Wow, I honestly can’t believe it’s been over a year since I’ve last written here. The project is always on my mind. During this past year I’ve done a lot of work on Self-Care Social Hour (and on myself) that I’m excited to share in the coming weeks. But if you’ve been following this blog there could be a lingering question…
Where the hell have I been? Great question.
You might have noticed from my last entry that I had grand plans to host different types of events to gather more information. But life had different plans. This past winter cancer hit my family even harder as two more people very close to us were diagnosed. And then Covid happened and quarantine. There was working from home and being a parent in this new kind of world. There are the protests against police brutality and White Supremacy. The politicization of so much I can’t wrap my head around (actually I can… it’s called a mask.)
These experiences have caused me to slow down. Sometimes it was by necessity and other times by choice. I could think through and work on what kind of world I want to live in — what kind of world I want for my kids (and other kids too). I’m re-envisioning what could be. My ideas, hopes, and values seem to be at direct odds with some people (even people close to me) and it’s been a messy and sometimes painful process.
Meaningful Self-Care is Fueled By Living in Alignment with Your Values
Living aligned with your values is an important part of self-care — even if it sucks in the short-term. It’s uncomfortable business — your sense of self and relationships shift and there can be growing pains. And so I’ve been doing my own self-care thing by doing the deeper work as well as the everyday. It’s not always been super-consistent or pretty or perfect, but it’s been there with me through it all and it’s made a big difference.
Here’s the thing with values — they are embedded in our lives, but often when we try to get intentional with them they can feel clumsy and overly abstract. I’ve found this to be the case for myself and my clients. Values can masquerade as something simple. Sure, I value hard-work and humor, but what does that mean when played out in real life? It can look dramatically different for different people.
Too often we’re taught that we need to change our cognitions (or thoughts) and then we can change our behavior. We need to be “ready” and confident and then we can succeed. That’s crap. Yes, our thoughts are important to reflect and challenge, but if we only wait for our minds to be ready we may never move on to the action we need to take. Hell, sometimes we may not even be aware of what action we could really benefit from.
It’s critical that we intentionally test and live out the values that we claim are important to us. And then we need to let go of some things that aren’t truly ours and fully invest in the ones that are.
Finding Alignment with Self-Care Social Hour
And so what’s true for individual self-care and values have proven to be the same for this project. Self-Care Social Hour had to test things out and learn from it all before we really got down to the business of what’s next. Like my experience this past year, this project has experienced some growing pains in the search for more clarity in the values driving it.
Early on I learned how important conversations were to this project. It was sort of shocking to realize how much I craved meaningful and intentional conversation and how I wasn’t getting it nearly enough. And I wasn’t alone. Others voiced similar sentiments. I saw that conversation was self-care in its own right.
As more and more social hours occurred I began to see a cluster of values that lead to more engaging events. The social hours I loved the most were the kinds of conversations where I could laugh and relax – and yet I was challenged to have a spirit of curiosity to learn and have compassion for other peoples’ experiences and my own. The kinds of conversation that were real and honest and courageous. Those are the ones that stuck with me long after the event was over.
Lessons & Next Steps
It took me a year to have a better grasp on the role values play in self-care. I know there’s more to learn, but I discovered so much. One of the bigger lessons I took away was the importance of testing things out and to critically looking at what was driving this project. There were times that I led social hours that felt empty. There was one especially difficult social hour where I drove home sick to my stomach with how a side-conversation played out in a wickedly unaligned way with my deepest values.
I think it was these experiences and the ones I described earlier, that caused me to really take a look at what I was trying to accomplish with this thing. This leads me to another one of my bigger lessons: the realization that participating and hosting these kinds of conversations takes some guts and also somes skills. Real and vulnerable conversations are scary and it takes courage.
The truth is, I’m not always good at these things. In fact, I’ve spent a good chunk of my life avoiding vulnerability with others. And yet, this project is helping me push through the terror and get to the other side where it’s alive and freeing and so much healthier.
We Need You
Honest, compassionate, curious, humorous, and courageous conversations are all too rare these days. They are scary and difficult and easy to avoid. But there is danger in avoiding them. Not having these conversations (with others and with ourselves) is dangerous because A.) we need them, and B.) we need to explore our health through these values in order to find and keep the things that truly nourish us.
During this time of unrest and social upheaval it’s critical we create spaces for conversation and growth. We need to normalize the challenges that come with our health in the reality of our lives. It’s imperative that we are honest about the difficulties so that things can be better for ourselves and our communities.
These are the things that make this project different. In short: let’s embrace the messiness of real self-care and let’s do it together. Let’s make things better together.