Self-Care Lessons from the West Coast: Tips You Can Use No Matter Where You Live
Self-care. Here we go again. I know. I preach self-care in most every facet of my interactions with clients, friends, and family. The two reasons that it comes up in most every conversation are: 1) Self-care is vital to healing mental or physical issues and for preventing mental and physical issues, and 2) I need to hear the need for self-care on repeat for my own benefit, because if I am not taking care of myself, I can't take care of (or even provide high-vibe information) for others.
Long story kind of short...I flew from my home in Frederick to San Diego for a Mastermind workshop with Christine Hassler. My boys (husband and son) came with me for a little family time following the workshop. BTW, that's an example of what balance looks like for me. We arrived in the San Diego morning, and we were all a little grumpy after a pre-4AM start to the day, no wireless on the plane after telling my son how cool it was going to be to watch shows and to follow the graphic of the plane flying over the states, had a hassle with the rental car reservation, and my son didn't want to go to the beach. Nevertheless, we decided to drive through La Jolla...just to see the water. When a rock-star parking spot opened up along the beach (thank you, Universe), we couldn't say no. As soon as our pale, grumpy bare feet hit the warm soft sand, we were all transformed. My son ran into the water splashing and squealing with delight. It was then that I knew this trip was going to be powerful.
We checked into our lovely AirBnB for the evening, and the mastermind was the next day. The content of the mastermind workshop was amazing. Christine and her team were truly authentic and real...it was evident that they practice what they preach. And just as the sand, waves, and sun transformed our mood the day before, the environment of 25+ women (and a lone man) invested in their personal growth and the growth of their business vulnerably sharing about their wins and struggles skyrocketed my desire to whole-heartedly pursue my business in bold and new ways. The day was intense and thought-provoking. I left feeling inspired and still processing all that I had taken in from Christine, her team, and the other participants. My history-loving boys were equally excited about their day, having spent it on the USS Midway.
We spent the next morning on the beach. Our enthusiasm for running into the waves on a chilly cloud-covered morning in our swimsuits while everyone else was wet-suit clad or bundled in long-sleeve running gear clearly marked us a tourists, but we didn't care. We body-boarded and played tag and built castles until hunger and coldness pulled us away for some delicious breakfast and a hot shower.
The LA Funk
Then it was off to LA. After several hours of driving around trying to get to our mid-LA destination (the La Brea tar pits...because isn't that what everyone does in LA??), we were all feeling a bit "off." Dinner in Venice Beach with our former neighbors revived us a bit. They were sun-kissed and looked SO relaxed. They had lost the East Coast "edge" and were Zen without trying. Our delicious meal was followed by fancy ice cream and kids chasing one another....they always seem to bond just as it is time to leave.
Our hotel on the outskirts of LA was a big disappointment (rude staff, a view of a trash dump along the highway, and a sense of uneasiness that we couldn't shake), so in an effort to get back in alignment with what had felt SO right the previous days, we changed our plans and headed back to our sweet slice of the West Coast in Encinitas. Still in a funk on our drive, we stopped to visit my husband's former boss in Manhattan Beach. My son found a park that had the old-school (which is apparently now hip again) wooden workout stations, now fancily named a Parcourse Fitness Center, and we all joined in pull ups (or hanging from the bar in my case), jumping over logs, and performing inclined push ups. And boom, we were back. Our mood lifted, joking and light-heartedness returned, and I knew we were moving in the right direction. As we continued back, we stopped at a Mediterranean restaurant and all tried and devoured new food (hunger from playing on the Parcourse will do that!) and did some back-to-school shopping. My son declared that he wanted to try his clothes on "all by myself." What? I mean I know we raise our kids to be independent but....Anyway, he had a blast exercising his new-found independence, and we scored some good deals too.
Finding Our Groove in Encinitas
We were fortunate to find a lovely AirBnB host who accommodated us despite getting her own kids ready for their first day of school the following morning. And as you can probably guess, we headed for the beach the next day. We spent the day how we imagine the locals might spend a weekend...a couple of hours at the beach, a few work and house chores, grocery shopping, strolling around town, eating AMAZING food, visiting the library (that overlooks the Pacific...unreal!) and scoring three old-school personal development books at the book sale, meeting new friends on the playground and then the other playground, and savoring the simple things.
It Hit Me Like a Ton of Bricks
Despite our ideal day, I was restless that night and realized that I had, at some level, still been processing the events and information presented during the workshop. I left the comfort of my bed and opened the windows in the living room of our little temporary abode. As I wrote about what was going on in my head and heart, I realized that my "stuck" feeling in my business was related to how I was raised. Now, I'm not going to go all Freud-like and proclaim that everything is tied to the super early years, but I do think and have seen that the beliefs that are instilled in our younger years often play out without conscious awareness. And those little kid beliefs run the show until we show them there is a better option. When my husband asked me what was going on the next morning, I lost it...full-on ugly cry in front of him and my son. I wasn't sure what to think when my son hopped down from his perch at the breakfast counter to come toward me. "It's okay mommy...take deep breaths from your belly. That's what Mrs. XXX (his school's guidance counselor) taught our class to do to help us calm down (Can I tell you how much I love his school!!!)" After more talking and a solo walk, I felt cleansed and light. Unpacking old beliefs can be a rocky road, but the end result is so worth it. I waited a week-ish to write this post because I wanted to make sure that the feeling would stick, and it has...and I've been reprogramming a more realistic set of beliefs that make sense for my life today.
Leaving was bittersweet...more bitter than sweet, actually, but I take with me the memories and so.many.lessons. So my short-ish story that turned out to be long-ish is coming to a close and the lessons will follow: Prior to this, I had never really enjoyed the beach or thought of myself as a beach-lover, but doing the beach thing as a local was AMAZING. And the only conceivable upside to our neighbors-who-are-family moving away, is that they are moving to this town. We are already planning our return. Now on to the lessons....
Self-care Lessons from the West Coast
1. Environment makes a huge difference. We saw this when we first stepped on the beach in La Jolla, being surrounded by my tribe at the mastermind, when we got out of LA, and when we got back to the things we love. Take time to make your environment nice...even if that just means one closet that you turn into a little sanctuary. Spend time in the places that make you feel alive, even if getting to those places takes a bit of effort and planning. The juice is worth the squeeze.
2. Nature. Nature is my therapy. Being in nature...in the sun, on the beach, in the lovely gardens, or just having dinner outside is so restorative and our bodies reward us for this with a calm, clear mind and a warm heart.
3. Tribe. Whoever your people are, find them and spend time with them. It doesn't matter if they are vegan Trekkies, show-dog mammas, craft beer-drinking CrossFitters, or consciousness-loving entrepreneurs. When you have found your people and you get that feeling that you are "home," don't ignore it. Find your tribe and love them hard.
4. Be vulnerable. I let myself be vulnerable with my family, and I am doing it again here, and the world has not stopped turning. Vulnerability is a portal to growth.
5. Be. Just be. It's comical that it took flying across the country with my husband and son for a commitment to attend a workshop, and organizing cat sitters and mail delivery, and parking and car seats, and all of that to be reminded that often the most pleasure can be found in just being...not doing, not planning 173 activities based on Yelp-ratings (cause I may know a thing or two about that), but just being with myself, being present with my family, and enjoying the company of old and new friends....that's where the magic is. That's what life is really all about.