It was #SelfcareWednesday and while part of the routine for a little over a month now has been a ballet body workout class, last week I didn’t put on the tights, pull up the hair, or put on the shoes. I needed a bubble bath, tea, and some adult coloring time. So, I did just that. I knew what I needed and this time, I made sure I got it.
In fact, it was the third day in a row where I managed to make sure I got what I needed. Whether it was extra sleep, coconut cream tea at one of my favorite coffee shops in West Philadelphia, not telling a few friends that I was in town so I didn’t run myself ragged trying to see and catch up with everyone, surprising my east coast nephew with pizza for dinner, chatting with my grandfather, or curling up in my aunt’s oversized chair and watching the Lethal Weapon shows she keeps on her DVR for me to see when I visit- what I needed took precedent over what others wanted or even needed.
As I pushed my little blue cart down the aisles of Marshalls looking for a new travel coffee mug that was double walled, cute, and reasonably priced but totally fawning over throw rugs that might introduce a little more spring into my space, I found myself declaring what I’d been doing to my friend on the phone. “It’s been costly and exhausting,” I told her. “So the way I see it, if I could spend all of that time, energy, and money trying to make other people happy, I could certainly start doing the same for me,” I continued. “AK, yes. Make sure you out here getting what you need,” she said.
I’ve had the fortune of seeing women in my life go for what they need. I’ve watched some grow into it, others fight for it, and others strut with a madam know it all stride as if it was in their genes. However, it’s only been in recent years that I’ve paid attention to what I’ve seen these women do. As I’ve pondered how, I’ve been able to recall the numerous times they made a decision to honor what they needed. Whether it’s been ending unhealthy relationships, quitting jobs with unhealthy environments, boldly starting new businesses, going back to school, no longer enabling adult children, taking a real vacation or even a staycation, end their thing for unavailable guys, or actually go to all of their annual appointments even after the last one turned up to reveal a lump, I’ve seen these women identify and go for what they knew they were in deep need of. I’ve watched these women wrestle with the guilt that so easily leeches onto so many of us when we say “no’ to others and “yes” to ourselves, successfully managing to slip from its grip. I’ve watched them glow brighter and brighter each time they’ve made a sound decision that allows them to honor what they know they need even if it is interpreted as selfish, ridiculous, or ill timed. But perhaps what I have witnessed that is most powerful is the peace and the joy that these women have. With each choice made to truly honor what they needed, they had more peace and more joy.
We’re working our way through the first quarter of the year (craziness right?) and maybe yours has been a little like mine, not exactly what I expected. Maybe it’s demanded a little more fight and offered a little less reprieve. What I’m learning that the best thing I can do is to honor what I know that I need. Recently that’s been to exercise self compassion, speak kindly to myself, keep up my #SelfcareWednesday routine, and even step down from a committee at wok that was adding way too much unnecessary stress, and spend time with people who add a bit more joy to my life than drama. With each firm no and confident yes, I’ve had more peace and more joy.
I want to encourage you this week to listen to what you need and honor it. It might be a little tricky. Wants can seem like needs, and needs can seem like wants. Be patient, quiet and still as you distinguish between the two. Quiet the naysayers and escort the guilt out the door, off the front porch, and of the property. Turn the phone on silent, get the bagel and the cream cheese, buy the shoes and wear them straight to that networking event where Mr. Not So Right will be, take the day off and go to the movies by yourself and get the large popcorn. Put in for a few days off, book the appointment at the hair alone and not with your homie who always gives you a discount but only because she’s cancelled and rescheduled five times in the last two days. Take the yoga class, call the counselor and make the appointment, sleep in on Sunday and trust that the Reverend and the Lord will forgive you.
The better we are at knowing what we need, the better we are at supporting the people we love and need us. We get more peace, we get more joy, and honestly we get to know ourselves that much better. Besides, you are the only person on this planet you will have the longest relationship with. You might as well get to know yourself really well. Invite Madam Know It All over for some coffee, tea, or a cocktail and let her stay as long as she (you) needs.