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Last weekend, I casually mentioned to Jason that I’d really love to just sit out on our back deck, and do nothing for at least an hour. It was wistful, and felt more like a fantasy than anything else. In fact, I really wasn’t asking him arrange it: it’s something that I’ve often wished for but never actually make happen.

A few hours later, he and the boys were off to the park to ride bikes and play. And I got my quiet time.

It was serene. The deck (pictured above) looks out over our garden, our green grass, and the neighbor’s green backyard. The weather was beautiful. I sipped my coffee and listened to a book. It was wonderful.

Over the last few days, I’ve thought about those moments multiple times. I’ve thought a lot about why we don’t self-care. I mean, most of us aren’t actively choosing to sabotage our efforts, we just put it off. We neglect ourselves. We “forget”. We ignore our own needs in favor of someone else’s need.

It’s time to make some changes.

Download this handy Feed your Soul worksheet and get started on your baby steps today.

1. When we squander our quiet moments on work, we rob ourselves

I don’t know about you, but in case you relate, I’ll admit: often I *work* when I have a quiet house, instead of taking time to do things that feed my soul.

I mean, you get it, right? the house is QUIET. Maybe you do the same thing? We can think and work and be PRODUCTIVE, all uninterrupted.

And yet. We need to feed our soul.

In a conversation with Melissa Dinwiddie last month, I confessed that, aside from the fact that healing from my personal loss is hard work; (time doesn’t heal, but it does take time to do the hard work of healing):

“Another thing that trips me up…is that some of those things that I would love to do, that probably would feed my soul, well… they seem lazy…. (sitting and reading a book?!) And when Tornado Toddler has finished his job and the dishes are still in the sink, sitting to do something for me instead of some task that serves us all… usually neither one gets done, but when push comes to shove, it’s the tasks.”

And let me clarify: I do relax better when the toys are picked up and the kitchen is clean[er]. I look around my house before bed and the noise inside has quieted, just a little. I call it “finding my sanity”.

But it’s not the same. It’s not the same as choosing to do something specifically because it feeds you. And when I take those precious few moments and squander them on tasks that don’t actually feed my soul, I deprive myself of the care I desperately need.

2. The people in your life need you to feed your soul

I don’t know about you, but what I tend to forget is that Tornado Toddler and his big brother, Kreative Kid, need me to take care of myself.

They need to see it and they need me to model it for them. Rather, they need to at least know that it’s happening… because if they actually SAW me, it wouldn’t be quiet anymore #amiright!? lol).

The people in our lives need for us to put on our own metaphorical oxygen mask first, caring and nurturing ourselves, so that we can better care for and nurture them.

(I know that, at least in theory, high-level self-care is done for me because I need it, not because someone else needs me to do it… but let’s be honest here, sometimes we have to be convinced to start or continue the self-care journey because the people we are so trained to care for also benefit from it. If that’s where you’re starting, there is no shame.).

Download this handy Feed your Soul worksheet and get started on your baby steps today.

3. Even though it feels lazy, it’s actually not

In our conversation, Melissa confirmed that my misconception that self-care = laziness is a widespread problem: I’m not alone.

I find that I have to remind myself that self-care, that feeding my soul, is not lazy, it is necessary. Non-optional.

Remember our conversation about changing our unhealthy habits? It doesn’t happen in a day.

So, today I remind each of us that we won’t conquer the tendency to shrug off self-care as “lazy” in a single day, or a few weeks or a couple of months. We change our way of thinking in tiny, incremental, consistent steps. We consciously choose to cultivate the awareness and mindfulness necessary so that we *notice* when we have a need and how to make it happen.

4. Pushing through the overwhelm is counterproductive in the long-run

“… pausing to reflect (rather than pushing harder) is what brings clarity, renewed hope, and even excitement when I feel stuck and overwhelmed.”

“‘Pause and reflect’ is the new hustle”Dana Garced

I saw this quote on Dana’s Instagram post a few days ago and it gave me pause. So often, I am the hustler. The person who just pushes thru, consequences be damned. In fact, that is probably part of the reason my adrenals are shot — because I have repeatedly pushed the boundaries of what my health has to offer. In the coming weeks, I purpose to do more ‘pause and reflect’ and less hustling thru the overwhelm.

Download this handy Feed your Soul worksheet and get started on your baby steps today.

Remember the #100daysofbettersleep project?

6 weeks ago, I started a project to improve the quality of my sleep, as it is one thing that will benefit me and my health in at least 6 other ways.

