This week I joined a group of like minded people to take steps towards focusing on taking better care of myself. We will meet once a month and focus on a chapter a month of Cheryl Richardson’s book “The Art of Extreme Self-Care”.
For our first meeting we were asked to write down how we thought we were doing around the art of caring for ourselves. I reflected to 3 to 5 years ago before I was diagnosed with celiac. I gave myself a 2 for that time period. Yes, I was a classic take care, make sure everyone else is happy, be the best in the public eye sort of gal. I then rated how I feel I am taking care of myself today. Survey said 7.873. So some wiggle room for improvement but look at me go! That is when I laughed, lovingly locked my ego in the trunk and handed the keys over to my soul and asked it to take it from here. I realized I was on a the right path, but I had hit a hurdle and needed some guidance.
We were also asked to write down what self-care means to us. My soul’s response:
“Self-care isn’t simply pampering, it’s not only long walks on the beach, art time and hot bubble baths. Self-care is the series of steps making up the rituals that honour your soul.”
Hmmm, the series of steps making up the ritual.
I am fairly good at setting aside time for myself and not overbooking my calendar thanks to my teacher of celiac disease and knowing my physical limits change day to day. This has also taught me how to say no to invitations when I have enough on my plate which ultimately means saying no to people. Hence the 7.873…”Very good” the soul said to the ego as it locked it back in the trunk and then turned to ask the question…”And how do say no?” (insert sound of crickets here) I realized that whenever I declined something because I know I needed to make the best choice for myself, I always started out the communication with “Sorry, I can’t….”
And the light sparked.
You see, one of the steps in any ritual is setting the intention. If your ritual of self-care’s intention is to take care of yourself to bring that best self forward to share with the world, then that does not include the reaction or perception of you by others.
If my intention is to take the best care of myself, why should I be sorry? When I said sorry first, I changed my intention from taking the best care of myself to the intention of not hurting someone else’s feelings. Now for the record, that is a very good intention however, that intention is about taking care of someone else and not one’s self. This is not being selfish. This is about being true to yourself to ensure you giving yourself the opportunity to share that best self with the world.
So this week I began a new level in my self-care practice. When I declined an invitation I did not start with the intention of worrying about that person’s perception of my response. I began with the intention of my of self-care. It goes something like this….”Thank you so much for the invitation. I am unable to accept right now but I do look forward to a future opportunity.”
Yes dear one, it means “disappointing” someone; it means “missing out”; it means chancing that they many “never” want to invite you again but it also means loving yourself enough to know that you have surrounded yourself with good souls who know you and love you; it means you are secure enough in yourself to know that you are not responsible for others joy; it means coming from a place of abundance versus scarcity.
And that was my first lesson in self-care. Class dismissed.
P.s. Oh you thought I was letting this end without homework did you? Assignment – Schedule a self-care ritual this week. Write down the steps to performing that ritual. Then as you are going through the steps this week, check in and ask yourself “Is my intention for self-care present as I perform these steps?”