up and said, thank God I brought that into my sleep! I woke up and my mind totally worked it out! I woke up feeling great this morning! Yay!

No. More like, I’m so tired, I tossed and turned all night. Or, I woke up at 1:30 thinking about stuff and couldn’t get back to sleep.

Instead of problems getting worked out, they get seeded. YIKES!

Bedtime is a time to indulge. You’ve got your pillows and your cozy blanket… this is the time to literally dream instead of nightmare.

Ask yourself, HOW WOULD I FEEL IF MY WISHES WERE FULLY REALIZED?

This is not a prompt to start planning. Read again: how would I FEEL.. fully realized?
Don’t go beyond that other than to indulge in what your life would look and feel like.

Seed that into your subconscious mind instead. Remember that your feelings impact your motivation, inspiration, self-esteem, and energy, so this is really important. Your subconscious mind won’t know that the feelings you produce from this was “manufactured” and that the feelings from your problems were “real.” It can only know to be real what you feel to be real.

Wake up and feel genuinely grateful for a new morning. I know, I used to hate it when people would say that. But seriously, is it really that bad? Just do it. Smile. Breathe. Hydrate. Pee. Look in the mirror and see how seriously beautiful and amazing you are. Don’t set yourself up for rush and stress. No news, no emails yet — they most certainly can wait. Get yourself settled. Put your spirit in the drivers seat, and decide what feelings you want to dwell in today.

What is self-care

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

-Audre Lorde

While meditation, bubble baths, and alone time can be self-care, sometimes it’s just plain hiding.

Self-care often takes on the form of discipline or what we need most to progress out of our anxiety and traumas and into wellness and empowerment. Momentary indulgences are wonderful, and I love them very very much, they are so joyful, relaxing, and gentle, but I don’t call them self-care. I call them indulgences.

True self-care requires a decision to value and treat myself in a totally different way, and it is worthwhile to differentiate as they offer different results.

I’ve felt sick to my stomach practicing self-care. I’ve had to communicate incredibly difficult things to important people in my life that wasn’t supportive of my well-being or of others around me. I’ve had to dig in my heels and put up healthy boundaries when it would have been easier not to.
I never feel sick to my stomach during an indulgence, but sometimes afterwards, depending on the indulgence. With self care, it may feel bad during the practice, but it is always followed by longer-term relief.

I ask others for help. For a time I thought this was a sign of weakness, and I eventually realized how much self-esteem, strength, and courage it took to reach out when all I wanted to do is isolate and figure out how to do it all myself (but not really). While taking personal space is incredibly important, it can become an indulgence when reach-outs are called for. We are putting off a solution. Something that will take care of us, relieve us, make us stronger, connect us.

I’ve started some mornings with meditation and breath exercises when that was really the last thing I wanted to do, but it was what I knew would set the right tone for me for the day. I also had to recognize when it was enough and I had to move on to other responsibilities in my life.

It’s wonderful to indulge. Indulge away. But let’s not hijack the meaning of self-care to be synonymous with indulgence. Self care is what we do that gives us what we really need: a fierce love for ourselves and those around us, a voice that advocates on our behalf and on behalf of others that need advocation, and an inner strength that doesn’t allow our highest values to become hijacked by external pressure. Self-care brings us back to Self so that not only can we truly indulge without regret, but we can also truly care for others in the most appropriate way.

Being real

…is sharing how you truly feel
with consideration, kindness and compassion, and
without betraying yourself.

How to tell?

It’s in your truest of intentions.

Sometimes what needs to be said may not feel kind and compassionate, but you know it is. Boundaries are a real thing. It doesn’t look demeaning or judging. If it does, take a moment to work that out because that’s something else happening to protect how you truly feel.

Sometimes what needs to be said is scary as hell because you are afraid others will disapprove. Take the chance. That hold-back is a self-betrayal, and that’s the worst kind of disapproval. And you want to know who you are surrounding yourself with. It’s okay. When you put yourself out there, the rest is less about you and more about them. You are fine. They’ve gotta work that out.

