The first month of this new year (and yes, I can still call it new, it’s only 1/12 of the way through, so that’s still pretty fresh in my book) has been a lot about that~ simple comforts that add up to actually consciously taking care of my own self~ It's an idea that's still relatively new to me.
Everyone has heard the whole oxygen mask theory parents are always told about~ the one where you have to make sure you have enough air so that you don’t pass out ~ otherwise you can’t take care of the things and people you care about…blah, blah, blah…
Unfortunately, the accompanying suggestions never seemed very practical or realistic to me. As a new parent, I never cared about getting my nails done and the idea of paying for regular massages would have left my thrifty self more stressed than ever.
When my kids were little, our homeschool days usually started with stories in bed, big, late breakfasts and hours of playing and learning by the creek. That all filled my internal reservoirs and kept me full through all sorts of hard things.
Sometimes we would play spa and they would paint my nails or cover my feet in mud, and that was as close to those treatments as I needed to get. As long as I got a little time to myself now and again, I was good
What counts as self care for one person may be completely different for another, and it changes based on where you're at in life, maybe even by the day or your mood. The point is, you need things to refill you and take care of you, because you're the only you that you've got.
A few years ago life changed, and got busy. I became a single mama / primary breadwinner. My kids got bigger and started being involved in twelve million different classes and activities, all of which I had to drive them back and forth to. These are great enrichment for them, but a life of work / drive / work / drive is not so enriching for me. In fact, too much of it could quite possibly make me flip my friggen lid. Or at the very least, suck the joy from my soul.
But thank Goodness, the new year has brought with some great things. I have a kid who drives now!!!! This is another huge transition in and of itself, for sooooo many reasons, but it is also hugely liberating for both her AND me. (Even if I am stuck home in the rain some days when she has my car, the fact that I did not have to get up and dressed to drive people around for 2 hours is well worth it.)
This has given me the gift of some time, which I am quite certain is worth more than money, because unlike cash which comes and goes, you can never get back time.
And there are oh so many wonderful things to do with that time!
One thing I’ve been doing is yoga~ at least two times most weeks. There is a gym that is literally 6 minutes from my house (which is an incredible blessing after living remotely for so many years) AND my health insurance will actually reimburse most of my membership after I’ve gone 35 times. How amazing is that?
Since I sit on backside entirely too many hours of the day for my work, and my outside time has been limited due to weather, my body had been feeling a bit atrophied in the lower extremities, and I'm totally up for the challenge of stretching my way to a practically free gym membership.
Especially because these days, when I say things like “I’m not as spry as I once was…” I notice that the accompanying old person voice comes entirely too easily. And that's terrifying.
But, the regular yoga is helping me feel less achey and more stretchy. I’m even seeing what might possibly be the start of a muscle underneath my winter caloric stores!
I was actually feeling pretty spiffy about my improvements in strength and balance, until I took my mom to see these Absolutely Amazing Acrobats the other night. The performers inspired me, as they always do, but I was also completely humbled by actually flexible people. Still, I’m taking baby steps.
Another super self care splurge I’ve been treating myself to is sacred sauna time. The sauna is included with the gym, so it’s not actually costing money, just time, but it’s definitely time well spent. Life has taught me not to take books into the sauna because the heat melts the glue in the binding, making the pages fall out, and leading to large library fines.
But, I haven’t felt like I could just sit there and do nothing but sweat for 15 minutes. I’m not that zen with time yet, so I take in a notebook and scribble page after page of poorly spelled, grammatically incorrect ramblings. I’ve processed a lot in that writing and in addition to the snippets of clarity about some mental and emotional things which I have no desire to share, I also learned that
- Some pens will stop working in high heat and you may not realize that your writing wasn’t even showing up for 2 pages because it’s 120 degrees and you are delirious.
- Spiral bindings get really hot and leave marks on any skin they bump into.
- Wrinkled pages due to both high humidity and dripping sweat are going to happen. It’s rather gross if you think about it, so don’t. And don’t bring your favorite journal either.
- People will look at you like you're weird when you bring a notebook and pen into a sauna. But write anyway if it makes you happy.
Other January awesomeness included going to a couple of art galleries, a painting class (with wine!) a ladies movie night, board games with family friends, and a few other niceties. I laughed with my partner, kids and friends, rode my bike on one of the few sunny days, winged it on a couple of entirely new (to me) kinds of soup recipes, which were all delicious, tried some new vitamins and started reading 4 different books. (Who knows if I will finish any of them, but the point is, I started!)
I got a long overdue haircut to keep my bangs from poking my SweetHeart's eye out, went to my favorite burrito place, even though there were perfectly good leftovers in the fridge at home. Somehow, doing both of those things in one day made me feel like I was out with Tom and Donna on Treat Yo Self Day.
I'm not sure if that means I'm just an easy going, low maintenance kind of gal, or that my standards are too low. Perhaps I've just gotten too adultish...speaking of which, I made a couple of healthcare appointments using my fancy new planner set up, and I feel like that's good self care too. And to offset the boring, I bought myself a pot of pretty flowers too.
None of these things was mammoth on its’ own, but collectively, it felt like self care supreme. That's what this month has been about for me, and it feels like a great way to kick off a year.
I can see that the generic parental advice is true. When I'm good to myself, I'm in a better place to roll with life. And that’s where I want to be.
What counts as self care for you? Tell us in the comments below. If you don't know, I encourage you to play around and find what feeds your soul, and share the joy of a happier you.