Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Personal Question?

I think it can be generally said that females are born nurturers and caregivers. We are hard-wired to think of other family members (and often lots of people outside of our own families) before thinking of and caring for ourselves.

Creating with my hands has always been a relaxing and fulfilling way for me to re-energize, center myself, turn off my monkey mind and return to some semblance of feeling good about myself and my emotional and physical environment. Reading also is something I enjoy doing immensely.

I can remember a period when our daughter was young and we were spending what seemed like every waking moment trying to carve our homestead from a wild 80-acre piece of land and establish ourselves in what was then a new community. There were years (yes, literally) when I didn't do any hand work . . . or in any way take care of myself. I would allow myself to read when I got in bed at night, but I was usually so tired I would fall asleep within the first ten minutes of cracking the book.

In hindsight, I realize not taking care of myself was a very stupid thing to let happen (well, duh) and I now know it would have been so wise, so much better for my sanity and well-being to have somehow, by hook or by crook, made time to take care of myself. No doubt, it would have been beneficial in more ways than I can count for those around me, too.

I'm going to be big and brave here and admit that although my circumstances have changed and I now have a lot more flexibility of how I manage my time and the direction in which my life goes and flows, I still have a hard time know how to "take care of myself."

So what I would like to ask you, dear readers, if it is not too personal a question, is what specifically do you do to make sure your mind, body and spirit stay in good shape? What works for you? What do you do to take care of yourself?


Patty said...

I like to take time to read, either my Bible or something else that inspires me, pray and listen. I make lists or notes for myself about what I'm learning or "hearing". I also love to go and sit with my goats or watch the chickens. I really like the sounds the animals make, either scratching around, clucking contentedly, or munching hay. The animals are content and at peace, and they relax me too. A also like crocheting, sewing, or crafting in some way. Learning something new helps me feel inspired. Kneading bread is also good. :)

Lynda said...

I spend blocks of time (usually weekends) with the girls I went to Jr.High and High School with. The *girls* ground me...they build up my ego, make me laugh, make me cry. They tell me to go get my hair cut, my mammo, my teeth name it they are the best. I have weathered divorce, illness, rich and poor, good kids, bad kids, good jobs, bad and downs with these ladies and they make sure I take care of myself and let me know I am worth taking time to take care of myself. They let me know when I'm over doing..and I belive them.

Poppy said...

Mama Pea,

I too struggle with finding time and ways to nurture myself. It's easy to do when there are so many tasks to be accomplished in a day. My six children and my daycare babies sometimes seem to take up every spare moment I have.

I've found that early morning exercise helps me feel better through the whole day. Running seems to be the best for me. The key is to wake up early enough that I can get the run in before the day takes over.

I don't know how other moms accomplish nurturing theirselves but I would love to hear more ideas!

Thanks for this valuable posting! We all should think about taking care of ourselves.

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

Um...Ah....seems you have me stumped. What is this 'take care of yourself' thing you talk about? I cant come up with one thing I do in a day that is not a chore or working towards a greater homestead good. I'm boring! I need an intervention! I need a hobby! Ugh

Sue said...

I spread blue tarps all over the yard. Yep. Relaxes me. And drives the neighbors batty!
But seriously.....I cannot for the life of me imagine a single mother/wife/daughter out there that doesn't give up there own time for everyone else. I think it's hard-wired into us. And I think, until those kids are raised and the husband is retired, we don't do stuff just for ourselves as much as we should. I don't know if it was trading in a lousy husband for a good one, or getting my boy out of the house for good that did it, but this is MY time. Selfish? Hell yes. But I've also noticed that "Mama" is now HAPPY and so is everyone else. There's a strong correlation to that and the younger set would be wise to heed that!
Take Time For YOURSELF---EVERYONE benefits!
And now I will shut up.

Tombstone Livestock said...

well now that I can .. I take a lot of naps, yup, naps.

Ok, now my ????? is why does Sue spread blue tarps all over her yard?

Judy T said...

