Letters From Camp: Stewardship and Self-Care

Self Care  | Amplified Good Positive Psychology Coaching and Counseling in Portland

Dear Readers,

The forest smells great.  There are HUGE pine trees, ripe salal and huckleberries, and fresh streams running near camp.  I swim in the lake almost every day after running the forest trails and in the early morning I watch the steam rise off it as the sun hits it.  

At night I hear the frogs sing from one end of the lake to the other and watch the stars reflect on its surface.  I think it might be the most beautiful place on earth.  

Being here makes it easier to feel at peace surrounded by natural beauty.

One of the things I talk about with new clients in their first sessions is how frequently they get out into nature.  Most of my clients only spend time in nature when they mow the lawn or wait for the bus- which is to say, not at all.  They might take a trip to the Oregon Coast once a quarter or go for a weekend hike, but most of us live far away from natural beauty.

We talk a lot about stewardship at camp every year in terms of taking care of the land and it's beauty.  We rotate shifts of chores and conservation projects to keep the space tidy and growing.  It feels great to care for a space that supports us in so many ways every year.   

There are obvious parallels to the spaces we live in - the spaces that hold us- all year when not at camp as well.  For some reason stewardship of space is like an annual ritual for me, only brought into focus in August.  

When I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo this spring, I brought the spirit of stewardship home for real for the first time.  Her work was famous for helping people clear clutter and get organized (some of my friends got rid of carloads of belongings).  

What I loved about the book was the gratitude-based relationship Kondo creates with things and spaces.  She writes about thanking her shoes for supporting her through the day, the lights for brightening her space, the windows for inspiration and so on.  When I moved into my new home this spring I began practicing this kind of gratitude for things and spaces and it has revolutionized my life even more deeply than getting rid of clutter.  

But when I looked up the definition of stewardship (below) I thought of something else entirely:

stewardship [stoo-erd-ship, styoo-] noun

  1. the position and duties of a steward, a person who acts as the surrogate of another or others, especially by managing property, financial affairs, an estate, etc.
  2. the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving.

Reading, "the overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving" made me think more about self-care than space-care.  Knowing so many of us are worthy of more care and affection than we are given- or give ourselves, so much of my work has been helping clients "oversee and protect something worth caring for and preserving" meaning themselves.  

What would change if you truly believed you were worth caring for?

What would be different if you focused on preserving your body, mind, and spirit?

How can you commit to being a steward of your own soul this week?

Take a moment to reflect on these this week.  I know I will be as I support a volunteer team of 80 adult volunteers in their first full week with campers.  Wish us luck!  

Love, Gina