Wednesday Missive: Why I Almost Self-Destructed My Business (and how self-care saved me, once again)

Hello and happy Wednesday!

How are your five-minute self-care practices going?  As your momentum builds, perhaps now you’re ready for a bigger step. Taking 10 minutes to stretch after you wake up or 15 minutes to clean out your purse are accessible and powerful self-care wins.  

But what if it still feels so hard to take care of yourself?  You know it’s important.  You know what makes you feel good.  So, WHY can’t you just do it?

Well, the answer to that is why I do the work that I do.  Figuring out authentic self-care and giving it to ourselves confidently is simple, but it’s not easy.  

We can’t just be told what to do.  Information is just one aspect of self-care, and processing new ideas can be especially difficult when we are all so inundated with information right now.

I think that in order to make a real self-care leap, we need to be inspired.

I find one of the best ways to get (and stay) inspired is to listen to others’ very honest self-care struggles as well as their human ways that they triumphed to greater self-care. For this reason, I remain committed to sharing my own.  So many other teachers have taught me it’s ok to struggle with my self-care and that this struggle is a sign of strength instead of weakness. I hope to be one of them.

In that spirit, I want to share a recent self-care struggle and also the way I am slowly but surely finding my triumph within it.

As many of you know, I am a new mother to a beautiful five-month-old named Jonah.  As you also may know, last year my partner, Micah, and I got accidentally pregnant after dating for only two months.

When we found out, we were both 100% on board to have a baby.  The whole thing just felt so right.  We kept dating through my first and second trimesters, moved in with each other at the beginning of my third trimester and Micah delivered Jonah (by himself!) in our bathtub in early September.  After, we shared a couple of dreamy months of postpartum rest and family bonding, i.e., during the fourth trimester.  

Then, as the days got shorter and colder, I started to think about work.  

My work consists of managing and facilitating seasonal self-care group coaching programs that guide women, step-by-step, to find authentic self-care in a highly-supported structure.  I love running these programs, like really really love it, but it is a lot of work to interview all the women and make sure each session is filled with those who are ready to do this kind of work.  

Being self-employed, I had given myself maternity leave, but I wasn’t getting paid during this period. Some part of me wanted to keep hanging out with the baby, but my bank account was nagging me to start the work of getting another program started.

So, in November, I started to spread the word for an early January Self Care 101 start.  I talked to a multitude of awesome women. Each conversation felt fulfilling, but it was stressful to make sure that Jonah (who was being exclusively nursed then) was fed before I checked out for an hour.  

I felt more scattered and tired than I wanted to admit.  This made everything more emotional.  If I made a mistake, I got upset with myself, or with Micah.  If someone was a great fit for the program and decided it wasn’t the right time, I took it harder than usual.

I couldn’t tell if I should practice self-care by restarting my business, which served as financial self-care as well as professional fulfilment, or ignore my self-care needs to rest and hang out with my family.  I found myself wishing I worked an office job just so I could be following someone else's schedule.  Making it up for myself felt too hard in such a vulnerable moment.

More than ever, I felt the struggle that so many of us go through.  We have to sacrifice one aspect of our self-care to meet another.  It’s really hard to prioritize our needs, especially when we are exhausted and caring for others.

By the end of December, the holidays were in full-force and we were hosting both my and Micah’s families.  Despite my program being fairly full of awesome women, I felt more tired and confused than ever.  Did this tiredness mean I was done running Self Care 101?  Was I ready to do something different?  What would that even be?

As Ayurveda has taught me, when I am imbalanced, I tend to make decisions that imbalance me further.  During that moment, I declared to myself that in 2018 I was going to redo all of my programs and create a new way of running my business.  My frantic brain told me it was the perfect time to reinvent myself.  Out with the old and in with the new.  This would be the last round of Self Care 101.  

Then 2018 rolled around.  Jonah started part-time daycare and we began supplementing my breastmilk with formula.  I found time to do some extra decadent self-care - yay Monday morning bubble baths! - and have three days a week of quiet, focused work time. After a tough four-month sleep regression, we began sleep training, and now everyone’s sleep has improved considerably.

As all these new routines opened up more self-care time for me, I slowly regained my balance.  The anxious energy of the past months began to calm down.  I felt like myself again.

This week, I sat down again to think through my business plan (with the help of an awesome tarot reading from my friend Justin) and realized that this isn’t the moment of life to create something new.  Someday, I want to create self-care mamas’ circles and a women’s entrepreneur support group, but right now is not that moment.

Rather, as I move through this first year of being a mother, I want my work to stay steady and supportive.

This means I’m going to keep running sessions of Self Care 101 throughout this year.  I love leading these courses, and the over 200 women who have completed the course have shown me that the process has immense benefits.  Why make a wonderful, healing thing more complicated than it needs to be?

So, from a mostly balanced place in myself, I am delighted to announce that the spring session of Self Care 101 will begin on April 15!

As we move toward the launch, I look forward to sharing more very real struggles - from me and from my clients - and also about how we worked through them with grace and humor.  My hope is that we see our self-care as a never ending process of personal discovery and growth, and continue to inspire each other throughout the journey.

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And now you, dear one.  Where are you struggling with opposing self-care needs?  Where are you moving too fast and making decisions from an imbalanced place?

Could it be possible to slow down and choose the most boring option, at least just until you get firmly grounded again?  Even if that voice - the one that is addicted to excitement - is telling you to go bigger, faster, MORE, you are allowed to say, “No, thank you.  I’ll be staying in for a calming cup of tea instead.”

You don’t have to show up perfectly.  Rather, you can do this whole self-care thing imperfectly and still have a splendid journey.  Just keep showing up for yourself, and when appropriate, share those lessons with others.  

We all need the inspiration right now.  We all need the grounding.  We are deciding so many important things.  Let’s help each other remember that we can use self-care as a way to navigate throughout it all, over and over again.

With care,
Gracy

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Self Care Inspiration

1. I bought these silicone baking mats on a whim, but wow, they are so useful!  They are a less-waste alternative to using parchment paper.  I baked spinach calzones on them this weekend, used them to make oven-crispy tofu cubes last week and have discovered they help make a delightfully chunky homemade granola.  

2. Your public library!  After a bit of a lapse I renewed my card, and apparently, my love of non-internet reading. I just finished this book on raising self-reliant children and am about to pick up the new Arundhati Roy novel.  Has anyone read it?  “The God of Small Things” is one of my all-time favorites.

3. This translated-from-French comic about sharing childcare from a working mom’s perspective is so incredibly right on.  Dividing domesticity in our more gender ambiguous world is tricky, to say the least.  Her experience is hilarious and very true, from my perspective. Knowing I am not alone in these challenges is quite comforting.

4. Our InstantPot is our saving grace at least four days a week.  It’s one-part pressure cooker and one-part crockpot.  Melissa Clark’s cookbook is providing good inspiration. I made her very delicious citrus carrots with ricotta recipe last week and am excited to try her saffron risotto soon.

5. Are there any other Seth Godin fans out there?  I’ve followed his daily blog for a while, and always feel reassured by his messages on the real purpose of running a business (hint, it has a lot to do with empathy and changing the world). I’ve been taking his online Marketing Seminar and am learning a whole lot.  Right now, I’m just in absorption mode, but I looking forward to his wisdom slowly trickling through my work in the coming months and years.