Upon wakening one morning earlier this week, I pulled the blankets up close to my chin. This was the first indication that there was change in the air after weeks of heat and humidity that I thought I had left behind when I moved to California.
Stepping out of bed, the early morning chill kissed my bare arms, and I needed to don more than my yoga tank. A light sweatshirt was in order. A few minutes later, Lily and I took our first walk of the day.
As my senses relished the change in the air, I contemplated the significance of the change of seasons. Back east, the place I called home in my childhood, fall represented the time of vibrant colors, rustling leaves, and the preparation for winter. Here, in San Diego, there are hints of the seasonal changes, even while we continue to romp along the beachside or in the nearby peaks. And while there are promises of El Niño, I merely need to consider digging out my raincoats and umbrellas, not stacking firewood and putting the snow tires on the car.
As I continued to saunter along the street with Lily, my thoughts floated back to a blog I wrote a couple of years ago about committing to ourselves. It’s easy in the demands of daily life with work and family obligations to forget that commitment. Even with a regular mentioning of my daily disciplines to my accountability partner, Meg, I often dismiss the necessity of doing my seven minutes of sun salutations when I’m not heading off to a yoga class or reading my affirmations and goals when I’m knee deep in taking actions to attain them. Even now, sitting with my daily discipline of writing for fifteen minutes before I start the day, I heard the garbage trucks heading this way and I stopped, collected the garbage, and tucked it on the curb. The normal demands of every day life drew my attention away from what is important to me. Holding two small bags of garbage for another week would not result in unbearable circumstances. And even though, I know I will write beyond that fifteen minutes and have just added another five to my timer, I wonder why it’s so difficult for me to stay with the task at hand-–particularly when that task feeds my soul and brings great joy to my life.
While many couples regularly renew their vows to their marriage, I am struck with the desire to renew the vow to myself. My soul has been nudging me to look at ways I’ve not been treating myself with the highest degree of respect and kindness. My sleep has been encroached by late nights and early mornings of teaching–and some social events–resulting in an inordinate need for more coffee to keep going during the and a glass of wine to unwind at night. These habits are sending my body into rebellion. Feeling inflamed with aches in my hips and in my hands, and an overall heaviness, it’s time for me to honor the changing of the seasons with a change of habits.
On the way home last night, I stopped at Whole Foods and stocked up on teas–some with calming herbs, some with cinnamon and vanilla, and green tea to take the place of some of the caffeine from the coffee.
Knowing that balance is important, I will have one coffee a day during a pause between my responsibilities and the wine will be assigned a place at dinner with friends, where I can savor the richness of the flavors and aroma. Deprivation can be a form of self-flagellation and I’ve done enough of that in my life. This isn’t about punishing myself for going too far astray to my commitment to my health. It’s about coming back to center. It’s as my friend Carla White, author of the soon-to-be published book, Showing Up – Lessons in Happiness, Humour and the Courageous Heart (2016), refers to as soul care.
As Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true,” and so I am. Beginning now and in the days ahead, I’m treating myself to savoring delicious teas, a few extra yoga classes, and a massage–along with snuggling on my sofa with at least one of my favorite writers.