Self-Care: The Magic Elixir Every Woman Needs to be her Best

It is my deep, hot, and holy conviction that the body of every woman is a living, breathing altar. – Mama Gena of Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts


Take time for you, or time will take you – unknown


 

Women must set the standard for ourselves, with everything in our lives, and that includes the standard for our own self-care. Have you ever noticed how when things get crazy, the quickest thing to let go of is our self-care? We make sure everyone else in our world is good, but there is no time for us. Yet how will we keep filling other’s cups when ours is not getting filled?

Intellectually, it’s a no-brainer. Of course, we must fill our cup! Of course, we must care for our health! Etcetera, etcetera. But, in the moment, do we follow through on it? Or do we decide that……….eh…..it’s not really that critical…..I’ll be fine without a hot, Epsom salt bath……or……15 minutes of stretching isn’t going to make that much of a difference. We discount ourselves. We deprive ourselves. We depress ourselves.

As we journey from being a teenager to being an adult, we develop our self-care habits based on the influences in our lives. As we become more involved with life, and we become committed in long-term relationships, possibly having our own family, moving forward in higher education or career goals, we often become more focused on being present for others and less concerned with ourselves. However, if we allow that to become unbalanced as many women do, we completely lose ourselves, along with our inclination to invest in our own nutrition, sleep, exercise, alone time, hobby time, creativity, and general happiness.

There is nothing wrong with being as intentional about our self-care as we are about our family dinner schedule or the kids’ sports, martial arts or dance classes. I think it really boils down to self-esteem. How much do we esteem ourselves?  In a healthy way, not an obsessive one.  Are we worth it (as the old L’Oreal commercial would remind us)?

Mama Gena teaches and lives out the experiment of connecting to her spirituality as a daily practice. She has found having certain daily practices really helps her, and I thought it would be interesting to share what the first hour of her day looks like:

  1. I take a bath, instead of shower, because it makes me feel more relaxed and beautiful. I use eucalyptus-scented epsom salts because they smell nicer than the plain ones. After the bath, I use coconut oil on my skin; it smells beautiful and nourishes the skin deeply.
  2. I dance naked in my living room, to whatever song suits my mood, or helps me move my waking emotions through my body. Moving my emotions through my body is a way of honoring them, and honoring my design.
  3. I do a small gratitude ritual at my altar. I have a series of stones and small objects I have collected over the years. I light a candle, and pick up each of the 30 stones, one at a time, and whisper a gratitude for different aspects of my life, as I replace each stone.
  4. I write down my desires on post-its and place them in front of the altar.
  5. I prepare my breakfast (kale and eggs) and sit down at my dining room table with real china and real silverware. I do my best to eat slowly and with gratitude. Taking food into our bodies and using it to nourish us is a sacred act. It takes enormous effort on my part to not rush – and not to distract myself with electronics – especially when I am dining alone, which happens a lot in my current lifestyle.
  6. My next move is walking the dog, and as I do, I call a friend and do Spring Cleaning. (I explain the practice of spring cleaning in my first book, if you’re not familiar).

So, in the first hour of my day, I have dumped my charge, moved my body, honored my emotions, nourished myself, connected with my gratitude, and expressed my most deeply held desires.

Gena says this daily practice helps her “stay centered, grateful, and filled up with love and attention, so I can open myself to whatever the day brings with the thick padding of self-love in place.” She admits she doesn’t do it perfectly every day. I have found that when we have a goal of doing something regularly, and we do it for the most part, missing a day or shortening it one day won’t have a huge effect.  And – this is the big important take-away – we are more equipped to handle what comes our way. We think that we will “save time” by not taking time for ourselves in the morning, yet the investment pays us back with higher productivity and better quality thinking throughout the day.

