Advice for Your 2020 Vision

That’s a little play on words. Yes, we’d all love to have 2020 Vision and now we are living into our 2020 vision for life. 

It’s apparent and no one needs me to tell them that the world is a stressful place to live in. Mindfulness meditation is a practice where you learn to stop for a moment or five or ten and focus on … you. You can focus on your breath. Your gratitude. Your loved ones. Your intention. Your wishes. Your dreams. It’s a very simple ritual of stopping to look, stopping to listen, stopping to notice and observe life on the micro level. Oh yes, there is enough stress in the world to fill up our brains with all sorts of fear and anxiety, enough to sink a battleship. Even in each of our personal lives there is enough stress to make us wonk out with worry. However, I beg to differ. Slightly. 

If you are in the shower, you don’t have to be thinking about work, or rush hour, or paying bills. You can enjoy the warm water and the smell of the soap’s fragrance. 

If you are driving to work in rush hour, you can play soft music, you don’t have to listen to the local news and the laterst murder rate statistics. 

I want to share a truth that you’ve undoubtedly heard before.  You have to take care of yourself first before you can care for others. I know you would tend to agree and it’s simple but not easy. There are those pressing demands that are never ending. Unless you make time for self-care. 
 
After all, it’s a common trap.  And the result is burnout. 
 
This I know to be true:  your success and fulfillment and longevity in life is directly correlated with your level of self-care.   
 
LIfe is challenging.  Raising kids is challenging. Being productive at work is challenging. It takes a lot of time. Focus. Resiliency. Creativity. Persistence.  Commitment. And the heaviness of responsibility is well, heavy. My advice is to always prioritize filling your own cup first.  And then give generously to those you serve with the overflow from your cup. Everytime you board a plane, in the safety check, the crew tell you to put your own mask on first then help those around you.   
 
Sure, you can over-give and de-prioritize yourself for a while.  Putting your children, your spouse, your team, your communities and causes and families consistently ahead of You.  Getting by with a half-full cup and rationalizing your resentment or frustration and fatigue. But I have never seen this approach work long-term.  
 
Eventually you too will burnout and likely succumb to disease in the very way that you wished to avoid.  When we are burned out, we do not show up for our responsibilities with our full creativity and intuition.  So where does the creativity, the intuition, the fun and laughter in life come from? Any guesses?
 
I do Not want this to happen to you.  But I know that this is likely the default if you don’t purposefully prevent it.  Your family needs what you uniquely have to offer. There are people waiting for the very specific skills that you offer.  When we prioritize our own self-care and fill our cup first, then it is easy and gratifying to give generously from all that overflows that cup.  Our cup of wellness, joy, and ease.
 
Of course only You know what truly fills Your cup.  Perhaps it’s time alone. Solitude in nature. A scorching hot yoga class. Time spent in a balancing hobby. An adventure with friends. Loud music and raucous dancing. Gratitude journaling.  Weekly Thai massage. Hire someone to do the parts of your work that deflate you. A weekday off with your best buddy roaming the city.  Put a hammock in your living room. A vacation without your family.  A long snuggle with a beloved pet (maybe even take them to work with you).  Take art lessons. Get to bed at 9pm. Or 8pm with an hour lost in a book that isn’t about work or business.  Ballroom dance class.  Yoga in the middle of the day.  A hot bath. These are all seemingly simple things.  But they are powerful. And your list is probably weird and questionable to some of your friends and family.  That’s okay. Stop “should”ing on yourself and start full-filling yourself. Nobody but You has to understand and say Yes to what fills your cup.  
 
As we begin a new year, I want you to get honest with yourself about what would fill your cup.  And then start taking steps now to make it happen as a priority. Stop settling for “it’s just not convenient” or “there’s no way”.  There Is a way.  Just begin.  Your cup just needs your prioritization, creativity, and commitment.  Our mission needs You to be showing up with a full cup.       
 
Years ago when I was still raising a handful of raucous and sometimes “lost” teenagers, I was asked by a good friend, “What do you want Garey?” I positively had no clear answer. My cup was full of emergencies, needy emotional kids, school work, trips to teacher meetings, hiring lawyers for traffic violations and worse. But I had one hour of the week that was reserved for me. I had a favorite yoga teacher in those days and that hour was my one chance to “not think” about anything except stretching my body and balancing that pose. 
 
For inspiration, I want to share some unexpected and perhaps surprising things that I personally do to fill my own cup.  But of course this is my list, and I know yours will be different and perhaps unexpected too.  Please Comment below and share a thing or two that You do to fill your cup.  Inspire us.  
 
