Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Self-Care: We All Have Our Own Definition

Not too much is going on. My emotional health has been much better. It always seems to improve when I'm on top of my self-care. Self-care is such a buzzword these days. I think I've seen three or four Tiny Buddha posts directly focused on self-care or self-love in the past couple of weeks. The term can mean tons of different things to different people. I think it's a good idea to write down your definition of self-care and what it looks like in your life.

Self-care for me means:
  • Mindfulness. When I am loving myself, I pay attention to my thoughts, desires, emotions, and physical sensations as they arise, and I try not to judge anything. This is the same thing I'd do with a friend I dearly love. Pay attention. It does not look like me shuffling through my day worrying about the past or future, ignoring my body's sensations.
  • Good food. My body craves nourishment from foods high in vitamins and nutrients. Sometimes, I just want my hunger to go away, so I cram horribly unhealthy foods into my body, thinking it will satisfy me. This usually leads to feelings of regret, unworthiness, and overall blah. Self-care looks like a ton of greens, sweet potatoes, chicken, and other foods that I enjoy that also give me healthy benefits.
  • Creativity. I'm caring for myself when I schedule a few minutes each week to be creative, even if I feel like I'm being irresponsible by not spending that time doing housework or something else in my "busyness" trap. I spend a few minutes stitching some seams, counting cross-stitches, or just writing out a few words that come from my gut.
  • Slowing down. It's so easy to forget about the amazing strides I've taken with fitness. Sometimes all I can think about are the fitspo models, who are often photoshopped and who have very different genes than I do. So I want to ramp up my workouts, dial up the intensity, and go all out in order to become the fittest woman on the planet. This usually leads to burnout or injury, which just starts me down a long road away from self-care. My body needs more time in slow, meditative motion. 

My ideas of self-care are constantly evolving. Some days, self-care looks very stereotypical - I take a long bath, paint my toenails, and curl up with a good book and a kitty on my lap. Most days, however, no one can really see the effort that goes into slowly building up a sense of worth. Most of us have to put in a lot of work to feel valid enough to walk this earth with everyone else.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Catching Up Part Two... And Being Here

It's still so difficult to just be here. I'm daydreaming about the cruise in November. I'm thinking about memories from college and before and after and everywhere. I'm wondering where Jeff is on his drive to work. I'm anywhere but here. Here is a little tough. Anyways, more catching up:

The sewing area in my home is tucked into a corner of the guest room, so I didn't try too hard to make time with my machine while my folks were in town. I'm almost finished with the huge quilt top I've been working on for a special gift - just three long seams to go on the main piece, and then I'll figure out what type of border I want, find the perfect backing, and hire someone to put it all together and do the quilting. I did get to work on a delightful cross-stitch and have almost finished. It's from the new color pack that DMC thread is selling. The new colors are amazingly vibrant, and I'm hoping to hang this tropical piece on the wall in my sewing area and then build an awesome tropics theme as my area grows.

I mentioned in my last post that Jeff and I were able to spend some time in Baltimore, and we've also been doing some other fun things. We stayed in a cabin at Occoneechee State Park with my sister and her husband in April, and all of us went to a great wine festival in Clarksville. I went to another wine festival at Saude Creek with a friend and her husband, and really enjoyed their setup. There has been lots of great wine and beer tasting this spring and summer.
Jeff and I drove to Myrtle Beach over the Fourth of July to spend the day with my aunt and uncle at an ocean club they belong to. There was a giant pool, cookout food, fun on the beach, and yummy drinks. I stuck to Captain and pineapple, which is my favorite summertime sunshine drink. Jeff got a horrible sunburn! I've never seen him burn before, so this was a huge deal. My poor guy. My skin somehow escaped the horror this year. I'm working on my lawn mower tan, which just consists of wearing something strapless when I cut grass. I really enjoyed laying out last weekend and have been contemplating heading to our little river beach this weekend for a few hours, but who knows how I'll feel in a few days. All I can really know is right now, right here. And while right here is a person who would love to head out to lay on the sand, right here is the beginning of my work day. All week I dream up the fun and exciting things I plan to do on the weekend, and then most weekends I either feel compelled to get everything possible done around the house or I feel like doing nothing but rest.

