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How to Nurture Yourself when Life Throws a Challenge

pineapplechickI learned about self nurturing the hard way. When I think back to my earlier years, I was so damn hard on myself about everything. I seriously spent a good part of my life beating myself up for not being good enough. I remember going to a self development workshop where I had a long list of issues I needed to ‘fix up’ about myself.  I had ‘love myself’ on the end of the list. At the completion of the seminar I realised I had ticked off most of the issues on my list and had worked through them to some degree, however the ‘love myself’ was still there unticked, and I had absolutely no idea what self love meant or how to do it!

It was a massive challenge for me to look at this. I’m not going to go into all the details but I would like to share with you some of the processes I use and still use to balance out this major challenge to inner health.  Self love is not narcissism, but lack of self love can lead to narcissism which in simple terms is an unhealthy obsession with one’s self to the exclusion of others. Our society has narcissistic tendencies that’s for sure and I wonder how much of this is due to lack of true self love.

Personally, I believe we have forgotten who we REALLY are and this identification with a limited idea of self feeds narcissism on both a personal and cultural level. I discovered in my twenties that I was not who I thought I was. I was not the personality I emulated, nor the thoughts and feelings about myself or the world. I was/am that still spark of awareness within. Everything else was ‘around’ that.  This was a wonderful and enlightening revelation, but what to do with this? I still had no idea how to love myself!  I learned that in order to stay connected and aware of who I am, I needed to honour that spark.  Our true nature is peace, openness and dare I say it love. It just is. Nothing can be added or taken away from who we are. It’s impossible because consciousness cannot be diminished.  How amazing is that? Nothing we do can ever take away from who we are.

However, we can cover up consciousness and keep ourselves from knowing/remembering who we are, by doing a whole bunch of things which includes thinking badly about ourselves.  And my god! There are just so many ways to do this! I bet you can come up with a few of your own right now. These set up a cascade of events. It starts with a thought, becomes a feeling, turns into a response also known as a behaviour. That behaviour can be directed inwards or outwards. You can punish yourself or the world. Blame yourself or the world, resent yourself or the world, etc etc. So how do we turn this around?

The way that evolved for me is based on nourishing the self. It is very practical and basic. What helps me stay connected to the awareness of inner peace and stillness? Forget about meditating for now. I personally require something grounded and real. I need to ground myself in order to know myself. I needed to start looking after and caring about myself, in fact mothering myself!  Now, I don’t really know how it all works. All I know is that it has worked for me.  My process eventually became formalised in Wu Tao which is nice, but the underlying process can be used in whatever way is right for you.

Nurture = Love = Care = Health = Balance = Ease = Flow = Energy

We have to nurture and love ourselves if we want to grow.

So what nurtures you?  Nurturing can be as simple as going to bed with a book or a kind word to yourself. It’s important that if it’s something you do, you are doing it with awareness of why you are doing it. Awareness is the key. Non awareness will not heal the underlying condition of lack of self love. So make a list and start doing these things today. And if you have a difficult day do more.  Be practical.

I now have a vast repertoire of ways to nourish myself which include, telling myself how wonderful I am (haha!)  cooking, reading, walking on the beach and doing nothing!  Wu Tao nourishes me on so many levels. The music soothes my soul and reminds me of all things beautiful. My body enjoys the pleasure of self expression and movement. Most importantly, it brings me back to who I Am.  I get to feel my true Self again, beyond all my thoughts and experiences on this earth. I always feel a deep sense of connection to Life and Love as pure flowing energy or Qi.

I love love love to cook for my family. I adored cooking for my children and still do whenever Dakota comes home. I loved after school time in the kitchen, getting dinner ready and being with my girls.  So let me leave you with this nourishing recipe that I whipped up last week. One of the ways I looked after myself when I arrived in Adelaide a tad apprehensive!  it’s a recipe handed down from my grandmother, and one I remember eating as a child, though 1 chicken didn’t go far between 8 of us! (We still laugh about this!). It’s super easy. It warms and tonifies the kidneys and is good for the liver. It contains pineapple which is cooling and sour, warming ginger and chicken, and rice with is easily digested and nourishing for the spleen.

Pineapple Chicken (Bor Lor Gai)

  • 1 whole organic chicken cut into pieces OR ½ dozen chicken legs OR 1 kg chicken thighs.
  • (Basically whatever way you like your chicken! Chicken thighs have no bones and less fat but lack the flavour of a whole bird).
  • ½ a fresh pineapple chopped into small pieces OR 1 300ml can pineapple pieces in natural juice.
  • 500mls chicken stock or water
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 – 2  cloves garlic crushed and chopped
  • 1 – 2 carrots (optional)
  • 6 spring onions chopped into ½ cm pieces
  • dash of rice wine
  • soya sauce or tamari to taste (1 – 2 tablespoons)
  • ½ cup coriander leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ chilli chopped (optional)
  • drizzle of honey (if you like a sweeter taste)


  • Lightly fry the ginger, garlic and ½ spring onions in a small amount of oil or ghee.
  • Add the chicken stock or water (homemade chicken stock makes a richer stew), pineapple pieces, soya sauce or tamari, rice wine and carrots.
  • Bring to the boil and then simmer on a low heat until the chicken is cooked to your liking. Chicken thighs will take a shorter cooking time. If you are using the whole chicken, cook until the chicken is tender and falling off the bone.
  • Add more liquid if you want more sauce. (I like it quite soupy).
  • If you want a thicker sauce, mix a ¼ cup of sauce with a tablespoon of cornflour and stir through.
  • Serve with steamed white rice and asian greens

I do hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you think of my Grandma’s Bor Lor Gai!