The above pictures are just a few things that are part of my self care routine. Let me explain…
The following is a list of how I, SELF CARE:
- Journaling: I love to journal. I have several journals (pictured above). One of my most favorites is my gratitude journal. I like to shop at Target or Home Goods for a fancy, fun journal and I jot down no more than 3 things a day that I am grateful for. I feel 3 is an attainable goal for me in a day. My recommended time is right before bed because this leaves you with a sense of fulfillment and positivity at the end of your day. I also have a huge prayer journal that is seen in the lower left picture above. That is from a channel I follow on YouTube called, “Coffee and Bible Time.” Ashley and Taylor run the channel and post videos about prayer routines and a host of topics related to prayer life. They have an Instagram and Facebook account under the same name and they have a podcast. I find them and their mom (Mentor Mama) very inspiring. The prayer journal shown that they sell is a hard cover binder full of pages and sections…I highly recommend it (they have a section on their website you can purchase bible study PDF downloads, this journal, my sweatshirt (seen above) and other items: (coffeeandbibletime.com). I also have a container for pens and highlighters so I can decorate my writing and color. I am starting to add stickers as well. My prayer life is so important to me in my self care tool box. It keeps that ongoing connection daily with God. Somedays I only have 5 to 10 minutes to do it and no matter the amount of time you put it in…any time is enough.
- A fun tote bag: I used to love purses and always went out with one, but now days it’s a tote bag. The one picture above from, “Life Is Good,” was a gift from a family member, but it’s fun and I love to take a fun tote with me when I am out. It’s just an added tiny thing that brings me JOY.
- Time with my daughter: In the lower right photo above is a picnic she did this past weekend for me. I loved her imagination this past weekend. She knew it was cold out and I was recovering from my infusion so she packed up a travel rolling tote on wheels of her play food, blanket and tea set. Then she had me wait in my bedroom and I came out to our dining room with it set up. She served me and we chatted. She also put some play fish near the blanket on the kitchen floor to represent us by a lake and we went fishing for our lunch as well. She told me she wanted to do something for me and make us feel like we were outside on a sunny day so she put the dining room light on to represent the sun. It was not easy for me to get on the floor because of how sick I was feeling and mobility wise as well, but I pushed myself. It meant the world to her and I have learned that no matter how my MS affects me….I make time to do these things because they are the memories that impact me the most. Whether it’s a random dance party with her in the living room where I just wave my arms and flicker the lights or letting her put on a magic show at 9pm at night before bed…I let her and we do it. When my step son was little, I created that same magic of play with him and although my MS journey was just starting out back then….I pushed through a lot in the early days to cultivate that relationship and it prepared me for the unexpected answered prayer of having a child when I was told I could not get pregnant years later. My cup runneth over that I got to experience a second time the joy of motherhood. I highly recommend spontaneous PLAY anytime you can with your kid(s). It is vital to laugh and let loose when it comes to self care.
- Décor: Who doesn’t love to go to TJMaxx Home Goods, Target or Hobby Lobby? I do, however, I have a few other special items like some cross stitched pieces that my mom made me and I have a picture of one of those, above. All that is listed on that is pretty darn accurate for me and a great reminder each day to focus on things that cultivate relaxation of the soul. The one place I have such items is in my bedroom. I get up and go to sleep in my bedroom so it’s only fitting to me these days to have things in there that I see right away when I get up or see when I go to bed that are a visual reminder of what makes me happy and at peace. Also, drawings from my daughter too (shown above). Décor is an important part of self care because what you surround yourself with at home is a reflection of you and what is important to you.
- Objects are important: Shown above is a little shell character as I call it with glasses on. That was one of the last things I got from my father the year he passed away unexpectedly in 2015. It was in a care package from him that he sent in the mail to me before my daughter was born of a bunch of items that he picked out for her before her arrival. He passed away before he got to meet her in person. You can understand how that little character fills me with a lot of emotion in a good way. I treasure it. I have now become less of a collector of items in my life though. You will not find much in the way of that in my home that I decorate with now…it’s mostly pictures. I am not sure why the last few years I stopped collecting. Maybe it’s because less seems better for me in my life. It allows me to not feel so overwhelmed in my environment. It also is a mental declutter tool for me. So I have a few items that are very dear to my heart, but the more space I see around me…the less overwhelmed by life that I feel. That is important while living with a chronic disease or illness because you can find yourself more at home then you ever thought possible. For me, that is true of my life with MS. Your home then takes on new meaning than just a place to live.