Oh, Baby! I've struggled with this one for years. But I am making a more concerted effort to have 'me' time now. I"m fortunate that many of the 'homesteady' and 'crafty' things I do, while accomplishing things, also bring me peace and contentment. Definitely different from my day job (don't get me wrong- I love my job!)
When the children were much younger, Vernon and I worked out a system for a while where every other weekend, one of us would have an entire afternoon (about 4 hours) to ourselves for whatever we wanted. At the time, I was working full time outside the home, he was a stay at home dad doing some freelancing working in his spare time (HA!) As the children grew older, we got away from that but it was great when it happened.
With all the construction we've been doing the past few years trying to get house and acreage in line it has been really hard to find time and space to do anything for myself. That's why I'm so loving having my still unfinished sewing room where I can have some fun.
I also like to spend time talking with friends but I find that most of that is done on the phone or computer now since everyone is living in "the age of busy" and it's often hard to find time to get together.

I do think it is vitally important that everyone- especially those of us who are 'super-responsible'- to take time for something you enjoy.

I'll confess- even when we were working our tails off on construction- I still enjoyed it. There is something about working together as a family to build a dream that is somehow satisfying. In an entirely different way from doing more traditional crafting but for me it still worked. During heavy construction times, I also made sure to take time to go out for walks and just enjoy being in nature.

Ok, I'm babbling- I've just gotten home after an hour and a half in the car and I'm still a bit road weary...

Great question.


Karen L. said...

Well, as you may remember, I like to quilt, eat cookies, crochet, eat cookies, read, eat cookies. Well, you did put that photo of heart cookies on your header!!! OK, seriously, even if I wasn't doing something crafty when my three kids were young, I was always planning what I would do when I had time. I hated having to sew on the dining room table because I always had to put it all away before dinner. Love having a sewing room now!!! I tell my daughter, who has two very active boys under the age of 7, now to make sure she finds a little time during the week just for herself. it helps with the sanity issue. We need to have more to show than just a dustless house. She and all moms need that. I remember those years. Thank goodness for my Mom who would come help at the drop of a dime.

Anonymous said...

I grew up taking care of everyone and continue to do it today. I have a co-dependent personality and it's a hard habit to break. I make sure I have my time to read, to spend a little time on the computer reading my blogs and to spend time with my animals. It's very hard to take the time to relax when it seems like there is so much that needs done. I have had to learn to force myself to say it's okay to take a break.

Mama Pea said...

Patty - Ah, kneading bread. That's a good one. Ironing does the same thing for me. You are so right, the animals are content and at peace. They truly live in the moment.

Lynda - I hope you realize the unique, very special situation you have with your "girls." There are very few of us these days (with our mobile society) who still live in the same area where we can have regular association with long time girlfriends from our school days. You are blessed.

Poppy - I'm amazed you can manage an early morning run with your responsibilities! So many tasks to be accomplished in a day. Amen and yes to that. The trick is to schedule taking care of ourselves (in whatever way we find to do it) right into those tasks to be accomplished.

Jane - No, you're not boring in the least. But you do need a wife to take over half your duties so you can have some time for yourself. ;o}

Sue - What you've said so succinctly really hit home with me. Now I want to know just HOW to be selfish, make this MY time. You say the younger set would be wise to heed the importance of taking time for themselves. What about me being the "older" set? I don't seem to know how to do it. How do you do it and still manage your beautiful gardens (blue tarps and all), household, husband and all the other everyday necessities you do each day??

Mama Pea said...

Tombstone Livestock - I used to be able to nap (that was B.C. or before child) and found it super restorative. But I haven't let myself do that for 40 years. On the rare occasions I have, I have fitful sleep with unsettling dreams and wake feeling yucky and that I've "wasted" an hour or so of the day. Can you help or do I need to seek professional counseling?

Judy - If I could I would put a stamp on your forehead that read, "Very Well-Adjusted Person." I think you're doing just fine. I applaud you.

Karen L. - Oh, blessed be those moms who live close enough and are willing to help out! (Did she bake you cookies?) My problem (well, okay, one of the many) is that now I should be able to be structuring my life so that I feel I can do more "selfish" things, but it's my stumbling block.

Ruth - You said it . . . old habits are so, so hard to break. Somehow we have to structure our days so that our tasks are things we enjoy and look forward to doing. Then they would also be relaxing and fulfilling for us, right? Oh boy. That would be so simple, if only . . . :o] said...

What a great question, Mama Pea, and one that's obviously struck a chord with many women! I could write an entire essay on this... but I'm too darn tired!
I, too, struggle with taking time for myself (the last time I blogged before Thursday was how long?), but I agree that it is SO important. Sometimes removing the expectation from a chore helps it to become "me" time -- like when I spend time in the garden or the barn without worrying about all the to-do lists out there. Way easier said than done though. Knitting is very grounding and calming for me, but even then I end up making items for everyone else! Great post. :)

Lisa B said...

