People would ask me… or say, “Gosh, I just don’t know how you do it.”
I have a few answers to that now.
But one, in particular, I want to elaborate.
If you’re in a tough season, going into one, or coming out of one… you’ll know. This is it.
This is the holy grail of getting out of the tough shit.
Then, though, I didn’t. I couldn’t tell you what the Hell my next meal was, much less my method of moving onward up and away from the grief I was blanketed in.
I really wasn’t firm or could articulate my approach in an answer for how I was waking up each day, widowed at 29, rearing 2 little girls 2&4, having just moved 3 states away 3 months after my husband suddenly dying of an accidental drug intoxication… after an innocent night of “partying” with my brother and a friend. Still here …carrying around all that. And needing to keep my feelings and thoughts to myself about it all according to people who are uncomfortable with truth.
I didn’t know.
I didn’t know the method, other than loving his girls enough to survive it.
That was my first focus. Just love them. And love them enough to make every waking moment about their healing and happiness.
If I poured enough into them, the focus wouldn’t be on me so much and I’d be doing good. I’d be doing what a mother does, pour, pour, pour. Here, here, here. Give, give, give. I’ll worry about me later. First, you. Then me.
Then I got them settled and taken care of and realized… these girls are fine.
They really are.
I saw it. I felt it. They were resilient. Are. And it was unnecessary to smother them with guilt. The truth is and was, every need was being met.
Besides those they needed from what their father could have only given them. I was providing everything else.
And after setting up our wobbly, new life, I didn’t really feel called to make every waking moment about them, especially while they were in school.
I was exhausted. Physically worn down from it all. Trying to hold my physical wellness together by a thinning thread.
So unintentionally intentionally, I turned the focus in on me between the hours of 9am-2pm Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The only two days a week, during those specific hours I had completely to myself.
Living in a town with no family or friend support to “catch the kids” for me, I held it all. There was no one to pass the baton off to. I hadn’t gotten to know people here, yet. No nanny. No sitter. No Grandma or Grandpa.
Trust me, I chose this. But facts are facts, I literally had two days a week, for less than the sometimes 45 minute drive to and from to pick them up from preschool, 5 hours to do me and figure this all out.
All to say, it can be done. It somehow was figureoutable even when it felt like a clown car of unfortunate events. Self care is always available to you. You don’t need a week-long spa retreat every month to do it.
Which was damn difficult at first.
Only because, for the first time in my adult life I was on my own, not considering a spouse, and all my attention for short bouts of time would be on me.
It was scary. Being with me all the time. Knowing what I know. Feeling how I felt. I wanted to sit in a corner and cry my eyes out and yell and kick and scream at the events that led to what my life had transpired into.
But I didn’t.
With the relentless encouragement of my long-distance strong women squad, my own resilience, and what I had previously learned about self care as a Beachbody coach – helping women find their fight with their own health and fitness… it was time to take all my coaching that I had poured into others, and lay it all on me. That was definitely ugly some days, but… there were also days my fight song became, “Just do the next.right.thing.”
And the more I did it, the easier and more… enJOYable, it became.
It is not selfish to self care.
As a mom, as a parent, as a woman, it is NOT selfish to self care.
If anyone tells you it is, ignore. Bullshit.
Self care, in my heart, is absolutely non-negotiable. And has redeemed me.
And the rest of my life and my happiness.
For the success of any and all of my relationships, my own with myself, it is 100% all.damn.day vital to self care.
What does it look like?
I’m not talking about dropping time and money on manicures and luxury spa retreats.
It can be as simple as taking 10 minutes to yourself to read.
After you get out of bed, take a few slow minutes to stretch your body and drink a glass of water.
Or doodle something on a piece of paper. Color or paint.
Go for a 1 mile jog. Create or build something.
Write a love note to yourself or someone you care about.
Ride your bike along your favorite trail. Talk through something with a trusted friend, or your therapist. Take a quiet walk in a peaceful environment, the less distractions or loud noises the better.
Go for a drive and listen to your favorite podcast or Spotify album.
Do positive self affirmations in the mirror. Meditate.
Momentarily step out of your daily hustle or grind and from your responsibilities and expectations… yep. And take a moment.
Before you relinquished control and gave the world permission to tell you who you needed to be, you had an unadulterated idea and hope for who you wanted to be and what you wanted to create. DO THOSE THINGS in your self care time.
I want to write. I want to read. I love to draw and color and paint. Running makes me feel powerful. Yoga brings me calm and humility.
I know I am a creative and love being in that realm and space. I know I love my body in motion the way that feels unforced. Any time I was feeling something or going through a tough season, I grabbed a pen or a keyboard and wrote about it. Or rolled out my yoga mat. Or laced up my shoes and hit a trail.
It made perfect sense. To me. And my process.
To write as I heal. To heal as I write.
Yoga, to quiet my mind. And get into body. And marry them together in a calm focus to create peace between them.
Running through the woods to get closer to nature, and feel strong in my loneliness.
Reading to expand my sight and perspective and instill and surround myself with positive thought. What we focus on, we create in our daily lives.
Self care is not a middle finger “eff off!” to my responsibilities and household.
It’s an invitation to your self. A surrender.
Listen, life. In order for me to show up as my best, I give in to my responsibility as me to do the work to make my experience here the best it can be by keeping my mind, soul, and body open to growth.
It is an absolute. If I am to bring my best, be my best and live my best life (that I have only ONE of)… I must take time to bring forth and nurture the gifts I was given when and why I was brought here. Elevate to my best self. As a woman, as a human.
I am not just a body of flesh, sentenced to experience stuff happening to me and suffer through this life.
I am not meant to trudge through this life pretending, pacifying others, just tolerating, numbing, cycling through pain and fear. Always on the defense of something bad or tragic happening.
I am meant to elevate. My experience. And those of others. Take it all in, give it all back.
Self care has worked on me. And I have worked it into my life. With no expectations or even time or calendar commitments. When I feel anxiety, or anger, or hurt… its like I go into my bag o’ tricks and pull out the self care treatment for the day. Self care du jour. Am I going to read? Yoga? Run? Go for a walk? Whatever works, right. Just honor me. Be authentic and truthful about what I want to do and how I want to feel. No forcing. No proving. No extremes. No guns to stick to. Just… peaceful honor.
I will not and cannot move onward in healing and growth without it.
And the people who are meant for me, understand that. I need to feel free.
I need to escape into myself and that’s where I seek my deepest, most peaceful refuge.
I wouldn’t place that responsibility on someone else.
They can’t take me to that sacred space I have had held for me all along. Nope. Not in this lifetime. Its not up to anyone else to “keep me” balanced. I am my own haven. Not someone else, some substance, some thing, or place. Its within me. And when I am allowed to go there and take care, I can be my best for everyone else.
And I would not have realized I am my most precious keeper without self care. I would not have realized my own strength to heal myself. I would not have caught a glimpse of my own power without sitting with myself.
Do the self care. Create a routine that creates peace. Zero expectations.
Praise yourself. Grace yourself. Forgive yourself.
Look in the mirror and tell yourself positive, honest things you’d be more than willing to tell your best friend. Focus on the attributes, give gratitude. Find quiet.