I’m back from Maui and spent yesterday planning for 2010 with my team. While that’s all fabulous and exciting, I also want to reflect on my vacation and the state of mind I had that enabled ideas to flow freely, love to grow, and compassion to deepen.
In looking more carefully at this, I realized I had a certain routine while on vacation that enabled me to access deeper parts of myself: a routine in which I took care of myself. Ahh…. I’m back to the concept of self-care and an expansion of the Self-Care Bootcamp I began at the end of 2009. So, what did I do in Maui?
1. Daily exercise. Okay, here’s the truth. I didn’t do one hour of killer cardio on the Stairmaster, run six miles every day, or lift weights four times per week. I did 30 minutes on a stationary bike while reading a novel or listening to empowering, motivating audio discs. Hardly hard core. Sometimes, after 15 minutes I transferred to the elliptical machine. I never stayed more than 40 minutes in the gym. Ever.
During my official Six-Week Self-Care Boot Camp, I took the advice of a long-time friend who’s a personal trainer: “Less is more.” I cut back on power yoga. I cut back on lifting weights. I started walking with a friend and stopped running stairs.
As a recovering exercise bulemic who didn’t used to consider the 60-minute spin classes I taught five times a week as my exercise for the day, I have come far. Some days I skipped the gym entirely; other days, I went for a long walk with my dad. And one day I decided to explore a new part of the beach path and went for a run/walk. I tried to surf, pushed past my fear of choppy waves, and snorkeled with my kids.
2. Daily quiet time to reflect. Part of the Dating with Dignity process of manifesting love includes developing a connection to the still, quiet voice inside. I call it “spirit;” others call it a higher power, the universe or God. As part of my daily routine while on vacation, I took time to listen to reflective audio tapes, read important passages that connected me to spirit, or just meditated for five minutes or so while lying on the beach, in a hammock, or near the pool. It doesn’t mean I sat cross-legged uttering ommmms for 40 minutes.
While I don’t get to meditate in those environments at home, this reminded me that when I take time to reflect, I connect. This practice grounds me. It reminds me to let go of anger, practice forgiveness daily, be compassionate, and focus on the abundance I have in my life.
3. Charged my batteries. Typically during this particular trip to Maui each year, I’m an avid reader. As a person who belonged to book clubs for more than 10 years via an organization called Literary Affairs, I used to read fiction monthly. I read books that touched on a variety of themes, including historical fiction, cultural conflict, and memoirs. I enjoyed reading authors who were winners of the Pulitzer Prize. I knew what books had won the Booker Award. I was a reader.
In the last two years I gave up my love of reading fiction, focusing more on books related to my area of expertise; I read nonfiction exclusively. Yikes! I realized as I sunk my teeth into a juicy novel written by one of my favorite award-winning authors, the sand squishing between my toes. It felt soooo good. It was like eating chocolate. I read voraciously. I went to the book store and remembered how I always loved the classics, picking up Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I woke up my damn brain to something more than business planning, love, dating advice, and writing technique. This was a brand new level of self-care.
What’s more, I had picked up some knitting I started ages ago and decided to bring it with me. I hadn’t knit in years. It too felt so good. I remembered that knitting is meditative for me; my brain empties with each stitch. It’s rhythmic. And, as my mom was a talented knitter, this time the act connected me to my mom.
Last, I spent time connecting with people via shared experiences. I laughed with old friends as we gathered on lounge chairs or patios, dined on barbecued pork loins and chopped vegetables alongside a girlfriend, and dished about boyfriends past and the nuances of raising teenage daughters with other moms.
I luxuriated in down time, simply meandering…wondering. I walked with my kids, letting them stay up late. I stopped watching TV. There were days with no plans or expectations. Whoohoo! Why, I wondered, don’t I allow myself this kind of time at home?
I realized it’s time to take my notion of self-care to an entirely new level. It’s my theme for 2010: Self-Care Gone Wild! It doesn’t mean I resolved to lose 10 pounds, get manicures, or treat myself to a massage now and again. Nope. It means finding time to do those things I love. Meeting my needs. Creating down time. Reading. Joining a book club again, in fact, and maybe read another classic.
It means I will sit with my daughters while knitting, taking time to finish the cashmere pink and brown scarf I started while we watch American Idol together. It means I’ll go to the damn beach, which is just four miles away, and sit on the sand–even if it’s the middle of winter.
I will walk with a friend and listen to audio CDs while I sit on the stationary bike that’s been gathering dust in my garage. I won’t attempt to life weights, go to yoga, and do the stairs…all in the same day. I will take time to read with my kids in a coffee shop, on the patio, or in the bookstore. I’ll take time to connect to spirit and make choices from this grounded, deeper place. I will cease freneticism 24/7.
I will love more deeply. I will take care of myself, my needs and my spirit.
I’m happy to be back blogging and would love to hear how YOU are going to take care of yourself today!