Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare. —Audre Lorde

I invite you to imagine a stagnant, polluted river full of rotting debris. The stench invades your nostrils, and there’s a feeling of sluggishness in the air.

Then, imagine a free-flowing river in radiant health. You feel energized and alive just standing beside it, and the sense of growth and possibility is palpable.

Big difference, right?

By taking good care of yourself, you can replenish the energy flowing through you.

Your body and heart are like a riverbed for creative energy. If you’re burned out or depleted, your river can run dry. If you fill your life with obligations that aren’t aligned with what your intuition is calling for, you block your creative flow. If you attempt to change your career without also learning how to replenish your energy and nourish yourself, you may end up feeling like you’re right where you started or even more drained.

The good news is that each of us is innately connected to the creative energy field that feeds all of life. Your connection to creative energy is your birthright. The French root of the word “inspire” is “to breathe in.” Creativity is a process of breathing in life energy and breathing it out in a new form. When we are inspired, it’s as though we are breathing life energy into ourselves. The more you tap into and follow the flow of this energy, the easier it becomes to hear your inner wisdom and take action from this energized place.

To rediscover passion and creative flow, you may first need to rest.

I live in Western Massachusetts, known for its magnificent seasons. Although I adore the heat of summer, I love how winter reminds us how deep rest is needed before the rebirth of spring. Likewise, passion for anything— even the things you care most about— waxes and wanes.

The problem is, in our Western, capitalist culture, we forget that we humans are subject to these rhythms, too. Our culture values nonstop output, productivity, and linear, forward-moving advancement. We learn to attach our self-worth to how much we produce and to ignore our need for rest.

In this culture of constant productivity, slowing down is a radical act.

Like the leaf of a fern or the arm of a snowflake, each of us is a fractal of the larger systems we’re part of. When we thrive, our communities are more likely to thrive, and vice versa. By taking a stand for our personal wellbeing, we take a stand for wellbeing in our families, workplaces, and communities and become a model for change.

To get clearer about you need to nourish yourself and replenish your energy, I invite you to become a detective, investigating what helps you feel good.

I invite you to do this investigation with a dot grid journal for the next three weeks.  Before you create your own, take a look at this entry from my personal grid journal so you know what it looks like—

How to Replenish Your Creative Energy

Then, create your own grid journal.

Here’s how—

  • Get a piece of graph paper. You can google “graph paper images” and print out a page. Later on, you can purchase a grid journal, like this (choose the “dot grid” page type). But, if you don’t already have a journal, just start by printing out a piece of paper.
  • On the left hand side at the top, write “nourished” or “energized” or whichever state you most want to feel. At the end of each day, you’ll scale the extent to which you felt that way on a 0 to 10 scale, where 0 is not at all and 10 is all the way.
  • Underneath, write what you believe to be your minimum requirements for self-care. If you have no idea what your minimum requirements are, simply write down self-care steps you want to track for the next few weeks. You might want to put things like “bedtime,” “yoga,” “vitamins,” “water,” etc. For most of these, you’ll simply cross off or fill in the box to show that you took that step. For some, like bedtime, you might write something else, like the time you went to bed.
  • On the top row, write the dates of the week for the next three weeks.
  • Choose a time when you’ll check in with yourself about how the day went. I like to make my entry right before going to bed.

For the next three weeks, take a couple of minutes to track how you did with each item. As you go, pay attention to which elements of self-care make a big difference, and ask yourself— What step will I prioritize tomorrow to replenish my energy and care for myself? Choose something that is bite-sized enough that you’ll actually do it. Then, set a reminder for yourself.

It’s not enough to know intellectually that you need to take care of yourself. You also need to take the steps.

If you discover that you’d like to add items to your original list, go ahead and put them on there. By the end of three weeks, you will likely garner a lot of information about which steps make the biggest difference to replenish your energy. I encourage you to continue this practice long into the future. It only takes a few minutes, and it is a powerful way to stay on track to taking good care of yourself.

I’d love to hear from you!

What state did you choose to focus on for the next few weeks? (Nourished, energized, something else?)

And, what aspects of self-care are you choosing to track?

Please share, and I will make sure to respond!

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