Earlier this year I started posting “what I learned” each month and participating in Emily P Freeman’s link up to share with the blogosphere what I learned. I’m a little late for September seeing as how it is already the second week of October but never mind. I just discovered that EPF has switched up her “what I learned” link up format from monthly to seasonally.
I have found the act of reflecting on the past month and thinking about what I learned or did not learn to be therapeutic and gave me a perspective on life that I might not otherwise have. Even though the link up will only be four times a year, that doesn’t mean I have to stop the monthly practice.
Upon looking back on September, I’m surprised at how busy it was. Despite the fact that I started the summer and school year off with a concerted effort to say no and not over schedule myself, it was still slammed. I had three back to back to back travel weekends followed by the responsibility of planning our school’s biggest fundraiser in addition to all the regularly scheduled activities.
Somewhere amidst the mess I remember finding myself at home one or two days without a pressing engagement. A few hours stretched ahead of me before I had to pick the boys up or be somewhere and I found myself wondering what to do. Part of me wanted to be here, on the blog, while another part of me wanted to work on Recipe Archaeology. (By the way, if you have not yet subscribed to Recipe Archaeology, stop what you’re doing right now and go subscribe. Click here then come back and finish reading what I learned in September.)
Another part of me wanted to sit down and read a book. I love to read and often find myself complaining that I don’t get to read for pleasure as much as I would like. It feels like the only time I can find to read is late at night when my eyes are burning and starting to cross from exhaustion. When I was faced with a little bit of free time during the day I considered sitting down to read but something held me back and I vacuumed the floor instead.
I think that I am finding it harder and harder to take time just for me and that makes me sad.
I’m so used to going ninety to nothing, getting stuff done, making decisions for other people, producing results that when faced with the opportunity to do something that will only result in relaxing and turning a page, I feel like I’m being unproductive.
What is it about doing something for yourself that feels…selfish?
My heart tells me that I should be taking care of myself, finding a yoga class, exercising, doing things that feed my soul. But my head tells me that those activities aren’t as important as taking care of the people around me and the organizations that need my help. Sitting still in my quiet house or yoga studio feels too indulgent. Like everyone else is clawing away at the rat race of life and I’m just basking in the silence of alone time. It almost feels like reading a fiction book is tabu and should be only done under the cover of darkness.
The closest I came in September to taking care of myself was making it to my mammogram appointment. But that was only after my lady doctor, general practitioner and Dear Husband hounded me about it. Let me tell you that sitting in a waiting room dressed in a cape, avoiding eye contact with other women dressed in capes, waiting to get my girls smashed is not my idea of a spa day. If I’m going to disrobe for a woman in scrubs it better involve hot rocks or some sort of exfoliating scrub and pan pipe music. (Side note…it’s all good. It was a regular ol’ boob check up. Apparently, after you turn 40 you start to fall apart and everyone expects your body to wither up and betray you so you have to have regular appointments to see if the betrayal has started.)
So what did I learn in September?
I learned that as much as I want to slow down, do the things that I enjoy, there is a part of me that won’t allow it.
What is the secret to being kind to yourself when other things need to be done? How do I stop feeling guilty for treating myself to the simple act of reading a book when the floor needs to be vacuumed, laundry put away, newsletters need to be written, teachers need help in the classroom, memoirs need to be edited, bloggers need support, board meetings need to be attended?
How do you treat yourself and still take care of others? I want to know. Maybe it will be what I learn in October.