This well intended comment (I think), echoed in my ears as I stood behind the counter, without makeup, plain hair, old jeans and a t-shirt with a little blob of baby puke on it. Three -year-old Liam toddled around my feet, and Adam, a newborn baby, smiled sweetly in the stroller.
I think she meant to say, “I see you’re working really hard on the farm, raising babies, getting your hands dirty and giving it your all. More power to you, Mama!” But that’s not what I heard.
That was the last time I appeared in the butcher shop without my hair done and makeup on!
Self-care was not on my radar at that point in my life. But maybe it should have been.
I managed to get my physical appearance in order with a trip to the hair stylist, the beauty counter and some better clothes. However, self-care is so much more than outward appearances.
In fact, looking like I have it all together is not self-care.
The real work of self-care came for me a few years later. Burnout insidiously crept up on me. My inner well was dry. For years, I had poured myself out to employees, customers, family and community commitments without replenishing the well.
I thought “a super mom has a tidy home, makes meals from scratch, is super crafty, looks good in yoga pants, and doesn’t break a sweat”.
I thought I existed to serve everyone else’s needs ahead of my own — you know “the customer comes first” mantra.
I had this ridiculous control freak notion in my head that “if I don’t do this, no one else will.” Or “I’m the only one who can do this”. [I know now that I’m much more dispensable than that].
I lost interest in my work, all creative inspiration vacated my brain and I was an automaton going through the motions — all while attempting to keep up a façade of having it all together. [I probably didn’t fool anyone.] This life I was leading did not fit with our farm’s sustainability philosophy.
I tried to be many things to many people, except me.
Through self-diagnosis on the internet (generally not a good idea), reading, research, and deep conversations with Kevin, I came to these self-care realizations:
- Self-care is making the hard decisions to set loving boundaries. It’s like parenting oneself.
- Self-care is about saying “no” so I can say a generous and healthy “yes” to the things I really am able to commit.
- Self-care is about checking in with myself regularly.
- Self-care is about letting go of expectations of myself (real or perceived) and realizing I am enough, just as I am.
- True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.
During my recent Fall Equinox yoga practice, the instructor encouraged us to honour the cycles of the year and seasons.
Energetically, just as leaves fall and plants root down for winter, Autumn is a time to turn inward, to rest, regenerate and restore. I feel it in my body. I feel the urge to let my inner introvert shine, albeit no one will see because I’ll be hibernating at home!
Yet, on the farm, Fall is harvest season. Approximately 40% of our sales occur in the last three months of the year. It’s go time! We blink and it’s Christmas!
For many, fall is a time when life ramps up with school, extra-curricular activities, work and volunteer commitments. Google calendar becomes our ever-present companion as we juggle schedules and hurriedly rush to the next event.
So how do we honour the season and our body, especially in the rush to Christmas?
Fall is a time to bring balance back to our lives by checking in with ourselves. We all set goals in January for 2018, but it’s helpful to look back and see what we’ve accomplished, readjust, let go of the disappointments and be receptive to new ideas.
Fall is a time to ask ourselves “What does the remainder of the year have in store for me?”
I’ve learned that taking care of yourself lovingly takes care of the others around you too.
How do you find balance? Or is it a myth? Do you just lean in? How do you create a life you don’t need to escape from? I’d like to hear from you.