By Jessica Perkins
This week has been an intense and steady week. I have been emotionally exhausted, physically taxed, maternally inundated with catching big feelings and holding the space for littles in limbo, fighting some germs, and the weather took a turn for the worse.
I knew I would need support to get me through this week so I began to take care of myself without even realizing I was doing it. It has become more subconscious and second nature. The more I’ve incorporated these practices into my self-care menu, the more easily I understand what I need and when
I also called on my sisters. I told them I was needing some extra connection, love, and support. And they heard my call – as they always do. The old me. The stuck in my ego-self me would never have even acknowledged that I needed extra help or support. Or, if she had, I would maybe have reached out to one person – one, everything person – and asked for them to show up. And, if they couldn’t for some reason, I would have gotten offended and contracted back into my wallowing and icky mucky internal world. Because I asked and I was “ignored” or “it didn’t work.”
But now? Now I cast a bigger net. I reach out to a community of sisters. Some have plans. Others have energetic space to give their yes. I have learned, in being aware, and being vulnerable enough to ask for help to a wider group of humans I am able to access someone who can fully give their yes. In this way, I am creating higher potential for my need for connection and support to be met. And it was.
These sisters listened to me. They listened to my truth; they read through the difficulty; they offered support and another perspective. They held strong so I could unravel a little bit – safely. And then they reflected back to me the validation and love I needed to hear. They gave me space to have all my thoughts, feelings, and questions and helped steer me back to the light that I needed to see shining within myself.
Just being around other strong, grounded, authentic, humans has the potential to shift my energy – sometimes it helps create ease and centers me. Sometimes we get by with a little help from our friends.
And sometimes, instead of turning outward, bold and brave self care isn’t looking outward, but instead, it’s turning in. Sometimes we need to turn inward for self care. Taking an extra long bath filled with Epsom salt lavender essential oil in silence or while listening to my favorite music or audio book can help me find my way back to myself.
When I am overtired it is incredibly difficult for me to offer the benefit of the doubt and provide the kind of love, kindness, and support I would like to bolster my relationship dynamics with. So I am acutely aware of my sleep patterns and habits and part of my self care this week has been going to bed early, sleeping in when necessary, flopping bedside after an Epsom salt soak, and genuinely resting my mind, body, and spirit so that I can fuel my spirit.
Even after I tried these things, I was still feeling a bit out of sync with myself and my life. So I decided to try another tool in my Bold and Brave Acts of Self Care toolbox – creativity and gratitude. I hunkered down – I pulled out some craft supplies, note cards, envelopes, and began to both create and pause for gratitude. I listed a group of women who have been IN IT with me lately and who I am so immensely grateful for.
I began to craft simple notes of gratitude. Reminding myself of the connections in my life – the bonds – the community – the support …. . writing it out…. Has a way of rewiring our brains. It shifts our mindset from the wallowing and ruminating and reminds us of the joy. And so I let the joy flow to each beautiful human I was thinking about and writing to.
Brene Brown says “Gratitude is the pathway to joy” – that you cannot get to a place of joy without first traveling the bridge of gratitude. When I first heard these words they felt just like words. The more I incorporated gratitude into the practice of living and loving whole-heartedly the more I realized the power in gratitude. Gratitude IS the pathway to joy. When you are spiraling in a bit of wallowing or despair, catch yourself – pause – and practice gratitude. I used to always called this the Gladness Game (from the movie Pollyanna) – turn it around, to find something good in it. It’s a simple act of mindset shifting your focus from one thing to another.
When I was through, I hand-delivered those gratitude cards and little potted flowers as another act of self-care —- moving my body. Getting out into the world – the sun, the sky, the air – and moving my body. Knowing that I needed to move the stuck energy through me instead of letting it build up and staying stagnant; I headed outside to get some sunshine, some fresh air, move my body and my thoughts and gift little bits of gratitude and love to friends.
Maybe that’s why I love RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) so much. It doesn’t take much to make someone smile – just knowing that you have thought of them – that you care. I have the ability and the power to do that, anytime, anywhere. I find, the more I focus on spreading that loving kindness and gratitude around, the less I focus on my own internal stuff. I become more energetically open to receiving the love of the universe right back at me. But it’s energetic space that wouldn’t have been available had I not cleared it out, made room for it, and opted to enter the world open to receiving it.
Ultimately, the boldest and bravest act of self care is when you tune in to yourself and listen to what you need – even if you think it’s “silly” or “needy” or “too much” or “not enough” — the radical act of practicing Intuitive Knowing (one of the guideposts to living The PlayFULL Way) IS the most brave and bold practice of self care that you could dare to practice.
Self Care is asking yourself, “What do I need in this season or moment of my life?”
Bold and Brave self care is having an awareness of what you truly need, the courage to accept it, the courage to ask for it, and the courage to embrace it.
Self Care isn’t fancy or luxurious (though it could be). Self Care is a bold and brave act of self compassion and self love, becoming aware of what you are truly needing in this moment and being brave enough to acknowledge it, honor it, and ask for it.
In what ways are you acting boldly and bravely in your life right now? I would love to hear stories of self-care courage; intuitive knowing; or gratitude in the comments below.
Jessica Perkins is a Philly-based business owner, mother of three, a toy and children’s literature connoisseur, and a believer in intentional, playFULL parenting. She is the owner of Mamma May I handcrafted toys, where she shares her belief that play IS the important work with families around the world. She believes in the power of words, connection, and inspires others to embrace their beautiful, messy lives. You can connect with her through her blog at www.JessicaPerkins.com.