Plan of self-care…

Even with advanced car stereo technology, I most often enjoy FM radio as my companion while driving from hither to thither.  Lately, I have been enjoying modern pop dance hits and am starting to feel caught up with what the “kids are listening to,” these days.

As I wove on a winding road which led me to an elementary school parking lot, a fun and uplifting song graced my ears and a smile warmed my face.  I was early for my appointment to present a circle time activity for young elementary-aged children.  This was the second part of my interview process for an early childhood special education teaching position.

As a spiritual and meaning-finding person, what songs happen to be playing on the station to which I happen to be listening often provides me with deeper wisdom in any given moment, especially if I am in a place of wonder.  I remember driving to the airport to pick up a person I was dating and three songs in a row had lyrics that communicated doomed relationships, not really knowing the person, and dusting oneself off after an upsetting relationship.  I won’t get into what happened in this post yet I am sure you can imagine.

I have been reflecting on what I desire to surround me in regards to landscapes, community, and home.  The aforementioned song’s lyrics included “this could really be a good, good life” and “when you’re happy like a fool, let it take you over.” These seemed to be encouraging gestures that I was making a positive step to be considering working in this preschool program near ocean sanctuary.

Photo by Michael PaigeIn gratitude, I report that I accepted the position at the sweet school surrounded by redwood trees and only 15 minutes to the Pacific Ocean.  I feel comforted to be returning to my roots as an early childhood special education teacher.  And to have the opportunity to again live near the beach!

After celebrating with my sister and parents, I called one of my dearest friends.  He mentioned he felt glad that didn’t have to worry about my finding a job any longer.  Hearing him say this cracked me up as I surely wish to never be anyone’s “worrysome burden.”  I asked him to support my choice to grow healthy roots and longevity within a job and community which lead to our conversation about me creating a personal care plan.

My dear friend is a vibrant activities coordinator at an elder care center on the Oregon Coast.  His clients love his passionate energy and the red khaki pants he wears.  He works with families and elders to create care plans to support each individual’s physical, psycho-social, and cognitive needs.  In turn, my friend was inspired by his clients’ plans and created one for himself.  He encouraged me to do the same, especially as I transition into a new teaching position and community.

SELF-CARE PLAN INTENTION:  To grow, live, and work in my new community within the same school district and teaching position for at at least five years.

Physical needs: Daily exercise that enlivens my body (e.g. yoga, surfing, bike riding, walking, hiking, swimming, dancing, stretching, Feldenkrais, running), maintaining good nutrition and water intake, keeping up with taking vitamins & minerals, getting enough sleep

Psycho-social needs:  Visiting and staying close with my family, connecting with healthy, active, spiritual and vibrant communities, creating art and photography, journaling, continuing therapy, making and maintaining close friendships with joyful, positive, self-reflective people, maintaining my spiritual, self-love, and Wholeness practices, regular doses of laughter

Cognitive needs: Reflecting on and researching ways to continue stimulating my need to have wonder and mystery in my life, challenging myself to strengthen my surfing skills, deepening my education career skills, pondering my next travel adventure, learn a new language (e.g. Spanish), take a class on a topic new-to-me, attend a yoga teacher training program

My friend suggested that I review my self-care plan on a weekly and monthly basis, making updates as necessary.  The pieces that feels most riveting are my committing to a community for at least 5 years and insuring that my wonder/love of life’s mysteries are healthfully stoked and tended.  I feel intrigued and know that both of those intentions will expand my edges and help me grow.  I desire a sense of stability and growth within a teaching position and community.  I feel curious how these personal commitments will help me evolve as I journey into another decade of a life better-lived.


Beneath humbling branches, a leader is born…

In the morning, I tend to be slow to rising.  Lately, morning light has me waking around 6am which in my mind’s story, is a bit too early for me.  I appreciate lazily sleeping in until 7:30am or 8am.  I decided to check email before getting out of bed and had one in my inbox from a person whose name triggers instant adrenaline in my belly.

Noticing my reaction, I felt upset with myself because I would like for either of two things:  to no longer receive emails from this person -or- feel strong and self-accepting enough for it not to matter.  I was able to feel calmer after an outdoor, self-led yoga session although soon after, my anger and negative feelings returned.  I realized that perhaps I am ready to deal with my anger regarding the situation with this person, a feeling that I have often denied and tried to keep hidden.

