Self-Care is Self Survival

For the most part, I hate undoing things. Or should I say dealing with the aftermath of having done something. Just like most people, I prefer putting up the Christmas tree and decorating the house for the holidays. But I dread the January time period of taking everything down and putting them away. I love planning and hosting parties, anytime a year, really, but loathe the clean up afterwards. And when it’s time to travel, whether I’m going 500 miles back home, or traveling 5,000 plus miles overseas, I am a terrible procrastinator when it comes to unpacking and putting things away after the trip.

If I could figure out a way to monetize a new business model, I would start a company where I would come plan your parties, pack your luggage, and decorate your house for whatever season, but only in return for people coming to my house to put all of my things away. Not sure how that would actually work, but that’s how much I hate doing it.

So I’m four days returning from my Christmas vacation, and my luggage still sits in the middle of the floor; an unopened one by the back door in the den, and the other one I’ve been picking through on an as-needed basis, in the bedroom. But I have made a little progress, in the form of sorting through my cards and gifts. Now I’m not saying I’ve made any progress with putting them away, or to use yet. But the fact that they’re out of their gift bags and on my bed — okay, stacked together next to my bed — is forward movement.

As I look at several of the little items gathered together, a theme seem to jump out at me. “Self-Care!”

Maybe I was looking for it without realizing it, but all of the thoughtful gifts were messages and reminders for me. And something that made starting 2018 more perfect.

Two of my friends bought me a bottle of doTERRA Frankincense essential oil that I’e already begun using. Now that may not seem like a big deal to you, but my friends didn’t just grab something off the shelf. They know me and knew about my health struggles I’ve dealt with over the years. And Frankincense is said to help relieve chronic stress and anxiety, and reduce pain and inflammation. I need help in all of those areas.

A week later a colleague gave me a placard for my office with the word “REJOICE” and the scripture Psalm 118:19-24 written on it. The phrase that stands out to me most, that I want to read each day I come to work, is the reminder to rejoice and be glad. Glad that I have a job to come to. Glad that I enjoy what I do (most days). Glad that I’m able to make a living at what I do. And glad that I’m making a difference in the lives of young people, even at times when I think I’m just talking in circles.

“…let us rejoice today and be glad.” Psalm 118:24b

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With the extreme drop in temperatures during the start of this year, I’ve been wearing the moisturizer and aloe-infused socks that one of my sisters gave me to bed each night since I got home. Today, I’m enjoying my second visit to Starbucks this week, compliments of a Starbucks gift card my other sister gave me. But I have to also admit, after popping four or five Truffles in my mouth in less than an hour, that sometimes denial is as important in the name of self-care! So I had to put the remaining box of that delicious treat in the freezer!

I appreciate all of my Christmas gifts from family and friends. There’s no one thing better than the next, because it’s always the thought; that someone even thought enough about me to want to share a gift this holiday season. But this year I’ve taken to heart those items that also point me in a direction I need to daily remember — to take care of myself.

There is a difference between self-care and self-obsession. While there are many people who spend way too much time and money on pampering and overindulging themselves, mostly at the exclusion to what may be going on with other people in the world around them, there are still many others who spend much of their time helping and giving to others; being there whenever someone calls; sacrificing their own needs for the needs of family, work or friends.

We have to remember to take care of ourselves if we are to survive. The overused airplane analogy is nonetheless a perfect picture of how we should approach life, in terms of how we give — emotionally, financially, physically, and relationally. And that is to remember to put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others around you with theirs. No matter how tempting it is to reach for your children, or to assist your aging parent beside you, if you are not in a healthy state first, you will not be as effective to assist others. And quite possibly, you both may suffer as a result.

I’m looking forward to lighting one of my scented candles, slipping on a pair of those super soft socks, and enjoying a hot cup of tea in my large “HOPE” mug, while writing in my new journal. Yes, FAITH makes all things possible!

So as I kick off this new school year, and the pressures and workload of collegiate teaching in this environment grow, I’ll look to my gifts as subtle reminders of some of the things that should really be important.

REJOICE. HOPE. FAITH.

What great words to remember and to live by this new year!

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