self care

I recently found myself in a slump of sorts. Trivial things would frustrate me more than was reasonable, and I would fly off the handle without warning. The rational part of my brain knew I was being ridiculous, but I simply couldn't stop myself in those moments. Quotes from self-hep gurus would chastise me - "No one can make you angry. You are in control of your own emotions." Those quotes only made me want to punt a Stephen Covey book across a football field.

It took a lot of prayer and reflection to realize what was going on: I was not practicing self care

I felt frustrated that it had taken me so long to figure out why I wasn't acting like myself. I should have known! I should have recognized the signs! I had become a cliche, and I knew it. Having one baby had been fairly easy to adjust to. I got so much done during her naps, and I could easily handle her wants and needs. When a second child entered the picture we were overjoyed - but I was also overwhelmed. I had become a stressed out mother to young kids who put the children first, and forgot about her own needs.

But here's the reason I didn't recognize it: I was showering and putting on makeup every day. I was exercising and eating healthy. I even got enough sleep! (Don't hate me! We have blessedly good sleepers so far by the grace of God). My physical needs were taken care of. 

So what was missing? And if you're in the same situation, how can you figure out what the missing piece of the puzzle is? 

It was a Gretchen Rubin quote that turned on the light bulb for me: treat yourself like a toddler

Fill in the blank: I get cranky when...
(Here are my answers)
1. I'm cold
2. I don't drink enough water or eat healthy
3. My clothes don't fit right
4. I don't spend enough time with God
5. I don't have quiet time
6. I feel rushed
(Wow...this list makes me sound really high maintenance)

To me, self care is about knowing yourself and making sure your individual needs are taken care of so that you show up in the world as your best self. Honestly, it's not realistic or financially prudent for me to take a spa day or a girls' weekend whenever I'm feeling stressed. Those types of things are fun and refreshing, but not necessary. I'm talking about giving yourself a once-over, and making sure you're taking care of yourself not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.

Stop rolling your eyes. I saw that. Ok, fine, roll your eyes and get it out of your system. I used to roll my eyes at the idea of self-care, too. I thought it sounded so self-indulgent and selfish. I thought it was for the weak. I viewed life as a competition to see who could handle the most responsibilities, stress, or children without cracking. That was before I had my second child. That was before I saw how detrimental it was to my family to keep shoving down my physical, spiritual, and emotional needs. As wives and mothers we set the mood in our homes, and if our relationship with the Lord is lacking, our bodies are not getting the nutrition they need, or we are constantly forgetting to renew ourselves emotionally, we start snapping. And yelling. And being passive aggressive. And banging the dishes around in the kitchen because someone should know that we need help.

So what's the solution? Listen, I'm not going to pretend I know your individual solution. I'm not going to give you a trite list of self-care ideas like taking a bubble bath. It's going to take some introspection and good conversation with your spouse or someone else close to you. Figure out exactly what's making you cranky, and if there's a solution, find a way to implement it.

For example: I was feeling behind on my work, rushed, and spiritually weak, so I sat down with my husband over a glass of wine to tell him how I was feeling. Our solution was for me to get an hour or two on the weekends, uninterrupted by children, to get my school work done, and/or work on my business and blog. It's not much, but it makes a world of difference in my week. Most nights we prepare for the next day together so I'm not rushing around like a crazy woman. I found a Bible app on my phone that I can listen to, and a podcast devotional. 

Honestly, it's the small changes, the things that are easy to do, but easy not to do that make the biggest difference in my daily life. I know so many women who are doing amazing things and raising fantastic families, who are themselves worn out, not happy with their bodies, lonely, or just plain exhausted. It is my dream to create a community of wives and mothers who can encourage one another on to better physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Listen, I have no credentials or expertise on this sort of thing (I'm a Spanish teacher by trade...I can tell you with authority how to conjugate the pluperfect subjunctive, but I have no authority to tell you how to take care of yourself), but I do have a passion to be my best self in order to serve God, and to help other women do the same. Would anyone be interested in a private Facebook group/community to encourage one another?

During the months after my second child was born, I felt alone. I felt like every other mother handled that transition with ease. I felt like mothers with 3 or more kids looked at me with disdain. This was all in my head, of course, but it felt very real to me. I can't be the only one who has felt this way!

