Updated: Jun 1, 2020
"What else can I tell you? It seems to me that everything has its proper emphasis; and finally I want to add just one more bit of advice: to keep growing, silently and earnestly, through your whole development; you couldn't disturb it any more violently than by looking outside and waiting for outside answers to questions that only your innermost feeling, in your quietest hour, can perhaps answer." ~Rainer Maria Rilke
I talk, share and teach about self-care, it is a myriad of things that work for me: indulgent sensory experiences like baths; daily rituals like tea; meditation and yoga; journaling. It has taken most of my life to discover what self-care looks like, to grapple with guilt, and overcome preconceived notions of selfishness. I am grateful that I figured out, and continue to figure out that I need to come first in the day for our household to run relatively smoothly. I hope my journey can encourage you to discover what works for you. In the meantime, here is a yoga videos for parents-- I hope you get silly, make funny faces and get in a few extra moments of self-care while in the presence of your children.
Notes from a Recovering Perfectionist
Here is a little story about my journey to myself. The mist was rising off the water of the lake, the birds chirping, the loons looking for breakfast as I sat on the dock enjoying my morning cup of tea. I would relish this scene and this hot lovely beverage whether my “to do” list kept interrupting and distracting me or not. It was the last day of my summer vacation at a lakehouse in western Maine with my extended family and my head was whirling as we had to finish laundry, pack up, clean our room, attend to a few work emails, enjoy breakfast before 10am so as to avoid summer Fridays traffic and get to NYC before dark. My husband and I could do it with efficient management and strategic delegation of duties. I just knew it, and it was going to be the perfectly executed day. I would spend just one more minute clearing my head and sipping this tea. Then I would wake him up. Ten more breath cycles with complete attention on the inhalation and exhalation. Absorbing the sights, the smells the caress of a slight breeze, the world waking up on a small lake as the seasons showed a hint of turning. I would soak up every ounce of relaxation because I had places to go and things to do.
Ten breaths slipped into a twenty minute meditation practice. I was starting to feel centered and I justified that clearing my mind would amp up my efficiency for getting up and out. A few sun salutations couldn’t hurt the situation and the laundry could wait. Once I got started moving, I let the movement flow. My husband came to check on me an hour and a half later as I lay in savasana. I was clear, feeling great, open and… guilty; the schedule I had made up in my mind was shot. I failed our imaginary “to do list”. I was so selfish.
And in this moment of feeling guilty about a nourishing morning of self-practice and self-care in a picturesque setting I told my husband these things when he asked how I was. He listened and asked why? “Why would you feel guilty for taking care of yourself?” I don’t know and I don’t know why. It felt deeply programmed that I put the dishes away and do the laundry before my yoga practice; that I answer that one phone call and a few emails before I took my meditation seat. Mornings would slip to afternoons and days to nights without this time of introspection. Since that weekend, I have been working diligently to make my personal practices, my self-care a "me first" priority.
Train with Me
Every training I offer explores different ways we can prioritize our self-care through mindful movement practices, meditation and journaling. Sometimes these prompts only take five minutes a day, which is all that parents and educators may have. When we can start making essential self-care a habit, we are better able to be responsive, rather than reactive to the people and situations that arise. Then everyone in our lives and communities benefit.