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Self Care Practice Day 30 of 30: I Promise Myself

Recently, a friend shared with me a beautiful declaration she had written to herself.  In this declaration, she wrote out specific promises to be gentle, to be kind and to be nourishing to and for herself.  When I read her declaration, I thought how sweet and, even more so, how powerful it is to declare what we promise to do and how we promise to be as an act of self care.

These last 29 days of practices have been meaningful, but they do not exist in a vacuum.  I know how I show up to and for myself means just as much as the letter I write, the green smoothie I drink, the dish I bake.  Even more valuable is how I show up for myself when I don’t get to the self care practice of the day and what happens when it doesn’t work.

I decided to devote my final day to creating a declaration, to identify promises that I want to keep to and for myself.

I Promise Myself

I promise to speak my truth to myself, even if I choose not to speak that truth out loud, I choose to be honest with myself.
I promise to nourish my body in the ways that feel good to me, acknowledging that what works for me may or may not make sense to others.
I promise to bring kindness to my self and to gently question the critical voices, both internally and externally, that would seek to diminish me.
I promise to honor my personal rhythms and cycles and to continue to craft a life that aligns to my flow.
I promise to release relational dynamics that make me or another person wrong, and instead choose to honor our individual needs as valid and valuable.
I promise to structure my time in a way that respects my body, my mind and my spirit, and when I overextend, to re-evaluate and adjust with sincerity and with curiosity.
I promise to celebrate my wins and to be a cheerleader for my successes, I choose to honor me.
 
IMG_3905On Steph: Passionate about nourishment and self love, I am growing a body of work in self care.  I love exploring tools, techniques, and practices for daily nourishment. Over the past ten years, I have been healing and finding joy through various modalities, including Brazilian dance, insight meditation, painting, SoulCollage®, Non-Violent Communication, morning pages, and spiritual study.  I currently work as a non-profit program coordinator in Brooklyn, NY and live with my partner and fur-baby in Brooklyn.  If you want to see more of my work, you can find more at: http://cosmiccowgirlsmagazine.com/author/stephcowling/

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Self Care Practice Day 29 of 30: Finding Your Place

On Day 1 of this self care practice, I shared my value of drawing from poems for inspiration.  I started with Mary Oliver’s “The Journey”, and tonight I felt drawn to another one of her poems entitled “Wild Geese.”  There is something in this piece that is so human, illuminating of our vulnerabilities and our frailties, in the best way.  As I sit with my self care and what I need in my life, I think about my value in showing up with authenticity, finding my place in the world and feeling a sense of belonging.  This poem resonates with that value and that desire.

“Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

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On Steph: Passionate about nourishment and self love, I am growing a body of work in self care.  I love exploring tools, techniques, and practices for daily nourishment. Over the past ten years, I have been healing and finding joy through various modalities, including Brazilian dance, insight meditation, painting, SoulCollage®, Non-Violent Communication, morning pages, and spiritual study.  I currently work as a non-profit program coordinator in Brooklyn, NY and live with my partner and fur-baby in Brooklyn.  If you want to see more of my work, you can find more at: http://cosmiccowgirlsmagazine.com/author/stephcowling/

 

 

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Self Care Practice Day 28 of 30: Great Read

I find it nurturing to ground in written story and be taken to another place in contemplating life.  As such, books have been a place of solace for me my entire life.  One of my sacred texts, written by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves, provides me with that solace and nurturing.  Getting lost, or better yet found, in this book, and many others, nourishes me.  Reading is truly one of my most sacred self care practices.

“I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories from your life–not someone else’s life–water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom. That is the work. The only work.”

— Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

IMG_3905On Steph: Passionate about nourishment and self love, I am growing a body of work in self care.  I love exploring tools, techniques, and practices for daily nourishment. Over the past ten years, I have been healing and finding joy through various modalities, including Brazilian dance, insight meditation, painting, SoulCollage®, Non-Violent Communication, morning pages, and spiritual study.  I currently work as a non-profit program coordinator in Brooklyn, NY and live with my partner and fur-baby in Brooklyn.  If you want to see more of my work, you can find more at: http://cosmiccowgirlsmagazine.com/author/stephcowling/

 

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Self Care Practice Day 27 of 30: Plan It Out

Weekends are sacred times for me, as I know they are for most folks.  I feel I have the space to really stretch out from a busy week. But my weekends are also valuable time to prepare for the week ahead.  As much as I need and love to relax and let the days unfold, I enjoy preparing myself for a strong and healthy week. As such, meal planning makes a huge difference in my weekly self care practice.

In our household, we have used a mixture of an awesome meal planning worksheet from Kris Carr which you can find here and the Wunderlist app to track our weekly grocery list and recipe needs.  With these tools, we can prepare for the week by stocking up with the goodies we need.

IMG_3905On Steph: Passionate about nourishment and self love, I am growing a body of work in self care.  I love exploring tools, techniques, and practices for daily nourishment. Over the past ten years, I have been healing and finding joy through various modalities, including Brazilian dance, insight meditation, painting, SoulCollage®, Non-Violent Communication, morning pages, and spiritual study.  I currently work as a non-profit program coordinator in Brooklyn, NY and live with my partner and fur-baby in Brooklyn.  If you want to see more of my work, you can find more at: http://cosmiccowgirlsmagazine.com/author/stephcowling/

 

Photo by Steph Cowling

Photo by Steph Cowling

 

Self Care Practice Day 26 of 30: A Day Away

Over a year ago I read a short essay from Maya Angelou entitled “A Day Away” in her book Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now.  It inspired me to start a self care practice of setting aside one day a month where I don’t plan anything, set the space to be in sacred solitude, and allow my intuition to guide my actions.

