From a Pedicure to the Park: A Spectrum of Self-Care
Self-care can mean many different things to different people. One thing's for sure, though, no matter how we choose to interpret it, self-care is an essential ingredient to living a happy and fulfilling life.
For me, one of my monthly "I deserve this" rituals is to get a relaxing pedicure at one of my favorite spas. I make this ritual a priority and I do not question it or justify it against anything I have done to "deserve" it. I know that it is one way to show myself some well-intentioned TLC and, as such, it is an experience I appreciate every time I receive it. And yesterday was one of those days.
After my pedicure I decided to head over to a local garden/park near to where I live to enjoy some complementary cello music in the garden as part of a "Music in the Garden" program run on voluntary donations. I brought my blanket, settled on a plot of grass, kicked off my shoes, and lay down, staring at what must have been a century-old willow tree that towered above.
As I lay there listening to the calming music, it got me thinking, so many of us believe that the only way we can justify ourselves engaging in self-appreciation is if we have all the free time and money in the world. But the issue isn't so much time or money as it is a willingness to make self-care a priority in our own lives.
We need to understand that we can only truly give of ourselves (without depletion) when we are full of energy. But in order to refill our reserves we need to take the time to do so. And if we are creative and resourceful there is no doubting that we can always find ways to engage our senses without breaking the bank or negleting our daily responsibilities.
But, in truth, it's not even about that. Whether we have the means to live it up in the south of France or we just have some extra change for an indulgent latte, either way the intention needs to be to find a way to show ourselves some sort of appreciation....just because. There are plenty of ways to savor what the world has on offer and it is up to each of us to determine the ways that make the most sense in our own lives.
We are all busy, but we need to occasionally remember to slow things down and just be. We need to be nice to ourselves and give ourselves permission to mindfully indulge in what we love and enjoy the most. And whether we do it at the Ritz Carlton or at our local park, or both, there is always a way to practice self-care and appreciate the present moment and what it has to offer us. The irony of it is, we think that life will pass us by if we simply pause for a moment but, in fact, that's when we end up catching up with life the most.
Subsequently, as I lay there on my blanket, with the earth beneath me and the blue sky above, I thought about that old tree and wondered what life might have been like so many years ago when it first sprouted. I thought about all the progress that has occurred and all the barriers that had been broken so that I could freely be who I am and do what I want. I thought about all those who paved the way for the many conveniences I get to enjoy today. And I thought about my own contribution to humanity and how perhaps someday in the future someone else will think of me in that same way too.
Consequently, when we give ourselves permission to mindfully indulge, what we are really doing is making ourselves more aware of the present moment and how we fit into the world as it stands today. We also start to appreciate everything we have going right for us right now. When we give ourselves some "me time" we allow our thoughts to wander to places they wouldn't normally go. We give ourselves the opportunity to be still, to quiet our restless thoughts and worries, and just revel in the energy we have created for ourselves in that moment. We allow ourselves to listen to our heart's desires and contemplate the solutions we seek. And we start to see life through a different perspective as we recharge our batteries so that we can continue to engage with the world from a more empowered place.
So whether you're living it up in the French Riviera, getting a pedicure at your favorite spa, whipping up a sumptuous meal at home, or laying down a blanket at your local park, you can always find a way to mindfully indulge in what you love and enjoy the most. All you need is to be open, resourceful, and curious and you will find the perfect outlet to indulge your senses and feed your soul. The secret is to simply give yourself permission to do so and then trust that you completely deserve it. So make some time to kick up your heels, rest your worries, and relax into the present moment. Your body, mind, and spirit will certainly thank you for it!
*The Music Garden, Toronto Harbourfront
*Spa My Blend, Ritz Carlton, Toronto