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What Does Self-Care Mean to You?

Posted on May 8th, 2014 | Filed Under Life Balance, Self Care

Today, I wish to share with you an article on self-care from my friend Renee Trudeau. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

What Does Self-Care Mean to You? by Renee Trudeau

This past week I connected with several medical professionals and we discussed the concept of self-care. Like many in healthcare, they see self-care as something you “should do” for your physical health (exercise, eat well, get enough sleep), but that’s where it ends. They were curious when I shared that I define self-care as the art of attuning and responding to your needs and desires, moment to moment. You could see the wheels turning as they sat with my definition.

SELF CARE RT

Pick up an onion and hold it in your palm. For me, self-care would be the outer layer, then a few layers deeper, you’ll find self-acceptance (as you learn to accept yourself warts and all), then self-compassion, and then a few layers beyond that you arrive at the holy grail: self-love. I see self-care as the first doorway we go through to begin to truly accept who we are, and ultimately, to begin to love ourselves.

What does self-care mean to you? Some of my workshop attendees have said: self-care means practicing self-forgiveness; releasing guilt and believing I deserve to have my needs met; learning to cultivate self-compassion; breathing and listening to my body; remembering to laugh and find joy in everyday life; connecting with and expressing my authentic self; being fully “me” (not who others want me to be) and sometimes it’s moving mountains to get bed by 9:30 p.m.!

The art and practice of self-care has been central to my work-life balance programs since 1999 and it has had a profound and lasting change on how I live. I wish my son (who is in his first year of middle school) could take Self-Care 101 where he would learn the art and science of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual self-care–along with Pre-Algebra and Creative Writing! Can you imagine a world where everyone–both adolescents and adults–interacted from a full-cup rather than an empty one?

There are many, many benefits to making self-renewal a priority (read more). For me, practicing self-care (and ultimately learning to embrace self-acceptance and self-love) has helped me to:

•be more easy-going and to learn to “go with the flow”
•see that little things stay little (my son not picking up his dirty socks) and don’t become front page news
•have more space around my thoughts and become more present (more responsive, less reactive)
•be kinder and more compassionate (whether it’s with a waitress, family member or business partner)
•connect more deeply to the sacred and the spiritual aspects of every day life
•react less and Live Inside Out more (read more)
•sense my connection to everything around me and how interwoven we all are

But most importantly, this practice has helped me know that even when everything and everyone around me seems to be falling apart, I can still feel ok on the inside. And ultimately, this underlying, unwavering sense of peace and well-being is what we’re all seeking, isn’t it?

SUPPORT FROM RENEE: Interested in having me lead a work-life effectiveness workshop for your organization or group this year and tapping the power of self-care as a tool for employee engagement, retention, resiliency and stress management? Learn more. http://reneetrudeau.com/what-we-do/speaking

Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by work-life balance speaker/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 11 year-old son. More on her background here. http://reneetrudeau.com/about-us/about-renee-trudeau

Shedding Old Skin

Posted on June 23rd, 2011 | Filed Under Letting Go, Life Balance, Personal Growth

Over the last couple of months, I have been in the process of letting go of projects and responsibilities that tend to drain me, rather than feed me.  I have noticed that I have to do this at least once a year – like a snake or iguana who must shed old skin in order allow new, more vibrant skin to come to the surface.   For the reptile, this process is natural – but for us, the process usually requires intention and focus.

As I approached the summer, knowing that my daughter would not be in school and that my many projects would no longer receive the energy they needed, I began to look at what I could give up.  I created lists of all my endeavors and posted them on my office wall so I could visit them easily.  I am very visual, so this allowed me to change their place on the wall as I determined their importance to me.  I measured each project by value to my personal growth, financial health, pleasure and sustainability (due to my time limited work time for the summer).

During this process, I began to experience a feeling of resistance to letting some of these things so.    So I spent some time in self-inquiry and meditation about that.  Why did I need to hold on this project?  Why did I need to maintain control of that endeavor?  Why did it feel like a unwelcome loss?  What came up was I was that I had been allowing my identity to be attached to these endeavors.

It happens at an unconscious level.  Initially, each project that I accept allows me to use my skills in some way, and that feels good.  Then as I move through the project, I gain a sense of contribution, and that feels like community and connection.  Creating something of value feels empowering.  All feeling we hope for when we work our trade, yes?

So why do I find myself in this position once again each year?  Once again over extended and too many pots on the fire.  Scrambling for time to give each the energy it deserves.   What is at the bottom of this habit?  I have been practicing saying NO, so perhaps something deeper?  Am I padding myself with multiple skins to feel strong?  To feel protected?

Then I think how a tree sprouts hundreds of leaves each spring, and by summer it is lush and full.   And then its energy is spent and it is time to let go.  It allows all its leaves to fall into autumn.  And the tree does this naturally, year after year without fail.   Perhaps our shedding skin is just like the natural cycle of the seasons.  And with each season, there is new opportunity for shedding old skin, letting go of dried up leaves and perhaps even allowing dormancy to ponder what the heart desires to come into fruition.

In the meantime, I hold the awareness and know that as I the shed old skin(s), I make room for new energy to feed the projects that will
give me expansion, abundance and pleasure.

Replenishing Our Feminine Energies

Posted on March 17th, 2011 | Filed Under Featured, Life Balance, Personal Growth, Self Care

“Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.”

Barbara De Angelis

As women, we wear many hats.  Play many roles.  Woman ~ Wife ~ Mother ~ Daughter ~ Sister ~ Aunt ~ Friend.  And in each of  those roles, we give of ourselves.  We give love, support, compassion, empathy, passion, encouragement, sympathy… it is in our nature to give.  There is an exquisite and innate beauty in this giving of self, but within also lies great risk.  The risk comes when we do not know our boundaries, honor limits, or neglect to refill our vessels that can flow so generously.

The quote above from Barbara De Angelis captures perfectly what I have known for myself to be true.  I deeply need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to replenish.  As elemental as food and water for my wellbeing, I must have this time for self in order to maintain my ability to be in this world.  I have learned to honor this in myself.

There was a time, however that I compared myself to others who seemed to have this limitless energy – this ability to go on and on in thier giving, their living, thier doing.  And I thought myself inferior – unable to compete.  While I  beleive the quote states the truth for all women, there is an ebb and flow to it – as our energies move in and out like the waves of the ocean.  During one stage or moon of our life, we may feel our tides are full and immense.  While during another moon, we may feel our energies retreating, even shallow.  So, I have let go of comparing….and honor that each of us have the ability, and the responsibility, to check in with ourselves and discern when it is time to go inward.

This time of going inward, the Yin time – gives our mind, body and spirit the opportunity to connect, tune in and be.  This is where we connect with our inner wisdom, our intuition.  It is where our dreams blossom.  Where our authentic self resides.   This is where our power originates.  In this quiet, reflective place we remember who we are.

This shift towards self can be uncomfortable for some, intimidating for others; and to some even frightening to be left alone with thier thoughts spinning.  And to some, it will bring thoughts of selfishness to mind.  Afterall, as women we are taught to put ourselves last.

“Self care is not self-indulgence – it is self-preservations”  Renee Trudeau

Self care is essential.  It is the core nourishent of our mind, body and spirit that must some first in order to allow and empower all we wish  accomplish.  Self care is the foundation of how I begin the coaching process with my clients.  It is the sturdy rock from which they can joyfully and confidently dive into the ocean of thier dreams.