Fierce Self Care and Shouldless Days

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Here in New York City, we are experiencing an unusual and very welcome spate of warm, gorgeous days, free of the usual thick, oppressive humidity.

For me, Summer is about expansiveness and pleasure. First beach hang. First backyard barbecue. First firefly.

During these discouraging, tumultuous times, we need to give ourselves time to rejuice, to care for ourselves and our communities.

It’s time for Shouldless Days. (Much thanks to actress Ellen Burstyn for the term!)

During times of stress and uncertainty…
We seek control
We space out
We overthink and scrutinize
We don’t commit
We ask for the moon
We give very little back

These are all normal responses to uncertainty, but they’re not healthy or sustainable. They won’t contribute to our growth or help the systems we’re part of and want to change.

To counteract our instincts, we need more time for fierce self care that allows you, as the instrument of change, to be well tuned and ready to perform.  As organizations and communities, we need to slow down and think and feel and get clear on what our next move is and how we want to work with others.

Which gets me to Shouldless Days.

In a 2014 interview on the podcast Death, Sex, and Money, actress Ellen Burstyn talked with host Anna Sale about Shouldless Days.

I’m very lazy. I have what I call Shouldless Days. Today is a day where there’s nothing I should do….  I recommend them…. I have wiring in my brain that calls me lazy, if I’m not doing something…. I can put in Shouldless Days, so when that voice goes off and says you’re being lazy,… my brain says, ‘No, this is a Shouldless Day, and I’m doing what I want.’

That is an excellent way to get through some of our days together when our cup is way too full.

What does fierce self care and shouldlessness look like at the organizational and community level?

There are many ways I can work with your organizations and communities to help you take time out from your day-to-day grind and create space for you to oxygenate, rejuvenate, feel inspired and expansive. These include:

  • Designing and facilitating meetings and retreats that have breath and space for unexpected, welcome outcomes
  • Developing new practices of meeting and restoring together
  • Experimenting with and learning from new initiatives
  • Engaging in creative modalities for idea generation and problem solving
  • Exchanging and learning with peer organizations

This month, I had the opportunity to connect with like-minded consultants, organizers, artists, philanthropists, and other leaders at a Confluence hosted by the Management Assistance Center to “defend and protect what’s important in our immediate future while we strengthen relationships and build common vision for the long-haul.” That may sound like heavy lifting, but it was community building and nurturing. I spent time getting to know people doing amazing, inspiring work across the country and internationally, and collectively we were revived and well taken care of.

I hope you enjoy some Shouldless Days this summer.

Tortoise found during a Shouldless moment in Prospect Park, Brooklyn


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