pom-poodle-careA few posts ago, I reported that, when asked by my helpful coach Amanda about a future worth getting well for, I couldn’t picture a life without my beloved Trond.

That realization shocked us both, but it didn’t mean I wanted to die; it meant I wasn’t yet ready to live again. Why get well when I couldn’t imagine what a meaningful life would look like? 

Amanda got it and took a new tack. Okay, she wondered, if I couldn’t envision a desirable future, what did I want right now? Instead of the blank I’d just drawn, an answer came right to me:

I want to stay put, be loving and kind to myself and, and be taken care of. That’s it.

So how am I doing with that? Well, staying put is just that—going out as little as possible and, most critically, not moving to a “care facility” any sooner than absolutely necessary. So far, so good. But that’s a whole terrifying conversation for another time. 

I’m also doing well on the being taken care of front. I have a team of remarkably kind, capable people who do lots of helpful things for me. Far less simple is the question of how to be loving and kind to my dear old self. 

That, as you may know, my friends, is the work of a lifetime. And boy am I still learning about how to get that one right. 

Shelves of books abound around self-care and compassion. But what does that really look like in the moment-to-moment business (and busyness) of a day, my day? Under my belt are 50 years of waking up, getting to know and appreciate myself—and OK, trying to love myself for better or worse.

Compared to many people I succeed. I don’t  berate myself or think I am a bad person. Honestly, I think I’m pretty cool—kind, smart, authentic, funny…I could go on. But—and it’s a big but—do I treat myself the way such a cool person deserves to be treated? What do I do, and what could I do better, to be kind to and respectful of sweet Suzanne?

Take this very moment. I’ve been sitting here for much too long without paying attention to how I feel. When I stop long enough to notice, I see that I have to pee and haven’t been breathing very deeply. So my poor old body has gotten uncomfortably tight. Not exactly self-love is it? 

The opportunity to practice self-love, or the lack thereof, starts the moment I wake up in the morning. How gently, or abruptly, do I turn over in bed to switch on the bedside lamp. How carefully do I support myself as I sit up to take my morning medications? 

Is it an act of self-love to reflexively reach for my phone to check the news and Wall Street? I half watch myself making those routine moves and, by not letting myself fully feel the ill effects of my choices, I rarely choose a kinder, gentler way. But why?

Because in those automatic moments I am not fully present. If I were paying close attention to the effects of my actions on my body and mind—let alone my spirit—might I not sit up instead to meditate? Or at least stop checking my phone before I work my already overwrought nervous system into a minor frenzy?

I am beginning to see that self-love and care are practically synonymous with presence. More accurately perhaps, you can’t have one without the other. 

Usually the topics of self-love and care on the one hand, and the idea of presence—being here now—on the other are treated as completely separate qualities of being. But are they? 

Really, how kind can I be to myself if I’m locked in my head, awash in either the past (memories) or the future (projections) rather than resting in the embodied, the *felt* experience of this very moment?

“Love is what happens when there is nothing else going on.” I wrote those words in a poem twenty years ago and they apply today.

To be present is to be in a state where nothing else is going on. In such a blessed state, and only there methinks, do we remember who we most fundamentally, truly are: love incarnate. The living, breathing embodiment of love and light on sacred Planet Earth.

We are that, dear ones. And we must be still and present to know it and, so, to love and honor our dear selves in all our gory glory. That’s what I think, but how about you? Please let us know.

About the Author: Suzanne Grenager

A seasoned writer and mentor with a gift for helping people see and be their most authentic, empowered Self.

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