Self-Care Sunday Interview with Judy M. Ford

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Introduce yourself – tell us a little bit about yourself

My name is Judy M. Ford. I am a coach, speaker, author and yogini and founder and chief wellness officer of Ms. Judy M. Ford, Life…by Design!℠ Coaching Programs & Wellness Services.

As a holistic life and transition coach for heart-centered, Soul-driven professional women; organizational and community leaders; and entrepreneurs, I partner with my clients to help them effectively navigate the transition spaces of their lives by unleashing their innate capacity for healing, wisdom, truth, authenticity, power, impact, transformation, and manifestation!

Through my Life…by Design!℠ signature coaching programs, speaking services, and wellness offerings, I create intentional, sacred, healing spaces of trust in each coaching session, speaking engagement and wellness offering where women can be with, and focus on, themselves; reconnect to their power; realize their potential; and advance their dreams as they work to create and live their ideal lives…by design!

Through my work with women and my commitment to supporting their personal growth, professional development and spiritual advancement, I live out my life purpose to bring healing, offer wisdom and create space for the revelation and experience of the Soul.

 

…women have been socialized for millennia to serve everyone but themselves.

 

How do you define self-care and what does it mean to you?

I define self-care in the following manner:

“Self-care IS Self-love IS Essential.”

And what I mean by that is that taking care of ourselves, prioritizing our own needs, ensuring that we are not only beneficiaries of the talents and gifts we readily share with others but that we are at the center of receiving those very talents and gifts we readily offer to others, is a vital form of self-love that is essential to our lives.

Prioritizing your self-care as a consistent, daily practice, to me, is the very core of self-love; and everything we do that illuminates, deepens and expands our self-love serves not only us, but also those we love and as such the self-care practice that deepens and expands our self-love is essential – essential to our lives, our living, our growth, our knowledge of self, our service to others, and our evolution.

 

Why is self-care important, particularly for women?

Self-care is important to all humans, yes, but particularly for women.

Why?

Because women have been socialized for millennia to serve everyone but themselves.

Women have been socialized to put everyone’s needs before their own.

Women have been socialized to value self-sacrifice and martyrdom as noble virtues or personal values that we should always choose in favor of even if that means denying ourselves, at best; or allowing parts or all of us to die, at worst.

I mean we’ve been so well socialized in that manner that the idea of sacrificing, even martyring, the very thing we offer in service to others (i.e., ourselves) doesn’t seem to register with most folks as the utterly ridiculous and nonsensical idea that it is — not until we take a moment to really think about it.

In an article I wrote on my blog about self-care, I highlight this very notion in the following way:

“…self-sacrifice and giving of our ‘self’ in service to the world don’t go together – they can’t go together. You can’t sacrifice the very thing (your ‘self’) that you’re offering in service and then be able to provide that service well, effectively, impactfully, joyfully, whole, complete, or even in good faith.

The taxi driver doesn’t take her taxi and run it into the ground; ignoring all need of maintenance, oil, gas, fixing, and upgrades and still expect to be able to continue to provide an effective taxi service – certainly not one people would value and pay for.

The fisher-woman doesn’t allow her net to develop gaping holes and edges so frayed that it could never catch a hippo, much less anything that would be of real service to her fish-buying customers.

In either case what would be the point? In both cases you are the taxi; you are the net. And the question remains: if you sacrifice the very thing you offer in service to the world, what would be the point?

Self-sacrifice ultimately means we’re offering ourselves in half, in part; we’re offering mere shells of ourselves in service to others. Why would we do that? Why would we be ok with that? Why have we become ok with that? Who said that was a ‘thing’ we should do?”

And for many of my readers, this was like a light-bulb going off not only about the lie we have been fed as women regarding self-sacrifice and martyrdom but also the essential importance self-care and a regular self-care practice is for our living, our survival and our ability to truly thrive.

THIS is why I believe self-care is so important, particularly for women.

 

How do you practice self-care in your daily life?

My daily self-care practice includes: prayer and meditation in the morning before getting my day started; journaling – usually in the evening to close-out my day; spending time in nature – walking/hiking through parks and trails on a regular basis – not just for the exercise but for breathing, for air, for the calm and peace, and for all that being alone with/in nature has to teach me about myself and my life; a practice I call ‘solituding’ – spending time alone with myself, my thoughts, my ideas, etc.,in ways that allow me to deepen my knowledge of and trust in myself.

I also practice checking-in with myself, how/what I am feeling, asking myself what it is I need and allowing myself the accountability and responsibility to ensure my needs are met … by me!

In this article on my blog I talk about self-care practice and share more details about the practices and tools of self-care that serve me.

 

Journaling allows me to express my thoughts, feelings, ideas, dreams, fears, hopes and joys.

 

What part of your self-care routine is most important to you? And is there one that is vital to you even when you’re having the worst day?

The part of my self-care routine that is vital and most important to me is the solituding/being in nature (as those two often go hand-in-hand) and journaling.

I have come to have a deep spiritual relationship and need for being in nature.

On good days, it’s like I’m being called to commune and share with nature the joy I am feeling simply by being with Her in Her space.

Being alone in nature inspires my writing, my coaching, my sense of wellness/well-being, healing as well as new ideas for who and how I want to be in the world and the experiences I want to have.

The clarity I get from being alone in nature only deepens and expands the physical benefits of that tool for self-care.

When I am having a particularly bad day, taking time to get into nature – away from everything – offers the time, space, healing and clarity I need to manage the challenge I may be facing in the healthiest way that best serves me.

