I can hear the excuses now; I don’t have time to pamper myself, I have responsibilities. I have kids, I have a spouse, I have a full-time job, I have school, I have deadlines, it’s the holidays, etc. And if you want me to agree that all of your excuses are valid, you won’t get an argument from me. I’m not advocating for the total abandonment of your responsibilities… obviously that’s not realistic. What I am advocating is that instead of putting your self-care at the bottom of that list of priorities,you instead move it up to the top- just for one day a week. Maybe you can’t manage a whole day, maybe it’s just an hour, just a few minutes- you do what you feel is enough for you and you won’t hear me argue.
The priority of Meaningful Monday is to do something meaningful for yourself- so that you can relax, renew, and recharge. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in service to others as an EMT is that you have to be healthy to care for those who are sick or injured. Think about the last time you were really, really sick- did you push yourself to hard? Did you try to achieve the same goals while you were sick as you would when you were healthy? Did you notice a difference? Weren’t things much more difficult because you were sick? And did the world end if you stopped andasked someone else to do it for you, until you felt better? Did you let yourself have time to heal up-and discover that given a little time off you healed faster vs. trying to continue your normal schedule with the burden of illness? How many of us push through an illness or injury, only to make it much worse, which causes more delays in getting back to “normal”? *raises hand*
I’m really stubborn when it comes to being sick- I try to fool myself into believing that if I’m not there to do it all, it won’t get done, or won’t get done well without me. The truth, if we’re living our lives connected with others, someone shares our priorities and will make sure they’re fulfilled, we deserve a break and should consider it preventative medicine. So instead of thinking of Meaningful Monday as a selfish indulgence, think of it as taking a mental health vitamin!
So what am I going to do for me today?
I’ve actually been giving this a lot of thought today. Mostly because the usual indulgences are too expensive or not feasible during this holiday week. I would normally get a massage, or maybe get my nails done, something I haven’t done in years! The other alternative is to treat myself to a home spa treatment, take a long bubble bath, with candles, wine and break open that box of chocolates I’ve been saving for a special day. All very good choices for a Meaningful Monday. But I’m considering something even more indulgent.
As I begin this journey of healing, I’ve begun examining my past. I’m resurecting old holiday memories, analyzing, sifting and examining. Aside from the usual tragedies of life, I had a great childhood. Christmas was one of my favorite holidays, not because of the presents, but because of the happy family memories. Making cookies with my mom and grandmothers. Holding the life-size baby Jesus statue as my grandfather, father and uncle set up the Church’s manger. Setting out cookies and carrots for Santa and his reindeer, not being able to sleep hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Driving through town to see all the beautiful Christmas lights on our way to church. Watching those cheesy Christmas TV shows like “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer”, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Listening to Perry Como or Andy Williams sing Christmas carols. What I have always loved about Christmas was the traditions, I’ve always been facinated by traditions of other cultures. I’ve even adopted a few from the places around the world I’ve lived or visited. So as I ask myself what can I do for me, traditions come to mind.
I’ve been resurecting memories trying to remember where certain traditions came from or why others ended. Memories are tricky, the balance between what actually happened and what we remember can be weighted. Traditions change because we change. The first Christmas without my grandfather meant we stopped setting up the life size manger at church. When both my grandmothers died, making the cookies they taught me to make became a painful reminder of their absence. Getting married and moving away meant I wasn’t able to drive through town to see the lights with my family. Even though I adopted new traditions to accomodate my new life, somehow it’s never given me as much joy, the expectations were never as fulfilling as the reality.
I’m not crazy enough to think that I can go back and correct the wrongs of my past. It’s over, and I’m over it. But what if today, just for today I indulged my five year old self? At five I was still innocent enough to believe in Santa, my grandparents were all still alive, and Christmas was a wonderful time to be a kid. So for today I’m going to imagine that my five year old self just knocked on my front door. I’m going to spend the day entertaining her and indulging her- just like I would one of my nieces if they lived nearby.
We’ll make cookies. We’ll watch those cheesy Christmas specials. We’ll go for a drive later and look at all the pretty lights. We’ll listen to Perry Como and Andy Williams sing Christmas carols. We might even go shopping for a special Christmas treat just for us.
What will you do for you today?