Thank you for joining me your host Liz Clifton and my wonderful take34u Self Care Series: Creating Calm Confidence Guest Jennifer Dow as we share selfcare secrets, top tips and stories of our experiences.

It's an absolute pleasure to support you with your own self-care journey as you take34u and enjoy our chat below:

Jennifer Dow & Liz Clifton Interview

Jennifer Dow
Artist, poet, classical teacher, coach for classical teachers, and founder of the Paideia Fellowship.

Jennifer Dow & Liz Clifton Interview Transcription:

Liz Clifton: Woo, welcome to the amazing wonderful Jennifer Dow. And thank you so much for spending the time with us. She is an amazing, fantastic Coach teaching Teachers to teach in a holistic way and Leaders to create the learning environment to support that holistic teaching. Welcome beautiful lady.  

Jennifer Dow: Thank you. It's an honor to be here. Thank you for having me.  

Liz Clifton: My pleasure completely. Okay, so first question, what does self-care mean to you?  

Jennifer Dow: So my favorite definition of self-care, like self-care and self-love converge for me and I see them as synonymous. It was, it was a meme actually I saw floating around and I'm like, that's perfect. That's exactly what that is. And it said that self-care self-love is creating a life you do not consistently want to escape from. And I really loved that because I think a lot of times I would, when I first started hearing self-love and self-care, I imagined bubble baths and chocolate and wine and candles, which not knocking these are delightful things, of course. But it seemed like isolationish, and, almost in a way that it felt like something was missing. Like, is that really all self care is just doing what feels good to me that, you know, meets my desires or like the things I think are yummy.  
Jennifer Dow: Like maybe that's part of it, but self care. Like when you care for a child you're changing diapers and feeding them and directing them to do their chores and raising them. So certainly self care isn't just pleasure oriented. Like certainly there's something more than that. And like what causes me to feel like I want to escape from my life so well, maybe it's like not having enough money. So maybe self care looks like being diligent about scheduling my work hours. Or, being diligent about creating a budget or being diligent about practicing trust. If I've been given a calling, but that calling will be enough for me to, to, to, live and  you know, feed my family and that sort of thing. And so it really turned self care and self love on its head for me. And it was like, okay, it's about more, it's about more than this. It's like, what a life I don't want to escape from. And that includes it. It doesn't include the bubble baths. Maybe if bubble baths are really important to me. They've become progressively more important than the older I get. But maybe it's not just that it's also the responsibility. I don't want to call it necessarily responsibility stuff. I think there's other words you could use, but yeah, so that's what self care means to me.  

Liz Clifton: Ooh, I love it. And yeah, it's, it does because it's self care. So it's our whole holistic self to kind of pick up on your, your other work. So it does include those necessities, it has to right.  

Jennifer Dow: Yeah, it has to.  

Liz Clifton: I love that. So thinking about your daily kind of self-care, do you find that you're checking in with yourself, like emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally, or does it vary on like a day-to-day basis?  

Jennifer Dow: So there's definitely ebb and flow to it. So I have my core practices that I would consider my self-care on a daily basis that keep my mindset and my vibration at what I want it to be. So that I can produce the results in the rest of my life. Like show up as a parent. That's not screaming at her kids cause she's like on the edge, you know, like. Or like be able to deal with people, cutting me off and not like freaking out and flipping people off. Like how do I avoid those kinds of things so the, usually those center around physical and spiritual things for me. So, I have a morning routine. That's very physical and spiritual. And then I have a physical practice of yoga and meditation that I don't do that at least three times a week.  

Jennifer Dow: I feel it like my, I react to like completely differently. And in my morning time, I, you know, I have my religious things that I do in my prayers and some reading and journaling and what I call, well, my business coach, she challenged me to do something called a Sabbath time. Which I was already doing, like reading and prayers and that sort of thing. But then she's like just sit there with a journal and just let the download for the day happen, whatever it is. And that part, I hadn't done it. That has been extraordinary where first of all, it required trust, is it okay that I go into this?  

Jennifer Dow: Is it ok that I go into this?  It required trust because then I had to trust that, that my higher power was interested in communicating with me and giving me the download, whether it's officially my higher power or the voice that He created in me to guide me, you know, we could like split hairs about naming exactly what that is.  

Jennifer Dow: I don't know. I just know where in my body I feel like coming from. And I know that it's distinct from the critical head voice, you know, so I, I could feel the difference, but listening to that, like all distractions gone and just taking those moments either before or after I do my reading and prayers to just whatever comes come, sometimes it's clarity on a business thing. Sometimes it's a teaching on a concept that, there's an opportunity for breakthrough with. Sometimes it's just, you're enough. Just some affirmational stuff, you know, just from day to day, it varies sometimes it's one sentence. This morning, it was eight pages, you know, like of just like, things, you know, learning, learning. So my morning is my most critical foundational self care time and it's spiritual and physical and then the yoga and making sure I eat. And there are certain supplements that I just do better when I take. I think those are the two most important things. Other things have more of an ebb and flow. And then of course, I go through times where I don't do my morning routine or I don't go to yoga. And then I'm like, oh, I haven't gotten a yoga in a week. I could tell, I should probably get my butt into class speak to other human beings.  

