Self-care sometimes feels like an overwhelming ‘fix your whole life, all at once’ sort of thing. Which it is, and at the same time, it isn’t. There are things that are foundational to you and your being that can alter the course you’re taking but they aren’t really that profound.
Drink enough water.
Talk to family and friends regularly.
Positive self talk.
Take time for yourself.
That’s the big one, and the simplest.
It’s also the hardest. It’s hard.
Patterns and Practices
Humans are creatures of habit.
We like our routines, our patterns, our predictable commutes to and from work, even if they take longer than we would like. When I drove for a living, you would be amazed at how nervous people get when I took a way that they weren’t familiar with even if I’ve taken the route a dozen times and it always goes faster because it has less chances of clogging up.
I’d then point out all the people we were passing in a standstill on the route they wanted to take. They would get less antsy that way. Made the ride go easier.
But what I was doing in that situation, I didn’t really understand until more recently, what was so different about it.
I mean, I had moved halfway across the country because I had to. The place I was in I was not going to get unstuck from if I kept the environment as it was. I wasn’t strong enough to pull away from the temptation to be like all the people I was around. But I didn’t just go anywhere the wind took me.
I choose the things that were the most important to me, and made choices consciously to have them. I made the sacrifices to have what I wanted. I gave a lot of in person family time because I am so far away.
I gave up my favorite chair because it didn’t fit. Should have made a different choice there but I digress*.
I made the choice to not be just where I was because that was where I was.
I grew up in Texas. There was never a thought before 2016 that I would ever live outside of Texas. Sure, visit places, but Texas would always be home. It is big enough to be a little everything and you still won’t leave the state. You can have muggy marshland. You can have the big city, the little town. You can have the middle of nowhere desert on a ranch that gets a gas drop off regularly enough.
It was home. But it also wasn’t.
That was the real lesson that I learned. It’s one that I’ve learned here in South Carolina as I’ve grown as a person and changed and developed and figured out what I’m really good at. Even when I doubt it, I know where my strengths are.
I make plans. I follow them. I have a FUBAR show up and well, I print a fresh calendar and start from where things are now. It’s not a guarantee, but I’ve learned that without mapping a course for myself and where I want to be in six months, a year, a decade, I will drift.
I will get bitter and angry and hang out with people that aren’t going to let me spiral upwards in my journey. They are circling down and they will happily take me with them. Part of it is my own skills, my own empathy that gets in the way of me holding my own. Other times, it’s the tiny (okay, not so tiny) savior complex that comes from somewhere. I like being the superhero that fixes things.
So Start Here. Start Now.
I know I talk about how drinking enough water is the first real step of self-care. It gets all the things moving at the pace that they should be and lubricated in the right spots. It really is a great first step. But there is a mental thing that needs to happen first.
You have to decide this is for you.
It can’t be for someone else. It has to be you.
You can’t make your spouse, your room mate, your child, your parents pick up these habits. You can do them yourself and let them ask how.
Trust me, I hated when my mom would go on about FLYlady when I was a teenager.
And yet, I quote her when I explain my cleaning practices to my room mate**.
Granted, I cherry pick what I do from her methods but it’s what works for me.
One thing was that my mother never really explained why she was changing how we did chores, she just said, ‘FLYlady said do it this way, and it works, so we are gonna do it this way’ and you know what?
There’s a very good reason that I do things the way I do now.
Two-minute tasks are never left for later because that is how they get buried in my junk drawer***. Fifteen minutes at the end of day to clean up whatever I have out. We don’t leave clothes out on the floor.
But these things didn’t just show up in my life. I made the choice to put them there.
I wanted to show up for my life. I didn’t want to just see if float by.
I feel better about my decisions when I show up fully for them. When I think about whether or not that I want to do things. Whether or not I want to take a particular client on, or if I want to work on this project, or if I think this person’s expert opinion really works with my situation.
Pick your battles, and know your stakes.
And remember, life is about the journey, not the destination,
*It was super comfy and totally my jam.
**SEE I was paying attention Mom.
***Speaking of, it’s due for a cleansing.