As summer begins to wind down here in the upper midwest, my gaze turns toward those delicious fall days, the crisp, cool air, the crunchy leaves—you know, basically every autumn cliché you can think of is completely my jam.
A year ago, I didn’t realize fall was going to shake me up health wise. I was doing mostly okay in my brain and what not (if you put aside the anxiety I worked through after sending my second born off to college and all that it entailed). My cheap red wine happy hours were definitely a big part of my coping mechanism during that time, and looking back, I do see myself wanting to escape the pain of everyday life, however small and neurotic that pain may have been.
The unknown is painful for people who like to know what’s coming.
I have been that person for as long as I can remember and until I started working with a therapist back in 2011, I probably would not have sought to change it. I mean, I liked the feeling of being in control. Of thinking I knew what was coming. It explains a lot about who I became on this planet.
You might be wondering what being in pain has to do with self-care. Or maybe you’re not thinking that at all. Either way, I have a few thoughts on the subject.
First things first: I want to define what self care means to me, because it really is bandied about like a catch all for pretty much everything and anything that makes you feel good.
Manicure? Self care. Naps? Self care. Taking a mental health day from work? Self care. Buying those shoes you’ve been eyeing for a few months? Self care.
And really, all of those things do, quite possibly, make a person feel better.
Everyone wants to feel better. I certainly am not unique in this.
But over the past several years, I’ve been trying to connect to what is really needed on any given day and what self care looks like to me when I’m being fully responsible for my life. What I mean by fully responsible is that everything, and I do mean everything, is mine alone to handle. My health, my work, my emotions, my pain, my frustration, my love—and the list goes on.
It’s not Dan’s job to take care of me. It’s not my children’s responsibility either. It’s my job to wake up every day and say, “Okay… what’s next? How can I be present today and do what is needed?” And probably most importantly: “What can I offer to those I love and the world at large today?”
I’d never even considered what was needed before therapy. It was only what I wanted. What do I want right now? What do I want every single minute of my life? How do I feel and what am I getting? It was a very young perspective to have, and becoming an adult is basically what I’ve been working on for many, many years now.
For some people, that just comes naturally. It didn’t for me.
Some of you might see a drop of yourself in my words today. Sometimes the drop is the beginning of the proverbial stream, and so on and so forth.
I don’t write about this a lot because I’m not completely all in on it just yet. I still cling to vestiges of the old me, because a new, fully adult and responsible me doesn’t feel quite as normal. And that’s okay, too.
But my point today is that taking care of me is both a big job and really, not that big of a job. It’s not that big of a job when I focus and remember: this is my job. These are my choices. Some days are hard. Some days are easier. Life has pain and it’s also my job to respond in kind like a grown-ass adult human. If I’m responsible in the area of feeding myself and moving my body, and I gather some momentum, it gets easier.
I needed to make changes when my blood pressure was high last fall. It scared me. It reminded me that I’m not here and healthy forever. And I buckled down and used those abstainer, all-or-nothing tendencies that make up my personality to effect some change.
I’m still effecting.
A year ago, I just just under 200 pounds with high blood pressure. Today, I’m down 40 and the numbers all look good. There is no destination, however, because it’s just a process. This process needs to be integrated into every day. I wish this magically happened for me. It doesn’t. It takes a renewal to caring and being fully responsible every single day.
But it’s my job and I’m presently equal to the task.
This year, on some levels, is winding down. I am fully committed to offering Fit in 2020. I love documenting this journey, both during ups and downs, because it does help me to remember that I got this, and even on the days when I clearly don’t, there is a path back to the center. If you are struggling with taking care of you, I just want to send you some love today and remind you that it’s okay to struggle, and maybe tomorrow will be a bit easier.
Thanks for reading.
p.s. people have asked if they can still join Fit 2019, and the answer is yes! If you want to get started now, instead of waiting for that new year to roll around, I encourage you to join. You’ll access the past 8 months of materials and messages to give you a boost right now! Fit 2019 runs through December, and I will be launching registration for the new year, Fit 202o, beginning December 15, 2019!