self care, self-care/self-aware

The struggle is real.

A few days ago on my Instagram account, I spoke about facing yourself. Last week I was really moved by Pepper Brooks’ latest blog post.

In case you don’t click to read, in “It’s easier to be a Workaholic” Pepper wrote a bit about one of the masks that she wears. I was struck by how familiar it was to me.

Currently, I’m in a curious space. During the day I’m looking for work. But at night instead of sleeping, I waste time chasing information. To explain exactly what goes on, I’ll give you a slightly edited version of what I shared with her.

Photo by Hernan Sanchez

I’ve struggled with self-care for years. Specifically, with the foundation of it all: Sleep.

I know that if I slept better, I would have the energy that I needed in order to take care of myself properly. But lately, whenever I try to go to bed on time, I don’t.

Over time, I’ve followed a pattern of staying up for hours, satisfying my FOMO by shoving information into my brain. (I live in a small town. By itself that’s not problematic, but I have transportation-related issues. To add to this, I’m an introvert and I love being alone…Yet I’m also pretty lonely.)

I satisfy my need for contact and information by checking up on everyone and everything on social media instead of relaxing and shutting my eyes at night. When I have my laptop in the room, I’m looking up something or other.

But for what?

I’m attempting to satisfy some sort of ache. I know it.

And I also know the truth. I know that “I am enough” isn’t merely a cliche. But a part of me keeps resisting it.

I tend to feel and do better when I give myself a chance. Mediation helps. But really, I need to give myself room. I have to tell myself to ignore distractions.

Needless to say, I’m tired. (In more ways than one.) I’m sharing my thoughts because I know myself. I really need to breathe.

Some people don’t get enough rest because of their obligations. They have to stay up into the wee hours because of a job, or their children. But what’s my excuse?

The quest for a “good night’s sleep” is more than a cliche. So many of our body’s systems get the chance to repair and restore themselves when we go to bed.  When we don’t sleep properly– or specifically, when we run from the chance to do so–I believe we need to think. Take a look at our culture. It’s trendy for people to call themselves information addicts or night owls. But what’s really going on?

For years now, most nights, I’m up way past my bedtime. I have to order myself to put my electronics away. As much as I try not to, I can’t help but feel haunted: Whatever I want is out there. Meanwhile, there’s reality.

Whatever I think is going to satisfy me won’t get come to me any faster by staying up late chasing air.

Given the reasons that we need sleep, I’ve come to a grim conclusion: I think that a part of me has been convinced that I don’t deserve to be whole.

These days I’m trying to work out the details of exactly what I deserve. Some of them are hazy. But I know that I’m worth more.

Sweet dreams.

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self care

Your mind matters.

yourmindmatterswilliamstitt

This is Mental Illness Awareness Week (#MIAW2016). I can’t speak about how this week gained its notoriety. However, what I wanted to do is speak a bit about therapy. I’ve attended sessions before. Chances are, I may go again. There’s an awful stigma surrounding it that has to change. I’ve heard people make ignorant comments about it. I also know that others have loved ones who are downright abusive when they dare discuss their weaknesses. Either way, this subject resonates with me.

I want people to think: When you mock people who choose to go to therapy, you’re not demonstrating how resilient you are. You’re showing me that you don’t understand how human beings function. You’re demonstrating your insensitivity.

Just for the record: NO, a person doesn’t have to have a serious illness like schizophrenia to see a therapist. No, her decision to seek help doesn’t mean that she’s an idiot. Nothing is wrong with someone trying to find solutions to their problems by talking to somebody. People have the right to get help when they need it.

In sessions with a good therapist, there’s a sense of freedom. You should feel safe. Ideally you’ll be sharing your thoughts with someone who’s unbiased and willing to listen to your problems. In return, this person will offer you guidance. They won’t try to dictate solutions to your challenges, but help you recognize them. (I know that opinions on therapeutic outcomes vary, but these are mine.)

Let’s talk some more about reactions to mental health intervention. What would you say if a friend tells you she wants to go to counselling? If she decides to share her reasons, I hope you listen. Be open minded. A person who recognizes that they need this kind of help isn’t a fool. They’re vulnerable and brave.

On the other hand, what if someone close to you suggests that you’re the one who needs counselling? I know that you might be surprised at first. You might even be angry. But if this person truly cares about you, I hope that you won’t dismiss them or be judgemental. People who know us well can have an uncanny habit of noticing things that we may overlook. Perhaps your friends have seen changes in you. Maybe you haven’t been yourself in a while.

In the end, your mind matters.

It’s a part of you. It affects the way that you function every second of every day of your life. If you doubt what I’m saying, consider this well-worn analogy: Why is it so easy to seek medical attention if we break a bone? Meanwhile, if we feel a sadness or anger that doesn’t leave, some of us are told to do nothing, or think we’re supposed to just magically push it away.

Lastly, I think we should also pay attention to what I call behaviour blocks. (I don’t know what the proper term is.) I’ve seen situations where Person A’s attitude may affects the way he interacts with Person B. Person B may think Person A is being unreasonable. Maybe he is or isn’t. But please. Don’t be so committed to being right that you won’t listen to another person when they try to point out how they feel around you. Be open to intervention—especially if it will change your relationship for the better.

