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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Self-Love 101


Today was therapy day for me, also known as “Me Day.” Therapy is usually followed by lunch by myself, reflection and writing. This one of the self-care tools that I have tried to implement consistently over the past few years. It is one of few things I look forward to every week. That is unless someone somehow plans an appointment during my time. Nothing upsets me more than missing my Me-Day. 

Therapy is a full-time job for me.
I go to therapy.
I  drive other people to therapy.
I wait outside of therapist's offices, doctor’s offices, possible employers offices, colleges, beauty salons, you name it. I drive to it.
I’m am the designated personal driver for all of the grown-ass people in my family. 
I actually go to therapy to help me cope with driving people to therapy for no pay, and no tips, while I put my own dreams and personal goals on hold. The worst thing? Half the time my passengers don’t smell so good. At least soccer moms have a good excuse for their passengers not smelling so good. 

Oh! Yes. Also pestering young-adults about the art of showering is also a big part of my job. Who wouldn’t need therapy with a job like this? The reward is ...um. I don't think there is a reward.  

Recently, I have been attempting to as Auntie and Senator Maxine Waters says, “Reclaiming my time!” -in an effort of self-preservation and self-care. I am working hard at maintaining the boundaries surrounding the time that I need to take care of me …to do the things that make my heart smile and feed my soul. This means there are more times when I have to say, “No. I can’t do that today. I have a prior engagement.” Even if that prior engagement is just me sitting at a coffee house or who am I kidding?  A bar --working on a writing project. 

Not consistently taking care of myself made me become this angry, cranky, resentful person. I was feeling like a non-entity ...like I have no right to my own wants and needs. People will try to make you feel like you're being selfish when you start putting yourself first. As if doing things for your personal enjoyment is wrong because after all, you owe them your life. And by people, I mean family. Everyone wants what they want -now. Yet, not one of them pays me one red cent.

My friend Becca of lovebecca.com  wrote a 30-day Self-Love challenge on her website. She also posted it on her Facebook and Instagram every day during the Month of March. 

When I opened Facebook and read an entry I felt like she was speaking directly to me. She wrote about simple things that we as women should be doing to take care of ourselves. Some of the things she mentioned, I have been ignoring for months. 

One day Becca wrote about making your regular doctor appointments. I was like …Wow! Hello. I’m overdue by several months for my annual exam. How does she know this?
She wrote about getting a regular form of exercise and drinking enough water (not including the ice cubes in my vodka cocktail.) I know she had me in mind when she wrote that one.
She wrote about having regular dates with yourself, doing something simple that you love.
She reminded me to spend more time doing something fun and creative.
In other words, we need to find our own personal joy. That doesn't have to mean spending a lot of money. It really just means spending time on the things that make us feel lighter, even if that's just taking a nap!  

I did not complete the 30-day challenge in full. However, I am pleased to report that I have become more conscientious about improving in the self-care department. As a result, I am happier than I have been in a very long time. My anxiety is down. I’m less angry and resentful. I don’t want to run away and change my identity —well, most days I don’t. It’s work-in-progress. 

Of course, when I started pushing back saying no and making plans for myself, this limited my availability to do for others. My bosses don't like it so much. They have come to believe that they are the priority in my life. This includes my two young-adult sons (who do not drive) and my 78-year-old-mother, who lives with me. She thinks since the boys are grown now, it’s HER turn. Nope! Sorry, Mom. It’s MY turn. 

I’ve been working hard to keep boundaries for my time. I leave the house to write more regularly so that my thoughts are not interrupted. During those times I don’t answer my phone. I also don’t answer my phone if I’m out at a social event. If I’m having dinner with friends, I put my phone away, out of sight so that I am engaged and present with my friends whom I see so seldom. This doesn't mean I don't have dozens of missed calls when I finally do check.  Last week I came out of a spa treatment and had 13 missed calls from the 22-year-old. Talk about a way to kill a buzz.   

I have become like the panic-button or the easy-button for my kids. I am not amused. I want them to get to the point, where they stop, think and try to solve their own problems before they resort to calling me. Sometimes, they just want someone to scream at because they’re frustrated. All of that is putting me on anxiety overload. I cringe when I see their names on my caller ID. It's not the school calling anymore. It's them. Did I mention, I keep my phone on silent most of the time?  The ring makes my heart-rate go up. 

Now, I tell them ahead of time, I will not be available between this time and that time. DO NOT CALL ME! My phone will not be accessible. Because -boundaries. Hello. If they call anyway, I don’t answer. I give it time so that hopefully they can figure things out on their own. 

I started painting again. Sundays have become my painting day. I told my mom, “The only thing cooking in my kitchen on Sundays is acrylic paint!”

A friend of mine turned me on to this website www.acrylicpouring.com. I downloaded their “Getting Started” manual and have been watching “how to” videos on You-Tube. So far, I’m not that great at it, but I’m having fun playing with color on canvas. I plan to keep at it until I get better.

One of my First Pours 
I haven’t reached all of my self-care goals, but I’m definitely headed in a better direction. I just hit my 53rd birthday. And the day before I was feeling so tired, I felt like I knew what it's like to be dead.

As my youngest child crosses over into adulthood, he seems to want to walk backward trying to escape it.  Meanwhile, I am running in the opposite direction towards reclaiming myself and my time. The two scenarios make life complicated.

The 22-year-old son is working on relocating to another city not too far away, but just far enough that it may help him grow to the next level. Meanwhile, the transition process is extra work and extra stress for both of us, which makes my need for self-care and proper rest even more important.  

I'm not saying any of this is easy or that it changes your life overnight. My life is always a work-in-progress.

I did finally make it to my new doctor. She didn't seem to be nearly as concerned about my imminent death as I am. But she did do some bloodwork. So we will see. These traditional medical doctors never seem to believe it's an issue when I ask them about a hormonal imbalance,  which means my next step is to find a naturopathic doctor.

I hope you will join me on the path towards self-love and self-care. Don't be like me and wait until everyone else is taken care of because guess what? They will NEVER be!

What are you doing just for you lately?
Remember, you are the most person to love.

Check out my friend Love Becca’s 30-day Self-Love challenge for some ideas.

BTW -do you follow me on Instagram and Twitter? I am kwesleywrites on both. I'm always afraid that someday Facebook will die especially after recent activity.