I talk to women all the time who literally don’t know how to care for themselves when they’re under stress or feeling overwhelmed by life. I contend that it’s because women are nurturers and natural care-givers. Then there’s the whole pressure to take care of the house and all the people in it...first. We put ourselves last. And even if we do finally get down that list to ourselves, we actually feel guilty about taking that time. Then there’s the false belief that we have to be strong for everyone else. They can’t afford for us to be weak or falling apart. So what do we do? We stuff it. Ignore it. Put on a brave “I can do it” face. We roll up our selves and get to work, just so we can cross one more thing done off that list of “To Do’s.”
The ”We can do it” poster from 1943 was created by J. Howard Miller during World War II as an inspiration to boost female worker morale. Do you know it? It’s a woman with a red bandana in her hair; she’s wearing a long-sleeved blue shirt that she’s pushed up to show you her bicep. The poster was later resurrected and used in the campaign for feminism in the 1980’s. I’m not going to get into feminism today. Except for to say, when women strive to prove themselves and prove their worth as equals to another, they are always on the defensive and will feel the need to work harder just to prove themselves. It’s a never-ending push. Listen, I remember when I was on the PTO board at my kids’ school, and we’d convene for a meeting. The woman that won everyone’s respect was the one who, when we all flopped open our calendars on the table in front of us, had every single day filled in with multiple somethings going on. I mean, there wasn’t an open space for anything. And we were in awe of her. She was busy. She was needed. Her life had purpose. But believe me, that busy calendar meant nothing of the sort. And this definitely does not create a great environment where a woman feels at ease to be herself and take care of herself when she needs to.
Funny, men seem to know when they need a guy’s night out or a fishing or hunting trip or a long bike ride in the neighborhood. And they don’t have any guilt about doing it. Okay, let me stop here. I know there are some guys who listen to my podcast regularly, and I’m not bashing you. Not at all. In fact, I’m trying to encourage my sisters to be more like you.
Okay, back to the poster. This woman, Rosie the Riveter, as she was called, depicted a woman’s power. She can do things. Whatever it is, she can do it. I’m all for personal empowerment, but real power comes from taking responsibility for yourself - body, soul (that’s your mind, will, and emotions) and your spirit. And being responsible for yourself means taking care of yourself. It means listening to your body and knowing what it needs. Or figuring out what it needs. I talked about how the body is “talking” to us, giving us warning signs in episode 147 – It’s Time To Exhale. Today I want focus on HOW we need to respond when we’ve hit a wall. And the main reason I want to hammer this home is because I want to normalize getting help, asking for help, and helping yourself. Without guilt. Without stigma or shame. Born out of the resolve that this is what it is to be human. And listen, mama, you’ll be a better mama and spouse and friend if you’ll be willing to take care of yourself. Remember what the flight attendant tells you what to do in case of emergency? The oxygen masks will drop down, and you’re instructed to put your mask on first and THEN help the others around you get theirs on. It’s just like that! And there’s a very good reason. If you’re not caring for yourself first, then you won’t be around very long to take care of the others. Plain and simple.
So, I shared with y’all that July and August were really hard months for me. They were weeks filled with deep grief. Someone pointed out that it may be PTSD but I’m not certain what I experienced actually fits the medical description. So, I just say it’s one more phase of grief that I’ve never been through before. Again, grief will always be here. But it’ll be ever changing. And I won’t put hard and fast parameters around what it will or won’t be like. I don’t think you can. And as long as I welcome it as part of my life, it won’t have power over me, and I’ll be okay as I move through it. I talk more about that in Episode 122 – Grief Is Not A Gremlin.
Anyway, in the middle of navigating through that grief bomb, I still had to work and was in the middle of all the preparations for the retreat I host in October. The woman that helps me with, well, everything regarding the retreat except for the presentations and coaching had a sudden family emergency that prevented her from being able to be involved in the retreat this year at all. This retreat hosts 50 women from all over. And I love it! So, what did I do? I put on my brave “I can do it” face, rolled up my sleeves and determined to do it all. ALL. I started gathering my tribe to step in and fill in the gaps. But ultimately, I knew the whole retreat was on my shoulders, and the pressure started mounting. Perhaps if I hadn’t had been dealing with all the grief, I could’ve handled the pressure. In fact, I’m sure I could’ve. I work well under pressure. I love a challenge. And, like I said, I love this retreat and the transformation that happens for the women, so I would’ve done whatever it took to make it happen. But. But my body shut down and said, “Absolutely not.”