Liz Clifton: I love it. And that's amazing. I'm going to pick on layers of things to kind of go a bit deeper on if that's okay. And first of all, I just want to say, I love that you go to yoga class and there's people to like touch human beings. And, so thinking back to your morning routine, how do you make sure that you get to take that time? How do people around, you know, that that's your time and you're kind of protecting it for yourself?  

Jennifer Dow: Well, I usually get up before my kids so that I can have that time. And I'm a single mum so right now. I don't have to deal with, you know, like my husband or boyfriend up with me at the same time. And then like, oh, what do I do with that attention. So I haven't like navigated that as much yet. So, but with my kids that just they're teenagers. So they sleep in anyway. So I just get up before they do. And then I just make my coffee. And so it's very specific. I'm actually, even though I'm kind of a hippie at heart, when it comes to my morning routine, I am OD about like precision and exactly how the routine has to go. So I just have my autopilot things that are, usher me into it. I make my coffee and it's always a French press.  

Jennifer Dow: And so while I'm making my coffee, I light my candle and my incense. And then when, by the time that's done, I play a game with myself while it's finishing to like switch out the dishes or whatever, clean space of just, I like it. And plus I need to get that done anyway. So self-care right. Aand I just go into my prayers and then I sit down and I do whatever reading. I feel like doing that day. I pick from a variety of books and then I write, and it's become a habit when I don't do it. It's because I've slept in or I've allowed my electronic device, my phone, our social media, or somebody reaching out to take that time. So whenever it doesn't happen and it there's plenty of times that it doesn't happen, I'm not perfect at it.  

Jennifer Dow: It's, it's, it's me allowing something else to take that space or me making a decision to sleep in or stay up too late. So then it's much harder to wake up. And so go getting to bed at a decent time and really setting the intention that I'm going to do it. So if I imagined myself doing it at night and imagine myself getting up at the time, I'm supposed to - not supposed to, but at the time that it would be most in alignment for me to get up that then it's much more likely to happen. The other thing is, is I've come to enjoy it so much. And I think that's another big part of it, right Like I have my particular practice that works for me. It's not going to be the same for everyone. Like, you know, I have a whole like prayer corner.  

Jennifer Dow: Like some people are like that as way to woo woo for me. I'm like, that's cool to do that. It's just like, you get to find out what works for you though. Like, my routine is not going to be the same as your routine or anyone else, but I love it. And that's one of the reasons it's not hard for me to do. It is one of the most exciting nourishing times that I have during the day. It feels like a hug. It feels like warmth and presence and light, and I could stay there for hours. Sometimes I do. And then I'm like, okay, I really need to like shift into official work now, but it's a huge part of my work. Nothing is lost. There's this concept called Festina Lente. It's a, it's meant to be, it's a Latin phrase and they teach it in classical teaching.  

Jennifer Dow: Which is the kind of teaching I do. And what they mean by that is make haste slowly. Another way of thinking of this term is that whatever time I spend in the presence of what, you know, your higher power or the divine spaces or whatever, that self care routine is, nothing is actually lost. One of the things I think we tell ourselves is that if I take the time to do this thing, that seems not directly connected to producing a paycheck. That somehow that's irresponsible somehow that's, not producing results. When in fact you're creating the environment in your mind and body. That is the very environment through which you will create the results, they get you the paycheck. And so Festina Lente, nothing is lost may case slowly one hour spent in the presence of that. Is way more than it could ever be without, you know, your date can be way more than it could have been without it. So, yes.  

Liz Clifton: I love it. And I, yes, I'm adopting that. Absolutely as a beautiful kind of analogy of it. And just like the, you know, the word even is beautiful. I'm going to have to learn how to pronounce it. Festina, Lente. Yeah. I love it. And I think it's so true and it's that joy space, you know, underneath. Because it's what fills us up and then enables us to go out and kind of share that light and that enjoyment and that love with everyone else because we've nourished ourselves fast.  

Jennifer Dow: Right. And like, it really can look different for other people. So, I do have a boyfriend and when his morning routine is to go on a walk with his sons and then to do a little bit of reading, and that's what he does. Like, you know, he does something very physical first. And so it's what brings you joy. Like that is the most joyful thing that he could possibly do. He loves that. And, you know, we each have our things, so yeah.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. It's beautiful. So in these lines, if someone was coming to self care for the very first time, how would you suggest they begin?  Jennifer Dow: That's a really good question. Cause I think there's a lot of ways one could approach it. Based on my definition or how I view self care, there's a connection between what you actually need as a human being. And then these things that we're doing that would be nourishing. And so I think before I think a precursor or a way, the ideal way to discover what you need to do or could do for self care. Would be to connect with the space inside of you that lets you know, what you need. So there may be some, now you can try all sorts of things like just trial and error, like, you know, what are common self-care routines for people. Well, for me, you know, I have that, that spiritual practice in the morning connecting with my higher power and taking in good, beautiful and true words and images.  

