An Argument for Self-Care

Isn’t it amazing that we only engage in self-care when we have to, when it’s absolutely necessary.  When we’ve reached such critical mass we’re about to blow apart.

That’s usually when I get a humdinger of a sinus infection.  Agony.  Aches and pains.  Congestion.  Fever,  Chills.  As horrible as it is, it forces me down for the count.  To the couch.  To bed early.  To forcing fluids and taking it easy.  Would I think to dial things down when the first symptoms show up?  Heck, no.  Push on through.

This morning I happily scrolled through the WordPress Reader, checking in on some of my favorite blogs.  Catching up.  Touching base.  Doing what bloggers do.  When the hormones of early pregnancy unleashed a horrible churning in my stomach.  I tried to ignore it, but finally had to shove a snack down my gullet before breakfast came up.  Self-care had become an interruption, an annoyance.

Arriving home from my brisk walk to the bus stop, I grabbed a glass of water.  One would think the neutral taste would be good for someone trying to avoid the aforementioned ‘upping-of-the-gullet’.  Un-unh.  It just reminded me that hardly anything tastes good anymore – and that my long-overdue to-do of buying lemons or limes to slice up and put in my water may actually help.  Why should it take utter disgust to push me to finally make this small treat a reality?

What is it about humans – and women in particular – that makes self-care always an afterthought?  Guilt?  A Puritan ethic?  Not wanting to be self-centered, self-absorbed, selfish?  Lack of time?  Money?

I’m sure it’s all of the above.  But I’d venture a guess that it’s most likely a feeling that we’re not worth it.  We don’t deserve a reward – no matter how small.  Especially when there are others in the world who have so little; who suffer so much.

That last point makes an especially compelling argument.  However, there’s a reason flight attendants tell us to put our oxygen masks on first before assisting those next to us.  Mothers, care givers, partners, aid workers, samaritans, humans – none of us are good to those who need us if we’re laid out, dog tired, dead sick.  We can enact great waves of tenderness and care in the world if we start in our own little atmosphere.

Shine On, You Crazy Diamond

I don’t know why song titles perpetually pop into my head when it comes time to write an award post, but it seems to be my thing!

I am not, in any way, suggesting Marlyn Suarez Exconde is crazy or encrusted with jewels, but her words are – glittering, not crazy.  As are her light-imbued artistic renditions of moments and movements of her life.

It is an honor, therefore, that she has nominated me for The Lighthouse Award.  That she feels in any small way that my words have been a beacon of light in this world is humbling.  I can only dream of bearing but a spark of flame.  Thank you, Marlyn!

Here are the rules:

  1. Display the Award certificate on your blog.
  2. Write a post and link back to the blogger that nominated you.
  3. Inform your nominees of their award nominations
  4. Share three ways that you like to help other people.
  5. There is no limit to the number of people that you can nominate.
  6.  HAVE FUN.

the-lighthouse-award

‘Help’ is something I hate asking for and have a hard time accepting.  I try to offer it to others, however, in simple ways.  1. Listening.  2.  Finding common ground.  3.  Making someone feel he or she is not alone.  Simple, yet fundamental.

Got a light?  These people do – and they’re not afraid to share it:

Momaste – I was kind of surprised when I read a recent post of hers about struggling with depression.  Charlotte is so positive and life-affirming.  Whole lotta light up in here.  (An example for me to follow 😉 )

The Wannabe Saint – Brian culls and creates meditative spiritual pieces that always leave me in a better place having read them.

I’m Fine, but Mommy Has Issues  – Shannon writes an exquisitely expressed blog about parenting a child with special needs and the disabilities it highlights in herself.  Her honest sharing has created an extremely positive community for people walking a similar path.

61 Musings – Chris had me at introvert.  As someone with this acutely inward personality, I truly appreciate the light she sheds on our challenges and strengths.

Infinite Sadness . . . or Hope? – Even when discussing horrifically difficult things, Cate’s magnanimous attitude and lifestyle shine through.  Radiant.

Blog for Mental Health – In a world of light, this blog is a mirror.  It gives as much as it receives.  A voice for those stifled by mental illness, a repository for those stories that fuels awareness and healing.

Calvin’s Story – Christy Shake is the inimitable narrator of her son’s story living with epilepsy.  She offers hope, community, comraderie, and communication – including information on the latest treatments for this debilitating disease.

Burgeoning School Psychologist – If you’ve ever been a ‘first-year: teacher, counselor, school psychologist’, you can appreciate how much better that year would have been had you Mo in your corner.  She offers light in that she reached it at the end of the tunnel of her first year – and kept going.  I dare say she radiates light out of every pore of her body.

Shining on is even more important, the crazier we all – or life – becomes.  Thank you to Marlyn and the lovelies listed above for doing their part.  Shine on.

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Peggy

I almost didn’t take that road home this morning. Its twists and curves in and out, down and around the hills and forest might not bode well for a commute through the fresh covering of snow left last night.

I didn’t want to stop when I saw the woman chipping away at the chunks of ice barricading her house from the rest of civilization. It was cold, my house was warm, my writing beckoned.

I knew I would think of her all morning if I didn’t.

I slipped and slid my way through a sloppy three point turn and peered into the unfamiliar driveways until I found the beacon of her yellow jacket.

“Would you like some help?” I called.

In the time it had taken me to circle back, she’d started back up her driveway. She had paused when she saw me pull over and now made her way back to my car.

“I was just headed inside for a break,” she said. “I go in for about 45 minutes to warm up, then come back out. It’s a lot easier today than it was yesterday, I’ll tell you.”

I noticed now that three-quarters of the driveway had already been cleared, presumably by the metal shovel and approximation of a turf spade she held in her hands.

“Are you a neighbor?”

I explained where I lived in relation to her house. Not exactly neighbors, but I passed by her house quite frequently en route to mine.

“Let me ask you, have you had any problems with your mailbox?”

She pointed out the naked post next to her driveway and explained that in the five and a half years since her husband died, she’d had three mailboxes knocked over by plows. Her granddaughter and husband reinstalled one one spring; her son shored up another. She’d called town hall. A plowman who came out to her house told her in brusque tones it was the snow, not him, that was responsible. When she objected to his tone of voice, saying that town hall never would have spoken to its residents that way in her old town, he said she’d paid more taxes in that town.

“But I worked in that town hall,” she said. “I was the voice of town hall.”

I discovered her motivation to clear the driveway: so she could haul her mangled mailbox to town hall.

She asked my name and introduced herself, telling me to beep and wave the next time I went by and then she’d know who it was. When I turned around a few houses down from her house in the other direction and passed back by on my way home, I saw her yellow jacket at the top of the driveway, heading into the open bay of her garage.

I’d still think of Peggy all morning, but not with guilt for not helping her; in gratitude for having met her.

Whatsoever you do for the least of my people, you do for me.

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