Powerful Self-Love in One Minute Doses
Think you don't have time to take care of yourself? You only need a minute here and a minute there to make a powerful difference in your day.
It's safe to say I haven't loved myself in a while. When I first met my partner, in the middle of my first Saturn Return, I adored myself in the best of ways. I was my true self, a most authentic and interconnected version of me, a confident, vibrant and interesting person who was living what I was called to do in that moment. And I was grateful for every second the Universe strung together and each breadcrumb it offered in support of that path.
But that was single life, a time when naturally, we have only ourselves to think about and take care of. That can often be, ironically, a time when we don't take the best care of ourselves, drinking and eating to excess with wild abandon. But I was relatively balanced at that time (occasionally still drinking to excess with wild abandon because I didn't have three-day hangovers back then).
I made everything in my life possible: I was frugal and strategic, but open to what each day brought toward my intentions. I was disciplined but not psychotic when it came to exercise and nutrition. I never felt deprived, even with very little in the way of money and possessions, and always felt I had everything I needed, and more. What I had in abundance were experiences, adventures, forward movement and the feeling of control over my life and where it was going.
Fast forward to today, where a series of traumas over the past four years have compounded — from a tumultuous beginning to a new career challenge, to an unplanned pregnancy, to my daughter's birth and my inability to breastfeed (the two being more interconnected than I first understood), to the abruptly sad end of my career as I knew it, to relentless relationship betrayals — and it all rocked me to my core so profoundly, that it shattered everything I was and knew of myself. These traumas resulted in a sort of self-paralyzation. I froze, unable to move in any direction. Especially not toward self-love or self-care of any kind, the thing I needed most. I thought of everyone in my life, even those that were hurting me, before I ever thought of myself. And it showed.
That has been the first thing to change over the past two months, after I finally dug in my heels and recognized that the stressful, sad, unloving path I was on would kill me, and stepped tentatively back on my own two feet to start to figure it out.
What I've discovered since, is that moments of self-love and self-care are cumulative over a day or a week or even a month. I don't need to spend a full day at the spa to feel loved or rejuvenated (though I'm in no way rejecting the magical beauty of a full day at the spa!). Right now, with the resources at hand, I need only recognize, take advantage of and be grateful for the moments I am able to seize, or to make quick moments possible out of sometimes seemingly nothing. Moments like these...
A Wake-Up Ritual
Since my daughter was born, I've thought that a morning ritual simply was not available to me. And, admittedly, in those early newborn and small infant days, time to myself upon waking (or ever, really) wasn't available. But the good news is that as children grow, you gain tiny glimpses of space in your day. Including in the morning. So now, when we wake up and my daughter starts demanding her line-up of short-order breakfast foods, I prioritize my needs, as well.
The very first thing I do, every day, is slice a lemon, squeeze it into a glass of room temperature filtered water, and chug it. Then I put a kettle on to boil. Then I get a banana or a cheese stick or "orange melon" (cantaloupe or rock melon) or whatever else my wee one desires to begin her day. Those first two steps, for myself, only take one minute but they insert myself into the first round of the day's equation without depriving my daughter in any way.
While I get her light "round one" breakfast ready and my water boils, my lemon water has a chance to do its thing inside my poor unwell gut, flushing and alkalizing my system. After my daughter is situated, I make myself a matcha tea latte with homemade raw cashew milk (a delightful replacement to my once-beloved morning coffee) and sip it quietly with her. Everyone has what they need.
Finally, once she's ready for the heavyweight breakfast round, I make both of us something more substantial (oatmeal, a smoothie, eggs, 'cado toasties, etc.). I take the opportunity to put a few additions and supplements into both my latte and breakfast that will help my health and previously mentioned poor unwell gut (cinnamon and coconut oil in my latte and/or my oatmeal, for instance, nutritional yeast for B12 into my eggs or on my toast, or all/so many of the nutritional supplements and nutrients I need into a smoothie).
I would love for my wake-up ritual to include meditation and yoga, but I trust that as she ages, that day, too, will come. We'll see. For now, I'm grateful for what I've got and that it addresses what's most pressing right now: aiding my digestion and poor unwell gut issues from the time I wake up.
My shower has become my spa moment of each day. I wait to take one until I've done my workout — these days being either the day's yoga practice, an in-home HIIT circuit or a quick run — because I find a post-workout shower to be the most wonderful, amazing-feeling reward. And during my "spa moment" shower (well, during and after), I give myself three one-minute massages.
