Self Care is Not a Luxury Item

Self Care is notA Luxury

I choose to do some self care by receiving a deep tissue massage today. Now many of you may be thinking “Oh how nice, a spa day. What a nice way to treat yourself.”

I used to believe that massages were something to be indulged in once in a while as a nice, relaxing treat. But after suffering a debilitating bout of muscle spasms in my neck a few years ago I have come to realize a different truth.

Massage for me is a necessary part of taking care of myself.

Because guess what my friends?

Self Care is Not a Luxury Item

I know this can be a hard motto to live by.

As a woman, a mom, and a type A responsible overachiever,  I tend to put others needs before myself.  There is making sure the fridge is full of food that then has to be cooked and served and cleaned up. There is laundry to do and errands to run. There is work and carpool and volunteer responsibilities. There is cleaning up after the dog . . . again.

Who has time to do anything for themselves?

But when I ignore my body’s needs long enough, it starts speaking louder so it can be heard.

Maybe my neck will spasm. Maybe I’ll get a monster sinus infection. Maybe the panic attacks will return.

Someway, somehow, our bodies will let us know they need rest and care.

At some point while waiting in a doctor’s office to heal my body’s latest cry for help, I realized I had two options. I could either continue having semi annual medical issues that ended in me loosing at least a couple weeks of productivity and paying hefty medical fees,

Or I could choose to put in a little time and money on a regular basis to take care of myself. And if I took care of myself well enough, I wouldn’t keep pushing my body to the breaking point.

So I started eating better most of the time. I started exercising a couple times a week. I get monthly massages. I make sure I have a few hours a week where I can come away from my family and work responsibilities and REST.

I am by no means taking perfect care of my middle aged body. But I am trying to do better at self care. And knock on wood, it seems to be helping.

Since making the commitment to self care I have been to the doctor less, been more productive, and had a better overall mood.

There are times when I am tempted to backslide. When I recently looked at our bills for the month and saw how much money I was spending on massages and the gym, much less how much it costs to buy healthy food for 4 people at the grocery store, I was tempted to cut something out.

The Type A momaholic in me said, “Oh, I don’t have to pay for that gym membership and trainer. I can just exercise at home.”

But then I had to remind myself that spending money on self care is not the same as spending 4 bucks on a latte. It is not wasteful spending.

Because even though cutting the gym membership would save time and money, I would still lose out. For in my heart I know I won’t exercise at home without that appointment with the trainer. Instead I would find a million other things to do. And when I have an appointment with a trainer I keep it, because, well, I am a type A overachiever who wants to make my trainer happy.

But putting in a good workout away from home makes my body and mind happy too. So I’ll keep paying that monthly bill knowing the time and energy I spend on taking care of myself is a wise investment.

Because when I care for my body, mind, and spirit I am at my best. And that is a gift I can’t put a price on.

What does your body, mind, and spirit need to be your best?

How can you commit to one act of self care to nurture those needs?

Feel free to share your best tips below!

Be Good to Yourself!

Dena

 

 

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A Blog on “13 Reasons Why”: Consent

***Trigger warning: I will be discussing sexual assault and sexual consent in a non-graphic way. If this triggers you in an unhelpful way please be kind to yourself and click away.

***Spoiler Alert

 

I binge watched 13 Reasons Why on Netflix this week. I literally could not stop watching this show or thinking about it.

Late last night I finished the last episode and this morning I still find myself shaken by the show.

I know it was a fictional story and a lot of BIG THINGS happened to a small group of people, but I believe there was a lot of truth in that fiction. You see for many years I had the privilege of ministering to teenagers. I went on retreats where I comforted young people as they talked and cried about being cyber-bullied. I cried myself when two different young people I love died in two different senseless accidents. I stayed up nights worrying about who might be drinking too much or smoking pot regularly. There are a lot of things you deal with when you are a teenager and when you love a teenager.

But there is one topic that is stuck in my mind this morning, so much so that I have to write about it.

And that topic is consent.

You see not only have I ministered to teenagers but I have been a young woman myself. So I know what it feels like to have random people grab your body parts without your permission. I know what it feels like to have boyfriends push you to do things you don’t really want to do. I do not know what it is like to be raped, acquaintance raped, or otherwise.

Notice I didn’t preface that statement with “by the grace of God” or any other qualifier because frankly I think I just got lucky. I made plenty of not-so-wise choices that led to me being in precarious situations where I could have easily been raped. And I have friends that were acquaintance raped when they made much better choices and were in seemingly safer situations than I sometimes put myself in.

So the whole issue of rape terrifies me a little because not only have I been a young woman and ministered to young women, but now I am raising a young woman. My daughter will start high school next year and though she is a “good girl,” part of me is scared to death for what will happen to her in the next ten or so years.

Because as much I tell her never to accept a red solo cup from a guy and encourage her to always stick with a female friend when out in public, I know I can’t keep her safe. Because as much as I tell her to choose to be with the guys who treat you well and stay away from the ones who don’t, I know I cannot always control who she will be around and how they will treat her.

I cannot force the young men in her life to respect her and treat her with the kindness and dignity that she deserves. I cannot prevent those she encounters, male or female, from crossing boundaries she did not want crossed by force.

I can only tell her that whatever happens to her I will always love and cherish her. That she can come to me with any story, any situation, and I will always be on her side. That I will always help her see her way through. That she is never alone no matter what she faces because she will always, always have me.

And here is the other thing I can do,

I can talk to my son who is now also a teenager about what consent looks like.

About how you never hurt another person or pressure them to do something they do not want to do. About how, for God’s sake, you never force yourself on another person in any way, no matter what.

Only how do you explain these things to a boy who is still afraid of girls?

The only thing that came to mind this morning in my 13 Reasons Why-induced hangover was to tell him about his Dad.

You see for all practical purposes I married Clay Jensen. And I thank God every day I am lucky enough to spend my life with a good, decent guy. Even if like Hannah I don’t always deserve him.

So maybe the best thing I can do to teach my son how treat someone you are in a relationship with is to tell him (and his sister) what it was like to date their dad.

How his Dad told me on the first date that he usually asked girls if it was okay to kiss them before he actually gave them a kiss. I laughed at him at the time, because God knows no one else had ever done that for me. But now I realize how amazing that was. How he was making very sure that I consented to even this small intimate act he wanted to engage in with me.

I can tell them how their Dad always treated me with respect, never pushing me to do something I didn’t want to do, always looking after my well being as much as and sometimes even more than his own.

For you see consent is about the little things as well as the big things. Consent starts small and follows through to the end.

Consent lasts through 20 years of marriage during which that good and decent boy has turned into of one the best and most decent men I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Treating not only me, but everyone he meets with the same kindness and respect. Never crossing a boundary that didn’t want to be crossed, never hurting another.

You see when I was a young girl some well-meaning adult told me during a sex talk at a youth group meeting that “boys could not help” how they acted around girls. A boy’s hormones made him “out of control” and always seeking one thing. And it was my job to stop them from taking out their desires on me. And if I failed in those attempts? Well, they never answered that question. So I guess I just assumed that it was a part of being a girl. That is was my fault for not being vigilant enough.

But 20 years later I know different.

Boys and men are totally capable of controlling their actions around women. And they should be expected to do so. They should make sure whomever they are engaging in sexual acts with is always in total consent. 

Be a Clay Jensen. Don’t be afraid to ask, “Is this okay?” Always stop when someone changes their mind and tells you it isn’t. Hold the other guys in your life accountable to these same principals, and look out for the girls around you. Show the world there are still good and decent men out there. God knows we need them.