I once backed into another car at a drive-thru. Yep, that takes some amount of talent to execute. I was mad that the person in front of me wasn’t budging, so I threw it in reverse in order to maneuver into a better spot to see what was going on. A crunching sound alerted me to the fact that I’d now be stuck right where I was for a while. My need for things to go at my pace outweighed all other considerations. I’m striving now to let my intuition, not my impulsiveness (and lead foot), more fully guide me as I access my necessities and respond to the needs of others.
The particular needs we have for self-care can wax and wane over the course of a year, a moon cycle, or even one day. For many, winter and the new moon are a time to draw in, rest and dedicate ourselves to inner work, whereas the summer and full moon are times to make manifest our inner desires and take action. Many people who practice Pagan religions and Goddess Spirituality track the pattern of the moon or follow the Wheel of the Year for guidance in these rhythms. For women of childbearing ages, you may notice shifts in your energy levels and needs based on your menstrual cycle.
“Night owls” and “early birds” are a real phenomenon, with differing biological patterning. Following your own circadian rhythm can allow you to capitalize on your highest energy points. I’m an early riser but tend to find myself too focused on “doing” in the mornings to be able to do a lot of inner work, so evenings are when I tend to pull in and engage in most of my spiritual work.
Sometimes our inner cycles align with our external environment; sometimes they are mismatched. For instance, the few times I’ve had a bad cold in summer jarred me not just because I felt ill, but also because I needed to pull back from what I was doing and lay around instead of my normal busy summer attitude. Some winter days are filled with sunshine and I find myself wanting to spend all day outside (until the air temperature snaps me back to reality!). Attuning to our changing rhythms not only allows us to better meet our needs but also helps us to integrate into the larger patterning and cadence of the natural world.
Our intuition, our Wise Woman and Goddess In Us, can help us check in with ourselves and get real when we are ignoring needs or failing to prioritize. A nagging anxiety that won’t go away or an illness that forces us to take a day off may be a sign that there is a deeper need going unmet. Sometimes we try to change our external circumstances—thinking that will solve our “off” feeling—when really it is our inner being that needs attention.
At times, our inner wisdom takes the form of others in our lives who gently prod us to make that appointment or call in sick when we aren’t feeling well. I think that is one of the most beautiful gifts we can give each other—permission to take care of ourselves when we ourselves are wrapped up in a guilt or shame message that won’t let us stop, won’t let us rest, won’t let us ask for help. If people are consistently telling you that you seem really busy or have a lot going on, it may be a signal to slow down and reassess how well you are meeting your full range of human essentials.
At the same time, each of us is walking our own path, and sometimes we have to let a sister who insists the thorny briers she’s trying to cut through with a pen knife is the only way struggle till she tires, and then step right up with support and care when she finally realizes the futility of her actions. Many of the mistakes I’ve made serve as signposts for those close to me about which paths are worthy, and which ones are dead ends. Our intuitions, our gut messages, are typically there all along. It can feel so good to say yes to that which serves us and no to that which doesn’t. The scrapes and scars left by our rambles in deep thicket are an excellent reminder that help us to hone in on the surest ways forward.