Lesson #1 – Learn to take care of yourself.
As women we are often brought up to think of everyone else first, and then we get our own leftovers.
It’s lady-like to be self-effacing, self-sacrificial – heck we even think it’s biblical although I can’t think of a single verse that says take care of everyone else before you take care of yourself.
Yes, we are called to serve each other and no one can argue that anyone’s utopic view of a better world involves everyone performing selfless acts of service for the greater good. But we can’t neglect lesson number ONE.
I see women who wear their raggedness like a badge: I haven’t slept well in days. I am so exhausted. I have no time to go to the grocery store. I haven’t exercised in weeks.
Why do we do this?
Rule #1 doesn’t mean that you ARE number One and everything in the world should revolve around you. I know that every minute there are thousands of things going on that have nothing to do with me. I don’t run the universe. I don’t want to and I don’t need to. But I do need to learn to run my own little galaxy here.
So this year – no more excuses. When I hear myself saying that I couldn’t make my healthy smoothie because I just couldn’t get to the store so I had to eat the muffin instead – that is a sign that I have neglected to take care of myself.
My job – as my own adult caretaker – is to see to it that my basic needs are met.
I need to sleep enough. How many times did I fight with my boys to get THEM into bed at a decent time and then stay up way too late for myself? There will always be one more thing to do. Leave it and go tuck yourself in.
I need to MOVE my body everyday in a way that feels good and that promotes longevity, energy and health. This year I do rebounding and yoga almost everyday. I actually LOVE it. It makes me smile and it’s an awesome fast and efficient workout I can easily fit into my morning.
I need to learn to love the foods that love me back, and then I need to plan the time to go get them and prepare them for myself. It is truly one of the greatest acts of self-love I do for myself every week. I refuse to put garbage into this body anymore. I want it to keep functioning well, so I need to honor it with what I put in. If that means I spend 30-40 minutes cooking for myself everyday, then that is time well-spent. Feeling healthy and energetic everyday is a gift I can give myself with that simple act.
I need to pursue things that make me feel alive – make time for ME and my interests! It can’t all be about the family or the job. My husband is starting a new business and it could very well be what I am doing every waking hour that I am not at work…but I have to make time for ME and what I enjoy. The things that make my soul breathe deep and smile. This ISN’T selfish! It is the one life I have been given and if I don’t spend time pursuing my passions then I will look back with regrets at having missed my one shot.
I need human contact! The kind that doesn’t need me to wipe it’s nose. People who make me laugh and encourage me and bring out the best in me. Regular interaction with my community of peeps is a non-negotiable and when I don’t get it, part of me starts to wither and die away. Even for me, an introvert, I long for deep connections. Intentional time with meaningful people – without the cell phone. Eye contact, conversation, laughter – scheduling my own playdates for myself is self-care.
Finally – and this should probably be the first thing on my list – I need to feed my spirit. We have a body, a mind, and a spirit. And we need to tend to ALL of us. My spirit longs to connect with it’s Creator and find peace in that beautiful union. I meet that need by mindfully practicing the Presence throughout my day. I take time to pause and pray and thank God for all that is around me. Gratitude and time where I am consciously aware of my Creator’s loving presence, uplifts my soul.
So when I see women who are pushing so hard, who visibly have no energy left and make no time to care for themselves – I want to hug them and tell them about rule # ONE. You are WORTH caring for. Make this the year you learn to lovingly take care for YOU. No one else is going to do it for you. Make a list of all the things you need and then make a plan to faithfully execute them. Life isn’t one grand gesture and then everything falls into place. Life is a series of small, faithful, intentional steps…which lead to the destination you want. Ragged or radiant – your choice.