Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Little Bites of Self-Care Easy to Swallow

We writers – and I suspect all creative types – tend to get down on ourselves a lot. A couple (or a dozen) rejections arrive in the email box and it’s “I’m crap! How did I think I could write and sell a novel? Are my thighs getting bigger?”
Back in December I blogged about showing ourselves some tenderness. And this blog has a similar theme: self-care. And more precisely, internal self-care.

A good friend gave me a book titled The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present In the Life You’ve Got.
After I read a few pages, I immediately bought a copy for my sister and my brother. The messages were that powerful (dare I say life-changing). Each day’s “meditation” is short, sweet and filled with wisdom we already have but sometimes forget or ignore.

At about the same time, I found a great web site called Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives. The tidbits of inspiration come from people like you and me. The site is divided into sections like happiness and fun; meaning and passion; change and challenges; mindfulness and peace; letting go, etc. The success of the site had led to a book of the same title. And it’s fantastic.

My spiritual journey of self-care has been a long one – filled with curbs and potholes mostly of my own making.

That's why I’m so thankful for the lessons these books impart. Won’t you join me for a little bite? I swear you’ll want to savor it over and over again.
What constitutes self-care for YOU? And how do you remember to take care of yourself?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Where Everybody Knows Your Name (and Your Business)

I’ve been in Texas all week visiting my sister and her family. She lives in Glen Rose, a town of 2,100 people. It’s the kind of town where the pharmacist knows my sister by name; the kind of town that turns out in full force for the opening of the new school gymnasium; the kind of town where gift shop owners on the square encourage shoppers to visit their competition.

Glen Rose is double the population of the town where I grew up; a town I dreamt of escaping my whole childhood. And boy, did I. I went to a state university of 50,000 students. I’ve lived in cities with populations in the millions.

And yet, I ended up living in a small town myself. And although it’s 10 times larger than my sister’s community, it gives me the things I took for granted as a child and the things my sister experiences daily.

My pharmacist knows me by name – which is tough with a name like Mikulencak. I’m likely to see 10 or more people I know just by walking down main street. I have a main street! My office building’s landlord cut my rent in half just so I’d stay in her building.

I’m confident that even big city dwellers find this sense of community in little pockets of their bustling cities.

What about YOUR town (city) makes it home for you?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Try a Little Tenderness in 2012

My goal in 2011 was to blog once a week. You can see from the posts listed at the left that I did not achieve that goal. I didn’t even make it to two posts in December. On this bright, sunny New Year’s Day morning, I have vowed to let it go. No guilt. No regret.

Which brings me to the word of the year: compassion. Consider it my one resolution for 2012.

A dear friend used to remind me that we seem to have a limitless capacity for compassion – but for others. We rarely have this level of compassion for ouselves. When I speak of ‘compassion,’ I’m referring to its less-used definition: tenderness.

The world is a hard place to begin with, and we tend to make it harder by living with regret, guilt, judgment, self-doubt, anger. When we make a mistake or fail to live up to someone’s (our own?) expectations, we should try a little tenderness. (Hey, that’d make a great song. Oh, it’s already
one. First recorded in 1932 and re-recorded hundreds of times since then. Good job. We need the message to sink in.)

In its most simple form, compassion (tenderness) is the act of just letting it go. Acknowledge the pain or sadness or regret or failure and then say to yourself, “Self, you deserve a break. Let’s move on from this.”

Rarely do we make our deepest inner struggles and fears and doubts known to our friends and family. So, it’s not realistic to hope or assume someone will show us compassion when we need it most. We have to do that for ourselves.