Your Most Vital Commitment

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Today’s post comes from one of my favorite daily inspirational sites – DailyOM. Madisyn Taylor is an exquisite writer who really gets to the heart of the matter. She’s recently published a collection of her inspirational posts! Make sure to check it out! Namaste – Stacey

Finding Time for You

Within each of there is a well of energy that must be regularly replenished. When we act as if this well is bottomless, scheduling a long list of activities that fit like puzzle pieces into every minute of every day, it becomes depleted and we feel exhausted, disconnected, and weak. Refilling this well is a matter of finding time to focus on, nurture, and care for ourselves, or “you time.” Most of us are, at different times throughout the day, a spouse, a friend, a relative, an employee, a parent, or a volunteer, which means that down time, however relaxing in nature, is not necessarily “you time.” Though some people will inevitably look upon “you time” as being selfish, it is actually the polar opposite of selfishness. We can only excel where our outer world affairs are concerned when our own spiritual, physical, and intellectual needs are fulfilled.

Recognizing the importance of “you time” is far easier than finding a place for it in an active, multifaceted lifestyle, however. Even if you find a spot for it in your agenda, you may be dismayed to discover that your thoughts continuously stray into worldly territory. To make the most of “you time,” give yourself enough time on either side of the block of time you plan to spend on yourself to ensure that you do not feel rushed. Consider how you would like to pass the time, forgetting for the moment your obligations and embracing the notion of renewal. You may discover that you are energized by creative pursuits, guided meditation, relaxing activities during which your mind can wander, or modes of expression such as writing.

Even if you have achieved a functioning work-life balance, you may still be neglecting the most important part of that equation: you. “You time” prepares you for the next round of daily life, whether you are poised to immerse yourself in a professional project or chores around the home. It also affords you a unique opportunity to learn about yourself, your needs, and your tolerances in a concrete way. As unimportant as “you time” can sometimes seem, it truly is crucial to your well-being because it ensures that you are never left without the energy to give of yourself.

madisyn-press2-200Best-selling author Madisyn Taylor is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the popular inspirational website DailyOM, and she is responsible for all its content. A recognized leader in self-help and New Thought spirituality, she has more than 15 years experience in personal development and alternative-healing methodologies. When not working, Madisyn can be found meditating in her garden and communing with nature.

Self-Care For Higher Self-Esteem

I came across this blog post on HealthyPlace and I thought it was a good follow-up to my post last week. I am doing better with taking breaks and eating lunch, but I’m not quite *there* yet. We are all works in progress, so I’m confident that I’ll reach the right balance for me real soon! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did! Namaste – Stacey

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By Emily Roberts, MA, LPC

One of the most important things you can do for mind and body is take a break once in a while. That may mean taking time to stop and smell the roses or a more realistic approach–making it a mandatory part of your day. Why wouldn’t you add self-care into your daily routine? Science shows it makes you more productive, reduces the stress that leads to debilitating and fatal illnesses and can make you instantly happier. Purposeful self-care is proven to build awareness to listening to your body and developing a better relationship with your self, which leads to higher self-esteem.

Who Has Time for Self-Care?

You do! In fact, you waste more time thinking about what to do or when to do it, when in fact self-care can take just seconds. It’s the acct of noticing what you need and deserve in the moment, respecting your body and mind, and showing yourself love and kindnesses. Above all else, it’s a mindful reminder that you are important and deserving of a little “me” time. The more you remind yourself of this, the more it will enhance your self-esteem.

Small acts of self-care, some take less then a minute, can raise your self-esteem and make you happier. Try these self-care techniques for higher self-esteem.

Use these ideas for some simple self-care that takes just a few minutes:

S – snuggle with a furry friend or human – being close to someone who provides affection (licks from Fido count) increase oxytocin, the love hormone.

E – eat foods that you nourish you – notice what foods fuel your body and mind.

L -look at something beautiful – a picture or an image that makes you smile or inspires you, mindfully, for a minute.

