How Kind Are You To Yourself?

Think it’s crazy to decide on a Monday to go to Central America on Friday for the weekend? Me too. But then I did it anyway. Here’s why…

I was in that grey place. I’d been in it for a while. It didn’t matter that I did my morning meditation, or that I took a walk or brewed my favorite coffee before work, I still was not feeling good. I was functional. I could get myself in an inspired zone to connect and teach but I couldn’t sustain it. I had the winter blues and I wanted them to go away for my sake, the sake of my family, my clients and anyone who would ever listen to me play a song (if I’m bleak, what then?)

So, at the last minute, I went to one of my favorite places, Costa Rica. I walked in the mountains, listened to birds & did yoga in an outdoor pavilion. I talked with a group of retreating women. I got a massage, slept, ate home cooked meals and 60 hours later, I flew home.

One of the things I realized while there is that I have a lifelong obsession of trying to do more with less (the more out of less idea is fun when it’s a creative challenge, but oppressive when it’s an internal mandate). And, I realized that within me lives romanticized storylines around the role of the martyr. Notions such as If I succeed without a lot of help, I’ll be a heroine or a “good girl” OR If I don’t need too much (and I manage to have a full cup without really filling it), I’ll somehow have accomplished something amazing! It’s silly, really, and a construct of my ego even though I didn’t intend to create it.

Whether I was born this way or it developed out of notions of what makes a good person, a good mom, or even an early-life admiration of well-known people like Mother Theresa, I’ll never know. But I do know that trying to do less with more (or creating martyr-like circumstances) when one has other options is not the best way I can be in this world.

In admiring people like Mother Theresa, I was picking up on a truth: That nothing is more loving, energy-producing and happiness-creating than service to others (in fact, I think it’s the only thing that makes us truly happy), but this service doesn’t exclude us!

Self-care is a real buzz-word these days. I prefer to think of it as letting my true-self lead. Going where I’m called to go on the level of my soul, giving myself what I need, allowing the flow of life to go through me instead of trying to control the flow of giving and receiving based on ideas about my role or definitions of what makes a good person.

What about you?

Are you great at taking ongoing care of yourself? Or do you tend to do one nice thing for yourself and then see how long you last?

What can you gift yourself this week that, in turn will gift the world?

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts :)

Please leave a comment below.
Ps: These photos make me laugh! At the time I wrote this post, my husband felt they were too personal to share, but I still laugh when I look at them a year later, so I think it’s time/ok to share them with you in case you might also laugh :) I’m pretty sure the “Before” & “After” Self-Care/Trip Photos speak for themselves!

30 thoughts on “How Kind Are You To Yourself?

  1. Anne- You are talking about an ethic of care in your post. If you haven’t read Carol Gilligan’s, In a Different Voice, you might. I think it would resonate. I also relate this to the notion of the ecological self- that taking care of others and the planet, in turn cares for the self. Of course, there is more to it, but this is where I went reading your post. We all need more of an ethic of care in our lives- for others as well as our selves. It is easy to get sucked into caring for others and neglecting the self, but we need to find a balance. And, ideally, reciprocity is key!

  2. Thanks for the courage in expressing some inside soull talk, Anne
    Always good to hear about your life experiences for they make me strong in wanting to create a better self care plan I have read ecological self, it is true, makes us feel good when we are serving.
    I looked into a plan… yes, a week trip to Costa Rica after looking at your post, for I too have had the blues of winter all week and can’t seem to get warm, Nor sleep through the night.
    Can you recommend a getaway yoga place there?
    Blessings Chris for Western, Ma

  3. Hi Anne! What a beautiful post. I love the words you use and your insight always. I too know that feeling of needing to break free from the rut and reconnect with the true self. I’m about to do that next week as I travel to Cuba! Some sun and culture and photography. Can’t wait! I will be flying back on my birthday which is April 21st but will be thinking of you at the ARK. xoxo

  4. Anne, I read everything you write and enjoy doing it. I think I have tried several times to respond but it didn’t work. (Remember, I am of a tech-challenged gen.) Self care is so important. I saw someone rec. In A Different Voice by Carol Gilligan, a classic. To that fine book I add The Holy Longing by Ronald Roloheiser. If you do get the book we can talk. I have taught parts of it to the human sexuality class at CTU. Continue to write, Love, Judy

    • Hi Judy, Thanks for these recommendations! I will check them out for sure. Also, you’re getting the tech part right! :) Miss you and always love hearing from you!
      Ps: I retreated at the Port of Portinucula this year.

  5. Thanks for your inspiring words Anne– I went to Costa Rica in January and truly feel something shifted in my soul from being there. These days I’m working on embracing the reality that I cannot be the best teacher, scholar, activist I want to be unless I have enough sleep, eat healthy food, and walk or do yoga daily. I now out doing these things first, before my ‘jobs,’ and I am definitely more happy. I am not necessarily more productive. I’m getting ok with that!