At first I made a list of all the things that I could try to improve my sleep. Yes, ALL the things, haha. There were 70 or more items on the list (I’ll post them for you sometime), although I tried for 100. I think that I seriously thought I was going to try every one of them (yes, you are allowed to laugh). Very quickly, (well, within a week or so) I realized that what I really needed was not to try 100 different things, but to consistently do 5 or 10 things that were effective, and do them 100 times. (Maybe I really am learning not to push thru).

“What if, instead of quitting a ‘bad’ habit, you…concerned yourself less and less with what you were doing wrong and concerned yourself instead more and more with what you could be doing MORE of…?”Britt Steele

This little gem landed in my inbox a few days ago, and I keep coming back to it. What if I focused NOT on weeding out the bad, but allowing the good habits, the things I am consistently cultivating and making time for to crowd out those bad habits. Incremental. Baby steps.

So for the past 6 weeks, I’ve been going to bed earlier, working on keeping my room a peaceful place to sleep, and consistently sleeping with a weighted blanket (and had this revelation: using a weighted blanket is an act of self-care! more on that in a later post). And so long as I don’t get woken up in the middle of the night by a distraught little person with a wet diaper, I can definitely tell the difference the next day.

I know that there are a few other changes I need to make. I don’t know about you, but I tend to look at those changes in terms of “bad habits I need to change”. This idea that Britt proposes of allowing the good habits to crowd out the bad ones, is a mindset change for me.

Instead of “ugh, I’m supposed to give up doing this thing I kinda like but I think it might be sabotaging my bigger goals“, I can choose a positive thing to ADD that will simply crowd the other out.

That sounds like a change of focus I definitely need.

It might already be happening, if I will let it.

5. Baby steps are so simple, you can start today

One of the things that’s been on my mind lately (especially in context of my #100daysofbettersleep project) is that I “ought to” make a “no-screens” rule for an hour before bedtime. I’ve been loath to give it up because I use that time to read, to relax before I go to sleep. Obviously, I could still read old fashioned books… but those darn screens are just so convenient.

It’s summertime, though. Jason loves to head out to the front porch and sit, enjoying the quiet, or chatting about our day. I’ve been joining him.

And if I let it, I could choose to let that crowd out, or FILL, rather, that time I’ve usually spent browsing, reading, and vegging to Netflix.

“It’s important to know that the ability to build habits that stick isn’t something gifted to those of us with the most willpower. On the contrary, it’s gifted to those of us who know how to practice the skill of habit creation. You can absolutely build any skill you want by taking baby steps, changing your environment and trusting in success momentum.”Natasha Vorompovia (emphasis mine)

While Natasha is speaking primarily to business owners about their business habits, the concept applies here as well. Consistency seems to be a recurring theme. She makes it sound easy, doesn’t she?

Incremental changes. Baby steps. Adding more of the good.

So last night, I decided to try it. I’ve talked about baby steps, right? I decided that my baby step last night was to enjoy the relaxation and choose to leave my phone alone after lights out rather than browsing facebook after I was in bed.

It’s small. It’s manageable. It’s not the entire goal, but it definitely heads in that direction.

It felt good. It felt right.

It’s something that I purpose to continue (and I’ll keep you updated!).

6. Remember the snowball effect

I have been wanting to “get up early” and sit outside and drink my [decaf] coffee in the morning quiet for some time. I miss that. If remember once, in college, agreeing with my then-roommates that none of us would speak to each other until breakfast. It was perfect, especially for those of us who needed our uninterrupted quiet time. I have often joked that if I could convince my kids to do the same, I totally would.

The main reason I have been telling myself that I don’t currently enjoy my quiet coffee on the deck is because I need as much sleep as I can get. And I do. I mentioned in a previous post that my adrenals are shot, and I’m working hard to cultivate space for my body to heal. Getting as much sleep as possible is an important part of that.

This morning when I woke up, I realized that I usually wake up a good 20min before I actually GET up, and that it wouldn’t be THAT difficult to just head outside with my coffee.

So I did.

I was still sitting on my phone, but at least I was outside, right? Of course, right! 😉

This part, this sudden awareness of other ways that I can take doable, manageable baby steps — I think it’s part of what Natasha meant when she referred to the “success momentum”.

It’s a happy side effect. I already like it!

What are you going to do?

What’s the one self-care thing you’re craving lately? There is probably more than one, but I highly recommend starting with one manageable goal at a time. How can you break it down into incremental steps and make it a regular part of your daily self-care?

To help out, I’ve created this handy Feed your Soul worksheet, so you can get started on your baby steps today.

Do it. Download the worksheet. Fill it out. Choose that Baby Step that you wrote in the top slot, and do it today.

Then do it again every day for the next week. And let the success momentum being to snowball.

Go, feed your soul!

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