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Your Inner Fire Needs Oxygen

Your Inner Fire Needs Oxygen

This column is part of a new series around Self-Directed Empowerment™, which is a 360-degree look at self, our communities, and the world at large, and is the basis of our curriculum at IMPERIA™. This month, we’re looking at the concept of Care.

Oh, self-care. You rascal, you.

This buzzword has gone the way of the Pumpkin Spice Latte and Instagram quotes, displayed with fuzzy blankets and big cups of coffee. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those — but let’s make sure we’re addressing the real core of self-care, because it’s about so much more than this.

When we’re on a mission to create change and improve the world around us, it’s very, very easy to lose ourselves in that mission, much to the detriment of our own well-being. We are notorious for putting ourselves last, and that shows up in autoimmune issues, sleep deprivation, exhaustion, anxiety, and all their related maladies.

If we are moved to create a better world because there’s a fire in our belly, that fire needs oxygen.

If you’ve flown anywhere recently (HA! Remember flying?) you know the drill about putting on your own oxygen mask first. There is a reason for this: When you are taken care of, you’re then able to attend to the needs immediately around you. So why are you not doing this in your daily life?

I will confess I’m about 80% good at this. When I’m in flow with my work, I can go for dozens of hours without a break because I truly love what I do. What can I say, you get me out of bed in the morning. But if I’m not paying attention, and that 80% dwindles to say, 70%, I notice the presence of aches and pains. My sleep goes to hell. The cumulative effect of that, if I don’t attend to it immediately, could cost me months of health in the form of a fibromyalgia meltdown. So I have to put myself first, and I’m here from your future to tell you that you must do the same, or risk the bigger mission.

Now that the new year is well underway, and we’re in the month of love, this is a great time to do an inventory of your self-care practices.

This means take out a notebook and pen, or open a Google doc. Yes, now. Ask yourself the following questions:

Important note: Part of self-care is acknowledging your wins each week, no matter how big or small (a win is a win).

This is something I do with every one of my private clients before we begin our sessions, and I’ve begun a bigger conversation about it on Clubhouse with “Flaunt It Fridays” at 3:30 EST. If you are an iPhone user (it’s not available for other phones yet), and you’re a member, come join me and my BFF Kate O’Neill so you can brag about yourself to complete the week — no humblebrags allowed. I believe those are toxic and false, and set up that we need some kind of framework to make it OK to be proud of ourselves. Bollocks! Come on in and share how wonderful you are, and be celebrated. If you’re not on Clubhouse, I often post Flaunt It Friday threads on Facebook as well.

Speaking of toxic positivity, I simply adore the work of my friend Dr. Susan David, who is the visionary behind Emotional Agility. You can often see her tweeting about the detriment of toxic positivity (and my retweets about that!).

Lastly, and most importantly, in honor of Black History Month, I’d like to acknowledge some incredible women doing important work in the realm of self-care:

The Nap Ministry
This is one of my most cherished discoveries of late. Tricia Hersey created the ministry to “examine the liberating power of naps” for people of color. Founded in 2016 with a strong mission of racial justice and healing, and a desire to “deprogram the masses from grind culture,” the ministry prescribes rest as a form of rebellion. They also install Nap Experiences around the country as places of rest.

Denise Jacobs
Denise is one of my favorite humans, and an IMPERIA™ guest expert. She is a creativity catalyst, and her book Banish Your Inner Critic is necessary reading for the perfectionists among us. It deeply examines the blocks to creativity and dismantles them to free your self-expression.

Now go forth and love yourself, get some oxygen, and have it cause your inner fire to surge!


With love from NYC,



Photo: Yann Dos Santos


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