When the dust settled after my book launch party I wondered, “
Okay. What now?
What do authors do once the editing, publishing, and launching are done?” The answer came soon enough; market the book. I began the process of writing to venues to request book events and speaking engagements, shifted my networking message, and changed my mindset from being a forthcoming author to being a published author. I took my time with this process. That is to say, I paid attention to my own self-care and nourishment. I feel different now. I carry my work differently, and I need to continue to cultivate my own rhythm as I refine the way I bring my work into the world. I need to nurture my body and my self as a strong container and vessel to hold this work as I continue forward. As I sat with this process the words that I heard were: I am relaxing into myself. That’s not what I expected to hear.
I wondered, what does it mean to relax into myself?
At first I wasn’t sure, and, as I have continued my practice of loving self-care, it’s become more apparent.
A lifelong friend recently told me I was a different Nancy. That means she knew me back before Leah died. How was I different then? Did she mean that I was a carefree Nancy who skipped through life with utter joy, only to be brought to my knees after my daughter’s death? No, I was a very quiet and, some would say, shy child and teenager, and this introspection continued into adulthood. The last thing a younger version of myself would be doing is sharing my story with others, no matter what the story. The initiation of my daughter’s death changed me and the process of writing my book changed me yet again. I now feel most like myself when I am sharing how I learned to thrive after Leah died, and the ways that I did that.
There was a thread that ran throughout my life beginning as a child. I often heard,
“Someday you will do something important.”
When I heard it as a child, sometimes I was excited and I would dream of what the important thing would be. Sometimes I was confused because I didn’t know how to find out what the important thing would be. I always felt different, isolated, because I felt like I was doing something wrong, that I would never discover my destiny. This probably contributed to my introspective nature. Whenever I heard that I would someday do something important, it was like jumping to the last chapter in a book without all the background information provided in the chapters leading up to it.
As I sit here today, those chapters have been filled in. My important work is nothing like I imagined as a child, dreaming of magnificence. I could never quite capture the full vision of what that significant work would be, nothing ever felt like it fit, and I wasn’t inspired by any of the daydreams of importance.
This gives me a new appreciation of the present moment. My entire journey has included a continued nuance of presence. When I was dreaming of a future of greatness, I was missing what was right in front of me, the treasures that are found in this very moment.
What does this have to do with relaxing into myself?
And just how did I go about this process? One of the things I did was to listen deeply to what my body needed in each moment. I made lists of these needs, both physical and emotional. I looked at the pattern of my days and shifted them until I found a rhythm to my days that fit where I am right now. I continue to pay attention to how I feel as I go through my days and when something feels off I inquire inside and readjust. Relaxing into myself is dynamic; it can change from day to day or week-to-week depending on my schedule, my energy level, and so many other factors. That’s why it’s important to stay present and continue to listen to deep inner wisdom.
Here are some ways you can cultivate your own rhythm.
Slow down with everything. When you slow down you can hear your inner wisdom. I’ve also found that on those days when I have a lot of things to accomplish, slowing down helps me to get more done in a more relaxed way. You read correctly, slowing down gets more done.
Look at your daily schedule.
Are you doing some things the same way everyday for no reason? Is there another activity that you want to add to your schedule and you don’t know how to find extra time? Sometimes simple changes to the template or pattern of your day can open up or shift your schedule enough to find extra time. One thing I did was get up 15 minutes earlier and shower first thing. This opened up time for me to write everyday. Something I wanted to do more consistently; but didn’t until I shifted my schedule.
Look at your self-care rituals. Do they reduce stress or make you feel more stressed? Eliminate anything that induces stress. Add new activities that inspire you. Find some time for self-care everyday.
This is a part of self-care for me and it deserves a separate mention. Movement changes everything. When I don’t want to move, I do the “I don’t want to move dance.” Letting my feelings and emotions have a voice, no matter what they are has been one of the most important factors in cultivating a rhythm that works for me right now.
Eat Food that Nourishes You.
There are a lot of ideas out there about what food we should eat. Find out what food nourishes and nurtures YOUR body. Yes, there are general guidelines about quality and nutrition, and no one way of eating works for every body. I know what my body needs, and I have often abandoned myself with excuses that sabotage me. This reminds me of a question I was asked recently, “What does being an Eating Psychology Coach have to do with grief?” My answer to this is another blog topic.
Be Gentle with Yourself.
What would you say to a friend who came to talk to you about a problem or concern? Treat yourself the way you would treat a beloved friend. Learning compassion for myself and my journey was the first step for me to learn to love myself as I am in each present moment.