By Sheri Parr

Renee Peterson Trudeau and Susan Jahns

Renee Peterson Trudeau and WCA President Susan Jahns

What matters most in life? At the March 2014 WCA luncheon, Renee Peterson Trudeau led members through an enlightening presentation and reflective journal exercise designed to bring into focus elements of life balance. Renee says, many of us are doing too much, moving too fast and trying to control it all. She suggests we reframe this story by staying in the moment, going inward and setting a personal self-care goal every 90 days. She defined self-care as the art of attuning and responding to your needs and desires, moment to moment.

To demonstrate this process, Renee guided members inward for a three-step, self-care journal exercise. For each of the steps, Renee asked guests to close their eyes and think about a question then to write down the answer and choose someone to share the experience with as a gesture of connection and support.

For step one, Renee asked members to select one of four categories of wholeness most in need of balance: physical, emotional, spiritual or mental. We often think of self-care as something that you should do for your physical health. However, wholeness involves balancing all areas of our lives. “When our lives are in total balance, we feel more generous and loving, which makes us better friends, partners and parents, and more enjoyable to be around! We validate and honor our own worth, our essence, which naturally enhances confidence and self-esteem and lowers susceptibility to depression and anxiety. You do not need to work on all areas at once, she says. Focus on what area is calling to you now.”

Next, she suggested developing one concrete action to nourish that goal. For example, if it’s spiritual care you need, make a commitment to take a walk in a park or out in nature. Ninety percent of us feel deeply nourished by being in nature, she says, but few of us make this a priority. Self-care is about taking the steps to put these relationships back in balance.

For the last step, Renee asked members to think about what compels practice at this level of self-care? Is it vitality, wisdom, generosity, self- esteem? Perhaps someone caused you pain. Knowing your priorities helps manage your energy.

Finally, she left us with three takeaways:

  1. Take baby steps. Slow down. The things that matter most should not be at the mercy of things that matter least.
  2. Practice self-compassion. Start your day intentionally.
  3. Find your tribe or support group. Learn what type and how much support you need to feel nurtured. Learn to ask for and receive help.

Read more about Renee at