Is Self-Care Selfish?

I may have a complex about self-care.

Articles with headlines like this don’t help:

The truth is, the media likes to shame us for everything, or attempt to shame us. It’s tempting to feel like, dammit, I’ve been swept up in another stupid trend. Can everything be branded and marketed these days? Even our health? Especially our health? Fuck.

In the end, I think you will see that the author promotes taking care of oneself as a pretty good idea. But note to self: Don’t Instagram a $9 green smoothie and hashtag it #worthit.

If I’m honest with myself, any complex I have around promoting self-care is only self-inflicted unself-care (or is it self-uncare? self-decare? …self-sabotage?) (Am I working on a new hashtag campaign for the antithesis of wellness and self-care?). I’m in the business of stress-reduction, body love and holistic healing. To a client, I provide a sensory respite from a chaotic world and a nervous system in overdrive. In order to help with that, any of that, I better have my self-care ducks in a row, shan’t I? I shall. I try. I do. It’s hard because after all, I’m in the same chaotic world, and also you know, human. So, anyway, it’s a process.

Last week, I got to attend my dear beautiful friend Jamie Lashbrook’s breathwork circle. It was great self-care. All week leading up to it, I knew I needed it like a dose of vitamin C and echinacea upon the first throat tickle. I scheduled it in, blocked off my calendar, GPS’d my driving time in advance, RSVP’d. And yet even as late as parking my car outside the yoga studio, I still had pangs of guilt about not doing something more productive with my free time. And the class was amazing, as always-rejuvenating, nervous system replenishing, quieting to my soul and awakening to my body. Jamie talked to us about filling up our own wells with resources that are already within us. I walked out of there knowing that I have all the wisdom, strength and courage to fight depletion. More so, that giving to others without first putting on my oxygen mask is detrimental and well, seems just plain stupid.

After the class, I went over to my friend’s house to help her pack for moving, or at least hold her one year-old while she attempted to do so. She quickly reinforced why I also knew I have shame around taking time for exercise, receiving massage, sleep, bathing, eating, meditating, travel (substitute any form of self-care that suits you)…because I do not have a kid, as so many of my peers do. I absolutely love children and will be so blessed to have my own, but just the notion that my self-care routine would be COMPLETELY demolished, absolutely stricken, obliterated to the point that I would probably look back at it like I was once living in an alternate universe…it’s a hard pill to swallow, which makes me feel…selfish.  When I related to my moving friend about my night of breathing and filling up my well, I had to laugh as she gawked at me in disbelief. She said that I’m basically an A-list celebrity with freedom that is unheard of. Then her baby woke up.

The article wants to say that the branding, trending, and seemingly unauthentic self-promotion around self-care is what is giving it a bad name. It begs the question-how do we balance promotion of the good stuff while remaining authentic and not too self-absorbed? And as the article also points out, every time we help ourselves, are we supposed to help another? Is this our duty to our fellow earthlings? When you have children, or are in committed relationship, the answer is more obvious, I should hope. And if we are all so connected here, maybe just taking care of ourselves at times is enough. As one of my other massage therapist friends at work says, “Just be a zero. Don’t try to take energy like a negative 1 or give it away like a plus 1. Stay in the neutral and everything works better. ” If everybody just took better care of themselves, would all the world’s energy naturally overflow toward those that are needing more love and healing anyway?

I will personally continue to try to answer these questions in my daily life. I’d love to know your thoughts on self-care too! It’s a doozy.

#self-care #massagetherapy #breathwork #mindfulness #jenhersmanlmp


The Art of Receiving

My job mandates deep thoughts, big feelings, great nutrition and receiving a lot of massage. (I know, poor me.)

I got two massages last week, though I don’t remember when the last one was before then. They were both trades I was cashing in on. One was a male colleague, one was a female. Both massages felt therapeutic, healing, and rejuvenating, though quite different in style and technique.

Receiving bodywork is really the only way for me to remember how good quality, nurturing, intuitive human touch is, and then, subsequently, to recall why the hell I’m doing this for a living.

Being receptive, staying open, learning passivity on the table are lessons that translate off the table as well. We find stillness in our bodies while we are vulnerable to a trained professional’s skilled hands. We listen to our inner workings. We ask our mind to take the back seat and put our body behind the wheel. What have our bodies been wanting to express and let go of? Being receptive to this with a massage therapist as witness…That is the essence of massage that I was missing these weeks.

As we are in the season of giving and receiving, I want to extend my gratitude to you for participating in the unique exchange of giving and receiving that is our one and only beloved massage therapy. There is nothing quite like it, and believe me, I’ve tried a few different alternative therapies. Massage requires the receiver to stop in her tracks, take a chill pill and listen to the unique expression of the giver’s translation of human touch as medicine. How cool is that? Pretty cool.

I think the translatable lesson off the table for me this week is to receive with honor and gratitude and see my giver in their unique human expression.

Oh, and by the way…I have gift cards for available for this season for all you givers!

Happy Holidays!!

Cheers and blessings,