We are more than mere flesh and bone. Our thoughts really, truly have the power to hurt or heal ourselves–and others.    

Photo by William Stitt on Unsplash.

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self care

Self-care? Self aware.

Well, guys, I’ve finally made a decision. I’m gonna start talking with you a bit about my struggles with self-care. Over the years I’ve come to realize that it’s something I truly need.

A recent edition of Chivon John’s #sidehustlechat focused on this subject. She asked us an important question: “Self-care has a different meaning for everyone. What is your definition of self-care?” I offered up a short, vague idea of what it meant to me. I even had the cojones to talk about taking “true” care of myself. And in return she asked


trueselfcareq

After that, Chivon and another chat participant (Hey, HecticDad!) encouraged me to share my thoughts. I’ve wanted to do so before, but hesitated. Now, I don’t know what’s come over me lately, but here we are.

“Self-care” is a pretty well-worn buzzword. I can’t tell you what to do about your journey. But what I can do is share why I’m investing in mine.

First there’s the matter of self-preservation. The fact is, women in my family age well. I’m at the halfway point in my life, and I feel as though I’m in bloom. Also, I’m in the process of rebooting my existence. I need energy and strength so that I can live through what’s ahead.

Speaking of “what’s ahead”, I’d also like to help build a better world. I’ve been talking about going back to work in education. If ever there was a career that demanded all of you as a human being, it’s teaching. I took horrible care of myself during my first go ‘round. I can’t afford to do that again. It’s bad for me—and my students.

Lastly, directly tied into improving the world, there’s the idea of service. Whether you’re teaching, cooking, singing, parenting—you name it—you can’t serve others effectively if you’re in pieces.

Overall, I’m learning that the greatest key to success lies in honouring my God-given self—body, mind, and soul.

I’m no guru. I’m just a regular woman. And I’ll admit it. I have fewer obligations than most: I’m single and I have no children. However I know that people with a variety of responsibilities can benefit from investing in themselves. I’ve heard them preach it, and I believe it! The more I work at self-care, the more I look forward to seeing what happens.

What are you doing to take care of yourself?

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self care

Open?

Open?

How open are you to life’s possibilities? I mean really, truly open.

As I write this, I realize I haven’t been. I thought I was earlier this year. A few months ago, I finally convinced myself that it would be in my best interest to accept my circumstances. (Currently, things aren’t quite as they should be…Or is it, as I think they ought to be?) Meanwhile, I realize that deep down I haven’t been willing to let go.

These days I’m trying to cultivate my ability to both accept what is and remain hopeful about the future. And even then, beyond my desires, I know that there is more. There is that which I can’t see–what God has in store for me.

For instance, to this day I think that my ultimate work/life destination is Toronto. Then I saw this in Lilly Singh’s Instagram.

Being a well-rounded individual is admirable. It means you have many skills, adapt well to situations & your shape resembles a pizza. What’s not to love? But it’s naive to think that you are a well-rounded person if you’ve only ever experienced the world from your house, with your family and in your city. What you know is very little compared to all that is actually out there in different places, occupied by different people, who are submersed in a completely different culture. I believe that wisdom is a passport full of stamps. Every single time I’ve traveled, I’ve been both astonished and embarrassed by my own ignorance, but I’ve also realized it’s not completely my fault! I’ve been taught certain things throughout my life that I’ve labeled as “normal” and so have you. Traveling is the best way to discover that “normal” is subjective and everything you think is the standard, is actually just an opinion. For example, did you know it’s illegal to sell gum in Singapore? Did you know in the Rastafarian religion, make up on girls is considered unattractive? Yeah. Imagine never having to wing your liner because THAT is the hot thing to do. Sign me up. Twice. The world is a classroom and you should make every effort to attend as many classes as possible. I highly encourage you to save up a little every month and put that money towards travelling to new places and learning new things. Let the globe burst your bubble, disrupt your sense of reality & put your learned thought-process to the test. Personally, travelling has helped me be less judgemental, open to new ideas & a really great story teller because who doesn’t want to hear about how awesome the Pad Thai is in Thailand?! No one. The answer is no one. If people don’t want to hear about food, they’re bad friends…and probably robots. Having said that, I’ve decided to travel as much as possible before the manuscript for my book is due. I’ll be writing the rest of my book in Italy, Toronto, Brazil, Kenya and Singapore (while chewing NO gum). You can pre-order my debut book “How To Be a Bawse” right now at LillySinghBook.com or by clicking the link in my bio. Tag 3 friends you want to travel with! #BawseBook

A post shared by Lilly Singh (@iisuperwomanii) on

Her words reminded me of how narrow our vision can become. That’s when I thought

Why Toronto? Why not the world?

A long-lost cousin of mine recently asked me,”Do you travel?”

Those words sparked my imagination. The truth is that I haven’t travelled. Or at least, not as much as I think I should have.

But this is not a post about my adventures. It’s about tasting and seeing what life has to offer.

Possibilities are everywhere, and they’re endless.

Understanding this can be tricky. While I enjoy being specific in my desires, I realize that sometimes in doing so, I risk limiting myself. I need to be ready to embrace what comes, regardless of where it’s from, or where it leads.

What about you?

 

Photo by Finn Hackshaw

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