I met with my life coach Tara L. Robinson last week for a little soul sister support on this crazy writing journey. She asked me how things were going.

“A little crazy…” I began. “I wrote close to 10,000 words in blogs for clients…and that was on top of the digital marketing work I do….and I am managing social media for two businesses…”

I thought for a minute about all that I had accomplished in the previous week. “I guess today is kind of a celebration…my last deadline was yesterday. I really got to see what I could produce. I feel…accomplished.”

“Wow, that’s awesome!” Tara responded, “And what was that like for you? What is your day like when you have that much work and balance your family?”

“Well…I was getting up at around 5:30 or 6 to write…or sometimes just to do yoga and get a shower before I had to get the kids to the bus stop,” I replied.

Tara’s eyes widened and she broke into an enormous smile and let out a giggle. “Isn’t that IT right there?” She asked, “Yoga and a shower…the two things you need for the day? That’s a blog post title right there!”

That’s What I’m Talking About

Self-care.

We all need it…but do you do it?

Several years ago, when my children were younger, I REALLY struggled with self-care. When I say “struggled” with self-care, I mean more than actually finding the time to do it.

I struggled with believing that taking care of myself was a non-negotiable necessity, a priority over meeting the needs of others.  I put everyone else first and myself last–and I believed if I did anything for myself that I was selfish.

My belief in putting others first made sense, especially from a biological standpoint: not only are women hardwired for compassion, but the impulse for compassion is increased by higher oxytocin levels in the blood, a hormone present in breastfeeding mothers.

As a mother who breastfed my four babies for a combined total of nearly 10 years, I was on compassion overload–I felt everyone’s pain and neglected my own.

I was also raised Catholic, and while I appreciate many of the beautiful lessons and beliefs of my faith, the emphasis on serving others can sometimes be twisted into a belief that you are of less importance than others and that your own welfare and needs should be sacrificed for other people.

It took a health crisis for me to wake up and notice what I was doing to myself. Whatever benevolent forces there are in the universe to teach us the lessons we need to learn decided one day that I needed to stop.

I landed on my back, in pain, unable to do anything for anyone. And that was where I, like so many others, started the journey to understanding the absolute truth of the importance of self-care.

I learned that by neglecting my own self-care, I was actually not helping anyone else. The painful truth I had to face was that if I didn’t make it a priority I was going to end up as a bigger burden to my family than I was an asset.

I remember the day I fully understood what Jesus meant in scripture when he said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.

Ooooh. As yourself. Why hadn’t I noticed those two small, but very important, words?

I was 39 years old at that time. Lord willin’ and the creek didn’t rise, I  was not going to go downhill from there. I set it in my mind and intention right then that I was going to rise up to be a strong mother, a matriarch to my tribe.

The Lord was willing. The creek actually did rise–I would face crazy huge challenges on my healing journey.  One of my daughters spent 10 days in the ICU after a horseback riding accident and another daughter suffered the hemorrhage of a brain tumor in her cerebellum that required a 12-hour surgery to remove it.

I remained committed to my self-care through it all. I continued to remain strong in my certainty that self-care was #1 even through the financial and marital crises that came next.

And now, through quitting a job that paid the bills so I can fulfill my lifelong dream to be a writer–my self-care is still a #1 priority. Even when I produce 10,000 words in a week for clients and write here, too…I make time for a yoga session and a shower every once in awhile.

The creek may rise, but I will rise stronger.

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