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The other day, Paulette Terrels wrote about self care.  “When we know that we deserve the very best care, and that it must begin with us, we find our health increased, and our mind more spacious.”

I agree.  The better we take care of ourselves, the more magnanimous we become to others.  Whereas some would say that spending so much time thinking about yourself is selfish, I find that I am more openly willing to give to others when I feel full and well cared for..

One of the things I love about self care is that there are so many ways to do it.  Just the act of making your own list of ways is an exercise in taking good care.

Actions you can take for your own self care run the gamut from a full body, expensive massage to smiling.  I like to note and acknowledge when I’ve done something good for myself – getting a little more mileage out of it.  Some things I choose are when I moisturize my skin or say no when I really mean it.  It might be that I’ve just gotten off my own back.

You only need small bites to begin building your list of ways.  It could be a small change you need to make in a task to make it a whole lot easier or more fun.  Standing instead of sitting or sitting instead of standing, doing it 15 minutes later, or including music are some simple ways to show that you care.  Every time I remember to use music, I’m doing something good fo myself!

The more obvious things we can do for our self care are healthy eating, taking exercise, or spending time outside, in nature.  Naps are a favorite one of mine.  Even if it’s only five minutes to put up my feet and close my eyes.

I need to have at least a few minutes to journal each day. Others might need to play the piano or sketch.  It’s important to include, every day, some time for the things you love to do.

Indulgences are always fun, such as a long hot bath, a favorite dessert, or taking a vacation.  But self care can just mean being kind to yourself.  Forgiving yourself for what might have appeared to be a mistake.  It might be releasing a project that’s been weighing heavily on you, or taking a full lunch hour to eat slowly and quietly.

Once you get started on this game, the ideas will flow – a manicure, pedicure or foot massage.  That a/v or computer equipment you’ve been wanting, the piece of clothing or extra pillow you’ve been talking about.  Of course you don’t want to break the bank, but even letting yourself know that your desire is worthwhile by saving for it can go a long way to boosting your well being.  On the other hand, you don’t want to put off the purchase of something that could make your life easier or better that you can readily afford.  I once found myself struggling with a bent litter scoop.  It cost about $2.85 to keep me from complaining every time I went to scoop litter.

The point is just to answer the longings of your soul. Listen for ways to make your life easier. Be open for ways to have what you want.  You’ll know the true longings of your soul by how they make you feel.  If what you want ultimately makes you feel worse or goes against what you’re trying to accomplish, who you’re trying to be, you’ll know that’s the wrong way to go.  But as long as you stay tuned into things that are good for you, help you to move forward rather than backwards, those actions will say, “I respect you.”

Stay on the lookout and list those things that you can do to bring on that wonderful feeling that you know you care about yourself. When you can rest into that knowledge, you will no longer need to depend on others for it.

Everybody is talking about Self Care.  Readers of this Blog know that I’m a big proponent of this important cause. I contend that a large part of it is in how you talk to yourself.  Self talk can make or break your Self Care program.  When you are the observer of your thoughts you are in the realm of Now. (And we all know how vital and powerful that is!)

So, observation is key.  It only takes a moment to be aware.  Once you hear what you’re saying, you have the opportunity to be proactive in your self-care.

Sometimes I stop and ask myself, “Is this what I really want to be doing right now?”  If I answer that it isn’t, I’m only going to cause myself suffering.  Instead I can turn it into an opportunity to say, “Yes.”  And allow myself to be more present to what I’m doing, rather than questioning it.

Another favorite question is: “Am I doing this well enough?”  This is where I can really step up and be on my side.  If I remember that I can love myself like I would a friend, I turn that thought on its ear.  What a wonderful way to show that I love and care about myself!  Close those thoughts down. Tell them to take a hike.

How about “Am I doing the right thing, moving in the right direction?”  I like to use this as practice in trusting.  Surrendering to whatever I’m doing.  That is the only place I can hear new instructions as to where to go next. If I’m constantly questioning myself I’ll never get anywhere. That’s a lousy way to treat myself.

I am going to listen to what I’m saying and change the thought if it doesn’t support me in joy and acceptance.  I think that’s a very good way to take good care.

It’s important during this Holidaze season to practice infinite patience with yourself.  Give yourself the gift of self care.  Just being more kind to yourself. People tend to want to make everything happen perfectly, while still doing the “usual.”  It’s just not possible.

Detach from worry about what can’t be controlled.  Or a need for things to look a certain way, or happen at a certain time.   Be willing to say it’s okay, even if it’s not all you hoped it would be.

This is a good time to give yourself the gift of just taking a breath once in a while and checking  in.  Ask yourself how you’re feeling.  What do you need?  Slow down when you can, when you don’t have to be at high speed.  Surely there are moments for that.

Think about giving a special gift to others. Listen to what you are saying. Is it what you truly want to say?  Can you be more careful with your words?

Remember that you are always doing your best.  Appreciate all the gifts you have.  Remember what the holiday is really about.

Alan Cohen reminds us, “Your gift to the world is not what you buy or do.  Your gift is your happiness.”

Elizabeth O’Connor added, “We do not experience ourselves as a gift until we are engaged in the act of creating.”

Take heed of the gifts which really matter.

What we’ve been taught (and in some cases ingrained) is that we need to always be doing for others.  Be selfless.  That a good person is one who doesn’t think of herself, but is always thinking of others, first.

They’ve got it all wrong.  Or backwards, anyway. Like the much-used airplane story. (Not the one which reminds us that it takes many adjustments to keep an airplane heading to its destination.)  The rule that says, if you are on an airplane with a child and the oxygen masks drop, put on your mask first and then tend to the child.