Almost Nothing! I know I should but with 1 still at home and 2 that just left home it's hard. Occasionally I knit or sew but it's fewer minutes in the week than I mentally need. I read few pages at night but usually am too tired if I stay up too late. I say it'll get better but when? I want to move away from east coast madness but can't leave 86 yr old mil and she won't go with so I'm stuck and feel I'm getting to old to enjoy it when I will be able to move.

Carolyn said...

You know, I had to chew on this one a little bit, then come back. And I still don't know what I really do just for some "me" time. Sometimes it's just having DH take DD for a little while (even if it's just outside or in another room!) so I can read a book. Or what I'd like to do, but haven't since DD was born, is to do the hot bath thing with candles, incense and hot tea. Or if a few of us can manage it, we'll do a girl's lunch out....but it doesn't happen more than a few times a year.
But today I did have a nice little "me" time, even though it did entail raking leaves and hauling hay, but DH and DD were napping so I got some uninterrupted outside time when I could putz if I wanted to and just sit and listen to the goats munching on hay. I LOVE that sound!

It's either that or take the personal jet to Paris for the weekend for good food, shopping for shoes and then take in a museum or two. But honestly, that gets old real quick. So I tend to stay home and listen to the caprines ruminating.

Wendy said...

I find that making an appointment with myself (actually marking off time)an hour at the least a couple times a week. Then I choose something like reading a book, taking a nap or a leisurely walk with my fur babies does the trick for me. First we have to re-teach ourselves that it is ok to have me time. I still have two wonderful children at home and they both know that when it is "moms time" not to disturb. And it works really well. Good luck in your journey to finding some therapeutic you time.

Claire said...

I read on the bus to work, which gets some reading in. I also will often turn in to bed early and read 30 minutes before lights out. Reading is truly my escape. I also do Zumba on Wednesday evenings, which is wonderful exercise and very fun. That about sums it up. Not a lot of me time with the two kiddos running around, but I slip it in here and there.

Cindy said...

30 minutes each day. Everyday! I can decide to read, computer, exercise, nap, go for a walk, soak my feet, take a warm bath, sew, listen to music, whatever I want at any time I want. During the morning, mid-day, afternoon or evening. I use an egg timer and use only 30 minutes. My Dr. at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN told me this a couple of years ago. It was very, very hard at first. I felt guilty as heck! But I kept trying. Finally it clicked. I have lost weight, I sleep better and am not so crabby with my husband. My overall health has improved tremendously! Oh, and make sure during those 30 minutes, no interruptions, we have an answering machine and my husband has learned to just leave me be. I think 30 minutes out of 24 hours is NOT asking alot.

Akannie said...

Thought provoking question, Mama Pea...

I have never been good at this, and in years past I would just go-go-go until I hit the wall. It was awful. And even then, I knew something needed to change, but it was just the way I was. My husband isn't real high maintenance these days, but I still find myself putting me on the backburner most of the time. No one to blame but myself...

I read a book a few years ago called The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron. One of the exercises in this book was to make a date once a week with myself and do something(ANYTHING) creative...go to an art studio or museum. Go to an art store. Walk through a park. Things like that...and once I dragged myself (kicking and screaming that I didn't have TIME for this!!)into the habit, it got easy and I looked forward to it every week.

I don't do it regularly these days, I spend more time out in the gardens or with the critters, or just sitting at my little meditation spot in the very back of my yard, down by the pond, with a book, or not--listening and watching--I have an iron table and chairs down there just for me.

I'm a lot more easy going these

judy said...

Wish I had a answer for that one ,I would probably feel better, so if someone out there has a miracle idea.Tell me about it.Just call me ostrich because I run and hide,but when I come out I'm Jekyll again and Hyde disappears. MY BLOG FRIENDS INSPIRE ME AND WHAT I SEEK IS THE PEACE I FEEL COMING FROM THERE VIBES,SO JUST KEEP BLOGGING IS MY ANSWER

judy said...

After what your friend said about Zumbie,I never heard of it ,looked it up,totally me,where do I sign up

Mama Pea said...

Fiona - Oh, yes, gardening gives more to me than fruits and vegetables! Often it's my good thinking time, alone time. Plus I know I'm benefiting my physical body at the same time.

