All month long Tamarisk Saunders-Davies and Mara Glatzel have been inspiring online writers to tackle the subject of real-life self-care. Mind you, this isn’t the self-care you see in self-help magazines. This isn’t what people with a billion dollars and no job do. This is how real people care for themselves in a world that expects green smoothies every morning, yoga sweats every week, and absolutely no junk food. You can read up on all the other entries HERE. Below is my contribution to this important conversation.
On the live-call with my ease hunters this past weekend I shared with them that I’ll be having my tonsils out in April. One of the women chimed in with “Well, at least you’ll have a good excuse to eat all the ice cream you want.”
I smiled. “I don’t need an excuse to eat all the ice cream I want.”
It’s true. My self-care is all about freeing myself from any suggestion that I can’t have what I hunger for.
It turns out I don’t hunger for ice cream all that much.
Caring for myself is not something I approach with great routine. That could change in the future if I start to hunger for more structure, but right now I enjoy feeling free and allowing pleasure and self-kindness to be my guides.
In my life, this ends up looking like:
:: Working out of bed, in my pajamas most days.
:: Prioritizing relationships and time with people. I get depressed when I’m alone too much.
:: Eating whatever I want, whenever I want, in whatever quantity I want.
:: Allowing my body to be beautiful and human as it is and as it changes.
:: Having compassion for myself when I miss the mark by eating until I’m uncomfortable or getting lost in a self-critical story.
:: Downton Abbey and American Idol.
:: Investing in high-quality, transformative therapy and/or coaching.
:: Not coaching more than four women each day.
:: Three, delicious meals every single day. Not always homemade, but often homemade.
:: Expensive haircuts less frequently instead of cheap haircuts more often.
:: Asking for the kind of touch, listening, communication, and companionship I need at a given moment.
:: Telling the truth as often as possible.
:: Skyping with my family (and our Welsh Terrier, Wiley).
:: Generally tuning into what’s working and what’s not working. (Note to self: more sunshine)
:: Trying to take care of me first, so I can take care of others better.
:: Naps. Lots and lots of long naps.
:: Throwing out the rules that say you have to work 40 or more hours a week.
:: Not pursuing relationships with people whom I feel less than great around.
I do not do any of this perfectly. Well, I probably watch American Idol perfectly, but otherwise, I simply do my imperfect best.
There are days I don’t exercise. Plenty of them.
There are days I don’t eat a single green vegetable.
There are days I watch more than my share of television.
Self-care isn’t perfect, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.
My self-care is about shifting away from ‘shoulds’ and towards ‘wants’, ‘hungers’, and ‘desires’.
Anything done with harshness, judgement, cruelty, rigidity, or as a means to feel enough is the antithesis to self-care.
When I move or rest my body it’s because I want to.
When I spend time with others or alone it’s because I have choice in how I tend to myself.
When I eat ice cream or kale it’s because self-care doesn’t have to look a certain way and rarely does.
Does this sound like you?
Here are just some of the factors related to weight fluctuations:
Side effects from medication
Socio-economic class shifts
Restricted & binge eating
Grief & trauma
Returning to or away from intuitive eating
Injury that limits mobility
Changes in activity
Of these, only pregnancy can be seen with our eyes.
I have a client who, over the past few years, has gained weight. I can tell you that at least five of the above factors are present in her life. Which ones? I’m not telling.
She came to our session stressed about running into an ex-boyfriend and wondering how she’d explain her weight gain to him.
She doesn’t have to. She doesn’t have to justify the change in weight at all.
And while people will assume to know why someone weighs what they weigh, you know what they say about that.
Next week I’ll be updating my website with all new photos of me. It’s been several years since the old ones were taken and it was time for a refresh.
I’ve lost some weight in that time. Why?
Well, with a history of an eating disorder, some might assume I’d relapsed. Not so.
But the real reason is my own collection of the above factors.
What really matters, for my client, for me, and for you is this: happiness.
What matters is having a meaningful life. I have that. Increasingly, so does she.
Weight changes. It changes daily, weekly, annually, and througout our entire life.
It’s normal. It’s human.
Our society shames bodies for sure, but we shame bodies who change weight even more. Unless of course we idolize and worship the change (almost always a weight loss).
I want to make crystal clear:
You don’t have to explain it.
You don’t have to justify your weight or anything else about your body.
Let your body finds it’s way.
Oh, and try not to assume why someone else’s weight has changed. You really never know.
That’s it really. It’s that simple.
It’s about the relationship we have with ourselves and with our hungers.
This is my work. This is my offer to you: deep communion with that which you naturally and deeply hunger for.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve mistrusted your hungers your entire life. I can help you befriend them today.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve made 99% of your hungers your BFF. I can help you to bring harmony to that remaining 1%.
I illuminate the relationship we have with our hungers so we can shift it to one that is even deeper and more connected.
From here, magic happens. Seriously. Life can taste so sweet.
I teach that how we relate to our hungers is the foundation from which a well-fed life is (or isn’t) built.
Do you wholeheartedly trust your desires? Do you fully embrace food? rest? touch? adventure? delight?
Are your career hungers and relationships hungers honored in your life?
Are you as well-fed a woman as you would like to be?
This is my life’s work. Let’s feast.
This past December I was fortunate enough to score a spot on a cozy couch at one of Alexandra Franzen’s Write Yourself Into Motion workshops (if you have a chance to attend one – GO!). Nestled next to me was Shannon Wilkinson, a life-coach that is all about making change easy and fun. I didn’t know she was a life coach when I sat down. What I knew was that she radiated positive energy and joy. What I knew is that she was delightfully grounded in her body and at home in her skin.
After talking (and laughing) with her over the two days we spent together I discovered that she has some very rare superpowers that we could all benefit from…and that make her a deeply well-fed woman. Using her training in coaching, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and hypnosis (no she did not hypnotize me into writing about her…I don’t think) Shannon makes breaking through our mental conditioning (i.e. stories about why we can’t do something or why it’s too hard, etc.) and into the actions we want to be taking. You can find her at the fittingly named Perception Studios. I’m seriously considering hiring her and I don’t say that often. Enjoy…
Connection. I hunger for connection with others. Seeing and being seen. I hunger for connection with nature, with things bigger than me. Mountains, oceans, skies, clouds, forests. I hunger for connection with myself. Ease and adaptability, knowing what I really want.
Smiles and laughter. Encouragement. Perhaps that’s why many people feel comfortable with me and tell me things. They don’t know why these things are important, and these things often seem disparate and unrelated. But to me, they make sense. I understand the connections, see the possibilities. When I make these connections, I know how to untangle any unwanted patterns, where to make the shift with ease, bring hope and possibility back into the most difficult of situations.
When I was little I loved trying to keep up with my older brothers. I liked pushing myself in school and sports. I liked working really hard and doing my best. But then something happened. I only wanted to do things I was pretty damn sure I could do well. I didn’t want to risk making mistakes. I didn’t want to do things that were too hard.Later, as I delved into the personal development field, the whole being gentle and kind to yourself thing pushed me further away from that desire to challenge myself and push hard.In my late 30’s, I rediscovered my love for pushing hard, for having an I-don’t-know-if-I-can-do-this, kind of challenge in my life. Since then I’ve done things I never imagined possible for me. More importantly, I do it with complete kindness for myself, without overdoing it. It may be uncomfortable, but I’m not hurting myself. I’m not burning out. Instead, I’m finding greater ease, and letting go of fears and worries that are irrelevant in the face of true challenges.
The last slice of holiday pumpkin pie on the summit of Mt. Saint Helens on New Year’s Day. Everything tastes better when you’ve climbed a mountain before eating it.