I feel like this newsletter is long overdue, especially considering all that we have been slogging through these past months. Many of you have found your way to my table since July when I started back to practice. I have been honored by your willingness to sit with me on my front porch as we chatted before and after your session, to willingly join me in hand washing before our work together, to wear a mask without question, and to openly communicate about our new COVID world. I know that you all have appreciated being able to receive body work again and I have been so glad to be part of that experience with you!
Some of you have not yet found your way back to my massage table for one reason or another. I look forward to seeing you again when the time is right. Please know that I am grateful for our work together over the years.
Tomorrow I am starting a new training in hopes that it pans out to be something to offer to you and others. It is called Yomassage and is a combination of restorative yoga, mindfulness, and massage. Although I generally try to bring these elements to the massage table as it is, this training offers the combination in a different way - clothed and on the floor with plenty of yoga props (bankets, bolsters, blocks) with an eye towards deep relaxation, mindfulness, and nurturing the soul.
Of all years, it seems like no surprise that the idea of self-care frequently finds its way into our conversations. I recently wrote about it in order to share some thoughts with you. Please scroll down to find more on that as well as some other goodies to ponder.
I so look forward to working with you in the coming year!
Here is a poem that was brought to my attention last spring when it became evident that traipsing the world wasn’t very prudent. Sometimes reframing this solitary time makes it a little more bearable.
I will wait here in the fields
to see how well the rain
brings on the grass.
In the labor of the fields
longer than a man’s life
I am at home. Don’t come with me.
You stay home too.
I will be standing in the woods
where the old trees
move only with the wind
and then with gravity.
In the stillness of the trees
I am at home. Don’t come with me.
You stay home too.
Do any of you enjoy listening to Podcasts? I definitely do - while walking or driving. In the past year I listened to this interview that Brene Brown did with authors, Emily & Amelia Nagowski, of the book entitled Burnout. Stress is inevitable and sometimes it is even good for us. They discuss the concept of completing our stress cycles in order to move through our demanding lives while maintaining good health. I encourage you to listen to it. It made such an impression on me.
Self Care is Not a Selfish Act
When I was a young massage therapist, I was reluctant to ask my clients if they would like to schedule subsequent appointments for fear of being viewed as pushy, but now I understand all too clearly how obstacles in our daily lives get in the way of booking that time for our own care. For me, when I have a massage scheduled for myself on the calendar, it’s like money in the bank. That is, my bank of energy and vitality.
As a massage therapist, I think a lot about self care. Did you know that there exists the International Self Care Foundation (ISFglobal.org)? And that the WHO recognizes self care as a fundamental level of primary health care (that’s real, legit!) and views it as a major public health resource?
Self care is any activity or lifestyle choice that we make in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. I bet if asked if you take care of yourself, you would probably answer yes without much thought. But when asked about how you do that, chances are the answer may not be so easy.
Generally speaking self care is not something that just happens to us, but rather an intentional choice that we make. In its most basic form, it consists of simply getting enough sleep and eating well. Self care also extends into the realm of setting limits and incorporating ways to slow down the pace of your life.
On a daily level self care consists of taking nourishing breaks in our everyday lives. This can be as simple as stopping for a drink of water or tea, getting up to stretch, or taking a moment to connect with a loved one or friend. Over the course of a week or month we can take time to commit to more involved self care such as a yoga class, regular exercise, meditation or therapeutic massage.
For individuals who are very busy and stressed - those that feel they are always running around the gerbil wheel - it is often an element of self care that is missing. We can still be effective, accomplished, and take on a full life, but the difference between doing so in a harried and resentful way versus a graceful and balanced manner is quite often the notion of self care.
In our culture we carry around these ideas that taking time for ourselves is indulgent, time consuming, or selfish. From where I stand as a mother, wife, daughter, and massage therapist, I can finally see that the very opposite is true. Self care refuels us - fills our cup - enabling us to live with more balance. More balance inherently feels good and we naturally exude more joy and patience when in that state.
I will argue that tending to our own care will pay off in ways beyond our own self. If we feel good in our own skin, we are able to give our authentic attention to people around us or our work at hand. When we engage with the world with positivity rather than negativity, we can make a real difference.
I am honored to care for all of the people that I do. When I feel attended to and cared for myself, giving comes easily - it just flows, but when I am not managing my stresses well, generosity is a bit more difficult. Do you ever feel that way?
Yes, most self care activities are enjoyable. So instead of feeling indulgent, know that in turn, you will be able to give more of your best self to your family, your vocation, and your community. Parker Palmer said it well:
“Self-care is never a selfish act - it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”