I closed the door and moon roof of my garden cottage and turned up the volume while listening full-volume to David Guetta’s “Titanium.”  I looked into a mirror with both of my hands up in front of me in a protective “keep back” stance.  I yelled what I would have liked to say in that situation, expressing my anger and self-protection with my words and my physical stance.  I imagined the persons standing before me as I stood up in self-advocacy.  My “no!” and “stop!” and “that’s enough!” in addition to unsavory, yet powerful language flowed freely, as I sent my energy out.

As I write, I realize that perhaps I feel most angry with myself for feeling scared in the situation.  I know my feelings were valid and faced on my own with a verbal aggressor, I was unsure how to respond.  I tend to have peaceful, caring, stable people in my circle of friends and rarely have people throwing ugly words and disarming energy in my direction.  I did the best I could do in this situation and mustered support from counsel, family, and friends.  Having compassion and self-forgiveness,  is my work and learning; really, it’s a gift I can give myself.

Intuitively, I realize that my remaining composed and as neutral as possible, was my strength in the situation.  I stayed outwardly calm and referenced my counsel, as necessary.  I feel proud of my minimal verbal output and remaining in a place of calm water energy when burning pieces of shit were being hurled at me.  It was as if the river boulders and stones bedecking my shores and run absorbed the most of what was being thrown.  I have read that rocks appreciate absorbing angry energies.

I am learning how to be powerful and peaceful, self-protective and assertive.  I am learning about what authoritarian leadership looks and feels like which informs me that there are compassionate, healthy ways that I can navigate myself as a leader.

Last night, I attended a “Leadership with Love” gathering hosted by The Goddess Collective, a group of Bay Area and global women whose intention is to celebrate each other and our visions for bettering our communities and the world.  I resonated with the key note speaker Sarah Marshall’s sharing about true leadership being about empowering other leaders.  Sarah is a leadership expert, who has been studying, practicing, and coaching leadership for 30+ years.

I appreciated how Sarah spoke in reverence about her daughter’s self-leadership and dedication for the steps she needed to take for the family to adopt a puppy.  I felt sparked upon her mentioning the importance of self-leadership and self-care, as a leader who balances guiding and empowering a team and working together, making choices about the team or business’ evolution.  Listening to Sarah invigorated my impulse to learn more about becoming a compassionate, empowering leader.

My mother instilled in me the wisdom that there is learning in every situation.  While I have thought that I am entering into an experience to learn one aspect of this human journey, other lessons appear, to be studied and practiced.  Having the opportunity to experience empowering, compassionate leaders and teachers, as well as people with an authoritarian style, I confirm the style that best fits for me:  leadership with love.

Maker of my own happy…

Breathing and using tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) to diffuse thoughts and feeling of anxiety as I await an important phone call helps me return to knowing that I am okay no matter what.  I am hoping for a positive response and offering at the other end of the call and yet am sitting with my innate okay-ness.

My employment status will soon shift towards a more satisfying and prosperous direction.  What I continue to work with, especially with using tapping and tapping’s compassionate companion, is that my feelings are present, temporary and underneath it all, I am worthy, lovable, and a good person.

Even though I feel anxious and nervous

about hearing from a prospective employer,

I deeply and completely accept myself…

My practice for using this strategy is this:

  1. Identify that I am having a negative self-thought
  2. Identify the present, often uncomfortable feeling
  3. Recognize that tapping will likely be helpful
  4. Tune into a version of the above phrase and identify my feelings and worries
  5. Start with the karate chop tapping point and move through tapping my fingers, face, torso and head
  6. Verbally of mentally identify the other attachments, irrational stories, feelings and possible opportunities as I tap through each body part
  7. Take a deep breath and repeat, if necessary

I notice that my physical relief, shoulder relaxation and a sense of calm is fairly instant, especially when I get to the second part of the phrase:

I deeply and completely accept myself…

Yes, I may be feeling anxious, nervous, sad, angry, frustrated, or impatient.  And sure, I have experienced inner self-judgment for feeling these feelings.  What I am learning to do is re-frame that these feelings can exist within me, that they are temporary and that I can feel them, move on, and continue to love myself wholeheartedly.

