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Goodbye Self-Care, Hello Upgrade Time

I used to get the best soaps and shampoos in my stocking at Christmas-time. I loved opening them, smelling them, and even placing them with care on my bathroom shelves.

I always wanted to wait for a special occasion to use “the good stuff.” The days passed, but there was never a good enough reason to break it out. Those beautiful bottles were destined to become clutter and eventually get cleared out in a big purge.

It took me over 30 years to stop saving up self-care until I deserved it.

For the last decade, I’ve been breaking out the salon shampoo and the department store shower gel on the daily. I’ve carved time for massages and facials. I buy the expensive milk and don’t think twice about it. I take naps – sometimes in the middle of the day.

I not only set aside 1 day a week for taking care of myself, I advocate for others to do it as well. I have seen, over-and-over how allocating time for doctors’ appointments, body work, cosmetic treatments, long walks, prayer, meditation, reading and mid-day napping enables me to get more done in a month than most people do in a year. If you are still ascribing to the idea you will have time for manicures or overdue medical procedures once you hit some business-related goal, newsflash – that day is not coming.

Buddhism teaches us to drop our expectations, so I was pretty shocked that after 5 intense days of meditation at 40 Years of Zen in Seattle, that the message I got was to DROP SELF-CARE! I did not see that coming!!!

40 Years of Zen is a neurofeedback training program that was developed by Dave Asprey, the Bulletproof coffee biohacker. The way I like to think about 40 Years of Zen that it is less like trying to do 40 years of Buddhist meditation in 5 days and more like brain rehab.

Imagine if you had experienced a traumatic brain injury. You know how you would have months or years of brain rehabilitation to regain function? Well, now imagine instead if you were to do 40 hours of the same kinds of things they do in brain rehab but instead of an hour a week for 40 weeks you do all that work in 1 packed week. Certainly, even without an injury, you would benefit from a 40-hour brain workout, right?

Some people go to brain training to eliminate or minimize symptoms like migraines, insomnia or depression. I wasn’t dealing with any of those symptoms. I just wanted to see what results training my brain might create for me.

We focused on training/strengthening our performance in 3 brain states:

1) Alpha — that calm, collected state you are in when everything is moving forward in peace and flow.

2) Theta — that dream-like state between sleep and wake where you are super creative and visual.

3) Gamma — that buzzy state of connection with source when you are having massive aha moments and making unexpected connections.

One of the things I learned is that my morning meditation practice of 20 years is totally training in ALPHA – which is awesome, but there are areas where I need or want more theta or gamma which I learned how to call in as needed.

When I am coaching I have a practice I call “feet in the dirt” and I realized this was a way of boosting my alpha state. What’s fun about this is I was able to do sample coaching during neurofeedback in different brainwave states and it was easy to see that alpha is my coaching preference.

Gamma likes to ride on Alpha waves and for me, I feel Gamma first in my lips, so when a gamma wave was on coming I learned how to go from alpha to gamma and create more ah-ha moments for my clients – so fun.

Theta, for me, is where I get messages from Source. I was given the spiritual name “Suwan AshAarthi” during a ritual that happened while I was in theta meditation. If anyone knows what that might mean, definitely let me know. I got to catch up with my grandmother who died in 1993. We walked through a garden filled with pink Camellias and I was filled with deep connection and gratitude. And then, during my last theta session, I met Tulsi the Cheetah. Tulsi explained that she is one of my animal spirit guides, and that she had 7 lessons to teach me in our time together in this incarnation, but she could only share 6 of them with me right now because these were the ones I was currently working on or had mastered:

Fierceness, Bravery, Caution, Stealthiness, Protection, Strategy

We walked through a labyrinth and Tulsi called me on something. She said to reach the 7th lesson, I had to give up the idea of self-care. “Self-care,” said my wise feline friend, “sounds like an extra or something you SHOULD do. Cheetah’s don’t believe in self-care, we believe in UPGRADE TIME. You should always be progressing and doing things you are excited about. We don’t nap for self-care, we nap because it gets us the results we want.”

And so, with that, Tulsi took an eraser to my self-care plans for the year and re-wrote a new UPGRADE TIME plan. I’m keeping the same schedule as my old self-care schedule – 1 hour a day, in the morning, before anything else, for meditation, journaling, and reading and then one day a week for upgrades and attunements. I’m so excited about upgrade time. Instead of body maintenance chores – which was how I had come to think about my self-care system – I see UPGRADE TIME as the perfect way to integrate what I’m learning and take my growth to the next level.

For instance, I had already picked my word of the year for 2019 as Intuition, but while I was at 40 Years of Zen, I changed that word to “GUT” and I know much of my UPGRADE TIME will be spent getting to know and improve my microbiome. Going with my gut means putting gut health at the center of my year. Reframing self-care as upgrade time feels so fun because I know how fast we can create change in our bodies and our lives when we have a clear intention.

In the past, my intention has been to love myself and take care of myself. That was brave and fierce at one point, but no longer. I’m letting go of something that has worked and stepping into something that feels fierce and brave right now.

