I’m so thankful for Pastor Laura and her willingness to write one more honest and full-of-wisdom post before she goes on maternity leave (I don’t know how she does it!!)

This week she writes about her journey of discovering her need to care for her own self, and how even self-care can become a burden if we don’t keep it’s real purpose in perspective. Please feel free to share your own experiences with self-care in the comments below.

self-care: it’s the buzz-word these days. it’s an umbrella term that encompasses anything one may do to reach optimal physical and mental health. the goals of self-care are to reduce stress, meet emotional needs, maintain relationships, and find balance in life. it’s safe to say we all need to practice some form of self-care, but do we?

i always thought of myself as a low-energy and introverted person. i can spend days at home without stepping out of the front door and feel completely satisfied. i can go days without interacting with another person and feel like i am not lacking in anything. i find going to events draining and prefer solitude and silence. can anyone relate? my husband, on the other hand, is the extrovert in the relationship (for a seemingly shy-guy, he’s a true extrovert in that he gains energy by being around others) and is the one who initiates dinners with friends and often wants to hang out with others.

last year in november, i traveled to california with some other staff members at new joy to participate in LIVE training. being in my late-30s, i went in confident, sure of who i was and aware of my strengths and weaknesses. to my surprise, i received deep revelation and insight about myself that week, namely that i am not a low-energy person but a person who has filled her days with draining activities and not enough energy-giving activities. as a result, rather than focusing and developing my strengths, much of my recent life has been devoted to surviving and doing what i thought i was supposed to do.
as a mom of two young children and another on the way, some of these draining activities are unavoidable (like cooking and cleaning) although our family has developed strategies to reduce the stress of these (i’ll save those for another blog post). coming back from california, i had a plan to establish self-care as a regular part of my day/week (e.g. go for a weekly walk in the woods) as well as give myself permission to do special things for myself (e.g. go on a weekend trip with girlfriends before the baby came) and can you guess how many i have done? zero. for someone who loves to check things off a list, not being able to cross anything off my self-care list has been a disappointment.

i felt guilty for a while and then like elsa, just let it go. i realized i was going about it all wrong. self-care is supposed to be helpful, not a burden. i’m on the cusp of a new season – school is done (i graduated!) and work is wrapping up in a couple of weeks. although maternity leave is by no means vacation, i am looking forward to being able to focus on my family and myself. last maternity leave i had plans to take up and master knitting and i got through knitting half a scarf that was suitable for a skinny dog. this time i have plans to pick up sewing again, beginning with my friend sonja’s women’s connect group activity. i am hopeful that i can finish a few projects, but also accept that self-care isn’t about the result, but rather the process.