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It's Not Either/Or.

Polarity, or action and reaction, we meet in every part of nature; in darkness and light; in heat and cold; in the ebb and flow of water; in male and female…”- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life is filled with polarities. This wouldn’t be a problem, except we think that when one thing shows up in our life, we’d be happier with the opposite. We get frustrated, but we think we should be patient. We get angry, but think we should be peaceful. We get passed over for the promotion and think we’re a loser. Instead of accepting what is, we suffer. The truth is it’s not either/or, it’s both/and.

Recently I had this conversation with a dear friend on the way to an event put on by Write Club Atlanta. This event is held once a month here in Atlanta at this funky old hotel. It’s three bouts of two opposing writers/ideas for seven minutes a piece, and the audience picks the winner with the proceeds going to the charity of the winners’ choosing. Last month the opposing ideas were rain or shine, rich or poor and chicken or egg. You NEVER know where the story is going to go, but one thing is for sure, something about BOTH stories will resonate.

I remember when my kids were toddlers my husband and I implemented the “time-out” practice, whereby if you misbehaved, or didn’t do as you were asked, you were sent to “time-out.” Now the kids usually didn’t go to time-out willingly. There were tears about it more often than not, and sometimes objects being thrown across the room. But “time-out” was an opportunity to refocus and as Rachel and I say “take a minute.” Thinking back I can also remember putting myself in time-out. As patient as I am with kids (my own,or others), I can also reach my wit’s end. I found myself on many occasions angry, and feeling out of control. So, while I am a patient person, I can also be an angry person. There’s the truth of the matter. We so often stand in judgement. Of ourselves, and of others. We usually do this when we witness the polarity of our views versus another. Republican, or Democrat (yes, I went there.) Fat, or skinny. Happy, or sad. Weak, or strong. Winner, or loser. Whole, or broken. These are just some of the polarities in life. We notice them. Sometimes we are separated by them. Sometimes we use them as an excuse. We label ourselves, or others, and we get stuck in a perspective. I’m here to tell you it’s not either/or. It’s both/and.

Consider this poem from Rumi:

How does a part of the world leave the world?

How does wetness leave water?

Don’t try to put out fire by throwing on more fire!

Don't wash a wound with blood.

No matter how fast you run, your shadow keeps up.

Sometimes it's in front!

Only full overhead sun diminishes your shadow.

But that shadow has been serving you.

What hurts you, blesses you.

Darkness is your candle.

We cannot appreciate one without the other.

How does this relate to The Four Seeds of Self-Care and to living your life to your greatest potential? There are going to be days when you are running around doing all the things for all the people. Projects with deadlines stack up. Kids activities pile up one on top of the other in the span of a few days. You will feel frazzled, and completely tapped out. Like there’s not an ounce of you left to give. There are days when we hit the drive-thru for dinner. Not the healthiest choice. But we do it. There are days when we are are on our game and prepped with healthy food options ready to grab and go! There are nights when we adhere to our bedtime routine and are in bed by 10 pm, having stretched, put the phone down 30 minutes beforehand and read a book to relax before turning the lights out. Other nights we are on our phone answering messages, or scanning social media until our head hits the pillow. Some weeks we sit and plan when we will get our exercise in, knowing that if we don’t, we won’t. Some weeks we realize that we haven’t exercised much at all. It’s not either/or. It’s both/and.

There are going to be moments when we feel like a rock-star at handling all of the things, and moments when we feel like we’ve failed everyone.

Given that we KNOW it’s NOT either/or, but both/and, we create a self-care practice. We know that the things we practice are the things we get better at over time. The more we prepare and reach for the healthier food options, the easier it will become to whip up quick meals that support our health. The more we get into the routine of meditating, or exercising, the more we realize the importance of taking 15-30 minutes to do it! The more we get regular sleep, the more we FEEL the difference between five hours of sleep versus seven or eight. The activities, projects and hecticness of life are still going to be there. Sometimes with very little time, or space between.

When we regularly practice The Four Seeds of Self-Care we can handle these times with greater ease. We can connect with our family, friends and others in our community and not miss precious opportunities because we are feeling overwhelmed. We can accept the polarities of life when we are self-centered. #beselfcentered

With Love and Gratitude,

Kinda and Rachel

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