Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I'm going BIG!!! (and I'm not just referring to my belly)

Lately I've been feeling like I'm caught up in going through the motions of life. At almost 31 weeks pregnant I've been struggling with some physical challenges (aka my friend Sally Sciatica) and emotional ones as well. On the one hand I feel deep gratitude for the fact that my life allows me to take care of these physical challenges. I have such an appreciation for my health insurance as now I'm participating in physical therapy twice a week, massage therapy every three weeks, and visits with my midwife in between. I am grateful that I have a flexible schedule that allows me to attend my appointments and also take regular trips to the YMCA to swim laps and go to weekly yoga classes. On the other hand it feels like a part-time job just to keep my body in minimum working order! Sometimes at the end of the day I feel completely tapped out.

At the same time I am focused on working as much as possible. This started as a mission to save as much money as possible before le bebe arrives, but I think it has evolved into something else. There is a part of me that is totally freaked out about the fact that my work life is going to change once the baby is born. I love my work! I love the sense of satisfaction I get from my work! My work is a big part of my identity. At the same time (life is so messy, huh?), I am excited about the opportunity to transform my work life. I went through a huge transformation in 2009 when I quit my job and took the plunge into full-time entrepreneurship. Recently I've started to feel like it is time for another change. I feel like my work self is stuck in an unnatural dichotomy - psychologist and yoga teacher. In my mind and in my heart I know that I am not meant to turn on & off these different parts of myself. I know that one flows into the other and I know that I am most inspired by my work when I am combining these two passions. I need to find a way to take a more integrated approach to my work. This really hit home for me when I was at a meeting with fellow women entrepreneurs and someone asked for my card. I handed over my two distinct business cards and the woman noted that even my name was different on the two cards! One said Melinda Scime, Ph.D. and the other said Mindy Scime. (My full name is Melinda, but I've always been Mindy.)

As I've noticed these feelings in myself, I've looked toward some tried and true techniques to help me find my way. (I still get so uncomfortable in this in-between space.) I've recommitted to my Morning Pages. I've guarded my Artist Dates with my life. I've practiced discipline and gone for a swim or to yoga class when I would really rather sleep. I've focused on eating more fruits and vegetables. I'm working on being more gentle with myself, particularly in my thoughts. (Why don't I have this all figured out yet? Don't I realize I am having a baby? I need to get it together!) I'm tapping more deeply into my intuition and trusting it even when it seems kind of nutty.

And in comes BIG: A Fearless Painting Adventure. I'm certainly no painter. I can't even draw. But something in me was screaming to take this class! I decided to sign up before I let my rational brain get in the way. (When am I going to find time to paint? Where will I possibly create these giant paintings? Who do I think I am to sign up for a painting class? Don't I realize I'm having a baby - and soon?)

I just had the opportunity to watch the introductory video for the course and I now know more than ever that I made the right decision! It was like Connie was speaking to me and me alone, like she had snuck a peek inside my soul. She talked about honoring the process (vs. product), something I was just talking about struggling with yesterday. And she said the C word. This word keeps coming up around me everywhere! Commitment. What am I committed to? What do I want my life to look like? I think I've just been letting life happen to me lately. I've forgotten that I create my life. Interestingly I've been having a recurring dream where I'm at work trying to teach yoga or work with a client and there are tons of people there and I have no control. I can't get them to listen to me or to leave (who wants to have a therapy session with people watching!). I thought this might mean I feel out of control at work but now I'm fairly sure it means I have let go of my control at work. Because if I let things just happen it feels pretty safe and easy. I can certainly maintain the status quo (it's actually REALLY good, but I feel like there is something more waiting for me). Whereas if I take some steps toward creating my ideal work life, it is probably going to involve some hard stuff.