I have been keeping a journal since I was 16y.o. I am currently on journal #48 or so ;o). Journaling allows me to express my thoughts, feelings, ideas, dreams, fears, hopes and joys.

It allows me to time and space to process my life and experiences and is a great source for inspiration that helps to both guide and define my life and my living.

For me my ability to journal is the epitome of my self-care practice.

 

Another misconception about self-care is that it’s all high-priced retreats, spa days, massages, etc.

 

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to self-care?

My biggest challenge regarding self-care happens in those times when I just put it off too long. It’s on my mind but I keep letting other things jump the priority list.

Like when my body is telling me it needs a massage and I hear it and I say ‘I’ve got to make that appointment.’ And three weeks later … I’m hearing myself say the same thing.

I am working on being more immediate and responsive to meeting my self-care needs.

I also think a challenge can be not being willing to deepen/go deeper with your self-care practice.

I’ve got a pretty good routine going most days. But I know there’s more to self-care – there’s always more; especially as we grow, evolve and deepen our wisdom and knowledge of ourselves – as we do so, so too must we grow, evolve and deepen our self-care practice.

 

What do you think are some of the most common misconceptions about self-care?

Some of the most common misconceptions about self-care are that it is selfish (this, in my opinion, is the most common).

Another misconception about self-care is that it’s all high-priced retreats, spa days, massages, etc. – when these are only tools people use for self-care but they are not self-care in and of themselves.

I think people don’t realize that self-care is about internal work; it’s about paradigm shifts and releasing limiting beliefs that don’t serve you; it’s about allowing more time and space for you in your own life.

And another misconception about self-care is that it only serves that person practicing the self-care, when in reality self-care is the cornerstone of effectively serving others – the family, communities and issues we love and care about.

In my article on self-care practice, I try to debunk this misconception in this statement:

“When your self is your service, when your offering is you, the greatest offering you can give and the greatest service you can be is the experience of you through self-care; the experience of the self-cared you. For there is no more powerful, no more impactful, no more change-making, no more essential service you can offer in and for the world than that which comes from the self-cared you!”

 

Once we value who we are to ourselves, then we are in a better position to recognize that what we do with our lives, matters.

 

What tips, resources or advice can you share for anyone struggling with self care?

To begin any self-care practice we have to develop a new understanding and relationship with the whole notion of self-care.

We have to redefine what self-care means to us, embrace that definition and give ourselves the permission (which is the only permission we ever really need for anything!) to live that definition in and through our lives.

The struggle we have with self-care lies in the fact that we know we need it, we know it’s necessary, we know it is good for us BUT everything we’ve been taught about how we should be in the world, especially as women, is antithetical to self-care.

We must reclaim the value of ourselves, and our lives, to ourselves first and foremost.

Once we value who we are to ourselves, then we are in a better position to recognize that what we do with our lives, matters.

We realize that depletion, burnout, wanting, unmet needs, lack of passion, just going through the motions, etc … is not only NOT how we want to live but it also does grave disservice to that which we value so much…ourselves.

Once we establish a sense of unconditional love and value of ourselves to ourselves in and of ourselves, we set the stage not only for redefining what self-care means to us but recreating a new, healthy and loving relationship with self-care and self-care practice in our lives.

 

What are your favourite self-care mantras, quotes, poems, songs, books or movies?

The following is a self-care mantra I love – and not just because I wrote it – but because when I wrote it (so many years ago), I didn’t do so with self-care in mind -at all!

When I read it now, however, it reminds me of my self-care journey and how I grew into it over time and how self-care remains an ongoing and life-long process for me:

“Never be limited by others’ inability to think of you in terms big enough or dreams grand enough. Never allow yourself to define what is possible for you in your life by others’ limited vision of what they believe is possible for them in theirs.”

A self-care poem I love is (of course!):

MULE NO MORE (Black Woman Free)
© Judy M. Ford

This Black woman
is no longer
“de mule of de world.”
My care is finally free
to be
who I choose
to be

Today
I choose
to be a unicorn;
made of solid black gold.

No one rides my back.

I travel light across the rainbow;
leaving a trail of glitter behind.
See my magic?
Watch me fly!

Who will I be tomorrow?
Maybe I’ll let you know.
Maybe not.
Ultimately, I’ll make the choice.
Because, ultimately, I choose me.

This Black woman
is no longer
“de mule of de world.”
My care is forever free
to be
who I choose
to be.
And I choose to be
chosen:

I choose me today.
I choose me tomorrow.
I choose me first.
I choose me always.

Mule no more,
this unicorn,
made of solid black gold,
will always be

free

to choose
to be

free.

 

What is the most important advice would you give to your younger self?

The most important advice I’d give my younger self is always choose to love you unconditionally – everyday, in every situation, all the time, always.

And to trust in the wisdom and power of your feelings, instincts and intuition – they will never fail you.

 

What is your hope for your future and the future of women?

My hope for my future, and the future of women (which has turned out to be one and the same), is the vision I have for my work in the world, and that is, quite simply and powerfully, a world transformed by the illuminating force of Divine, empowered feminine energy; a world where women and girls everywhere are empowered to abundantly, and in all ways, create and live their ideal lives … by design!

 

Connect with Judy

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Website: www.msjudymford.com

Facebook: msjudymford

Instagram: @lifebydesigncoach

Twitter: @judythecoach

LinkedIn: judymford

 

 

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