I’m sitting here rather numbly with my morning coffee. I sip it now and then. I’m not exactly groggy, but my brain hasn’t quite fired up yet, either. I’m in that limbo between engaging the world and sort of just… coasting.  I’m tired. My mind is foggy. I still have shit to do today that some portion of my consciousness really wants me to focus on, even though it is well before 5:00 am, and too early to actually do any of it. My acid reflux resents my morning coffee, today. My arthritis pain objects to being up, at all. I feel annoyed with myself, in a vague unsettled way. I feel the discontented, uncomfortable, frown on my face – I know the look; it’s on every toddler, ever, who was being directed to do something they don’t care to be doing. The frown before the tantrum. Fucking hell. This? This morning?

I have another irritated sip of coffee.

I really wanted to sleep in this morning. I would like to spend the day relaxing in the garden, or painting in the studio. Like most folks, I have to work for a living. One more day, then the weekend. I’m ready for it. I’m aware that my feeling of “too much to do” is more a matter of “anything to do that isn’t for/about me just at the moment”. It’s a feeling that signals failing myself on self-care, in some way.

I sip my coffee and think over my self-care of late, and find I’ve wandered into a quagmire of small oversights and compromises labeled “2018”. Well, shit. It’s not a real thing to “make up for it” – time has passed. We become what we practice, and when I fail myself on my self-care over time, I pay for it in mornings like this, and feelings of being burdened, overwhelmed, overworked, overtired… and I’m over it. lol 🙂

I take a deep breath, then another, and sit more comfortably. I clear my developing “to do list” and begin again – with me. What do I need to feel rested? To feel satisfied that urgent matters are handled? A very different list begins to take shape, and I start to see where my compromises have developed, and what they are costing me in wellness, in rest, and in accomplishments. Too much drama and craziness in a particular portion of my social network has taken a toll on my energy and my emotional resilience. I need to “reclaim my time” from the soul sucking vampires of OPD (Other People’s Drama) and media content. I could use a break, too, from “reruns”; content so familiar and well-loved that I lose time and bandwidth to it, without really watching/listening anymore. Distractions from… from what? Life? I don’t really want to be distracted from that. I begin to feel lighter and a bit more free, merely acknowledging the concerns. It feels good to “be heard” – and possibly especially by the woman in the mirror.

I think about a colleague who has grown dear to me over time. She’s “putting in the hours” – but I caught her crying at her desk, overwhelmed, and overworked. Her choice? Not if she is being obligated, or pressured, clearly – but perhaps it just hadn’t occurred to her that her actual life has value outside the office? She’s young. Committed. Earnest and passionate about her craft. On my way out, I rather sternly insist she call it a day and go home, get some rest, and remind her that life is not about what we do to earn the money to live it. Fuck, I’ve been there, though. You, too? Working harder than necessary, for less than the respect due, fully knowing it isn’t going to be valued – only expected, going forward. Fuck that bullshit. The contract says 40 hours. You get 40 of my fucking hours. I have my own life to live, and the time left over is already heavily compromised. Not enough work getting done in those 40 hours? Guess what that means? The job takes more people. Period. When we attempt to shore things up through pure human effort at the expense of our own wellness, we’re not actually fixing anything at all – and we won’t be appreciated for it, only exploited. 😉

Take care of that fragile vessel. I smile and sip my coffee. Self-care is a pretty big deal. I didn’t really “get it” until I was living alone; having to fully handle 100% of my self-care, myself, was a new thing – and I didn’t realize how much there was to do, or how much I was handing off to partners, to friends, to therapists, to strangers on buses… Self-awareness is an important starting point for really good self-care. When we yearn to “be heard”, it’s often that person in the mirror who is not listening. Getting past the guilt we so often feel when we do attempt to care for ourselves is probably the first real challenge in practicing good self-care. “Who am I to put work aside and leave the office “early” (after 10+ hours), when I could do more…?” Yes, well… there are unfortunately quite a few employers, and people, who count on us to abuse ourselves with our guilt and misplaced sense of obligation; it makes us so much easier to exploit for personal gain.

I make a frowny face as I finish my coffee, and remind myself to practice the same exceptional self-care I encourage my colleague to practice. I’m quite human. Feeling numb, tired, and a bit overwhelmed is a warning – failing to heed it, and really take care of myself, would be fairly stupid, at this point in my life. I make a plan to disconnect from the internet, social media, content reruns, and drama – and instead, spend the weekend “here for me”, at home and in the studio. In doing so, the things with some urgency that remain on my “to do list” seem rather less overwhelming, and more just a couple things I need to get done. It’s an improvement. It’s enough.

I’ll probably always be practicing; I need the practice. We become what we practice.

It’s time to begin again. 🙂