A defining moment of self-care

My theme for 2012 is daily self-care.

My promise to myself is that each day for 366 days, regardless of what is going on, I will take 30 minutes or more to do something to promote my well-being.

And, even though self-care is a topic I’ve worked on personally and advised hundreds of coaching clients on since 1995, this is the first time self-care has been my annual theme.

And, if these past 21 days are any indication, it’s proving to be a subject with many dimensions and new questions to explore.

Every year for more than 20 years, I have used a theme – a powerful word or sentence — as a guide toward being happier, healthier, more at peace and closer to the success I dream of.

In the past, I’ve had themes such as The Year of Simplicity (that year I sold my house in the suburbs, furnishings and car in Ohio and moved to a 500-square- foot jewel-box of an apartment on the harbor in Boston and walked or took the subway).

I checked every major decision against the question: ‘does this action lead to living with more simplicity?’, and a whole new world opened up for me – including meeting the delicious man I’m married to today!

Having a theme can make it much easier to make daily choices, which then add up over 365 days — 366 in a Leap Year! — to get you to your bigger goals or dreams.

So say your theme is Year of Financial Fitness. It’s pretty much a no-brainer to make a decision when you run through the “financial fitness filter” a $1,500 Marc Jacobs bag on your credit card, if you know you can’t easily pay it off.  Follow your theme, and you will stay on track with your Year of Financial Fitness.

(And, if your theme is Year To Express My Perfect Style, then that Jacobs bag may be just the ticket! )


But this year, 21 days in, I have scribbled every day in my well-worn Woman on Fire journal what I’ve done for self-care,  and a big question is forming for me.

Just what exactly is self-care? I started off the year thinking I knew.

Is it taking a walk (9 times in 21 days)?  Going on vacation (4 days in Key West)? Getting a massage (twice)?  Manicure (once)? Eating totally healthy and gluten-free (3 in 21)? Getting enough rest (I failed to take note)?

The activities above made me feel pretty good and some even terrific in the moment, but none made me feel as wonderful and fulfilled as I wished for so far in my Year of Self-Care.

Even though I know my annual theme sometimes doesn’t give me results until the year is well under way or even finished, I guess I expected instant gratification in feeling bliss from daily self-care.

And, then something happened the other night …

It was about 8PM and I was tired after a very full day and I was home alone.

Rob was in Washington, DC, visiting our ailing, beloved MOTUS, his mother.

Before the clock struck midnight, I knew I had to find 30 minutes of self-care to keep my promise to myself for my Year of Daily Self-Care.

Should I go over to the gym for 30 minutes on the treadmill?  Read?  Watch my Jane Goodall documentary? Take a long bath?  As much as I would enjoy those things I viewed as self-care, nothing appealed to me.


I picked up the phone.

And called my mother.  I am aware how very lucky at age 56 that I am to have my mother.  At 77, she can be so bright and sunny and positive and funny, still running the entrepreneurial business she and my father started nearly 30 years ago.

It is impossible to have a phone call with her without laughing – about something. That’s just how she is.  Big-hearted, great sense of humor, self-deprecating and often hilarious when she doesn’t even know it!  (Can you tell from the picture above…for which she is going to spank me for posting!)

We laughed and chitchatted about all kinds of things, none that I even really remember.  Except I was fully aware how delightful it was to be able to have this easy, casual conversation with the woman I love from the bottom of my heart.

After 30 minutes or so, I got off the phone feeling uplifted, encouraged, grateful and deeply satisfied.  I felt energized, my heart and soul comforted.  Hmmmm, no exercising, eating right, eight hours of sleep, taking my vitamins required.

Just 30 minutes basking in an exchange of love and laughs.

And, that is when the realization hit me over the head: there is no better self-care than love.

What about you?

Have you selected a theme for the year?

Please know that you are invited to take this journey this year with me and with us.

For those of you in our Women on Fire Membership program, How To Use A  Theme — For Your Best Year Ever will be the topic of our next member’s Live Chat on Tuesday night.

A number of Women on Fire, and those in Jamie Eslinger’s You Can Do Anything In A Year coaching group, have embarked upon a year-long journey and exploration around a theme.

A few are keeping daily journals online.

You can follow these Women on Fire members every day as they transform their own lives and inspire ours:

Enjoy your week ahead and keep me posted on how you’re doing!