F – funny clips, GIF’s or images – laughing and smiling produce happy endorphins making it more likely you’ll be in nicer to yourself and those around you.

Small acts of self-care, some take less then a minute, can raise your self-esteem and make you happier. Try these self-care techniques for higher self-esteem.

 

C – create confident thoughts with affirmations – take a moment to look for inspiring and loving quotes or phrases, read them to yourself, and put them into your phone or place on your mirror.

A – allow yourself a little luxury – the towels you reserve for guests, use them for you, buy the nice bath salt, get a foot massage (more men are in spas than ever before) and treat your body with some love.

R – read a blog or book that inspires you or that you look forward to.

E – enjoy a warm beverage, a cup of tea or coffee – become mindful of little things throughout the day that feel good.

These little, loving acts thought the day can really make an improvement in your self-esteem. Making time, even a few minutes, shows your body and mind that you are worth it. What acts of self-care do you try to do daily? Please share your ideas and let us know what your favorite ideas are.

Take Good Care.

You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Google+and Twitter.

The Need to Achieve: Making Peace with Doing Less

Just finished reading Stacey’s post about staying in flow but not getting too carried away that you forget to take care of yourself. Funny, how even positive choices can become too much. In general though, it’s our never-ending to-do-lists that enslave us.

I’m still struck by how many women I know and counsel who feel that they can’t take time to sit and eat their lunch without multi-tasking or stay up late at night doing laundry and straightening the house. The “need to achieve” is so strong that whether we’re in flow doing something we enjoy or trying to get caught up at work or home, we can’t seem to stop. We’ve  convinced ourselves that a steady diet of going without meals, sleep,or time to recharge, is what’s necessary. We think we’ll rest easier when “everything’s done,” and instead end up feel overwhelmed and stressed out.

Three weeks ago after my vacation where I actually “did” very little, I jumped back into over-doing mode. I put in extra time at work and home “getting things done”. The only area I shorted was spending time with friends.  Although I practiced self-care, it doesn’t work as well when I’m already tired and worn out.

So, noticing this, I’m choosing to do less the next few days. Yes, I won’t feel as “accomplished,” but I know I’ll feel better.

This week, how can you put the brakes on? Make peace with doing less? Re-fuel with sleep, meals, and taking breaks?

We’ll be practicing too.

Namaste

 

Staying in the Flow, Yet Taking Time for You

hazy clouds duskAs I move from clinical practice into my new venture, I get into the “flow” much more often. This flow is the state of being so involved and immersed in what I’m doing that time doesn’t matter. I’ll look up at the clock after what feels like 10 minutes and realize that 3 hours have passed! This state is one of being constantly present.

It’s not like I don’t notice things around me – I do. But when I’m in this immersed state, it is easier to ignore things that would have side-tracked me before. I know that those things will still be around when I’m done with my current project.

The problem is that I get so immersed that I end up “working” sometimes over 12 hours a day! I put working in quotation marks because for the most part, I am enjoying what I am doing, so it doesn’t feel like work, even though I may get paid for doing what I am doing. However, working that much means that I am not taking time for self-care! That’s a no-no!

About 2 weeks ago, I was looking at my calendar and calculating just how much time per day I was spending doing work projects. That’s when I realized that I was working too much! It didn’t feel like I was, but whether or not I am enjoying myself, it’s essential that I take time out for renewal and recharging. I know that eventually, working that many hours will lead to burn-out.

Now, I set the alarm on my phone to alert me at various intervals to stop and stretch, eat (yes, I have to remind myself to eat!), and check in with the rest of the world. I also now have an alarm that goes off at 5pm, which means that I have to find a stopping point and actually stop for the day. It’s hard sometimes, but I find that when I do make myself stop, I end up doing things for myself and end the day feeling relaxed and accomplished.

Whether you like your work or not, it’s very important to keep regular hours and to include self-care in every day!

Namaste’.

