Radical Self-Care

written by Wendy McDonnell

I woke up today feeling frazzled.
Yes. I hadn’t even gotten out of bed and I was already anticipating and dreading the day ahead. Meditating didn’t seem to go all that well either. As I closed my eyes and began to breathe, I was summoned by a small voice or arguing from the other room. This day wasn’t looking good.

I stumbled out of bed and hoped by making breakfast that things would look up for the day. After quickly getting breakfast for my kids, I remembered how important it is for me to take care of myself. I remembered some advice about putting my oxygen mask on first. Although, it seemed hard to do, I decided to take care of myself next.

While going to the only quiet room in the house…yes…the bathroom, I took a breath. It took me about 30 to 45 seconds and I felt a bit relaxed. Even though I could hear voices outside the bathroom door, I continued to bring my attention back to my breath. Try it now if you like.

The next thing I did was tune into what I was feeling in my body and what I was reacting to. I didn’t try to make sense of anything…just feel and notice what thoughts and sensations were coming to me in that moment.

My main thought: With work and family life, how can I possibly get everything done today?

My feelings: tired, frazzled, depleted, dreadful, and calmer as I breathed

Remembering that everything I say and do is an attempt to meet my needs (http://www.cnvc.org/); I breathed deeper, stretching myself to see myself with compassion and acceptance.
What was important to me in that moment? What were my feelings and thoughts trying to tell me about myself and what I needed?

Clarity and being mothered (to be accepted, loved, and cared for) came to mind.

Understanding that, I figured I needed a bit more help. Fortunately, I have weekly phone calls and dates set up for me to receive empathy. I had a call scheduled with a friend that morning. Remembering that brought some more relief. After speaking with her, I was able to feel grounded, hopeful, and focused again. I prioritized tasks so that I did things throughout the day that energized me.

Holding myself as precious as my children, I have more energy to hold them as precious. This is what I call radical self-care.

Even as challenging as it is to do with young children, are you up for radical self-care too? Are you willing to consider that your needs are as precious as your children’s needs? Are you willing to persist even when loving yourself feels hard to do?

Would you like to try this for yourself right now?
1. Take deep breaths until you feel more calm and alert.
2. Watch your thoughts and feelings move through you now.
3. What’s important to you right now? What do you need? What things are going well for you in this moment?
4. What might you like to do to meet more of your needs?
Speaking of Radical Self-Care…
If you want a fun and nourishing family experience living in a community with this kind of heart connection, preregister for Family Heart Camp (http://www.familyheartcamp.org/) Summer 2011.
We did!

Imagine daily empathy and personal support to fill you up. Within a spacious schedule, kids and adults have so many fun activities to choose from. The kids were never bored.
For a whole week, I didn’t have to cook, clean, or do laundry. During that time, I could focus on myself, my family, and falling in love with new friends.
www.FamilyHeartCamp.org was the highlight of our summer!

About Wendy McDonnell

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