Self Care: Not a Luxury, a Necessity

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In the latest episode of Retrospective, meet my long-time friend Caren McLellan Gazley, who is the author of Ritual & Rhythm: A Guide to Creative Self Care. One of the biggest obstacles to taking good care of ourselves are the internal conversations we have about being selfish/being of service and more. You'll love hearing Caren's story, which has taken her all over the world, and her deep but pragmatic wisdom about how to sustain a life of passionate contribution.

I remind myself so often lately that the more work there is to get done, the more intentionally I must rest. It's a new way of life to learn, but for me it has meant the difference between burn-out and endurance, between feeling despair and a life that always holds space for joy.

Listen to our conversation, and check out our books for more in-depth guidance on creating inside environments of care:

We'd love to hear from you! Tell us in the comments section: What self care practices are a necessity for you?

Phil Gazley on anti-human trafficking, art, culture and more

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I confess: sometimes when I'm with my friends, I just want to enjoy being with them. But when I was talking with my friend Phil Gazley over morning tea during his latest visit to New York, he was saying such interesting things that I thought, I really should turn on a microphone. So we did, and now you can listen in on our conversation in the latest episode of the Retrospective podcast.

Phil works as an educator and coordinator of anti-human trafficking efforts. Human trafficking is one of those issues that is so heart-breaking and so global in scope that it can be really overwhelming. Understanding and supporting the approach that Phil and his teams take has been really helpful for us.

Phil also has interesting things to say about art and culture, working grassroots, commercialization and creative integrity and more. It's an important conversation, and I hope you'll listen here or in iTunes.

Conflict, story and real life with Christiane Fröhlich

Maybe it seems unlikely that a Brooklyn storyteller and a German conflict researcher would find each other online and become fast friends, but that's pretty much what happened. Christiane Fröhlich has been one of my touchstones and anchors for many years now, and our friendship runs the spectrum from paradigms and theories to everyday life with work, partnership and parenting.

I am thrilled to introduce you to her today on Retrospective, where she shares the story of how she followed her areas of interest and magnetism and found passionate work that influences and informs politicians, educators and decision-makers throughout her country.

Click here to listen as she shares about:

  • seeking peace close to home
  • coming from a post-war personal family history
  • completing a PhD thesis as a new mother
  • building an urban community, and
  • pioneering a career as a freelance conflict researcher

You can make our day.

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Amelia Shares Her New Book

Transient

In this summer edition audio interview, we hear from Amelia (age 8), the author and illustrator of "Love Never Comes Without War", which was published as part of her third grade curriculum. (Not available for sale.) Amelia reads an excerpt from her new work, gives her advice on writing and more.

Turning Points & No Regrets: Jonatha Brooke

From the archives--Photo by Susannah Conway, susannahconway.com

From the archives--Photo by Susannah Conway, susannahconway.com

I still think about those dark days a couple winters back when Jonatha and I left our respective hermitages and slipped out for a coffee here or a lunch there. How consoling it felt to be with someone who knew what it was to be burrowed in deep, someone who knew how rejuvenating even that small injection of company could be.

It was like getting hooked up to an oxygen tank before plunging back under water.

It's so different now to be together in the bright sunshine of July, with those hard times behind us. With the champagne joy of new work pulling us forward into the crazy scary places that bubble with vitality and life.

I'm so happy to share our most recent conversation with you on Retrospective, where we talk about her adventures in music and theater, turning points and the decisions she'll never regret. (You can also listen in iTunes.)

Navigating the Crumbly Days

Yesterday Liz Lamoreux tweeted about how the day after a launch felt even more vulnerable than the day before. It hits all of us at different moments, in different ways. We reach for different words in an attempt to explain what we're experiencing. Phyllis Mathis says, "This work costs something in soul." Liz Lamoreux says, "Putting from the heart work in the world feels like giving a piece of your heart."

It's a very specific kind of vulnerability to put not just your ideas into the world (Top 10 Ways To Blah Blah Blah) but work that holds the essence of who you are, the stories you carry with you always in the cavern between your ribs. The moments that made you who you are and continue to form you as you journey with them by your side and in your pocket.

You leap, and land. You say, See? That wasn't so bad. You're still in one piece. But then later--a minute or an hour or a day or two after--suddenly you feel all wobbly in the knees like your legs might give out on you. Your body doesn't feel like the solid structure that carried you off into the leap and absorbed the weight of your landing; now it feels like cookie crumbs shaped into a person-shape, held by plastic wrap. You worry that if someone bumps into you or looks at you unkindly, even for an instant, you might collapse into a pile on the ground. You put on clothes before leaving the house but it doesn't matter, nothing makes the naked feeling go away.

All those weeks and months of trusting yourself and what you knew you needed to do to say to make are suddenly drowned out by loud inner shrieks of the hysterical person on prison break in your mind. No one cares! No one wants this! It's going to make no difference!

The people who know you in your trusting and brave moments don't always know what to do with you when in the grip of crippling doubt. People forget to tell you that you're doing alright and that they love you and that it all matters deeply because they take it for granted that you know. And some days, you do. Just not these days.

I wish there were magic words we could speak to each other on these days that chases the doubt away like a very powerful spell. Or that we could wrap ourselves in some protective cloak. But the only magic and cloak I know is to wrap ourselves in love--the deep abiding love of those who are ever-present safety net whether we fly or fall. To try to take it in through our ears, our eyes, our skin. To ask to be embraced, held, listened to while we say the crazy thoughts out loud so we can hear ourselves how crazy they really are.

It is only because of this safety-net kind of love that I can ever take a leap at all. Everything begins there for me, and on crumbly days like today I remember that everything ends there, too.

Phyllis Mathis has been this kind of friend to me for over a decade. I'm so honored to have her as my guest on this week's podcast, as we talk about the way we are formed inside of friendship and conversation. Everything I do begins and ends in these deep soulful connections, but it's a relational form that feels on the brink of extinction.

Give it a listen and think about a safety net you could weave or strengthen in your own life, and the courageous leaps you could make as it holds you.