Lisa - I can so relate to wanting to make some changes before it's too late. (Whatever "too late" means.) Why is it so hard to balance responsibility to others with our own desire for happiness and fulfillment?? Shouldn't responsibility to ourselves enter the picture as an important aspect?

Carolyn Renee - When you are a stay-at-home mom of small children (and I don't care if it's one or six) it is EXTREMELY hard to find time for yourself. Unless someone has experienced it, I don't think anyone else can possibly know what it's like to be "on" 24/7 as you are with a child/children. Even moms who work a job outside the home transition into an adult world with adult stimulation, etc. when away from their kids. Plus they receive monetary compensation for whatever work they do. Stay-at-home moms can work just as hard, knock themselves out day after day, operate with no relief of any sort and receive very little support, assistance of any kind and no tangible financial aid for a job well done. Find time for yourself? Good luck.

Wendy - So how do you turn off your mind during those hours off here and there so that you're not mentally making lists of what you need to do as soon as you pop back into the "do for everyone else" mode? Maybe it just takes practice?

Jenyfer Matthews said...

You know, I think I actually did a better job of taking care of me when my children were smaller! I *loved* naptime and always used that 2 hour block (yes, 2 HOURS!) to get to my sewing machine and do something fun. It's much harder to find that sort of time for myself now. Even though they are in school all day, there are so many things I need to get done in that time so that I can be "free" to drive them to all their various activities in the afternoons. Ugh. Will have to work on this - but I suspect it will fall by the wayside if it requires me to wake up earlier!

Mama Pea said...

Claire - You are wise to find those bits and pieces of time to slip in your "me" time. I was going to ask how you have the energy for your Zumba on Wednesday nights, but maybe it GIVES you energy.

Cindy - ONLY 30 MINUTES A DAY? You are a wonder woman if that's all it takes when you give the other 23-1/2 hours to others. I'll say that isn't much to ask! (Hmmm, my time in a bathroom adds up to that much a day. Is that my "me" time? Well, maybe not, but you get my drift.)

Akannie - You hit on my dilemma . . . no one to blame but myself. (Changes need to be made. Period. The sooner, the better.)

judy - Sometimes running and hiding is a very good defense mechanism!

Ya know, if you could possibly swing it, dear friend, an exercise or dance class wouldn't be a bad idea for relieving some of the heavy stress you endure on a daily basis.

Leigh said...

I could so relate to this post. We take a day of rest once a week. Our minds and bodies just seem to be on a 7 day cycle. Of course, we waited so long to get our place, our own place, that it's been a joy. Still, prayer and Bible reading help keep my head in reality. So much of this life is too superficial to be truly real.

Erin said...

Well, I need help too, as I am exactly like you! I was in tears the other day out of the blue and I realized later I'm just frustrated because I feel like I'm losing myself and "my things", but then immediately felt GUILTY for feeling that way! I would love to do the things Patty suggested, crafting, reading, hiking... those are all things calling out to me!

Melissa @ thelittlegrayhouse said...

I struggle with this too. I am at home all day with my daycare kiddos. I crave adult conversation!

One night each week I meet with a group of ladies at Starbucks for a women's coffee night. Sometimes I don't feel like going but I make myself and I am always glad I did. It helps me get thru the week.

Other than that I can't think of one more thing I do for myself! Yikes!

Susan said...

Let's see. First, I have to get rid of the gigundo load of guilt that makes it impossible for me to focus on myself. Then I have to relax enough to realize the entire homestead won't come crashing down around my ears if I take a half hour to myself. I was going to say that I take from 4:30-6:00 every morning to knit. But I am not convinced that not getting enough sleep is being good to myself. Blech. Long story short (too late) I try. But, frankly, working with the animals, cooking, gardening, is all feel-good stuff for me.

Mama Pea said...

Jen - Yes, the demands of the kiddlies are different as they grow but still take a lot of a parent's time. I was never wise enough to take "me" time when our daughter napped. Because we lived out and away from everyone, I was her playmate. Not that I played with her all day because I didn't/couldn't, but she was like my second skin always wanting to do what I was doing which, of course, meant the task took about four times as long to do. So when she napped I did the work things I could do so much more easily and faster by my loney!

Don't start getting up earlier. You need your strength!

Leigh - I think you're very smart to take the one day a week of rest. We've tried that but always fall off the wagon and end up working. If working on your place is still a joy, you don't need to change a thing. I think the reason a lot of us have chosen this life that is a little "harder" is because it is real and that's what we're craving.

