A Few Charms (Banner)

A Few Charms (Banner)

Monday, 19 May 2014

Getting my priorities straight!

What is your number one priority? When I do workshops for women, whether it's on strength-training or making lifestyle changes, I always ask them to list their top three priorities. Take a minute and think about it. What are your top three priorities? Maybe write them down.

If you are like most people, particularly most women, your list included your family, your kids if you have any, your work or career, maybe your marriage, or even your community or volunteer work. These are the things we are committed to. But nobody ever says their health. Or if they do say it, they certainly don't put it at the top of the list.

But think about it, where would you be without your health? Could you do those things that you are committed to? Can you take good care of your children? Can you be an equal partner in your marriage? Or make a difference in your work or community? Without your health you cannot take care of the people in your life. Your health needs to be your #1 priority!

This is hard for me! As a woman, and a mother, but also because of my upbringing, I find it very hard to make myself, and my health, a priority. And I need constant reminding! So my husband bought this #1 blue ribbon charm for me early in my recovery and I wore it on my teal and turquoise "Recovery" bracelet to remind me that "My health is my number one priority!"

My husband added, by the way, that in addition to my affirmation about my health he also wanted me to know that I am a #1 mom and a #1 wife! Yes, he's a keeper! You can see from the photo how well "loved" this charm is. It is now the centrepiece of My Number One Son bracelet, because I always tell my (one and only) son that he is "my favourite boy in the whole wide world."

This reminds me of when I was breastfeeding my twins - yes, both at the same time, in football hold. I knew that if I didn't eat enough or drink enough that I would not produce enough breast milk, that I literally could not feed my children! I remember one night I felt dehydrated but I couldn't hold a water bottle, since I was holding two little heads to my breasts. So I jerry-rigged my water bottle so that it hung around my neck and I could drink from a straw! Are you picturing it? Oh, gosh, so sorry! But it did work! In fact I produced so much milk they called me the Dairy Queen!

But think about it. What does the flight attendant tell you during your inflight safety instructions? About the oxygen masks? If you are travelling with a dependent, please place the mask on yourself before assisting your dependent. Whether it's an elderly person or a child, you need to put the mask on yourself first! You can not help your dependents if you are not breathing!

When I went back to teaching four days a week in the fall of 2012 I got up early to go for a Wildflower Walk and have a shower before everyone else was moving. I've heard women recommend this over the years - taking time for themselves FIRST! But I am SO not a morning person! I could never envision it working for me! But I came to see that mommy was much happier, more patient, and less irritable if I filled my bucket first. There needs to be a Pandora charm for "fill my bucket first", but for now there's the #1 blue ribbon. Taking those early morning walks, often in the dark during the Fall and Winter here in Canada, were very meditative. I only walked one city block but I actually started to notice that by the time I rounded the fourth corner of the block I would have a big sigh, and feel calmer, feeling the tension leave my body. I think that is what is supposed to happen when you meditate and with practice it becomes easier to draw upon that calmness when needed. I'm still working on that last part!

Wildflower Walk charm to the left of the mother dangle
For Mother's Day last weekend, I re-read a book that my mother had written about her journey living with blindness in the latter third of her life. In reading that, I discovered that my mom had been a walker! During the time she was losing her sight and dealing with the uncertainty of her future, she said she got rid of her frustration by walking. Apparently when she was working, she went for a walk every morning, taking the time for herself every day before the mad rush to get us and herself off to school and work. Of course I was very likely still in bed and had never thought about what she might be doing while I was still sawing logs. I'm so glad to know about this, even after all these years. I am pleased to know that she took that time for herself. That makes her a good role model for me as a parent, and a woman, and I will pass on to my daughter that it is important to take time for yourself, maybe even with meditative walks, when you are one day a wife and mother. So the Wildflower Walk charm now resides on my pink and red Flower Power bracelet that includes charms about the lessons, like these, that I learned from my mother, and hope to pass on to my daughter.

Do you take time for yourself? Do you fill your bucket first? I'm wondering if, just maybe, there might be a hole in my bucket, Dear Liza, Dear Liza. But I am going to try to get up a little earlier this week. Anyone care to join me?