Self Care

I got up early today on my day off to work out before the home fills up with the smell of cigarettes and the noise of smoker’s cough that wake up with my husband. It feels good to lift weights in the cool of the morning, when I can hear the calling of birds starting their day and going about feeding their families. This is my quiet time. This is what I can control in my life: the self care that helps me against aging, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stiffening joints. This is my “feel good” practice – finding simplicity in the moments I am with myself, feeling good being simple, feeling good being me.

While that might sound narcissistic, I’m not sure that it is. I’ve been through several years of emotional healing with the Goddesses of the Nitty Gritty, revisiting old conditioning that does not serve me, looking at the painful arenas of life where I did not feel good about myself or my accomplishments, and sabotaged so many opportunities before I could feel contentment in my own success. I don’t want to dwell on this now. It is just my example of what is possible when I chose to turn my self negation around from the Root up. Many people have negative self-talk, and if we “are” what we tell ourselves we are: Not leading contented, self fulfilled lives. If I can turn it around, you can turn it around. And no, I’m not setting myself up to be a guru of the turn-your-life-around variety, but I am wanting to encourage anyone who is willing to develop the muscles of self-reflection and introspection into making these healthy changes.

Because these changes are not only good for your body, they are great for your head.

I signed up to Noom.com my way down the weight scale. This program works great for me, because I have all my calorie counts at my fingertips, place to record water intake, exercise output, and so on, plus my little iPhone contains its own pedometer. I’ve just started, but so far, I’m below 200 pounds for the first time in years, and hope to soon crack the less than 190 barrier. My goal weight is 145. Already my blood pressure thanks me, my blood sugar thanks me, and I thank me. I am “Zoomin’ with Noomin’!”

But one of the best side effects of having early morning exercise time is that focusing my mind on the sensations of my body in motion, quiets my mind sufficiently to be receptive to the messages of the Gods and my Spirit Guides. I never know Who will “come in,” but usually this is time for Them to provide guidance for my prayers. I am a praying fool. It’s what I do when there is nothing else I can do. The Guides know this, so I am nudged in the direction of praying for this or that individual, living or dead. I keep an Ancestor Altar, and for those who have passed on and who are spending their time reflecting upon the doings of their lives (Purgatory), sometimes they too need a prayer nudge. Prayer over the Ancestor Altar is my way of saying, “I remember you, I honor you, I thank you for what you have contributed to my life.” I have mementoes there, photographs of those whom I have loved, and some I have not loved, but who have graced me by the difficulties they brought into my life that caused me to grow and evolve past my comfort zone. All of these I honor. I have made a small statue of the Norse Goddess Hela to oversee this Altar as She oversees my beloved dead.

Lest anyone get the wrong idea, I also have an Altar to Life. This one is like a Mesa, or a Medicine Wheel, and incorporates the Eight Directions and the Center. Into this Altar I put prayers for those closest to me and the big dream picture for my own life. These reflect what I can control: self care, showing my love for family, God, country, and Earth home through prayer and thanksgiving.

I suspect that too many women fail to appreciate our inner beauty. Inner beauty shines from the spirit and the soul. We get so conditioned by our culture that we have to spit and polish our bodies just so, in order to please men, in order that we make other women feel jealous, that we “look good” no matter what is going on inside us at any given time. But rather it is the inside out kind of beauty that makes you shine and emanate your light in the world. I do not consider that I can afford manicures, so I do my own nails. Sometimes I am too busy, and the polish flakes off. If other women are judging me because of this… Well, I’m not going to apologize for appearances. So what? Any so-called beauty product will wear out, wear off, or even appear off color in the wrong light.

Rather I will show up clean and fresh, sixty-two year old wrinkles exposed. I’m not a fashion buff. Sometimes you will see me in torn, cutoff shorts and a tee-shirt with paint stains. Sometimes you will see me in a summer dress or skirt. But almost always you will see me with a smile and a sincere, neighborly wish to know how you are doing. That is the contentment of my inner life coming through. That is the beauty I am speaking of, that shines out through the spirit and soul. You want to walk together on this gorgeous, verdant Earth beside this luscious flowing stream? We can be quiet together or chat. Let’s go!

Published by susanofthenorth

Susan Hintz Epstein is an author, Rune diviner, healer, non-academic scholar, and former Methodist Lay Speaker who was called by the Runes in 2013. The time since then has been a serpentine shedding of one skin for another, as Susan's spiritual practice with the Runes and the World Tree, Yggdrasil, deepened. Susan keeps company with the Norns and other like-minded women.

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