It’s Time to Start Paying Attention . . . To Yourself

It’s been a while since my last blog. Life has so gotten in the way. This past month has been crazy. First there was spring break (I know, what normal adult gets a “spring break?” Ah, the joys of teaching). My dad had surgery. I started a small group at my church. I’ve been teaching music lessons as part of my private lesson studio. I’ve launched a new music opportunity for young people through my lesson studio (which, by the way, you can check out at http://www.stanberymusicstudio.com). My dad had a second surgery. And then there’s my real job and my church music volunteer job. Yet, I found myself missing the blogging and writing, so here I am, back again. Sitting down to write feels like I’m taking a breath of fresh air for the first time in a month! It feels like I’m taking time for myself, which I haven’t been able to do for a very long time.

This week, two friends and colleagues confided in me about some things.

I had the opportunity of talking with these two different individuals at two separate times, who were struggling with the very same things. As I listened to their woes, I realize their feelings were my current feelings. I, too, was feeling run down, overwhelmed, too tired to breathe, being spread too thin, all with no respite in sight. As they each spoke to me, I realized the overwhelming feeling was that our lives were RUNNING US rather than us running our lives.

Here’s another thing I noticed.

The two people I spoke with are about the same age as me. Others I have spoken with who struggle with the same feelings also are around our age. Mid 40’s. I got to thinking, is this the age when we all feel this way? Is this the age where most of us are settled into our lives, where we try to accept that this is the way things are going to be, and we let life take over rather than us continuing to hold the reigns? By this age, we have probably been doing our jobs for a while. We are probably married, maybe divorced and maybe remarried, and perhaps some have children we’ve been raising for a while. We have parents who are getting older and may be struggling with health issues. We are starting to struggle with our health issues. And as each day goes by, we don’t realize the way we are living our lives is taking it’s toll, until one day we wake up and feel trapped, overwhelmed (or underwhelmed), and can’t figure out how we got there. Or even worse, how to get out of it. We feel that our daily responsibilities are bigger than ourselves, and we cannot stop, take time for ourselves, or rest, because we think that without us running our world, things will fall apart. But what we don’t realize is that if we have to step out of the way to rejuvenate ourselves, yes, things may not run as smoothly as we would have them run, but they will still run. People will figure it out. Maybe new leaders will emerge because we’ve stepped out of the way.

Sometimes we just have to let go and acknowledge how we feel.

We tend to hold back for fear of offending someone, fear of things falling apart at work, home, or church, or for fear of what others will think of us. But really, we need to remember that we have to take care of ourselves FIRST before we can help others. I know it’s hard to do. But we must. For example, God forbid, if someone called today and told you a family member had to be rushed to the hospital or something tragic had happened, you would rush out for that person with ZERO hesitation. It wouldn’t even be a question in your own mind about whether you should go or not. In fact, I think many of you would even do it for a pet! So why, oh WHY, do we not consider OURSELVES feeling terrible or needing some mental health time as a family emergency when we have to take time to feel better for ourselves?? Remember what we are told when we board an airplane? We are asked to put on our oxygen masks FIRST before assisting others. If we are not in a healthy state of being, we CANNOT help others no matter what we try to do. We cannot be effective. In fact, we are just continuing to run ourselves down and make things worse for ourselves, as well as for those around us.

Let’s face it, we are not getting any younger.

Life is passing us by. We only go around once. If we don’t take care of ourselves and find ways to enjoy life instead of living every day angry, hurt, feeling beat up, or sick, we are going to someday die miserable and not having enjoyed the life we were given. I would hate that we would look back on our lives 30 years from now and say, “I wish I had taken more time for me, more time to enjoy things, more time to say “no” to some things so that I could say “yes” to the things I wanted to do.” Think about what you want to be and where you want to be in 20 or 30 years, and remember that every decision we make NOW either gets us closer to that goal or farther away from it. Where do you want to be in 20 years? 10 years? 5 years? Let’s make every day count toward those goals, including our own well being.

Over the next few weeks, our blog posts will focus on how we can be the best “me” we can be. By taking care of ourselves, we can be better for others as well! Stay with us as we journey together!

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