Jennifer Dow: So my mind is nourished with good stuff. Even before I get on social media. You know, I have working out, I have like, trying to do a budget. I'm still working on that part of myself care routine. Right. we're not going to talk about that. I have showing up to work, eating somewhat healthy, like the things that just I need. And so you have to know what you need and you can trial and error stuff. But I think a faster route to that is to get connected to your heart and get out of your head. like what, what would it look like to stop running the narratives of, oh, I should do this. I should do that. Because that's what everyone says you should do and drop into your heart. And it's like, what do I need in this moment And so I think the first, most important foundational practice for any self care is to connect to your heart. Because that's that incorruptible space and practicing, learning what that sounds like.  

Jennifer Dow: Because if you've never like practiced looking at you. Listening to your heart, I spent most of my life not doing that. It was really hard for me to break through when I finally broke through. And I was like, oh, that's what she sounds like. Okay. Like it changed my life. And I was able to start making a distinction between the hijacked voice. That's like, when I'm anxious and I'm going crazy, you know. There's that voice then there's like my head that's like reasoning through stuff. But then there's like this little whisper and for me I feel it like right in the middle of my chest, you know, like right above my belly, like that space. Like there's physical connectedness to like how we hear ourselves and know. So you can explore that. But I would say that's number one, start exploring the different voices that exist inside of you, that the anxious voice, the self-critic the compassionate person like practice, figuring out how to hear your voice. The voice that's incorruptible that tells you the truth, always about what you need and distinguishing it from the other voices.  

Jennifer Dow: There are some voices inside of us that we can't trust and we have to learn how to distinguish them. But then once you have, you can be like, oh, she's talking crap. I can't listen to her. That's my head voice. She's just going to get me off track and let me, let me not listen to you. I can't trust anything you say, actually, but then there's this other voice is like, oh yeah, okay. I'm going to thought, whether it be intuition, like there's so many different names for these things. So that would be the first thing. Practice getting connected to your voice because you, nobody can tell you this, like this is your journey. Like you have to figure this out. Yes. Get advice. But get advice around the skillset of connecting to your voice when people and here's just free tip. If somebody is trying to impose their will on you and their program and their, whatever, like this is the thing you have to do, run the other direction. A good coach is going to help you cultivate the skillset to do the thing yourself, whatever it is you're being coached in. So remember that. yeah. Yeah. So that very long answer to say, get connected to your heart, your voice and hear yourself because everything else comes from there. Because if you have a relationship with your heart, you can go anywhere and face anything because you have yourself.  

Liz Clifton: Wow. I love it.  I love how you speak and how you describe it. It's so beautiful. It's poetic, you know, as you're describing it and I can feel your passion. And also like your journey and it shows and you know, and how you're explaining it. And yeah, amazing top tip, absolutely everything. Every answer that you ever need is inside you and you just get to go and, and find it.  

Jennifer Dow: Right.  

Liz Clifton: Thank you. 

Jennifer Dow: It's my pleasure. It's been lovely. 

Liz Clifton: So I have a final question for you. What is your favorite way to celebrate yourself, celebrate your wins and give yourself like extra joy? 

Jennifer Dow: Wow. I mean, I have favorite things that I enjoy. okay. That's such a good question. You've got me stumped, that tells me I get to practice. Okay. One of my favorite ways is I have a girlfriend that, I, we check in and check out with each other every morning. And, at the, I always look forward to checking out because I'll set an intention for the day. And at the end of the day, I'm like, so what worked was this, what didn't work with this. And we share that with each other. And and I know that she's going to acknowledge me whatever my wins are and I'm acknowledging myself as well. But I, but having that acknowledgement and community it's, I love that. I thrive off that that feels so good to me. And then very physically at the end of the week, having worked a really good week at work. And lighting candles and putting my sparkly lights out and pouring a big glass of wine and sitting on my patio. Just being like, it is good. This week is good. I sign off on it. I don't know. Just something about that just feels. Yes, yes. But that acknowledgement with a friend and sharing my wins, sharing, like the thing that I did.  Yeah, like accepting that it's okay to want acknowledgement and that, that doesn't have to mean validation. Like I validate myself and we're meant to live in community. So finding that balance and that place of I get to celebrate and other people get to celebrate me.  

Liz Clifton: I love that.  And you're such a beautiful soul, absolutely worth celebrating every day.  

Jennifer Dow: Thank you.  

Liz Clifton: You are so welcome and I am so, so grateful for you spending this time with us today. And as a final kind of wrap up, was there anything that you wanted to share with the audience at all?  

Jennifer Dow: I just, just encouragement that if you're on this path of healing and caring for yourself to not quit.  And that keep going and that it doesn't have to be as hard as we make it sometimes. And there's going to be those moments that seem really hard that moment, right before breakthrough, where we're like, help, make it stop, okay. and that it's just always worth it. So don't stop.  

Liz Clifton: Thank you. Thank you. So, so much, so much wisdom from you. Yeah.  

Jennifer Dow: It's been a pleasure being here with you too. You're a delight.   

Liz Clifton: Thank you. Lovely lady.  

Jennifer Dow: My pleasure.