Erin - We have to find a way of letting go of some of the things we do in order to create "me" time. Papa Pea is always trying to get me to prioritize my list so I only do the #1 or A items. And I can't do it, because I see the whole list as #1s. It's not good to be this way. You need to change asap or you will end up like me. Even with an empty nest, I can't let go (in order to have a balanced life) of the guilt or feeling I have to get things done. I'm booking us both into the same spa where they will pound some sense into our heads and knock the guilt out.

Melissa - You hang on to that Starbuck's night, you hear? I know it is hard to make yourself go. I am the same way. All too often when I DO go out to lunch with a friend or meet a group of friends for a morning of handwork, I get back home and kick myself thinking I've "wasted" a whole morning when I could have gotten so much done at home. Not good. Not good. NOT GOOD!

Susan - You just keep doing the things that make you feel good. As far as that gigundo load of guilt, you're coming for treatment with Erin and me. Pack your bags.

Lisa said...

Like Carolyn Renee, I wanted to think about what you were asking before commenting. You're asking good questions that seems to resound within many of us. I struggle with this issue constantly, including the guilt if I should do something nice for myself that has nothing to do with productivity, even though I have a sweet husband who encourages me to take time each day for myself. I try to use lists, but sometimes the lists in my head are so loud that even as I work on one list is yelling at me about another, so it's hard to simply enjoy the task at hand. I am trying to re-program my brain to consciously take joy in what I am doing at the moment... not just get-it-done-as-fast-and-as-efficiently-as-possible-to-cross-it-off-my-list. Maybe we are hardest on ourselves?! I guess I am not really answering your question because I am still figuring it out. Thank you for writing such a thought provoking post.
PS I LOVE your new header!! Those cookies are beautiful.

Mama Pea said...

Lisa - Do you know, I could have written exactly what you did in your comment? My feelings (and struggles) are identical. I guess we just need to keep working toward a more balanced feeling about what we do in a day's time.

Thanks for the comment on my new header photo. I always make heart sugar cookies for Valentine's Day and although I do have the cookies in the freezer already this year, they aren't frosted yet. The picture was from last year.

Dirt Lover said...

Wow. What an awesome question. I had to think on that one. Depends on the time of the year. If it's nice weather outside, and now that the kids are older/gone, I can take time to be out in the garden, and sometimes I just sit there, or look, listen, etc. If it's yucky weather, sometimes I bake. And then give it away. Hubby has been sick, battling cancer, and I've found that stress has a physical presence in me that I hadn't seen before. I developed a rash on my arms and face. Hubby got a little better, and it went away. During my most stressful time, I would walk outside and sit in the sun, just soaking it up. It felt wonderful, and I could actually feel myself letting go.
Whew! Just writing this down felt good, too! Oh, that reminds me, I have a CaringBridge journal I write in that helps alot, in addition to letting family and friends know what is going on in Hubby's fight.

Anonymous said...

Mama Pea, this is an excellent and important question we all need to ask ourselves--women and men! In the last 11 years, I've been away from home as much as I've been home. Travel entailed thousands of miles. Years of grad and post grad school responsibilities started it with all of the tremendously difficult work that entailed. After completing my dissertation (a very intense project), my responsibilities then focused towards my elders. Since we have a very small extended family, much of the care has been on my shoulders with even more long distance traveling. As you can imagine, home was on the road and the homestead, gardens, animals here have suffered. Fortunately, I have a wonderful hubby who has been my great support during this time of stress and my accompanying, major illnesses(surgeries,fractured hip, you name it!!!)
Such times can teach me much. One thing that I am realizing is that I can't do it all. Nor do I want to!!! Downsizing is becoming more of an option. As we get older, we change. Our skill sets change. Our dreams change, our bodies change, our realities change. And it's ok-VERY ok. By recognizing the new passages in my life and being present to them plus admitting my limitations, I've discovered that self acceptance is an important stress reliever for me.-"M"

Mama Pea said...

Lori - You have more reason that most of the rest of us to make sure you take care of yourself. And how wise you be to be doing somethings that are working for you!

Sending thoughts and prayers to help in the struggle you two are facing. Hugs.

"M" - So very well written. Your statement, ". . . self acceptance is an important stress reliever for me" is one that we would all do well to implement. More difficult for some of us than others, but so, so important.