She had to find it in herself. —Glinda, The Wizard of Oz (MGM)
If someone asked you to describe your relationship to self-care how might you answer? Could you or would you be willing to elaborate on your own soul nourishment practices? Do you even know how to begin? Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, I’ve discovered the best way is to start at the beginning and follow the yellow brick road. As with Dorothy, my story of change and journey into soulful living began with a catalytic event. In her case the event was being swept up in a tornado and taken away from her Kansas home. My life-changing episode felt more like I was the unfortunate witch of the East with the house falling upon me. Something had to die and, in this case, it was my ideas of what passed for good care.
Like all stories (good, bad or indifferent), my journey of self-care and soul nourishment and the birthing of Live it to Give it is inspired by personal experience. It really can’t be any other way. This particular beginning arrived in the form of family disaster when my carefully constructed rules of living an ordered life began to crumble. I had never learned how to effectively be a caregiver or care for myself. I relied upon things going according to plan and when the plan failed I panicked. My natural tendency was to go numb, freak out and/or put on a heavy shell of protection. I came to realize that while my adopted ways initially seemed necessary, they weren’t long-term effective by any means.
I initially broke into the self-care “business” out of necessity and in order to survive. When my own child was threatened by circumstances out of my control, it became increasingly clear I had to learn to protect and care for me before I could effectively and compassionately be there for others. I could have easily shut down and tuned out, but there was (and is) a strong pull inside me – a fearless and ferocious will to survive and thrive. Like a mother bear protecting her cubs, I chose to stay in the battle and ultimately realized I was one of the precious cubs worth defending. When I began to understand my own woundedness and patterns of self-protection, I began to turn the corner in how I cared for others. I learned I can’t authentically and fully give it (love, compassion, care, presence) to others if I don’t offer it to myself. And so, as my passion and love of self grew, it naturally spread to sharing it with others. True soul nourishment isn’t selfish (like many of us are taught). In fact, I’m learning it’s quite the opposite; because the more personally fulfilled I am, the more I want others to experience their own fulfillment.
If I’m not authentic with the people I’m around (family, friends, clients, anyone), then they don’t get the full benefit of my uniquely given gifts. By getting clean and clear on who I am and what I want, then I’m able to get out of my own way and tap into the Spirit/God/Higher Power whose passion is to heal the world. My passion is to share a way of healing and growth with others. Live it to Give it has been developed out of my own experiences along with those of countless others. My role is that of a fellow journeyer and unfinished woman. I believe there is something to learn in everything, and never would have dreamed having a metaphorical house fall on me could lead to sharing the fullness of life with so many amazing individuals. Brick by yellow brick, I continue to grow and enjoy this journey. It is one of discovery and ongoing opportunities to write a new story.
Live it to Give it (LITGI) is a well-developed and intentionally thought out program designed around the self-care and soul nourishment needs of individuals in caregiving professions. My personal experience has allowed me the privilege of working with hundreds of people in the fields of compassionate listening as well as groups and individuals seeking their own personal growth. Over the course of several years, I have gathered resources, techniques and tips for soul nourishment that have enriched my personal life and the lives of countless others. LITGI is a culmination of these sources.
While LITGI will be extensive and broad, it is in no way exhaustive. Detailed materials will be provided each week along with an interactive forum and weekly, moderated phone sessions to allow discussion, growth, and support. The beauty of creating in community is that we each have the opportunity and ability to learn from one another.
LITGI has become a personal calling and an ongoing area of growth for me. I often reinforce in my classes and private counseling/coaching practice that even though (or perhaps especially because) I make a consistent effort to be self-aware, there are still growing edges I encounter each day. I offer this insight because whether you have a well-developed self-care practice or know you are experiencing burnout, my hope is that LITGI will engage your experience in fresh ways. By “finding it in yourself”, your mission in the world can only become richer. I hope you will consider joining me for this grand adventure called, Live it to Give it.
–reflection written by Kayce Hughlett, MA, LMHC