When eczema showed up on the palms of my hands as a product of stress, I knew that something had to change. I stood in that moment in my bathroom, crying that my body was falling apart. Husband was there to calm me and kindly let me know that maybe it was time to make some changes. I have health concerns that go beyond eczema, but nothing too serious at this point. As a mother, it can be hard to take care of yourself with others needing you in such a constant and intense way.
"I can be a mom to me too," some wisdom from a friend, who I met through blogging! These words really resonated with me. Thank you Friend. I moved thousands of km away from my mother at a young age, had all my children far from the support of family, and have had to be mindful (but not always successful) of avoiding burnout while raising my little ones. Luckily, Husband is a wonderful partner, but we are also conscious of him avoiding burning out as well. We don't have available childcare at the moment, any babysitter who is able to handle autism and twins is far beyond our budget!
2016 is the year that I learn to take better care of myself. There it is, in writing, for all to see. I do well with large goals and with telling others to create a greater sense of accountability. In 2014 I had a year of not buying any clothing or shoes, it was life changing. In 2015, we paid off a large monetary debt. In 2016, we have a lot of changes in store for our little family, and I need to be in top shape mentally, physically, and spiritually in order to make these transitions with grace rather than anxiety.
Mentally, I need to do what makes me ME. I am a creative. I need to create, every day. This is how I have always been, and I don't see it changing any time soon. Since having children, some of my methods of creating have changed, and I have realized that everything one does can be done with creative flair, a truly life altering concept.
Last night, I painted! A painting that takes more than one night to complete (I am a fast painter, it has been a while since I completed something more complex)! When I am painting, I can achieve flow, a complete absorption and feeling of energy and focus. It is amazing. And hard to find the time. Yesterday, I was driving home from a meeting with my son's occupational therapist and speech pathologist when an idea for a painting popped in my head. Instead of ignoring the idea, I ran into Value Village and bought some canvas to paint over- this is how people on a budget can afford painting. It was Husband's night out and I was cleaning up dinner, having movie night with the boys, folding laundry, and tidying up NEVER ENDING messes, thinking that I would certainly not get to painting... but I did. Wonderful. More of this.
Today is my day out. Opera with a dear friend! Music, theatre, art, reading (more paper books- less on my phone), writing, decorating, crafting, photography... more activities that fill me up.
Taking better care of myself physically, there is room for a lot of improvement in this area. I find this the easiest area to ignore when exhausted, which is why my number one goal is SLEEP. I am a night owl by nature, but I have children, and mornings need to happen no matter how I feel about them. Also, did you know that kids can wake up randomly and need you at any time and any age? Sadly, this is reality. Stricter bedtimes for this tired lady!
I know how to eat well, I just need to refocus. Filling the fridge with lovely produce and having healthy snacks available is so helpful. Feeling grateful that I have access to all this beautiful food is also helpful. Continuing with mindful eating (I love food), and less emotional eating (I love food when I am sad too).
I also know what physical activities I enjoy, and I am making time for them. I once read that the most important aspect of exercise, is finding activities that you love. Unfortunately, I do not delight in exercise... or sports. At all. Just being honest. Luckily, I love walking (outside), dancing, swimming, and (it's been a while) weight training. Best to stick to those activities then! I absolutely don't see how I could have any success with a workout program that I hated, and I have past experiences to back up that theory.
As for my spiritual health, I actually feel like this is my strongest area to begin with. Spirituality means something different to almost everyone. To some people, it can mean participating in organized religion, to others, it can mean finding connection with nature and the world around them. I feel a sense of connectedness and peace in general. My beliefs have matured, but not changed since I became an adult. I feel that life is a beautiful messy adventure and choose to look for the good in people.
I hope that if you are reading this, perhaps you will be inspired to take better care of yourself too? Life is hard. Being an adult is hard. Sometimes it seems easier to be kind to others and neglect our own needs. Remember, if your bucket is empty, you can't help fill someone else's bucket. In 2015 I lived with a nearly empty bucket, in 2016 I will be changing that.