MOVE is about learning to focus on yourself; to prioritize your health and mental health, your vision, your goals, your hopes, your energy and your zest for life.
I woke up this morning from a strange dream where I was walking through a wax museum exploring relics from my past: an old knapsack from public school, drawings, and journal entries about wanting to be a professional basketball player. The last part of the dream was me driving home and singing a song. I was happy in contrast to the depressed and burnt out state that I have been in the past two weeks. In the dream I was singing a happy song and I was thinking “this is the song that she needs to hear!” I have no idea who she is but at that moment I woke up and thought “but you’ve got to sing it for yourself first.”
I interpreted this dream as meaning that I have to practice taking care of myself first and foremost before I try and teach it and share with others. I need to sing for myself first. In my case it’s been my work at Integra and with MOVE where I’ve lost myself in the midst of serving others. Write, sing, act, perform, live (whatever it is you love) for yourself first and you will always exceed yourself and grow. Do for others only and you will always fall short of your best. I don’t believe that living only to make others happy is sustainable nor satisfying.
But it’s in my nature and personality to put others first; perhaps some of you are like this. It’s been my habit to let people help me only when it is absolutely necessary -when I’m exhausted and burnt out physically and emotionally. Then and only then can I prioritize myself, my health and well-being, but obviously this is not true. You have to take care of yourself constantly. This is what I’m learning.
This is the problem with our healthcare system. We turn to it only when something is broken, only when we are sick. We need to pay attention now; our health is not something we can afford to put on the back burner.
The first principle of MOVE used to be “Wherever you are whatever you are doing, whenever you are doing it, you can always do something good for your health”. I still believe this is important but I’ve revised the first principle to be : I must take care of myself first before I try and help anyone else. Just like the instructions on a plane to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping other passengers or children, we all must learn to prioritize our own well being. People in the service/non-profit sector can burn out because they are constantly putting everyone else first and themselves last and therefore have no sustaining energy to thrive. They are dwindling in survival mode until they have nothing left. That was me.
What good are we to the people we serve if we put ourselves, our health, our passions, and our lives on the back burner?
First things first: take care of yourself then you will have the passion, ability, and actions to back up what you are trying to share.
Dream it, then sing it, but sing for yourself first and foremost. Enjoy the music that life has for you in all its offerings. If you can lead a life of joy and vitality that is going to be so much more powerful than you bending over backwards trying to do for everyone else. Practicing what I preach will make me a more credible source and it’s the only way I’m going to get done all the things I want to do in this life. This is what I’ve learned.
For some of you (in the MOVE program) the MOVE minute breaks, even though they take only a minute, is hard because it forces you to focus on you rather than all the demands coming from outside of you. By doing MOVE throughout the day you are being encouraged to stay connected to you and your body throughout your day. This a very foreign way of doing things. But if we have truly established that your health is the foundation for everything you do why would you ever want to be disconnected from your health?
If you are in the MOVE program, I don’t know if your best right now is only one or 20 breaks a day. The number will vary from person to person. But I want you to imagine that every time you take a break you are saying to yourself , “I matter. I need my foundation which is my health, my happiness, my zest, energy and passion for life. Without these I can’t do anything.”