Post ID 742

Posted by on April 17, 2020

“Listen to your needs and desires. Meet them with tenderness and grace.”

Are your self-care practices ‘top heavy’? 

Mine have been, up until recently. I used to notice I was feeling off, then thought about what I could do for a break. Or I’d have a stretch of time to myself and wonder how I would fill it with some kind of self-care-ish type of activity. In either case, I was guided by my thoughts about what to do. I was practicing ‘heads up’ or ‘top heavy’ self-care. 

Now I know that for self-care to truly work for me and be worth my time and effort, it needs to be ‘inside-out’ or ‘self-sourced’ or ‘heart-centred’. In other words, I need to take into account the needs of my whole Self. 

I notice what’s going on for me, name the unique needs at the root of my experience and respond in ways that best nurture those needs.

Heart-Centred Self-Care

Step 1 – Notice

The first step is to pause and take note of what you are experiencing. 

What’s the ‘outer’ experience that you are sensing with your 5 senses or envisioning in your mind?

Ex. I see the sun is setting and that I didn’t get all of today’s work done yet . . .  I hear the boisterous family being loud and silly . . . 

Also, what’s the ‘inner’ experience that you are feeling

Ex. I am feeling negative or unhelpful feelings, like guilt, sadness, worry, anger, etc. I am feeling positive or helpful feelings, like courage, acceptance, love, joy, peace etc.

Step 2 – Needs

Here’s the step that most of us miss – but that’s the most important. 

Considering what you are sensing and feeling, what do you really need?

You can take your best guess, or I recommend looking at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or the Centre for Non-Violent Communications Needs Inventory to accurately name the one or two needs that are causing your feelings.

Ex. I need financial security which is why I’m worrying about not finishing my work yet.  I need space which is why I’m feeling irritable about the family’s noise. 

Step 3 – Nurture

Now it’s time to do something with what you’ve learned – the self-care part. The aim is to figure out ways to nurture the need that you’ve identified. In attempting to meet that need, you will relieve your feelings and truly nurture yourself. Be sure to consider both ‘the doing’ (behaviours, actions) and ‘the being’ (presence, allowing, listening, resting) in your response. 

What can I ‘do’ to nurture my need(s)?

Ex. I will finish my priority task tonight, spend an extra hour tomorrow to catch up, and my finances will not be affected. I will go out for a walk so that I can have some space, and my family can keep having fun.

How can I ‘be’ to nurture my need(s)?

Ex. I will listen to my unhelpful thoughts about money and work through the process of shifting my mindset. I will allow and release my feelings of frustration around being physically isolated.

Making a regular practice of Noticing, Naming and Nurturing your needs will ensure your heart-centred self-care truly works for you. Simply moving through these steps before you get out of bed in the morning or anytime during your day will make all the difference to showing yourself the care and compassion that your heart, body, mind and spirit deserve!

Posted in: Heart, Renewal

Post ID 730

Posted by on April 3, 2020

“Solitude is rather like a folded-up forest I carry with me everywhere and unfurl around myself when I have need.”

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I’m sure I don’t need to explain why retreats are so wonderful to ‘get away from it all’ and ‘fill yourself up’. What I am excited to share is something that I’ve only just realized, and that’s really boosted my ‘me time’. 

Maybe you’re like I was, and the word ‘retreat’ brings to mind a ‘spa day’ or a ‘women’s getaway’. Now I know that you can also retreat right in the middle of your everyday life and the results will do wonders for your heart, mind, body and soul.

I started reading Jennifer Louden’s classic work “The Woman’s Retreat Book” because I was planning a ski getaway with my husband. Little did I know that my favourite takeaway would be her basic outline of a retreat that has since allowed me to have mini-retreats anywhere at any time. 

Here’s my interpretation of her outline, along with 4 retreat ideas, that will have you retreating in the heart of the hustle in as few as two minutes. You’re welcome!

4 Steps to Retreat

What I didn’t know then that I know now: the success of a retreat is not about the location you’re in, the time you have nor the people you’re with – it’s about what you do and how you do it. 

1) Prepare to Retreat – 

Think about your basic plan, such as where and when you’ll go and if you’ll need any supplies. Remember it’s not about the amount of time away or the physical proximity to your regular life, but instead about how well you can create a temporary boundary from them.

You’ll also want to set an intention for your retreat reflecting what you need right now in this moment. This will give form to your retreat while also allowing the unknowable that will unfold. This starts the process of slowing down and turning inward. For best results, pose your retreat intention as a question that feels open ended, expansive and encouraging. “On this retreat, I intend to ask myself this question . . .?”

2) Withdraw from Ordinary Life –

Begin your retreat in a safe space where you feel sustained and comforted physically and emotionally. This could be your bedroom, your bathtub, the garden, on a walk or a sacred place in your imagination.

Perform an opening ceremony or symbolic action that signals to your psyche that you’re entering a sacred time (even if you’re not physically going anywhere special). Try one or more of tehse many options: restate your intention, read an opening poem or psalm, cross a threshold, put on special clothing or an accessory, light a candle, dance to a song or apply essential oils. 

3) Listen to Yourself – 

This is the body of the retreat where the ‘work’ is done. Choose activities that will help you answer your stated intention and listen to your inner knowing. There are endless options here: rest, move, sing, read, journal, reflect, paint, cook, daydream, build, breathe, play or sleep. Anything goes, as long as the result is that you’re coming back to your centre and working toward a truer and more authentic relationship with yourself. 

4) Return to Ordinary Life –

Wrap up your retreat by reflecting on your experience, including what you’ve done, how you’ve been, what answers you’ve discovered and how you might bring any of this into your everyday life. 

End with a closing ceremony or symbolic action, like the reverse of your opening ceremony, to consciously step back into life. You could try to: offer thanks, move energetically, journal on your experience, read a poem or psalm, pack up your space, take home a momento or mental snapshot. It could be as simple as stating “I am returning from my retreat. My intention was . . . and I discovered . . . I appreciate myself for taking this time to listen and learn.”

4 Quick Retreats to Try 

Here are just a few ideas about how you could easily create a retreat in your day, in under 30 minutes. For the greatest results, please adapt these ideas to specifically address your own intentions and interests. 

1) The ‘Step Away Retreat’ in 2 minutes 

  • Ask yourself “How can I allow myself to relax and be?”
  • Close the door or close your eyes and imagine yourself in a favourite place.
  • Ideas: deep breathing, do nothing, apply body lotion or essential oils, try legs-up-the-wall pose, stretch, do a body scan or notice your 5 senses.
  • Say “All is well in this present moment. Thank you for taking this time for yourself.”

2) The ‘Take a Break Retreat’ in 10 minutes

  • Ask yourself “What do I love and how can I celebrate that?”
  • Light a candle, put on a favourite accessory or read a favourite poem.
  • Ideas: Mindfully drink a cup of tea, shower or bathe, journal, rest on your bed, practice an instrument, meditate or have a dance break.
  • Reverse your opening practice and write down how you love and celebrate, so you can remember to do more of that in the future.

3) The ‘Nature Retreat’ in 20 minutes

  • Ask yourself “How am I feeling about . . . (a demanding situation)?”
  • Get dressed and step out the door.
  • Ideas: Walk, sit in the sun, forest bathe, work in the garden or play in the park.
  • Before stepping back inside, notice if any new insights or feelings have arisen.

4) The ‘Lunch Break’ Retreat in 30 minutes

  • Ask yourself “What do I need to do to refuel myself now?”
  • Leave your workplace, or wherever you were previously spending your time, and go somewhere safe and soothing. Make a ritual of some small special gesture on your way, like listening to music or making a special beverage. 
  • Ideas: Mindfully eat lunch, go outside, read, socialize (if this is refueling to you), stretch, move, breathe or create (draw, knit, write – whatever thrills you).
  • Before returning, notice how you are and say “I’m ready for the rest of my day!”

However you choose to retreat, I hope these ideas bring you one step closer to feeling the best that you can and hearing the wisdom and wonder of your own self. 

P.S. For more insights like this sent directly to your inbox, subscribe to my email community HERE.

Post ID 600

Posted by on November 3, 2017

There are about 2 months left in 2017.

Around 8 weeks. Nearly 60 days.

What goals or plans do you have left to finish up (or start) this year?

It’s not too late. 

Two months doesn’t seem like a very long time, especially as we enter into the busy holiday season. Even I could almost be convinced to write off any remaining plans for the year, and instead start fresh in the new year.

Almost, but not quite. . .

I know what I can do in 2 months. When I sat down to write the draft of this email to you, I was reminded. It all came flowing out of my pen and onto paper where I can’t deny it. Maybe you could try this too to remind yourself of where you’ve been.

There is so much of life to EXPERIENCE in 2 months!

In the two months since my family and I moved from our old home to our new one, together with my husband I’ve:

  • Moved us and our personal belongings into our new home;
  • Settled back into the school routine and embraced the flow of country living;
  • Sorted through every container and corner of our house and donated, sold, trashed or boxed up our belongings for storage;
  • Finished so many unfinished to-dos in our former house – painted, caulked, replaced, scrubbed and fixed (why do we wait ’til we’re moving to do this?!);
  • Coordinated extra-curricular activities – after school sports, piano, play dates, nature time, Halloween and special events;
  • Connected with loved ones and hosted dinners, sleepovers, birthdays, Thanksgivings, beach parties and walks on the beach;
  • Enjoyed family time, just the 4 of us – swam in the giant waves, fished in the river, hiked through the trails, biked along the roads, built a fort in the bush and basked by the bonfire;
  • Maintained my business (admittedly at a relaxed pace);
  • Squeezed in some solo self-care time (the reason all of this happened);
  • And kept up with all the regular stuff too – cleaned, cooked, maintained, parented and so on;
  • Learned so much about myself, my family and our lives in the process;
  • And have experienced more moments of wonder and awe in just two months than I have in years – the daily changing beauty of Lake Superior; the wild animals who are my neighbours;  the starry, moonlit and meteorite-filled sky; the sublime change of seasons from summer to fall and toward winter . . .

Could I have done this alone? No, but I could have done at least half and that still would have been impressive.

Am I tired? Yes, very and ready for the next phase (we’re not meant to “produce” all the time).

Am I happy? YES! I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

I don’t share this to boast. I want to exemplify what we as women so often fail to do. We usually skip the pause, the reflection, the celebration. Instead, we rush ahead with our next steps and focus only on our never-ending to-do lists. Let’s stop doing that.  Let’s just stop – and breathe.

I don’t share this to brag. Like many of you, I struggle with “visibility” and am overcoming my life-long tendency to keep myself small, play it safe and avoid putting myself out there. But that’s such a waste. Let’s just be ourselves. 

Instead, I share it to show you how long 2 months really are and how much can be experienced  – when you’re on the right path for you – when you’re motivated by your heart’s truest desires – when you’re living each day in the way that makes you feel fulfilled and free. 

This is what I want for you!

As we look to November and December, think of all you want to be, do and have. Think of all that could be.

What would you most like to accomplish or experience this year so that you’re on your way to living your own version of fulfillment, fun and freedom?

Not sure what you want or how to proceed? Book a free Clarity call with me to get clear on where you’re at, your next steps, and how I can support you in making them happen.

2 months. 8 weeks. 60 days.

That’s plenty of time for you to make some magic happen!
Nicole

Posted in: Freedom
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