So, here was my first order of self-care: I canceled the retreat, sent a tearful apology letter to those who registered, and refunded their money. It took a lot for me to finally get to that decision, though. First, I had to wrestle with my ego that was making me feel like a loser for having to cancel. Like, what about that “We can do it” poster? Second, I had to wrestle with the fear of a loss of reputation. “What would they think about me? Was I willing to risk my personal health to save my reputation?” These are all just thoughts, you know. And it’s at this point that I had to take personal responsibility – which is total empowerment – to not worry about expectations (even if they come from myself) or what someone might think of me (that’s being in emotional adulthood) in order to take care of myself. And, not surprisingly, I received so much grace from those women. Why? Probably because they’ve been there. And maybe they’ve had to do something similar. But maybe not. Maybe this just gave them permission or at least encouraged them to do the same. Take care of themselves, even when doing so feels hard.
So, that’s the full story. But it’s significant to point out the relief and release my body felt, physically, once I decided and contacted all the ladies. It gave me cognitive space back in my brain to be able to continue processing the grief. Listen, I’m going to continue to say this. If you refuse to deal with the things in your life, you will, at some point, see it manifest physically. Go back and listen to Episode 143 – Mindfulness could Save Your Life. It’s one of the most popular downloaded episodes I’ve recorded. And for good reason. Because we’ve all got stuff! If you don’t have the tools to do this – to take care of yourself – I can help you there.
It reminds me of Psalm 131, verses 1 and 2. King David wrote, “My heart is not proud, LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself. I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.”
Wow, I feel like that. Like there are matters too wonderful for me. That word “wonderful” actually means “too difficult for me to understand”. Right? I’ve been talking about that in the past few weeks. There are just too many things in this life – things that we see and experience - that are too difficult for us to understand. But then David says, essentially, “Even so, I have calmed and quieted myself in faith and trust.” We can do this when we rest in the promise of God given to us, His sons and daughters in Isaiah 43 verse 2, that when you go through deep waters you will not be overwhelmed by them; when you walk through the fire of life, it will not consume you. God is with you. He has called you by name and you are His. And like a more mature, weaned child, David has learned how to right his mind and get himself into a state of peace. Maturity is being able to feed yourself with sustenance. Or, in our context, maturity is knowing how take care of yourself. It’s knowing that God is with you and has provided ways and tools for your healing. This healing starts with nourishing your soul in ways of self-care. And that includes receiving from God what only He can give, not the world. The world – all the things in it, all the things you can accomplish or produce, or achieve through a busy calendar – the world cannot give you what you truly need. Only God can give you your value, your worth and acceptance, your purpose, and the satisfaction in life. So, part of that self-care is to calm and quiet yourself in faith and trust that God will and wants to give you good things – those things your soul truly needs. I would say getting with God and letting Him lavish this kind of love on you is the ultimate self-care.
Next week, I’m going to talk about having a well-balanced mind for your well-being.
But today, a decision needs to be made.
Friend, what have you done for yourself lately for self-care? What’s in your way? What’s keeping you from doing it? Is it physical help? Are you willing to ask someone for assistance? Is it your thoughts that are the obstacle, like it was mine? What are you needing to say “no” to? What are you needing to say “yes” to? Are you willing to take a look at what you’re thinking to identify any limiting or lie-based beliefs? And are you willing to utilize all the tools available to keep you in your personal agency and responsibility? God has created your brain for change for maximum stability and well-being. Are you willing?
Take care of yourself, my friend.
Do the things that are keeping you from self-care feel too big to address, or obstacles to tall to jump over? If so, I’d love to be your Life Coach and help you walk through this.
I’ve put a link in the show notes for a free 30-minute call if you’d like to talk more about it.
Also, don’t forget to get the free, downloadable guide that will help you work on your own self-care.
Have a wonderful week, friends. See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life.
Today I talk about the importance of self-care. Sometimes making the decision to say “yes” or “no” to something that helps us to care for ourselves is a very hard one to make. But you deserve it! Join me as I share my personal story of the most recent decision I made for self-care.
Are you wondering how Life Coaching works? Would you like a free, 30-minute session? Click this link to set up a Consult Call: https://calendly.com/triciazodylifecoach/30min
Get the free, printable guide here: www.triciazody.com/guide