Working too many hours a day, feeling stressed all the time, grinding teeth, TMJ, constant tension in the body, and getting sick over and over again. “You name it. I was a mess and I knew that my life was out of balance.”
Sound familiar? I want to introduce you to Patty Carter Lin, a 41-year-old writer that used to be stuck in that miserable grind described above. Yet, she’s the first person that came to mind when I decided to profile someone that exemplifies the benefits of self-care. Why? Because she went from that frazzled mess of a person to one of the most peaceful, centered, and authentically joyful women I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.
I met Patty about a year ago when she came to me for Thai yoga massage. I was taken with her calm demeanor, and how easily she was able to surrender to the Thai yoga bodywork. It’s easy to feel when a body is resistant, or not yet able to be in a place of receiving. That was not the case for Patty. She melted into it with ease. I was also impressed that she made a point of receiving a session every few weeks, as part of her self-care practice.
“There’s something about the Thai massage I feel is a longer lasting effect and a much deeper effect (than going to the spa). I really feel like it nourishes my body…like you’re getting into places that I’ve never gotten to, that I can’t get to on my own.”
Of course, Patty did not always walk with this Zen glow, which is what makes her story so compelling. It’s a true journey of transformation, from an unhealthy life of stress and pain, to one of joy and freedom.
“Like most of us, I was trained to work way too hard and way too long, to the point where I was burning out.”
Patty became passionate about writing at a very young age, but when it became her career in television, her perspective changed. “I had such a damaged relationship with writing because of the job I was in. I was working in an environment that was not nurturing. It was often abusive. I ended up hating writing. This thing that I was in love with since the third grade I ended up dreading and only ever doing it if I was forced to.”
The journey toward a better life started with a sabbatical from work. The TMJ stopped immediately. Then came therapy and yoga. Through therapy and studying The Artist’s Way, Patty began repairing her relationship with writing and rebuilding her creative muscles. Through yoga, she began repairing her relationship with her body.
In the same way Patty pushed herself in her work life, she pushed herself physically, to be thin and cut, with overly strenuous workouts that were far more about looking good than feeling good. Even yoga, at first, was dominated by the ego’s need to push through pain rather than mindfully take care of her body. Thankfully, that changed too.
“Eventually I realized for me that yoga was a touchstone of self-care. I knew that when I was doing yoga regularly I was in touch with my body. It started to be a refuge for me. I knew I would feel better if I did it.”
To Patty, “Yoga is a huge part of self-care. The body-breath-mind connection, tuning into the breath for an hour and a half is so incredibly amazing.”
Meditation also played a huge role in Patty’s life transformation. For a long while she was interested in meditation, read a lot about it, but did not consistently practice. Then she went on a 10-day silent Vipassana retreat, which was both physically and emotionally intense. “I got through the storm, by myself, and ended up fine, better than fine. I was great. And it all just happened internally. That was the gift of the retreat, that it all happened inside.”
A regular Vipassana practice turned out to feel a little too oppressive. Like with any practice, finding a meditation teacher and style that resonates with you is important. Patty found Cheri Huber, went on a retreat called There is Nothing Wrong with You (I don’t know about you, but my life changed just typing that sentence), and found a simple Zen breathing practice that worked for her. Finding a local teacher and group to sit with is what really solidified it. Now Patty helps facilitate those very meetings that helped her find a home in meditation (more info on their group below).
Ok, so we all know that yoga, meditation, and bodywork are good for you, but how has making self-care a priority impacted your life overall?
“This sounds so generic, but I’m so much happier. Generally much more relaxed. It’s not about always being mellow. It’s about being able to accept life as it is. My wellbeing doesn’t depend on things being a certain way.”
She continues, “Better relationships. Hugely better! My relationship with my family did a 180. I used to feel like I had to sacrifice my self-care in order to please them, or to be who they wanted me to be. And now I realize that’s completely false. That all they want is for me to be happy.”
Patty is also very happily married to a man she met when she had already stepped onto her wellness path. As she says, the relationship started out great, “But it gets better and better all the time.”
Patty and her husband both meditate. “It’s a gift to have a partner that gets it and grows along with me. I’m so grateful for that everyday. With every insight I have in my practice or every step of growth that I have personally, I feel like my husband is right there with me. I never feel like I’m alone on that path. Obviously, we’re all in a way alone on our path, but we do it holding hands.”
What about your exhausted, overworked body?
“My health is so much better, so much better! Even though my body is aging, I can feel that there is a balance that I didn’t use to have.”
And your writing career? What’s going on with that?
“Creatively, huge transformation.”
Patty no longer writes for TV. She eventually quit her job to work on her own writing project at home. “The self-care in that aspect was taking care of that inner child, the one who just wants to play. For me it was that third grader who fell in love with writing. Just taking care of her and not letting her get trampled on by the one who wants to make money from it or a career out of it. This is an ongoing lifelong process.”
Working on her book, Patty is amazed at how different writing feels. “I love it, I have fun with it, I don’t need to control every word, I can just let it flow. There’s an embracing of the process of discovery. The biggest part is no longer having to listen to the voices that say this is no good, nobody wants to read this. All of that has been strengthened by consistent self-care practices.”
So, Patty Carter Lin, what role does self-care play in your life now?
“It’s number one,” (Inject huge laugh!) “What else is there?”
And on the idea that perhaps that’s a selfish approach to life?
“It’s the opposite of selfish, because you have nothing to give if you’re not filling up your own well. Society as a whole would benefit if everyone took care of themselves.”
Indeed, what else is there but self-care? We are not brought up to think this way, nor does our society create structures that make it an easy task. It really is up to you to develop your own self-care practices, and keep those practices strong and thriving.
The changes Patty made in her life were not easy and not immediate. They took strength, faith, and a deep knowing that there was another way to exist. They continue to be a practice.
Patty went from feeling that her life was a mess to now being an inspiration to you on your journey of wellness. Anything is possible once you turn your gaze inward and listen with authentic compassion to what your body needs.
Thank you Patty for sharing your story!
There are many ways that I can support you on your journey, ranging from freebies to primo one-on-one attention:
- My weekly Wellness Wednesdays newsletter (FREE!)
- My weekly class at Liberation Yoga
- Private Yoga Sessions
- Thai Yoga Massage
- And coming soon, my Feel Good Goddess program!
You know what’s next…
Take action now! In the comments below, share one thing you are going to do/shift/add to/remove from your life to make self-care a greater priority.
Yours in Wellness,