    • Lovely Susan! Yes, doing those things first is so key and you mention letting go of that productivity idea (I think ultimately we’re more productive, but it’s such a different way of looking at the word, it seems slower even if it’s more direct because perhaps we stop doing so much unnecessary busy work). I’m still learning. Thank you for your reflection!

  6. Besides having a kid who is chronically ill I also work with families of chronically/terminally ill kids and self care is something i constantly preach. If you aren’t healthy yourself then it’s nearly impossible to care for others. Preaching it is one thing though and honestly doing it for myself is another. In so many ways i feel like the work i do with other families is my self care. A way of extending my daughters impact on this world and somehow making sense out of chaos. However, reading this was a good reminder it does occasionally need to be about just me. Everyone needs a recharge and a reset sometimes. Costa Rica sounds like an amazing place to do it!

    • Crystal, thank you for sharing that the work you do IS your self-care and way of extending your daughter’s impact in this world.

      I sometimes forget to practice what I preach but when I remember, I’m so grateful :)

      And yes, the occasional recharge all by yourself can do wonders! Even now, I carry a little piece of CR in my imagination and I feel much better :)


  7. I think it’s great! However, my only reservation about Central America is the plot of Jurassic Park and its endless sequels. Do you need time to plan for the inevitable Tyrannosaurus? Seriously, though, I think it’s great. On a related note, an old friend from long go, a singer-songwriter I used to sing with in the 1960s, Betsy Rose, took a much longer trip to Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, singing to children in schools all over the place, giving to them the love of music, and being a role model for young girls who may not be accustomed to seeing women who are successful in their own right. A whole different kind of trip, of course. And a novel way to reset in a different way. Enjoy!

    • Yes yes yes Jonathan! Thank you for this! This is what I hope will be my next adventure! Taking my daughters on a service trip (they don’t know this yet).

      Your friend sounds like an amazing person! I’d love to hear more.

      And I love your comments about Jurassic Park :)

  8. Anne you are an amazing woman, I’m very proud of you and Frankie and your accomplishments. I try to give back every day. I joined the Kiwanis club and we help the youth in our town. I help with the food bank for people in need. I joined the Fountain Hills Crisis Response Team and we respond to emergencies such as deaths in a family and we help elderly people who just lost a loved one, besides other emergencies. I’m a commissioner on the McDowell mountain preserve and a trailbuilder in Fountain Hills, Az. What I’m trying to say that it’s a beautiful life and if we can, we should always help others. And for my sanity I play tennis 3x per week. God Bless

    • Tom,
      I love this. Thank you so much for sharing and for the reminder that there are boundless opportunities for service. I imagine you feel energized and connected by your work. And I bet your tennis playing is contributing to what you’re able to give away! Here’s to you and to it all :)

  9. Beautiful Anne! I’m in San Francisco for a seminar on the Emotion Code and would like to discuss this with you as I think this might help as well. Send me a private message if you’re interested. I would love to try some of it with you. Love and peace, gratitude and joy!

    • Rita,
      I’ve been doing the Emotion Code! I learned in CR. It’s amazing. Although I’d probably prefer to not always do it alone ;) You’ve had good results?

  10. Anne –

    Thank you for this inspiring and honest message! I read it a couple of times, as I’ve been dealing with what I call “Spring malaise.” Next time, I’ll try a getaway to a warmer climate! ( A good book helps me at times like this, as does a funny show like “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” thank goodness Season 2 is almost here.)

    Miss you!

    • Oh I love Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt! I’m happy the second season is coming. Thank you for writing Gretchen and yes, good reminder that sometimes a good book can do the trick!

  11. Thank you Anne! Your message is so timely right now, coinciding with the events in my life and state of my mind. It’s almost as if you are an angel or spirit sent to deliver a message directly to me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

  12. Two acquaintances I used to do yoga with at Northwestern University said they’d switched to the Evanston Athletic Club and I should try out an awesome class taught by a guy named Lane. I used three of their free passes, each time feeling more guilty. It seemed like the person at the guest was burning a hole through me. So on the third time, I signed up, though the month-to-month cost is more than triple that of L.A. Fitness. I couldn’t sleep that night, thinking how silly it was not to continue to use their free passes till I was sure I wanted to join. I managed to curl myself up into miserable-worm pose. In the middle of the night, I had to do yoga for an hour to get myself over the thought that I should minimize all expenses to the bare bone, even if I could afford them. I was hugely embarrassed that I might have joined just to please the two acquaintances who told me about the class.

    I was sharing this thought over lunch at the woman’s club with a woman from Austria who said, “Evanston Athletic Club? It’s the greatest!” She told me she was going that very night, so I did too. I had a great time. I wouldn’t have gone if I hadn’t become a member, because my free-pass offering friends wouldn’t have been there.

    Ironically, I may have to quit because I did a real number on my knee, out-competing the teacher, and because I truly enjoy yoga while listening to an audio book, making up my own poses or using those that are going by on my TV.

  13. Thank you for sharing Joy! I’m so glad you enjoyed the club! It’s amazing all the mind machinations that go on when we try to do something nice for ourselves or wonder if something is right for us. I hope your knee feels better and thanks again! :)

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