Monday, May 09, 2016

A "dish of ice cream, a bowl of Brandy"...and why self-care matters.

There is never enough “ice cream and Brandy”. :) Taking time for regular excursions to their source, contributes abundantly to wholeness and health. A couple of days ago, we got some elevation, “chilling” in a spring snowfield (the "ice cream"), and drinking in deeply the beauty of a mountain corrie: Loch Brandy, in Scotland's nearby Angus Glens.

Over the years, I have regularly given talks and workshops to groups on the importance of self-care, personal health, ageing, and wellness. By and large, although these gatherings have been generally well attended and received, I don’t believe that they have had much lasting effect. Admittedly, change, and new disciplines are rarely easy.

I have offered similar workshops to colleagues…many of whom suffer the effects of poorly-managed stress and lifestyle choices that are not in their best interests. Few, however, have seen the discussion of self-care as a priority, preferring to occupy their waking (and probably sleeping) hours with endless gatherings focussed on strategic planning, organisational structural change (a contemporary euphemism for “survival”), table group discussions, and a plenitude of other activities for what I see (in my humble opinion, of course) to be “busy talk”.

The idea of of “self” care, it would seem, is just too self-indulgent. Some have even suggested that, given all the issues facing the world, a focus on personal health and wellness is…selfish. Others plead that there is not enough “time” for such concerns, given pressing schedules and itineraries.

Although I would never question the dedication and commitment of such folks to the causes they address, I would gently ask how they plan to survive to carry on: with bodies that are weary, achey, poorly nourished, overweight, and under-exercised; minds that are stressed beyond reason; relationships that are neglected; and spirits that are exhausted and burdened with anxiousness.

Why wouldn’t we want to be at our very best? If not for ourselves, then for those who give our lives deepest meaning and value - our families, and all, everywhere, who depend on our continued ability to make a contribution to peace, justice, and the integrity of Creation. 

We make that contribution to those we love, and all who call out to us, most effectively when we operate from a position of strength and vibrant wellness…aided by committed time and attention to personal health and wholeness.

We all have time for that.

My personal "achilles" my Achilles - a little self-care, enroute. 
We may work tirelessly for actions to safeguard the environment and all who are most vulnerable. Yet we spend so little time nourishing ourselves, exploring, discovering, breathing deeply, experiencing vulnerability…connecting. It’s as if we feel that our humanity is separate and disconnected from the web of life. As one writer has said, “we are the animals, the rainforest, the ocean, and the earth.” We are not separate. When we fail to take the time to care for ourselves, our rhetoric, on behalf of others, lacks both meaning and sincerity.

Self-care matters…it is, after all, our “base of operations”. 

And a little more. :)
Why is this so difficult for so many to understand, especially in a society we all know to be plagued with an epidemic of unnecessary illness and poor health. Why are we reluctant to treat body, mind, and spirit with gentleness and respect? What possible excuse could there be not to care sufficiently for ourselves?

On this day, health and wholeness were enhanced by a simple “dish of ice cream and a bowl of Brandy”.

Some might argue that it’s all very well for those that have the time for such “indulgences”. But it is when one believes that they are too “busy" to make the time and effort for the discipline of self-care, time can run out.

There are infinite sources of “ice cream and Brandy” - it is there even in those quiet moments, on the way home, waiting for the delightful little lambs to be gathered together.

We’re only on this planet once…we belong to one another. We contribute to and are an integral part of the web of life, and we need to be the best we can possibly be. 

It becomes a precious gift to ourselves, and to one another.


  1. A hillwalk on a sparkling Spring day like that is the very best of self-care Duncan - just wow!........

    Warm wishes

  2. It was perfect, Ian, with all the anticipated results. I know that the Jura paddle will have left a lasting and healthy "glow"! :) Warm wishes...on a very warm, sunny Scottish day!

  3. Put the icecream in the freezer and the brandy in the cupboard, I'm on my way!!
    I'll try to practice self care and not eat too much on the plane ;))
    See you soon...looking forward to those blue skies.

  4. Once you get here, L, you'll be fine...rice, beans, 'n greens plus Joan's "green" daily smoothie. Fix you right up. ;) See you soon.