Take care of you first! Self care and taking care of you first each and every day is something I often encourage my friends, family and my students in my yoga and barre classes to make a priority. This choice to take care of you first is a sign of self-love—you know that deep down love where you actually recognize how flipping amazing you are? This awareness and self loves empowers you to rest more, take a run, sit your butt down to meditate, take a bath and more. I also find that this choice helps me be a better wife, mom, friend and simply have more positivity, joy and faith in my life. For me it is truly a ripple impact in my life.
So how does 'taking care of you first' look? Different. That's right. I know you are thinking obviously, we are all different. Yes, we are all different, but my point is each day for you is different. I am encouraging you to honor that your days ebb and flow and again, the message to listen to what you want to do versus what you think you should do is critical. I will also add that this gets a bit tricky when you have multiple priorities and things tugging at your time, but like I always say to my kids, “I am only one person!” And you too, are just one person. Thus, it is okay to say no to things so you can say yes to others and it is okay to embrace that your list might be behind for a while, especially if you are on a new project, in a new job, moving, have kids, and more.
I would like to share a story from this weekend that illustrates how 'taking care of you' can be different on any given day. Here is what I wrote at the end of last Saturday:
Saturday, June 4—9:45 p.m.
Today I chose that taking care of me was actually not doing anything for me but to be present in each moment—to embrace my discomfort of not enough movement or sleep and to lean in to my sweet life, especially the blessings of my little kiddos. I planned to swim for 10 minutes for me after their swim lessons and hand off to the hubby, but the locker room situation did not allow. I planned to lock myself in my room at nap time to do my yoga practice and rest because I am so tried. However, my daughter sat right next to me after lunch and looked at me with her bright blue eyes and said, "mom, can I whisper something to you?" Always trying to teach a lesson, I paused her and said it would be rude to whisper in front of her little brother and I asked her to write it down. You can see below that the note was a simple request—"mom, can I make a recipe with you?"
This was her saying, mom, I want to spend some time with you when…you aren't prepping dinner or for a class or you aren't on your phone or doing one more thing. Her message to me hit me loud and clear: Be. Present. With. Me. Mom. Yet, hanging over my head was a commitment to ME. I deserve a break! I have to get my practice in. If I'm going to do this journey called life and honor my needs I am going to have to say no. And then I thought to myself, maybe, just maybe saying yes is exactly what I need to be doing.
I feel the words stronger each day from those older who always utter(ed), "enjoy every minute, it goes fast," while toting the kids around. I used to be angry at those words and now I see the wisdom from them. Those women and men that, with passion, reminded me how important being in the moment was as a parent. I am now clear that they knew deep in their hearts that they were there once too. You know what I am talking about or at least have heard what I am talking about: sleep deprivation at its best, not a second for a shower or a conversation with anyone, and how about a new outfit or any time for your brain or body to rest, never feeling like you could catch up, and God knows getting ahead was for your neighbor. And in all the energy it takes to parent they remember how hard it was and how those moments of playing and present moments slip quickly away each year your kid grows. I now feel their hearts speaking to me as I reflect upon the happenings of today.
So today I decided to listen to my heart and what I needed today. And that was to slow down and make that choice a mama does to be with my daughter. I could have used some "me time" but looking back on my day today my decision to be present and feel gratitude for my kids and our health and their smiles and their wise and passionate eyes—WAS me taking care of me. I will never get today back and although I could have used that swim or the yoga or the walk I planned at 7:30 and got dressed for, instead I listened. My son was hysterical for mama at bedtime. Why? Because it is almost always me (because I am lucky) while my hubby cleans up. And I missed Thursday and Friday bedtime and both were also school days. He missed his mommy. And so I paused, felt, and said, sweet son, you are heard!
Just maybe me listening to my kids and their requests some of the days and some of the moments will wash out any of my shitty-mommy moments. I'm talking about the moments you take out your crappy day or internal struggles and subtly project them onto your kid(s). Those days and moments have been too many for me. I have struggled these last couple years and the kids (and my hubby) have had to deal with hormonal and emotional mommy/wife. I know this is not so easy on everyone and I know we all deserve better!
So today I took care of me by trying my best to kick ass as a mom and a wife. Did I swear in front of them a couple times, maybe, but it was accidental. I feel extra firey lately. I know this is related to hormones, not enough sleep and a lack of quality yoga practices, specifically my mediations. When I fall asleep doing my mediations I do not tap into that inner peace that I feel when I have been dedicated. My mind becomes much more active, my fears louder and my patience; well, it's usually shit. That is how I know I must find a way to practice earlier, even on the days I am teaching at 6 or 7 am. I will figure it out. We are in transition and my self work is still going strong: I am listening more, supported greatly, changing my energy as fast as I can when I feel negative or am hard on myself or in old patterns. These are all huge wins for me. And what I can also say is that I am challenged right now as I work through this deep change—changes to thrive instead of suffer physically and mentally (and yes, this is subtle). And Rod Stryker in his Four Desires book says the hardest practice of yoga is change. So my friends, instead of being angry I didn’t get to have “me time,” I instead I loved through today by doing what my heart (and the heart of my kids) needed.
These little moments in my mind are wins. Again it comes back to living your life each day and honoring how life shakes it up for you. If we get SO wrapped up in the rules and the expectations/plans we set forth for ourselves can we actually listen and take the right action? And are we really taking care of ourselves first? Also, what happens when we miss what we planned to do? There is a good chance we spend a lot of energy and time beating ourselves up because yet again, we missed the mark. Self-criticism is not the goal of self-care or time for you. When moments that push you away from your version of “me time” happen, maybe you can think about them differently. Perhaps you needed to do something more important deep in your heart.
As I wrote this I couldn’t help but think of a quote Brené Brown references in her book, The Power of Vulnerability, that I would like to leave you with. It is from a book written by Lynne Twist’s book on scarcity, The Soul of Money: Reclaiming the Wealth of Our Inner Resources. You can also find the longer quote on Brene Brown’s blog post from 2008.
“For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of. We don’t have enough exercise. We don’t have enough work. We don’t have enough profits. We don’t have enough power. We don’t have enough wilderness. We don’t have enough weekends. Of course, we don’t have enough money – ever.”
Well said; we are SO hard on ourselves! There truly are only 24 hours in each day and A LOT in our lives. Just today I challenge you think about your self-care or "me time" differently—because maybe you deserve a day off or a bath or rest versus a run. The more you allow freedom of what "taking care of you" looks like the more you will be free and empowered to keep making awesome choices for you that make you feel amazing! Try it for just one day or maybe even week—I know I will be doing it with you!
In love, light and gratitude,