What are you stepping into in 2019 that feels fierce and brave? I wanna know!

36 thoughts on “Goodbye Self-Care, Hello Upgrade Time”

  1. Angela,
    I am a big believer that nothing happens in accident.
    I seldom get on the social media beside for free music for dancing , yoga, Taiji or meditation.
    Yet the super power arranged I signed up for the author incubator on Christmas day after I watch a YouTube of you. Your positive and healing energy are among your presentation and blogs.
    I think this is the best start for the rest of this year and my life.
    I will set up a blog and website to share my offer. I realized that I could make an impact in a population besides just mine immediate circles via writing and interaction with friend far.
    Pray all souls seek will find and lucky as I am on Christmas day.

    1. Thank you for your kind words Rebecca! You’re one of the many people who have reached us by way of the law of attraction. We are sure you’ll attract more positive vibes in the new year!

  2. Beautiful experience, thanks for the sharing. Very empowering. This morning as I woke up I heard crystal clear that my 2019 would be “fierce intention” Not sure I am ready for the 40 years of Zen but willing to explore.
    Happy 2019 Intuition!

  3. This is amazing, thank you for sharing. This year my intention is “clear.” I’m leetting go, clearing out, clearing up, and moving forward. So exciting!

    The idea of “UPGRADE” feels so freeing. Like dynamite just blasted through a mountian of routines and “necessary” revealing an amazing valley of learning and progress, with laughter in the journey, not just another nap or massage. Can’t wait to integrate this!

    Happy New Year!

    1. That is an incredible visual! In the spirit of Erykah Badu’s song Bag Lady, we hope you stop carrying the weight of all your bags in the new year. It’s time to, “pack light!”

  4. Angela,
    Thanks for doing the work and posing the question to us. I have chosen a word for the year for the last 4/5 years, usually in my birthday month of August. So the word I am walking with this year is discernment, because it requires I use reflection (taking into account my surroundings, emotional/spiritual intelligence, experience, education and gut reactions) to decipher what the Divine is revealing to me as I help others and myself. I have come to the conclusion (like you) that self-care is organic. It is like brushing your teeth, if you don’t do it (to include flossing and regular check-ups) eventually you could have some problems needing the attention of a host of specialists. Unfortunately our society does not teach nor encourage us to take care of our spirit. Far too often those that we look to for spiritual guidance and leadership in general have created paradigms that choke the flow of an authentic, dynamic, and loving spirit. So what feels fierce and brave to me is: showing up as my authentic self in every aspect of where I show up on the plant. Which is a lot for any person. I’ve started with walking my support group participants through guided reflections on what does it mean to choose to view the glass as half full; using my theological education to dispel the myth of a fallen man/woman bereft of redemption unless he/she adhere to the status quo ideal of “Godly enlightenment/redemption”. This world is chaotic and yet there is still hope. So I am pushing past my fear of being overlooked due to a host of reasons / circumstances that I have no control of and writing anyway. Trusting the God that never leaves or forsakes us to guide me.

    1. It’s a wonderful practice isn’t it! Every now and then it’s worth convening with the muses to get some much needed clarity. As for our society— it is sick. That’s exactly why you need to continue your work. Connecting with people and building meaningful relationships is exactly how we get these ideas flowing!

    1. Sharing our experiences is the cornerstone to a more connected and thoughtful world. We hope you’ll be able to use upgrade time in your own life!

  5. Angela while helping others in 2018 and 2019 I will affix the sails of my gut and launch my love into a sea c of passion for writing just like the wind on the wings of a dove. Thank you for your help Laura c and the muses.

  6. Angela,
    As a single mom of three, I had never really thought of self-care. 🙂 I was always too busy raising my little pumpkins, busy with school activities and homework. It has just been recently as they are now grown and leaving the nest that I find myself with only myself to look after that my priorities have changed. Funny how that works. LOL 🙂 I don’t know why I didn’t look after myself back then. The kids needed me at my best then more.

    I was reminded by someone who had my best interests at heart that I am worthy and loved and should take the time to spend money on myself to make myself feel good, pretty, and special. I just never thought about it that way. I always thought of spending time and money on myself as frivolous. And maybe that is why I have had such a hard time moving forward in life when I don’t value myself.

    I love the idea of the “Upgrade Time.” Being an empty nester now it is totally time to move from the old life to a new and exciting, improved life. Upgrade it is. Thank you for this wonderful post. You encourage so many people.

    1. Moms don’t get enough credit for all that they do! You certainly deserve to take some time for yourself, now more than ever!

  7. I am so excited for this opportunity to put pen to paper, in regards to the family memory book. I totally agree with you on the self care topic. I like special occasions to give myself premium attention. Pampering is truly a necessary part of feminine make-up. Such as the hair salon or mani pedi time. Oh and then there are those ole times when I do not care to put much focus on me. So I know I can take it or leave it.

