Last week I wrote about some practical tools that I am currently accessing on my journey. This week I am sharing three more things from my tool box. I found the first two way back at the beginning of my self-care journey that introduced me to important principles that helped me navigate through some of the most difficult times and that I still call on today. The last item on the list is a multitasking “game” that I play that makes me feel like Mary Poppins.
I have heard it said that we come here to learn certain lessons, that the lessons we are here to learn come in the form of the habits and addictions that are hardest for us to break. I have heard it said that if we can learn those lessons effectively, they are the ones that we will be most qualified to teach. If that is true then I think one of the most important lessons that I was put here to learn was how to instate healthy boundaries. When someone remarks on my firm boundaries, there is a moment where I am taken aback and think they must have me mistaken for someone else! For most of my life I fumbled through relationships. I felt anxious all the time because my peace was contingent on the energy that I felt from others. If my partner was angry, I was angry. If my partner was sad, I was sad. If my partner was happy, I was… able to take a breath…but still anxious. I truly thought that my role in a relationship was to fix what was broken in every other person. I mistook self sacrifice and martyrdom for love. I was so lost that it never occurred to me to fix what was broken in myself! One day I just had enough, and I realized that if I ever wanted to have a healthy relationship something had to give. In doing some research on how to “fix” my relationship I came across a book that I remembered seeing a lot in my days of working the self-help section at bookstores; Codependent No More, by Melody Beattie It turns out that one of the keys to having a healthy (and HAPPY!) relationship is to have proper boundaries. This book blasted the door open for me to start grasping the concept that the only person that you can change is yourself. The book has been around forever but I still consider it one of the most important reads for someone who struggles with boundaries, communication, or has trouble defining a healthy relationship.
Around the same time that I picked up Melody Beattie’s book, I got serious about yoga. I had done some yoga DVD’s in my living room off and on and liked how it made me feel a little more calm and relaxed, but I didn’t know much about the yogic principles and was intimidated to go to a yoga studio. But I was ready to make some changes in my life so I decided to join a beginner’s series class at a local yoga studio. It was slightly out of my comfort zone but I felt safer because all of the other students were beginners too! It was through that beginner series that I began to dive deeper into my yoga practice and really start applying yoga to my life off the mat. I began to connect with my breath and reconnect to my body in really ways that I had not been able to since I was a dancer as a young girl. I found that yoga gave me patience and compassion and self-control and discipline. One of the most interesting side effects of my yoga practice though was that my relationships with my partner and with my friends and clients improved! These days, while I still enjoy a studio class, the bulk of my yoga practice is a solo one at home. When I am feeling a lack of inspiration I will access online yoga classes too. One of my favorites is the lovely Yoga With Adriene. Adriene offers a wide variety of class styles and lengths. She offers up the poses, the breath work, and sneaks in the little spiritual teachings in such a way that you don’t even realize you are learning until you’ve gulped it up, kind of like that song Julie Andrews sings in Mary Poppins about a spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down. Which brings me to the last thing on the list….
30 Minutes of Cleaning! My wife thinks I am bananas for calling this a game, but it’s a game because I say so. Remember that scene in Mary Poppins when she gets the children to clean their disaster of a bedroom by turning it into a game? It’s like that. And honestly, I find it so fun that I feel like I am doing little more than snapping my fingers and the chores are done. Experts say that only 30 minutes of moderate activity helps boost mood, energy levels, improve memory, tap into creativity and improve self-confidence. I try to do at least 30 minutes of exercise about 5 days a week for those reasons. My creative expression and my ability to kick back and relax are pretty high on my list of priorities. I have a difficult time focusing on projects or even relaxing on the couch if my house is messy. So for me, it is a no brainer to set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes and clean and tidy as much and as fast as I can until the timer goes off. At the end of 30 minutes I have a tidy space, I have gotten my heart rate up, and I feel great! It’s a win win! Like my wife, you may beg to differ on this is sounding like a “fun game” but I encourage you to try it once and see where it gets you!
I hope you have enjoyed these practical tools that have enriched my life in so many ways. I would love to hear your tools and practices, so please feel free to share in the comments below!