A part of me feels liked a spoiled brat for even having these feelings, let alone sharing them with the world (which is probably why I haven't until today). I am so lucky to have fulfilled several of my dreams by opening a yoga studio, starting a private practice as a psychologist, and owning a wellness center. I know that and nearly every day I am truly filled to the brim with gratitude for my life as it is today. But I can't shake this part of me that feels like there is something more I am supposed to be doing with my life. I don't know exactly what it is, but I have a few ideas.

For now I'm working on resting in the in-between area. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in either/or thinking. (Either I'm happy with my work life or I'm not.) But real life is so much more messy than that! I AM happy in my work life AND I aspire to transform my work life into something more. Just like in yoga where we practice contentment with things as they are while simultaneously working toward our edge so that we can grow.

That is where I'm at today and I'm confident that my BIG Fearless Painting Adventure will help me on my path.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Work & Self-Care

This weekend I gifted myself with three full days off from the office. It is vital for all of us to schedule regular time off from work and I believe this applies doubly to entrepreneurs and those of us who work in a helping profession. As a business owner it is easy (and tempting) to work nonstop! I did this myself when I first made the switch to full-time entrepreneur, but I very quickly learned that it was not in the best interest of myself or my clients. Now I manage this tendency to overwork by scheduling regular work hours and sticking to them (mostly). I also limit the number of clients I see in a day (6 is my maximum), as well as the number of consecutive therapy sessions I schedule (3 is my maximum). This leaves me feeling fresh and present with each client I come in contact with throughout my work days, weeks, and months and allows me to do my best work.

In addition to reflecting on my own personal limits at work, I also am mindful to take time for self-care every day. This might be something as simple as starting my day with a few minutes of inspirational reading (usually Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach) or as complex as a two hour lunch break to eat, get coffee, and write in my journal. It varies day to day and
sometimes I'll be in the midst of my work day and just know that I need a break and I will schedule in some spontaneous self-care. This has been happening to me more now that I am pregnant (29 weeks today!). Part of self-care is listening to my body and honoring its needs as they arise.

It has taken me a long time to get to the place I am at now with my self-care - four years ago I would not have written that last sentence, let alone actually stopped working in the middle of the day to honor the needs of my body. I can remember a time when I would not stop working to go to the bathroom when I had to pee! Sounds silly now, but what an example of not taking care of myself at such a basic level. I spent countless days working through lunch, ignoring signs of hunger or thirst, working at home until all hours of the night, and missing time with my family while pursuing achievement at work. Where I worked at this point in my life everyone did this; it was normal and you were questioned if you didn't sacrifice your own needs in order to benefit the work we were doing (which was very meaningful, making it easy to justify the culture of overwork).

Eventually I learned to adjust my work habits, even while in this same system. You don't have to be your own boss in order to implement self-care at work. I started taking a lunch break away from my desk every day. I put limits on the hours I worked at home. But the biggest change I made was in my mind. I stop believing that my needs were not important and that if I took care of myself and set boundaries it meant I wasn't as good as my colleagues. Something amazing happened when I started taking care of myself - I found that not only was I was happier (and I'm sure more pleasant to be around) but I accomplished just as much, if not more, in a shorter amount of time! By taking good care of myself, setting limits, and taking breaks I became more efficient at my job. The following year I actually reduced my work hours by half, from full-time to part-time, and continued to maintain the same responsibilities at work! By working in a very intense environment I learned how to care for myself during the most extreme conditions. I know this helped me tremendously as I made the move into full-time entrepreneurship! (There truly is something to be gained from even the toughest experiences.)

Now my regular self-care plan includes:

  • At least 15 minutes of self-care daily (reading, writing, meditating)
  • Fridays off complete with an Artist Date
  • Sticking to my designated work hours
  • Monthly massages & pedicures
  • Referring non-ideal clients
  • Delegating certain tasks
  • Weekly yoga class at another studio
  • Daily, non-negotiable lunch break
  • Retreating annually
  • Going to bed by 11pm

In addition I schedule vacations quarterly and mini-vacations (like this weekend) on an as-needed basis. I plan to spend this weekend rejuvenating by swimming, practicing yoga, going on a painting date with my mom, reading (10 new books arrived this week!), writing, art journaling, having a date night with my hubby, and attending a family party. I'm topping it all off with a massage at 9:30am on Monday morning. Then I will enter my work week feeling refreshed!

What are your plans for the weekend? Schedule in some time for self-care. Remember even 15 minutes can make a huge difference. Why not spend some time pondering how you care for yourself at work and creating a simple self-care plan? Caring for ourselves is good for us and it is also good for our work!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March Dreams

How did last month's dreams unfold for you? What are you dreaming of this month? Here are my musings on the past month and plans for March...

February Dreams:

  • Be fully present and enjoy every moment of the many fun outings planned for this month: a ski/spa trip with our friends, the annualSweetheart Dinner for Community Missions, the baptism of our dear friend's son, Girls' Night with the YaYas, Polar Bites fundraiser for the Buffalo Zoo, and a trip to Lasertron. DREAM COME TRUE! So many fun events this month made February just fly by!
  • Again, save 40% of my earnings this month to put toward supporting my maternity leave/ the hot tub fund. DREAM COME TRUE!
  • Complete final accounting for 2010 and meet with accountant for tax preparation. DREAM COME TRUE! Ugh, I really dislike accounting, but it is taken care of now so yippee!!!
  • Read more about natural childbirth. I just ordered Ina May's Guide to Childbirth; Birthing from Within; Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering; andSpiritual Midwifery. DREAM COME TRUE! These are all fabulous reads - I highly recommend!
  • Participate in my friend Kim David's Radical Self-Care Challenge. DREAM COME TRUE! Today is the official last day of the challenge. It has been wonderful to have a daily reminder to take time for self-care. Here's a sampling of the self-care activities I indulged in over the past 30 days: taking naps, reading, writing, getting a pedicure and massage, going to yoga class, meditating, swimming, Artist dates, savoring a favorite hot beverage, perusing magazines, taking myself out to lunch, and hitting the spa with my girlfriends.
  • Make a list of microMOVEments toward my new business ideas. Bonus: do something from the list. DREAM COME TRUE! And I did several things from the list, including read inspiring books; visualize; offer Living Wellness Lifestyle for Teens; refer non-ideal clients; journal; and talk with people about my ideas.
  • Work on my two books in progress. Devote at least 1 hour this month to each of them. DREAM DEFERRED... I did not spend even a few minutes on either book...
  • Outline idea for trauma group that incorporates yoga and Living Wellness Lifestyle for Teens. DREAM IN PROGRESS! Living Wellness Lifestyle for Teens is all set to go (starts 3/10)! I thought a lot about my idea for a trauma group that incorporates yoga and I signed up for a continuing education class on the topic!
  • Research mixed media art class (in person or online). Suggestions are welcome & greatly appreciated! DREAM COME TRUE! Although I did not sign up for a mixed media art class, I did register for a BIG painting class with Connie from Dirty Footprints Studio! It was truly a very spontaneous, impractical decision on my part, but I felt so strongly called to do it that I decided to throw practicality out the window! It feels like a very bold decision on my part and I can't wait for the class to start!

March Dreams:

  • Attend fabulous continuing education course on the role of yoga in healing trauma. Further ponder group for women affected by violence that incorporates yoga.
  • Fun night out with my mom at Art by You!
  • Signed leases in hand for additional offices at Living Wellness of Niagara.
  • Savor a solo weekend away to attend continuing education course on Yoga Anatomy & Alignment.
  • Attend fabulous new workshops at Tree of Life Yoga Studio: Dance on the Wild Side & Prayer Flag Creating Experience.
  • Continue preparing for baby's arrival with first class at Care Connection.
  • Save 40% of my earnings toward my maternity leave.
  • Paint BIG!
  • Write!
  • Read another Martha Beck book - I'm thinking The Joy Diet.
  • Continue to care for my pregnacious body by practicing yoga, going to physical therapy, swimming, and getting regular massages.
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