I am practicing saying no. It is difficult. I am first born, the fixer, the planner, the organizer. I am also often exhausted, sometimes short tempered (yes, really) 🤣😂and overwhelmed. I am learning, albeit later in life, that saying no is an important part of self-care. Carving out time for oneself can be a challenge. We all have commitments whether they be work, children, pets, aging parents, volunteer work, etc. Sometimes, even the things that bring us joy, time with friends, hobbies can cause angst if we are trying to fit it all in. Years ago, when I first started working in banking, I overheard a colleague take a call from the executive offices of the bank we worked at. They were always calling the trainees to fill tables at functions or telethons, and I invariably always said yes - consistently sacrificing time I had set aside for myself. I heard him smoothly say, wow, thanks for asking but I have a previous commitment. When I asked him what it was, he said, time with his wife! I learned this was not a lie, we must have a commitment to ourselves, to our health and mental wellbeing. Commitment to finding some peace and happiness. I have never forgotten the lesson that he taught me, and I have consistently tried, with some success, to remember to carve out restorative time for myself and for who and what I love. It is not selfish, it is self-preservation.
This week I suggest we spend some time examining where we spend our time. Some things are nonnegotiable. Some things can be whittled down and sometimes it is ok to say no. Sometimes even the things that would bring you joy may be healthier to say no to if you are tired and would benefit from an evening on the couch. Used to be I would try to orchestrate every hour; I now make a conscious effort to leave time for things to flow. This opens me up to more enjoyment in the moment. When we block out time for ourselves, for spontaneity, we will find joy in the here in now, coffee on a porch with a friend, spontaneous walks to the ice cream place, an impromptu walk around the block with the dog (allowing him to sniff every bush!)
If you constantly do for others perhaps employing the “teach them to fish versus making them the fish and chips every time” method would be a good use of your time (I am working on that one). As a fixer, I fell into the pattern of jumping in to make the call, balance the checkbook, write the complaint letter for others. This does not help anyone grow and simply continues a cycle of enabling. This is not to say we should become selfish and ungenerous with our time to help others. Finding the balance of commitments and assistance and restorative time is the goal. As I said, I am working on this one.
I liked this article on the topic.
Our Practice - Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – Supported Bridge
As we talk about saying no, resting and restoring, I return to my favorite go restorative yoga pose - supported bridge. I love this pose as we get the benefits of an inversion while feeling nurtured and supported.
The benefits of the pose, being an inversion with our head being below the heart, suppresses the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) and promotes the parasympathetic nervous system. Basically, it helps us relax. The back benefits from the extension aiding to improve posture and is also a heart/chest opener. I think it helps with chronic back pain.
To come into this restorative pose, lie on your mat with a block nearby.
Lie on your back soles of the feet on the floor and knees bent, feet hips width apart. Arms are alongside your body with fingers toward your feet. Feet are parallel.
Lift your hips off the floor pressing down in your feet and place a under your back, directly under sacrum. This should feel very comfortable, play around with the block on the short side or middle side to determine what feels most comfortable for you.
Stay for several minutes if possible as your body settles into the passive backbend.
To come out of the pose, push down through your feet, lift your hips, and remove the block.
Meditation on Self Care
As we focus this week on self-care, I found some inspiration from Maya Angelou. I admired her very much. She was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She died in 2014 at the age of 86. She can discuss style and humor in the same breath as passion and compassion; my paraphrasing of her philosophy is that unless you care for yourself and enjoy life you will be no good at improving life for those around you. She also focuses on the importance of loving yourself as necessary to helping you love others.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” – Maya Angelou
“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others" – Maya Angelou
And the Dalai Lama chimes in, “If you feel "burnout" setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself”.
Nurturing With Food – Joe’s Tomato and Zucchini Stew
It is August so it must be tomato and zucchini season. I seem to revisit this recipe every summer when we find ourselves with an abundance of both vegetables in the garden. I went on the website thinking I was going to relink to the bruschetta recipe. Tomato and basil bruschetta has been a staple in our repertoire for years. I was shocked to find that we don't have a recipe for that on the site, probably because we make it from memory every time - stay tuned I promise to have that soon.
I have published this recipe before, it is my favorite way to use fresh August produce that can become overwhelming. It freezes well also. This was inspired by one of my old banking clients who sadly has passed on. He told me his recipe over the phone (after giving me some) and I replicated my own version minus the bits of pepperoni! I named it after him, Joe’s Zucchini and Tomato Stew.
Link to recipe:
See you on the mat,