Self-Care for the Empath on the March

stillness

Self-Care is necessary for body, mind, and spirit.

Who Has Time for Self-Care?

I’ve always been a “To-Do-List” maker.  In the past, I made grocery lists, work-related lists, lists of errands I had to run on Saturday, and even a list of things I’d like to do if I wasn’t so busy making lists!  Do you know anyone like this?

Lately, my list also includes things like march on Washington, call my legislators, write to them when they stop taking phone calls, and put my money where my mouth is by getting rid of credit cards that are affiliated with companies that support things that I don’t.  I never dreamed I’d need a list like this.  I don’t want a list like this!  Who would?!

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I never imagined this being on my To-Do list but it is!

In addition to being a list-maker, I’m an empath and maybe you are, too.  Empaths are highly sensitive people who feel deeply and try to do as much as they can.  They…we… act from a place of compassion and love but can easily get overwhelmed.  It leaves me feeling like this…

Freyjas Soulful Eyes

I have nothing left to give.

 

 So what can I do for body, mind, and spirit?

For me, it begins with a brand new To-Do list, identifying ways to balance what I need with what I need to do.  What are all the ways I can nourish and nurture myself so I don’t get depleted?

  • Body:  Getting sick or exhausted doesn’t do anybody any good… least of all ourselves.  To take care of our physical bodies, I suggest things such as a deep tissue massage, exercise a few times a week, eating healthy foods and also allowing the occasional treat, yoga, and my personal favorite- simply being in nature.  Nothing compares to a few minutes in my backyard where I can listen to the birds and watch the sun set while I swing in a hammock with my fuzzy kids.
  • Mind: This includes things that release my mind from my lists and the oh-so-real sorrows of the world.  I read for the sheer joy of it (mysteries and historical fiction right now).  I also do my best to focus on positive words of encouragement and affirmations like those Jessica Swift sends out as part of her 100 Uplifting Messages 100 Days in a Row.  Part of nurturing a healthy mind is knowing my limits, saying “No” when I need to, and disconnecting from social media when it gets to be too much.  Did I, a blogger, just write that?!  Yes.  Unplug and be present.
  • Spirit:  A balanced program of self-care has to include the spirit.  It can take many forms including meditation, prayer, connecting with a like-minded spiritual community, embracing solitude, Reiki, creative expression, and cuddling your 2-legged and 4-legged loved ones (a bit more difficult if you have a parakeet or fish).

One of the first things I notice about that 3-prong guide to self-care is that it is all connected.  What nourishes the body can also soothe the spirit and quiet the mind.  This reminds me of my post titled Boundaries & Priorities from May 2014.  Following these suggestions and reflecting on those I wrote about 3 years ago take me from “I have nothing left to give” to this….

peaceful-girl

Shhh… self-care in progress.

In the March/April 2017 issue of Spirituality & Health magazine, Dr. Judith Orloff’s  article “The Empowered Empath” shares some of her tips for refilling our well so we have more to give others.  I am particularly moved by her Empath Affirmation.

“I will treasure myself and vow to have people in my life who treasure me.

I will use my sensitivities to better my own life and the world.

I will celebrate the adventure of being an empath.”

What do you do for self-care?

I’d love to hear what works for you.

 

 

 

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“What Did You Fall In Love With?”

Every once in a while, I nourish my Self by taking what  Julia Cameron calls “Art Dates” in her book, The Artist’s Way.  Typically, these are special dates with one’s self to seek inspiration and nurture the artist within.

I explored this in my post Art Date with Myself.  Funny, I broke the rules in that post, too!

I take plenty of Art Dates by myself but this time, I chose to spend it with my boyfriend.  It was a lovely February day so we decided to explore the newly renovated National Gallery of Art East Wing  in Washington DC.

At the end of our artsy adventure, he asks me a provocative question that I love for its directness and the ease with which I can answer it.  “What did you fall in love with today?”  While I deeply adore viewing all of the pieces in general, there are three works that I am, indeed, in love with.

Henri Matisse – Decorative Composition with Masks (1953)

Large Decorative Cutout with Masks

Henri Matisse, Large Composition with Masks (1953)

I’ve been in love with this piece for decades and every time I see it, these feelings grow stronger.  Every single time without exception, my heart swells and tears fill my eyes the moment I come around the corner and view this enormous cutout in all its colorful, simplistic glory.  It is, by far, my favorite work of all time.  Those of you who have fallen in love with art know what I mean and how impossible it is to explain why a piece captures your heart, soul, and imagination.

Pierre Bonnard – Nude in an Interior (1935)

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I’m also in love with Pierre Bonnard’s Nude in an Interior (1935).  His use of bold blocks of color and pattern, patches of sunlight, his color palette, and contrast of the straight lines of the interior against the feminine curves of the nude captivate me.

Lately, my color palette has been rather dark and often subdued.  The joyful, sunny colors of this painting inspire me to play with similar colors.

Francesca Woodman – Caryatid, New York (1980)

francescawoodman-caryatid-new-york

Francesca Woodman – Caryatid, New York (1980)

This mysterious, otherworldly image by Francesca Woodman captivates me and leaves me with many unanswered questions.  Who is this?  Where is she?  What is she thinking?  The tragic and divinely talented Woodhouse died at age 22, leaving behind a great many self-portraits and other beautiful and unsettling images.  I love how this piques my curiousity.  I want to know more about her art and the creative yet tortured woman who created it.

What art are you in love with?

Please share.