As I remember to engage in this self-loving practice of tapping, I witness as orphaned parts of my soul return to their rightful home, relaxing into the cozy nest of my heart and spirit.  I am making my own joy, my own happy, my own content and loving myself by creating a growing sense of inner peace and Wholeness.

From the inside-out…

My sister mentioned that she was quite disciplined when she embarked on her Couch to 5K running training.  She had a 5K in sight for her goal and has since run a couple or more 5K’s.  This morning she shared a running tip of tucking my iPhone in my sports bra (totally worked).  That I had a  Self-Love Revolution podcast interview awaiting my listening ears was like having both a work-out and dessert at the very same time.  Running shoes and all, I headed out for day 3 of my training program.

The Self-Love Revolution goddesses, Amy and Andrea, interviewed Allana Pratt, a trial by fire and self-love Family and Relationship Expert.  I was blown away by the depth and spiritual nature of the conversation.  She spoke about loving oneself from the inside-out and that awareness is one of the key places to begin on the self-love journey.

For me, moving (restlessly) through life from the outside-in has included changing jobs often, getting married and divorced in a short time period, changing addresses every 6-12 months, and grasping towards relationships and unhealthy dynamics.  I have felt and sometimes feel a sense of trying to fill an empty pit with things and people outside of myself in an attempt to get a “fix” or feel good, for awhile.  This could look like eating food that I know will give me a tummy ache or justifying my retail therapy practices.  It might be dating someone for longer than feels right just to have a relationship.  Filling the void from the outside-in looks different for everyone.

In my last two years of more consciously striving towards and unshakable sense of Wholeness and self-love, I have been learning about self-soothing strategies that fill me from the inside-out with self-loving, self-respecting, health and wellness goodness.  Writing, yoga, dancing, ocean time and surfing, reaching out to friends and family, eating a wholesome fruit and veggie-loaded diet, enjoying the natural world, EFT/tapping, participating in therapy and/or coaching sessions, moving closer to family, investigating my disowned inner parts, honing and trusting my intuition, practicing boundary work, attending kirtan, and prioritizing my personal needs are all strategies that help me grow self-compassion and self-gentleness.

I experience days that feel more even-keeled.  I experience ones that feel like I’ve hit rock bottom again.  Allana Pratt mentioned that she experiences herself as being 20% along her path with further learning to go; that practicing self-love is a life-long practice.  Thank goodness for her honesty and wisdom!  On her website, she wrote about having learned to love herself unconditionally and “rollicking in all the pleasure that was to be found in life” in her late 30’s.  She shared that feeling good about herself brought forward her radiance which became noticeable to those around her.  With just these tidbits from her interview and perusing her writing, I look forward to learning more from her life experiences!

To celebrate my third day of running training and feeling inspired by the interview, I indulged in a colorful breakfast while sitting in the sunshine on my sister’s front porch steps.  Creating a beautiful plate of wholesome foods, alongside a glass of water with lime and a turquoise cup of coffee, I brought my hands to prayer pose and reveled in gratitude.

Radiance and self-love, I welcome you!

My heart and soul are ready!

Grateful for…

  1. Morning yoga sun salutations gazing through the moon roof of my garden cottage at blue skies and cloud puffs…
  2. Healthy breakfast of a banana, apricot, and whole wheat toast with raw peanut butter and honey…okay, yes, and some coffee…
  3. Discovering a new bayside park; seeing the mudflats, during low tide…
  4. New, soft, khaki linen pants with a thin thread crocheted sweater…
  5. Eating delicious lentil soup, sister-made…
  6. Receiving loving friend support and re-framing…
  7. A lily in a vase on my bedside table…
  8. My “Thinking of you! Love, Mom” heart-shaped engraved keychain fob…
  9. The Self-Love Revolution‘s Monday morning video about “Sex and Relationships”…
  10. Living in a safe, comfortable, warm, and restful place…

How about you?  For what are you grateful?


The sky’s zen…

Moving energy and working with negative thoughts was my first self-loving morning practice.  I have been remembering to use EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), also known as “tapping”.  Focusing on the irrational thoughts in my mind of self-rejection, self-loathing or being innately a bad girl, I tapped through these feelings.  Tapping is a simple, easy to learn technique that works with acupressure points on your body.  I have been enjoying working with the work of Carol Look although you can research tapping and find videos and tips from a teacher to suit your needs.

