Why Self-Care is a Requirement in my Life

As I was researching for this blog post, I found many resources about the benefits of self-care. These include better emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health as well as a myriad of other benefits. But one particular resource that jumped out at me took a different approach in the conversations about self care.

In her article, 7 Damaging Myths About Self-Care, Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. points out that self-care isn’t meant to be optional nor should it have to be earned. That makes a lot of sense to me but that hasn’t always been the case.

I remember when I thought about self-care and told myself that I just didn’t have the time for it. I had too much to do and too many other people to help to be concerned about self care.

Then when I found myself on the crispy edges of burnout, I realized that I needed to make taking care of myself a priority. But I wasn’t really sure what self-care looked like and was determined to find out. After all, I knew something had to give!

I began to look at trips I could take and other “things” I needed to purchase in order to practice self-care. However as Tartakovsky points out, self-care doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Thankfully, I learned that lesson as well. Self-care didn’t mean that I had to go to the ocean to relax. Instead, I could listen to ocean sounds on YouTube and relax as well.

Now, I practice self-care in the little things everyday of my life. I have quiet time, listen to relaxing music, eat healthy, exercise, draw boundaries, and otherwise take care of myself.

As a result, I’ve never felt better! Now I can’t imagine my life without self care. Incidentally, if someone had said that to me 10 years ago I would have laughed at them.

But I’m older and wiser and realize that I truly have to fill my cup first and make sure that it doesn’t get emptied out.

So what does self care look like in your life? What’s one thing you can do today that you didn’t do yesterday to practice self-care?

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Jane Freund is an author, encourager, speaker, book coach, and pun lover. She has written several non-fiction and children’s books. Jane’s latest book, her first historical fiction novel, will be out in the fall of 2019. Previously, Jane taught Communication for ten years at Boise State University.

Jane has four blogs (and she’s not kidding): Jane Freundship, My Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) Journey, Book Reviews by Jane Freund, and Jane Freund – Author.

Jane can also be found on Amazon, Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and smoke signals. OK, she is kidding about the smoke signals.

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Froot Loops vs. Shredded Wheat: Why Happiness is NOT my Goal

To me, being happy occurs when things are going well. That’s all nice and good but things don’t always go well. Sometimes hard and bad stuff happens; it’s part of life. To say that I’m happy when such things happen is lying to myself. But instead of aiming to be happy, I have a different goal.

Serenity is the state of being calm and peaceful regardless of what is occurring. I strive to live in serenity at all times in my life.

Serenity also allows me the freedom to feel sad, mad, and glad while happiness is limited to feeling glad. When tough things happen, I am sad and mad. When good things happen, I am glad.

Before I began my whole food plant-based journey, I was a cold cereal connoisseur. I see the difference between happiness and serenity much like the difference between Froot Loops and Shredded Wheat. Froot Loops give a temporary sugar rush but Shredded Wheat may not taste as sweet but is better in the long run.

I see being happy as conditional. If something good happens, then I’m happy. But serenity is not reliant on the events in in my life. I can be serene despite difficult and bad stuff happening.

But serenity doesn’t mean that I sit on the sidelines when bad and difficult stuff happens. Instead, serenity helps me respond in a healthier and more effective manner. When I face a struggle, I retreat, get quiet, find focus, and get the job done. I credit that to serenity.

Of course, I like being happy. However, I don’t limit myself or see being happy as the ultimate goal. Instead, serenity is what I continue to pursue.

But like any skill, serenity takes practice. I do daily quiet time, listen to soft music, and do other things that help me to be calm and peaceful.

What do you think about happiness and serenity? What kinds of things do you do to find peace?

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Jane Freund is an author, encourager, speaker, book coach, and pun lover. She has written several non-fiction and children’s books. Jane’s latest book, her first historical fiction novel, will be out in the fall of 2019. Previously, Jane taught Communication for ten years at Boise State University.

Jane has four blogs (and she’s not kidding): Jane Freundship, My Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) Journey, Book Reviews by Jane Freund, and Jane Freund – Author.

Jane can also be found on Amazon, Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and smoke signals. OK, she is kidding about the smoke signals.

The Story Behind “Grandma, Does My Moon Shine Over Your House?”

HQ COVER - Grandma Does My Moon Shine

The first children’s book I wrote is titled, “Grandma, Does My Moon Shine Over Your House?” I knew that someday I’d write children’s books but I didn’t think it would be one of the first books I wrote. But the story behind how it came to be is quite touching and so I’m sharing it with you here today.

The year 2006 was truly life-changing for me! In the course of that year, Dad died, Mom became homebound, my brother Paul had a brain tumor and stroke, and other issues hit and hit hard. Through these trials, two realizations became my focus: life is very precious and I needed to pursue my lifelong passion of writing.