Persephone’s Journey: How Everything We Touch Changes

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With the arrival of spring, I am always reminded of Persephone’s story and the lessons to be learned from the daughter of Demeter, mother earth, and her journey.

I was introduced to Persephone’s story a few years ago at a women’s retreat.  In Roman mythology, Persephone is the daughter of Demeter, Mother Earth, who leaves “the world above” to become Queen of the Underworld. Although some versions say she was abducted by Hades and taken against her will, I prefer to believe that she left because she had outgrown living as a child in her mother’s garden and wanted to fulfill her unique destiny.

While she is still in the Underworld, she brings healing and hope to the spirits of the dead. Wherever she walks, “a line of bright daffodils sprout in her wake. By her simple presence and passing, she brings color and life” to the darkness below. However, she might not have noticed these changes at all if Hades had not asked her to turn her head and notice the changes she’s brought to a path that for her was “already in the past.”

So, here are some questions for you to consider this week. “What flowers, what color, what brightness have you left in your wake? Often without noticing it? Can you take a moment to turn, to notice? Can you take in the power, and responsibility, of this reality-that you too change everything you touch?

When you look over your shoulder, what do you see? And how does that feel? What might this noticing change?”

Enjoy your week. Namaste.

Note: Quotes are taken from 2010 Mystery School Workbook, Diana’s Grove

 

 

Pediatricians Should Start Screening for Postpartum Depression

Sorry for my lack of posts this week, readers. We had a nasty bug run through the family, and that is definitely a time for self-care! As you probably know, Diane and I are both advocates of postpartum mood disorder education. I stumbled across this post on Time online and thought I’d share it. I’ve always thought pediatricians were excellent resources to screen new moms! I know I showed up with my baby at her check-ups crying and falling apart, yet I was never asked about ME. I hope you enjoy this article. Namaste’ – Stacey.

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We’ve all heard about the importance of mother-baby bonding. When that doesn’t happen because a mother is battling postpartum depression, it’s not only mom who suffers; baby does too. Research has shown that babies who are neglected or cared for by depressed mothers may experience developmental delays.

That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is now recommending that baby docs get in on the action and screen new moms for telltale signs of depression.

But isn’t the pediatrician the baby’s doctor? Well, yes, but mom’s well-being affects baby’s. In any case, a pediatrician has many more opportunities to interact with a new mother than other physicians since newborns have frequent well-baby check-ups. The peak time for major postpartum depression is six weeks, which coincides with the peak time of infant crying. Minor to moderate depression strikes most often in the first four months after delivery. The AAP recommends pediatricians screen mothers at babies’ one-, two- and four-month visits. (More on Time.comDiagnosing Postpartum Depression with a Brain Scan)

With some research indicating that up to a quarter of moms develop some form of depression after their baby’s birth, recognizing and treating the condition is a matter of public health.

It’s not enough for a pediatrician to simply make a gut assessment of how mom and baby are doing. “It wouldn’t necessarily always be obvious, so the evidence is that you really need to ask and it needs to be routine,” says Marian Earls, a Greensboro, N.C., pediatrician who was the lead author of the clinical report published in the November issue of Pediatrics.

As a result, pediatricians are being advised to ask mothers to complete a brief questionnaire called the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, 10 questions designed to reveal whether a mother is struggling. (More on Time.comHaving Kids, Especially Young Ones, Ramps Up Depression)

While the recommendation to screen is new, a fair number of pediatric practices — including Earls’ clinic and others in Minnesota, Illinois and New Hampshire — have already begun.

Earls’ practice has been doing it for five years; in that time, doctors have identified fewer than 10 women who needed immediate emergency services. When the questionnaire reveals cause for concern, mothers are more commonly referred on the spot to clinical social workers, who help them find support in the community. Sometimes they’re directed to early intervention services, where they learn how to interact and play with their baby. (More on Time.com: The ‘Mommy Brain’ Is Bigger: How Love Grows a New Mother’s Brain)

A pediatric listserv established to share pediatricians’ experiences with the screening has fielded plenty of comments about patients who are grateful their babies’ doctors are taking an interest in their emotional health. “A lot of moms need reassurance and demystification of what’s going on,” says Earls.