One last point – Your version of nurturing your body, mind and spirit will be different than Mama Gena’s. It should be different. It’s YOUR ritual. I love how Gena puts it, “the object, here, is that you choose to create a wide landing strip for your connection to your own divinity to inhabit your day, your life, your body.” How can you create a wide landing strip? So that no matter what happens in your day, you are prepared to begin it and enjoy the practice of feeling beautiful and beautifully cared for. If you already have a daily self-care practice in place, would you share up to three practices that make the most difference for you so that our younger ladies can get some practical ideas? Share your comments on my Facebook page.

Source: Adapted from http://www.mamagenas.com

Can Millenials Still Hope for the American Dream?

The following article put out by the website “The Pursuit of Happiness” was so poignant that I decided to repost it in its entirety.  It turns out apparently that the decisions young people make about the order in which they finish their education, select a mate, and establish a career and family has a huge effect upon socioeconomic outcomes. Read on to learn just how much.

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The Success Sequence:
Why Education, a Job, Marriage, Then Kids Is the Working Order
June 14, 2017
Success-Sequence
Ah, millennials. In some ways, they’re very traditional, suggesting that women should stay at home to raise their kids. In other ways, they are very Bohemian, doing as they please when the mood hits. But it turns out, the old-fashioned “success sequence” — a (high school or higher) degree, job, marriage, then children, in that order — is still the winning combination for securing financial well-being, even for this late-day-and-age group.

The term “success sequence” isn’t new. It was coined in the last decade by researchers looking for policy ideas that could help break the cycle of poverty. Of course, it was criticized for pointing out that the cycle of poverty is more likely to be perpetuated for kids born into poorly educated households without two parents and few economic opportunities. It has become rude to point this out even though that’s the problem the research is trying to solve.

But facts are facts, as it were, and a new study by W. Bradford Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, and Wendy Wang, of the Institute for Family Studies, found that the success sequence holds up as a guidepost for today’s Millennials as it did for Baby Boomers, even after adjusting for a wide range of variables like childhood family income and education, employment status, race/ethnicity, sex, and respondents’ scores on the Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT), which measures intelligence and knowledge of a range of subjects.

The study found that “diverging paths into adulthood” taken by 28- to 34-year-olds — the eldest of the Millennial age group — produce very different economic outcomes.

Among the findings:
• Millennials who follow the “success sequence” almost always avoid poverty, with 97 percent of Millennials who married first not being poor by age 28, compared to 72 percent who had children first.
• 71 percent of Millennials from lower-income families who put marriage before children made it into the middle class or higher when they reached adulthood. Conversely, 41 percent of Millennials from lower-income families who put children first made it into the middle class or higher when they became adults.
• Among black young adults, those who married before having children are almost twice as likely to be in the middle- or upper-income groups (76 percent) than those who had a baby first (39 percent).

Since 55 percent of 28- to 34-year-old millennial parents had their first child before marriage, the economic and family impacts will be felt for decades.
Millennials are more likely than previous generations to delay marriage and parenthood, but that doesn’t mean that they have to forego the order of education, work, and marriage. Indeed, there’s a reason the success sequence works.
Why might these three factors be so important for young adults today? Education confers knowledge, skills, access to social networks, and credentials that give today’s young adults a leg up in the labor force. Sustained full-time employment provides not only a basic floor for household income but, in many cases, opportunities for promotions that further boost income. Stable marriage seems to foster economies of scale, income pooling, and greater work effort from men, and to protect adults from the costs of multiple partner fertility and family instability.

Moreover, the sequencing of these factors is important insofar as young men and women are more likely to earn a decent income if they have at least acquired a high school education, and young marrieds are more likely to stay together if they have a modicum of education and a steady income. So, it’s not just that education, work, and marriage independently seem to matter, but the sequencing of education, work, and marriage may also increase the odds of financial success for today’s young adults.