With a tweak to my perspective about an everyday action, I now view my soaping-up as an exfoliating rubdown. I love poufy shower puffs and my Alaffia EveryDay Coconut or EveryDay Shea Body Wash (though the idea would work the same with hands and soap, a shower glove and body gel, etc.) and I soap up mindfully now. I think about carefully hitting every spot on my body to appreciate it for the work and workout it's done and slough away what's no longer needed.
I employ a similar perspective to the also-everyday action of washing my hair, now seen as a one minute head massage. I enjoy every second as much as I would at the salon (sure it's nice when someone else does it, but that's only available every six weeks, so I can use my imagination and the power of gratitude on the days in between).
I have one last opportunity for a one minute massage when I get out of the shower. I dry off and then apply body lotion to my entire body. Rather than just haphazardly slapping the lotion on, I deliberately hit every spot with an intentional, if quick, circular massage.
While I don't have an hour to sit around rubbing myself, I don't need an hour. Just changing the way I viewed these three daily routines changed the way I appreciated them. Now, I am taking care of myself and loving myself, if only in one minute bites.
My Yoga Practice
I've recently reconnected with my yoga practice, but you could substitute any activity here — running, biking, paddling, climbing, Zumba — that moves and connects your mind and body in a challenging but rewarding way. My sister gifted me a month-long unlimited yoga pass to her local studio, BodyMindLife for the month I spent with her and her husband in Australia. I'm not sure she'll ever know what this has truly done for me and how profoundly the experience has affected me. The gift, wonderful in itself, also symbolically gave me permission to enjoy it. Had I bought myself a pass, I would have sheepishly asked every few days if she minded watching my daughter for an hour while I snuck off to yoga. But her gift instead said to me, "Use this opportunity! Every day. Three times a day, if you want." She viewed that time with my daughter as bonding time that isn't otherwise available to her, being across the Pacific Ocean from us. I felt truly free to graciously accept her gift.
Over that month's time, I was reminded of what an everyday practice does for me. My body began to transform before my eyes in a way it hasn't in years (I lost three and a half inches off my waist, and two of my hips and bust) but it's my mind and my spirit that are really on the journey. I released energies, tensions and came face to face with decisions I'd been avoiding making for more than a year. By connecting and listening to my body, my mind cleared and I could hear some clear answers.
No, a yoga practice doesn't take one minute. But the one minute that is important to my self-love and self-care practice is the the one minute where I decide to go, to show up on my mat and to put in some work. That decision can be a daily struggle if I let it, but the rewards come back ten-fold.
A Bedtime Routine
Just as I've found a minute here and a minute there to take care of myself when I wake up, I've done the same before I go to bed.
Where I used to collapse when my daughter fell asleep, or sink into the negative feelings that had chased me around all day or worst of all, argue with my partner about incurable issues, I now put my focus on winding down my day and its energies calmly and lovingly. I put myself to bed with the same care I give to settling my daughter into slumber.
This routine is newest and hardest because it involves breaking sticky numbing habits, particularly around screens and the Internet. I've found I operate best if I go to bed at 10 PM. So I begin to wind myself down an hour before at 9 PM. Screens must be off and put away out of my bedroom (I charge them overnight in the living room). I change into a pajama that makes me feel comfy, cozy and also sexy, then I give myself a one-minute facial treatment: cleansing, then applying toner (Soap for Sinners' Rosewater Toner) and Annmarie Gianni facial oil.
The yoga and meditation that isn't available to me when I wake is available to me before I sleep, even if in short doses of about fifteen minutes each. Lastly I read, to slow things down and close the day (I try to give myself half an hour to read, though depending on the day, it can induce 'lights out' in a matter of moments). Right now, I'm still bingeing (reading and re-reading) on Brené Brown's brilliance.
For some, these one minute actions throughout the day may already be a part of your routine. For others, like me, perhaps they were once a part of your day but the practice of taking care of yourself, even in small doses, got lost somewhere along the way. When you're ready, it's never too late to take back control. To thank yourself for showing up and to reward yourself for a job well done.
As Brené and so many others preach, you are enough. I am enough. We are all enough and doing the best we can at any particular moment. Taking time throughout our days, even if in one minute doses, to show ourselves love and care also shows ourselves gratitude and thanks.