self-care

Prioritising Self and Fluidity

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Negotiating the emotional landscape has got to be one of the most complex things that we humans have to do. If we were all robots getting on with our to do lists just think how boring that would be. Work schedules, family schedules and daily routines can be the glue that hold our lives together and then from time to time, the computer says no. Our conscious tells us other otherwise. Things don’t make sense and well life happens. We have to figure out how to navigate it. All of a sudden we are on unfamiliar territory and well as my old pirate self might say, “There be Rocks!!!” Even when we know where we are going there can be all sorts of hidden obstacles and emotional battles to overcome in order to make sure that we are ready for the task, journey or event ahead.

In the meantime if you are indeed engaged fully on your own personal journey you may well feel or in fact know, that this is all for a reason. That you are here to learn for yourself.  To share your journey, so that other way finders may just steer clear of the rocks.

We complicate the idea of getting ahead with helping others. That if we are caring, kind compassionate humans we priortise other people. Is that absolutely true?

It makes me think of a Gardener who spends his life planting flowers so that everybody can enjoy their blooms. For the advanced Gardner it’s about planting trees that will never reach their full magnificence in a human life time. So we wonder who is he planting them for? Only for the simple satisfaction that he has imagined something beautiful.

That we can’t possibly  support another person while moving at an incredibly slow pace, it might even be mistaken for being stationary. It’s bit of a double edged sword, personal work. We want to support and love others to heal themselves, while being continuously called to heal our own wounds in the act of serving. It’s and incredible balancing act actually.

It has taken me a long time to fully understand what it is to prioritise myself. In fact it’s kind of startling to me when I ever do some deep soul examination of how little I give myself and why. It also troubles me what spiritual observations that many of us take on the path to wellness. Chastity, obedience and poverty being three main ones. It makes you wonder what is left for joy, happiness and growth.

In today’s world where even in our own personal journey consistency is considered to be key. It can be challenging to think of new more relaxed ways to embrace personal growth, that don’t revolve round people pleasing, gym membership or a punishing daily regime that is guaranteed to push all the money juice out of you.

Then we return again to the Gardner where the seasons and the weather dictate their routine. They plan on rainy days. Plant and harvest on sunny days. Wait out the frost. Every day and changing season brings with it a new challenge of how and when they will get the job done and yet they always do.

The Importance of Sleep

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They say that “Life is a choice”. That we are our choices, and that all we have to do is choose something else to make major life change.  I have to say I’ve figured this out much later in life than I would like to admit to, it is the small things that build stability and actually they are the massive things. In the days where we’re sold quick fixes via ten step programmes that will transform our lives in 5 days. Changing one thing can seem minimalist.

This morning I rose late, it was an active choice one of the benefits of working for yourself. In fact Monday is my lazy work day. I brush my teeth, I wash my face, stay in my pyjamas, I switch on my laptop and work from the couch. It’s part of my personal self-care routine. I work less and that’s what I want, 4 full days a week max and I like it that way. It means I have time for me. Lazy Monday gives me a work day without masks where there is no pretending or being polite. It is in essence and day of hermitage. Where my own emotional landscape is my priority.

A massive part of my self-nurturance journey is sleep, it’s always been sleep, if you remove it my world  falls apart rapidly. I become cranky, irritable and unreasonable. A toddler heading for tantrum territory. Sleeping and snoozing sometimes in the middle of the afternoon is one of my own keys to emotional filing. If I am disturbed or perturbed it’s my first go to solution. Napping can almost instantly transform your outlook. Its been a learnt process. I often feel that it is one of my greatest indulgences, especially in a society that suffers from chronic sleep deprivation.  Sleep deprivation is one of the greatest healing crisis facing the western world. Beyond this many of us have lost our ability to dream and find the imagery that helps us process our waking worlds. If I sleep without dreaming my emotional filing systems is failing I feel bereft, disconnected. I can’t process my days. I can’t find the symbolism that helps me interpret my life.

We have also undermined the importance of rest. Meditation and yoga are prescribed as cure alls, as they may well be. As we hope to live energised and tireless lives these are the  snappy tools for productivity. However if we are still and take time to rest we create the opportunity to delve into life and appreciate it for what it really is an endless chain of fleeting moments strung together for our entertainment.

As I travel through my own journey and envision a smooth tarmacadam surface that takes me through the dream like landscape of my own life. I often wonder about those people who have the perfect routine, that eat clean, are happy with their organic fair trade  chardonnay and bio degradable yoga mat. Of course that’s what I aspire to too and if I was ready to sink deep to the early morning fog of clarity that waking yoga brings I’d be there in a moment.

Self-Nurturance

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If you go to my home page of this website you will find that I emphasis the importance of basic self-care. The importance of breathing, sleeping, hydration, eating and safety. I mean the absolute basics. One thing that has truly revolutionised my life was drinking water I spent years feeling exhausted and it was only once I truly committed to drinking 500ml of water first thing in the morning that I really noticed a peak in my energy levels. When before I might have rolled right over and forgotten that there was a schedule to keep. Instead I went to bed with a full water bottle next to me and when I woke up it was the first thing I reached for. I slowly began to realise that if I drank the water and continued to stay in bed by the time I really needed to get up I was refreshed, energised with a clear head. It was like finding the secret on switch to my body.  I was far less lethargic and getting up in the morning turned to a joy rather than a slog.

