The other night I went to a very nice women’s event for education and networking. The whole premise of these events are to educate, inform, meet new people and absorb what you can from the collective experience of knowledge and wisdom. There is always someone who knows something more than you and there is always something to learn and to benefit your process so you need not re-invent the wheel. Also, emotional support from other women is hugely important for success. We like to know we are not alone in the feelings we have.
It was a nice eclectic group of women of all ages and in different stages of business success and development. There were two speakers. One woman was the one who owned, runs and created the store we were in, and the other woman was a Skype session from NY. She told us about establishing her business, how she got to where she is today. What she is doing now and how she manages everything. She was passionate, present, upbeat and captivating. When she was finished, we were able to ask her questions. A woman among us asked her what she does to balance everything. Her answer surprised me. She said, I don’t see balance as a daily thing, or a weekly thing or a monthly thing, but over a year it all seems to work itself out. I work really hard to a certain point, then my husband and I go away for two weeks, hand everything over to our second in command and unplug, then we come back and do it all again. Sometimes that means eating food from Costco on a regular basis. We do what we do. That was the surprise for me. This woman is hugely successful, has financial resources as well as her husband, and she is choosing to eat packaged food from Costco. She could hire a personal chef, she could get a meal service, there are many options, especially of people with financial resources.
Now don’t get me wrong. I like Costco. They do a really good job of paying their employees a living wage, employee satisfaction is very high. They are stocking more and more organic produce and other organic packaged foods and even grass fed beef. Eating out of a package, usually cooked in a microwave, is not how to sustain your health and balance; whether short term or long term.
It seems to me in the current age of powerful successful women doing more and more the question of balance still keeps coming up. No matter how successful, driven, or motivated, women are still wondering how to balance all of “it”.
The new buzz word is self care. Oh honey, you need more self care. How are you with your self care? What have you done lately for self care? Oh my! You need self care!
What is self care?
I must admit, my original idea of self care has changed, and because of my experience the other night listening to our speaker and talking to several of the women, it is changing again. Women have finally given themselves permission to have self care. The initial meaning- taking care of ourselves first then the kids, husband, family business, dog, etc….( not necessarily in that order) That is great! We need to care for ourselves first so we can then have strength, stamina, passion, motivation and desire to care for our other charges; absolutely!
What do we do to truly take care of ourselves? Do we bust our butts, work ourselves hard, starve ourselves, forget to eat, open a package and throw it in the microwave as we stand at a counter and shove it in our mouths, so we can go on vacation for two weeks two times a year to unplug, rest, relax and then hit the ground running as soon as we get off the plane to do it all again for another six months until we can unplug again? Do we occasionally get a massage or a facial or go out with friends and have a glass of wine or see a movie or concert? Take a weekend get away? Do we occasionally go for a walk, get as much sleep as we need, read a book for pleasure, hike, swim, dance meditate, do yoga, make love with our partner?
Do we occasionally make fresh salads, prepare/cook our own lunches and dinners? Sit leisurely at a set table and enjoy every bite? Do we occasionally go to the Farmer’s Market or a higher quality store that has a better selection of healthy food choices?
Is it true self care if we only occasionally doing some of these things? Yes and no. If we are taking time to do some of these things and incorporating them into our busy harried schedule that is good. If we have the attitude of, I’ll have time for self care when I get such and such done, holding these things over our own head until we get the “necessaries” done; not good.
I believe in order to really give ourselves and allow ourselves the self care we deeply require and deserve, we need to live our self care. Yes, asking for help is part of self care.
Every day, every moment, we have the opportunity to choose. When we continue to choose the other person, the situation, the thing that “needs” to get done, we are not giving ourselves the care we require. This is part of the balance. In each moment, in each day, we choose. I believe we need to choose ourselves more; choose ourselves first. This is true self care. It is not selfish, or martyrdom, or narcissistic. It is true self care. To live our self care we choose ourselves first. By choosing ourselves first we trust, believe and know we are worthy and deserving of our own love. By choosing ourselves first we are able to have a full cup and then be able to care for all the other people, things, and situations that require our attention- not in an angelic Donna Reed or Ozzie and Harriet sort of way, but in a conscious, balanced, mindful, focused, healthy way. The image of the adult putting on her own oxygen mask first and then assisting the child comes to mind. Not only a child but anyone who is less able to help themselves. When we take care of our own needs first we have the strength, stamina, focus and desire to freely and openly help others. Small things that may normally annoy us are more easily able to roll off our backs, we are clearer and happier overall.
When we choose ourselves first we show by example to our children, families, and colleagues what is important. We show respect, value and love as priorities in our lives.
Chaos happens, stress happens, mistakes and accidents happen; that’s life. When we are cared for and balanced, dealing with these natural life events are so much easier to manage. Is it easy? We already have the experience, up until now, it is not. This is where we choose ourselves first and say, from now on it will be easier. From now on I will choose myself first. From now on I will ask for help. From now on I will choose to live my self care moment by moment, day by day.
Every time we choose, we remember. Every time we choose, we create a positive habit pattern. Every time we choose we are living our self care.
Here’s to choosing!
Here’s to loving ourselves!
Here’s to living self care!