Some days I found myself walking through Prospect Park, listening to Nina Simone and savoring the slow breeze of the wind; other days I read the New York Times sipped a latte and dropped myself into the flow of a Brooklyn cafe; and still other days I enjoyed a beer at a local bar, stared at clouds and listened to the blues.

Out of deep respect for Dr. Angelou and her work, I want to share this essay.  My hope is that it inspires you, perhaps not to take a day each month, but to consider at least annually to gift yourself one day away.

“A Day Away”

By Maya Angelou

We often think that our affairs, great or small, must be tended continuously and in detail, or our world will disintegrate, and we will lose our places in the universe.  That is not true, or if it is true, then our situations were so temporary that they would have collapsed anyway. 

Once a year or so I give myself a day away.  On the eve of my day of absence, I begin to unwrap the bonds, which hold me in harness.  I inform housemates, my family and close friends that I will not be reachable for twenty-four hours; then I disengage the telephone.  I turn the radio dial to an all-music station, preferably one, which plays the soothing golden oldies.  I sit for at least an hour in a very hot tub; then I lay out my clothes in preparation for my morning escape, and knowing that nothing will disturb me, I sleep the sleep of the just. 

On the morning I wake naturally, for I will have set no clock, nor informed by body timepiece when it should alarm.  I dress in comfortable shoes and casual clothes and leave my house going no place. If I am living in a city, I wander streets, window-shop, or gaze at buildings.  I enter and leave public parks, libraries, the lobbies of skyscrapers, and movie houses.  I stay in no place for very long.

On the getaway day I try for amnesia.  I do not want to know my name, where I live, or how many dire responsibilities rest on my shoulders.  I detest encountering even the closest friend, for then I am reminded of who I am, and the circumstances of my life, which I want to forget for a while.

Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, lovers, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. 

Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.  We need hours of aimless wandering or spates of time sitting on park benches, observing the mysterious world of ants and the canopy of treetops. 

If we step away for a time, we are not, as many may think and some will accuse, being irresponsible, but rather we are preparing ourselves to more ably perform our duties and discharge our obligations. 

When I return home, I am always surprised to find some questions I sought to evade have been answered and some entanglements I had hoped to flee have become unraveled in my absence. 

A day away acts as a spring tonic. It can dispel rancor, transform indecision, and renew the spirit.

 

IMG_3905On Steph: Passionate about nourishment and self love, I am growing a body of work in self care.  I love exploring tools, techniques, and practices for daily nourishment. Over the past ten years, I have been healing and finding joy through various modalities, including Brazilian dance, insight meditation, painting, SoulCollage®, Non-Violent Communication, morning pages, and spiritual study.  I currently work as a non-profit program coordinator in Brooklyn, NY and live with my partner and fur-baby in Brooklyn.  If you want to see more of my work, you can find more at: http://cosmiccowgirlsmagazine.com/author/stephcowling/

 

Morning Run Photo by Steph Cowling

Morning Run
Photo by Steph Cowling

Self Care Day 25 of 30: Run it Out

Conscious movement is a necessary part of my self care.  As much as I love using my mind by thinking, reflecting and planning, I have to be in my body.  I need to move and sweat.  Running is one of my mediums in conscious movement.  Though I have a background in competitive running from my college track days, my running now is less competitive and more about connecting to my body, sweating out big questions, and feeling my physical strength and power.  My weekly goal is to run between 20-30 minutes three times a week.  When I meet my goal, or even if I make it once for a short run, I know it supports how I want my physical body to look and feel, and gives me space to release pent up emotional turmoil as well.

IMG_3905On Steph: Passionate about nourishment and self love, I am growing a body of work in self care.  I love exploring tools, techniques, and practices for daily nourishment. Over the past ten years, I have been healing and finding joy through various modalities, including Brazilian dance, insight meditation, painting, SoulCollage®, Non-Violent Communication, morning pages, and spiritual study.  I currently work as a non-profit program coordinator in Brooklyn, NY and live with my partner and fur-baby in Brooklyn.  If you want to see more of my work, you can find more at: http://cosmiccowgirlsmagazine.com/author/stephcowling/

 

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Self Care Day 24 of 30: Let it Go

Tonight for my self care practice, I’m focusing on letting go.  Before I go to bed, I’m pouring myself a cup of tea, burning cleansing sage, and inviting myself the space to write for 5 minutes on what I’m letting go: the things that have been stressing me out, the questions I haven’t been able to answer, the uncertainties that have been weighing over my head.  As a part of my evening ritual, I’m inviting the part of me that has been holding so much to let it go, let go of the energy into making things work and figuring it out, and giving myself permission to release.

IMG_3905On Steph: Passionate about nourishment and self love, I am growing a body of work in self care.  I love exploring tools, techniques, and practices for daily nourishment. Over the past ten years, I have been healing and finding joy through various modalities, including Brazilian dance, insight meditation, painting, SoulCollage®, Non-Violent Communication, morning pages, and spiritual study.  I currently work as a non-profit program coordinator in Brooklyn, NY and live with my partner and fur-baby in Brooklyn.  If you want to see more of my work, you can find more at: http://cosmiccowgirlsmagazine.com/author/stephcowling/