Wilcox and Wang point out that there’s no statistical model to perfectly predict a youth’s future success. Some who succeeded came from roots missing those steps. Others who lived in households that followed the sequence ended up in the bottom third of the income scale. Lastly, there’s no conclusive evidence that the “sequence plays a causal or primary role in driving young adult success.”
The researchers also note that it’s easier to follow the success sequence when one is born into it, as opposed to young adults who came from poor neighborhoods, bad schools, and less educated households. It’s also easier to follow the success sequence when one comes from a cultural background that adopts these ideals and expectations rather than those groups who hold these values in lower regard.

But there’s no mistaking that the numbers overwhelmingly favor those who do follow the course, and that’s where both one’s personal “agency” and public policy come into play.

This report suggests that young adults from a range of backgrounds who followed the success sequence are markedly more likely to steer clear of poverty and realize the American Dream than young adults who did not follow the same steps.
Given the value of the success sequence, and the structural and cultural obstacles to realizing it faced by some young adults, policymakers, educators, civic leaders, and business leaders should take steps to make each component of the sequence more accessible. Any initiatives should be particularly targeted at younger adults from less advantaged backgrounds, who tend to have access to fewer of the structural and cultural resources that make the sequence readily attainable and appealing. The following three ideas are worth considering in any effort to strengthen the role that the success sequence plays in the lives of American young adults.

Source: http://www.thepursuitofhappiness.com/category-life/success-sequence-education-job-marriage-kids-working-order/

Full Report: https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/IFS-MillennialSuccessSequence-Final.pdf

What is the most precious gift we can receive?

While researching recently, I ran across this article written by a young woman who possessed a truly special gift. The gift of having received unconditional love. She writes:

Grandpa and Granddaughter share a unique connection.

“Two years ago I lost my grandfather. He’d been ill the last time I saw him and I knew it was coming. And yet, I was still not prepared for the depth of my grief. I had lost loved ones before, but while I had loved them, they weren’t him. He was special. He saw me.

If you know what it means to be seen, I don’t need to say anymore.

If you’ve never felt seen, let me explain what that feels like: It is the very best feeling; better than love, better than friendship. It’s looking into another’s eyes and seeing complete acceptance, acknowledgement, and the truest form of love.

And I got that from him. Every time he looked at me. Every conversation we had.

Every moment we shared together. And then he was gone. He moved on and I was left feeling/worrying that I would never know that kind of love again. That I would never be seen.” (Yule-Rosen)

That “complete acceptance, acknowledgement, and the truest form of love” she describes is what we all crave as human beings. The unconditional acceptance that says you are just fine just the way you are, imperfections and all. It’s an emotional embrace…….that transcends our psyche into the very depths of our spirit, and fuels it, fanning it into a bright flame that lights the space surrounding it. Yet, how many of us, had a far different experience with the people who we spent most of our time with growing up?

When we extend this type of acceptance and true acknowledgement, we play a part in making our world a better place. Why? Because the better people feel about themselves, the more their self-esteem develops. When people have healthy self-esteem, they treat others better. Communities and societies function better. Everyone wins!!

Ghandi was quoted as saying: “Relationships are based on four principles: respect, understanding, acceptance and appreciation.”

Today, with the people who come across your path, practice unconditional acceptance and love. It IS a conscious choice, this business of loving people. Even the people who are difficult to love, that we have “issues” with, can be extended love when we separate who they are from their behavior. We don’t have to like or agree with what they have done that upsets us, but we can CHOOSE to love them as human beings anyway. Their VALUE as a human being is separate from the behavior they may be, in our opinion, foolishly or hurtfully choosing.

If we VALUE others, then we do our utmost to not mistreat them. It results in the world becoming a better place simply because we chose to extend love. Change your world today…..one person at a time!

Sources cited: Yule-Rosen, M. “Are You Hiding Yourself in Fear of Being Fully Seen?” Tiny Buddha – Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives. Accessed August 16, 2017 URL: https://tinybuddha.com/blog/are-you-hiding-yourself-in-fear-of-being-fully-seen/

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