Tag Archives: self-care

vision

Br(e)aking back to basics

vision

This is what July (and beyond) looks like for me.

I told myself I would take off the month of July. Ever since January I’ve been goinggoinggoing, and I am ready to be still. Or, if not actually ready, at least aware that it’s time.

In the last five months I’ve taken an 8-week grammar course, a 6-week yoga course, a 10-week writing course, 5 weeks of guitar lessons, and 4 weeks of Wholly Shift, all of which required additional time commitments outside of class. I’ve also traveled to Chicago, the Catskills (twice), Texas, Los Angeles, and Massachusetts. All along I’ve maintained friendships, somewhere in there I turned 30, and every now and then I’ve tried to date. I’ve also worked a full-time job.

I’ve also gotten tired.

All of the learning and traveling has been totally by choice, and all of it worthwhile and mostly enjoyable. But as summer set in, a line from Dirty Dancing started to echo in my head: “She needs a break.”

And now it’s July, and I’m trying to rest. I celebrated the 4th and the long weekend that followed on a retreat with my writing group, which was certainly restful, aside from the part where I spent many hours typing thousands of words and battling the discomfort that accompanied them.

(I know, I know. My job is to show up at the page and produce, not to judge the process or the output. It’s hard for me.)

So, a week into July, I’ve still been seeking stillness. Lucky for me, a new chapter of Wholly Shift started yesterday, and last night’s session was rocket fuel for my rejuvenation.

With the guidance of universal intelligence (via Laura Hames Franklin), I released worry and doubt and gave myself permission to see things I’ve never seen before. Then in a state of meditation I summoned a vision for my future. Then I put it on paper.

What showed up were open hands, clear of eczema (a lifelong struggle that has recently resurfaced), holding infinite wealth and radiance. What came to me were words: my palms are pure and powerful. Self-acceptance. No judgement. Trusting abundance.

Receiving innate wisdom is rewarding in itself, but my delight elevated when Laura asked a super practical question. What are three tangible things I can do every day to get closer to my vision?

I wasn’t sure what might directly bring about infinite wealth and radiance, but I had a few ideas about releasing chronic inflammation, doubt, and judgment. And boy, were they basic.

Today I am avoiding refined sugar, dairy, and gluten. I will meditate for nine minutes, and I will drink three big bottles of water.

Simple, simple, simple, if not always easy. All three actions are doable, nourishing, and satisfying. Exactly what I need to help me slow down, to take a break, to breathe deeply. To rest.

water bottle

My water bottle is my new BFF. Bottoms up!

 

Enough IS enough

kitchen flowers

These flowers in my kitchen are definitely enough.

I don’t know why I feel so compelled to publish a blog post; there is no reason that I have to. None. Nor is there any pressure. Not externally, at least.

Internally, I admit, there is a voice warning me how easy it is to do nothing with my blog–just look at my track record in 2012. That voice would feel better if I posted twice a month, at least.

Twice a month would be plenty, I think. In 2011 I went for a minimum of weekly and while it worked out pretty well, near the end it began feeling like a chore and that was not okay. When it comes to creating in general, yes, the discipline is important. I show up at the page every morning no matter what, a tangible commitment to self-care. But this blog is meant to be a bonus, content I share because I’m compelled to, not because I’m obliged.

And it seems I just answered my own non-question: I feel compelled to publish a blog post because I feel compelled to! In fact, I’ve felt compelled six times since my last post–hence the six drafts I started and haven’t finished. Some of them I’d still like to complete.

The thing is, it usually takes at least an hour or two for me to write and polish a post for publication. And all month long I haven’t had that kind of me time.

Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans, yeah, but it’s also what happens when you make plans and show up for them. And lately I’ve had lots of plans. Kind of like an anti-hibernation, I guess, since it’s begun to feel like winter will be over by the time I catch my breath.

But tonight I caught my breath. My scheduled activity fell through, and I came home to an empty apartment, and I chose to breathe. Unaccustomed to solitude and free time, at first I wasn’t sure what to do. Then my tense shoulders told me, so I rolled out my yoga mat and started moving.

I didn’t worry about a sequence. I didn’t bother playing music. I just dove into downward dog until I was ready for something different. Because I do attend a class regularly, a familiar structure presented itself, and I followed it loosely, breathing into each pose for as long as I wanted (and then a breath more, for growth).

And for those calm and steady minutes, where my muscles and lungs were making friends and my mind was on the sidelines, I felt no judgment, no doubt, no anxiety or fear. I was just enough.

Kind of how this blog post is enough. I haven’t said any of the stuff I intended for drafts one through six, but these words are honest anyway, and it feels good to type. To claim some cyberspace and assert my online existence.

And though my perfectionism might prefer me not to impromptu publish,  I’m going to persevere. Because this is enough for now, it really truly is, and I’m grateful to feel sufficient.

Self-care on the slopes

diamond snowflake sample2

“Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong.” I learned that affirmation in Week 7 of The Artist’s Way, and I have made use of it often since.

But last Sunday I felt strong already, and I didn’t want to listen to my bruising body. I wanted to treat myself like a sturdy object rather than a precious one. I wanted to go skiing.

I wanted to ignore the fact that my knee was sprained. After all, it wasn’t a bad sprain. I wasn’t in much pain, and the joint could bear weight, and it wasn’t nearly as swollen as the day before. So why not make use of my lift ticket?

Because my knee was sprained, of course. The smart part of me knew this–understood as soon as I saw the swelling that my time on the slopes was over. But the rest of me desired a different outcome, wanted permission to push myself, to prove my resilience and ability.

The day before I’d been rewarded for boldness and bravery: I’d intended to start out slow on the beginner slopes since I hadn’t skied in six years, but a rush of come-what-may confidence prompted me to launch myself onto an intermediate run instead.

To my exhilarated delight, muscle memory and courage kept me on course, and soon I was dashing down a black diamond. It felt good to face my fear of steep and icy terrain, and even though I fell a couple times, I was impressed with my performance.

The final descent of the black diamond slope I skied.

The final descent of the black diamond slope I skied.

And then I got punished for taking it easy: I next decided to take a break and glide down a long and winding beginner trail, and as I cruised around a curve, I crashed into a snowboarder who was standing still.

I knew something was wrong right away. Thankfully she was okay, and I said I was too, but I also said something like, “I’m pretty sure my knee isn’t supposed to twist out like this.”

Turns out I was correct. Within two hours the tissue above my kneecap was the size of a golf ball, and I wisely accepted a friend’s lunchtime assessment that I was done for the day.

I was less willing to accept that I was done for the weekend. But the group of great people on my ski trip included an ER doctor, and after assessing my injury that night, her diagnosis was clear: It was a sprain, and additional skiing was absolutely inadvisable.

And yet Sunday morning found me justifying, rationalizing, and minimizing. Yes, I had a sprain, but it was a very mild one. I could walk with no trouble–so why not a wee bit of skiing, on only the easiest of trails? It would be a serious shame for already-rented equipment to sit idle, and as long as I was extra careful…

If I was extra careful, I would stay inside. I would not make a minor pain worse. I would treat myself like a precious object, and I would grow stronger. The truth was I had nothing to prove, to myself or anyone else, and as soon as I accepted reality, I was able to focus on self-care with compassion.

Looking at my phone also helped.

VT ski temp

Because inside, it was a lot warmer than zero degrees. And I’m very okay with not feeling numb.