Absolute Yes and No Lists (Self Care for the New Year)

My teacher Sara Avant Stover is a shining example of how to be a productive, active member of the community, while maintaining the kind of spiritual and self care practices that allow for a meaningful life, guided from within. She has been an amazing role model for me in “self-acceptance, spiritual depth, worldly accomplishment, balanced family and social lives, creativity, intelligence, and, most importantly, unconditional happiness.”

In the spirit of self care for the new year, I thought I would share with you one of my favorite practices I have learned from her. It is a practice that I refer back to again and again, especially when I am feeling burned out or preparing for a challenging situation.

Sara suggests creating an Absolute Yes/No List. You start by “brainstorming all the things that make you a stronger, better person and that you absolutely can’t live without.”

Mine is definitely a work in progress, but here is what I have so far:

1. Stay connected to my community:

-talk to and see girlfriends regularly

-stay in touch with Mom, Dad, and my brother Mark

-connect with professional friends and colleagues at least once a month

2. Eat three meals a day, sitting down, without rushing or distractions {I am embarrassed by how hard this one is!}

3. Acupuncture twice a month

4. One restorative yoga pose every day

5. Move my body at least 5 times a week (hike, run, full asana practice, etc)

6. Consume (eat, drink) dark leafy greens every day

7. No screen time after 8pm during the week {I get up super early for work (4am!), so I need to start winding down early!}

8. Attempt 8 hours of sleep each night {it definitely doesn’t always happen (again, embarrassed…) but trying for it will be a big improvement}

9. One day each week with no teaching or other work

10. A day of rest after a week of teaching The Science of the Private Lesson Teacher Training

I don’t always do all these things perfectly {obviously}, but when I’m feeling depleted, or going through something challenging, I refer back to this list and renew my commitment to these practices.

With a solid {written down} commitment to simple rituals, self care becomes sustainable. (Tweet it!)

SHARE WITH US: What is on your Absolute Yes/No List?

4 Responses to “Absolute Yes and No Lists (Self Care for the New Year)”

  1. Tina Lear

    As I set out to reply with my non-negotiable list, I realized I had instantaneously defaulted into the *list*, not the *self care* list. It had things on it like “walk my dog, pay bills, etc.” Things that “have to” be done. Telling that I don’t automatically think of self care as something that has to be done. So…here’s my non-negotiable SELF CARE list 🙂
    1. Sit every morning
    2. Sesame oil self-massage at least 5 mornings a week.
    3. Three yoga classes per week
    4. Brisk walk 3-4 times a week
    5. Hot candlelit bath before bed
    6. Really look into the eyes of my wife, at least once every day.
    7. Connect with my kids 2-3 times a week
    8. Couple hours quilting at least once a week
    9. Have a knitting project with me at all times.
    10. Lots of water, greens, and restraint from sugar (I feel so much better when I follow these guidelines)

    • Francesca Cervero

      These are awesome Tina! And yes, isn’t interesting how ingrained the pattern of work/consume/achieve is in all of us? It certainly is is in me anyway. That is why I have to come back to this practice again and again. <3

  2. Victoria Cunningham-Downey

    I found this very inspiring Francesca and want to publicly commit to the following Absolute Yes and No lists:

    1. Sit for 5 minutes every morning
    2. Drink a glass of lemon water first thing
    3. Pause, and breathe, before reacting to everything around me
    4. Write my one-page journal every night

    1. Turn OFF the laptop at least an hour before bed
    2. Pause before committing myself (to avoid over-committing)

    And that’s it, so far. It is, like yours, a work in progress but the very act of posting it here makes it real.

    Thank you.

    • Francesca Cervero

      Thank you so much for sharing this here! I was nervous to put myself out in the world in such a vulnerable way, but it does make us more accountable, doesn’t it?? With love from the path… 🙂


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