"Get your what?" My husband replied to me from around the corner as I dashed to the bathroom.
"My polish. I bought some fingernail polish last time I was shopping so I could paint my toenails." I said, as I reappeared from around the corner holding a shiny, new bottle of muted dark pink nail polish up to eye level.
It seemed like it took several seconds for him to quite gather, and make sense of what I just said. "Oh," he replied surprised, but approving.
I am not sure the last time I painted my finger, or toenails. It's been maybe a couple of years. It's been probably a good 18 since I've done it on any kind of regular basis. It's not something that I have found high priority in the last several years as a busy mom raising kids with different ranges of needs.
I have found lately that in the last 19 years of being a mother balancing everything has left me unbalanced.
In recent dreams I find a recurrent theme of forgetting I have a baby girl, and then trying to bring her back to health by feeding, and caring for her. Almost always in these dreams I have the best of intentions throughout, as I try to tend to everyone's needs. It's not that I am lazy, or sinister in my forgetting. I try, and I try hard not to forget about this baby. Often when I do finally get to her, I end up feeding her the wrong things. I forget the food, or the milk. I do too much of one, and little of the other. Sometimes I run out of formula, and have to sub something else less healthy.
I am finding these dreams to be symbolic of my need to care for myself properly. The good news is that I am recognizing this need, and trying to remedy the situation. The bad news is that I am not quite proficient at it yet.
What does it mean to care for ourselves, though?
I think that is a layered question with answers that change as we mature. Many of us may never have learned to know, like, or care for who we are as an individual. Our family and early life experiences lend us a blueprint in which we learn to build a relationship with ourselves. This blueprint tends to also color how we see the world around us, because everything we experience is always filtered through a perception of where we are, and who we are as people. There's no way to experience a relationship with anything, or anyone that does not get colored by our mind's concept of said thing we are perceiving.
If you have a solid relationship with yourself, and your self-worth is on track,congratulations! If not, you may be wondering how to repair, and rebuild this relationship. It might be easier than you think. One small step, one day, and one action at a time is the answer.
I have found that the foundation in which well being, and self-worth is in one simple phrase:
That does seem to be a buzzword of sorts lately. It's said a lot, but what does it really mean to care for yourself?
My definitions of self-care is remembering to stop several times a day to check in with yourself. Knowing who you are, really who you are inside, and responding to your own needs with compassion. To be able to sit quietly, and feel the moment as you are without judgement, without all the noise of other influence, and respond to what you hear is self-care.
What might this look like? Isn't self-care about vacations, and massages?
No. Well, maybe, but not as a whole, no.
To me, this is stopping to hear the voice that says it's tired, and responding by acknowledging this without judgment (ie; I shouldn't be tired. I'm tired because....I'm stupid, or someone else is doing something to sabotage my rest!"). It means hearing my needs, and formulating a goal to meet them. The blame, and judgment only serves to cloud, and complicate. It doesn't meet, or satisfy. It stalls your well being, and thus your relationship with yourself. You can't fully enjoy the experience of the world, or anyone else in it without meeting your own needs first. It's the empty cup scenario.
My real world solutions for self-care actions are eating well, and enough. Nourishing myself physically is an act of self-care. Exercising to improve my overall health is an act of self-care. Wearing a nice outfit, or jewelry that reflects my style is an act of self-care. Resting when I need to without guilt, or justification is an act of self-care. Listening to my favorite music while I make dinner is an act of self-care. Painting my nails, or my walls a color that speaks to me is an act of self-care. Haircuts, flattering clothes, perfume, going out for dessert, an afternoon coffee in the sun, a hot bath, yoga, meditation, a favorite book, new shampoo, and so many, many other things all can be incredible acts of self-care. Anything that boosts your essence, your mood, and allows you to express the best side of you is self-care.
Self-care = Self-love = well adjusted self = happy/ increased well being = better mother/father/friend/partner/employee ect.. It's what I have found to be the formula of fulfillment.
How about you? What are some of your self-care ideas? I'd love to hear them.