  • Let a dog adopt you. The amount of pleasure, fun, and love we give each other is infinite.  Pets are incredibly skilled at pulling you out of your mind and into the present moment with lightness and love. I know cats are great too, but most dogs have a bonding snuggle nature that brings warmth and life to your life. You should see my mom with her nine pound Yorkie-Papillon mix. They mutually keep each other happy. Also dogs need walking so it helps to ensure you get a walk three or four times a day. 
  • Wake up and get up when your body naturally decides it is ready.  Go to bed early enough that you are almost never awakened by an alarm clock.  I don’t set one, but if you need that safety net, aim to never actually let it go off before you rise for the day.
  • Sleep well.  Seriously.  Whatever is in the way of you having deep, consistent, lengthy sleep, get to the bottom of it.  Stop tolerating it.  Sleep in a separate room from your partner if they disturb your sleep.  I do.  Contrary to common myth, it’s not “bad” for your relationship.  In fact, if you and your partner are both well-rested, you will likely enjoy more fun, more connection, more intimacy, and more gratitude for each other every day.  I do!
  • Treat mindfulness like it’s an important appointment. It is. Set aside as sacred a time every day when you connect with your spirit, your soul, in whatever way makes your heart sing and transcend the hubbub of the world.  I meditate, journal, dog-snuggle, and enjoy some inspirational reading each morning as the sun comes up.  If we have company or I have an early workday, I just get up earlier.  Maybe your ideal time is mid-day or late afternoon in between work and home life.  Choose what works best for you and honor that time.  It’s an important appointment.
  • Go for a “Be Here Now” walk in the middle of the day.  Rain or shine or snow.  Breathe.  Don’t talk on the phone while you do it.  In fact, leave your phone behind.  Wave at people who drive by.  Admire what you encounter along the way.  Send silent affirmations and smiles to the people you see from afar.  Even if I only do it for 10 minutes, it’s a powerful reset on what matters.
  • Make time for regular bodywork and exercise. Choose a class you may be interested in but worry about what will people think. I am a clutz. So what? A little boldness and courage will fix that. A lot of what I do and love each day involves sitting and thinking.  Being healthy and feeling well grounded in-my-body takes focus.  Here’s some things to try: Massage therapist, chiropractor, personal trainer, try yoga, visit a cranio-sacral therapist, and/or reflexologist. Assemble a “health care team” and visit at least one them every week.  I block out time on my calendar and only cancel in the case of a true emergency. I even get my teeth cleaned by a hygienist every three months. Not always pleasant but needful. 
  • Schedule vacations and truly Vacate!  If you go on a trip and you’re “doing email”, this is not vacation.  Your body is somewhere else, but your mind is still “on” and at work.  I like to do things on purpose.  Work hard.  Play hard.  Rest hard.  Take true breaks.
  • Listen to music throughout the day. You may start with Native American flute.  Move into jazz standards mid-morning. Then hit the afternoon with club dance music. Have some ambient sounds helping to create an environment you like or even love. You have that freedom of choice at least while you are in your home. 
  • Have a Very comfortable office chair that spins and can zoom across the hardwood floor (dogs love this game)
  • Be surrounded by plants and fresh flowers in your work environment.  Oxygen.  Green.  Life!
  • Buy and savor really, really good coffee.  Exactly how you like it.
  • Donate to something you believe in passionately. Whether it’s $5 or $5000, contribute to something outside yourself that inspires you and fuels someone else to find ease and joy. Maybe it’s animal rescue or caring for veterans or children in the the Third World, find an expression of compassion and back it up with even one dollar and you may find it easier to give more as you work that muscle. 
  • Own an exquisitely sharp and lovely-to-hold kitchen knife.  Chopping veggies with some old, dull hand-me-down would be a hole in my cup.
  • Surprise people with kindness and unexpected generosity.  I really enjoy leaving a $5 tip on a cup of coffee, placing an inspirational quote on the windshield of the woman I just watched unload four kids from her car with great frustration, giving a fresh flower to the mailman or the lady at the laundromat, leaving a few pieces of fresh fruit in a bag on my workaholic neighbor’s doorknob, or  surprising a friend mid-day with a hand-delivered carton of fresh organic blueberries. Donnie Wahlberg left an IHOP waitress as $2020 tip on a $70 bill! 
  • Hire people to do the things that are important but that you don’t love doing.  You give Them the joy of earning money doing something they love in the process too.  This is anything from doing your taxes to doing your shopping to cleaning out the garage, to doing your booking/billing to picking up the presents you want to give to loved ones.  None of these things costs as much as you might think.  You just have to decide that you’re “worth it”.
  • Be willing to eat out once in a while and try different types of food you may not be very familiar with. Having lived in India for ten years, I have an emotional connection with Indian food, and I know where all the good restaurants are. My daughter wants to take me to an Ethiopian restaurant she found. 
  • Other things I’ve done to break out of my rut: bungee jumped over a gorge near Mt. Whistler. Hike to the top of the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka starting at midnight to arrive at the summit just before sunrise. Surprised a friend with a ropes course through the red 
I hope these resonate with you or at least inspire you to prioritize your own.  Now I really want to learn from yours.  Please Share away!
 
Here’s to Self Care, your cup filling up and running over, and the Success and Impact it will create,
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