 

The Search for Meaning in a Sh*tball’s Existence

Today’s guest post comes from an “unlikely” source, Cracked.com‘s Felix Clay. Yes, it is long, may sound a bit irreverent and contains some NSFW language, but remember, Cracked is a satire site. This article, however, really hit home with me. I hope it does with you, too. Namaste. – Stacey

The Search for Meaning

Hinduism is widely considered the oldest religion in the world. There’s evidence from thousands and thousands of years ago of funerary rituals and statuary being buried with the dead, but the meanings behind all of that have been lost. Hinduism is generally the most organized form of religion that has survived and is understandable for you and me. What do you know about Hinduism that wasn’t taught to you by Apu, assuming you’re not a Hindu yourself? It’s safe to say you probably only have a passing familiarity with it.

Because Hinduism is actually a large number of beliefs and traditions that are all tossed together, it seems a little complex, but for the purposes of understanding the meaning of life, you need to know only a few key points: Hinduism, the oldest major religion humanity has, is concerned with the knowledge of truth and reality, moral order, and right actions. In so many words, a good Hindu is someone who does right and seeks the truth. He is tolerant of others and acts in a good way. Sound familiar? It’s pretty much every major religion ever.

How did it come to pass that, as a basic tenet of Christianity, we are supposed to love our neighbors as we love ourselves? And those who follow the Muslim faith are to pardon and forgive others, for Allah loves those who do good to others? All major religions that people adhere to en masse have the same message, because it’s a good one: do good, be good, and everything is good. Only an idiot would argue with that, right? This is the point where you ignore our history of religious intolerance and bigotry and agree that, fundamentally, every human who is “normal” believes the same thing. Theists, atheists, and agnostics likely all believe or will pay lip service to the ideal that we should treat each other as we want to be treated. We should be nice and not harm or steal from one another. In fact, I will argue that you can’t reasonably, rationally propose another method of existence. No sane person could do so with sincerity, because to propose a world in which it is OK to harm some, to kill some, to steal from some, is to readily accept that you are OK with being harmed and killed yourself, for any arbitrary reason, and I believe no one who is rational would ever accept that. So it’s wrong.

It’s a reasonable argument to make that we believe goodness is not a construct of man. Goodness and the idea of what it means to be good exist independent of man (even of God, whether you believe in it or not). Goodness and rightness exist independent of us and are things we aspire to, and that’s why all religions, throughout all time, have included these things. It’s no accident or crazy coincidence. So a major aspect of simply existing is doing good. Being good. And by this definition, it’s a pretty passive thing. It doesn’t take a lot of effort. Not harming someone else is as simple as staying in bed instead of stabbing your mailman. Not stabbing the mailman is a good thing. You did well today.

"I enjoy not being stabbed! Thanks!" Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

“I enjoy not being stabbed! Thanks!”
Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

I don’t want to make anyone think I’m suggesting that the meaning of life is to be found in religion. Religion, I would argue, is a good place to start looking, because it tries to answer those tough questions of how and why things are, and it’s how people have organized themselves for a hell of a long time. It’s like learning sex tips from an elderly person — they have the history to back them up, even if the reality of their involvement in it is horrifying.

Here’s the big issue with the meaning of life and why, I think, Douglas Adams proudly proclaimed that the meaning of life (and everything) was 42. Searching for the greatest, most diffuse, most incredible thing you could ever imagine is, ultimately, a letdown. Imagine being told you were just about to meet the most beautiful human who had ever existed, a perfect person in every single way, flawless and beyond criticism, the most wondrous specimen of biology nature could ever hope to fashion. What would that person look like? Can you even picture it? Probably not, but try. Try to form an image, and once you’re as close as you can reasonably get to what you feel the most perfect human in every way is, imagine them wiping their ass and a finger tearing through the paper. Not their fault; they’re perfect, but the paper was flawed. Now your perfect person has a poo finger. Are you disappointed yet?

