As much as I believe in “little and often” when it comes to self-care, some days just require more than that. Actually, it’s not that some DAYS require that, today’s post is more about what to do when the days turn into weeks. And they will from time to time, Divas. They just will. If you have become “une femme d’un certain âge” (and you more than likely are, if you’re here), you know the turbulent times to which I refer. Work has strict deadlines, and the dishwasher overflows, and your adorable child tells you as you’re tucking her in that, oh yeah, she’s supposed to bring 30 cupcakes for the class bake sale tomorrow, and your parents need some attention from you, and, and, and . . .
When you’re at this point, a bubble bath and a cookie won’t fix things. You need, to quote Jaws (yes, I know that seems strange, but stick with me here), a bigger boat to take care of this problem. While I heartily recommend scheduling a 12-hour vacation, that might be impossible. So what’s a Diva to do?
Put. Yourself. First.
Read that again.
Not “take care of everything and everyone THEN put yourself first.” No. Nope. Not at all. (To continue the Jaws metaphor, that’s just spreading chum on the waters.) When you reach this point, it’s usually because you’ve gotten so good at pulling rabbits out of your hat that people just think there’s an inexhaustible supply of bunnies in there. There’s not, so quit acting otherwise. That’s not the soothing smell of woodsmoke wafting through the air; that’s burnout and it’s you that’s smoldering.
The secret here is to not make a big deal out of your step back from the ledge. Just – very quietly – take some time for yourself. Take shortcuts for anything that HAS to get done, but – more than likely – you can just push everything back one day and still be okay. (In the case of the cupcakes – which really might have to be there in the morning – just buy them from a grocery. Throw some confetti sprinkles on them and – voila! – it’s a party.)
I am able to give this advice, dear Divas, because I know of what I speak. After an extended period of rushing from crisis to forest fire to cataclysm, I just couldn’t do it anymore. My little tried-and-true fixes (good food, walking in the sunshine, treats, taking a half hour to sit and read, etc.) not only weren’t working; they seemed like chores. So I took Sunday off – hard. I did some fluffing about the house to feel more settled and “at home.” I set up a space devoted to painting instead of forcing that hobby that does so much to ground me having to share space with work and pets. I painted my face with a honey mask and practiced French stretched out on the bed. I wore good perfume and red lipstick, even though I wasn’t going anywhere.
Taking this time off didn’t solve my problems – they are still there and they’re still pretty big obstacles. But it DID allow me to reset my attitude and see the issues for what they truly are – glitches that everyone is likely to have to deal with. The Universe is not out to get any of us. Really, it’s not.
Take care of yourself, so you can take care of the world.
Often that can be done “little and often.” But when you need a bigger boat, go get one. And stop spreading chum.