self-care

Because I’m Worth It

Yesterday I remarked to a friend that it had been months, literally, since I "went shopping."

“My mom and I used to go shopping all the time,” I said, recalling fond memories of shopping trips and lunches out. “She loved to wander through the malls and stores, especially when the seasons changed. She rarely bought anything, and if she did, she usually returned it! But she enjoyed looking at all the ‘pretty things’” as she called them."

But shopping lost it’s luster for me a long time ago.

TLC for Me

Writing gives me an opportunity to spend time thinking, and most of what I think about is myself - or at least myself in relation to my family, my home, the world around me, and the things I love to do.  Because I’m introspective by nature, I spend a lot of time dwelling on and writing about my inner thoughts and feelings, and during this year I’ve been paying special attention to those things that help me live the life I desire. I chose the word “Devotion” as my touchstone for the year: I aimed for it to remind me to practice devotion toward the things I deemed important, to treat them with tender loving care. Reflecting on the past 10 months, I can see many ways in which I’ve achieved that goal. I’ve been more careful with my schedule, giving me more time to spend with my family and at home where I’m happiest. I’ve worked to shift my perspective toward an attitude of gratitude, to slow down and appreciate the ordinary sparkling moments that fill each day. I finished my book, Life In General, and it will soon be ready to send to print.

This morning I spent some time with my journal, and I found myself called to write about something that rarely comes up in those pages.

My body.

Treat-YourSelf-to-Day-of-Pampering-with-Botox-and-Pedicure

I’m 58 years old. I’m beginning to notice that parts of my body, this healthy organism that I’ve been taking for granted all these years, doesn’t feel like it once did. My knees ache when I walk too much, especially when I do my beloved Leslie Sansone Walk at Home exercise tapes. My feet hurt every day and I have to wear ugly flat shoes all the time. My hair feels dry and sandy when I touch it. There are bags under my eyes large enough to hold a wardrobe for a European vacation.

I feel as if I’m drying up from the inside out.

It occurred to me this morning that the one thing I’m not very devoted to is this very important part of me: the flesh and bones that house all the activities, thoughts, and feelings I’m so interested in exploring with my writing. I expect a lot from it every day, and I expect it to fulfill those expectations without trouble. Thankfully, for most all of my 58 years, it has done so without complaint. But now, like an exhausted toddler after a long day,  it’s beginning to whine for a little attention.

I’ve never been one to pamper myself with things like spa treatments, oils and perfumes, or designer outfits. They always seemed like unnecessary extravagance. And with age, my interest in those things has diminished even further.

I’ve treated my body with respect but not with tender loving care.

Not with devotion.

I’d like to change that. I want to explore the sensual part of me, to take time to care my physical body. Tend to it. Love it. Smooth fragrant lotion over its dry skin. Keep it warm with soft sweaters and scarves that look as good as they feel against my skin. Feed it fresh, simple food I’ve prepared myself. Move it freely and happily, letting music inspire shoulders, hips, and feet to move in their own way.

I want to notice it, caress it, give it the love and devotion it deserves after so many years of solid service. Lavish it with love and attention.

Devote myself to feeling good, from the outside in.

Turning the Page

One of my favorite things about a New Year is a new calendar. I love seeing all the blank pages with their empty squares waiting to be filled. Even though many of those squares will contain mundane things like haircut appointments and rehearsals, there will also be outings with friends and concerts and even a trip or two. There will be, of course, disappointing day - days when I fall short of the expectations I make so eagerly every year as I begin to pencil plans and dreams onto those blank pages. But I am learning to be gentle with myself over those failures, even when they seem monumental. It’s okay, I whisper, much as I would to my little grandson were he to present me with some sadness.  I love you no matter what.

page turningAs I begin 2014, I am excited, I am eager, I am looking forward to a year I intend to devote to ME.  That sounds selfish, doesn’t it? When I was growing up, “selfish” was a dirty word, and the last thing I ever wanted to be. It was a lesson I internalized extremely well. Like many women I spend much of my time tending to the needs of others, and although these are things I do with great love they sometimes take every ounce of my energy, leaving me irritable and unhappy.

But as my friend Deb Smouse reminds me, “When you are living a happy, full, and complete life, you give others a gift. The greatest gift you can give the world is a happy you.” I’m happiest when I have time and space which I can devote to the things that feed my soul. While none of those things are extravagant or expensive, they are invaluable to me in terms of helping me feel fulfilled, energized, confident - happy. They are as simple as sharing morning coffee with my husband, walking my dogs through the quiet streets of our neighborhood, spending time at my keyboards playing with words and music.

As I turn the calendar page on January 1, my life is serene and in order.  I am where I want to be, literally and figuratively, after spending the past few years churning in a sea of cluttered physical and emotional space. My head is above that water now, I can breathe freely and turn my attention inward. I can look at the blank pages and empty squares of my life and begin to fill them with what is important to ME.   I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to do that.

I want 2014 to be the year  I lean with joy into this life I love. The year I write more seriously and more often.  The year I  publish a book of essays called Life in General, culled from the 2000 blog posts I’ve written in the past seven years. The year I dive into self care routines that nourish my body and spirit. The year I read more thoughtfully and carefully. The year I learn to live more in the real world than the virtual one.

But although I want these things for my little life, I have learned to temper desires such as these to the dictates of reality. I am long past the point of worrying about whether I achieve every item on a list. Sometimes it’s enough to just make the list, to know those aspirations are there like distant stars on the horizon, to fondle and play with as life permits.

deserve the time and energy to dedicate to my dreams and passions. This is the year I intend to take it.

So let’s turn the page and begin.