Friday, May 14, 2010

30 Days of Radical Self Care

I started writing this post within a week of the "break up." It was actually the first post I drafted. The first major insight I had into the issues in our relationship had to do with self-care, recognizing that we were not caring for ourselves, which made it difficult to care for each other. I decided immediately to implement a radical self-care practice, committing to 30 days in hopes of giving myself an attainable goal and setting the foundation for the practice to become a good habit. I was going to boldly make a pronouncement about my commitment, but a variety of insecurities held me back. What if I pronounce it publicly and then slip back into my old habits and fail? Why would anyone want to read about my process? Who do I think I am?

But a couple of days ago, Lissa Rankin at Owning Pink published a post committing to 30 days of radical self-care (Owning Pink is a great blog and daily reminder towards the authentic life I desire). The serendipity was too much to ignore. I wrote a comment about my own commitment and she dared me to publish this post. So here it is.

I am on the edge of a major shift in consciousness - a significant choice point in my life. I have been approaching this edge over and over for years and my ego keeps saying NO and sending me back in circles. I continue evolving in other directions, but always return to this place. The Universe keeps calling me to live with more intention, more health, more love and I keep resisting. I keep telling myself that I am awake enough, that I work hard enough. I have overcome mental illness and poverty. I have raised happy healthy kids as a primarily single mom. I live a life of service. I am inspiring others to live with more consciousness in their lives. I have created a life rich with relationships. I am already working so damn hard! Do I really have to step up to more discipline and more responsibility in order to experience more love? YES.

This is where I decide whether I want to live in integrity with what I know to be true, or I want to continue living a half stagnant life. While I work hard to bring awareness to my relationships and my work, I am lazy about bringing awareness to my self. I confess that I take better care of everyone else than I do myself. While I give great effort to live up to a conscious relationship with my children, Knight, my tribe, my business partners and the Imps, I do not make the same effort on my own behalf. And I am living the consequences, as is everyone around me.

* My emotional stability is precarious - We had to put the brakes on the best relationship I've ever had largely because I cannot control my emotional reactions when I am triggered (it is my greatest challenge with the Imps, too). While I have made tremendous growth in managing my emotions (if only people knew what I was like when I was crazy!), I still have work to do. But I don't think it has so much to do with the psychological work of healing my past and overcoming my fear-stories as it does with daily self-care and spiritual practice that will create the centering place for me to respond to life from. I've been doing the psychological work, I have not been doing the spiritual practice.

* My spiritual life is nearly bankrupt. I was not maintaining a relationship with the Sacred. I did not have a practice. I did not put intention into living a life of Presence. I have not been living in integrity with what I believe about God. I have not been living in integrity with my belief that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. I have not been nurturing a spiritual perspective and the expansiveness it brings.

* My body is a mess. I am in mild to moderate muscular pain nearly every day. My digestive system also causes me discomfort, especially when I'm emotionally topsy-turvy. While I've been toying with the idea that I may have a significant health issue, my intuition tells me my body is rebelling because I am not living in integrity with what I know about good health. While I eat better than I have at any other time of my life and rarely emotionally eat anymore, I still do not eat well. I ingest things I shouldn't. I was not exercising at all. I have been making poor choices regarding my body, or neglecting my body entirely, and I have reached a point in my consciousness where my body is telling me I can't ignore it anymore. Either I take care of my physical self or I live in constant pain and discomfort.

* My finances remain limited. I have never moved beyond living paycheck to paycheck. I am nearly always just a little bit behind so I never get ahead. I made poor financial choices in the past and the consequences are still being resolved. I am still suffering from poverty consciousness and fear that I can't take any risks as long as I have a child at home. If I can't manage the resources the Universe is giving me now, why would it give me more? If I can't manage the confidence to move in a new direction, how can I change my circumstances?

