I treated myself to a pedicure on Saturday and realized it was the first time in months that I had made time. And my second, not-so-startling realization—every time I had carved out time, I would work on the computer the entire appointment. I couldn’t possibly check out to myself for an hour when productivity beckoned, right?! So I promised that I would not think about work, what I was going to do next, or any of the conflicts/excitements stimulating the surrounding week. I was going to tune into nothing but the pleasure of relaxation.
How did this go? It was freaking HARD. I had my computer with me and thought (oh silly mind!) that I wanted to work. I had to remember my commitment; I had to challenge my own thoughts… Do you want to do this? Or do you feel you should do this?
Who is going to tell you to take a break EXCEPT YOU?
I, like many chronic multi-tasking sufferers, can go NUTS if I am not being productive in some way. We have to step outside of routine. We have to step outside of the day’s tasks. Everything we want to work toward or do, even just laying around, will be there waiting for us; so take a true NOURISHMENT break! I don’t care what it is… I DARE you to TREAT YO’ SELF in the next 3 DAYS. Not week, not month…you have 3 days to give yourself some quality attention!
Schedule a massage. Go for a long walk UNPLUGGED. Sit in a park with a book you've been meaning to read. Concoct your own green juice. Prepare an exquisite dish for yourself. Go to a restaurant ALONE and let someone ELSE make you a gorgeous meal…it doesn’t matter what it is—but do it by yourself. This is just for you. While surrounding ourselves with loving souls can be pure medicine, it's important to feel that sanctuary within yourself, too. Don’t let nurturing get tangled up with the notion of a "guilty pleasure"…like not indulging in dessert unless friends are “doing it with me”. Drop that nonsense!
NURTURING DOESN’T NEED TO BE JUSTIFIED. NURTURING NEEDS TO BE EMBODIED.
I think women, especially, are innate nurturers; and in this, we can always find someone who we need to help and something we need to “take care of” before circling this love back to ourselves. But this people-pleasing paradigm has blanketed us all, well beyond gender lines--it is full-blown epidemic, in my opinion. It is up to us, to strategize a more consistent attuning into our own desires.
I used to say this busy-bee nature is just how I am and there’s nothing I can do about it. This is not false or bad. BUT, it’s up to me how I meet myself. Because any part of our nature can get over-amplified…and what IS a beautiful characteristic can sadly veer into an over-stressed, over-obligated, under-nourished spirit.
Caring for other people and devoting your gifts to helping them could never be a bad thing, though, right? Good or bad…I am not as valuable to ANYONE if I am not taking care of myself first. And that means in every ounce of fullness I require in that moment.
When I am burning the candle at both ends, I start to bud tiny resentment seeds that can unfortunately sprout in the most unnecessary places. And if I hold it in, I can feel even “sicker”. When I am doing all the time, I am no longer feeling. We can only “hear” the body through feeling, sensation, subtle observation. So when I'm not listening, I will not genuinely understand how I am needing to be supported.
A nurtured body will nurture the mind, NOT the reverse.
Catering solely to the mind IS the disconnect. I don’t know about you, but my mind can be a real salty bitch! The mind is a beautiful thing but entirely too controlling. It talks louder than the body, overruling our intuition gateway. Can you hear your intuition? Are you listening to someone else’s?
What do you REALLY want in this moment, and the next…and the next?
One little pedicure set the stage for a full day of ME--letting go of rules or obligations and floating freely with my authentic desires. Saturday came and went…clarity getting hazier as interactions, situations, and days went on. But I had a clear understanding I didn’t want to lose. I, me, Katie Petersen, NEED to focus on nurturing myself MORE.
Because I feel this grand importance for myself, I know it must be important for others, as I am not so unique. And while many aspects of my day might "qualify" as "self-care", it is already too routined. It is expected, obligated to a point of feeling guilty, if I don't do X. The challenge I am presenting is to do something NEW, out of the ordinary--corrupt your own monotony and find freedom on the other side.
How have I nurtured myself today?
I started asking myself this by Tuesday. As the week went on, I realized how different I felt from Saturday. The sweet, lovely plans I made for this upcoming weekend was all that I could come up with...and that has NOTHING to do with today, this moment, the only space Iactually exist. Try asking yourself those 6 words each and every day "how have I nurtured myself today?" And write this one down.... because in forming a new habit, we MUST have consistency to our strategy. My inability to answer my own question tells me so. My Saturday epiphany had dispersed from view in only a matter of days! Invoke this important question into your daily self-care checklist--right up there with brushing your teeth. Set an alarm in your phone; put a post-it on your bathroom mirror; make it your new password--whatever it is, don't just rely on reading this step here, hoping you'll repeat it. Commit to yourself right here, right now, to be accountable and honest with yourself.
By Thursday, I had taken noticeable measures to be gentler with myself but hadn't “treated myself” in the way I propose we do. So I shifted the question, "How CAN I nurture myself" in a new way? Step 2, if you don't have an answer to "how have I?", ask "how can I?". I barely knew what I was doing when I began driving out to the Boathouse Cafe in Humboldt Park. I had seen a stunning photo on Instagram and for whatever reason, that image popped into my mind when I asked this question. If I waited even 2 minutes, I might have talked myself out of it because the mind LOVES a predictable routine. Don't question yourself...GO!
As you can see in this photo, I found myself lounging on a beautiful patio surrounded by trees, water, and and even a live calypso band…speaking to my own heart as much as yours. In this haven, an escape from the city bustle, I am immensely inspired to pour my gratitude onto paper. Gratitude for the abundance I experience when I allow myself to just BE. I needed a break to check-in...to practice capturing this love within myself. And only in doing so for me, can I even hope to share it with anyone else. Metaphorical reality across all patterns. I unapologetically honored my desire for solitude, nature, writing, and non-outcome-based expression. I feel unconditionally held in this moment.
Where is your haven?
I am blessed to have had that drop of clarity on Saturday…and so grateful it didn't disappear for weeks but merely muted for a few days. When commitment faded from view, those two simple questions became the litmus test on my follow-through. Use them. They are valuable. And don't get down on yourself if you slip. The ebb and flow is inevitable. We each have these profound moments at different times. It is our DUTY to share them. I can sometimes feel, if I don’t hold this space all the time, I have no business talking about it. But the more we share, the more we can believe and harvest this nourishment for ourselves and everyone around us at a greater frequency.
The goal is refining our doing-ness with our being-ness. Check into yourself. Be entirely selfish at least once a day in a way that is not already routine. Set your reminders to do so! Check into Love. Self-love. Easy? No…probably the toughest task we will ever take on. To quell the mind is a hero’s journey. And anything heroic that ever happened always took a collective…at least in my interpretation. So here we are, human beings connecting with other human beings, to learn more about ourselves. Thank you for listening. Thank you for caring. And thank you even more, for caring about yourself.
Now go out there and TREAT YO’ SELF. If you have read this far, you are already committed! If you don’t don't know how to do it for you, do it for me, because I love you and I care more than you could know.
Take a break...
You Deserve It!