Guest Blogger Kweli Kitwana prepares a table before us replete with the love and care that we need to apply to our lives daily. Sometimes it’s the simple indulgences and the simple activities that bring us the most joy.
Would you take the time to prepare a beautiful tray of food for yourself? You know — those special trays of foods, laid out perfectly and thoughtfully to impress others but now we are aiming to do it for for ourselves?
We spend an enormous amount of time “pleasing” others. Whether it’s our partners, family or friends, it’s not common to take extra steps to ensure their enjoyment and pleasures of indulgence.
But what about yourself? Would you make these same efforts to bring this same joy to yourself? I often hear myself saying these words, “I get much pleasure from doing things for others.”
Believe me, I truly like to do things for me — without fanfare or exhibition, but as I prepare a tray of snacks for my reading ritual, I am very conscious that I am doing this for me. Each choice of food that I make, every piece that I slice and even right down to the arrangement of my snacks, the personal choices I make to please and stimulate my loving heart for myself are consciously done.
We don’t need to eat out of bags or over sinks just because we are not in the presence of others. We can take time to mindfully care for ourselves because WE DESERVE IT!
Kweli is an artist living in the Bay Area and committed to getting the most out of life.
The beauty that I am speaking of is the beauty that is inherent in almost everything we do — even if we are not consciously aware of it.
With many of our burdens lifted at this stage of life, we are thinking with greater clarity, we feel with an intensity not experienced before, and we view problems differently and handle them knowing that the end of the world is not forthcoming.
Rather than being counseled, we now counsel and mentor others. Rather than trying to solve problems on our own, we engage the strengths of others thereby sending out the signal that they, too, have the wherewithal to survive and thrive. Rather than mull a potential decision in our heads over and over, we make the best possible decision based on the best information we have available at the time.
We are not looking to get anything from others, nor do we have hard core expectations. We are more about the business of giving than expecting anything in return, especially for that which we gladly share freely.
We now know through our increased confidence that as women age 50+, we take life as it comes, and we search (not in desperation or anxiety anymore) for meaning in the smallest of gestures and acts.
We are certainly more grateful for the life we have and we no longer yearn for the life we once thought we should have. A light and ephemeral silhouette of all of our experiences now engulfs us, and we are now able to radiate it out to all that come into contact with us.
And for this we are grateful.
What was the unexpected? Taking a vacation in the middle of a harsh Chicago winter — one that I never even entertained. Winter has mainly been something to suffer through while I waited on the dawn of spring when it “made more sense” for me to take a vacation.
So when I was invited to spend time in Puerto Vallarta last month, I went with the flow and decided to spend some winter time doing something different, but this time in 80+ degree temperatures.
Typically, when I vacation, it is traditionally to locales where there are loads of historical monuments to behold, great shopping districts to experience, restaurants to sample and jazz clubs to get my music fix satisfied.
Although these destinations are exciting and filled with constant activity and fun stuff, I must admit that my recent trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico was a different kind of vacation. Total relaxation ruled the entire week.
Although I took advantage of a few excursions — a tour the historic Lady of Guadalupe Church, viewing the sculptures along the Malecon and shopping, the best part of this trip was the time I spent at Palenque Spa getting a mani and pedi, along with a deep tissue massage, partaking in sumptuous meals like the one at Los Alcatraces La Marina, sipping champagne on the golf course and more importantly just kicking back on the beach in the most comfortable lounge chair while immersed in a collection of essays written by Samantha Irby sharing the company of special friends.
And I can’t forget the time I spent on the balcony watching daily sunrises and sunsets.
My mind was not bogged down with the items on my To Do List, or work related issues or making decisions. My mind was clear — as clear as the waters in Mexico.
I think I can get used to that!
Like so many of Ann Lamott’s powerful insights and quotes, I especially like this one because it propelled me to look at self-care as a radical act.
No longer of the mindset that taking care of myself is an act of selfishness, I now see it as high level activism. “Why?” you ask.
Simple — because unless we feed our bodies energetic food, our minds powerful fodder and surround ourselves with nutrient-rich people who support us and call us out when necessary, we can be of little benefit to others nor have a true impact on our world.
Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that being a sacrificial lamb earns us a place in the pantheon of sainthood.
Here’s to a life of radicalism! Happy New You!
Do you hear that? Of course not — I’m in Oka, a little area about 45 minutes away from Montreal, Canada. I have been to Montreal on two other occasions, and each time my hotel accommodations allowed me to be smack dab in the middle of the city. I have always had easy access to shopping, restaurants, and a boat load of fun. The Botanical Gardens, St. Catherine Street and The 1976 Olympic Village – these are just a few attractions that represent Montreal.
Oka, wow! To be in Oka. I am here for a business meeting on behalf of an organization where I serve on the Board of Directors. In all honesty, aside from this meeting, there is no way that I would be here. However, I am glad my travels this time didn’t take me to the heart of Montreal.
Here in Oka, I can really hear myself think. I am breathing air not mixed with fumes. Here in Oka (I know it sounds like a song), I am surrounded by a lushness of green, compost bins and great walking surfaces ideal for rigorous hiking.
I have never been one for camping — too many bugs, mosquitoes galore and no big box stores close enough to distract me from uninterrupted peace — but this place makes me forget all of that and causes me to JUST BE STILL. It’s still enough to actually recognize that there is a side of me that really enjoys spending time with nature — still enough to look out of my window and stare at a beautiful Peony (even if it is surrounded by ants). Still enough to be still for a change.
Ahh, Oka! #thisidoforme