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Radical Self Care – Celebrating Our Struggles – Part 2 of 6

A Daily Self Care Practice Is an Act of Love

Designing a “self-care” practice that supports wholeness is an act of love. True, radical self-care IS an act of love, and like any other form of love, it takes time, effort and consistency to produce or sustain healing, connectedness, or both. This may raise questions like:

  • What does self-care mean to you? What does it look like?
  • What does it mean to become whole?
  • What are some ways that we can develop self-care in our lives?

I’ll start to address the questions through the context of a personal story.

Discovering RADICAL SELF-CARE

After my first year of training to become a spiritual director, I received my first evaluation. Sister Carol Ann, one of the founders of the Wellstreams Ecumenical program that was about to celebrate its 25th year, wrote my evaluation. As I looked at my paper, my eyes were drawn to the middle of the first page, in all caps, I read: “RADICAL SELF-CARE!!!”

I found that to be a curious statement, one I knew I could not avoid. It was simple and direct, yet I didn’t know how or where to start its implementation. I didn’t lack the understanding of what it was; I lacked knowledge as to how to implement self-care practices into my life. I was overbooked, overcommitted, and working non-stop to turn that around; hence, her point! For the next two years, I would wrestle with this concept, and I would like to share a few things that I’ve learned.

Radical self-care requires us to reflect on what we need to become whole and balanced and then developing a daily practice that is sustainable. This sounded like such a luxury—it almost made me angry, but at who? I wanted someone to acknowledge the fact that I was too busy and too overwhelmed to add one more thing to my list! I wanted someone to realize that I was doing the best that I could and no matter how hard I tried, it never seemed to be enough! Then I realized that I was the one that needed to be listening to me, and this wasn’t something anyone else needed to hear—it simply wasn’t their responsibility, it was mine!

 

Reflection & Writing Support the Healing Journey

Defining and Enacting Radical Self Care

Self-care is a big deal and it looks different to everyone. My friend and nurse practitioner, Tami White, always says, “the first 50 years of your life is genetics, and the second 50 years is how you took care of yourself.” She was right and so was Sister Carol Ann; I needed to take time to reflect on this. Over the last 2 years, I’ve made a lot of headway and have come to understand that true self-care is an art, it’s constantly evolving, and it’s something that either we embrace it, or we experience the results of not doing so. So where to start and what to do?

 

Carving out Space

My schedule was too full, so I was going to have to empty at least a portion of it to incorporate true self-care. This meant seeing what I could eliminate and not adding things without real consideration. I failed miserably and first, and it seemed the harder I tried, the worse it got! That’s when I realized that I’d lived my life based on fear and scarcity. To support myself as an artist, I operated on the principle that any viable opportunity should be taken advantage of. I also felt obligated not to let others down, resulting in me giving more to strangers and business than to people I loved. I operated on the, “once I get to the next goal then I’ll finally be happy” principle. With each achievement came more goals, but less satisfaction—it never ended, and it wasn’t going to end until I put a stop to operating my life this way.

Knowing What Matters

I was scared—how would I support myself? What opportunities should I take advantage of and which ones should I pass on? This is an excellent example of where my training in Spiritual Direction, Dream Coaching and True Purpose Coaching have had a significant impact. As a result of my training, I found tools like meditation, writing and positive affirmations that helped me to quiet the mind and to connect with deeper wisdom than my conscious mind had to offer. It also helped me separate the wheat from the chaff, so I could prioritize and focus on what I really needed, on what really matters. What has unfolded as a result has paved the path for achieving radical self-care! It took – and continues to take – great discipline to prioritize ME, but once I knew what that looked like, it became possible to accomplish.

Impact of Radical Self-Care

When I take care of myself, I have more time, more energy to spend it, and more clarity and focus as I use it. I have a daily prayer and meditation practice, and I’m committed to not filling up my schedule now that [this phase of] my training has ended. In all honesty, this journey has taken a lifetime. When we allow our dreams to be a journey, not a destination, we don’t set ourselves up for failure, but rather for success—a lifetime of mini successes. And learning to love one’s self requires radical self-care, the most significant gift you will ever give to yourself or others.

Let’s continue or start YOUR healing journey.

If you’re already in the class or on the journey, let this blog serve as a reminder and support of your process. If you’re not, I’d love to help you get started. There may still be time to register for the next class. Here are some options for you:

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