I was ready to immediately quit my job teaching Communication at Boise State University and start writing as my career. But a very wise life coach friend of mine said, “Jane, make a plan at work a plan.” So I did and she was the only person who knew that I would be leaving teaching and start pursuing riding at the end of 2007.

After Dad died, I made a more concerted effort to go to Idaho Falls and visit Mom. It was on one of those trips in 2008 that Mom suggested an idea for a book.

She reminded me of a time when one of her young granddaughters called her on the phone and asked, “Grandma, does my moon shine over your house?” Mom told me I should turn that idea into a book.

Over the course of my life, I’ve had some incredible moments of clarity which I remember to this day. I know the moment when I decided to go back to college and finish my bachelor’s degree. Another moment was what happened next in that conversation with Mom.

Mom sacrificed a lot to stay home and raise the six of us children. She was an incredibly wise, intelligent, and funny woman. Like so many others, Mom struggled with low self-confidence.

I remember when she took the big step of no longer signing her checks, “Mrs. George A. Freund” and started signing them, “Mrs. Mary H. Freund”. She also got her own checking account for the money she earned as a substitute teacher, a job she began as the younger of us started school. Those may not sound like big actions but for a woman in the 1970s, they were pretty significant.

As I stood there with Mom, I remember those events as well as the fact that Mom loved to write. So in that moment of clarity, I asked Mom if she wanted to write the book together. She smiled and said “Yes”.

Over the course of the next year or so, we worked on the content of the book. Mom wanted a map of the United States in the center of the book so that kids could point to where they lived and where Grandma lived. She decided what the main character should look like as well as the other drawings and the words in the book.

In 2009, Mom’s health declined significantly. Although she did not see the final product in a published format, Mom was able to hold and view the final draft. The last conversation I had with her before she died, we talked about how she was going to be a published author. Mom smiled and so did I.

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Jane Freund is an author, encourager, speaker, book coach, and pun lover. She has written several non-fiction and children’s books. Jane’s latest book, her first historical fiction novel, will be out in the fall of 2019. Previously, Jane taught Communication for ten years at Boise State University.

Jane has four blogs (and she’s not kidding): Jane Freundship, My Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) Journey, Book Reviews by Jane Freund, and Jane Freund – Author.

Jane can also be found on Amazon, Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and smoke signals. OK, she is kidding about the smoke signals.

Why I wrote my obituary

One of the benefits or hazards (depending on your perspective) of being an author is that I get asked to write and edit people’s obituaries. I’ve lost track is to how many I’ve done but I’ve learned a lot whether the obituaries were for people who were an important part of my life (such as my parents) or those I had never met (such as my friend’s sister).

An obituary is so much more than facts such as birth and death dates, hometown and burial place, and names of those who passed and those who were left behind. An obituary is about capturing the personality of the individual and what and who was important to them.

Several years ago, I was struggling with what direction to go with my life. I had already begun my career as an author but life is much more than work. I’ve seen many lives affected by workaholism and knew that finding balance had to be a priority.

But as I’ve shared in the last couple of blog posts, I’ve struggled with having too many priorities. I believe that if everything is a priority then nothing is a priority. As that was bouncing around my head those several years ago, I remembered a comment that few if any people on their deathbeds wish that they had spent more time at the office.

So I began thinking about what and who really matter to me. What were my priorities? How did I want to be remembered? I didn’t know the answers but I knew the questions. I also knew a way that would help me get those answers. So I sat down and I wrote my obituary.

When I write a book, I refer to the first draft as “emotional vomit”. In the subsequent drafts, I clean up the mess. But the first draft is about getting what’s in me out of me and onto paper. I strive to do true brainstorming which means not judging whether what I write is feasible or not. I create how I want the book to be.

I applied the same strategies and techniques to the process of writing my obituary. I have dreams that I want to accomplish and wrote my obituary as if I had done so.

Also, I limited the length of my obituary. By doing so, I was able to hone in on what my priorities truly were at that time. Yes they have changed but it’s more of a tweak than a deletion and replacement.

And of course, I left out the date and place of death cuz I don’t know when and where and where that’s going to happen. Incidentally, I’m not planning on having this obituary used anytime soon. 🙂

But I do use it myself as the foundation for making my priorities a reality. I don’t want them to simply be words on a piece of paper but ways that I live my life.

I have shared this writing your own obituary idea with others and quite a few have said doing so has helped them find their priorities. It’s not for everybody but if you’re willing to do so, I encourage you to try it. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and have a wonderful Wednesday ☺

CROPPED - Jane's watercolor picture

Jane Freund is an author, encourager, speaker, book coach, and pun lover. She has written or co-written 19 books and helped authors from 5 to 85 get their books written and published. Jane’s latest book, her first historical fiction novel, will be out in the fall of 2018. Previously, Jane taught Communication for ten years at Boise State University.