- Check lists are another must have for me: The one pictured above was in the three dollar bin at Target. I love to cross things off. What a sense of accomplishment I feel when I can write my to do list and watch the items completed. Another way I use it is to keep by my bed at night. I find it helpful when the nights come that thoughts seem to run around and around in my mind from something that is stressing me out or when I am not feeling well. I just take my pen and jot down what I am thinking and put it onto paper. The crazy phenomenon that happens for me is that it completely prevents those run around thoughts to return for the overnight so I sleep better and I am prepared better for tomorrow. It is another tool in my tool box.
- Gifts of inspiration: A good friend of mine mailed me a collection of index cards that she wrote on with inspirational quotes or verses. It was one of the most creative things I have received from someone and something that I can build off of. I can add more of my own. You can take it with you where you go and I keep it by my bed. This leads me I guess into creativity because my next goal is to create my, vision board. I have been cutting out quotes and pictures from magazines for months. I bought some poster board and I want to put together what inspires me and hang it up somewhere in my house. A motivational tool much like the gift my friend sent. What I love about about now being 40 years old compared to my 20s was that I live in world of social media. And as much as it can be a thorn in my side at times…I have a found a good balance now of it in my life. You can get all sorts of inspiration from various media outlets and followings on Instagram, Facebook, or even Pinterest. I am excited to create my vision board soon!
- Music is food for the soul: I have always loved music from all sorts of genres. As of late my music choices mean more than the lovely tunes I hear in my ear. The music lyrics have got to say something to me that not only brings me JOY, but also inspires me or helps me to cope with whatever I am experiencing. I even like the sad songs too. Maybe it’s because it brings me great emotion which cultivates a great release of emotion. Feeling my feelings is important in self care and it’s important for fighting against a chronic life long disease. It motivates me to push harder, look deeper within and get lost in a song. One of my two favorite cd’s that I listened to a lot from last year, but still going strong is Christian artists, ‘for King and Country’s,’ “Burn The Ships,” CD and also ‘Lauren Daigle’s,’ “Look Up Child,” CD. Check those out if you can, I highly recommend.
- Coffee mugs and coffee: Calling all coffee lovers…. What is your favorite kind of coffee? Mine is a dark roast. And might I say, ‘strong too.’ I really enjoy the Starbucks Italian and French roast. I have a Keurig machine and it is pretty much my life line as far as a drink goes. I have worked in coffee shops in the past and I just love a good mocha too or americano. Starbucks K cups is just one, but I love a plain mocha too from anywhere. Checking out coffee shops is something I love to do and to support local. I recently got a blender for Christmas for a gift and am happy to say I have created fun mocha frappes at home and enjoying experimenting with it. I like to start off my day with a strong cup of coffee. I do not put anything in it. I did something for 2021 that was not a resolution for me, but a commitment. I decided to create a, ‘Coffee Cheers,’ post each morning to my personal Facebook for all 365 days of this year. Why? Well I wanted to get friends and family together online each morning as if we all met up at a restaurant and sat together to have a cup. 2020 kept me inside because of my compromised immune system and I am loving being able to connect each morning. First, it holds me accountable. Much like making your bed when you get up, it’s a sense of accomplishment. I woke up and said, ‘Hello,’ to the world and I toasted a morning cup of joe to say, ‘Hi.’ We all need human connection and a place to belong. While I have had to be home and not see friends in almost a year in person I figured that it was the best way to stay connected and again another tool in my tool box.
- Going to bed each night and letting things go: This is so important. Why? Well I am not referencing a fight here or even any discourse. I am simply going to bed with nothing that is preventing me from feeling love. It’s easy for me to fall into feeling woe is me on the days I struggle to make it through accomplishing anything with my illness. OR the guilt I may have from not being able to engage fully with my family. I always end the day by an, ‘I love you,’ to everyone in my household. I pray each night over my list of requests, I write my gratitude and have the sense of reality that, ‘well life is short.’ This we know more than ever. And that end part of my day sums up my self care. Yes, there may be things inside me unresolved or that I am working on turning over to the Lord etc. But I do go to bed with it put to the side. I do choose to not hold a grudge. I do choose to love. And say thank you for another day. Bedtime prayers are essential in our bedtime routine. It is something my daughter does too each night now on her own I am proud to say. There are two questions she answers. What are you grateful for? (yes, she does knows the meaning) and what brings you JOY? Then we say a joint prayer and go to bed. What I started doing this year was recording her answers again. We started the questions portion of prayer time when she was 4 years old. If finding a sense of faith is hard for you right now, then I encourage you to just start out with those 2 questions each day. Watch how things start to change for you. You will chase in life what brings you JOY and foster what makes you grateful.
