Posted in Thoughts

How do you define “self-care”?

Apparently, “self-care” is all the rage.  This may be the only “hip and now” post I write in 2017.  Savor this moment, all, Jes is trendy!

I’ve been thinking about self-care a lot over the past 3 weeks.  I had no idea it was an “it phrase” until a conversation with my awesome mother-in-law revealed that fact.  Our Christmas trip provided me with many examples in the importance of self-care.  It’s been marinating in my brain since then.

During our 14-hour drive back to Minnesota, I had begun to process all my emotional, high-feeler responses to our 5 days in Cincinnati.  But, we walked into our house & my mind shifted gears from “process all the feels” to “do all the things!”  I began attacking the to-do list that accompanies trips ending: unpacking, laundry, cleaning, all the cat petting.  Driving a car overnight, vacuuming the house, scrubbing a toilet: these are the perfect kind of mindless tasks that really let you think.  There was a moment for me where I shifted into auto-pilot on the chores while my brain took over on evaluating my emotions again.

It became too much.

I sat down 4 hours into “do all the things!” mode.  A cat immediately took advantage of the available free lap and almost instantly fell asleep.*  In that moment, I felt like God was putting an emphatic exclamation point on a loud sentence, “Yeah! Sit down!”  Like He was sitting up in Heaven wondering how to get His kid to stop & slow and thought, “I know! I’ll put a cat on her so she won’t get back up again!”

Needless to say, it worked.  And I am learning I suck at self-care.

There are people I know that are fluent in it.  They speak the lingo, they experience it daily, they can read the signs of their own bodies and know when to say no.  I am not one of those people.

My pathology passionately screams, “Who can I serve now!?!?!?!” or “What should I be doing now!?!?!”  All.  Day.  Long.

I’m tired.

To some extent, there can be beauty in self-forgetfulness.  And to some extent, self-care can be twisted and selfish.  Let’s all acknowledge those possibilities to be true.  Got it?  Moving on.

I wonder; if you react to the phrase “self-care” with, “sounds pretty selfish” (like I did), does that reaction reveal weakness?  We cannot serve water without…wait for it…water.  I literally offer the world NOTHING if I am empty.  My ability to correlate self-care with service is flawed.  Because self-care does not always mean selfish.  It is not “me first, no other humans matter!”  It can be, “me first so I can serve you without me in the way.

Does the thought of spending money and time on yourself for no other beneficiary than yourself make you cringe?  Cause I am so bad at self-care that the very thought of saying no to someone/something in order to take care of myself feels wrong.  Not just selfish.  Wrong.

The Holy Spirit has so much work to do with my crazy brain!

Needless to say, the process of changing years of habit and pattern that reinforce a flawed understanding of self-care will not be easy.  In many respects, I don’t feel like I’m allowed to serve myself.  To want something that I would define as self-serving is selfish.  I need a brain overhaul!

What does a self-denying, people-pleasing, extroverted girl do to take first steps in self-care?  She unapologetically goes to yoga.**  She buys things at the grocery store that she likes, even if no one else in the household will eat them.  She does less. She practices saying no.  She makes space that others will have to fill.  She admits that she is flawed and never could do it all.  She prays, a lot.  She relies on Jesus.

This is what my January has looked like so far: baby steps in self-care.  I want to be able to offer every human I interact with a deep drink of water.  That means I need to be full first.  (Are you listening, Jes?)  I’m a finite human.  I need moments of slow to just be.

Thanks for listening…

*Even the cats are better at self-care than me.  LOL.

**I recently tried yoga for the first time and have so much to say about the experience that there will most certainly be an entire post dedicated to it later.  Stay tuned.  🙂

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