Jane can be found on Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and smoke signals. OK, she is kidding about the smoke signals!

If everything is “Breaking News” then…

From the time I was a little kid, I’ve watched the news. I grew up with Huntley-Brinkley and Walter Cronkite. They would read one story at a time and have an occasional related picture on the screen next to them. Sometimes there would be a reporter in the field who would talk about the story. Furthermore, most TV and radio stations went off the air each evening at midnight or some other designated time.

Now before I go any further, let me make something clear: I do not buy into the “evil media” belief. The media gives us what we want and if we want something different, then we have to let them know that. We do that through ratings as well as direct communication with the media themselves. So let me continue…

We live now in a world of 24-hour news from a variety of sources. In addition, information comes at a much faster rate. News stories are shorter and and more fast-paced. Also, information such as the weather, sports scores, stock reports rolls across the bottom of the screen in multiple-level ribbons. Plus, I don’t know of any TV or radio stations that go off the air on a daily basis. A lot has changed!

Something else that I’ve noticed that has changed is the amount of “breaking news”. In the course of my early life, I remember only two news stories for which they broke into regularly scheduled programming to report. One was when Alabama Governor George Wallace was shot and the other was when President Richard Nixon had a blood clot in his leg and was hospitalized. I know that there were other ones but these are the two that jumped out the most at me.

I compare that to today when I can get one or two breaking news stories on a daily basis. There can’t be that much breaking news in the world. In other words, how can so many stories rise to the level of priority? If everything becomes a priority then nothing is.

The same could be said of life itself. If I have too much going on and I’m trying to get it all done, then nothing gets done. I can’t have so much “breaking news” in my life that I lose track of what my priorities are. So it’s a matter of figuring out what my priorities truly are. Once I do that (and believe me it’s an ongoing thing), serenity is much easier to achieve and retain.

So how much “breaking news” do you have in your life? What can you do to truly determine your priorities? feel free to share that in the comments below.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Have a terrific Tuesday ☺

CROPPED - Jane's watercolor picture

Jane Freund is an author, encourager, speaker, book coach, and pun lover. She has written or co-written 19 books and helped authors from 5 to 85 get their books written and published. Jane’s latest book, her first historical fiction novel, will be out in the fall of 2018. Previously, Jane taught Communication for ten years at Boise State University.

Jane can be found on Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and smoke signals. OK, she is kidding about the smoke signals!

Callie and my new perspective

When I got up this morning, I had already decided what my blog post was going to be about. Well, that’s what I get for doing my own thinking because my cat, Callie, had a totally different topic in mind!

Let me give you a little background about Callie. For many years, I had been owned by several cats. You see, dogs have owners and cats have staff. But over the years my elderly cats have passed away leaving Callie as my only cat since just about a year or so ago.

Now Callie has made it perfectly clear that she waited her turn to have my attention and she has no interest in sharing it with any other animal or human. I shudder to think what she might do if I brought a boyfriend into our world. Anyway Callie had been abandoned twice so when I left my old neighborhood, I took her with me.

Now with that background laid, let me tell you about this morning. It was like any other morning in that if I didn’t get up fast enough, Callie would stand at the end of the bed and meow. When I did get up, she would almost always walk slowly in my path. I would grumble about her being under foot as I didn’t want to trip over her.

But this morning, I thought about a new approach: What if I picked her up? Now mind you when Callie does not want to be picked up she has a low rumbling growl that tells me to put her down as quickly as possible. It’s usually happens when I need to get her inside the house and she doesn’t want to go there.

So I decided to risk it and pick her up. I braced myself for the growl and instead received a purr. She continued to purr as I fixed her breakfast which then I set down along with her so she could eat.

I realized that Callie being under my feet was not about me. I thought she was trying to trip me up when in fact she just wanted to be I held and petted for a minute. She got breakfast and I got a new perspective. What a deal!

Think about a situation you’re involved in and ask yourself what another perspective could be. Doing so could really solve a problem that may have seemed to lack a solution.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Have a marvelous Monday ☺

CROPPED - Jane's watercolor picture

Jane Freund is an author, encourager, speaker, book coach, and pun lover. She has written or co-written 19 books and helped over 140 people achieve their publishing dreams. Jane’s latest book, her first historical fiction novel, will be out in the fall of 2018. In addition, Jane taught Communication for ten years at Boise State University.

Jane can be found on Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and smoke signals. OK, she is kidding about the smoke signals!