On my return trip from a much needed change of scenery, I called a friend. Driving through the middle of nowhere all the quiet in my head became too much. She listened with kindness, tempering her usual strong opinions and let me share what was bounding around in my head. She understood my perspective and validated some of the things I have been considering, offering perspective on others. We left the conversation and she essentially reframed my common offering of advice, “be kind to yourself”. She told me that she thinks I struggle with caring for myself and I need to learn to do that.
Those words carry the weight of truth. I was told that twice this past winter by a friend too. I know not how to focus on myself for I never have. I survived for years, focusing on the needs of my children. I have worked hard to provide financially and battled to protect their emotional and physical needs I have never even thought of what I need to take care of myself. I know I push myself. I struggle to rest when I am tired, not referring to the fact I rarely make it through a night now, not the three hours I got last night while thinking of life but in general. I juggle many responsibilities and often focus on what needs done. This requires some planning and I am learning to let a bit of that go, the hyper-vigilance of living a life on eggshells is challenging to release but I will get there.
I know what I enjoy, having carved out sacred time to protect those things that nurture my soul but is that what it being referenced? I need my solitude from time to time. It fuels my spirit, develops my creativity, calms my mind, and supports my peace. Those moments are when I nurture my soul. I enjoy the time I work, being raised by the son of a farmer, I learned that nothing can calm the mind and add perspective to troubles as much as a day of hard work in the sun and soil. I need my creative outlet, working with my glass allows me to be present in the moment like no other, which lets all the stresses and burdens of the day dissolve. I enjoy reading, good food and a nice cup of coffee, all I allow myself on a regular basis. I ensure I have my sacred time. But what beyond that? What was meant by learning to take care of myself, be kind to myself?
I know I can be my harshest critic, being taught at a young age I can achieve through hard work and determination, I tend to always approach things with the same tenacity. I often do not let myself off the hook when I fall short. I tend to focus on the solution so does it mean I need to learn to stand in the stillness, to not rush in and feel compelled to fix everything, to learn to accept everything as opposed to trying to understand in my own terms, how do I continue to count my blessing on days when it all seems like challenges? How do you learn to identify what you need to feel respected and understood? How to you set your own worth? How do you learn to treat yourself with the same compassion and empathy for myself as I have for others? How do I learn to forgive myself when I fall short? How do I remember to be kind to myself as I do with all the others in my life?
“Don’t forget to love yourself.” ― Søren Kierkegaard