Self Care?

I dread even writing the words. I resist, deny, justify, ignore, and try to learn the lesson over and over again. I had lunch with a friend recently and we were talking about my trip to Italy. I shared my realization of how much work just caring for myself canbe – walking 2-3 hours a day, getting to my writing, cooking healthy food – that’s a full time job!

“You learned this before,” she says.

Of course, she’s right. In fact, I’ve learned it many times before. And I know I’m not alone in this. Raise your hand if you are POSITIVE you would put your oxygen mask on first when sitting next to a small child…. I think I would, but at the risk of watching my child pass out, I can’t say I’m certain. Thankfully we’re past that age. We’re getting to the age where it’s more likely he’ll have to put my mask on me.

Which begs the question: Why is self care so hard? Is it a male/female thing? A motherhood thing?Why is the line between self-care and selfish blurry? Why does caring for others come naturally, but caring for ourselves require reminders and negotiations and, sometimes, very loud wake-up calls?

I’m pretty sure most us of know, on an intellectual level at least, that we can take better care of others if we take care of ourselves. But even there, it’s caring for others that becomes the underlying motivation.

As an enduring patient self-care is especially critical. Cancer, the ultimate in biological chaos, thrives in a chaotic, stress-filled environment – and yet when I feel that stress going up, I panic and get angry at myself for not managing it better, and in the rare instances when I can’t talk myself down, an emotional funnel cloud begins to form. Growing up in the midwest, I certainly know where that leads…

Personally, some of this is tied up in the driving need to finish “the list” so that my self-care time is truly mine – free of errands pending, meals unplanned, homework unchecked, laundry piled up. Never mind the unread books, waiting phone messages, or my writing. Of course, at the same time, I am fully aware that few of those tasks are critical, and that if I took the time for me none of they wouldn’t be as daunting or frenetic.

So it’s a new year, filled with new opportunities, a tabula rasa (as each day is, but what the hell, I’ll give into the “resolution” thing just a bit).

How do you make sure you’re on the list?

Are you able to strike a balance?

Do you have a spiritual practice? Should you? Would you?

Who helps you take care of you?

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jackie Frager
    Jan 04, 2015 @ 15:40:02

    That’s a good post!

    Sent with iLove. Please excuse iTypos and iMistakes and any annoying auto corrects.

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    Reply

  2. bethgainer
    Jan 04, 2015 @ 17:20:51

    Great post! I think denying ourselves self-care can be related to one’s lack of self-worth in some cases. In others, it could be that caring for others makes us feel better than caring for ourselves. This is a thought-provoking post.

    Reply

    • Lori
      Jan 04, 2015 @ 17:48:14

      I agree, Beth – I think it’s an individual set of circumstances, patterns, demands and messages. But I I also think we can change! XO

      Sent from my iPhone

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      Reply

  3. diggingher
    Jan 04, 2015 @ 17:46:36

    Over the last several years I have made great advancement in my efforts at self care. I work as an oncology nurse and know I cannot care for other’s at the level they need and deserve unless I am full. So I practice yoga regularly, spend daily quiet time reading the bible and praying, receive massage and facials at least monthly. I am more joyful and peaceful for it.

    Reply

    • Lori
      Jan 04, 2015 @ 17:51:24

      Good for you! I actually can’t fathom the emotional commitment it takes to do your job well. My chemo nurses are gods, as far as I’m concerned. THANK YOU for all you do!

      Sent from my iPhone

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      Reply

  4. marcy westerling
    Jan 05, 2015 @ 09:08:08

    Self-care does communicate a certain amount of trendiness and privilege. Neither excites me. (It also is what we used to call brushing your teeth in the group homes I worked.) To me, putting on your oxygen mask first is about being a leader and assuming those responsibilities. There is a lot of “self-care” that good leadership requires. If you dont sleep enough you are cranky vs inspiring. I have always had high needs as an introvert to carve out more quiet time to reflect and prepare. The world doesn’t always value that and so I would just write in meeting in my planner space knowing full well it was a meeting with myself that would include candles and treats.Isn’t it funny how labeling matters?

    Self-care after five years of constant cancer treatment is much more primal. Labeling matters less as coping is the new daily compass to survival let alone leading.

    Marcy Westerling
    http://livinglydying.com/

    Reply

    • Lori
      Jan 06, 2015 @ 22:12:54

      I agree, Marcy – it’s language co-opted by the privileged. And yet, it is an issue that transcends class. And I too have made many appointments with myself! But I also know my personal tendency to set my needs aside to attend to others. With a teenage son, balance eludes me. But I hope to strike it. Soon!

      Reply

  5. nancyspoint
    Jan 07, 2015 @ 07:24:28

    I don’t know why self-care is so hard to follow through with. We all know it’s important, but yet… And I love your question about that line between self-care and selfish. Thanks for the motivational post. And happy New Year, Lori! May 2015 be kind to us all.

    Reply

    • Lori
      Jan 09, 2015 @ 09:44:52

      Happy New Year, Nancy!

      So your comment now has me thinking about that line between self-care and selfish. I wonder how many of us have considered where we would place the line for a best friend, because it makes sense to me that we then use THAT guide for ourselves.

      Reply

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