First things + recent self-care press:
Have a listen to my latest podcast with the very wise celebrant Hannah Nielsen-Jones! Hannah and I discuss celebrations as a form of cultural self-care, creating non-traditional ceremonies (like a PHD completion or a new mother's return to work) and how to use the essence of ceremony to transition through the many twists and turns of life. Also, we dip into self-care for people who are getting married, i.e. how to make your wedding truly feel like a creation of your own.
Check out my interview on self-care and the power of routine on the Mason-Dixon Knitting blog. The very dignified Max Daniels asked me some great questions (a few weeks before I turned the tables and had her on the podcast, where I learned she is also a wonderful interviewee).
I forgot to post this when it came out, but a couple of weeks ago I was featured in an NPR piece on millennials and self-care. Apparently, a lot of people under age 36 love avocado toast and think we have the right to be happy. I don’t think that’s a bad thing and was very happy to speak that opinion.
Also, rumor has it that there’s another piece on self-care being featured in Washingtonian magazine this month. It mentions my Self Care 101 group coaching work and my ideas on why we need self-care so much right now. I’ve yet to see it, but I’m honored to share my ideas on real self-care and how that helps the women I work with and admire so much.
Overall, it’s exciting that right now so many people want to have this conversation about how to really care for ourselves so we can care for the world in a deeper way!
Whew! And now today…
As the intro to this email might suggest, it’s been quite a week in my life! In addition to this great expansion in my work, I also was given a wonderful (and slightly-overwhelming for this introvert) family baby shower and continued the process of moving in with my partner.
(I’m happy to report that my dog Poncho and my partner’s cat Dinah - pictured above - have made a little peace. This warms my heart)
Oh and I’m just about 33 weeks pregnant and getting BIG!
Basically a whole lot is changing for me. In this past months, I’ve often burst into tears over feelings of loss, overwhelm and at times, unspeakable joy. I turn on the radio and I hear the same is often true in the bigger sphere of our world. Many of us are going through a lot and feeling so much in the process.
As I’ve talked about before, change is hard. Feeling our real feelings is hard. Transitions can bring greatness and they can also drag us down.
Again and again, I come back to self-care to guide me through these upending moments. It’s essential and healing. And yet, sometimes it's very hard to define.
As the interviewers continue to ask -- what is self-care really?
I don’t pretend to have it all figured out (nor would I ever want to because the process of understanding it is fascinating). However, I’ve found three basic truths about self-care. They help me to define the realest, most nourishing self-care for myself and to reground myself in it when I begin to lose my balance.
My Three Steady Self-Care Truths:
1. Self-care isn’t a goal. When I first wanted to share self-care with the world, I hoped to come up with a magic formula. I wanted an easy way to alleviate the suffering inside of us all and for us all to get the beautiful life that would finally make us feel safe. We would be happy. The end.
Fortunately, what I’ve found is that my prior mindset was rooted in the closed down ideal of perfectionism. Real self-care, as my clients have helped me to understand, is a lifestyle of doing our best.
Of course there is always a better way to do things. When we let going of needing to have it all figured out RIGHT THIS INSTANT, we can continue to live ourselves into the better and better with patience and joy. Self-care means showing up for our well-being every single day and learning to enjoy the process of becoming increasingly happier and healthier.
2. Self-care means being gentle with ourselves. When we eat too many cupcakes or miss our gym date, which ALWAYS happens in life, self-care means being kind and forgiving with ourselves as we regain our balance. With gentleness, we hold ourselves through the many ups and downs of life.
Rather than make us weak, gentleness gives us the strength and energy to recover from an epic backslide. Living a life of self-care means accepting ourselves as real human beings who make big mistakes, do many challenging things and can learn to truly love ourselves, no matter what.
3. Self-care is grounded in asking for (and receiving) support. I know a lot of people who are great at eating healthy and working out a few times a week. Yet when I have a heart-to-heart with them, they admit that they are still clouded by crippling fear or shame or rage. In their minds, they don’t have enough, they aren’t achieving enough, and they certainly aren’t enough. They so desperately want to fix themselves.
In order to understand ourselves and work with our complex emotional lives, we need real access to other people. We need people to call when we are having a very hard moment of life and just feel like a pile of poo. We need other people to admit how much they are struggling too. We need to not feel alone in our battles and to be reminded often of our courageous badass spirits. All of this teaches us that we don’t need to be fixed, rather just cared for in such joyful and decadent ways that we have the strength to keep living our lives with integrity.
Keeping healthy routines is wonderful but it all becomes so mechanical and dry without the power of real connection. Self-care means figuring out your network of trusted friends + confidants using it often.
Of course there is more! There is always more. And yet today these three truths feel like enough from me. It’s such a blessing to let good enough truly be good enough and hit send.
And from you: what is the one self-care truth that you absolutely know? Comment or email me. We’d all love to learn from you and continue this ever-renewing conversation.
By having it, we will learn how to become truly ourselves and enjoy that messy, yet very beautiful process.