I have been practicing very good self-care since I had a burnout six years ago, and was quite proud of my track record in taking care of myself over the last six years. Other than a few small instances of neglecting me which I quickly fixed, I have moved forward with the tools I needed to stay in top shape as an Exceptional Mom, wife and woman. These have been and remain; prayer, mediation, yoga, exercise, writing, reading good fiction, time alone on nature walks, home baths with a few yearly hamamm baths and massages, and quality time with my friends and family. I also took with me tools I learned in therapy about self-love and loving kindness that I make sure to show towards myself in meditation practice and in my life.
Lately though, I have been letting things slide slowly. First, I have been neglecting my yoga stretches in the morning. Then, I did not do my nature walks for several Sundays and even skipped church for two weeks. I have also stopped my personal exercise regime. What has been stopping me? I have been stopping me. Things at home have been challenging on the personal front, and instead of taking the time to rebuild me, I have been working against myself thinking I had to do it all. I have been writing and meditating, but I have been feeling this block to being able to handle obstacles in my life and feel at peace with me and those around me. Today I woke up and realized the block has been me. I have been standing in my own way. I have been stopping myself from putting me first, thinking that was selfish. In truth, it has been what has been pushing me down. Putting me first is the most selfless thing I could do.
This morning as I was sitting in the car after dropping Michael off at day camp, I had said to myself it is a beautiful cool morning to do my nature walk in a nearby park. I sat there for a good five minutes while my critical negative worrying side reminded me of all that was waiting for me at home, both pleasurable work and housework. I wrestled with my critical self and reminded her that my bursts of anger, my stress and worries all were arising more often lately due to not nurturing me. A nature walk would revitalize me for the day, and bring me inner peace so I could go back home and write, handle other responsibilities, and be the advocate and parent Michael needed. I’m happy to report that my nurturing self won, and as I walked through the trees and looked at the water around me, my mind and soul were reborn.
The birds were chirping and nature’s healing power reminded me how I was one with everything and it with me. I left reminding myself that my once a week walk must not be skipped. In fact, in summer when I have a little more freedom, I will take advantage and go more than once. My family and I need me to be strong and positive. The thing is I was my own saboteur on the self-care journey. I thought I’d gotten past neglecting me, but when things get tough or busy at home, I, like most women, tend to put my needs last. This is the worst thing women can do. The stress catches up to you fast. You have less patience. You get angry quickly, and you worry more. As soon as I recognized my saboteur, I very kindly spoke to her and told her, it’s time for you to chill out. You need a break. It’s time for you to let me take the wheel so you can heal. And that’s what I did.
The me that came back from that walk was calm, peaceful, and filled with hope. Self-care is not just a cheesy catchphrase parents. It is real. It is vital. It is necessary if you are to live your best life, and help your family live their best life. You are your child’s first example of how to live. So live well.
Exceptional Parents, how good are you at recognizing when you are faltering at self-care? We all make excuses and remove the things that help us when we feel it may interfere with family or work commitments. But remember, if you are not well, work and family will not get your best. You will not get your best and enjoy the gift of your life and what it is you are supposed to be doing. Don’t be afraid to say you are scared, tired, angry, need a break. Don’t be afraid to rest. Ever. Do what fuels your body, soul and mind. And listen to your gut. It will always steer you to living your most exceptional life and show your child how to live theirs. Until next time.