For years have I practiced self care: eating nourishing foods; saying no! to tasks and to-dos that pulled me away from family time; carving out sacred time to meditate and write; adding my workouts to my daily schedule rather than just squeezing them into my day; effortlessly scheduling mini-massages; closing my office door for 10 minutes of quiet in the middle of the chaos. In fewer words: I take very good care of MYself.
Recently a phrase started popping into my world. The phrase came in and then I dismissed it, believing it was something I’d already mastered in my journey toward self-awareness. However, when the phrase, “practice self love,” continued to show its presence in conversations with colleagues, listening to podcasts about life balance, and in the multitude of inspirational videos posted on social media, I decided to pause. Wait, self love, is also the same as self care, right? These have to be the same?
Perhaps you are reading this with a slight chuckle in your brain because you clearly see the delineation between the two forms of self nurturing. Or maybe you are like me: reading these words sparks a small curiosity about the words love and care; specifically how these words relate to self. And, you might be the person who sees the beautiful blend between both the love and the care within the self.
So, I explored this new curiosity with great precision. I broached the subject in conversations with colleagues, asserting, “that sounds like self love,” and then watching their reactions. And as soon as I believed I held an understanding of these two beautiful forms of nurture, it would suddenly appear in my life again and tackle all my beliefs like an intricate puzzle sliding off the table and onto the floor. Then, finally, the quintessential light bulb flickered during an afternoon at home with my kids. Like many afternoons during COVID, there is a certain degree of creativity involved in keeping my kiddos off the screens and away from annoying each other. (Note: some days I am very successful at this endeavor – and others are a complete disaster.). On this particular day I created a project for my kids to hang positive, inspirational words and pictures on the walls by their beds. Truly, there is no better way to wake-up then with powerful affirmations and awe-inspiring photographs. Phrases such as, “I’m confident,” “I’m smart,” “Follow my own arrow,” started to fill the empty walls in each of my children’s bedrooms. Fairy lights decorated the images, bringing a touch of sacredness to the walls’ images. These images made my heart sparkle.
And, then, one day I heard: Mom, I’m a good reader. Mom, I am me and I like it!
In this small moment, an entire world of eat-your-snap-peas and growing-bodies-need-sleep took a step to the side (not away or behind). All of sudden, I understood the meaning of self love. Self love, in my own simple terms, is what we tell ourselves. It is the running script that plays in our head as we drive to work each morning; as we anticipate with uncertainty the start of a new school year; when we glance at ourselves in the mirror on one of those days. It is the opposite of self loathing with phrases such as, I’m so unloveable and My life is so hectic and chaotic. Self love is the shift into a mindset that sees possibility, that feels empowerment, that twirls with inspiration. Self love is the one thing, despite all my heart-pounding workouts, that required a huge emotional commitment to myself. It requires daily resets when I feel myself slipping into old patterns of negative talk. It is the required ticket for attracting more positive vibes into my own life.
I also believe that self care and self love feed each other. There is a synergy that connects and empowers the other. When I practice self care then my internal love for myself grows. My capacity to be open to what I have to offer the world expands. My belief that I can conquer this day with grace and ease envelopes me . And, on the days when I indulge a bit too much in those healthy energy bars, go to bed just an hour later, and skip my workout … I notice that my love for myself also expands. Why? Well, even in the moments when I’m not perfect – and when I’m totally vulnerable with ME – is when I invite more love into my life.
In this moment as I post this blog, my thoughts about love and care seem connected. I also know that as a mother, a women, a working professional and an entrepreneur, that my understanding of both self love and care will continue to evolve. I invite you to evolve with your self love and care, too. You are worth it!