Sometimes what needs to be said – how you truly feel – is pure gratitude. Share it, because people need to hear it in a bad way. That sort of love grows like wildfire, and that’s the kind of wildfire the world needs.

The single most effective tool

is our breath. It turns on our rest-and-digest parasympathetic response, our calm, our clarity, and our spirit.

Sit with your spine tall, close your eyes, and breath through your nostrils, including on the exhale.

Expand the body on the fullest inhale you can make and breath into your solar plexus (just below the diaphragm).
Exhale as completely as you can, muscles of your core pressing in towards your spine, spine remains tall like royalty.
Continue.
Let your thoughts and any tension melt away with each exhale, and then
inhale in pure energy and life force.

Empathy, not excuses

What I find frustrating is when someone goes through one of their stories they’ve shared many times before to explain (excuse) what happened. That story has become their past, present, and future. Once it’s fully retold, the teller often uses their energy to vent their frustrations or by name-calling themselves, others, or the situation. They have become more concerned about averting responsibility than empathizing any level of injury they may be causing others. They have chosen to believe that their stories are what people want to hear when in reality, what others really want to know is what they will do about it, or what can happen, from here on forward.

The past informs us, but it isn’t meant to become our story. While it might give us insight into, and empathy for the victim storyteller the first time around, it does very little to make the listener whole. The past is best used to learn about ourselves so that we can use those insights to break cycles; to identify what we want to carry forward, what we want to change, and what we need to learn. When we carry forward our stories as excuses, we might ask ourselves why we are afraid of taking responsibility for our lives.
The present moment is our moment, and it’s where the magic, and the true relationships are at. Let’s not take that away from ourselves or from each other. When we take responsibility for showing up in the present instead of schlepping the weight of the past with us, we can co-create. If an apology is called for, look for ways to communicate empathy in that apology, i.e. I’m sorry I kept you waiting. versus I’m sorry I’m late, traffic was horrible. Can you feel the difference in energy?
The future becomes the present, and what it holds relies on in which of the 3 we dwell.

What Self Care really looks like

My 16 year old daughter teaches me so much on many levels.

This is Labor Day Weekend– a long weekend to soak up the last bit of summer before school starts back up for good. What does she do?

 On Friday night, while I was out and trying to check in with her, she does not respond to my texts, which is unusual for her. I asked a neighbor to check in on her, and he finds her at the dining room table doing her homework. She left her phone in her room so she would not be disturbed by all the snapchats and group texts. This is to get homework out of the way so she is not cramming on Monday.

On Saturday afternoon, she goes to the library to take her 4 hour ACT review test (which she will go over with her tutor that she asked for). She cries all the way there because she’d rather be doing just about anything else. But I am not the one making her do this– she is.

On Sunday, she sleeps in, binge watches on Netflix, spends time with her dad, and then enjoys an evening with her friends (she takes my car).

Today– it is almost noon on Labor Day, and she is still sleeping. She plans to take her 4 hour SAT review test. Next Sunday, she meets with her tutor for the first time to go over the results to identify her strengths and weaknesses.

She feels a great sense of relief that she has two important things accomplished already, and that she can sleep in today, allowing her to move through this week without the monster things that many of us would procrastinate on looming over her head. I know that, at her, age, and maybe even now, I would have saved all that work to the end, and that this day would have been met with complete dread.

Some might call her Sunday activities of “rest and relaxation” Self-Care. While it was an important way to replenish and maintain balance, I think, however, that the other stuff that required true discipline was the actual Self Care. Self Care was doing things she didn’t want to do that had to get done in order to keep moving forward in her life as she wanted it to unfold. As she knocked them out in the luxury of her own terms (rather than last minute when options diminish), her Self Care not just worked to build on her character, but made her feel unencumbered and accomplished, allowing her to enjoy fully the moments of rest and play, completely entitled to them and free from justifications. I bow to her.

nothing great happens inside the comfort zone