Zen: (noun) A Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Exercising Self Care

Self care should always include pink roses.

Whenever I used to hear the term "exercising self care", I always thought, "I exercise self care all the time!  I'm married to a man who takes care of my house, rubs my feet, and indulges my need for massages, mani-pedi's and Target time.  Anything else would be selfish!"  My idea of self care consisted of what I could spend on myself without feeling guilty.  "I deserve these new shoes.  I shouldn't feel guilty.  I'm just taking care of myself." 

It also worked well when trying to rationalize yet another case of wine purchased.  I knew we were broke, I knew I was drinking too much, I knew I should be buying cheaper wine but I was exercising self care!  I work hard...I deserve it.  But that's another post entirely...in fact, I've probably already written it.


As I meander my way through recovery to find and maintain my zen, I've come to realize that self care isn't what you do to yourself.  It's figuring out what feeds your soul, who makes you happy, and what gives you joy, and then arranging and rearranging your life until you find the balance that makes and keeps you sane.  That place you can go after a long day at work that included an event filled with empty chatter from people you don't like (oops...that might just be me) where you can just be.  It's surrounding yourself with those things on a regular basis.

Along the way I've learned a thing or two.

I've learned that I need about an hour of alone time every night before bed.  I need to go in my room, close the door and read, or watch TV or play on my iPad.  I look forward to that time in the evening the way I used to look forward to my glass (bottles) of wine.  I've learned that in order for me to be the kind of mother, wife, friend I want to be, I have to indulge this part of me.  Maybe not every night, but most nights.

I've learned that life is too short to hang around people you don't like or who drain your life force.  Sometimes you have no choice.  A co-worker who is negative and sits right beside you spreading negativity all day can't be avoided.  A niece who only calls when she wants something or is in crisis is, unfortunately, a cross that has to be borne.  But when I've had just about all I can handle, I know I need to do something to get my zen back.  Meditation, yoga, a call to a really good friend or a heart to heart with the hubs usually works.

But if at all possible, I've learned to extricate myself from "life suckers" and, and this is the important part so pay attention, not feel guilty about it.  I have a neighbor who has seen some heartache in the last few years.  She's a wonderful person but her whole life is spent dwelling on the negative and all of our conversations center around "woe is me".  Our friendship was beginning to become more than I could handle, so I backed away.  I created space.  We're still friendly but not in the way we used to be.  Thing is, I never would have done this before - I would have endured because I needed for people to need me.  Plus, I never would have wanted to hurt her feelings or for her to think badly of me.  Now I know that's it's just something I need to do and I stop worrying about what's in her head - it's none of my business anyway.

The wonderful thing is that I'm learning new things every day.  We have a wedding back home this weekend.  It's an 6-8 hour drive and we're taking the granddaughters home as well.  In a prior life, I would have made myself miserable trying to please everyone and get to every one's house to hang out and see everyone and please everyone but me.  I would be stressed and cranky and overly anxious.  There would be a strict schedule to maintain and no one, especially me, would have found the visit pleasant at all. 

Um...not so much.

Well not this time missy.  We'll drive up on Friday night.  Stay at my daughters house.  Leave for the wedding on Saturday early enough for me to stop and see my best friend for an hour or so before the wedding.  It's on the way AND I really need to lay eyes on her and get a hug (another way I'm exercising self care).  Then we'll go to the wedding where I'll see even more friends that I love and miss in the most beautiful and positive setting possible.  Then back to the daughter's to sleep and up and on the way home early Sunday morning.  I'll be exhausted but I will have fed my soul and not made myself a nitwit.  Win-win!

I love that I'm still figuring things out about myself even at the advanced age of 52.  I love this journey of recovery and all of the little gems it brings.  Yes, I wish I had known all this when I was younger but I'm not sure I was ready to know it.  All things in God's time.

And if all else fails...Target will be there waiting with open arms.


"Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony." ~ Mahatma Gandhi


  1. Great advice. I still don't chose friends well more in that I let friends go I should have sur the effort in to hold on to.

  2. oh this is SO TIMELY for me right now... so timely.. all so good and true and strong. You're my lamp lighter xxxx

  3. What a wonderful post, Sherry. I can relate to so much of this. I too need my "man cave" time in the basement...this is where I just chill, read the blogs, play Angry Birds Star Wars, meditate, etc. while my wife has her own time with reality TV shows and the daschund on top of her. It's important that we all have that sort of sacred time with ourselves. And you're right, this is the time I would be hitting the booze harder. Alone time only means boozing time.

    We're growing, getting more comfortable in our skins, learning what serves us and what doesn't.

    Beautiful stuff...loved, loved this.


  4. I absolutely loved this post! You put to words perfectly what I am going through right now. Loved reading this! Thank you!