Reality almost never lives up to expectation, and once you take something from the divine realm of imagination, from the place where your hopes and dreams are born, and set it on your sofa, it loses its mystique, its sense of awe. When you find the thing you think will answer all your questions and make your life more profound, it won’t. It can’t. And this is especially true for the meaning of life. Knowing the meaning of life will not make your life better; how could it? It will not elevate you or inspire you. Consider what happens when you know the end of a movie before you watch it thanks to some thoughtless boob telling you that Brad Pitt and Ed Norton were the same guy the whole time. It ruins it. It doesn’t make it better; it takes the thrill away. The meaning of life has to be 42 in Douglas Adams’ universe, because what the [heck] does that mean? If they got a real answer, it would suck so bad, you don’t even know. It would ruin it. Life would be ruined if someone literally handed you a booklet that explained it all.

The meaning of life is to live it.

Do you want to know what your purpose in life is? Live it and find out. Will you be a leader of men? A revolutionary? Will you feed the starving, clothe the poor, and elevate the spirit of all who meet you and hear your words? Or will you be a short order cook and make passingly good french fries that don’t have pubes on them? Both are valid, because both are lived lives. Do you prefer one over the other? Maybe. Doesn’t matter what you prefer, though. The meaning of life is not related to the life you’d prefer to live, any more than the meaning of a pile of rabbit turds on your lawn is related to the position of stars in the sky.

Asking for a preset meaning for your life is asking for the end of a story no one wrote yet, and even if you are a theist, you are presuming that God or whatever force of will you believe in has already decided where you’ll go and what you’ll do, meaning there is no meaning anymore. It doesn’t matter, because you’re just going to do it, and your thoughts and desires and feelings are irrelevant. Some meaning you have there. You have reduced yourself to a cogwheel in a big, complicated clock, just ticking toward inevitability.

So what is the meaning of a life that gets cut short? A person who dies in a tragic accident? A baby who only gets a single breath? What was the meaning of their existence? What good could have happened there? Did they bring you happiness? Teach you something new? That very well could have been their purpose, as much as a chair’s is to be sit upon or Justin Bieber’s is to be a glib little ass wrinkle. Sometimes you don’t get to know because that story isn’t yours. And that’s why the question of the meaning of life frustrates us so very much. You want to know what your story is, but you want to know the stories of everyone around you as well. You want to know how they fit together and work together. But you don’t get to. And, on some level, we know and have to accept that maybe the meaning of a life isn’t life-changing. Maybe the meaning of one life is just to be a footnote somewhere else. Maybe it’s just to be and nothing more. Or maybe not. Maybe you don’t even get to know the meaning because you never got to see how it fit into the grand scheme of things. I told you it’s unsatisfying.

The best way to approach the prospect of coming to terms with the meaning of your own life is not to ask what it is; it’s to decide what it should be. If you care, that is. If you really want your life to have a meaning, you need to kind of make it happen on your own, and it should be good. Good for you, good for others. Good for something. Make someone laugh. Be a sexual dynamo. Learn to paint ponies that are so kick-ass real that ponies should be [damned] ashamed of their shitty ponyness.

But you need to take the reins. Why should the universe cater to your whims? You need to get off your ass. The universe has 7 billion people on this planet alone to deal with, not to mention the 100 to 200 billion other planets in our galaxy, or the 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets that likely exist in the entire universe (that’s a septillion, by the way). You have to assume there’s at least 100 other guys out there, so that’s 7 billion and 99 people other than you who need to be monitored. Who has the time to ensure that your life has a good and fulfilling purpose? Only you. Now go make me the best damn sandwich you can make!

Felix Clay is not a cat. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Felix_Clay.