* I continue working for a living rather than living my life's work. While everything in me craves to be creating abundance through work of my heart, I don't take the steps or risks to change my situation. It is exhausting me to work a 9-5 job I don't love in an emotionally unhealthy work culture, and then make the time and space for the work I do love (currently through the Imps). My exhaustion limits what I'm capable of creating.

Steps I need to take for self-care and what I am committing to for the next 30 days:

* Begin every day with prayer. I need to open the lines of communication with the Divine. While my understanding of God is always changing, I have learned that a Sacred approach to life is the most healthy and stabilizing for me. I need to nurture that relationship by connecting with the Sacred every day.

* Write every day. Writing is a spiritual practice for me, a conversation between God and I, and a form of contemplation. Writing is also a tool for my emotional health. When I process my emotions through writing, I find clarity and calm. Writing takes me out of the rut of thoughts and often leads me into insight. And sharing my story with others through writing is part of my life purpose (more on that in another post). It is my intent to use this blog to document and process my daily journey on this road to a life of integrity.

* Pay attention to my authentic impulses and speak my truth when I feel guided. I ignore a lot of guidance towards love, which is limiting the amount of love I experience! I ignore impulses to reach out to people for fear of rejection. I have impulses to give gifts, to say a kind word, to give a compliment, to offer a touch, to deepen a conversation. I have gifts that I could be sharing -- healing touch, intuitive readings -- but I am afraid people will think I am weirdo or a fraud. I hold back from speaking my spiritual truths for fear of rejection. I try to make myself as "accessible" as possible. People in my tribe already talk about my hippy-dippy ways -- I have worried about what they would say if I didn't hold back as much as I do. But the truth is, my friends don't really want me to play small. They want me to be big and be as *April* as I possibly can be. (And if they don't, then I need to find new friends!)

* Study. Taking in new information from teachers challenges me to new insights and life changes. I am starting my mornings with The Book of Awakening. I am going to read Nonviolent Communication since violent communication is a shadow I am currently working with. I am also reading books about love and spiritual relationship.

* Friendship. Experiencing intimacy with others is a significant aspect of my bliss. Yet, I have not given the time and intent toward nurturing my friendships. I have made myself so busy with work, Knight, family and the Imps that I haven't had the space to be a consistent friend. I have also lived in fear of being rejected if I attempt to deepen friendship intimacy.

* Exercise -- outside if possible -- yoga or walking at least five days a week. It could only be 15 minutes, but it needs to be something. Both walking and yoga are meditative as well as physical practices. They feed my soul as much as my body. I've started going to the Arcata Marsh or Redwood Park every day at lunch to walk. I am finding that not only is walking significantly decreasing the pain I feel, walking in such beautiful places is nurturing my perception of life as a blessing. Yesterday the beauty of the sky reflected on the marsh waters actually brought me to tears. People in cities buy calendars and posters to see the beautiful landscapes that are within five minutes of me in any direction!

* Make better choices around food/nutrition and take a multi-vitamin every day.

It is my hope that implementing these daily practices will lead to positive shifts in all aspects of my life, especially my relationships. I am truly beginning to understand how living a love-filled life begins with loving my self first.

(Image Credit: Sharon Simpson)

1 comment:

Dana said...

Found the link from Owning Pink. Let me just say that while our lives our different, our journey is the same. You ARE at a choice point and you ARE going to step up to more. That much is clear. Also clear to me is that you WILL succeed. It is inevitable. You would not have been given the vision of yourself that you have if you could not achieve it. Having reached a choice point last year and making a similar commitment, I would suggest that you add one thing to your list of to-do's... keep letting things go that don't serve you. We can never release enough. Keep releasing. For me, the clues to how and what to release come through my writing and through daily prayer/meditation. Because I can't seem to release most of the stuff I'm encountering now w/o God's help. And that's just fine.

Blessings to you on your journey and kudos to you for the wonderful progress to date. Enjoy your self-care program. Live it and love it until it's simply the way you live.

Love and Light