This has been a challenging past few months. As much as I love fall, the changing leaves, the beginning of a season where in theory we can slow down, cook more soup, hang out by the fire, read a book, it somehow feels the opposite. School started, I found myself for the first time in 9 years without a small child with me all day, that has been an adjustment to say the least. Activities for the kids start, halloween and before you know it, Christmas. There is nothing slow about this time, despite my genetic desire to hibernate. And in the midst of all the driving, planning, waiting for kids, making lunches, making beds, making people feel better, I have left myself behind. No one did this to me, I did it to myself.
Now that both kids are in school, it was supposed to be my time to get my balance back, and take care of myself. As mothers we give so much everyday that after a few years, it is easy to look at ourselves and wonder if there is anything left. But instead of going to yoga, reading more books and having an extra cup of tea, I made myself busy, again. In hindsight I admit that I was too uncomfortable to just be still. After running for so many years, it felt strange to have the days to myself. I didn't know where to begin, it was overwhelming. It also felt too luxurious to belong to me. I have many dear friends who are working their tails off trying to manage full time jobs, families, home and self. I admit that I felt guilty to just take care of myself, I'm not an Orange County Housewife after all. But I am a woman who struggles with anxiety and lack of self-care sends me into a tailspin where I become useless all together. I become a puddle of tears, it's a mess.
So what to do? Yoga? The gym? Start knitting? How do you take care of yourself when you haven't really been able to do so since your early 20's before you had the responsibilities of a family? It's like a lost skill. And why does self-care always seem to have to include way too tight yoga pants and a membership that I can never seem to actually maintain? Telling someone to practice self-care is much easier said than done. It actually requires that we value ourselves and most of us don't. Harsh to say, I know, but it's true. We value our kids, our partners, our work, our friends, dinner, but to really value ourselves on the same level is another thing all together. Ok, maybe I speak for myself, but I know some of you out there are just the same. We put ourselves on the bottom of the totem pole to the point where we feel like we can't even breathe anymore and then we crumble. And what happens when the bottom falls apart? You guessed it, everything falls apart. We carry a lot on our shoulders and we have a responsibility not only to those who depend on us, but also to ourselves to make sure we are taking good care of ourselves, guilt free.
As I was sobbing last week, completely wrecked, my dear husband asked me, "what are you doing to really take care yourself?" I answered, "I take a shower everyday and I play marimba" That is not enough, especially since marimba is not always my friend, it is challenging and sometimes it makes me want to cry. So I had a deadline, to figure out by today, what I was going to do to really start taking care of myself. Let me tell you, it was harder than you might think. I have gotten so depleted that it was hard for me to even think about what I would really want or even need. So here is where I started. I bought myself some good B vitamins. I have been feeling so tired and stressed and now that I have been taking them for 3 days, I am already feeling better. That was a simple start. Next, I'm going to commit to writing every Tuesday. I love writing but I haven't been making time for it, hence the very sporadic posts. And third, I am going out for a walk in nature. I'm not after loosing a bunch of weight right now, I just need to get connected with myself and the earth again, a walk by the river is a good start.
Let me be a cautionary tale to you. Don't wait this long to make yourself a priority. We blame our lack of care of time, family demands, work demands, but really if we have time to sit on Facebook for 30 minutes, we have time to do something that might actually make us feel good. I don't know what that will be for you, it was hard enough to figure it out for myself, but start today. This is an inward time of the year and will only be as crazy as we agree to make it. You deserve to be well taken care of.