We've all heard of one of Aesop's Fables, The Tortoise and the Hare. Tortoise is tired of Hare's incessant boasting so he challenges him to a race. The hare is so dismissive of the possibility of the tortoise having a chance in hell at victory that he actually takes a nap in the middle of the race! The tortoise never quits trudging along and cruises right past that sleeping hare, proving that, in the end, "slow and steady wins the race." What does that mean for our life? How can we take the wisdom of this fable and use it to help us meet our goals easier and become more balanced, "self-centered" individuals? We must always start with ourselves. Understanding that we have the capability to be either the tortoise or the hare on any given day, can help shape our behaviors that will ultimately improve or diminish our quality of life, when it comes to how we treat ourselves and how we interact with others and our community. Practicing the Four Seeds of Self-Care consistently, even if at a tortoise pace, will ensure success in the only competition that matters- the internal one with ourselves.
When my children were babies, practicing The Four Seeds of Self-Care wasn't even on my radar. My self-care consisted of nightly drinking and closet cigarette smoking. Rather than living my life, I was merely coping with it. I spent day after day caring for and meeting everyone else's needs. I needed something that was mine and mine alone. Just a few moments of peace to relish in. I told myself I deserved it but, in reality, I was perpetuating my unfulfilled existence by behaviors that brought me instant gratification, not lasting feelings of peace and joy. I ran my race in "Hare mode" for many years. Hurry up and get married. Hurry up and have a baby. Wanting the babies to hurry up and eat real food, walk, talk, and get potty trained. Wanting the day to hurry up and be the babies' bedtime everyday so I could have my "self-care." I cringe at how many times I've screamed at my kids to "HURRY UP!" and get in the car, eat your dinner, brush your teeth, etc, etc, etc....
I think we get into "Hare mode" when it comes to our self-care. I think we look at the "Tortoise pace" The Four Seeds requires in order to be planted and rooted as part of our daily lives, and don't think we've got a chance in hell at successfully winning that race. So we go to sleep. We live on autopilot. We eat crappy food because it's fast and easy. We tell ourselves we don't have time to exercise, be still for a few minutes a day, or even get appropriate rest! When you ask almost anyone what they ultimately want from their life, the generic answer is to "be happy". Yet we run from the very things that would actually bring us the joy and contentment we so desperately seek.
There are no shortcuts in life. I repeat. There are no shortcuts in life. In order to successfully tackle any goal you wish to achieve or any obstacles that you encounter, you MUST be the healthiest version of yourself possible. Not the healthiest version of your neighbor, cousin, sister, or friend. YOU! And you must be patient and loving with yourself along the journey, as we are all on different paths and at different stages of progress. The key is to just start. Plant the seeds. You can't blink your eye and have a clean and organized garage. You must clean it shelf by shelf, unpacking box by box. Don't starve yourself and workout eight hours a day to be skinny, because skinny can't be the ultimate goal if you are to be "happy". It's about learning to nourish our bodies by eating real food that provides long-lasting health, both physically and mentally. It's about moving our bodies because we know how good we feel after we've done it. It's about learning to be still and rest in order to replenish our mind, body, and spirit so that we can "happily" savor the experiences with our family and friends. For our relationships, with ourselves and our loved ones, are the only thing that will matter when we come to the end of this one, precious life we are given. Slow down. PRACTICE the Four Seeds consistently. Start where you are. Anywhere is fine. Love yourself in the process, and keep trudging along. You CAN win your race.
With love and gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel