Wednesday Missive: How to Stop Worrying (And Get the Most Out of Each Day)

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Hello Lovely,

Podcast Alert!  I got to interview congressional candidate Laura Moser!  We talk about why she ran for office (it was right after she took Self Care 101!), how she balances motherhood and campaigning, and the way she deals with haters along the way. It's a must-listen (and, if you're inspired, please give her campaign money - they need it!). 

And now today...

This spring weather is everything!  Isn't it amazing when the post-winter fog finally lifts? Now, our work is to enjoy this stretch of gorgeousness before the summer humidities add their own weight.  Oh, the back-and-forth of it all!

Today marks eight months of Jonah's life.  Yesterday, as I pushed him through our neighborhood on our way to go see another house (yes, our house-buying process is still in full effect), I started reflecting on how much more peacefully I am moving through my days.  

Wasn't it supposed to be the opposite after becoming a mother?  This peace definitely doesn't come from an abundance of sleep or lack of clothing stained with bodily fluids.  Those are all constants, at least for this time. What then, was happening to my mind? 

The answer that came to me was about hoarding.  In yoga, there's a special word for it: aparigraha.  Aparigraha is one of the ancient ten steps to living a more peaceful life, according to yogic philosophy. It urges us to not accumulate more than we need, because the excess takes away from our own happiness and growth. 

I've often thought of aparigraha in terms of decluttering my home, changing my diet, and managing my calendar.  Our current culture is moving toward a "less is more" way of life and I'm riding that wave.  

However, yesterday was the first time I considered aparigraha in terms of my own thinking.  I'm now understanding that constantly worrying if I will have enough (time/money/energy/etc) for the future is a form of hoarding.

Due to many demands on my time these days, I've gotten more focused on just getting through the day with self-care. I wake up in the morning strategizing how to work my yoga practice in around Jonah's nap schedule and the best way to turn the random veggies in our crisper into dinner. My goal is to be in bed by 9:30pm each night, which also takes some planning. 

My mind has become so focused on getting the most out of each day in terms of self-care that I haven't had much time to worry.  Even though we are in the process of buying a home - which is extremely stressful - I'm staying pretty calm and present with the experience.  

I'm practicing aparigraha by being thorough in my self-care, work, and relationships each day.  I do what needs to be done today, and leave other decisions to the future (often making lots of lists for future tasks).

I see now that worrying about the future is a form of hoarding my energy.  This hoarding gives me the hope that I will continue to have enough and stay safe in my life.  However, I'm learning that true safety is my ability to manage my fear and take responsibility for living a fulfilled life, right now, today.  Worrying keeps me from this present moment fulfillment and drains my energy. 

When I practice aparigraha, are my days perfect?  Hell no.  I still get parking tickets, have bad hair days and definitely sweat the small stuff. But right now, I am far less interested in perfection and much more fascinated by the many creative and industrious ways to get the most out of our days, even within all the mess.

Are you losing your days to chronic worrying?  If so, here are a few questions to spark your own mental aparigraha (from simple self-care to the harder stuff):

1.  Are you thirsty?  Go drink a glass of water. 

2.  Do you know what you are eating for dinner tonight?  Make a plan. This website has loads of great cooking inspiration.

3.  Have you exercised today?  See if you can take a walk during lunch or do 15 minutes of gentle yoga before bed. 

4.  What time do you want to go to sleep?  Work backwards from then, and turn off your electronic devices at least 30 minutes before. 

5.  Have you taken a little time to make something today?  You can cook a nice breakfast, write a few lines of poetry, doodle while you're on the phone, or sing in the shower.  You're a creative being and need to exercise that power to feel fulfilled. 

6.  What about tending to your social needs?  If you're feeling lonely, block off a half hour to call a good friend or make plans to volunteer. 

7.  Are you worrying about your busy schedule next week?  Make a list of all the things that need to get done and program them into your calendar.  Then go take a walk and enjoy the free time you have now.

8.  Is money stressing you out?  Make a list of things you can do to feel more financially secure (such as: talk to an advisor, start tracking your spending, cancel your Uber Eats account). Do whatever you can in this moment, and program the rest into your calendar. Congratulate yourself for thinking that one through (it's a hard one for most of us).

9.  Are you having a hard time in a relationship?  Decide if you are ready and/or feel safe enough to communicate your issues to the other person.  If you do, write them and ask to talk either in-person or over the phone.  If not, consider changing the relationship.  A well-trained therapist can help you see which is the best option for you. 

10.  Are you worried about your own physical, mental/emotional or spiritual health?  Right now, begin investigating support options.  Check your insurance and see what they cover.  Ask your friends for their doctor/therapist/teacher/12-step recommendations.  Book a first appointment or check out a meeting.  Give it at least three, if not five, sessions before you make a decision about whether or not it's working.  Don't do this one alone.  A little help goes a long way. 

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Use these questions when you notice you're draining energy through worry.  Deal with what you can in the moment, program longer-range tasks, and let go of the rest.  A little focused intention and action right now can help you get so much more out of your days.

As you practice aparigraha and decrease chronic worry, you’ll not just open up space for yourself. You’ll also increase your capacity to show up for the challenging and vitally important issues that need you, like working for racial justice, advocating for actual gun control, and making sure all people have access to health care and a real education. Your self-care means you have the energy, focus and perspective needed to help others more vulnerable than you (which is such a deep form of self-care). 

For this, I will always remind you that you are worth this kind of self-care. You're worth feeding well, you're worth a great night's sleep, you're worth setting boundaries around, and most definitely, you're worth a clear, optimistic mind. 

Now, get started on a few of those questions!  Release worry and feel better today. I'll be back next week to remind you of it all again.

With care,
Gracy

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Self-Care Inspiration 

Come to my Memorial Day Yoga + Self-Care retreat!  Check out the full details here. 

I love this piece that ponders "What If Things Work Out?"

Last week two of my friends had babies.  I made them these lactation cookies (which are yummy and nourishing for all of us).

Such an important question: how do we practice self-care while we are grieving?