Tag Archives: love

Caring for Oneself

October 13, 2019

Culture and Society

For the first 18 years or so of our lives, our parents take care of us. They provide a safe and warm home, delicious and nourishing food, emotional support and encouragement, resources for a solid education, and a clear set of guidelines that teach us appropriate ways to engage with the world and meet various expectations.

When we leave our parent’s homes for good, we have to learn how to fend for ourselves. We feed ourselves and find our own housing. We get jobs to be able to pay for everything or complete a college education. We essentially take over the job of sustaining our very own well being.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately, and in my mind, caring for oneself goes deeper than having a roof over our heads and our physiological needs met.

Truly caring for yourself involves nurturing your emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical states. While all of these can be rooted in your biological well being, this ultimately means that there has to be an active consciousness and honest awareness of how you are feeling and doing both inside and out.

For example, let’s say you have a productive day. at work. You are firing on all cylinders and getting a lot done. On the outset, that is wonderful. It’s great to get ahead with your responsibilities, but what if the root of this productivity is an avoidance of dealing with a deeper sadness or anxiety? Just because all is well in one corner of your life, this does not guarantee that all is well elsewhere. I find it tricky to be able to discern these kinds of variations when you genuinely want to believe that you are doing just fine. Sure, everything is not always going to be peachy keen, but that is not the point.

The point is that you stay attuned to the vulnerabilities you face with honesty and an open heart and actively find ways to compassionately address them.

Every day, I have a list of little things that I do to help me take care of myself. They are geared toward rejuvenating my spirit and maintaining an awareness of self.

Have a look . . .

  • I write in a journal every morning.

    Usually, it’s one or two small paragraphs that state what feels most pressing in my life, how I am feeling, and reminders to do those things that enhance stability and growth. This is essentially a daily check-in with myself–kind of like a briefing for the CEO, CFO, the Board of Directors, and the shareholders of my body and my life. They each have a vested interest in my success and health, and they deserve complete transparency over every transaction and its outcome.
  • I drink lots of water every day.

    This is one of the points where the biology of your body effects everything else. Staying hydrating sustains everything. Yes, everything. It gives you more energy, flushes toxins out of your body, helps you stay regular, keeps your skin healthy, and refreshes/cleanses your internal organs. Water is your body’s version of the sun. It gives you life and stands at the core of your physical well being.
  • I loudly state several things for which I am thankful.

    It’s no secret that thankfulness has numerous benefits. Several years of having a daily thankfulness habit has improved my mental state. I’m more inclined to believe in the positive side of things and am less effected when setbacks happen. Gratefulness is what feeds resilience. It gives our minds the willingness to stay strong and keep trying.
  • I stay as physically active as I can.

    For me, this means taking the stairs and not the elevator, parking farther away so that I can walk a longer distance, and engaging in a physical activity that I actually enjoy like riding a bicycle and walking. Most days, especially on the large college campus where I go to school, I walk a whole lot, and I LOVE it. Move your body as much as you can and find a fun way to do it.
  • I try to connect with loved ones and friends as much as I can.

    There is something healing about the human connections we make. Through laughter, empathy, and heartfelt discussions, our mental health gains a lot by being engaged with people who genuinely love and care for us. Find those people and hold on to them for dear life.
  • Be generous.

    Whether you give of your time, money, or personal resources, just give. Do so with no expectations whatsoever. Just give. I will not tell you why, but I invite you to find out for yourselves.
  • I make the time to rest.

    Sleep, alone time to decompress, napping, and doing nothing are all forms of rest in my life. Rest is the antithesis of burnout. If we do not recognize those moments when we need rest, then we are in danger of getting far too worn out. Take the time to rest as often as you can. It will restore your energy and your faith in yourself.

For the record, I am not a doctor or psychologist, these practices are thoughts I have culled out of my own queries and experiences.

Life can be tough, and we often have so much we need and desire. The more we taking better care of ourselves, the better off we will be.

Honor the work and the diligence of your parents, and take exceptional care of your body and mental/emotional well being. It’s not fair to pin any of that on other people. Take responsibility for yourself. It’s your life and your own version of happiness at stake.

-Roqué

Surround Yourself with Nature

July 14, 2019

Culture and Society

Over the years, I have come across several people who enjoyed being outside and surrounded by nature. Whether this involved hiking through hills and mountains, lying on a towel on a beach, taking a walk in a park, having a picnic or barbeque in a backyard, or just sitting on a park bench, there was something about the experience that gave them some degree of joy and comfort.

I have always wondered why this is.

