Do Something Nice for Myself (Self Care) - Marilyn's 2021 Bucket List Challenge

Why is it women often put taking care of ourselves at the end of the line?  In fact, our own self-care is often so far down the list that we never get around to it until a health or emotional crisis forces the issue. 

As a mature woman, I know this attitude is part of the culture I grew up in. I learned the rule of others first/me last at my mother's knee, as well as from the other adult women around me.  We were raised to believe we were the nurturers. If we were doing it right, everyone around us would be happy, all the problems would be solved, and we would be loved and cherished.  

As much as I railed against that notion as a child, that message wormed it's way into my subconscious. I don't think I really addressed the inner voice that continued to repeat the other first mantra until later in life.  When my kids were being bullied and I couldn't fix it, I was a failure. When money was tight, I wasn't budgeting right.  When my husband wasn't happy, I wasn't giving him the love he needed. That brutal inner voice buried deep created a never ending cycle of failure. I made sure my husband experienced time away, while I rarely gave myself the opportunity. It's okay - he worked hard and I didn't. Who came up with that lie?

2021 is the second year I created a Marilyn's Bucket List Challenge.  The goal of creating a list like this each year is to change my focus, push myself out of any ruts, try new things, have new experience, embrace new directions, embrace new stories and let go of what no longer serves me.  One item on my 2021 list - Do Something Nice For Myself (self-care) - is an important one.  When I chose it, I left how to define it wide open as self-care can take so many forms. But my ultimate aim was to finally change that internal message of me last. Making my health and well-being would be a priority from this day forward.

I had already started taking baby steps down this road. I enjoyed long, hot soaks in the bathtub on a regular basis.  To make sure I truly check out for at least 45 minutes, I embrace a variety of distractions depending on my mood.  Audio options include podcasts, audio books and recorded meditations.  I have a tiny pair of ear buds and carefully arrange the chords so they stay out of the water.  Then I just lay back and let what I hear take me away from it all.  

Sometimes I prefer reading, so I use my iPad or eBook. Usually I chose fiction, especially a great murder mystery, to pull me out of reality and into another world. Sometimes a riveting memoir fills the need.  You do have to be careful not to drop your device in the water, but a few wet fingertips won't be a problem. If you want to read a paper back in the bath, you'll need a towel close by to keep your fingers super dry.

What I decided to embrace new this year was at least three spa visits for a massage.  I came from a poor background and my early married years were a financial struggle. Spending lots of money at a spa was just not something I could visualize.  This is the year I decided to break the cycle. I deserved to take a break and enjoy a massage, and the benefits spoke for themselves.  

The first was a Serenity Body Special at the Raintree Spa in Richmond. I walked in the door tired and left afterward reborn. The next two - equally amazing - were at the Madrona del Mar Spa located in the Galiano Oceanfront Inn and Spa. I was there on a healing retreat and releasing all the tension from my muscles was a huge help in achieving my goals. The first helped so much, I snagged a cancellation the next day to enjoy it all over again. 

Illustration by Artist and Teacher Emma Burleigh

Another expense I decided I needed was a healing retreat on Galiano Island that offered a massage, yoga, and lots of free time. Not only did I spend money for the retreat, but I paid to go a day early. That first day alone I filled every waking moment with yoga, a long bath and lots of positive audio books and meditations. By day two when the other women arrived, I had quieted the chaos in my mind and was ready to head out in nature to walk alone in silence. Years ago I would have talked myself out of that kind of luxury. No longer. I came home feeling grounded and rejuvenated.

If you're ready embrace self-care, know that you are worthy and it is important. As the saying goes - you need to fill your cup first.  Start really small.  A long bath with book or tape, a walk alone outside in silence or while listening to something that is uplifting.  Sitting alone in a quiet house or in the back yard with a hot cuppa or glass of wine, meditating to some calming music or nature sounds.  The list is endless. The only person to make happy is you. Listen to you heart. 

A little self-care will help you focus, see clearly what needs to change change, let go of old habits that no longer serve, and help you set boundaries with others that keep you from being drained. It's important for your health both emotional and physical. So take a moment NOW and start to consider how to embrace it starting today. 

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