July 28, 2019. Self-Care.

It is a beautiful July Saturday morning. We don’t describe July mornings as beautiful much around here in Virginia. I am taking advantage of the cooler temps and lower (for now) humidity and am writing on The Porch.

Self-care. I suck at it, to be honest. I’m usually more about self-destruct. Or self-sabotage. As I’m quickly approaching a milestone birthday (in 1.5 years), I’m feeling the push more and more to take better care of myself. So, let’s talk about what that looks like.

I’m a natural brunette. I fought the good fight with dyeing my hair every 8 weeks. Then 7 weeks. Then 6 weeks. Honestly, my hair grows so fast that after two weeks I was noticing the gray. When my Hair Wiz, Stefanie and I begin adding some highlights I started thinking I would just let it go all gray and pump it up with some gray highlights. We tried it. Unfortunately, on the day my youngest got married. I didn’t hate it. Russell gasped and choked on his iced tea. ‘Nuf said. It was a trial (failed) experiment and luckily washed out quickly. So now we just do some root touch up that keeps me blonde. The difference is that I can go 8 weeks in between because the gray blends so much better with the blonde. Self-care tip #1. Don’t be afraid to radically change something you’ve been doing all along, for something better and/or easier.

Alcohol and I have always had an on-again/off-again relationship. I notice that as we are less busy in the evenings with other things, I do tend to have that extra glass or two of wine more regularly. We can talk about resveratrol, antioxidants, and how moderate drinking may be heart-healthy, and it may be. Here is an article from the Mayo Clinic that has some good information. But even the medical community is still not convinced, and neither am I. Just a 5-ounce pour of red wine can contain 1.5 grams of sugar and equal 4 carbs. Doesn’t sound like much if you are keeping your consumption to a glass or two, but if you are watching your carbs, it does add up. And I’m just talking dry red wine. The numbers can increase with sweeter wines. Self-care tip #2. Be conscious of the alcohol you are consuming and consider doing what I have planned beginning August 1 – cutting back on consuming alcohol at home and focusing on enjoying it when we are out to dinner or on vacation.

For the last ten years, I have struggled with getting back into a regular fitness routine/mindset. I’ve struggled with it my entire life but had gotten into a groove where I enjoyed working out, walking, hiking, etc. And then some life things happened that, looking back, crushed me to the core of my very soul. And I’ve not really recovered. Not emotionally. Not mentally. It isn’t until the last couple of years or so that I’ve dealt with it. I’ll save the bulk of that for another day, but this is what I know. I have irreparably damaged my health these last ten years. Getting back on track is hard. But I’m doing it. And will continue to do it as long as I am physically able. I feel better when I incorporate regular exercise into my day. Whether it’s walking, stretching, weights, yoga, treadmill, stationary bike…whatever works for you, start or continue doing it. And challenge yourself. My spouse has been doing the same routine for the last 20 years. Just recently, our personal trainer certified daughter challenged him to shake it up and to add things he always said he didn’t do because it would damage his knees, shoulders, back, whatever. Guess what? He is stronger and feeling better and more flexible because he listened to her and is now adding to and shaking up his routine. (Don’t even get me started on how I have told him these same things for 20 years, but our daughter convinces him in just a couple of weeks.) Self-care tip #3. Do the thing. Get moving, whatever that looks like for you. Do something you like and will stick to. I promise, you will be hooked and will even start shaking it up as Russell did. Just don’t wait twenty years.

Self-care tip #3.5. Stop eating crap. Yeah…I have some good-quality ice cream in the freezer and my go-to choc fix is Almond M&M’s. But start fading out the processed, packaged foods and look for, if you must eat packaged foods, items that have 5-6 ingredients, all of which you can spell and pronounce. And eat the bacon.

Emotional and mental health impacts us more than we probably realize. I know it does me. I didn’t deal with past trauma, pain, grief, regret, and hurt for years. And years. It has cost me relationships, opportunities, years of sleep, and untold brain cells. This is probably the number 1 self-care tip for me and maybe even for you. Deal. With. Your. Stuff. However, that looks like for you. Counseling. Therapy. Praying. Meditating. Hard-core exercising. Writing. Any combinations. I take every single thing to heart. I grab onto it and let it soak in and become a part of me. I have a hard time letting things, good and bad, go. That’s just me. Maybe you aren’t like me. But we all still need to deal with the trauma, whatever that looks like for us. Self-care tip #4. Deal with the shit that has happened in your life. Don’t make excuses, don’t apologize. Just deal with it.

And just love. As hard as it may be. Just love. It is, in the long run, so much easier. Turn the cheek. Suppress the need to retort or retaliate. Don’t get me wrong…no need to be a doormat that everyone steps on, uses and abuses, takes advantage of, but just let it go. Walk away if you must, but with your heart intact.  This has been the most difficult lesson for me. The need to correct wrongs, retort with fact, push back to be right. It’s a part of me. And I’m having to let it go for my sanity. It’s one of the reasons I’ve had to consciously step back from social media. There is a ton that is good and right on social media. I love connecting with people out there and I’ve met some many wonderful people who speak life and truth to me that I’ve yet to meet in real life. But sometimes it is less easy to love when I am hidden behind the anonymity of a screen or username. Self-care tip #5. Just love.

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