So I found this book.
Or, as is often the case with me and books, this book found me just when I needed it.
I read it in one uninterrupted gulp and then sat for the longest time letting the author’s words sink into all the resistant places within me. And there were lots. Too many. So I put the book and its radical ideas aside. This ‘Extreme Self-Care’ stuff sounded great, but wasn’t for me.
Actually, it didn’t sound great. It sounded hard, selfish, and unreasonable.
Well, maybe it did sound kind of wonderful.
But it was impossible. And scary.
So I set down the book and went about my life in my usual driven way, mildly refreshed for having taken the time to sit and read a beautiful book from cover to cover.
So it really shouldn’t have been a surprise that I ended up right back in that same old, familiar, exhausted place. But it was a surprise.
I can be so thick sometimes.
So I picked up the book again. And I reread the introduction SLOWLY. And these are the things that jumped out at me this time through:
” . . . Extreme Self-Care meant taking my care to a whole new level–a level that, to me, seemed arrogant and selfish, practiced by people who had an inappropriate sense of entitlement.” [Amen to that.]
“. . . I was forced to look at the truth of why I continued to give too much, usually at my own expense. I wanted people to like me, to enjoy spending time with me, and to see me as wise and helpful. I also wanted to avoid the anxiety I felt whenever someone disapproved of something I did. [Bingo!] Funny, but after years of practicing Extreme Self-Care, I’ve realized something ironic: if you want to live an authentic, meaningful life, you need to master the art of disappointing and upsetting others, hurting feelings, and living with the reality that some people just won’t like you. [GULP!] It may not be easy, but it’s essential if you want your life to reflect your deepest desires, values, and needs.” [So how much do you want that, Maxine?]
“The practice of Extreme Self-Care forces us to make choices and decisions that honor and reflect the true nature of our soul. While the whole notion of this might seem selfish or self-centered, doing so actually allows us to make our greatest contributions to the world. The choice to live a life that reflects the tenets of Extreme Self-Care is critical if we want to make a difference in the world . . . and most people I know do.” [Me, too. It’s why I published Leaf. I wanted my story to make a difference – and my life, too, for that matter.]
I’ve learned that when we care for ourselves deeply and deliberately, we naturally begin to care for others–our families, our friends, and the world–in a healthier and more effective way. We become conscious and conscientious peple. We tell the truth. We make choices from a place of love and compassion instead of guilt and obligation. And we begin to understand–on a visceral level–that we’re all connected, and that our individual actions affect the greater whole in a more profound way than we ever imagined.” [Sounds great, but I’m still having a hard time believing it. And HOW, pray tell, does a person actually DO it?]
“Enjoying a life of Extreme Self-Care means:
living and working in a soul-nurturing environment; [sounds good]
developing a greater appreciation for, and connection with, nature; [okay]
doing work that provides an opportunity to express your greatest gifts and talents; [I kind of got started with that, writing my book, but now I’m bogged down with the marketing things that I’m less-than-talented at and certainly do not enjoy.]
and caring for your emotional, physical, and spiritual health in a way that’s aligned with who you are and what you most need. [guess I need to figure that out, eh?]
When you allow yourself to want this and then have it, you can’t help but want it for others as well.”
And this final bit,
The Art of Extreme Self-Care takes patience, commitment, and practice. It initially requires a willingness to sit with some pretty uncomfortable feelings, too, such as guilt–for putting your own needs first, fear–of being judged and criticized by others, or anxiety–from challenging long-held beliefs and behaviors. It’s an organic, evolutionary process; an art as opposed to a science. Over time, you’ll make progress and become more comfortable with the process, but you’ll also regress. I know the dance well.”
Well, at least she’s honest.
Reading this, reminded me of something Julia Cameron wrote in her book The Artist’s Way. She said a complaint she often heard was (and I paraphrase) “Do you know how old I’ll be by the time I finally write that book/record that album/paint that portrait? As old as you’ll be if you don’t start writing/singing/painting. So let’s get started.”
That Julia. She’s so wise.
So I’ve embarked on an Extreme Self-Care adventure and am inviting you to join me. Cheryl Richardson has divided her book into twelve chapters to be worked on a month at a time. I’ll provide a summary of Chapter One on Monday, which just so happens to be the first Monday of April (and NOT April Fool’s Day, I might add) and every Monday thereafter, on the Turtle Dreams facebook page, I will either ask a question pertaining to the month’s exploration or share some of my own experiences (there might even be a light-bulb moment or two) and invite you to comment on what’s going on for you.
I hope you’ll join me.
We might as well link arms and make a positive difference together.