  8. How marvelous to have connected to your work and you… I did apply the other day, which is a huge departure for me. I had never heard of you or your work, prior to seeing a FB sponsored ad, which usually don’t get my attention… at least not much. Now I can see exactly why I was guided to connect… for many years, I have been struggling with being here, as opposed to being in the vapors. Where most folks live in Alpha, my norm in Theta – which can be entirely weird in conversation. (hahaha!).
    Your name means (loosely) Gentle Strong Song (so I hear). And the authentic nature of your message is compelling, in a world where one can consider themselves an intuitive, or expert without a deeper current of knowing and discernment.
    Finally, self care as explained by Tulsi, does feel more obligatory rather than sustaining and essential. Phrasing it or placing it in the realm of UPGRADE TIME is excellent! My term has been “integration” time. Rather than an addendum to life, it’s center stage and a most powerful action to take.
    Glad to have entered into your world, Angela!! And all the rest of you lovely women.

    1. Dr. Angela will be so excited to know the meaning behind her spirit name! Oooh integration time is an interesting spin on things— but you’ll excuse me if I still prefer upgrade time! 🙂 Keep making bold moves in the new year Kyle.

  9. Self-care for some is essentially self-respect. Self-care is fundamental boundaries and safety for others. Of course, self-care can be pampering pleasantly or over-the-top self-indulgence. With abuse victims, self-care is a confusing dance including feeling undeserving and perhaps fearing retribution from some cruel on-looker (a harmed-internal-self or the abuser-in-person). If abuse has been suffered, learning self-care is an essential part of healing your identity and affirming your fundamental worth. If abuse has not been suffered, self-care can range from healthy investment in physical and psychological well-being to extreme entitlement. So how can we tell when we are in the range of health? How can we tell if we are depriving our essential needs? How can we tell if we are indulging our entitled narcissism? These three questions plague some and are ignored by others. I ask you all now: how do you gauge your attitude about self-care and what guides your healthiest moments of self-respect?

    1. This is where going with your gut comes in. We get out of balance when we stop trusting ourselves— when we stop listening. If we don’t listen to ourselves we don’t hear the divine guidance leading us to the next best step forward. Sometimes guidance is saying “go to the beach” and other times it might say “go to a therapist” or “go take a nap.”

  10. How do you upgrade what is already perfect? It is not an upgrade. It is a suspension of conditioning and remembrance of who and what we already exist as. There is nothing greater than what you are. For what you are is indivisible. It is whole. It is complete. It requires not another. It requires no thing. You are free to experience life in all its facets and forms when you realize that what you are and what you do are not the same. What you do is an expression of who you choose to be and who you choose to be is 100% within your control.

    1. Freedom of choice is what it’s all about. We’re all in different places along our journeys and what we choose to do, to think, to believe, to create in every moment is an expression of the divine ❤️

  11. I truly admire the Upgrade Time you’ve embarked upon. I am just now getting into the self-care, self-love arena after years of taking care of everyone and everything else in my life. Now at 53, I am able to give myself some self care & love by taking some meditation time in the morning, treating myself to things I really enjoy, like pampering myself with massages and pedicures and manicures, not all the time but at least once a month. It was through my self care that I came up with a focus word about 6 months ago to help me continue on the path of self care and that word was promise.
    I wrote in my journal that I promise to keep my promises I made to myself like treating myself to a massage, going on walks, taking the necessary breaks at work to just close my eyes and step away from that computer, talk to people who I haven’t talked to or visited in a while. That promise is also making me more accountable to me. I would always keep my promises to others and was very dependable to everyone but myself.
    Heading into 2019, I do plan to push myself to keep my promises to me like tonight, I’m going to wash and deep condition my hair, slather myself with my new coconut shea butter cream my best friend got me for Christmas and relax with my book of the month! Cheers to self care, self love and Upgrade Time!

  12. Deborah Sudarsky

    I love this subtle shift in perception. We go from thinking of self care like “ car maintenance” to “upgrade” which implies a forward movement in a positive direction. At first I felt defensive about self care like this is important to recognizing the value in the concept of upgrading. Thank you, Angela!

    1. I totally agree Deborah! Self-care is valuable but we should also be striving for more. Upgrade time allows us to do just that.

  13. Welcome to an incredible journey! I began Angela’s program on my 53rd birthday (this past August) and what a ride it’s been. You are in for an amazing trip.

  14. It’s never too late to learn that lesson. Self-care is anything but selfish!! I’m glad Dr. Angela was able to inspire you to start living more boldly— we all need a little push sometimes!

  15. We’re always evolving regarding self care. Over the past two years I’ve discovered and implimented the LCHF/Keto lifestyle. I believe I’ve found the holy grail for overall health and longevity.
    I appreciate you sharing your journey very much. You are truly following JOY in your life as we all should.


    1. A member of our team won’t stop talking about the Keto diet! He’s got a cookbook and everything. I might have to actually give it a try!

  16. I am very inspired by this story. I do feel this story I have just read, as it made me feel good, knowing that I understand every emotion with that. I am approaching my 42nd birthday, and I do believe self-care, of the mind and body is important, and for me, that is something I am working on, yes at this age, it is never to late to start loving yourself. Thank you for making me smile.

    1. I hope you had a wonderful birthday Robin! And you’re right it is never too late to implement self-care or upgrade time.

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