During this weekend’s Zen Teacher workshop at the CATE (California Association of Teachers of English) Conference in Costa Mesa, we talked about Intentional and Radical** Self-Care and, for the first time, I told teachers face-to-face about why it’s so important to break down those two words, Intentional and Radical, and how they can lead to a better understanding of Self-Care.
Intentional. The word intentional means “on purpose.” In other words, Self-Care is not going to happen by accident. No one is going to hand it to you. Chances are, no one in your life is likely to walk up to you, look you in the eye, and say, “You know what? Why don’t you go take a nap?” These things don’t typically happen as a matter of spontaneity and serendipity.
Self-Care is a choice, our choice. Self-Care takes purposeful intention to make it happen. One thing we can do to increase our odds of a little personal T.L.C. is to schedule it. Put it on the calendar. For some reason, writing something down makes it more real, gives it a little more gravitas, in a way that if it’s just swimming around in our mind as a “someday/sometime” kind of thing, doesn't really happen.
Radical. According to the on-line Merriam-Webster dictionary, radical means “very new and different from what is typical or ordinary.***” What a perfect expression of what needs to happen. In this Zen Teacher’s mind, then, radical means different, unusual, not like we always do it. If you want to improve your Self-Care, you have to do things differently than you have been doing them. This is not only a great challenge for us, but for those around us.
If you start insisting on time for renewal and rejuvenation, for example, you may face resistance and role stress from those around you who are used to you being a certain way. In true Zen fashion, then, you need to accept what is and proceed with non-judgment, but you also set boundaries that value and respect your own personal needs and desires, even if it pushes you (or someone else) out of a familiar comfort zone.
When I talk about Intentional and Radical Self-Care, there are two things to keep in mind: If you want to treat yourself better (and thereby be in a better position to love, give to, and serve others), you must do it on purpose and by choice and you must do it a way that isn’t typical or ordinary.
Doing something on purpose and by choice that is not usual is a subversive, rebellious act.
So what? Be a rebel.
Value your needs.
Take care of yourself.
After all, what’s the worst that could happen?
Inner Peace? TZT
* I've always loved this picture form Easy Rider and a poster of it hung in my bedroom when I was 8.
** The idea of RADICAL Self-Care comes from writer Anne Lamott.
*** Interestingly, the second Merriam-Webster definition for radical said, "Very basic and important." Hmmm.