Director's Message -- February, 2016
Greetings MCLA Community,
I want to preface my remarks with an acknowledgement of one of our Wisdom Council members, Bill Arena, who volunteers as editor of our monthly newsletter and also forwards periodic mailings to keep you all informed. In addition to the fine job that Bill does with communication, he also shows up and steps up at all of our retreats to offer selfless service in a variety of ways to support the participants. Thank you, Bill, I see you!
Bill likes to have the content in place for the newsletter by the 15th of the month prior. He lets me slide for another week beyond that since I want my Director’s Message to be as current and up-to-date as possible before it is added. In his generosity-of-spirit, Bill extended his leeway for me this month to the Saturday just two days before the newsletter was due to ship on Monday, February 1st.
I had come down to the desert late on Friday for a weekend of solitude. I hadn’t gotten away by myself since October and I find it very healing to be alone to replenish, reflect and enter into the process of spiritual purification through engaging with the elements of earth, air, water, fire and stillness.
I was not feeling the Director’s Message on Saturday and didn’t want to force it. On Sunday, I let Bill know that I hadn’t felt like writing it yet and that we didn’t have to push to get the newsletter out by Monday. I had slept in and did an hour of conscious connected breathing prior to getting out of bed. I told Bill that I’d see what came up for me through the day and forward my message as it surfaced. Then I opened my email and read the following Daily Om and it spoke to me hitting the mark of what I needed. I’m including it herewith since it may be just what you need to consider for yourself: The headline caught my attention.
Then I read what followed:
“We have all heard the instructions of an airline attendant reminding us to put on our own oxygen mask before we help anyone else with theirs. This advice is often cited as a metaphor for self-care because it so accurately expresses why it is important. It seems to say, ironically, that if you can’t take care of yourself for yourself, do it for others. Few situations in our daily lives mimic the wake-up call of an airplane emergency, so it’s easy to keep putting self-care off—easy, that is, until we get sick, overwhelmed, or exhausted, and suddenly don’t have the energy to care for the people who count on us. That’s when we realize we haven’t been getting the oxygen we need to sustain ourselves. We begin to understand that taking care of ourselves is neither selfish nor indulgent; it’s just plain practical.
"Putting yourself first means that it may be necessary to say no to someone else in order to say yes to yourself. For many of us, there is always something we feel we could be doing for someone else, and it helps to remember the oxygen metaphor. You can even encourage yourself by saying ‘I am caring for myself so that I am better able to care for others' or some other mantra that will encourage you. It also helps to remember that self-care doesn’t have to be composed of massively time-consuming acts. In fact, the best prescription for taking care of yourself is probably small, daily rituals; for example, taking one half-hour for yourself at the beginning and end of the day to meditate, journal, or just be. You might also transform the occasional daily shower or bath into a half-hour self-pampering session.
"Whatever you decide, making some small gesture where you put yourself first every day will pay off in spades for you and the ones you love. The oxygen you need is all around you; sometimes you just need to be reminded to breathe.”
I never tire of being amazed at the divine serendipity of how the Universe delivers what we need, when we need it. I had just completed my own breathing session when I read the wise words above. Giving to others is best served by balancing with giving to oneself.
So the heart of my Director’s message for this month, especially since we will be celebrating Valentine’s Day, is to GIVE BACK TO YOUR SELF . . . in fact, be your own Valentine and share and model how you love yourself with others who you love. And in this spirit, let’s have a good showing as a community by joining Jeff Passero and his cast for the “My Night to Howl” fund raiser for MCLA on Saturday, February 13th. It will be a lot of fun!
In case you missed the news, we will not be holding a retreat this year in April but are planning a one day event for men on Saturday, April 16th. We are looking for the best venue and will update you once we have inked the plans. The Wisdom Council is holding our own one day retreat in March at Serra Retreat in Malibu. It’s our intention to review where we’ve been, what we’ve learned, where we are right now, and where the Sacred Path is taking us into the future. Time is marching on and we’re keeping step with the drum beat as we move forward.
Stephen J. Johnson Ph.D., LMFT
o - o - o - O - o - o - o
Dr. Stephen Johnson is founder and executive director
of the Men's Center Los Angeles. He is also the author of
"THE SACRED PATH: THE WAY OF THE SPIRITUAL WARRIOR,"
an amazing how-to book for men who want to become better
men . . . AND for the women who care about them.
Click here for additional info.