Almost all of us are capable of self-care unless we already suffer from chronic or acute illness. Self-care is simply the process of keeping ourselves alive, which can be a lot more challenging than you might think, dependent on our physical environment, access to basic resources,  family circumstances, access to education or healthcare.

The current westernised system attempts to propagate the idea of exponential growth, where monetary profits are more important than the human condition or even that of our fellow earthlings.  Where the colour of money comes shining through, depriving many of us humans the ability to breath clean air, drink clean water or eat fresh and nutritious food. Much of the above is far out of a person’s reach. Safe housing is for many quite simply a luxury. Instead the majority of humans are eating poison, masked as food, that will take many of us to an early grave and where life expectancy in modern countries looks like it might start to drop rather than increase. Now when we look to these circumstances, especially when you live in a city like Cape Town, we have to dig deeper for an understanding of where we are heading as a human race. Survival is self-care at it’s most basic level. If we want to push through that and step out on the path for of personal growth it’s time to take a step towards self-nurturance.

Self-nurturance lies somewhere between self-care and self-love and for me is based in the idea, that we alone, hold the key to our prosperity. It’s about gently raising our vibrations so that we no longer experience the world as a hostile place and see the potential of love. Some of us have never felt this strange fluffy thing that is largely represented by a bouquet a thorny flowers.

 

 

Re-evaluation

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One of the most brilliant things about life is that you can always change your mind. Too often we are lead to believe that life has a rigid format that must be adhered to at all times in order for us to be validated, rewarded, or even better acknowledged. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

If we look at the planet that we live on for clues; we find that nature is rarely predictable, the seasons come early or late, the rain arrives when it wants to. And if you grew up in Scotland (as I did) it’s possible to believe that the sun refuses to shine. Even as babies us humans rarely arrive on schedule and are largely forgiven for not birthing in a timely manner, much to our own mother’s sufferance.

The thing is the sun is always shining up there beyond the clouds and the earth is always gliding through it’s orbit without us much noticing. Right now all of us are moving at an incredible 110 000 km per hour and will travel a colossal 940 million kilometers in one year, even if we never leave our beds.

Sometimes the things that seem glaringly obvious can elude us. Other times the obvious answer isn’t the right one. No matter where you are or how far along you are in the journey or even the lengths that you have taken to achieve something in particular, you are always entitled to down tools, and take some time for contemplative practice.

Re-evaluation is a valuable part of any human process. What’s right for one person is not right for everybody. What’s the driving force for one generation is the rejected by the next. What one season brings the next one takes away. Being alive is the perfect balancing act, where few things stay the same, if any. Embrace the process.

 

 

Back With A Bang

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Social Media and tech in general would have us believe that we can have perfectly curated lives. Only showing what we want the world to see. Only allowing us to share what we want. Then sometimes not sharing is as telling as sharing everything.

However to have things curated in our lives to the point that our human lives become a seamless production takes a volume of extraordinary planning. Guess what though? Life happens. And as my mother often says “It never rains but it pours”. Here deep down at the tip of Africa that is the blessing that we are waiting for. I’ve been standing looking at the skies waiting for the rain to come not thinking about what to do with the rain when it gets here. So please excuse me while a run off and get some buckets.

 

Tissues and Issues

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So my blog post for this week is late, as I came down with a cold. I’ve self-diagnosed it could have been an extreme reaction to end of the year cleaning. Note to self: hoover under the bed more often.

So like most people I try to be as organised as possible in order to get everything done in a timely order. The news is that I am not super human. Further to this that although it may be great to use social media to predetermine pre-scheduled output it might not be very connected to the reality of our lives. That you may think that the author of a blog has got everything under control and is cruising through a life of eternal bliss. When they are in fact having the most humbling of human experiences: sickness.

Like any disturbance in the force it’s a great opportunity for learning.  For years I used to go to work sick like a badge of honour. I even used to brag that I had never phoned in sick for work; after all wasn’t it something to be proud. Somewhere along those lines and much much later all that gusto was shattered in to a million pieces, and well even now I was never quite the same again. When daily illness became the norm for me. Sickness like cold and flu where like a long awaited reprieve and I used to relish the opportunity to take to my bed totally guilt free. Yes I had to be physically sick to lie in bed guilt free.

Now I know taking care of myself, when I’m sick is the first step in the rung for self-respect. That my self-worth is not predicted by my working productivity. When I’m sick I see it as a call to radical self-care. If we care about ourselves at all, we know that there are certain things that we need to do to get better. We take ourselves to bed. We rest our bodies. We make sure we drink lots of water.  We stock up on the healthy food we need to boost our immune system. We comfort ourselves. We make brave attempts to find treatments, that will alleviate our symptoms and bring some relief. Most of all we’ll do anything to find a cure. If we want to get better at all we are forced to take the necessary steps to nurse ourselves back to health.

Much like life itself often the immediate solutions are not readily available and we simply have to give into the discomfort of being alive and hope that “this too shall pass”. In the meantime the best that we can do is love ourselves in the process.