You are good to no one if you can’t breathe.  If you’re burned out, you can’t encourage others.  If your needs are not met, your ability to help others is compromised. Julia Cameron says, “Treating yourself like a precious object will make you strong.”

SARK believes in Self Support and Self Care.  Good self care, I’d say, entails listening to what you need and doing what you can to make it all right or make it better.  Look at resistance and fear straight on and rather than ignore them, think about what you need and how you can clear the way.  Taking a few minutes ahead of time to see what’s going on, can save you a lot of struggle down the road.

SARK talks of how easy it is to create imbalances, to upset the yin yang balance. But,  “The goal is not to attain ‘perfect’ balance because we are all splendidly imperfect. Rather we can become increasingly aware of the ways that we can bring more balance into our lives in new ways that feel really, really delightful.”  It’s hard to get it right all the time, but we can use tools to bring us back the other way when we fall too far off kilter. “I’d been taught,” SARK says, “to work hard and delight was a possible side effect, not a well-chosen value.”  I think that well-chosen value can come out when you make sure your needs are met.

It’s important to start by acknowledging all the ways you are currently taking good care of yourself.  What supports you.  SARK suggests coming up with a “. . . special quirky boogie balance dial, or perhaps a scale which tracks all your systems of self support and alerts you to when one system is out of balance.”

I’ve come up with a MDR (Minimum Daily Requirements) list.  For me, it includes things like writing, meditating, doing Tai Chi, getting in movement, posting and sending.  I have boxes for each day that I can quickly check off to see if I’m doing the things that support me.  It also lets me know things like I haven’t meditated in three days.

Some powerful questions, along these lines, that SARK poses: What role does joy play in your life?  What is your definition of success?  What can you do to increase your feelings of success?  I believe these are questions that need to be answered by each of us.  Just taking a few moments to ponder them can help you make strong self care choices.

The more you can fill your own well, the more water you have for nourishing your life, your plans, your loved ones, every one.

Curiosity is a great tool to use.  Constantly ask, are there better ways I can take good care of myself?  Explore new ways and avenues.

For physical self care, I want to listen more to my body for what it needs: food, rest, movement, etc.

For my emotional self care, I’m going to practice receiving.  My new thing is: The more I can take in, the more overflow I will have for others.

For my mental self care, I’m listening again, this time to others: books, talks, broadcasts, whoever is speaking, and stay open for easy and fun ways to learn.

For my spiritual self care, I want to tighten up my reminder system – the notes I leave for myself and my daily affirmations.  Are they saying what I want them to say? Update where necessary.

In the end, I think the best thing we can each do for ourselves is to take it all a little easier, breathe a little deeper and slower, touch a little lighter.

As always, check out SARK’s web site!

The Dream Boogie Class goes into Week 6.  I can hardly believe we’re nearing the end.  I have loved every minute of this class and feel I’ve gotten way more out of it than I expected.  I have learned so much and can feel the changes taking place. 

This week is about building your dream at the same time as you build a life you love.  I feel blessed and maybe ahead of the game as my dream was built from my desire to live the way I choose.  I began with a Lifestyle I wanted – working from home, writing, with time and space for the things that are important to me.  It takes me less than 1 minute to pack my bag and my commute lasts exactly 10 seconds.  I like it that way.  My dream is to find ways to be able to keep this going.

The secret, I believe, the main theme this week, is about practicing upgraded self care.  SARK listed ways we can use to take better care of ourselves in the realm of Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual.  She invited us to choose some of those ways and create MicroMOVEment wheels for them.  (See  In this way we come to know and incorporate these things we need for a balanced life.

The Dream Digging, included in the Boogie Books we get every week, is always my favorite.  SARK asks us intriguing questions to journal the answers.  I love pointed, thought-provoking questions.  Gives me something to sink my teeth into. She wants me to identify what I currently do for myself in each area and then inspires me to think of ways I could better support myself.  At the end I have a neat little packet of action steps to help me create the life I want within the work I do.

Her opening gambit was to present the notion of having someone who monitored you and could remind you, alert you, to when you were experiencing a depletion in one area.  It is ever thus.  You get all wound up in your creative process and your health maintenance suffers.  You give too much Yang and don’t balance with enough Yin.  SARK had us imagine a scale or chart that would do it for us.

It was quite clear to me this week that I was low on Writing.  My niece was with me last weekend and I had several lunch dates this week. I enjoyed all the time with others.  But all that interaction seriously cut into my usual morning writing time.  It’s not always easy to get that chunk of uninterrupted time to write later in the day.  Hence, I found myself with a skinned knee, feeling tired and unsure.  But after a good talk with The Coach by the Lake and some time to write, I felt so much better, stronger.

When I was working full time, I created a Grading Sheet for myself because I felt I needed it to stay in balance.  I think a great way to do it is to use Physical, Mental, Spiritual and Emotional.  They are good categories to start with.  I chose specific projects in each category.  I usually put the category in the first blank, a small box to give a letter grade and a line or so for a comment.  I wish to use it as a gauge, not as something to chastize myself about.  Maybe it would be simpler to just have a list of those things and read them every day, instead of assigning a grade every week. Either way, I create for myself a chart to show where I’m falling short.

I want to say, again, that SARK is a very generous soul.  She gave us all her 20/20 List.  Things she’d do differently.  Her 20/20 Insights.  Wow!  That’s worth the price of admission.  May I tempt you: “Mentor and be mentored consistently by other wise souls.” and “Educate others in how to best support me.”  There are lots more!

This week we’re making sure not to leave anything behind when we take off on our dreams!

There is a summer session of this class beginning soon.  Anyone within reach of my words – take this class!  It is something special and offers a big bang for the buck!  Check it out through this link.

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