Recently I posted this on Instagram:
At the time, I fully believed that I was going to work hard, play hard and damn what my body thought of it! But no matter how much my mind was chanting LET’S DO THIS! My physical wellbeing and my emotional stability was crying for help.
I had a few warnings that I handled as succinctly as possible so that I could get back to work. I had it under control.
Until I didn’t.
I crammed a conference, parties, travel, my side hustle, edits, a wedding, a doctor's appointment, and my birthday into June. I didn't stop. And neither did my deadlines.
I’m an achiever by nature. Accomplishment excites me. Goals turn me on. Because I love doing and love what I do, I have a hard time noticing when stress is getting the better of me.
A glimpse of sanity happened on Thursday night. I had friends over and we hung out for a few hours. I started feeling … off then, and when they left, I was exhausted in a way that felt heavy. I told John, “I’m going to take tomorrow off.”
He responded, “Good. You should.”
Then my achiever brain chimed in, “But you have edits due in a week. You can’t take a day off.”
So here's what came out of my mouth next: "I can’t. I have too much to do."
I ignored my gut.
The next morning I climbed out of bed even though I was tired. I noodled around on the internet and posted that “GO GET ‘EM” Instagram. And then…
It didn’t happen suddenly, but slowly. I felt fatigue eating away at me and this time it was my good friend Lauren (Layne) who said, “Can you take the day off and go back to bed?”
This time I let my gut answer.
I texted back. “Yes. I can.”
I took a hot bath. I lit a candle and meditated. I sat in my bed and played every candy-themed game I own. And then my eyes grew heavy and I shut my eyes for a nap.
I slept so hard it was like I hadn’t slept at all the night before.
I woke up and watched Coco on Netflix.
Then I laid around some more.
I finally climbed out of bed around five to eat one of the healthy vegan meals I’d prepped the day before (go, me!), and started feeling incrementally better.
The point? I needed a break. A mental break that I'd needed a few days prior, and a physical break that made me feel as if I’d been loaded down with sandbags.
Right before that healthy nourishing meal, John—oh, wise guru and man I’m lucky to be married to—said he'd noticed something recently. “You’re really good at taking care of me, at taking care of your editors and your friends. What you’re not good at is taking care of yourself.”
You know how when someone says something to you that isn’t that new of an idea, but the way they say it, it feels new?
I was struck dumb by his observation.
Honestly, what John said challenged my beliefs. I mentally argued that of course I take time for myself. But then I realized...
Taking time for yourself isn't the same as caring for yourself.
All the comments I'd made in the past about writing in my PJs and not showering until 5 PM, and forgetting to eat lined up in front of me like a firing squad. Maybe I didn't do a good job of taking care of myself. Yes, the work is rewarding. Yes, the writing is everything I need some days. But that doesn't change the fact that I am a human being not a book machine.
A fact that hit me like a ton of bricks when I forced myself to go out to the boat and absorb the sunshine.
What I said to John, and Daisy (who was busy stealing the Captain’s chair for herself) was:
“I need a new word of the year.”
My word for 2018 is EXPAND, and boy-howdy have I tried expanded this year! I’ve leaned in, tried new things. I’ve said yes over and over and over again to good things. Great things!
Maybe it was time to stop EXPANDING and enjoy the richness of all the wonderful new ventures I've pulled into my life.
What I didn't know was that my midyear word had been whispering to me for weeks. In all the random places, I opened up my Bitmoji app that day and this popped up first:
Freaking self care!
That was it. That was the new word of the year. (Or words, if you want to nitpick but I liked the hashtag, so I'm keeping it as one.)
I’d been thinking about changing it a week ago, another impulse I ignored. (Rookie move, Lemmon.) I thought about MAINTAIN but maintain sounded like doing the same thing I was doing and what I was doing was wearing me out.
I still have great things to do, but can I do them and not end up a husk afterward? Can I expand without costing myself my health and well-being?
#SELFCARE is no longer a luxury. It's a necessity. If I don’t take care of me, I can’t do what I love: write books and make people smile.
I'm tackling this week clearheaded. I'm still not 100%, but my priorities are simple. #SELFCARE isn't negotiable. How do I care for myself? Among my list of to-do's are the following:
- 15 minute Shiatsu massage
- Take a walk
- Wash my hair
- Pet the dog
- Skin care regimen
- Read for fun
On the Instagram post, I mentioned if things weren't slowing down for you, then you were tribe, but you know what?
I take it back.
I’m not great at caring for myself, but I'm going to be. And if you're someone who recognizes the need to take care of YOU before you devolve into some emotionally drained, physically ill shell of a human being, then, my friend, you're my tribe.
*Your thoughts are welcome below. Did I say anything that struck a chord?