So here. I still have that feeling of not enough lurking in my brain too often. I have gotten up early for exercise and meditation all three mornings this week. I even did mini second workouts the last two afternoons. I got all caught up on the laundry and cleaning, and the grass is looking great. I got seven and a half hours of sleep last night. It's not enough, though. I still feel deficient almost all the time. It's not hopeless; I do a great job at recognizing when I'm caught in that mindset and then trying to honestly look at the truths that help me see that I have the same inherent worth that I see in everyone else. It's just annoying and frustrating that despite working as hard as I can, reading so many books about acceptance, making better choices for myself and the world - this little, persistent voice telling me that I need to be doing more remains so strong in my awareness.

It feels great to put that all into words. For the past month, I've been lost and listening only to that voice, ignoring the voices of compassion and love that shine through as soon as I stop striving so hard and appreciate exactly where I stand. I forgot that these feet touch this earth so many times a day, and that each step is a moment where I can touch the presence that permeates everyone and everything in this universe.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Catching Up While Being Here

It's been an incredibly busy start to the summer. I'm feeling a little uprooted. My blog is a great place to try to lay a few outlines and set a few goals. Trying to do all the thinking and planning in my head has not been helpful, as usual.

Mom's Surgery:
My mom had brain surgery last month. Brain surgery! She has had a very rare meningioma for several years, which is a noncancerous tumor. Doctors at the University of Virginia hospital attempted to remove it in 2008 with a full craniotomy, but her heart stopped under the anesthesia for several minutes, and the surgery was cancelled. It was one of the scariest experiences of my lifetime so far. Everyone agreed that there was no need to try again if the tumor stayed put. Unfortunately, it began to grow again about a year ago, threatening to damage her optic nerve or other sensitive areas of the brain. A new technology to remove these small tumors has been developed since her last scare, and she was able to have it removed with a much less invasive procedure involving a slit in the eyelid, a bunch of scary stuff I don't like to think about involving scraping and sucking and drilling a hole into her skull, and voila! No tumor!

Mom and my stepdad Ronnie were in town for about a month surrounding the surgery. We all spent some time sightseeing in Baltimore for a few days before her procedure at Johns Hopkins, which was really meaningful. I enjoyed spending some quality time with my parents. Every other time they've visited since their move to South Dakota, they've been almost constantly busy with rental maintenance and visiting other folks. Jeffrey and I were able to have a few romantic moments during that week too. We saw Atmosphere in Philadelphia, traveled a few new back roads together, dorked out at the Aquarium and Science Center, and found some new favorite beers at Heavy Seas Brewery. He was incredibly supportive through all my moodiness before, during, and following the surgery and stress.

I'm so happy the surgery went so well, and that I was able to have so much time with my folks around. However, having company jacks my schedule up in a major way. Having guests in the guest room means that workouts and kale smoothies in the morning seem too loud, and that despite them telling me not to worry about waking them, I just don't feel good about not letting them sleep through my 5am get-ready-for-work bullshit. I really fell out of my daily workout habit, and didn't put a lot of thought or mindfulness into my nutrition during the entire month of June. Throw in some added stress, a week alone at work while the boss went to a wedding, and less sleep than normal. This is a huge part of my feeling uprooted. For the record though, as soon as Ma and Ronnie drove away, I was sobbing and whining about how I wish I could see them everyday.

Fitness Certification:
I passed! I am officially an ACE-certified Group Fitness Instructor! I was so nervous on test day, but I managed to pass with a slightly above average score. I'd been daydreaming about hooking up with the yoga instructor in Deltaville to discuss possibly lending her space to me for a boot camp, but I'm still feeling way too inexperienced and insecure. Plus, I put all my daydreams on hold while Ma was in town and healing. I really feel it would be smartest to actually attend a few different classes with varying instructors and styles, and continue to practice on my own to find my "instructor personality," which sounds lame but totally won't be when I find mine.

More to come in a few days.