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Self-care is a term that gets thrown around a lot. We might think it's synonymous with bubble baths, manicures and massages. And sometimes self-care might be these things. But at the heart of it, at its core, self-care is self-preservation. It is shielding ourselves from harm and danger. Which could mean anything from surrounding ourselves with trustworthy people to seeing a therapist for managing our ADHD to eating when we're hungry to taking regular relaxation breaks.
Vows are powerful statements for our lives. Which become powerful actions. According to physician and Zen teacher Jan Chozen Bays, M.D., in her thoughtful, practical book The Vow-Powered Life: A Simple Method for Living with Purpose: "Vows are the forces that weave together the fabric of our life and all of life. Without vows, without purposeful action, life would cease to exist."
Below is a selection of powerful quotes from The Coloring Book of Mindfulness: 50 Quotes and Designs to Help You Focus, Slow Down, De-Stress, illustrated by Holly MacDonald. I hope these quotes remind you to be more present and to savor each moment---because we naturally and inevitably forget, too wrapped up in our mind's chatter, too focused on our to-do lists. Which is OK, because we can simply refocus on what's unraveling right before us. We can start using our senses fully, refocusing on what we're seeing, smelling, hearing, touching, tasting.
On Monday, in this post, I wrote about asking ourselves questions to help us respond to our in-the-moment needs. Which is what self-care is all about. Today, I'm sharing questions we can ask ourselves to check in as a whole. Because so often we move through our days without much, if any, pausing. So often we move through our days without thinking or reflecting or being aware of ourselves and what's happening inside us.
Self-care is not a to-do list. I was recently reminded of this in this newsletter from Nicole Antoinette. In other words, self-care isn't a list of tasks you need to check off every day or every week. Get a manicure and pedicure Monday. Take a bubble bath on Tuesday. Work out on Wednesday. Make a home-cooked dinner on Friday.
I'm not sure that I've ever felt good reading a fitness or "health" magazine geared toward women. Instead, I've felt self-conscious, inadequate and way too big. At some point I realized the words in their glossy pages weren't gospel. I realized that I didn't have to believe or act on their tips---which focused on watching my weight and what I was eating (like a hawk), feeling guilty any time I wavered and preparing for (i.e., panicking over) bikini season and holiday parties.
In our diet-obsessed society we've been taught to view food as a necessary evil, a nuisance, the thing to blame for the scale not budging, the thing we can't have. The forbidden fruit. Or we've been taught to view food in a more neutral light: as fuel. Strictly as a source of nutrients, vitamins, protein, fiber. Fuel for our bodies to function. Fuel for our brains to create. But nothing more.
I'm ending the week with another piece on self-love. (Here are parts one and two.) Below are additional examples of what loving yourself might look like in your life. I personally love examples, because I'm always curious about real-life applications. I'm always curious what a concept looks like day to day---especially when we're talking about something as big and abstract and unfamiliar as self-love.
I've been thinking more about self-love and what it means and looks like for me. Yesterday, I shared some thoughts in this piece. Today, I'm sharing more examples. I hope these inspire you to think through your own definitions and how you can start embracing and loving yourself. Because you can. No matter where you've been and no matter what others have said to you, you can. Start small. Start now.