Taking Care of Myself (and Others).

So much of my effort this year has been about taking care of myself. I hope it hasn’t been selfish. I don’t think it has. I just feel like there is so much aggression out in the world that I have to be extra diligent about both preparing myself for it and shielding myself from it. For me, that’s meant really looking at what improves my life and what doesn’t.

The changes I’ve made so far feel huge to me.

  1. Dave and I canceled our cable service at home. We haven’t had television much of the year, and we haven’t missed it, except for those rare occasions that there is a tennis match I want to watch. I still get to watch General Hospital on Hulu. Aside from that, the television is largely off, which feels amazing.
  2. I’ve taken on caring for my body in a new way. Between eating more carefully (most of the time) and adding strength training to my schedule, I’m seeing a huge difference in my body. I’m fitting back into clothes I haven’t worn in a while, and I am seeing muscles, particularly in my arms.
  3. I’ve worked on making my house more natural. That’s meant changing my cleaning supplies, my laundry supplies, my bath supplies, my deodorant, and my makeup. I haven’t perfected those products (particularly the deodorant), but I feel like the house is less chemically – is that a word? – and safer, which I love.
  4. I’m filling my brain with goodness as much as I can. While I drive, I’m listening to Audible, usually a memoir or non-fiction of some kind. At home, I’m trying to read more, particularly now that the television is off. On social media, I’m staying away from vitriol in community pages.
  5. I have made a point of connecting in person with people who bring me joy. I’ve reached out to people for coffee, for lunch, or to join me at events. Every time I find myself thinking about how much I miss a particular person, I let myself text, call, or message him or her in some way to try to reconnect.

No more dulling myself with hours of mindless entertainment. No more feeding my fears or my anxieties with food. No more gambling with my body or my overall health. No more stewing in the spiral mind f*ck scenario that I am often a master of, particularly when things get hard. And no more convincing myself that if someone wants to hang out, he or she will reach out.

People are worth the effort. I am worth the effort. And I think the effort is paying off. For me, it’s easy to smile and be joyful around people because the people I get to be around, more often than not, lift my spirits. The real measure for me of how I’m doing is how I feel when I’m alone. And I think I’m doing well.

I catch myself humming more these days. I catch myself in full on conversations with Bread and Butter at times. Occasionally, I have even caught myself dancing from one room to the next as I cook or clean or put laundry away.

It’s good to be good. And hopeful. I feel like I have worked hard at that this year in the face of a fair amount of stress and uncertainty. I want to dwell in this goodness and hopefulness for as long as I possibly can, and I want to draw others into this space with me. I haven’t figured out how exactly to do that, but I figure that if I keep in this direction and keep my people close, those I love will feel more of what I’m feeling.

That’s my hope anyway. For me and for us.

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