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"I have one thing to say- You.Better.Work!"- RuPaul

Three of my five children were spelling bee champions for their elementary and middle schools. They all went on to compete with impressive finishes at the county level, and one even went on to compete at the district level. The Hart kids had a good run of recognition, with their pictures in the local paper and their names on the signs in front of the schools, proclaiming them the winner. There's no doubt they enjoyed the accolades, and so did I. But while names on signs and pictures in papers were fun to see, the pride I felt was in the knowing of all the hours of work that was spent in the attempt to accomplish the goal of winning and moving on to the next level. Year after year that pride grew with the awareness that it is much more difficult to keep Champion status than it is to simply taste it once. If you ask any of the three children, they will tell you they thoroughly enjoyed the attention winning got them, but they would also cringe when spelling bee season was upon them because they knew what was about to happen. Work. Teachers, parents, and friends would always ask me the same question. "What's your secret?" "How do you manage to keep winning?" I was always so surprised by this question, as if there were some magical way to learn to spell difficult words that didn't require sheer commitment to practice, practice, and more practice. Believe me, I would have loved to know that secret, but I never was able to come up with any better technique to accomplishing goals than good old-fashioned working at it.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, in case you actually thought there was a secret to success other than simply having a goal and working as hard on and for as long as it takes to accomplish it, but if you did think there was any shred of truth to that, I'm happy to help squash that belief sooner than later so you can get on the right track going forward. For example, I have a pool in my backyard and a beautiful screened-in porch. But unless I am willing to do the work every year to prepare the space for spring, it would just look like a hot mess all the time. These are all the things that must happen- picking up all the leaves and removing all the dead plants from the pool area, removing al the dead plants from the pots in the porch, removing the pool cover and adding chemicals to kill the algae that grew all fall and winter, vacuuming the pool, brushing the pool, repeating everyday until the pool is clean, wiping the dust, dirt, and cobwebs from every surface, pot, decoration, table, chairs, and grill in the porch area, shopping for and replanting new flowers in the pots, and finally vacuuming the porch. Only then can I sit outside and enjoy the splendor that is my backyard. The full satisfaction comes from knowing how much effort was required to transform the space into its full potential and knowing that I created the environment that would bring me pleasure for months to come, in exchange for a few days of hard work.

"Developing a good work ethic is a key to success. Apply yourself at whatever you do, whether you're a janitor or taking your first summer job, because that work ethic will be reflected in everything you do in life."- Tyler Perry

Self-care is no different. If we want to be successful at becoming Self-Centered as a lifestyle, we must put in the work. But in order to want to put in the work, we need to be able to visualize the results of our work before we even begin. We need to see, taste, and feel in our mind the sweetness of the results of our efforts. Are you making a decision to improve your nutrition in order to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease? Write affirmations in your kitchen to encourage you along the way. "I create my own health and wellness", or "My wonderfully made body deserves to be nourished with healthy food." Maybe you want to develop a meditation practice to increase calm and patience within so that you can better cope with the daily stressors of life. All it takes is the willingness to begin to take deep, mindful breaths. You can do that while you are driving in the car. It has been known to reduce the propensity for road rage. Whatever goal we want to accomplish, whatever relationship we hope to improve, whatever contribution we want to make in our society, we have got to understand deep in our bones that there are no shortcuts. In fact, it's a mathematical certainty, which should excite us, because we realize that we are able to create our reality. In fact, we are creating our reality every moment. Any success is dependent on the amount of work we are willing to devote to it. Work is measured by the amount of effort put forth for a specific period of time. Different goals will require different demands. Some will be accomplished with lots of energy expended over a finite period of time, while others require work to maintain a desired state, such as in our self-care efforts. We don't ever get there. Some days are better than others. But the best days will have a direct correlation to the amount of work we chose to put forth. It's that simple. The secret is that there is no secret.

With love and gratitude,

Kinda and Rachel

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