I’m writing this from one of the most peaceful places I know.
I’m in the shade on a dock, the breeze ruffling the leaves overhead ever so gently. The lake ripples and twinkles in the sunshine. The loudest sound is the chirp from a chickadee or the buzz of the odd bee. Absolute heaven.
It’s been an upended summer.
My work schedule didn’t work out as I’d hoped, which meant I was often scrambling for last minute child care. Some days, I was so focused on getting parts of my business together that I lost hold of the daily basics: adequate meal planning, soccer practices and birthday parties. (Ok, let’s be honest, some of those things had just slipped through the sieve because I never wrote them down.)
Time out of the city has been hard to plan or totally impromptu. To put flame to the fire, there was a family crisis that compounded my chaos with worry.
Could it be that a lack of any kind of routine or schedule is what had me feeling so chaotic?
And then there are moments like this. Utter peace.
It surrounds me, and yet I feel it deep in my bones. In the expansion of my belly, in the drop of my shoulders, in the ease of my breathe. This sense of peace is available to me at all times because I feel it in my body.
At times like this, when I feel like life is living me, I’m reminded how important it is to make sure I look after myself first and foremost. What some call the airplane theory: put your own oxygen mask on before you attempt to help anyone else.
What can I do to recreate that sensation of inner peace back at home?
I take this moment of tranquility to reassess what it is I need. What will keep me grounded when life doesn’t quite work out the way I hope and anticipate? What routines do I need to have in place so that the daily flow can continue when curve balls come my way? What amount of sleep, which quality of food, and how much time to just chill out with my sweetie?
There it is, an important aspect of self-care we don’t often consider: Routine.
Sounds boring. I know.
But let’s think about it:
- When you set aside time for the necessary tasks of life, you stop stressing out about them. Rather than worry that there’s a stack of bills on my desk that I must remember to pay at some point, I take a half hour every Friday morning and look after it. One simple step that opens up time & mental energy.
- Think about when you were a little girl. Your parents had a structure in place. They set expectations and curfews meant to keep you safe, and you were free to run around and play all day They could trust that you would bike home at sunset, you could trust there’d be a hot meal waiting for you.
- Look at your own kids. One of my sons is all for being a free spirit and “going with the flow”, but left too much to his own devices and he becomes bored, pacing the house like a caged animal. It never ceased to amaze me, when he was small, that the more firmly I maintained the routines & structure I’d set up, the better behaved he was.
- The FLY Lady has built her entire business around developing routines. First Love Yourself. Her whole premise is that if you create habits for the little chores that need doing around your house (making the bed, cleaning the toilet, laundry) then they happen without you having to think about it. Habits not only remove the burden from housework: your mind & imagination are then free to expand in any number of creative ways. (Not to mention, you’re equipped to catch the odd curve ball.)
- Your body is the same way. Sleep cycles, digestive health, hormonal fluctuations all work on a clock. If it knows what to expect when, your body functions more efficiently.
Perhaps I’m no longer in school, but this time of year still has me excited about cleaning off my desk & getting all my notebooks in order. This year, my organizing will include putting absolutely everything onto my calendar.
As business mentor Marie Forleo says, “If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real.”
The thought of a hectic fall schedule can leave me with a huge knot in my belly. But if I sat with my calendar and put a framework around my weeks and days, the knot releases and my heart lifts. I face the fall with a sense of peace and renewed energy!
What’s your “Back to School” plan for yourself? Leave me a reply below and tell me about it.
It’s with this very sense of peace and freedom in mind that I came up with the idea for the first talk in my series… starting next week!
My intention with “Self-Care as a Spiritual Practice” is to set a foundation on which all other aspects of health can be built. It’s designed to relieve the burden of how to go about fixing the big stuff, by establishing a healthy mindset around the daily stuff.