“Effective health care depends on self-care. This fact is currently heralded as if it were a discovery.” ~ Ivan Illich.
I am a master at the art of procrastination, have practiced it ever since I was a child. Despite the moralistic stance I take with my students when I find them guilty of the same offence, I frequently wait till the last minute to complete assignments. This is partly due to a life full of commitments. But I have no doubt that if I took time to plan, to manage my time more effectively, I could accomplish more.
My Friday Morning Messages are an excellent example. I write them on Friday morning. Don’t ask me why. Sometimes this is easy, ideas have been bubbling in my brain all week, sparked by a chance conversation, a radio program, or the news. Sometimes I am writing them in my head as I take a shower (then have to wonder did I bathe that arm already?) or as I drive to work. The act of writing on those weeks is then just a formality. Other weeks I go to bed on Thursday night hoping that inspiration will hit while I dream.
This week was full of the usual commitments; work, both classroom and clinical; school work (yes I am also in school); work from my little part-time job; and the knowledge that I have class this weekend. On Wednesday my back locked up on me. I was forced to stop, call in sick, and give myself a little TLC. Despite preaching the need for everyone (especially care-givers) to first and foremost take care of themselves, it often takes a severe headache, a bad cold, a back spasm, for most of us to do that.
Women in particular need constant reminders to begin with self-care. We grow up watching our mothers put themselves last, placing the needs of others way ahead of their own needs. We model this behavior, feeling guilty if we do indulge in a little pampering, a little ‘me’ time. As mothers of young kids we think it is impossible to think of ourselves, spending time and money on everyone else before we break down and get something we deserve.
The next generation of women seem to do a better job externally. When they buy a cute outfit for their baby, they make sure to buy the matching outfit for themselves too! Baby wears name brand clothes, but so do they. No-one paints their own nails any more, everyone gets the pampering of a mani-pedi. And this is a good thing. We have more to give when we come to any relationship feeling cared for and full. Pain and martyrdom are not prerequisites for being a parent, even though we seem to think they are.
My message this morning is going to be briefer than usual, because I need to pay attention to my own needs. I need to practice what I preach, take better care of myself, so that I can have more to give. It is a shame that we need these reminders, especially when they come in the form of ill-health or disease, they demonstrate that we didn’t learn our lesson the last time! But health is wholeness, and if we aren’t paying attention to the parts of our lives and bodies that are out of alignment, to relationships that are broken, to connections that are becoming loose, we lose that wholeness and get sick.
Have a wonderful weekend family! Pay attention to your body and make sure you are providing it with everything that it needs to last you a lifetime!