I’ve been fortunate enough to know Aliza Sherman and Beth Kanter for some years now. Two amazing, whip-smart women who kick ass and take names. Alas, Aliza lives in Alaska and Beth in Northern California, so I only get to see them in person every now and again when something drags them across the country to New York.
Today was one of those days. As they travel around the country for the launch of their book, The Happy Healthy Nonprofit, they’ve hosted a series of events that included today’s small group lunch with an amazing group. We talked about how we practice self-care in a world where we’re constantly busy with work, family, or other things that leap up and grab us by the collar.
Aliza asked us to introduce ourselves, and say what we did to take care of ourselves on a daily basis. At first, I wasn’t sure what to say. I don’t meditate and yoga is not my thing (more on that another time). But then I realized I’ve been taking care of myself and my mind every day so far this year.
There are two things I do that help stop the racing in my brain, and they’re both related, albeit tangentially.
Almost every day, unless it’s raining or so bitterly cold that I can’t bear the thought of going outside, I walk my Siberian Husky, Lumi. Most days we walk for 3.5 miles or so, to a nearby county park, around the perimeter and back home. Sometimes I let her choose the pathways; others I take us on our regular route and add in an extra loop of the interior of the park.
I talk to her as we walk and I leave my phone in my pocket. (Mostly, at least.) I am present, and it gives me time to think about what I’m going to write on any given day. I let different ideas percolate and whatever one takes hold the strongest is usually the one I write that day.
That’s the other thing I do. I write. Every day.
I’ve always been perfectly horrid at doing anything every day, and wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to publicly announce I was going to write every day. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. My walks with Lumi help me set that up for the day. When I walk alone, I usually listen to music, so the ideas don’t flow as easily.
A lot of the time on these walks, I have half or more of the blog post written by the end of my walk. Sometimes I come up with something I think is great and then once I’ve written it, it kinda seems like crap. I hit publish anyway.
One of the other women at the lunch asked how I manage to do that – to hit publish on something I might not be happy with. I told her that I was, after all, a daily newspaper journalist for 20 years, so I’m pretty used to hitting “publish” on something that’s crap. Hazards of the trade.
The thing is, we all need time to let our brains get some quiet. We are so plugged in all the time and feel so much FOMO that we can’t not download the latest greatest new app that will simply revolutionize communication and society. We forget to be present and to enjoy talking to our dog instead of trying to get her to pose for a photo. I used to write long posts on Facebook instead of spending time caring for my own website.
I found I was paying too much attention to the reactions (or lack thereof) and not enough on that the posts meant to me. Not enough on quieting the mind. Not enough on making sure I was taking care of myself.
Now, I write every day and even if I don’t think the post is all that worthwhile, I hit publish. Because it was something in my head and I’d knocked it out of there, making room for something else.
How do you practice self-care?