Self-Care: The Circle of Life - by Pamela Hunter


A woman with bright eyes, smiling face, and a giggle came through the door at Living Well Cancer Resource Center.  She walked with a mission and a cane, remarking that she is always late wherever she goes.  Her mission was to wparticipate in the 3-day Self-Care Workshop – Foundations of UZIT (Urban Zen Integrative Therapy).

“I got you, girl!” I greeted right away, and helped her find her space.  Supporting her as she joined our introductory circle of sharing without having to do the typical registration and paperwork was important to me.  She was grateful and excited, replying “I got you too, girl!”  She held onto my arm to move quicker through the room.

In the circle of 50 women and men, we shared our names, where we are from and what we do as a career.  We spoke of which expression faced us today using the PANIC™ model (pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, constipation, exhaustion, and sadness).  In other UZIT sharing circles I have experienced, most of the people say exhaustion and/or anxiety.  In this circle, we had a bit of everything happening and each declaration was mentioned.  This gave room for a great deal to be explored in three days of self-care and I was excited to help.

The woman with the cane had recently retired from nursing full time and had lost her husband.  She mentioned pain and sadness.  Her physical pain was evident in her face and stature, but her emotional pain was disguised by her beautiful smile and spunky spirit.  We were grateful she spoke of her sadness briefly, as it was enough for us to support her learning journey for self-care.

Her trust and willingness to ask for help were inspiring.  Her strength of spirit was strong, not feeling any different than anyone else there, even though spinal stenosis had her lean on a cane.  On the second day, as she was led through UZIT modalities of restorative yoga poses, use of essential oils and reiki, tears rolled down her face.  We all went to see what we could do to help.  She said, “Girls, these are tears of gratitude.  I am lying here in this pose and it is the first time I am pain free since I can remember!”

She later commented on how the mindful movements were bringing her relief and helping her to move easier.  “I loved the conference and felt so happy while there.  Thank you for your help. I'll never forget the relief I felt when I got into that special position.  It made me cry, which I don't usually do.”

This testimonial makes my heart sing!  UZIT is a layering of modalities – restorative yoga, mindful movements, breath awareness meditations, essential oils, Reiki, nutrition, and contemplative care. Putting all of these together for self-care is an amazing support to our systems of the body.

After the UZIT conference, as I was writing this story, I received an email from the woman with the cane, whom I can now introduce to all of you with love and gratitude.  Chris, thank you for being vulnerable, allowing our help and continuing with your self-care practice.  We are blessed to have you in our circle of life.  Your honesty speaks to our hearts.

I went to the UZIT conference in Geneva Illinois last week; mainly because my friend thought it would be good for us. She has a long history of cancer and I have degenerative spinal disease which seems to be progressing.

I have also been sad because my husband died recently and I am charting new seas. My friend and I are both long time nurses and we both love taking care of the vulnerable amongst us. But we really don't like being vulnerable ourselves.

But no one can be a good caregiver without taking care of themselves and that was what this conference was all about. The integrative approach of mindfulness, restorative yoga, reiki and essential oils made me feel like Dorothy when she stepped from her black and white world into all the colors of Oz. I felt like I was coming home.

Thank you to the whole staff for this experience which will stay a part of my life for the rest of my life.  And thank you for being so kind and respectful to all of our fatigue-ridden bodies and hearts.

And finally, thank you for finding that perfect pose just for me. I have had back spasms for months and anyone who has ever had a back spasm knows how much they hurt. These lovely people found a position for me that took all pressure off my back and I was pain free for the first time in months. It made me cry.

Chris Arnesen BSN, RN, CMSRN

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