Personally, I love being outdoors. I live in a hollow deep in the woods of middle Tennessee. The distance between my house and an actual road is half of a mile. I am surrounded by possibly millions of green leaves everywhere. For me, nature has a calming and grounding effect. It does not matter if I stand in a green wilderness or a rugged bluff overlooking the ocean. I feel differently than I do in my bedroom or out in a bustling, concrete city.

The interesting thought I have is that standing among trees in the middle of the woods is no less frenetic and bustling than standing in Times Square in New York City. It all just happens on a much smaller, and even microscopic, scale.

Leaves, blades of grass, and flowers all strain themselves reaching out for the sun. Birds, bees, and butterflies flutter about handling their business. Snails, lizards, and snakes slither and slink around hunting for food and places to linger. Lichen on trees and mushrooms absorb particles and nutrients all around to grow and sustain themselves. Sap oozes out of tree barks while squirrels leap and scurry about. Underground, hundreds of tunnels burrowed by worms and ants crisscross among every size of growing root imaginable.

I could go on endlessly. The point is that energy abounds in its own way in a natural habitat. I wonder then if this kind of energy resonates differently within our bodies, senses, and brains. Perhaps this kind of movement within a slower and miniscule capacity is a subtle reverberation that calms us down and connects to us somewhere deep in our core.

If this reads like I am venturing into high-falootin, new-agey, gobley-goop pontificating, then so be it. It is the only answer that I can come up with as to why nature creates a sense of serenity among so many people.

One other reason could be the sheer beauty and grandeur that nature presents.

Jagged mountain peaks that touch the sky.

The sparkling blue ocean on a warm sunny day

Wild flowers of every color in endless fields of wispy grass,

Lush green foliage glistening after a spring rain.

The magical dance of a thousand fireflies as the dark of night descends upon us.

With all the richness that nature has to offer freely, it may be impossible not to be swept up into its comforting arms and beguiling, alluring gaze.

If you have never enjoyed the outdoors, perhaps it is only because you have not found your own natural habitat yet–a place that gives you a sense of wonder and peace. It’s worth the time to put on some good shoes. Head out into the world, and explore.

Surround yourself with nature. The way you feel on the inside and out may get a gentle and much needed boost.

Life is already full of complications. Find a quiet place out in the natural world and just be.

-Roqué

BONUS: If you are an outdoor enthusiast of any kind, there is a Japanese practice called shinrin-yoku, also called forest bathing, that might suit you well. Click HERE to learn more.

Who Are We When We Hide

July 7, 2019

Culture and Society

All of last month (June 2019) was Pride month here in the US. It was a time for LGBTQ communities to outwardly celebrate their uniqueness and the richness they bring to the world. It was a time to be seen.

This got me thinking about the ways that we hide who we are. This does not only apply to LGBTQ people. It is possible that we all hide some part of ourselves most, if not all, of the time. Of course, I get that it is not always appropriate to share various parts of who we are, and we often have to pick and choose our battles for our own protection and well being. Nonetheless, all of us hide something by varying degrees.

There are, first of all, aspects of our lives we hide because of shame.

I personally know people who are sex addicts and thrive on this obsession sight unseen. Robin Williams, one of the funniest and charismatic comedians of all time, struggled with bouts of depression until they led to his self-inflicted demise. Many people, whether with alcohol, drugs, prescription medication, or any other substance, hide their addictions.

Alternately, we also hide some things because we hold a sacred and private space that the rest of the world has no business being involved in.

I know someone who secretly does good deeds for random strangers. A friend of mine has one of the most beautiful singing voices I have ever heard, but she only sings when no one is around, if at all. (I was given a rare moment to hear her once.) She does not care for the world to know. There are people out in the world who anonymously donate vast amounts of their personal wealth to charities, and no one knows who they are. These are all instances in which people hide a special part of themselves that gives them personal joy and satisfaction.

Regardless of the reason, whether it is shame, fear of persecution, or personal joy, it is important to acknowledge for ourselves what we are hiding and why. If shame or fear are the underlying motivations, it may be helpful to find someone you trust to talk about it and help you find the safety you need and deserve.

If joy is the dastardly culprit, then good on you.

Ultimately, what we hide is part of how we cultivate our most authentic selves and the respect we hold for our own lives.

Wherever you go when you hide, I hope it is a meaningful place, or at the very least, it is a path leading you to the most wholesome, safe, and happy version of who you are.

-Roqué

BONUS: Here is a song I wrote about someone I fell in love with a long time ago. The person for whom this song was written has no idea that it exists and the extent of my feelings. I am okay with that. This is called Pale Sunshine . . .