Taking Care of Number One


lit-candle-reflection ©public domainPsst… Hey you. Yeah, you. You know who you are. You are the perpetual nurturer, hand holder, volunteer, and shoulder to cry on. You’re likely highly sensitive, empathic, or just an all around generous, kind and caring human being.

The problem is, like many people who are nurturers and caregivers, you probably put taking care of yourself on the back burner over and over again. Pretty much the only time you stop taking care of everyone else is when you finally wear yourself down to the point that you get sick and are forced to lay low for a few days. Even then, you’re probably still cooking dinner, doing laundry and washing dishes.

Like a flashlight in the dark, if you keep on burning through the night without recharging your batteries, you’re light is going to burn out. Or think of yourself as the proverbial candle burning at both ends. Eventually you will run out of fuel, and those who have come to depends on you will no longer be able to reap the benefits of your kindness and generosity.

It is important to remember that you can only give out what you’re allowing yourself to receive. And this means that neglecting to take care of yourself can negatively impact the quality of care you give others. You’ll get cranky and short tempered with those who need you, skip important steps, or make a serious mistake.

Now, while a long vacation is certainly a fabulous idea, it’s probably not practical unless you really do happen to have a lot of vacation days that you haven’t used up. (And oh my god, if you do, I’ll take them!) At minimum, taking the time to recharge your batteries can be as simple as taking a half an hour a day to yourself. The important thing is making even just a little time to give yourself a break, show yourself some love, and maybe even a little pampering.

Here are just a few things you might try to give yourself a little recharge:

  • Take a walk in the woods, a park, or the beach
  • Sit quietly outside with a cup of coffee and your newspaper or book
  • Make a little time for a sport you enjoy, such as golf, swimming, canoeing
  • Draw, paint or do something else creative
  • Treat yourself to other hobbies that make you happy
  • Have a candlelight bubble bath
  • Get a facial, manicure or pedicure (or all three!) or do a home facial
  • Get a massage: some therapists offer shorter chair massages that can be more affordable than a full massage for those on a tight budget.
  • Have a Reiki treatment or other type of energy therapy
  • Enjoy a glass of wine and a book before bed
  • Animal Therapy: Play with your pets, walk your dog, or see if your local shelter needs people to walk dogs and play with their cats.
  • Take yourself on a date to the movies or lunch
  • Meditate (And if you think you don’t have time check out this book!)

This certainly isn’t the be all end all list of things to do, and you might find something completely different to be relaxing and rejuvenating.

Sand on my ToesYou don’t have to do all the things, and you don’t have to dedicate hours a day to taking care of yourself, it’s just important that you think about your own well being every day, even if it’s just a quick meditation break or a walk around the block.

Once you’ve taken care of yourself, I promise, you can go right back to taking care of everyone else!

Love & Light.

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Why Celebrate?


MP900422102Now that the holidays are over, we have a bit of a break from what can sometimes seem like an overwhelming amount of festivities. Over the years, my opinion of holidays has ebbed and flowed. My first Christmas that I was working at a retail book store in a large mall, I loathed the holiday season. The only reason we had any Christmas decorations was because my mom sent over a table top fiber optic Christmas Tree.

Now that I live several states away from my closest family members, holidays around here are pretty low key. While I appreciate being able to lay low and not worry about who’s house to arrive at when and fitting parties into work schedules and all that, I confess that I do miss the bustle and busy-ness of visiting family and hyperactive, Christmas-supercharged children. At the same time, a quiet day of painting or reading is a pleasant little Christmas gift to myself.

MP900422657There’s a great deal of media hype about the so-called war on Christmas, which mostly boils down to a war of words about whether your Christmas should be merry or your holidays happy or your Yule Log bright. I think that despite the general negative press that the holidays get, the hype about how commercial and material they have become, and all of the general griping that goes along with it all, the holidays are good for us.

We all tend to work too hard, think too hard, feel too tired and crabby, too many days of the year. No matter how you choose to celebrate any holiday, whether you are one to throw a huge gala event, a family feast or celebrate at home with a good book, what’s important is that you allow yourself to have a little celebration in your life.

Celebrate the big things like Christmas and Thanksgiving, but celebrate the little things, too. Celebrate your birthday. Instead of lamenting your age, feel grateful that you have one more year of life to live and dreams to dream and chances to do the things you aspire to do.

MP900309665Celebrate the first robin of spring. Celebrate small successes and big victories. Celebrate births and milestones and anniversaries.

The choice to celebrate the good bits of life makes it a little easier to get through the mundane bits, and makes it easier to survive the rough times. It’s part of all that we do that helps us balance our lives, find new strength, and recharge our batteries.

So, it doesn’t matter if you want to celebrate something by dropping a few thousand bucks on gifts, or by having a cupcake at your desk, or by having a nap. Find ways to celebrate all that is good and right with the world.

Now, I think will celebrate completing this blog post. Perhaps with nap. 🙂

The Politics of Compromise


I don’t proclaim to know very much about politics.

Don’t get me wrong, I do understand how a bill becomes a law (Thanks to School House Rock!) and understand the branches of government and checks and balances and all that. What I am not, however, is a politician.

I have my opinions and beliefs, like everyone else, but I am not good at debating them. I have friends with polar opposite beliefs from me, and I tried very, very hard this campaign season to avoid most of the political topics for that reason. I guess because at heart I’m a pacifist and don’t want to start fights or hurt feelings. Probably also because I am empathic and my sensitivity to emotions makes me avoid fights, arguments, disagreements at all costs.

I believe that part of what makes America great is that we are all entitled to our opinions and are allowed to voice them without fear of death (for the most part). I think that what I am missing, and maybe what the country is missing, is the ability to calmly discuss these differences of opinion. Maybe you enjoy a good political rant, or get your jollies from a heated argument about policies, but it stresses me out.

Maybe because over the years I have naturally gravitated towards the desire to neutralize volatile situations, as I work with people I try to put a neutral balance to situations. It seems to me that politics could benefit from this mindset. It would be nice if we could drop the incendiary rhetoric and consider a more rational discussion.

Our country has clawed out way out of much worse situations in the last 236 years. There have been much harsher differences of opinion over the decades, as we built our country and rebuilt our country, fought for our freedom and fought for civil rights. Through all of it, it was when the leaders of our country worked together, listened to each other, and yes, argued, but found compromise, that great things were accomplished. When they paid attention the basic foundation set forth by the Declaration of Independence and the most basic ideals the country was built on, that was when we grew, and changed, and became stronger.

Change comes slowly, but it cannot be stopped. Countries older than the US remain stagnated in old traditions, creating far worse civil unrest and violence than we have seen here in our short history. It is not one person’s responsibility to make things better or worse, that responsibility belongs to all of us. That is what separates us from so much of the rest of the world.

My wish, as we sweep up the mess left behind from the political campaigns, finish celebrating, finish licking our wounds, is that perhaps politics can become less of a matter of “Your side is wrong, my side is right.” and more “How can we work together to make things right?”. Change is not going to come if all each party manages to accomplish is to successfully block what the other party is doing.

We the people have the power to take the first rational steps.