“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation…” -Audre Lorde
Self-Care is my word for 2017 and it looks like I heard that call just in time!
I was in New York City for an intensive the past three days and I had a real wake-up call.
I used to live in NYC, so running up and down the subway stairs and lugging things around was never a problem for me. But, we left NYC in 2010 and life in Upstate NY is a bit different. Where I’m happy to once again have a car, I do miss the walking life of NYC and admit, days can go by before I get myself to the gym.
This was bad!
So here’s what happened. I packed my clothing bag and my computer bag and because the weather was a bit iffy, decided to take the train down to the city. (I thought) I was conscious to not pack too much and keep the bags relatively light. When I got to Grand Central Station, I debated whether I should take a cab or the subway and thought, ‘ I can do the subway, it’s one transfer and eight stops total.’
So off I go through Grand Central, stepping easily into my NYC gate of fast walking and quick-dodge reflexes. I walk down the two flights of stairs to get to the 4/5 Train and wait. I notice my heart is beating a bit fast, so I do some deep breathing while I stand there. The train arrives and I push on to an already full car along with everyone else and stand. My arms are getting tired, my back is starting to hurt and my heart is beating just a bit faster. Four stops and I’m off, up the stairs and heading toward the L train. Back down two flights of stairs and waiting again. Now my heart is really pounding, my arms are killing me and my knee is starting to complain too.
The L train arrives and this train is even more full, so I step into the crush of people and together we all squeeze onto the car. No seats, no place to hold the rails either. I’m grounding myself into the floor so that I don’t get tossed when we start or come to a stop. Four stops and I’m off again. Up several more flights of stairs. Now I’m breathing heaving, my heart is pounding and my body is aching. I get to street level and I just stop and stand there for several minutes because I still have several blocks to walk to get to my hotel.
I eventually made it, but when I did I was out of breath, in pain, and having a serious talk with myself for not taking a cab. I got settled in my room and the first thing I did was take a good hard look at where I was on my physical self-care list. I was beneath my clients and students, beneath my family and especially my son, beneath my mother who moved in with us this past June, beneath my business and beneath the animals in our lives (and even the birds in the yard.) I was last on my list for physical care. I’m first on my list for Spiritual care, but we have to look at every list we have and move ourselves to that #1 spot.
I know better!
And here’s the thing, I know better. I know that I can’t pour from an empty cup. I know that when I’m busy an hour of meditation rather than twenty minutes will actually create more time. I know that self-care is key. But if I know all of that and managed to put myself last on a very important list, it got me wondering, what are you doing?
How are you caring for yourself? Where are you on your various lists? Have you looked at all of them, and moved yourself into the #1 position?
No matter how well intentioned we are, it can be difficult to create real change in our lives on our own. Or maybe you can but I can tell you, it takes way longer than if we reached out and get support and have someone reminded us to put ourselves first.
I challenge you!
So I am challenging you today to take a step in supporting yourself. Make a list of all the areas of your life and honestly, assess where on those lists you place yourself. If you aren’t at the top of each list, find one thing you can do for each list that nurtures you and commit to it. Make it a simple and achievable goal. Commit to getting your hair cut every five weeks, or having a massage once a month, or going to the gym two times a week, or taking the time to meditate for twenty minutes each day or cutting sugar out of your diet. Make the things you choose something you can do. Don’t make a goal so big that you set yourself up to fail.
If having someone to challenge, support, guide and teach you resonates, remember that I am here working with women one-on-one and in groups to help you create real and powerful change in your lives.
Ok, I have to run! I have a date with myself at the gym.