I'll just leave you with this thought:


let's have coffee

...or tea, or warm water with lemon, or whatever your beverage of choice is. I just have a lot of random things to chat about, so let's imagine you're dropping by to sit at my old second-hand table, sip coffee, and chat in a distracted sort of way because my toddler keeps jumping off things. Here we go!

+ Does your toddler pretend every couch, blanket, or bed is a boat, then load every possession they have ever owned onto aforementioned boat? No? Just mine? This must be payback - I have a vivid memory of sitting in my basement with a blanket spread out pretending it was a boat...

+ I made a delicious cookie butter cheesecake for my husband's 30th birthday, and then decided to cleanse today. So a half-eaten cheesecake was staring into my soul every time I opened the refrigerator...while I'm cleansing. I can't count the number of times I almost grabbed a fork and shoveled half that cheesecake in my mouth. Truly, I think the only thing that stopped me was my frugality - it would be such a waste of cleansing products if I broke a cleanse for a fleeting bite of cheesecake...

+ So yeah...my husband is turning 30 in a few days! (We had his birthday dinner yesterday since it's a busy week). I'm only 28, so that's super far in my future. Seriously, though, 30 used to sound SO OLD. Like you are an adult now - go do your taxes and attend your child's tee ball game. But now that we're almost there (some of us closer than others), it just seems like a great age. Mature and beyond the drama of our youth, but still young and vibrant!  

+ Anyone have good recommendations for casual sundresses? I'm on the hunt for some reasonably priced ones for everyday wear. So comfy. So simple. It's been in the upper 80s the past few days here in Florida, and I'm hoping the warm weather is here to stay. Sundress weather!

+ I find myself giving myself pep talks throughout the day. Example, "Come on. You can do it. Just get the keys out of the ignition and haul that car seat right into the house. It's not that far of a walk. I know you're tired kid, but just give me 30 more seconds." Then once we're inside the house, "Ok, it's not long now till you can sit down! Just get Pippa's lunch ready...that's it. I know that baby is screaming from his car seat, but just think of the peace and quiet once Pippa has her lunch, and you can feed the baby his bottle! Don't lose focus. Almost there."

+ How many half-empty (half-full?) water bottles do I haves stashed around the house? Answer: infinity. 

+ What are you reading right now? I just picked up "Breaking Busy" by Alli Worthington from the library. Would love any fiction recommendations - I have a list a city block long of personal development books to read. 

+ Well, aside from the cheesecake fiasco, this cleanse day went really well. Except now I'm starting to get hungry and it's almost 10 p.m., so I think that's my cue to call it a night. After all, the sooner I go to bed, the sooner I get to wake up and have a forkful of cheesecake. Followed by a delicious creamy chocolate shake blended with ice so it's like ice cream...


my wellness philosophy

Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself as you would treat a good friend.

Fruit is a divine gift from above, but it's not dessert.

Exercise to feel strong and confident. Exercise to be capable for your tasks. Don't exercise to be skinny.

Bright eyes and a cheerful smile create a happy heart.

Impromptu dance parties "count" as cardio for the day.

Hidden vegetables are the best vegetables.

Drink lots of water, maybe some wine on the weekends. I would say never drink soda, but every so often a girl needs a Cuba Libre with lime.

Sugar is not evil. Neither are carbs, fats, or dairy.

Spiritual health comes first. Stay connected to the Word.

Long walks with loved ones are good exercise, but more importantly they're good for the soul.

Read books that make you happy - not the ones that you think will impress others.

Take care of yourself physically, but don't deprive or punish yourself.

Eat healthy 80% of the time, and avoid extreme diets.

Cleansing sounds super weird and dangerous, but there is a safe and effective way to do it! Not to mention the Bible gives plenty of instances of fasting - it clears the mind and helps you focus on what's important.

Don't let others shame you for making healthy choices. They are projecting their insecurities onto you.

God has given you one body that is capable of amazing things. Take care of it.

God has given you a powerful mind. Cultivate it.

God has given you a bold spirit. Take chances.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Your Creator treasures, values, and loves you - live accordingly.

** disclaimer: I am not a personal trainer or registered dietitian. These are simply my views & experiences on staying healthy **