My morning also included my “energizing” yoga practice, whose flow is enjoyable and leaves my muscles feeling warmed up and pliable.  Plus, I feel proud of myself for continuing on a daily morning yoga practice.  It is one thing that gets me to rise out from my warm bed and start my day.

Sky blue vastness drew me forward during my 60 second jogging sessions as I embarked on the second day of my Couch to 5K running training program.  I had a banana (good choice) and an egg (not so good choice) for breakfast then waited awhile for them to digest so as to complete day two’s program comfortably.  What I learned was that a banana is a good pre-jog breakfast.  An egg cooked in butter (so yummy) was not.

As I listened to Jen Louden being interviewed by The Self-Love Revolution love*muffins, Amy and Andrea, I moved through my walking and jogging intervals.  I noticed that watching the seconds was less effective than looking at the space in front of me and enjoying the adorable cottages around me.  Gazing into the sky’s beauty was most effective and connected me to a sense of being bigger and more expansive; soulful even!

Jen Louden spoke about self-love including becoming aware of one’s responsibility with one’s actions.  I reflected on some recent personal experiences for which I judged myself harshly and even continued to digest.  What struck me was the awareness and responsibility I brought to the situation, apologizing to the person involved and thanking them for the heightened awareness the experience brought forward for me.  I had slipped out of self-love into self-loathing and fell back on unhealthy coping strategies.

Once I woke up to the pain I was self-creating, I chose a different motion and shifted directions.  With the help of confessing to a friend and having a tough love mirror held up for me to observe, I had a quicker than usual turn-around time for returning to self-care.  For this, I feel proud and grateful to myself and my supportive loved ones.

While I am glad to have a “day off” from my running training program, I am also looking forward to Tuesday when I will embark on Week 1: Day 3.  This motion towards greater health and wellness is supporting my physical health, getting me outside and opening up time to listen to inspirational podcast interviews all in the name of self-love!

Reminders towards music…

Beneath my left hand’s ring finger is a round purple shape, dime-sized.  Friday night before heading to sleep, I held an icepack to encourage the swelling to go down.  It’s been too long since my hands made hearty contact with a drum and I feel eager to find another soon-coming opportunity.

A woman musician I’d met at her farm-stay, invited me to her Friday evening kirtan gig.  She plays violin and cello with a group called Shakini, who gather to create beautiful healing chants, often in Sanskrit.

Singing soulfully and striving towards vocal harmony with Shakini’s singers was encouraged and I moved to the rhythms seated on a bolster and let my voice create volume.  Francesca Genco, the song-initiating songstress worked a small hand-pump instrument as she sang, eyes closed.  After we had woven beauty together for more than an hour, the musicians, singers and audience, the event flowed into a drum circle as the DRUMMM leader’s son passed out djembes.

I unclipped the strap on the djembe so that I could create a belt for around my waist.  My colorful djembe hung like a grandfather clock’s pendulum with its neck  between my thighs.  My hands moved with deep rhythms knowing where to create a thuddy or tinny or bass sound.

This is when I must have bruised the palm of my hand beneath my left ring finger.  Saturday morning as sun streams in splotches of light and shadow through the moon roof of my sister’s garden cottage, my hand feels sore in the bruised area and has some puffiness.  My main concern is that I will be able to do yoga without it triggering aching pain although I imagine I can make movement modifications to avoid putting too much pressure.

Just like I appreciate having paint on my clothing or in my hair after a day with brushes and canvas, new bruises and injuries are like visual memories.  This one will be towards remembering that soaking in collaborative community music and rhythms is one of the most primal and natural human experiences.  Every culture has music, song, dance, and rhythm making in some format for their celebrations, gatherings and/or daily practices.

Jeni Swerdlow,  DRUMMM’s lead teacher, commented that we all know how to drum because our heartbeat has rhythm.  That, just as Colleen Saidman Yee’s mentioning that each gentle breath is a yoga pose deepening, beckons the ease and innate gifts we ALL possess: to be in our human/spiritual flow.  Or in other words, to simply be.