Nurturing Seedlings of Self-Care


Seeds have been sown, the planting is done, but the new growth is still tender and fragile. Attention and loving action are needed to keep the plants alive.

Purple dinosaur pushes wheel barrow - Self-Care

My life is very like a garden. I plant the seeds of a new project, tend and cultivate and eventually harvest the results.

In my business, it often feels like I’m tossing seeds into the wilderness. Some environments are supportive, some not so much. Some will produce perennial fruit. Others will be “one-offs” — here today, gone tomorrow. Still others never allow the seeds to take root at all.

As with any garden, it’s a process of trial and error. But it not just about the environment it’s also about me.

The harvest depends as much on my inner game as it does on my outer actions.

If I don’t take care of myself, feed my soul and nurture my own heart, if I only push, push, push and scattering my seeds, I just get overwhelmed and the seedlings do not flourish. This is a hard lesson for an action-taker like me.

It’s interesting to notice the denial I have around the practice of self-care. The problem is not that I do nothing, but rather that it is simply NOT enough. Ninety minutes of yoga and walking per day, for example, does not counteract 8-10 hours of sitting in front of a computer.

Research shows that sedentary activity, like sitting at a computer all day, is associated with a host of physical ailments including knee pain, back ache, neck problem, slow metabolism, and weight gain — to name a few.

But what can I do? The reality is that my work requires a lot of computer time and telephone calls, which means sitting. Workshops and networking events also entail a lot of sitting, unless I happen to be doing the speaking. Watching movies and reading, my favorite downtime activities, also involve sitting.

The latest trend in office furniture is the movable desk that allows both standing and sitting. It’s an idea, but maybe NOT the solution. My husband, whose restore furniture for a living, insists that stationary standing at a computer, which he does, is much more exhausting than moving, which, in his work, he also does. Our bodies are designed to move.

Major organ systems depend on movement for proper functioning including digestion, elimination, immunity, respiration and circulation.

A friend of mine has turned me on to the advantages of sitting on a large medicine ball while at my desk. At this very moment, I am balanced on the top of a large blue ball staring at my computer screen. This arrangement has a number of advantages over sitting in a comfy office chair or even standing. My body must stay in motion in order to maintain balance. And because there’s no chair back, it seems to promote better posture — something I need to work on. It’s also not too comfortable and this encourages me to take more frequent breaks. Last, but not least, I find I am much more aware of and in my body then ever before — and that is, by far, the biggest advantage of all!

I recently learned at a speaker workshop that I am not in my body when I speak. This produces a very heady, intellectual presentation, which hurts the rapport I’m trying to achieve with my audience. The workshop leader suggested I try swiveling my hips while speaking. This, she explained, would stimulate the neurological connections between my body and head.

Rotating my hips while speaking does, I must admit, make for a more engaging performance!

My initial attempts, however, were a lot like trying to pat my head and rub my belly in a circular motion at the same time. It was challenging and I despaired that it would take months to master.

Here’s the cool thing. Sitting on the medicine ball appears to be facilitating the development of this neural connection. While I’m writing this, I’m aware of sore seat muscles. This soreness is causing me to rotate my hips both to massage the tenderness and to keep the circulation going. I’m in constant motion! And I’m doing it while using my mind.

I did a practice talk last night with a group of supportive women and the initial results are amazing. The point, however, is not to go out and buy a medicine ball, although if you sit at the computer as much as I it might be worth considering.

The point is to check in with your own body-mind connection and your own habits of self care and determine whether they are enough.

The body is the vessel in which a spiritual being navigates the world. It is difficult to be truly successful on this material plane without it.

A lot of the women I work with have fled their bodies — like I did — from emotional or physical pain or because that’s what they learned as a child. I thought I had handled this when I got into Sufi work and learned to move my body. But the movement only sent me further out of my body and into the ether. Only now am I learning to truly connect with this physical vessel — to tend, love and appreciate it instead of pushing it around like an old wheelbarrow. It is my best friend even when it’s hurting because it tells me what is wrong and what is needed. This new knowledge is helping me to be a better coach as well as a better human being.

My mind-body project is expanding. I am becoming more attentive to my inner feelings — noticing what feels good and what doesn’t, emotionally as well as physically. I’m slowing down while eating in order to taste and enjoy my food. I’ve even started slathering lotion on my body every morning in a ritual of self-love. A whole new world of physical sensations is opening up for me.

Will all this body consciousness strengthen my inner game? Will it lead to more success in business? What I am learning is that everything in my life is connected. My body is part of my business, my business is part of my spiritual journey. It is necessary to tend all my gardens.

What seedlings are you nurturing in your life’s gardens? 


WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Grief, Loss and Death Expert Michelle Peticolas, Ph.D. helps professional women struggling with grief and loss to have peace-of-mind, closure and a life worth living. If you’re ready to shift into a whole new way of being with death and loss, a new way of living your life, get Michelle’s complimentary guide, Essentials for Grieving Well at



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