Recently, I read two pieces about respecting our natural tendencies and needs.
In one Therese talks about being a highly sensitive person (which I totally am) and avoiding the things that only heighten this sensitivity (like the mall!).
In another Jen talks about honoring her current desire to slow down.
These articles are reminding me about the pivotal parts of self-care: listening to ourselves, acknowledging what we’re going through, understanding our needs and responding to them.
In Thursday’s post I mentioned that sometimes self-care involves asking hard questions. I shared these examples:
“What am I afraid of? What is important to me? What am I doing that I really don’t want to be doing? What do I really need? What do I need to let go of? Who doesn’t actually support me? How can I stop spending time with them?”
Here are additional tough questions, which you might reflect on in your journal:
Many of us leap into conclusions when it comes to our bodies. For instance, we assume that if a piece of clothing doesn’t fit us, it’s clearly our fault. It must be because we’re too curvy, our shoulders are too broad, our thighs are too big, our waist is too wide.
We do this with other things, activities and even people. Some of us play this blame game regularly. In the excellent book Yoga and Body Image, co-editor Anna Guest-Jelley shares the different ways she blamed her body.
Last Sunday I wrote about a surprising realization I’ve had about self-care: Sometimes, self-care doesn’t look or feel very much like self-care. Sometimes, it’s not blissful. It’s not serene. It might not even be enjoyable in the moment. It might not even be something you want to do.
Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like an hour-long massage. It doesn’t look like a stroll along the shore.
That’s because self-care, I’m realizing, is multilayered.
Lately, I’ve been realizing that sometimes self-care doesn’t look very much like self-care. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like self-care in the moment. That is, it doesn’t feel blissful or calming or rejuvenating. It wouldn’t be described as softening or unwinding or taking a break.
Even though I feel much better about my body than I did years ago, even though I am taking much better care of myself than I did years ago, I still feel the pricks of comparison.
When I’m in an exercise class, some days I find myself looking around. What is everyone else doing? Why am I not keeping up? Why is this so much harder for me?
I find myself feeling disappointed. Like Alex writes in her powerful post, I find myself spinning all sorts of stories. Old stories about not being an athlete or being clumsy or being too slow. New stories about how I need to work out harder and be stronger and do more.
Because we had a busy end of the year — the holidays, getting the house ready for company, getting married, having loved ones in town, submitting book revisions, working on other projects — I didn’t get a chance to reflect that much on the old year or the new year.
I feel like I leaped into 2015. Excited and grateful but exhausted.
So I was happy to find a great piece on making intentions around this time, which doesn’t make me feel like I’m already incredibly behind or missed out on something. The piece is by author Warren Berger and is called “Forget Resolutions, What’s Your ‘Beautiful Question’ for 2015?”
I think eating mindfully is a beautiful way to take care of ourselves and to savor our lives. Eating mindfully simply means paying full attention to eating (or cooking or even washing the dishes).
Eating mindfully is a way for us to honor our bodies, to honor the process of nourishing ourselves. It’s a way to honor the rich, long process that goes into food arriving at our tables — from seeds sprouting in the earth to trucks bringing it to the store.
Here are some valuable insights, tips and reminders for eating mindfully from the book How to Eat by Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh.
I think bucket lists are wonderful. It’s important to have a place for contemplating and listing your ultimate dreams, for reflecting on the experiences, activities and actions that inspire you. The experiences, activities and actions you just know you need to do. The things that are calling you.
But I also love an idea I read about in Jennifer Louden’s latest book — A Year of Daily Joy: A Guided Journal to Creating Happiness Every Day, which is filled with beautiful quotes, tips, insights and images. The idea is to create a “thimble list.”
Today, in the U.S., we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., who had an incredible dream and helped make it a reality. Inspired by his powerful speech and Therese Borchard’s beautiful piece, every year I republish a piece on my personal dream (which I’ve updated since last year). It’s a dream that focuses on everything from how we treat each other to how we treat ourselves.
I have a dream that our society will stop judging, shaming and bullying people because of their size, shape and weight.
I have a dream that we’ll focus on cultivating healthy habits instead of remaining chained to the numbers on our scales (or calipers or clothes).