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When’s the last time you did something for the first time?

By:  Colleen Curtin, Youth Program Coordinator, DVN

Last week at our first DVN book club covering “Trauma Stewardship,” we had a great conversation about self-care and what that means to each of us. We talked about how to create an environment personally and professionally for each of us to practice self-care successfully, and some of the things we do daily to care for ourselves and sustain our work.

I shared my love of gardening, my commitment to making yoga a daily practice for myself, and my growing appreciation for mindfulness and meditation. I want to say right away that I am not perfect. I fail regularly at implementing these practices, and that is something I am working on. I try, and that matters. This summer I am committing to making these things, along with several other restorative activities and practices part of my routine, and I am inviting you to join me!

After book club, I went back to my desk and looked at DVN’s Facebook page, where I saw the most recent post. It was a picture of our fearless leader, Kelly McBride and I at Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build. After seeing the Facebook post, I glanced up and read a page I had ripped out of a magazine last spring that says, “When’s the last time you did something for the first time?”

Sometimes we rely on our old faithfuls. Running to reset us or a yoga class to help us regain our center after a hard day or a tough week. But, like so many other things in our lives, we can outgrow or exhaust our self-care practices. My old go-to was running, and it worked for a long time. It carried me through difficult situations personally and professionally, from losing loved ones, to working with clients who were facing some of the most painful experiences of their young lives, and struggling to grapple with a world where these things could happen. Unfortunately, I was injured last fall, making running more difficult. My runs were slower and shorter, and I wasn’t getting out of them what I used to. As a result, running became a frustrating chore instead of a fun activity, so my runs became less frequent.

A few weeks ago I decided I needed to focus on implementing additional forms of self-care. I proceeded to sign up for a class, three volunteer opportunities, and schedule time to plan a trip I’ve been wanting to take for months. Since then, I’ve attend two of the classes and they are an absolute blast! They have have reminded me of my love to learn and play with new ideas.

I’ve also volunteered, including at the Habitat build with Kelly. Together, we built a house for a domestic violence survivor who was a former Julian Center resident. It was a powerful experience. The survivor was there building her family’s new home alongside us. I sat in my car afterwards and teared up thinking about how much healing she and her family will experience inside of the walls we had built together.

I met with my college roommate this past weekend to plan that trip I’ve been putting off, and I am excited for the rest and restoration that the new adventure will bring to us both.

These new practices are stretching me in ways. I may not have been challenged to grow if I had remained safely within the familiarity of my comfort zone. Maybe yoga or gardening is your thing, or you’re one of those powerful humans who can sit still and meditate peacefully for more than two minutes. Regardless, maybe it’s time to add something new to your toolbox. Sign up for a class, plan that trip you’ve been putting off, because the time is never right, but these new experiences can help put us back on-track to be the best we can be.