Taking care of busine…YOU!

Self-care is defined as “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health” and “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness “.

Making it a habit to practice self-care can be challenging. We all have busy schedules (with work, school, household, familial and social obligations) and let’s not forget the guilt. The “I should-be’s” can have very loud opinions.

How we should implement self-care into our lives:

1. I suggest trying to get enough sleep. How difficult is it to try to do anything when you’re exhausted? I know when I go through my seasons of PTSD nightmares, I can hardly function, let alone feel like caring for myself.

In order to set yourself up for success in the sleep department, my personal experience shows that (at least for me) routine and organization are key. Have a bedtime routine that shifts your mind from activity to preparing for sleep modes. One of the most helpful for me was making the bedroom a sanctuary….cozy colors, cozy blankets, soft lighting. Hygge the hell out of that space. Room darkening curtains are a must and consider removing electronics from your bedroom (cell phones, televisions, etc.

2. Practice the art of saying “no”. “No” is a complete sentence. If you have no time to give yourself at least 15 min, you don’t have time to add another bake sale, Susan.

3. Eat well to feel well. Practice mindfulness during your meals, truly savoring your food. Watch which types of food make you feel gross and sluggish and which make you feel great? Water, water, water…

4. If you are able, get a pet. Studies have shown that pets, especially a dog, help reduce stress, anxiety and high blood pressure. I’ve heard that people with PTSD are now using service dogs. I know for myself, although not a service dog, my dog has been a great asset in helping to calm and relax me – even going as far as waking me up from the nightmares that harass me and the dog will not leave my side when a panic attack sets in.

5. My personal favorite, get outside. Being outside reduces fatigue, burn-out and depression. For me, it nourishes my soul, especially when I am able to get away from the city, major bonus points when I can get out to enjoy a full moon or a sunset/rise…

6. Exercise daily

7. Get organized. Organize your space, your calendar, your routines. Organization reduces stress exponentially. Schedule your self-care so you reduce your chances of bailing on yourself.

8. Make time to read.

Life has shown me that self-care is a fundamental part of what we should do. How can we pour ourselves out for our loved ones if we feel there is nothing within us to give?

So, let’s take a look at our calendars, pick a day and schedule a nice, long walk, a hot bath, a leisurely meal with friends, even just waking up 15 minutes earlier to have an uninterrupted cuppa and some time for a little deep breathing.

Step-parents, this is especially important for us all. Hell, it’s important no matter what prefix is attached to parenting.

Surrounded by Beauty

Enjoying the beauty I am honored to live around – except today, today it is snowing. Yes, I know it won’t last long, but I’m just a smidge tired of snow and minus eleventy hundred (slight exaggeration) degrees Celsius.

Choosing to focus on positivity, I’m posting a picture or two from one of my many walks in this beautiful land I get to call home.

Go chase ants

If I may offer any advice to all parents out there, it’s to allow yourself to slow down with your children. A lesson I never fully learned until I became a grandmother.

It’s ok to stop to track bugs, look at pinecones and explore along the way. I know it seems daunting; you have so much to do. Those sleepless nights that last for a month, with a teething baby, do not seem short at all. Like at all. And you certainly don’t feel like watching ants while you need to be worrying about supper or laundry or washing your floors.

As I reach my mid-forties and my youngest (biological) child nears 16, I look back on those years and they are but a blip in my life. I constantly find I am contemplating the following quotes:

“How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr Seuss

“The days are long, but the years are short” – Gretchen Rubin

I was a single parent twice in my life. The first time to a toddler while I was barely in my twenties; the second time was in my thirties and I can’t say I was a legitimate single parent as my ex had the kids 50% of the time (until they chose to live with me full-time and by then I was in a relationship and they have an amazing step-dad).

Every day was long. Every night was longer. I felt I couldn’t do it at times, that it would never be “easy”. I worked

Now those kids are adults and teenagers and although it still isn’t “easy”, I have come to the realization I wish I could have been more mindful in my moments with my children.

I know I did the best I could and they were very well cared for. My thoughts on this are geared to my needs more than theirs but also realize I wishI could have been more attentive. I wish I had been more mindful during those cuddles I was getting in the midst of those nights of broken sleep, the moments where my children were excited to share their discoveries of earthworms and beetles. I acknowledge that I was in survival mode due to my own circumstances and that I should cut myself a bit of slack. To be fair to myself, due to that survival mode, there are many gaps in my memories…fragments of time my brain doesn’t want to, or chooses not to remember (this is common for a domestic abuse survivor). Perhaps my situation is a bit more extreme and complicated than others.

The main point I want to make is this: cut yourself some slack. You’re doing the best you can. Those dishes can totally wait if you want to enjoy singing your baby one more song or chase butterflies for 5 more minutes. Just breath, parents. Breath and enjoy.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, this handsome dude and I have some ants to follow….

Allowing myself to heal

I need to remember to give myself credit more. I have lived through a lot and survived. I am a work in progress….what was once broken is being stitched together – by me.

In the midst of my healing, I make mistakes – some toward myself, sometimes towards others. I hope they can be gracious with me as I occasionally do or say the wrong thing, misread intentions as I look through eyes that have witnessed far more than was welcomed, and sometimes respond in ways I likely don’t mean…

I have lots of layers of healing to process and grow through and allow myself to work through. I have to learn to control my emotions during unfavorable situations. I’m so thankful for my little family that we jive so well together, creating a beautiful sanctuary for us all to thrive in. ❤

Please be patient with me as I am learning to piece myself back together and as I grow into the person I wish to be – full of kindness, love, respect and positivity.

Making time

Beauty and “magic” are all around us just waiting to spark joy within our souls.

I think sometimes we are so busy rushing from task to task and day to day that we forget how amazing it was to explore as a child.

Looking for the little details in something (or someone) helps me to see the beauty in it (them). My grandparents always encouraged me to see the positives, to look for the helpers. I find their lessons have become my nature as, in the midst of tragedies, my focus is not on the chaos but on the helpers.

That mindset, of finding beauty, has followed me in many avenues of life. My walks, for example, I am continually looking – whether my eyes are to the sky or ground…seeking beauty.

I want to encourage us all to look for the beauty, even in those situations that seem endless and daunting…there is beauty there – somewhere… I truly find this act of mindfulness the best self care available to me.

Memories

As my granny had a huge part to play in raising me, living on the same farm and all, I think of her often.

Spring especially.

When I see and hear the birds coming back, the butterflies, the crocuses…she is one of the biggest reasons I have adored nature my entire life.

I enjoy these gorgeous symbols of a woman who was the epitome of bravery and strength – a woman, who at 9 years old, was tasked with raising her younger and older siblings, and care for the household after the death of her mother. Who had to quit school, at 9 years old, to do so. Who taught herself through reading, life and hard work. That, ladies and gentlemen, is strength.

This is for you, Grandma.