Real Self Care

Real Self Care
Real Self Care is All You Need

Real self care — that’s the new title of self care. Apparently, not all self care is equal according to a new book by Dr. Pooja Lakshmin, Real Self-Care: A Transformative Program for Redefining Wellness (Crystals, Cleanses, and Bubble Baths Not Included), and reviewed in the New York Times recently.

Yes, it’s another book on self care. Another thought on how to care for one’s self — this time the real way. I am not sure self care can actually be categorized as real or not real — if one is caring for one’s self then it’s self care. Buy, hey, authors have to have an angle and this is hers.

For Dr. Pooja, it is about aligning one’s self care with one’s values. In this way, yoga, crystals, baths may be just what you need. I think she is seeking to encourage women to think about what they value in their lives and then use these values to care for self. Don’t just take the yoga class because someone has told you it’s a good way to care for your self. Rather, check in with one’s self and ask yourself, “Is stretching in yoga poses a way to actually take care of myself — or not?” If not, then move on.

The author wisely recognizes — as so many of us do — that self care is just another billion dollar industry trying to get their share of the capitalist pie. It’s OK to support the industry as long as it is actually really about your self care — thus the idea of “real self care.”

There is one part of Dr. Pooja’s suggestions that I really liked — her imaginative exercise of thinking about a dinner party you would throw to learn what you values actually are. I never thought of this type of exercise as a way to get at what one values, but I suppose it does. Are you interested in a small gathering or a large one? Is it pot luck or formal? What’s on the menu — take out or something you spent the day cooking? What music are you playing and what games/activities are you throwing into the mix? This is very helpful to see what motivates one in life.

How would you answer these questions? For me, I tend to like more people than less, I love to set a table or make a pretty table for the group, I mix in store bought foods with easy-to-cook dishes (I want to have fun too!). If children are there, I love to have games for them to play or at least give them my Labrador who loves to play with kids. Oh, and i love a good party favor.

How does this translate into real self care?

It seems to me that I value sharing time that is fun and creative with people whom I am close to of all ages. If I choose to spend time in this way then I am caring for myself. Makes sense to me as a way to get at what real self care looks like.

Of course, it’s not the only way and if you feel good about spending your money in the self care industry that is fine too. When it comes to self care, follow your bliss, and make the time to do so on a regular basis.

Kindness Matters

Hands giving and receiving flowers in an act of kindness

I was reviewing my Twitter feed and someone wrote, “Kindness matters.”

For some reason these two words made me stop in my tracks. It feels like there isn’t a whole lot of kindness around these days. Although I do see it on a a more personal one-on-one level more often than on community or society levels. Of course, the argument can be made that individual acts of kindness lead to the whole of a community or society embracing kindness.

I can understand that argument and I tend to disagree with it these days.

What I observe is kindness to those who are like us and we judge as deserving of it or, if the person is not like us, we can somehow feel good about our kind acts which may lead to deeper inroads of kindness remaining close to home. As an example, if you give a meal to a homeless man on the street, this would be regarded as a kind act that you decided to do. Yes, it is kind. Yes, you should feel good about helping someone. No, it does not mean that kindness is now spreading throughout the community.

Enough of these acts and it is supposed to roll on up into a big tidal wave of human kindness. What I observe are many acts like these happening on the personal level and the toil and trouble and unkindness on the larger levels. As an example, I happened to post something politically on social media that lead to an uproar of meanness and hatred. So quick, so fast. Name calling started happening instead of a curious posture. Fire erupted that was the exact opposite of choosing to be kind to another whom you don’t know but appears different to you.

Things are automatic these days, including our acts of kindness. Of course, most of us have no problem extending kindness to our friends and family and people we feel are on “our side.” Also, when we get to determine who to be kind to, kindness abounds. However, the exact opposite is true as well. If our beliefs and/or ideas are challenged, stretched, or otherwise foreign to who we are, automatic meanness seems to pop up as the go to solution.

Kindness matters whether we have agency over the decision of who we are being kind to or not. If we could all take a kind, curious posture no matter what we are meeting in any given day, I think kindness might have a chance at winning the day. Being kind on one level and the exact opposite on another is a mean split that is tearing up society — faster than I can keep up with these days.