Monday, August 31, 2009

It's Not About Me...Or Is It?

As I sit here reflecting on the past two weeks of my life, I feel jumbled and out of sorts. I crave quiet and order and routine and discipline. Today is the last day of summer and I can hardly wait until Tuesday morning when all of my children are in school for an entire day.

This summer has a been a weird one for my family. We moved into a new house and have been adjusting to our new surroundings. We traveled more than I can ever remember traveling in one summer. My oldest daughter spent 5 straight weeks away from home AND got her level one drivers license (a permit to drive with parents). And most recently, my eighteen year old niece has decided to leave home in Colorado and has asked to move in with us! It's been busy, for sure.

As our niece settles in, and I reflect on all the above events, I realize that for some period of time now, I have been completely neglecting to care for myself in the midst of all this chaos. I have allowed stress to take over, worry to keep me awake, clutter to creep into my environments, and have settled on less than desirable meals to "nourish" my body. Over the past couple of days I have found myself experiencing extreme emotions at random times through out my day...tears while washing dishes, anger while cleaning up messes, discontent while taking a walk with my husband, and stress and worry while attempting to fall asleep at night.

The adventures we have had this summer and adding a new member to our family has been absolutely delightful but also overwhelming and incredibly time consuming. My routine and responsibilities have come to a screeching halt. And now I know I am paying the price for allowing this to happen. I have noticed the crankiness begin to creep in. I have heard myself sighing more and more throughout my day. And a feeling of overwhelming discontent with my days has taken over the feeling of happiness at accomplishing the many tasks I might have had on my "To Do" list.

I realize now that in my attempt to live a life centered around the thought of "it's not all about me" I have lost touch with who I am. In my attempts to serve my children, husband, distant family members, and welcome my niece into our family, I have stopped remembering to care for myself and my needs as well. Not only is this not good for me it is also not good for everyone who has to live with me.

I will tell my clients "If you don't care for yourself and your body first, you will be no good to others." And once again, I find this true in my own life. Even though I am spending my entire days serving and loving others, the quality of that servanthood is quickly waning as I continue to neglect myself and my needs in the midst of it. Self care is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves...and we need to remember to give to ourselves as well as others.

If you think taking time out of your day to get a workout in at a gym that offers child care sounds frivolous, think again. If you think spending $3.00 (or even $20) on a body care product that you love is selfish, think again. How about taking a long hot shower...a waste of water? What if you told your children they needed to entertain themselves for 30 minutes while you quietly read a book? How about taking the time to cook an extra meal (or a larger one that would yield leftovers!) in the evening to take to work the next day for a healthy home cooked lunch instead of eating out at a restaurant or driving through a fast food establishment? Not worth the time or the effort? YES it is! We are worth spending time and resources on ourselves!

If you are finding yourself overwhelmed with stress, life, or lack of time sit quietly for ten minutes and write down a few things you could do to care for yourself during this time. Not only will it nourish your emotions, your soul and your body, it will also allow you to recharge so that you can be even more aware and effective in whatever you throw yourself into...your job, parenting, serving others, creating art, or just being you!

Today my niece went to her first day of college. Tomorrow my children all go to their first day of school. While the house won't be quiet for the whole day, it will be for a few hours in the morning. During that time, I plan to set all responsibilities and work aside, sit with a cup of tea in my favorite room in the house, where the sun shines in bright and warm, and quietly reflect, recharge, and renew my thoughts for my near future. I know this down time will nourish me greatly and I am very much looking forward to it. I also plan to eat lunch and spend the afternoon with my very best friend who I have not seen since the beginning of summer. To be able to share, unload, and ask what is new and good with her will be fabulous! Tomorrow will be a wonderful day all about me, it will fuel me for Wednesday and the rest of my week where I have a very busy schedule and need to be focused and have energy.

How about you? Are you caring for and loving yourself in times of stress or craziness? If you don't give yourself the attention you need, even if things aren't stressful or busy, you will become unbalanced and lack in all other areas of your life. Do something today to show yourself you are worth it and it can be "all about you" sometimes!


Kristina P. said...

I definitely try to. I think it's easier for me, as we don't have children. I don't have as many people demanding my attention.

Hip Mom's Guide said...

I think the hardest thing for me is to say no to doing things I really want to do...with people I enjoy. I try to set reasonable expectations for my time, but tend to overdo it. Thanks for the reminder that we need to take care of ourselves, too!

Great-Granny Grandma said...

Good post. You are very insightful.