Self Care and Taking a Breath

Dear sisters,

I find myself so fascinated by this concept of self care. It’s all the rage right now, maybe because everyone is realizing how very wonderful it is. Instead of a Donna Meagle
TREAT YO’SELF day (which is also great), you can do something special and call it self care!

Moving, having a baby, travelling to see family over the holidays, everyone being sick for a month, these things kind of put me in survival mode. There were still plenty of wonderful days and memories to be had, but my over-arching feeling was one of tension, bracing for more illnesses, gritting my teeth and wearing Helen for naps in the airport, not sleeping much so both children were happy and settled. Recently, I’ve realized I don’t need to be bracing for anything, nothing to grit my teeth for! We are here, settled in Fort Collins, we have a fledgling community of friends and acquaintances that we’re getting to know better, and it’s time to take a breath. I wanted to stretch and enjoy my days a little more.

My first step in doing that was journaling. I wasn’t able to think this clearly about what I needed at first. So I started writing out thoughts.

From my first journal entry: “I have a feeling like my brain is turning to mush. I have so many thoughts throughout my day about my life/career/future as a family, etc. and I have no outlet, no way to sit and think them through before I move on to doing something new.” I share these thoughts with Kevin later in the day, so he can get a glimpse into my life at home. He fully agreed with this feeling. Life with two children feels hectic. We’re still figuring out how to communicate with each other about our own needs while parenting our children.

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A journal, a book, and two Mennonite Hymnals. Good stuff.

The next step was to find time to read books that help me grow. I LOVE to read. My favorite app on my phone is probably Overdrive. When I’m rocking Helen to sleep, or nursing her, or snuggling with Calvin during Paw Patrol, I’m usually simultaneously reading something on my phone (or sometimes scrolling through Facebook and Instagram…). I love that my phone allows me to have those moments of “me time” while I’m home with the children, but looking at my phone so much also makes me feel fuzzy. I needed to carve out time to read a real book, think thoughts fully, and breathe.

Naptime is my time to do that. Very recently, I’ve managed to sync up Calvin’s nap with Helen’s mid-day nap, which is amazing. I realize I am pretty lucky to have a 2.5 year old boy that takes a 1-2 hour nap every day. He only falls asleep if I’m snuggling with him though, so it’s not perfect ;-). Helen usually goes down a bit after Cal and sleeps for 45 minutes to an hour. Just in the past week have I instituted this self care routine. I’ve done yoga that focuses on breathing and back pain (hello big baby problems). I’ve been reading a few books that help me as a parent and a person. I’ve baked and prepped delicious meals.

I really enjoyed this one! Some good strategies and reminders about how to lovingly set limits to keep yourself sane. Still in the positive parenting genre.
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Food prep! Soup and bread and my daily cup of tea :-). This is one of my happy places.

Those are the successful days. Don’t be thinking I’ve got this all figured out. There are also those days where I get Helen down for a nap after Calvin falls asleep, settle into a hot bath and the SECOND I lean back to relax and read hear Calvin calling for me. There are days where Kevin is tired out from having to go to Calvin multiple times a night and we’re snippy all day. But overall, I feel like I’m living a fuller, lovelier life. I’m taking more delight in things.

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SO.MUCH.DELIGHT.

Looking back, I think I’m kind of healing from the stress of having a baby, moving, losing our friends and sense of community back in La Crosse, realizing we’re so far from family. Kevin and I are very gung-ho people, we jump in and assume we can handle it. We did and we maintained a relative sense of happiness and security through the whole thing, but I can see how I tempered my emotions, locked myself down into survival mode to do it. Now I feel like I’m feeling and thinking in technicolor.

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Enjoying a beautiful day, watching Cal play with a friend from across the street, chilling in the garage with my gal.

Sisters and friends, are you doing anything small or large to help yourself? Are you needing something and don’t know where to start? I hope you’re all finding little ways to breathe and treat yourself to something wonderful (even if it’s just reading a book for a few minutes).

Love to you all,
Jewel

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4 thoughts on “Self Care and Taking a Breath

  1. I completely understand the sentiment about powering through tumultuous transitions/stages of life, and later realizing that it all catches up to you one way or another. I’ve learned I need to pay attention to the feelings I’m experiencing subconsciously and take the time to recognize and process them consciously. I’m so glad you’re finding small ways to do that!
    Love to you from VA! ❤

    1. So true! Glad you can relate. It’s nice to find some clarity eventually. Miss you guys!! Hope VA is treating you wonderfully.

      1. We miss you, too!! Virginia is treating us well, but there are lots of things I miss about Colorado too. It especially doesn’t feel right not to see the Rocky Mountains every day. Enjoy some hiking for me when you have time!

  2. So nice to hear all this from you, sister. I have a list of self-care options now, for the times when I am able to recognize that the colors are fading. This has also happened in all of the transitions of the past year. My list includes things like exercising, doing something creative (sometimes just coloring, playing guitar, maybe some sewing), stepping away from social media (or connecting meaningfully on social media), dancing, going outside, making sure I’m eating regular meals, and getting in touch with people I care about and I know care about me. Love you.

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