I recently ran across the notion of “September resolutions” – intrigued, I read on. The idea seems to me to be a sound one – instead of making resolutions in January, when most of us are worn out, run down, and wondering how we’ll stretch the bank balance until the end of the month, why not take a few moments in the late-summer calm of September to re-think our goals? And – JUST AS IMPORTANTLY – to re-think our wants. Do you want to set aside time to read, to create, to re-kindle friendships, to spend time with your kids, or maybe to (finally) put yourself on the list and reclaim two hours on a September Sunday for yourself? Beat the Christmas rush – resolve to do it now! This can be a very quiet endeavor – after all, no one asks you about your September resolutions.
This is also a great time for me to take a moment to discuss the “frivolity” of self-care. After all, it’s easy to ignore self-care if you believe that it’s a silly thing, fit only for vapid celebrities with full-time personal assistants to carry their tiny dogs around in designer bags.
Quick note – it’s not. Not at all.
I get it – you feel guilty for taking time for yourself. This is not your fault – you are a clever woman and you know that plenty of people do not have the safety and leisure that you enjoy. You do not have to carry water from a well two miles away, or worry about gathering enough food to feed your family, or whether violent gangs are going to beat down your door in the middle of the night, intent of bringing harm into your house. Listen to me, Diva – there are Bad Things in the world. We all know that and self-care is not asking you to blithely ignore those things. Quite the opposite, in fact.
By taking care of yourself, by listening to the quiet spaces in your heart and honoring your need (yes, NEED) to rest and recuperate, your energy will come rushing into the calm area you have created and you can then turn that energy into action. By taking time for yourself, you won’t be too worn-out and resentful at the pulls and tugs of everyday life. You can participate in the “Stuff the Bus” drive for school supplies, you can visit the lonely and forgotten at the nursing home, you can write letters and e-mails to elected officials alerting them to your concerns and demanding that they pay attention to you – all this and more. But you must take care of yourself before you try to take care of others. Full stop.*
The world needs your passion, your drive, and your imagination. But those warming fires, which have built houses, families, and civilizations, will not burn forever unattended. Yes, it may seem that you’re simply taking twenty minutes to read, or to daydream, or to soak in a hot tub, but you are, in a very real way, making sure you have the energy to tackle tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that . . .
Take a few minutes to sit quietly and listen to yourself. What do you want? Truly want? The answer will come. I promise.
*Mind you, if you are taking proper care of yourself and not using your resulting calm to better the world, well – then you’re not a Diva. There’s another word for that and it’s not a complimentary one. There’s work to do in this world. We all must shoulder our share of it.