11. A favorite saying or verse: The above one is mine. It is from the Bible, but it just rings true for where I am now in my life. I want how I live my life to be flowing throughout my home. And I mean that my home is a reflection of my faith. Not in the visible sense so much, but the unspoken. It encompasses love, family, growth and togetherness. It has memories built within. Home to me is not a place or dwelling, but a space in my heart where my family is together. Where we DO life. That wherever life takes us, our home is within us. And we honor the Lord in how we live. Not just in the physical sense, but in our actions, our day to day and how we relate to each other.
12. Goals: To have a mindset that is still wanting to move forward and accomplish. With living with MS, my future is very shaky, unpredictable. It is hard to see ahead and make plans. Many of my plans get cancelled. I can’t live into tomorrow. I can only remain in the present due to my circumstances. If I have learned anything from years ago it is that planning is not a good idea for me. But I have goals. This way when I have to change course abruptly due to my health needs at the time, I still am reaching for something ahead knowing that in time I am working towards it even if plans are halted for today. It allows a lot of HOPE into my life. The one foot in front of the other approach.
13. Self help books: I am not a fiction reader in my life anymore. I keep trying, but those days are long gone. I am in the non fiction realm. I really enjoy learning. Learning in general. I love self help books or books that motivate. Auto biographies too. These type of books have really helped to give me ideas of ways to grow my self care routine in my life. For me, reading is a vacation for the soul. It spells TIME FOR ME. However, the Bible is now the one that takes precedent because I want to really study and learn it. So self help books have fallen second for now. I also love to read to my daughter and encouraging that in her because to me there is nothing like a great bookstore to step into or a library to visit and discover.
14. Do one thing: My advice for living with a chronic, life long disease such as Multiple Sclerosis is to do just one thing a day. Set out to accomplish just one thing. As many of you may know that have health issues or know of someone who does that in a given day, doing just one thing is all you can do. In 2020, I got to looking like I lived in the never ending lounge pants, hair up in a bun and loose tee shirt. It became a uniform. Then it hit me last year that why was I doing that? I had to be home for one. I made an excuse that it was the easiest thing to wear and why get dressed up if it was just me and my family home because I wasn’t going out. However, little eyes were watching. So early on in the pandemic I thought let’s just get up and SHOW UP. I am gonna dress up to teach homeschool Kindergarten. I am going to take time to put my hair back and wear something nice or at least that looked like an outfit. Then it became some lipstick I added. Soon the vibe changed and a stride developed in my step. The pandemic year became easier to handle and what I realized was that one small step each day no matter what that was for me was enough. Making my bed that day. Meal prep. One thing. One thing was all it took for me to feel accomplished. For me to feel real. Think about that for a minute. I also let go of the guilt that some days, one thing was all that could be done. God sure doesn’t care if my laundry, dishes, to do lists and so on are done. He cares for my heart. He cares for me. And me caring for myself is honoring God.
I am sure this will not be my only post on self care. Wouldn’t it be neat if I made another 10 years from now when I am 50 years old?! Self care is essential to me because it helps me live my best life. In my 20s and early 30s I didn’t grasp the concept. And with my MS developing more over the years and more symptoms to navigate, it forced me to stop and take a hard look at what motivates me and drives me ahead. To be honest, it also helps my head stay above water so to speak. There is much that can bring one down in life. Having my illness has meant a lot of loss in my life, but that will be another blog entry. I set out in last year in 2020 to find the things that I needed in my tool box or wanted to have. After all, I am home due to having MS. But being home with my daughter for the majority of the year of 2020, in many ways forced me to do life differently. Create a world within a small space. Foster all the things that the pandemic stripped away. It was great, but it was also hard. Mix that with my illness and many other changes in my life and I had to get to a place where I grew happiness, literally, and I found that fulfillment in the self care portion of my life.
What do you think of when you think of self care in your life? Do you have a verse, a word or a mantra that wakes you up and gives you a driving force in your life? How about answering what brings you JOY each day or what are your grateful for at the end of the day? If you already have your own tool box I think that is awesome. If you don’t, I hope that this blog entry may stir up some ideas in you of how to build your own. Or maybe you would like to expand on your self care routine.
Below is a card I have kept since my grandfather passed away in 2009. It was his last card to me. I think it is fitting and just sums up what my self care is to me. You see, he had cancer and was terminal. I was soon to be married in the Fall of 2009. He passed on earlier in 2009. The beauty was that in his note he was loving on me despite his own battle. He was extending an extension of himself…he was loving me. He was looking ahead for me so that I had a part of that love to carry me forever. What he didn’t know was later in 2009 I was to be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. He prepared me with this note. Its part of my décor on my wall in my bedroom. I hope it inspires you too.