Hello Dear One:
I still get the “shoulds” on a regular basis. In fact, if I didn’t consciously stop myself, my whole day would be built on “shoulds.”
I “should” do this and I “should” do that. But I keep reminding myself not to “should” all over myself.
I Have a Permit
I’m 67 now and I have a permit that says it is all about “me time.” Jane Fonda says that older women are downright dangerous because they have nothing to lose. I agree!
But still, those hard won habits die hard. When I wake up in the morning, before I get out of bed, I say my Jewish gratitude prayer, Modeh Ani, which, in translation, says,
I offer thanks to you, my creator, for restoring my soul to me and for having faith in me.
Having Faith in Me?
It’s that last phrase, “having faith in me,” that always tickles me into a bit of a panic.
“Oh dear,” I say to my creator, “You have faith in me? Really? And, to do exactly what, if I may ask?”
And then, still in bed, the battle begins:
The AnnMerle of her first 50 years starts to see a checklist hovering above her. It’s the “I should get this done today checklist.” She feels a tightening around her heart and her body gears up for action. Even before the coffee, or now, herbal tea, she is geared up and ready to go. Ready to battle the list.
But no. NO. WAIT.
Taking Care of Me is Not Selfish
I stop and thankfully realize what is going on. It is so easy to slip back into that “go getter” mentality. This mindset has me moving from one task to another and I don’t really stop to think about what is important to me. Too often, the things on my list were about taking care of other people.
Is this being selfish? No, it is not. Plain and simple.
I have begun to ask myself, “What are my priorities?” What are the things that are crucial?
And, the answers today are starting to look very different from decades ago.
As many of you know, I have started to make a study of what self-care, for me, looks like.
What Does This Have To Do With My Kids?
Often, I get requests to help my kids in various ways that find their way onto my “should” list. While I know that my kids need help, and I feel great compassion for them, I have begun to think about the kind of role model I want to be for my kids.
I watch them working non-stop. I watch them burning the candle at both ends. I watch them overwhelmed with stress and my heart aches for them. But The answer is not to rescue them by swooping in to become the babysitter or nanny.
The answer is that I want to model how to live a sustainable life at whatever age you are and in whatever situation you find yourself.
I simply can’t take care of myself properly these days and continue to take care of others like I used to. You know, it is about putting your own oxygen mask on first.
So What Do I Do These Days?
Here’s just a few of the big, non-negotiable changes I have made over the past few years that I really protect:
Sleep Seven To Eight Hours A Night
This has been a work in progress and I am so thrilled with the changes I have made. I feel so calm and alive on the days when I get a good night’s sleep. I’m sure you do, too! I’m actually working on a three-part series that I will be sharing with you in late January and early February. So please stay tuned. And, if you would, please comment below and tell me what it would feel like to have solved your sleep issues?
A Nap after Lunch
Once I learned what it felt like to go through the day with a feeling of consistent and lively energy, I wanted that feeling all the time. Because it works best for my digestion, I try to have my largest meal in the mid-day.
Then I head up to my yoga room and lay down on my mat with my cozy red down throw over me. Sometimes I wear a hat and turn the heater on low. I put on an eye mask as well. Coziness, darkness, and warmth are crucial to relax into my nap. I set my phone’s timer for 15 minutes and breathe rhythmically to calm and relax me. It’s fine if I don’t fall asleep, but usually I am startled awake by my phone’s chime.
I have learned that 15 minutes gives me just enough rest to move through the rest of with the same beautiful energy as in the morning. I’m not groggy and I can go to sleep at my usual bedtime.
Movement That Feels Good
I have been learning to focus more on movement than on exercise. Whereas I used to run to my husband with that pickle jar and I now make a bigger effort to open it up. I want my hands to know that I expect them to do important daily tasks such as open jars.
I make an effort to walk up stairs using my butt muscles. I stop and move my arms and shoulders in circles. I take dance breaks! And, I just bought a jump rope to use when I want a brief break. (But, I’m terrible and just learning how to use it. You’ll not see videos of me jump roping any time soon!)
If you were brought up on a diet of only aerobic workouts on a treadmill or by running outside, consider how to get that same aerobic benefit for your brain and body in different ways.
Go to the woods and dance – you might see me there!
Slowing it Down
And, as an added insight, I wanted to tell you that after grocery shopping with my Mom, Florence, who is 86 and uses a walker, I was surprised to realize how I blast through my grocery shopping. While walking with her in the store, I slowed down, breathed more, and the experience took on a quite mindful glow. I learned an important lesson, yet again!
What shifts and changes have you made or are you contemplating? I ‘d love to hear. What does your life look like with a nap, with more movement, with more sleep and by generally slowing down? Let us know!
Love and Gratitude,
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