Tag Archives: self-care

My birthday gift

Anticipate the day as if it was yourYesterday was my birthday. I had planned to sleep-in, but I didn’t. My body clock is very hard-wired to awake early so, even with concerted effort, a day rarely goes by that I’m not sliding my feet into slippers well before 5:30.

I didn’t begrudge the early start yesterday; I gladly welcomed it. Each day is a new day and, as a dear friend phrased it, yesterday marked another lap around the sun.  For me, it is also marks the start of another year; it’s my personal “New Year’s Day.”

In keeping with that theme, I decided to spend a good part of my day thinking about what gift(s) I wanted to give myself this year. I’ll be sharing more details in a later post, but for this post I’ll share the first gift I gave myself: permission to use my opt out card.  As I said at the start of NaBloPoMo, I jumped in again this year with the knowledge I could jump out anytime I wanted. Though I didn’t pack up my swim bag, I did decide to take a break from the water so I could focus on me, my family, and just being still.

And, at the end of the day, I realized I gave myself the very best gift I could, which was a great way to start my next lap around the sun.

What is the best gift you’ve ever given yourself?

Turn it down, turn it off.

Reflections 2

Like most women, I’ve tended to be pretty tough on myself at times. Occasionally, I look back at the girl and the woman I once was and wish I could wrap her up in my arms, reassuring her that she is beautiful and she is loved.

As a teen, I focused on the surface; my acne, my weight, my hair, and clothes. You get the picture. The “popular girls” had the perfect Farrah Fawcett hair, crystal clear skin, and the clothes I would beg for. Though I was well liked, I didn’t own who I was because I saw only the surface of myself, and I was certain that was what the world around me saw. Insecurities were my constant companion.

As a college student, I chastised myself for not being as smart as I perceived my friends to be. I worked my tail off, and still didn’t land the grades my friends did. I knew what I wanted to do, or thought I did, but doubted myself and listened as others would share their skepticism in my career choice. Armed with doubts, I didn’t land the right interviews or launch my life with a grand trip abroad. I was certain the world would pass me by before my life began.

Though not where I thought I would land, I began to fast track up the corporate ladder (because I was apparently smarter than I gave myself credit only a few years earlier) in telecommunications. However, I still wrestled with self-doubt. I compared myself to those ahead of me, who seemed to have it all together and mingled without the reservations or social awkwardness I felt at our quarterly management meetings. I faked it, but I always felt as though I was 1 day away from being found out as a fraud and let go. I felt comfort when I found an article that revealed 90+ percent of corporate CEOs feel the same way. At least I was in good company, I rationalized.

Motherhood brought its own trunk load of doubts, insecurities, and wasted time. I’ve wasted a great deal of energy being unkind to myself over the years, energy I wish I could recapture. However, hindsight, as they say, is always 20/20 and though I could argue that idiom, wisdom can and often does come with experience.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve been ill for the last several days. All I can say is this is one persistent bug as I’m still not feeling great. One of my greatest frustrations of being ill is not being able to accomplish my (always) long to-do list, in part or in whole. I resent the aches that persist beyond Motrin and fight the demands for sleep. I become cranky and impatient with my family as a hidden demon comes haunting again. Whereas I no longer  rarely measure myself against others, I still hold myself to fairly high standards and measure myself against a completed to-do list. The less I get done, the louder the negative voice inside my head.

This morning, I looked around at the stacks of papers and unfolded laundry. I thought about today’s post for NaBloPoMo and the piles of grading needing to be done. I felt the weight of last week’s unfinished chores bear down on my spirits before my day I started. And, soon there it was, the voice that said, “You should have pushed through…You’re so far behind…It’s your own fault…”

Blah, blah, blah.

Nonetheless, I made a choice; I didn’t just turn down the volume, I turned off the negative voice within. Being ill forces me to binge watch renovation shows slow down and reexamine myself. I am more than the parts or the whole of my to-do list and, I decided, will show myself the same grace I show my husband, children, friends, even strangers. I’ve learned a lot in the 51 years I’ve been on this earth, and perhaps the most important lesson is self-acceptance, and that is a lesson I will gladly share with my girls.