Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Radial Self-Care: This Shit is the Real Deal

As you know, I recently had a Radical Self-Care epiphany.  Here's my take on Radical Self-Care - what it is and what it isn’t.

Here’s the thing, as women, we are hardwired to nurture.  We constantly take care of the people we love, putting their needs before our own.  It’s a generous and loving act.  Nothing wrong with it.  Until we run out of gas.  

There’s a reason the flight attendant instructs you to put your own mask on before assisting someone else:  you can’t take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself.  Period.  It’s like pouring from an empty cup.  

Enter Radical Self-Care.

Radical self-care is about putting yourself first, not just by developing new habits, but by changing your whole approach to making decisions about what is truly important.  It’s a whole new mindset.  It’s a radical idea.

Wikipedia defines self-care as maintenance of one’s personal well-being and health.  The word radical comes from the latin “radix” which means root.  So, it tends to follow that Radical self-care is tending to your own roots.  It's a bold act.  It’s a very active and powerful choice to gain or maintain an optimal level of overall health, and not just physical health, but intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual health as well.  Radical self-care is about taking care of the whole of you - body, mind, and spirit.

Wow, you may be thinking.  That’s a lot to take on.

Well, it is and it isn’t.  Radical self-care is vital to a balanced, vibrant life.  It demands we take our own needs into consideration and act upon them.  It’s about filling your own cup first, then giving to others from all that spills over.  Make no mistake, radical self-care is “something that fuels us, rather than takes from us,” says Dr. Agnes Wainman, PhD, C. Psych, founder of London Psychological Services.

When we come to radical self-care from that perspective, it is a little less overwhelming isn’t it?  

“Radical self-care is quantum, and radiates out into the atmosphere, like a little fresh air.  It is a huge gift to the world.  When people respond by saying, ‘well, isn’t she full of herself,’ smile obliquely, like Mona Lisa, and make both of you a nice cup of tea.”  Anne Lamott

Radical self-care is learned, purposeful, continuous.  It is a true knowledge of self.  It is a holistic approach to well-being.

Radical self-care is not a selfish act.  It is self-full.  It’s fulfilling your needs first in order to fulfill the needs of the people you love and care for.  Again, it’s filling your cup before attempting to fill everyone else’s.  If you attempt to care for everyone else, not devoting enough time to your own self-care, believe me, you’ll wind up wiped out.  And bitter.

So, let’s break it down.  I mentioned earlier some areas where we can focus our own radical self-care.  Let’s take a look at those.

Let’s get in 75-150 minutes of physical activity this week, and every week.  It increases serotonin - the runner’s high - which improves your mood and energy.  Who doesn’t want that?  And, no, you do not have to buy running shoes to accomplish this.  Try gardening, walking the dog, taking the stairs, parking further away from the door, cleaning house.  The point is, choose exercise you will enjoy and stick with it.  Also, get 7-9 hours of sleep, drink your water, and follow-up with medical care (get that mammogram, have a wellness check with your doctor, or update your eyeglass frames).  With radical self-care, you can enjoy a higher quality of life, perhaps even extend your life.  You can reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.  Radical self-care will boost your energy and ease pain and stiffness in your body.  This is good stuff!

Improve your mind with radical self-care.  Start a jigsaw puzzle habit.  Add some creative activities to your week - my favorites are creating journals and making jewelry.  Listen to podcasts on subjects that interest you.  Watch TED Talks.  Take yourself on a date to the art museum or historical society.  Learn a new language.  Read books.  Read more books.  Write about the books you read.  Write your own book.  You’ll begin to observe details you didn’t notice before.  You’ll question things, then go a little bit crazy until you find an answer.  Spend time alone, enjoy the peace and quiet.  Practice meditation or relaxation exercises.  And watch that negative self-talk; reprogram it to a more positive message.  Radical self-care feeds your mind and makes life more interesting.  

Religion, making time for communal worship in a religious setting, is only one aspect of radical spiritual self-care.  It’s also about reading about religious or spiritual practices that intrigue you.  Other areas which will nourish your spirit include volunteering to help others in need, hiking, biking, or canoeing to connect with nature.  Go on a long walk to contemplate purpose and meaning.  Spend time in prayer or meditation.  Walk a labyrinth.  You can also boost your spirit having fun with the people you love - do this now, life is uncertain.  Call your best friend and meet for coffee.  Plan date night with your partner.  If you’re having conflict with someone, talk it out.  Research shows that spiritual vitality positively impacts health outcomes.  That’s radical self-care.  Amen.

The goal of radical self-care is to live in a perpetual state of wellness in body, mind, and spirit.  That means reducing stress, meeting your emotional needs, maintaining relationships with your friends, family, and partners or spouses.  Radical self-care is finding balance between your personal and academic or professional life.  

Radical self-care is a bold move, a new perspective about putting yourself first in order to take care of the people you love.

Don’t put radical self-care off until you have more time.  You’ll never have more time.  Make the powerful choice to do it now.  Layer into your days and weeks the activities you know will increase your overall physical, mental, and spiritual health.  Take time to figure out how to integrate radical self-care into your day.  You won’t be sorry.

Here’s a radical question:  What can you do this week to take care of yourself?  Leave your thoughts in the comments section as a bold setting of intention.  You so deserve it.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

How to Start a Daily Journal Practice

I have written in a journal since I was a young girl.  I love the feeling of my favorite pen in my hand and the way it glides across paper.  And there is just something about the slow pace of hand-writing in a book that really opens up my mind and allows ideas, goals, dreams, and lots of other juicy stuff come forward.  It fills my cup.  Plus, I heard somewhere a long time ago: our minds are not meant for remembering, they are meant for creating.  I love that, and journaling really allows me to focus more on creating rather than trying to remember all of the ten thousand things I need to get done/think about/put on my to do list.

