I consider myself a decent planner. At least, I have a planner where I write down all the things that I need to accomplish in a day. Of those tasks, many are often incomplete by the end of the day and so get carried over to the following day. Usually the things I dislike doing the most. Like paperwork. BORING!!!!! I'm pretty successful at running errands but if I've got stuff that requires me to sit still and focus, especially if I don't enjoy the work, I'm carrying that task over in my planner to the next day more often than I'd like to admit. Even the blog writing is a chore. I can't say that I sit down at my computer and experience pure joy while I'm pumping out words on a page that are supposed to culminate into a coherent and inspiring message. The process is usually not enjoyable at all. But I love it when it's done. Just like the paperwork. And self-care. And every other task we so easily put off in favor of a more pleasant distraction. The good news is that, eventually, regardless of how long we procrastinate, there always comes a time when we can put a thing off no longer, where we must choose to act or fail, when life gives us a not so gentle nudge, and hopefully, that is enough to get us going.
When my ex-husband moved out over two years ago, so left my spirit of dealing with many things domestic, especially the need to keep my house clean. For me, cleanliness was a positive habit that I developed in the worst of circumstances. As a child of an alcoholic, cleaning fulfilled my need to maintain order and control in what was a situation constantly spiraling downward. People thought it was cute that such a small child could clean so well and I appreciated the attention I received by doing it. So I would clean other people's houses, too. Eventually, the cleanliness became more of an addiction than a positive activity. I couldn't feel peaceful if a pillow was slightly crooked on the couch or if the sink wasn't dry after doing the dishes.(Note: I still have a real need for the sink to be dry) I also forced my husband and my children to adhere to my cleanliness standards, which were not clearly defined, constantly changing, and forever unattainable, leaving my family on edge and me always complaining.
When we separated, I found myself with much more responsibility that took priority over the cleaning. Don't get me wrong. The kids still did chores. We didn't live in squalor. The toilets were clean most of the time and everything was generally in its place. But that's where it ended. The floors were no longer mopped, surfaces rarely dusted, and I cringe to even give you a hint at what things looked like behind the closets and cabinet drawers. Most of the time, I just didn't care. Eventually, however, I began to feel overwhelmed by all the cleaning I had let go and worried that I had neglected things for so long that I would never be able to get it back to normal with my demanding schedule. And so it went for even longer that I would attempt to start deep cleaning a few areas of the house, but other demands would take me away from my cleaning project and I would go many more months without working on it again.
But then a twist of fate happened when I discovered I was expecting a baby. That is a blog post for a later date, but I mention it only to discuss how it relates to my newfound vigor for cleaning. Once people found out I was pregnant, I started receiving gifts and hand me downs right away. As a midwife, you can imagine that was A LOT of hand me downs! Well, they started piling up as much as everything else in my house, and as my belly grew, so grew the piles. I knew I was going to have to figure out a place for all this stuff, but I still wasn't ready to deal with it. So I grew and the piles grew and we grew some more. Finding myself a little less than two months from my due date, something went off in my brain. That thing they call nesting is real! Like a light switch, I decided this baby could not be born with a house in disarray. The cleaning commenced and with it a sort of spiritual unfolding. I began to work through room after room of my home. I spent less time on other responsibilities and more time focused on the end goal, which was receiving my baby in a clean and comfortable environment. I was most surprised at my older kids' reactions to it all. They became happier overall and excited with the progress, even prompting them to want to pay attention to their own rooms. I still have a little more than a month until the baby is due and the house is till a work in progress, but I have enough momentum behind the project that I know it will get done now. It's not just some weak desire with no effort behind it. Whether through my own will or not, it has become a priority!
Our self-care very often suffers in the same way as a piled up, messy house. We may have some long standing beliefs or reasons our self-care goes unattended. Maybe we have deeper battles with eating disorders and so are not ready to deal with our nutrition. Maybe we suffer from anxiety and so proper sleep patterns seems perpetually unattainable. Maybe we are single mothers with full-time jobs and no time for exercise, let alone any time to carve out for sitting still long enough to meditate. Maybe we have let ourselves go for so long that we can't even envision making a dent toward optimal, long-lasting, authentic health and self-care. But rest assured, if we don't give our self-care the attention it deserves, sooner or later nature will show up to force you to deal with it- in the form of chronic physical illness, chronic anxiety or depression, or dysfunctional relationships with self, family, and community. And while that is a very real option and we have all the power to choose to go down that road, I believe there are very few of us who sincerely want to get to the end of their lives and know that we didn't do, live, and be the best we could in all aspects of life.
ReConnectEd to Life wants to help you unpack all the mental garbage that has kept you for so long from making your self-care a priority. When we put ourselves first, becoming positively self-centered, we begin to retrain our brain to be healthier, facilitating a snowball effect of behaviors that serve to strengthen our abilities to accomplish our goals, foster more meaningful relationships, and better connect with our community. We must make time for our self-care. It is as essential to schedule a walk around the block in your planner as it is to schedule your child's dentist appointment. I repeat. AS IMPORTANT! We must start thinking, believing, and acting as if this is truth in order to truly facilitate long lasting health and wellness.
With love and gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel