I was out on my deck today. A hot tea steaming on the table. My flower pots awaiting me. I took a little time to fill and plant. With the promised hope of my mug nearby. And, although, in truth, I had to drag myself out the door to start-so worn in body and soul am I, once there, warm sun beating down upon me, hands in dirt, flowers happy. I was soul satisfied.
Self-Care. It is something I have been pondering a lot lately. The concept first lay hold of me through the writings of Elizabeth Foss. Her book Real Learning (sadly out of print and so expensive on Amazon, I am not even linking it!) has a famous chapter on battling back from burn-out. She also sometimes refers to Self-Care on her blog. Caring for your own well: physical, spiritual, emotional, so that you have something to give to those in your care. I have also taken Sally Clarkson as a personal mentor and she often mentions taking care to fill your own heart. My sister once (not too long ago!) told me that I needed to find my “thing” that was like running to her. We both thought it was writing. My thing that centered me soul, quieted my mind and heart, gave me rest.
It has taken me many years and a three year old til I have finally been in the place to desperately, thirstily start practicing this.
I know what it is like to have a day so full of homeschooling and urgent life matters, a husband/Dad with a career that often requires me to just be the one at the helm by myself, and now children reaching out to young adulthood so that our lifestyle takes two parents just to get it all done. So. If this is you. Hugs to you. And, I totally get it, dear Mama, if you cannot even do one of these things for five minutes. Yes. I get it. Because the truth is, life is hard. And there are so many things that can overthrow the best of intentions. And we are frail…just made of dust. And God knows that- better than even we do. And for so many years, hearing the condemning voices in my head- let me be a voice of hope and grace.
But- a list… If this provokes your heart to yearn… join me in the challenge to list the things that nourish and fill your well. And then take five minutes and practice one or at least make a little plan for one…
(Note: I drink tea and coffee every day and I often “take a minute” with a hot mug or as I am going about my duties. So, I didn’t list that here…but it is certainly a major part of my routine! )
1.)Prayer, Scripture Reading, and Christian Resource reading (i.e. Bible studies and growth books like Doorposts 30 Day Bible Studies, Girl Talk, Raising Real Men, Desperate, The Life Giving Home)
2.)Writing and Journaling
3.)Refreshing my music skills (I started taking a little time to practice under the tutelage of my oldest son and it has been so good for me.)
4.)Working with my flowers outdoors
6.)Novel Reading (for me, almost anything by Lucy Maud Montgomery seems to settle my mind, edifying Christian fiction, Elizabeth Goudge, etc.)
7.)being present enough and centered enough to photograph my children and working on Photobooks and photo projects
8.)time out with Todd: coffee dates, dinner dates, weekend away dates 🙂
9.)Lighting candles and having pretty flowers about. I love carnations because they are inexpensive, so pretty, and long lasting.
10.) Coffee times with friends
Extra Bonus items:
Naps. Sometimes I consciously force myself to try to rest. I have been having trouble sleeping and I can just keep going going going and then. It is not going well!!
Bubble baths or hot showers with no time pressure hustling me out the door:with all the care of grooming, lotions, and lots of hot water
Baking – my Dad once astutely noticed that I bake when I am happy and I bake when I am relaxing. I have also found myself baking during a time of horrible care and concern for someone I loved. The happy aspect of chocolate chip cookies and the soothing mindlessness of ingredients lined up on the counter- it helped.
Conversations with my people about everything under the sun
Taking care to order the home so that it presents a pretty and clean face to mine- this soothes my soul like no other- but getting there is sometimes SO hard.
How can you fill your own soul with what is beautiful, good, worthy of praise?