Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Self-Care, My Best Friend

Last night I spoke to a wonderful group of about fifty women in their 30s-50s from the National Charity League about the Power of Self-Care. It’s a really cool group of mothers and daughters who work together to support their communities through various social service projects.

When I asked how many women in the room were familiar with the concept of self-care (read more from my newsletter on this topic), only one woman raised her hand.

As much as I want to believe that this concept—which has been popularized by self-care advocates Jennifer Louden, and Cheryl Richardson in the 80s and 90s—has become mainstream, I was reminded that we still have a long way to go before people believe that it’s not only our birthright to nurture and nourish ourselves, it’s our responsibility to do so.

When I was first introduced to the concept of self-care: taking time to fill my cup first, before helping others, it seemed strange and foreign. Almost like something else to put on my “to do” list. But as I started to slow down and practice more self-acceptance, release a lot of my controlling behavior and perfectionism, begin to really listen to my body and spirit and enjoy spending time with my sweet self, my life began to change radically.

I felt like I had come home. Like this was *really* the way we are supposed to live.

I now realize that being open to and ultimately, embracing self-care was the single biggest thing I have ever done to positively and profoundly change my life.

And the journey keeps shifting and changing. You don’t “get it” and you’re done. It keeps evolving and unfolding. And the more you love and accept yourself, the more in touch with your physical/emotional/spiritual needs you become.

I often have moments in my life when I pause and realize how drastically different my days are now than they were ten years ago (before self-care).

I used to push myself really hard. I used to barrel through to-do lists (I was a master at efficiency and took pride at how much I used to be able to get done---anyone relate?). I was way too focused on “doing” and not very focused on “being.”

Yesterday, I had a challenging day emotionally and a lot on my plate. Realizing this, I went to a noon yoga class instead of an intense early morning weights class. I made sure I ate foods that made me feel great. I let some things go, so I could take a short rest before my speaking engagement last night. And, since I didn’t have much time to prepare before this event, I allowed myself to deliver a ‘good is good enough” speech, knowing that there wouldn’t be much time to prepare for the talk (which by the way, received rave reviews).

During stressful times—like the current economic crisis our nation is experiencing—it’s more important than ever to take time to nurture ourselves. (Read my latest Career Management Newsletter on tips on navigating your career/life during uncertain times.)

I received two calls from national companies yesterday to speak to their employees about balance/self-renewal.

I think we’re all starting to get that when our environment and things around us get really crazy, we have no where else to go, but within.

Baby steps. I’ve been working on my self-care practice for 9 years. And, I still have a long way to go.

P.S. If you’re new to self-care or seeking support, check out Jennifer Louden’s new Comfort Café/Life Spa , it looks really cool. I plan to sign up soon. Also, if you’re interested in really soaking up the self-care message and understanding why and how it can change your life for the better, join us April 24-26th at the Crossings for my Spring Self-Renewal Retreat for Women.
And, if you're wanting to really dive in and make self-care part of your everyday life, I encourage you to think about starting/joining a women's Personal Renewal Group (a self renewal circle for women based on my book The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal) at
Photo: My six-year old son--and inspiration for self-care-- cheering on an amazing water fountain outside of the Dallas Museum of Art, where we visited the King Tut exhibit.

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