Hi everyone, I’m so inspired by the response to last week’s video series, What Gets in the Way of Your Self Care. You guys have stellar self-awareness and a collective great sense of humor. I’m also comforted because it means that I am not the only one with a shitty voice in my head or destabilizing FOMO (fear of missing out). It’s a funny thing to call myself a self care expert. It makes the shitty voice in my head say that if I really understood self care then I wouldn’t check my email first thing in the morning or watch Downton Abby some nights right before sleeping (blue screen light and sleep...eeek). If I was an expert, I wouldn’t take second helpings when I’m more emotionally than physically hungry or get anxious about what I’m doing next Saturday night. But I do! Oh do I. A man I teach outreach yoga to on Wednesday mornings is obsessed with being an expert. He wears a name tag that says “DC EXPERT” and only agreed to do yoga with me when I promised I was an expert as well. He is full of human flaws and I find his willingness to own his strengths very refreshing in our false modesty society. So for this guy, I’m going to say that I am a SELF CARE EXPERT and I still struggle to find the right balance of self care. For me, the hardest thing about self care is that I am a constantly changing being and my self care needs to keep up with that evolution. I love investing in myself and now understand that with every investment, I evolve into a 2.0 version of myself. With each uplevel of my communication skills, my work mission, my self-confidence, I need to also upgrade my habits. For example, I used to eat dinner at 6:30pm and now I eat by 5pm. I sleep better when I do and I need the deep recharge of sleep now more than ever. I used to enjoy a glass of wine a few times a week and now one glass makes me uncomfortably foggy. I’m actually losing my desire to drink which I never thought possible (although I still do love half of a hoppy IPA). Oh and the low level of anxiety I used to live with now feels deeply uncomfortable to my nervous system although it still likes to visit me from time to time. Habits that worked beautifully last year aren’t cutting it now. This means throwing perfectionism out the window and declaring there isn’t a magic formula, just the daily, beautiful grind of self-awareness matched with inspired action. This means feeling great some days and off others and learning from that constant humility. Do you want to hear my big ole theory on why this is? I believe in universal energy--called prana in the yoga world--and that this big, bold energy REALLY wants to live through us and evolve through us. I feel this energy when I am teaching a yoga class and know exactly what needs to be said without much thought. Or when a blog post suddenly opens up and ideas much wiser than me pour forth (like right in this moment). Others experience this when they play the piano or teach children or say the names of trees under their breath. It’s genius at work and it makes us stop in awe when we get the scent of it. We may think we get excited about the producers of the work but I think we really worship this big energy that makes us remember our connection to the larger whole. How does this relate to self care? Like I mentioned, this energy is powerful and has to run through our systems. I think we are all desperate for that feeling and terribly afraid of it. If we are sensitive--which creative people are--it can all feel overwhelming, especially when we don’t pay attention to our evolving our self care. We numb ourselves with bad habits so we don’t have to feel so much. It causes us to shrink back when we want to step forward and to live our life in a state of mild to extreme anxiety. Think of so many famous, brilliant people who hurt themselves because they can’t match their self care practices to their growing success. Many of my outreach yoga students are terrifically energetic and don’t practice the healthy boundaries of self care. This makes for a hard life. So one more time, I’ll take the expert role and say the opposite is also true. When we practice self care and keep our systems running cleanly, then that energy can really move. It’s like anything electrical--we get the wiring right and bam, we have light! Let’s say there is something really great you want to achieve in your life and you are confused and kinda miserable because you still haven’t done it. My advice is to forget about that thing for a while. Instead focus on building great self care habits and practicing them until you have a solid routine. Get scientific and impersonal about it and notice what makes you feel wired together correctly and how that can evolve. Make studying and practicing self care your way of life. Once that happens then the genius stuff is easy, natural and I’ll even say, unavoidable. It’s exciting and scary to think about it in this way right? Writing it down makes me feel so in awe of our capacity to do amazing work in this world. We don’t have to make it up, we just have to harness the energy of life through our delicately loved systems and stay grounded through the ride. With the right self care, maybe we even get to enjoy it.