For the past few months I have been on a pretty intensive healing journey, led of course by my greatest teacher, my body.
It's not that I don't take care of myself. I am a Virgo after all and experimenting with different types of herbs and diets and tinctures and bodywork modalities and health regimens is one of my favorite pastimes.
Which means I have a pretty rigorous self care practice and a stable of health care support, including a naturopath, shaman, ayurvedic massage therapist, osteopath, astrologer and tarot reader. I drink my green smoothies every day, I spend 20 minutes every morning soaking and reading in the bath, I regularly visit and hang out in some of the most gorgeous natural areas in the world and I take dally naps… even during my workshops when I'm teaching!
I surround myself with art and beauty and color. And of course, I buy myself SCADS of turquoise jewelry.
But my needs around self care are constantly changing and sometimes it's simply hard to keep up with myself. A self care practice, like any spiritual practice, is so much about being awake and aware. In the present moment. It's always about answering the question , "What is it that I need NOW?"
I also have to admit I'm constantly on the look-out for the one size fits all formula.
I'm hungry for the short-cut. I want a written-in-stone recipe that I never have to think about again. Essentially, I want to go to sleep to my own needs. And to not always have to be paying such focused and attentive care to the continual fluctuations in my body/mind system.
This past year I experienced a perfect storm of stressful things that included my business having expanded quite a bit. Discovering that I had some unwelcome wormy visitors that had taken up residence in my gut (as I said to my husband " I'm eating for THOUSANDS!") that had been sapping my energy for months. And entering my sixth decade of being on the planet. And like all good baby boomers everywhere, being in total denial that getting older was going to have any effect at all on my energy levels.
Which led to my feeling brand new magnitudes of extreme exhaustion, ongoing sleeplessness and overall anxiety that were all pretty clear signs of impending adrenal burnout.
Obviously, the level of care I had in place just wasn't enough to meet these new needs I was encountering and I was being asked by my body for additional attention and support.
I also have a pattern of only giving myself exactly enough of what I need. And no more. I try to figure out the bare minimum of what is going to keep me upright and functioning. Which is like having a dollars worth of gas in your car at any one time. I mean sure, it will get you going but you are in danger of running out of fuel at any moment. With this kind of strategy, there's no padding. No room for any kind of variation or error. And it's certainly not very relaxing always running so close to the edge of empty!
It's actually quite embarrassing for me to list here all the things I am doing to take care of myself because my inner judgy voice thinks I already give myself too much.
It's constantly challenging me, telling me things like "You're so spoiled. These people are going to think you're just whining. When is it ever going to be enough? Why can't you just be satisfied with what you've got? And in fact, maybe it's time to even cut back some."
The problem is that when I listen to THAT voice instead of the voice of my body and deeper being crying out for more nurturance and support, that's how I end up in adrenal-burnout land.
I'm also what I call a "self care procrastinator."
I don't normally think of myself as a person who has a problem with procrastination. I'm usually pretty good at doing those things that are on my to-do list that are related to responsibility and what I'm SUPPOSED to get done.
Things like responding to emails, washing the dishes , keeping the laundry going or paying bills usually get completed in a timely manner.
But just recently I realized that I DO have a problem procrastinating around things that are related to taking care of me.
This came home in a big way around something in my business. Like a lot of entrepreneurs I wear many hats. Which means I not only create sacred space through facilitating my retreats and working with folks around their healing process, ( which is the part I absolutely adore ) but I also attend to the millions of details that go into keeping a business afloat.
But with the expansion of my business, being responsible for keeping so many balls in the air all at the same time was getting me to the point where I was feeling continually overwhelmed. At one time I actually enjoyed those biz housekeeping chores, but they were now coming attached with a big dose of dread.
So I decided that I needed more help. Now again, like my self care practice, it's not that help for my business is non-existent. I have TONS of support already from various sources. I couldn't DO what I do all alone. That is just not possible.
But just like with the self care stuff I had an upper limit around how much help I thought I could ask for in my business.
There are all these voices that come in around both fronts telling me that I shouldn't NEED as much as I need. That there is something wrong with me if I don't do it all myself. That I'm weak and should just buck up. That if I ignore the symptoms of exhaustion or overwhelm they will eventually go away.
Which of course, NEVER happens and never will.
So, I am making a statement here and now that I am seriously ready to change things.
I am writing this post at the tail end of a week-long Ayurvedic treatment extravaganza where I have been getting two hour hot oil, hot rock massage treatments for 6 days and have one more treatment to go.
And I am making a commitment to getting a weekly massage without fail.
I'm planning on taking a more time off from my busy schedule FOR ME... to simply rest and recharge and play.
I have enlisted my studio wife and assistant Stella to take on even more of the daily administrative tasks that come with running a creativity empire.
And my intention is to try and break this pattern of keeping myself on a short leash around self care.
It's scary, but I'm asking myself the question, what does it look like for me to luxuriate in treating myself extraordinarily well? To take the words indulgence and pamper out of the shame closet and bring those concepts joyfully into the light of my day to day life.
To trust my body and feelings more than my head. To simply assume that my needs are essential without questioning those needs every step of the way.
To treat myself as a beloved child of the earth and stars, always deserving of sensitivity and tenderness, kindness and compassion and plenty of WHATEVER it is I need to feel happy and healthy and whole.