Extreme Self-Care

wpid-img_20150912_153400964_hdr.jpgThis week my BreatheOnline class is focusing on self-care. It’s a way of managing anxiety and depression, but it’s also a form of self-love that too many of us ignore.  Earlier in the week I asked my students to journal about self-care. They wrote about their feelings about the idea of self-care, about what self-care looks like to them and  I wrote to the, at length, about what self-care is not. It’s not maintenance.

Ironically, today, i practiced extreme self-care. Which pretty much means, I did nothing.  Now usually when I practice self-care I practice restorative yoga, I meditate, I get a massage, I walk by the ocean, I write for an extra long time in my journal.

I had good intentions. I really did. With everything that’s going on with the protests and the constant barrage of news and with some personal relationship stuff, I’m just exhausted. So, I took it easy. I stayed in bed till after nine. I procrastinated by surfing around the internet. I walked to lunch and thought I’d stop at the library to print flyers. It just seemed like too much. So, I went back home, buying a Little Debbie Swiss Roll on the way. I napped.  I talked to my daughter. I wanted to work out, but I was too tired, so I took a long walk in the snow and bought paper towels and roast beef for a simple sandwich dinner. I was quiet and I turned inward.heartopeningIII

I watched a lot of Netflix today. My house is a bit of a mess. The sink has a lot of dishes.  There’s laundry waiting on the floor by the closet.

And you know what? It’s okay. All that stuff will be there tomorrow. I gave myself permission to just have a quiet day of Netflix, napping and snacking. The work will always be there. The chores will always be there. Today, I put myself first.

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My Office Today

Here’s my office today. It’s not that exciting or even glamorous, but I keep telling you, that my traveling, teaching and cooking looks a lot more glamorouwp-image-235589148jpg.jpgs than it actually is.

I’m at the YMCA. I just got back to Salem,  MA which is the perfect place to be in September. Fall is my favorite season and nowhere does fall like the Northeast!

Since I started traveling and working, well, actually since I started splitting my time between the Midwest and the Northeast I’ve worked hard to make my life make sense depending on where I am.  When I added cooking in New York (I’d like to add yoga workshops soon),  the balance shifted again. New York is packed. I cook long days, see friends, enjoy the energy of the city, try to go to a show, eat at a lot of restaurants, sampling new cuisines and creative food ideas. Last week, I saw Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, which i hadn’t seen in 20 years back in Chicago. 30 plays in 60 minutes by the NeoFuturists. Lots of fun, great energy and terrific writing. It makes my life look calm. Most significantly, though, I work A LOT. I’m mentally and physically exhausted by the end of my 8-10 days there.

I used to think that this lifestyle required balance. I tried to figure out the balance. I poo-pooed all those articles that said balance isn’t truly achievable and we’re torturing ourselves trying to get it. I still think balance is possible, but I’m older and my life has shifted quite a bit.  Balance isn’t my focus so much anymore. I have a new word. Flow. It’s about the flow. It’s about one part of my life sliding into another.

My life waxes and wanes, ebbs and flows. New York is about outward energy. It’s creativity and excitement, creating new connections and deepening old ones. It’subways and lots and lots and lots of walking. Salem is about turning in, self-care, nestling in, introspection, intuition, self-love and peace. Next is Lawrence, which is about family and parenting, connecting inward and outward, remembering my Midwestern roots, being barefoot, dancing in the street, traditions and celebrations. Waxes and wanes, ebbs and flows.

So, today I’m at the Y. It’s a really nice Y. There are lots of windows and natural light. There are a wide variety of cardio machines, yoga equipment, empty rooms with mirrors to lift or stretch on your own. The best part about this Y? There is a cafe and a steam room.

For the next three weeks I am in Salem. My life is a little slower. I’m teaching Practices for Peace, a yoga workshop to radiate the peace you want to see in the world. But that’s it. I’m seeing private clients in my yoga office on Derby St. I’m going to a few clients’ homes. But that’s it. I’m writing so I can teach Breathe, an online yoga course for anxiety and depression in January. But that’s it. I’m cooking for fun and for my honey. I may work on a few new recipes. But that’s it.

So, you see my problem. The next three weeks are quieter, but not exactly quiet. I keep saying but that’s it, and then adding one more thing, agreeing to see one more client-in her home 20 miles away.

I’m learning, though. I’m also taking long leisurely fall walks and going to the Berkelee Jazz Festival next weekend and celebrating my daughter’s 20th birthday and spending lots and lots of cuddly time with my sweetie, cause he doesn’t travel with me.

Not quiet. Just flowing into a slower pace.

Today, I’m steaming, drinking coffee, writing, stretching and enjoying fall in the Northeast. I’m letting my body be still a lot and pampering it with steam and hydrating cause when I cook I forget to drink. I’m tending to my lovely clients, my kids, my sweetie.

Oh, and there may be some wine drinking when I cook Curry Chickpeas tonight.

Wax and wan, ebb and flow.

 

Self Care Weekend

In the last month I’ve signed up for two self-care online retreats. TWO! Guess how much I’ve done of either?

You probably guessed none and you’re right.

Last week my body was really tired from driving from Kansas to Massachusetts and then driving my daughter to college, unpacking her and getting her settled. I was in pain by Labor Day. It took all of my boyfriend’s cajoling and a little shaming to get me to the massage therapist.

I am one of those people who care for and heal other people, but resist caring for myself. I go through stages where I decide to be really mindful and I do a great job of meditating, getting massages, long, luxurious asana practices and then life gets busy or I feel like too many people need me and I stop. Cold turkey.

This weekend I indulged in a little more self-care than usual. I lay in the hammock and meditated in the early morning sunshine. I let my eyes get soft and just watched the breeze sailing through the fluttering leaves, I listened to birds and noticed the shifting shadows. I rocked gently and noticed my body, the aches the pains, the creaky cranky places and just listened to what she had to tell me. I observed myself observing this. I listened to what my brain was doing, judging, not judging, planning. I let the thoughts float in and out.

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The weekend was full of long walks, working out, long showers, rich coffee and a trip to the beach. Despite living just minutes from two great beaches, we don’t go that often. It was a return to myself in a way. I grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan and spent many days with my eyes closed just listening to the sound of the waves, the breeze, kids playing, dogs barking and 80s music on the radio. So this weekend, i just closed my eyes and listened. I felt the sun on my skin, the breeze blowing over my body and the squishy sand under my body. It reminded me who I was.

Returning to familiar settings is such a treat. It can automatically take you back. The real delight is that your brain doesn’t differentiate between past and present. As someone who has some PTSD that often isn’t a great thing, but for this perfect afternoon it was heaven. I got to feel like my teenage self, which in retrospect had few problems and worries. It was like taking a vacation.

So, maybe this weekend take some time for yourself. Get out your paints or a new journal. Lie in a park or at the beach. Let your mind just rest. Let your body relax. Take a moment to return to you.