We just got back from our road trip (today, in fact — that’s why this post is just now going live), and part of our journey took us to a workshop for families like us, who live and work cross-culturally.  One of the main topics was called “soul care,” which is just like it sounds.  Caring for your soul.

In essence, it’s typical for people working in a field that focuses on caring for other people to unintentionally neglect themselves.  To quote the manual we received, “The epidemic among those [who serve] is vast and long-term spiritual dryness aggravated by life imbalances.”

If anyone is in the line of work of caring for others, it’s parents. Mother and fatherhood are some of the most service-oriented callings in existence, and many of us are in that field right now.  And my suspicion is that there are more than a few of us struggling with “life imbalances.”

Do you feel spiritually dry?  Are there days where you feel like you’re going through the motions?  Most nights do you hit your pillow hard, aware that, once again, your needs took a backseat to those you’re called to serve?  I know this is often the case for me.

This is a good time to take inventory of our wellness, to see how we’re doing in pursuit of any personal habits or goals, and to make a plan to take better care of ourselves if we’re not.  Consider it a check-up for your soul.

Last Monday we inventoried our financial health, reminding us, once again, to be intentional and focused in our money management.  And on Friday, we discussed a possible approach in making long-term habit change.

Today, let’s evaluate any personal goals we made this year, and if needed, create some new ones so that we’re in the business of “soul care,” and not just for those around us. And in reality, caring for your soul is one of the best ways to care for those you love.

Re-evaluating any “New Year’s Resolutions”

Did you make any goals this past January?  Perhaps you used the list of questions we’ve reviewed for the past two years here on Simple Mom, or maybe you just made some traditional New Year’s resolutions.  Whatever the case — how is your pursuit in reaching those goals? Are you intentionally practicing habit change and reaping a good harvest from quality sowing at the beginning of 2010?  Or are they still even goals?

It doesn’t really matter — now’s not the time to beat yourself up.  It is time, however, to stop coasting and ask yourself if you’re well.  Are you in pursuit of taking care of yourself?  Are you proactively in pursuit of habit change for the better?

If so, awesome.  Share with all of us how you’re doing, and be proud of your progress.

If not, then take a moment to ask some questions, and join me in making a plan to take better care of your soul in one small area this fall.

Questions to practice “soul care”

Photo by amanda_munoz

Here are a few questions we were asked at our workshop to help us evaluate how we’re doing.  Pick and choose a few that resonate with you, and see if they help shed some light on an area that needs more care.  (Also, please note that these have a focus on spirituality, since the workshop we attended was for Christians.  If you’re not one, however, you can still use these questions to evaluate your inner being, and to ask yourself some important questions.)

1. What are common sources of performance pressures (either real or perceived) that you experience regularly?

2. What do you feel are essential elements in your life that allow for on-going relational connection to God and spiritual vitality?

3. Where is the disconnect? What can you control? What actions can you take that will provide permission, space, and time to allow for this necessary balance, connection and vitality?

4. What is life-giving to you?

5. Do you ever feel or sense God’s pleasure in you?

6. What is hindering your efforts at maintaining vitality and seeking personal growth internally and externally?

Using these questions to create some goals

Reflect on your answers for a bit.  Do they point to any themes?  Do they shed some light on anything surprising to you?

For me, I was surprised at a common theme of needing to take better physical care of myself.  Most of my answers pointed to a need to get more sleep, exercise, and alone time.  So my simple goal for the rest of 2010 is to be in bed by 10:30. This one habit change will help me get more sleep, wake up earlier to have that much-needed alone time with God before the kids rise, and create more rhythm in my life that allows for better soul care.

The upcoming days will be a recovery week for our family, as we focus on laundry, resettling back home from our whirlwind travels, and getting our oldest started in kindergarten.  After that, though, I’ll intentionally focus on a 10:30 bedtime, probably using the kaizen method.

Now it’s your turn.  For discussion, I’ll borrow some questions from above.  What in your personal life can you control?  What actions can you take that will provide permission, space, and time to allow for this necessary balance, connection and vitality?