By Erica Nunnally
My nine year old daughter came home with the most spectacular homework assignment for the weekend. For a class called Practical Life, she was asked to keep track of all the things she does to take care of herself for three days. She came up with things like brushing my teeth, eating three healthy meals and two awesome snacks, getting a complete night’s sleep, reading a book, watching a show with my Mom, finishing an art project...the list went on and on. It was wonderful to see her awareness build with each act of self-care. It made me wonder...how long would my list be? What would qualify as self-care and what would I simply be adding to the list so that I wouldn’t feel so personally neglected?
Granted my nine year old only has herself to look after, but I believe the lesson can still be applied regardless of our age. So I put myself on a nine day challenge to see if I could tune into the freedom and free-spirit of my own inner nine year old. After three days, I decided that ‘grooming’ would count as one...so of the three days, my longest list was only six items: grooming, eating five small meals (rather than skipping any), enjoying the fall foliage in Vermont on a drive with my hubby, curling my feet under myself on the sofa and enjoying a cup of tea, turning all of my tech off at 9:30pm, and meditating on the front porch in the moonlight.
Now, I’m a competitive, type A yogi...so, I decided on day four, I was going beat my own record. I figure there will be times that I would be able to trade the time spent with my hubby for reading a good book or a girls weekend, etc. So I decided to focus on small things that I might be able to add. On day four, I put on a spritz of perfume. And you know what?...that 10 seconds was time well spent. It really elevated my spirits for the whole day. On day five, rather than immediately going for ‘seconds’ on dinner...I decided to wait 20 minutes and passed the time by chatting with my children while they finished eating instead. Turned out I was already satisfied. On day six, I was really generous, I gave myself a face lift. I chose to smile at everyone that I interacted with that day. On day seven, I wrote a thank you note to myself and popped it in the mail to my home address. On day eight, I bought a stellar bottle of wine and an incredible selection of cheeses to enjoy as a spontaneous mini-date night ‘in’ with the hubby after the children went to bed. And on day nine...
This is where it got really interesting. Day nine marked the beginning of an on-going experiment that blossomed from this whole Personal Care Challenge.
On day nine, I wrote down 3 mistakes, regrets, booboos, mishaps, and blunders that befell me that day. I read it over, acknowledging them for a 'just' amount of time. Then I ripped that page out of the notebook, crumpled it up and threw it away. I turned to a new page. I wrote down 3 accomplishments, successes, good things, wish I could repeat-ers, and moments of happiness that struck me that day. I pulled that page out, folded it up and placed it under my pillow. When I woke up in the morning, I retrieved that piece of paper from under my pillow, opened it up and read it. Such gratitude! Not to mention a great night’s sleep. I may be 30 years her senior, but that 9 year old taught me a truly fun way to lighten my load, lift my spirits, and be present.
I invite you to take your own Personal Care Challenge and feel free to share your happenings with me on my Facebook page, Erica Lynn Yoga.
If you ride this all the way to Day Nine or simply dive right into Day Nine remember these two rules:
- Even if you experience what one might call a shit-storm of a day...only write down three “bad” things. Then rip that page out, throw it away and be done with that. You should sleep easier having discarded those things.
- Even if you experience nothing but sunshine and rainbows that day...only write down three “good” things. Start your day with simple gratitude.
To support this year’s focus on cultivating balance, we bring you a few tips from yogi, mother, and entrepreneur, Erica Lynn Nunnally, MA, RYT, Usui Reiki Master; guiding principal of Erica Lynn Yoga, a studio without walls.
Erica has been a practicing yogi for over 20 years. Her journey home was full of twists and turns. Along her path, Erica has been employed as an account executive in a trendy advertising and design firm, she designed, built and owned an ice cream and dessert cafe in Boston, and owned and operated an interior design firm on the South Shore.
Erica offers group and private yoga instruction in and around Boston and the South Shore. She also leads retreats both domestically and internationally, her next upcoming retreat is to Costa Rica.