Remember to Care for Yourself First

Have you ever been on a plane before and heard the flight attendant give you directions about oxygen masks? Remember that the instructions are for you to put your mask on first before you assist others?  This is the perfect metaphor about how to live your life.  But how often do we forget this and end up at the bottom of our list, or simply forgotten about?

You can’t take care of anyone else, unless you can take care of yourself first.  Don’t get me wrong, there are times when others need us and we need to be there for them.  But the key to caring for others is to make sure that you mindfully nurture yourself first.  Here are some steps to make sure you keep yourself at the top of the list:

1. Plan for your SELF time. 

This might be something as simple as plugging your nurturing activities into your calendar.  If it is in your schedule, you have made time for the activity…..and you.

2. Nurture all dimensions of your life.

You have mental, physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions of your SELF.  It is most beneficial if you acknowledge these parts to create wholeness within you.  Spending 5 minutes a day in quiet reflection can do so much to support your spiritual and emotional self.  Your activities don’t need to be big to be effective.

3. Acknowledge yourself when you take the time for you.

We often forget to find the good in ourselves. This is usually blocked the with cognitive part of our mental self that  is looking for what is bad or not right.  Be kind, loving and gentle with yourself.

4. Pay attention to where you spend your energy.

You might be unconscious of where you spend your energy.  It’s a good idea to evaluate your life and let go of what takes away your positive energy.  Consciously focus on renewing your energy to fill YOUR cup.

5. Remember to bring Joy into your life.

Joy is the feeling of happiness and warmth inside of your heart.  Joy filled activities can activate endorphins, the feel good hormones.  Remember what brings you joy in your heart and try to do a simple joy filled activity each day.  It can be a simple as closing your eyes and reliving an wonderful memory.

Caring for your SELF and managing your energy can be the key to optimal health and well being. Spend some time quiet time reflecting on your life.  What can you let go of in your life?  What can you do to enhance your life?   Remember that your are the only one who can change how you are.   Care for yourself first and see what a difference it makes in your life.  Love and honor yourself with this gift….you are worth it!

Why is it Scary and Empowering to be Vulnerable?

Somehow I knew it was time.  I knew the topic of the table top discussion at the networking meeting was about humbling moments as a leader.  Was it time to tell a piece of my humbling story?  Was it time to reveal this painful situation in my life?  Was this the right group to share with?  Was it safe to be so vulnerable?  In my heart I knew I had been protecting this part of me that was so hurt.  I could not have shared this experience a year ago without crying.

I knew in my heart that this was a healing opportunity for me.  To say it out loud and to show my humanness.  My heart was ready to share.  I took my wall down and shared my humbling experience with 7 other ladies.  Voice cracking and hands trembling….I did it.  I felt naked, raw and scared right afterwards.  Will they judge me as being weak for sharing?  As everyone continued to share, they too opened themselves up to the “power” of vulnerability.  As fearful as I was after I shared, I felt empowered, as I think they all did as well.  I felt like I let some fresh air to a wound that was healing.

It brought to light so much of a book I read this past year by Dr. Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfectionand a very profound excerpt from her book that resonated with me:

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.  Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy….the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.  Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

I feel as though this experience was brought to me because it was time.  Divine timing none the less, and I feel blessed to be able to experience it and share it.  But somehow the experience of being vulnerable is a way for me to grow more courage muscles….and live more authentically in the heart centered space I choose to be in.

When was the last time you opened up and allowed yourself to be vulnerable? Did you feel the fear and power?  We all have challenges in our lives and when we face them with an open heart, that vulnerability is the key that allows our light to shine.  Shine on!!

When to Connect and When to Disconnect

I just spent the past two weeks on vacation…..the longest vacation I think I have taken since I was a kid!  I had this time set aside for renewal, rest and rejuvenation.  I had to recharge my personal batteries.  I gave myself permission to disconnect with the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The first 6 days of my vacation were spent at my grad school, the University of Santa Monica, being of service and assisting for the Lab for First Year Students.  It was a powerful experience to connect with the loving energy of the teachers, faculty, students and fellow assistants (you all rock!)  Working 14 hour days from 9 am to 11 pm for 6 days was intense to my physical self, but my spiritual self kept riding high!

Then I disconnected from the USM energy to connect with rest, relaxation and fun for the next week with my husband on the California coast.  Then my physical and emotional self recharged with sleep (sleeping in late and naps!) and no schedules.  We just went with the flow and allowed ourselves to just BE.

I was very cognizant that I had disconnected from my business social media communication during this time frame.  Part of me felt a bit guilty, but those emotions were quickly squealed by my deep inner wisdom, knowing that disconnection was needed and would be healing at many different levels.  Don’t get me wrong, I know how important my business connections are, but I knew that when I returned I would have my batteries fully charged and ready to share again.  That’s what I’m doing now!

Listening to your inner wisdom is crucial when knowing when it is time to connect and disconnect.  Our human selves are hard wired for connection with others and it is important at many levels.  However it is optimal for your health and well being to be conscious of your energy spent to connect, and your energy renewal to disconnect.

When you slow down and find that quiet place inside….. listen and you will hear.

Listen…Honor…Care…Trust…

It has been six weeks since I began teaching my Heartfelt Learning Workshops Series sessions and what a joy it has been to share with such wonderful people!  The words I have listed above are what I had the privilege to experience happening inside of each and every participant.  Experiencing the openness of everyone to learn and watch the group connect each time we met, has touched my heart.

As I was teaching the group how to live life from a more open hearted perspective, I watched their hearts expand within themselves and with each other.  They learned to listen to themselves differently and were much more aware and in tuned to listen to others.  They even shared how much more aware they were of others in their lives who don’t listen!  I loved when one participant was listening to a sharing of another, and then they reflected back what they heard in front of the group, and then watched the entire group engage deeply into the heart centered listening process!

We shared what an ideal scene of what a healthy and whole person looks like.  Loving and honoring one’s SELF are the steps to that picture of healthiness and wholeness.  Here are a few statements we shared:

A Healthy and Whole Person….

…..has healthy boundaries with others in their life.

…..can give and receive love.

…..has their own voice.

…..can say NO as a complete sentence.

…..is available to see the truth.

…..has positive loving self thoughts.

…..accepts responsibility for their own upset.

…..trusts their own judgment.

The learning process allowed each participant to evaluate their life and explore where their energy drainers and fuelers were, and to create some action steps to find a better balance and care for themselves.  They created positive and loving affirmations about themselves to continue to see the goodness and beauty inside and create a practice to keep affirming those messages.

The greatest gift that the group experienced was that they learned to trust themselves and each other.  They felt safe enough to share from their hearts about their opportunities for learning and celebrating their successes.  The ah ha moments became more and more profound at each session.  I loved the last session when one lovely woman shared the activities she had done for the prior two weeks, and it was actually part of the material I was about to teach!  She had done some self reflection and was open and honest enough to go inside and take a look at her own heart.  She got it before she ever learned it!

It has been a blessing for me to share the wisdom of my heart.  Allowing others to share and expand their hearts with me has been my greatest gift of this teaching experience.  Living life from a more heart centered perspective can allow for more peace, compassion, joy, happiness and love in your life.