Self-Care: My Journey to Peace and Joy
I’ve come to a point in my life where I am learning to value self-care. I’ve also come to realize the value of time, vacations as well as the value of building solid relationships. For years I thought that it was selfish and unproductive for a person to focus on themselves… indulging in weekend getaways, lengthy visits to the spa or salon, shopping sprees, regular Girls Night Outs or simply going off to a quiet place to enjoy a good book, write or enjoy some good, soothing music. I thought, “How can people do those things when there is so much work to do in the world?
I had been told that I was selfish a few times as a teenager and I guess it stuck for about a decade or two. I had also been taught to stay busy… to not just sit and be a spectator but to get involved in life, events and relationships. At church and school I engaged in everything from singing in the choir, ushering and leading the youth group to cheerleading, volunteering and leading my senior class as President. Keeping busy and living a full, productive life was not bad advice, but it’s how a person maintains balance throughout life.
I never really understood why I was this so-called selfish person. The only thing that I can remember about this “selfishness status” was that I recognized early that I wanted a better life for myself. Even after unexpectantly becoming a young, single, mother, I refused to remain on government assistance, accepting the short-term help and then quickly moving on to work three jobs to support my child. As a youth, I pursued education, saved my small allowance to purchase things that I really wanted and later worked part-time so that I could help out at home and still engage in extra-curricular activities. I was always drawn to the finer things in life. Although I could not yet afford many of the things I wanted and my environment was not desirable, I had some very good dreams and goals as a teenager and young adult. Those dreams and goals were my imaginary friends and I could count on them to get me through some tough times. They would wisp me away to other worlds as I read a book or comfort me as I wrote in my journal or listened to music. This, in essence, was my self-care. Somewhere along life’s journey I forgot about them.
I spent years pursuing status, seeking things, helping others, pleasing others and in the meantime, I forgot about how to care for myself. Yes, I obtained the education. Yes, I got married. Yes, I secured the job I desired. Yes, I have two beautiful children. Yes…I have been fulfilled by so many dreams that have come true. However, in the course of obtaining all of those beautiful blessings there were times when I thought I would lose my mind. The busy schedules, the numerous activities, full-time wife and mother, full-time work, full-time school…there were not enough hours in a day to do everything that I felt I needed to do and I had forgotten how to slow down and take care of myself.
Today I find myself looking at life very differently. I appreciate the years of hard work and service to others. I admit…I enjoyed it the intrinsic rewards. I’m not saying that I have simply become a spectator in life. That is far from the truth. I am still young and very involved in life…eager to make my mark in the world. I have, however, learned the art of prioritizing. I focus on my passion to work with youth, teaching them to live with integrity and to create positive change and experiences in their lives and in the lives of others. The best part of this journey is that I have reconnected with the things that provide me the care that I need to thrive and continue to serve others. Music, writing, reading, exercising and spending time and getting away with my family to reconnect and recharge are all a part of my self-care plan. I am experiencing abundant peace and joy.