Take Care (of Yourself)

Women, I need you to be here for the long haul. 

January 10, 2019

What is up with 2019?

We are only ten days in to this new year and I have already had to give so many of my female friends a stern “take care of yourself” talk!

Women, I need you to be here for the long haul. We all need you to be here continuing to do the great work that you do each and every day.

Now that I’m in my 50s, I think I have finally figured out that if I don’t prioritize Taking Care of myself, I will never meet my other goals. So, what’s my plan? What’s my secret?

This year, when setting goals, I decided to go with three extra-large beautiful vases (buckets are ugly): Create, Share, and Take Care.

What is in my Take Care vase? First and foremost, it means getting at least 7 hours of sleep most nights. I’ve written before about my extreme morning personality - there must be a breed of lark that is the earliest lark on the block - if there was a prize for that, I’d win it most days (although I do have a colleague that is usually up at 4am with me and I am eternally grateful for her camaraderie and the fact that she returns my 4am emails before 4:05 am)!

Taking Care means getting up and journaling at 750words, an online journaling site and this is one of my favorite parts of the day. Earlier this week, I hit day 100 of a 100-day streak of morning journaling and it just feels different. My thinking is clearer, calmer and more organized. I write while listening to one of my current favorite playlists at Spotify, Organica; it immediately gets me right into the flow.

Taking Care also means limiting coffee and alcohol and switching from coffee to green tea for my second cup of the day. My latest obsession is Matcha iri Genmaicha (matcha and bancha green teas with toasted rice kernels) from Harney and Sons. At this time of the day, I am the only one awake in my house and I love it!

This is also when I do my morning planning. I recently discovered the Self Journal system (expensive but free to print out online which I did for Oct, Nov, Dec of 2018). Each journal covers 13 weeks or a quarter of the year. The pages are undated, so you can start and stop at any time. I started with January 1, 2019.  You make quarterly, weekly, and daily plans. You do some gratitude journaling first thing in the morning and at the end of the day. You list your schedule and your top three targets for the day. You remind yourself of your big quarterly goals - for me those are Create (200k words), Share (mentor/sponsor, publish, network, present), Take Care (improved health - physical, emotional, spiritual, mental). At the end of the day, you give details on lessons learned (what didn’t go as planned) and your wins.

From here, depending on the day of the week/time of the day, I will then try to get in some yoga/meditation via YogaGlo and move on to a real breakfast with protein and veggies.

Then I move on to my Create vase, which I fill with writing: two hour writing blocks with 5 minute breaks every half hour, and a half hour break every two hours. It could be a book I’m working on, a blog post, a report, or a presentation. It is writing that requires that I think and be creative.

The hardest vase for me is the Share vase.  I have a hard time Sharing myself with others, especially in a deep and meaningful way. I can chit chat like there is no tomorrow and will often nervously talk over any deep emotional topic.

Meetings go into the Share vase. Instead of dreading them, I have begun to view them as a space to share myself - whether it be empathy, ideas, deep listening, mentoring, or dialogue.  

To inspire me in my Share vase, my word for the year is fascination. I want to allow myself to be fascinated by people, ideas, and places. For me, fascination requires a deeper level of engagement and that is what I am seeking. What it means is giving up some things. If I spend more time being engaged, I can’t be involved with as many things as I currently am. This is hard for me.

What I am asking myself to do is curate more mindfully for deeper engagement. We’ll see. That is a stretch goal for sure. I have not yet won the best listener award, but this is the year I move more internationally into the listening posture, the listening zone. They say that in the 50s we start to really work on the areas where we are weakest. My word choice - fascination - and my goal of Sharing are intertwined and mutually reinforcing. Ultimately, the two provide me with a deeper well of energy for my Creative work.

My goal is to dedicate 6 hours per day to Creating and 6 to Sharing. The other 4 hours are for Taking Care and that involves reading fiction, doing yoga, meditating, journaling, spending time with nature, walking and listening to an audio book or one of my favorite playlists on Spotify. It often means “me” time. However, quality time with friends and family is often both Sharing and Taking Care.

We’ll see if I can keep it up.

At the end of the day, I have dinner with the family, hit my journal for some reflection, do a little yoga and meditation, get into bed, do some gratitude journaling and if there is time, read some fiction. I just started Anne Tyler’s Clock Dance. It sits on my nightstand, waiting for me each night, reminding me to Take Care (of myself).

How are you taking care of yourself this year? What are your secrets to Taking Care?



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