‘Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.’
As an active participant on Facebook, my message from God on the day that I was writing this article, was one that really made me think – it said ‘On this day of your life, Barbara, we believe God wants you to know … that it is very difficult to take care of others unless you have first taken care of yourself.’ The questions that went along with this statement were ‘What do you need to do for yourself so that you can be available for others? What needs are going unmet? How can you be kind to yourself?’ Great questions and ones that I should be looking to answer at this time of year.
I can remember one of my closest friends (J) during the early part of 2009 asking me when I was going to start looking after myself. At the time I thought that it was a strange question – I had been doing a great job looking after myself since I left college! I accept that it is in my nature to look after others, to make sure that they are all OK before I look after myself; but hadn’t I been looking after myself successfully? It’s strange how these comments do come back to us when the time is right for us to address them.
2010 for me has been a challenging year – I’ve moved from one country to another; I am no longer living with my ex-husband; I have no stable environment; but it truly took until the beginning of December this year for me to truly understand what J asked me last year and was highlighted on Facebook on the day I wrote this article.
Earlier this year I had what was described as an exhaustion collapse. This was soon after I moved out of the house in the UK, but hadn’t quite moved to the island of Madeira (Portugal). I was in the UK to support another friend of mine – to stay in her house, look after her son and dog while she was travelling. At the time my body said ‘stop’, I was very fortunate that a friend of mine (D) offered me the opportunity to stay in her cottage while she was away. It gave me a couple of days to ‘do nothing’ and for the first time ever I remember doing absolutely nothing. The weather was beginning to change in the UK and the sun started to shine, but rather than go out into it – I sat indoors, read and watched TV. As I left her cottage extremely thankful for the time and opportunity, I boarded a flight to go out to the island, where I just started running around again and focusing on the needs of others. Although I organised an office to work from on the island; I’ve spend the majority of this year either flying between the island and the UK or driving between the island and mainland Europe/UK; or on the island focusing on what needed to be done. Although I spent the majority of my career travelling and I love it – sometimes you do need to focus inwards and work out what it is that you want. My nature is such that I focus on others and their needs … so focusing on myself doesn’t happen.
As you will know from the previous few articles, I’ve been off the island since late November, 2010 when I travelled to the UK. As my plans involved being on mainland Europe for a period of at least 3 months I travelled with a heavy case and a full briefcase. I arrived in Paris successfully (although a couple of hours late) beginning to feel a little weary.
I was met Gard du Nord by a friend who took control of getting from Gard du Nord to the hotel we were staying in. It wasn’t until the next day after I slept in, that a comment was made about how tired I was looking. Shrugging it off as is my habit, off we went to visit museums, walk along the Seine, wander around the Christmas lights of Paris; but these things do come back to you. Once we had boarded the train to go south in France I realised that my breathing was a little laboured; but it wasn’t until I arrived at a friend’s house that I realised I had successfully succumbed to the winter ‘bug’ on the south of the UK. Oh no, I thought; how am I going to manage all that I have to do (work, help with the preparations for Christmas, et al) and be ill?
After a year of a nomadic life without a stable base my body said ‘enough is enough’ and as you won’t take notice I’ll find a way of making you take notice. I was extremely lucky as the friend I was staying with ‘took charge’ and looked after me. For over a week I didn’t have to do anything but be in the space. This truly gave me the opportunity to reflect and when the comment was displayed on Facebook I began to truly appreciate that unless you do look after yourself, who is going to?
‘I will take care of me for you, if you will take care of you for me.’
I love this quote by Jim Rohn; but I do have to ask that unless you have that someone special in your life – how do you do this? That someone special doesn’t have to be a partner, spouse, significant other; they could be a very close friend. Another way though is to ready the article written by Elaine Das Neves Silva, a close friend of mine, who wrote ‘Healthy mind for a healthy body or Healthy body for a healthy mind??’ This article in conjunction with the quote from Facebook, the message is gradually sinking in – so one of my goals for 2011 is to learn how to look take care of myself before I take care of others. This will be a challenge for someone like me who has always put everyone else first; but being ill twice in one year means that I now appreciate that unless I focus on my own health, my own body, and my own mind; I may not be able to achieve all that I want to achieve in/with my life.
‘We will open the book.
Its pages are blank.
We are going to put words on them ourselves.
The book is called Opportunity and
its first chapter is New Year’s Day.’
Edith Lovejoy Pierce