Sometimes weekends are busy, but don't forget to take care of you this weekend! I'll be working much of this weekend so I can move a project forward, but I'll still make room for self-care. I'm starting this morning with my coffee and my journal and am looking forward to a long walk later (and tomorrow too). I've got a massage scheduled for tomorrow and there will be a bubble bath or two this weekend. I'm also hoping to make a little time for creative expression and get my paints back out. All these little things are nourishment for my heart and soul and help me get through a busy weekend feeling more calm and centered. What is it that helps you feel calm and centered? Self-care practices needn't be complicated, sometimes the smallest things can help us reconnect with our heart and center back in on our self. What does self-care look like for you?
Our bedroom is an important room. It's where we go for comfort, relaxation, rest, and rejuvenation. What feelings does your bedroom currently evoke? Does it support your needs for peace, calm, and comfort? Or does it evoke feelings of stress, chaos, or overwhelm? I had a few places in my bedroom that were minor annoyances: a few tight spots where it was difficult to move around or the flow wasn't quite right. There were things hanging on the wall that I no longer loved. Overall it was lacking in aesthetics and wasn't the calming, nurturing, sensual place I wanted it to be.
I moved the head of my bed to a different wall to improve visual and physical flow and to create more space to move around it. I shuffled all the tables and benches, both for practicality and for visual appeal. I removed a chair that was a little too big for the space and brought a smaller one in to replace it. I removed everything from the walls that I had grown tired of and hung 4 pieces of my own nature-inspired art. I moved most of my plants around, creating a better visual arrangement as well as giving the biggest ones the space they need to keep growing.
These changes didn't cost me any money, I only used what I already had on hand. It only took a few hours of my time. Sometimes a few small changes can have a dramatic impact on how we feel when we enter a space. I'm loving the changes so far and am feeling more at ease in the space. When I walk in, now instead of agitation I feel calm, peaceful, and comforted. My eyes are drawn naturally around the room and there's nothing that impedes the flow.
Our bedroom is a sacred space and needs to be free from stress and chaos so we can enjoy restful sleep and recharge. What feelings does your bedroom evoke? What small changes could you make to increase comfort and restfulness?
In a recent post, I talked about the importance of getting clear on your core values. After I go through that process, I like to create some kind of visual representation that provides inspiration and direction as I go about my day. This simple little collage reflects my core values (the purple petals) and my character strengths (on yellow), which help me translate my core values into action. I review this regularly to make sure decisions and actions are aligned to what I've determined to be important.
How do you see yourself? Do you ever really study your face? When you look in the mirror or see yourself in photograph, do you only see the flaws, blemishes, and wrinkles? Or do you see the beauty, too? I've been paying more attention to the thoughts that run through my head when I see myself in a photo or look in the mirror, and they haven't been all that kind. Self-criticism runs rampant as I critique the wrinkles, the scars, the dark circles under my eyes, or whatever else stands out on any particular day.
As an experiment in self compassion, self kindness, and self love, I decided to spend some focused time studying my face and exploring all my features. I took a selfie and I studied it. For the purpose of this exercise, I committed to cast aside all judgment about how I looked, and focused instead on just really seeing myself. Instead of wrinkles and blemishes, I let myself see the natural contours and lines of my face. I've always thought my eyes were my best facial feature, but I don't really look at or appreciate them anymore because I'm too distracted by the flaws.
After looking at my face for awhile, I got a pencil and some paper and attempted a self portrait. On my first try, I mostly looked at the photo, not the paper much, as I followed the contours and lines of my head and face. On my second try, I looked at both the photo and my paper, trying to catch a more accurate representation of what I was seeing. On my third try, I made adjustments and added some additional detail.
I look at each of these drawings and again notice the self judgment that immediately surfaced: this is why I don't draw! These are terrible! .... But then I realize, the fact that drawing doesn't come naturally to me is not the point of this exercise. The point of the exercise is to spend time with myself, to really see myself, and to practice accepting myself just as I am. Everything I see is a part of me and is what makes me whole and unique ... the wrinkles, the deep lines, the dark spots and scars.... but also the light and bright spots, the contours, and the feature I love best, my eyes.
It's so easy to judge and criticize our self, both for how we look on the outside and how we feel on the inside. What's not as easy is to release the self-criticism and self-judgment in favor of self-kindness, self-compassion and self-love. We practice self-compassion when we remember that everyone has flaws and blemishes and no one is perfect. We practice self-kindness when we release self-criticism and self-judgment and learn to honor the way we are, right now. We practice self-appreciation when we look past the blemishes to see our natural beauty, delight in our favorite features, embrace our good qualities. Part of our journey toward true self love is to really see ourself, and to learn to accept ourself, exactly as we are without wishing something were different.
How long has it been since you reflected on your core values? Whether we're aware of it or not, our values are an important part of our decision making process. Your values help you clarify what's important to you, serving as a guide for determining your priorities. Your values focus your efforts, drawing you toward what will help you feel fulfilled. When you know your values, you can design and orient your life around them. Your options and choices become clearer; you make better decisions, you feel aligned and connected. When you take the next step and align your goals to your values, you set more meaningful goals and then feel an internal drive to accomplish them.
After clarifying what's most important to us, it's easier to determine if we're on track or off track in the various areas of our life. When goals are not in alignment with your values, you may procrastinate or avoid working on the goal altogether. And when actions are not congruent with your values, you may feel unfocused, frustrated, unproductive, or depleted.
Your core values are specific to you. You determine what is important, what the value means to you, and how to incorporate the value into your decisions. For example, one of my core values is self-expression. The specific ways I express this value may vary over time or as my circumstances change. Sometimes I make art, sometimes I write, sometimes I speak. But what doesn't change is that I need to be expressing myself in *some way* in order to feel whole and if I'm not, I feel out of alignment.
Another of my core values is beauty. I've been really focused on creating beauty around me in my home so I can experience it all the time. And If I want to immerse fully in the beauty of nature, I have chosen to live in an area where I can do that in just a few minute's drive. And in my work, part of my mission is to help my clients see the beauty and goodness within themselves.
I refer to my values when I create my priorities, set goals, and make decisions. One way I put my values into daily practice is when I receive requests of my time. Instead of immediately saying yes or no as I have in the past, I review my values, vision, mission, and priorities to determine if the request will support or hinder my ability to honor those. My values support me in saying YES when I want to say yes, and NO when I need to say no.
It's a good practice to review our values occasionally, to see if they change over time or as our life circumstances change. I generally review my values about once a year, and when I've experienced significant life changes. As life circumstances shift, what we view as important may also shift.
If you're unsure of your values, I invite you to download my free guide: Clarifying Your Core Values. This document will guide you through the process that I've used to discover my core values. Beyond just discovering what your core values are, this guide will invite you to reflect on why these values are important to you and how you can start integrating them more purposefully in all areas of your life.
Sometimes I make a little art. I don't consider myself terribly artistic, and I used to be *really* hard on myself when I would create a piece of art. Imperfections, mistakes, and failures are common and "success" is rare. But as I've learned to release the false notion of perfection in my life, I've also learned to release any hope of perfection in my art.
Mistakes are a part of life, and mistakes are also part of the art making process. There's more to art than just the end result. I've learned to look beyond the final result to the emotions or messages that present themselves through the art that I make. We can learn a lot about what's going on inside by observing what comes out on the page or canvas. We just need to turn down the volume on the thinking brain, and let our inner child come out and play with no expectations, no rules, and no self-imposed limitations about what we can or can't do. When we can do that, then art can be enjoyable instead of stressful, and can bring relaxation, calmness, and healing.