I will use just about any notebook for a journal, from a spiral notebook I pick up in the office supply section to a Moleskin to a pretty hardcover journal I might find on vacation in a groovy little shop.  When I have time and am feeling my creative mojo is present, I love to create my own journals.

Whatever journal I'm using doesn't really matter.  It's about the writing, the ritual.  My favorite time to write is in the morning.  I usually get up around 5am then make myself a cup of coffee.  I sit in my favorite chair under a quilt with my journal and my favorite pen and just start writing.  Some mornings the writing just flows, sometimes I just start putting words and sentences on paper - sort of a stream of consciousness - until cohesive thoughts start to come forward.  

It's as much about the ritual as it is about the writing.  It's my favorite way to start the day.  Sometimes I just purge on the page, sometimes I'll create a detailed to do list.  Other times I will have an idea that's been pinging around in my head that I need to give some life to or I'll work out a problem I'm having with a project that isn't quite coming together.  Some days it's my meditation.  Writing in my journal every morning clears my head so that I'm ready to take on whatever the day is about to bring to me.

If you've started a journal practice, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  If you've been considering the start of a personal journal practice, it's super easy to get started.  You only need a few tools and some quiet time to yourself.

My Favorite Tools for Journaling

First and foremost is my journaling space.  

I have a favorite chair where I like to write.  For me, journaling is about getting comfortable, so I sit in a big armchair under a quilt rather than at my desk.  You may be more comfortable at a desk or table.  The important thing is to find your space, a space that inspires you.  

During the summer, I open all the windows to let the fresh air in and so I can hear the fountain that is in our garden.  During the winter months, I light a candle and only turn on the lamp next to my chair so the room stays cozy.

Secondly, you need quiet time when you'll have no interruptions.  This is why I get up at 5am.  I'm the only one up, the day is not quite dawning.  The world is quiet.  This allows me to really focus, to be still and hear what is going on for me, what needs to come out of my head and onto the pages.

Finally, there are the actual writing tools.

My pen is not fancy, it's a Uni-ball Vision Fine Point in black and I lovelovelove it.  It writes very smoothly and dries quickly on the paper so smudging is not a problem.  If you don't have a favorite pen yet, give it a try.  Give lots of pens a try.  You might prefer a fountain pen, or a fine-tip Sharpie, or a gel pen - maybe even a pencil.  The key is to find a writing implement that feels good in your hand and writes nicely.

Selecting a journal is a lot of fun.  I have a stash of empty journals in a basket on my desk.  Some of them I've purchased, some of them I've made myself.  When I fill one up, I just start another.  I like a smaller size, roughly 6" x 9", rather than an 8.5" x 11" size.  I like to be able to throw it in my bag so I have a journal when I'm in a coffee house or the waiting room of my dentist's office.  Oscar Wilde said, "I never travel without my diary.  One should always have something sensational to read on the train."  Don't you just love that?

So, there you have it.  Three steps to beginning a daily journal practice:
     1) Find a cozy spot and a quiet time of day
     2) Try lots of pens until you land on a favorite
     3) Purchase or create a journal that you will love writing in each day

Oh, and one more step:  enjoy this gift to yourself.  Incorporate it into your day as a time to recharge, rejuvenate, relax.  Cheers.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Creating Intention

I am not a religious person.  But I am very spiritual.  I believe in a higher power.  You may call that higher power God, Buddha, Allah, the Universe.  You may call it that which resides within you - your higher self, or your best self.  Whatever resonates for you, that is the place from which I'm writing this post today.

"Good morning.  This is God.  I will be handling all of your problems today.  I will not need your help, so have a miraculous day."

The late, great Wayne Dyer wrote these words.  He is without a doubt one of my favorite teachers.  I've read and re-read his books for years.  One of my favorites is The Power of Intention. His message is this:  everything you want for yourself, for your life, for your family - it is all there for you.  By creating intention, using your imagination, and practicing the art of assuming the feeling of your intention being fulfilled, while at the same time stubbornly refusing any distractions to get you off track, you will discover, simply by virtue of your spiritual awareness, that have the ability to become the person you wish to be.

Wow, right?

He goes on to say, "Our creative power is the ability to convert the energy of our thoughts into a newly materialized form.  Manifestation is the result.  Beginning with one intention at a time, you can learn how to manifest anything in your life."

So, I guess this is what my radical self-care is all about.  It's about living a life of wellness - in body, mind, and spirit - intentionally creating that for myself, in order to manifest the dreams I have about my career and my future.  I suppose it's what this blog is about, too.  Setting that intention, putting it out there, sharing it with all of you, so that you will bear witness to what I wish to manifest.  My hope is that it will be an inspiration for you if you are looking for inspiration, or a wake-up call if you're as I was, asleep at the wheel of your life.

What would you like to manifest in your life?  What intention would you declare right here, right now?  As always, I'd love to hear what you think.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Personal Best

Just had to post this!  Guys, I had a personal best today!  My mile split was 18:26, which is well under my nearly 20-minute split a year ago.  I am so excited!

This is me, post-walk today treating myself to a whole bunch of watermelon, ice water, and feet out of walking shoes getting some air!  Took a big shower after this - I was stinky!  :)

Hope you're getting out there and enjoying this summer Saturday.  Take care everyone!