This post is part of The Declaration of You Blog Lovin’ Book Tour, which I’m so excited to be a part of! The Declaration of You is a book for creative people to finally have the permission to step passionately into their lives, discover what makes them and their gifts unique, and uncover exactly what they’re meant to do. I’m such a huge believer in using your creative gifts and skills to earn income, which is why I’m supporting this book and blog tour. I hope you’ll check this project out here.
So, when was the last time you did something that was just for you? Not for your husband or your kids or your parents or your friends, but for Y-O-U?
Can’t think of the last time, can ya?
When you own a business, have a job, a family, a social life, a creative practice, finding the time to take care of yourself can seem like a serious chore. Which is why most of the time you skip out on the stuff that’s for you, and just do for those around you.
The problem is, when you’re not taking good care of yourself—when your needs aren’t being met—you aren’t really giving others the best version of yourself. You’re giving them the exhausted, stressed out, moody, lack of energy version of yourself. (Who wants that?)
But when you’re taking good care of yourself, that’s when you’re in a position to give fully to others.
That’s what self care means to me.
My Self-Care Story
Back when I was still working my corporate job, I was a mess.
My desk drawers were stuffed with bags of salt and vinegar chips, candy and boxes of chocolate cream-filled cookies. I’d go through a box every two days and have to restock. A large portion of my disposable income went to Starbucks lattes five mornings a week.
My days were spent complaining with my coworkers about how awful the management team was and how shitty working for this company was.
I was miserable.
The worst part is, I didn’t leave it at the door. I took it all home with me—the sugar addiction, the anger, the complaints. And because I was doing nothing to take care of myself, I was giving my husband and my dog a grumpy, burnt-out version of me.
Like I said, who wants that?
How I Finally Took Hold of My Self Care
It was January 2, 2012—my first day back to the office after Christmas and New Years break. Somehow I had managed to convince myself that I never had to go back to that place. Somehow I imagined that it didn’t even exist anymore.
Yet there I was, pulling into the parking garage at 8 a.m. on that Monday morning.
Well, that morning something happened I’ll never forget. Right there in my car, in the middle of the parking garage, I had a melt down. I started crying so hard. Which was really strange for me, because I’m not really a crier.
But I couldn’t stop.
Finally after about 10 minutes of wiping my eyes, fixing my makeup and then doing it all over again, I managed to calm myself down. Then I said something out loud that changed everything: When your job makes you cry, it’s time to say goodbye.
So instead of doing what I usually did, which was suck up what I was feeling, pushing it down, deep inside myself to hide it, I let it out. I allowed myself to feel exactly what I was feeling, without censoring it or bottling it up.
I realized that I had allowed myself to spend 40+ hours a week in an insanely toxic environment. I was allowing the under-educated management team at my company make me feel like my work wasn’t good enough; that I wasn’t good enough. I was filling my life up with negativity and bad energy, which was only making things worse.
And in that moment I knew the time had come. It was time for me to start treating myself the way I deserved to be treated.
The first thing I did was throw away all the crap-food that was in my desk drawers. Continuing to eat my emotions wasn’t going to do anything to help me change the situation I had put myself in.
Next I set a date—May 9, 2012. That would be the very last day I’d ever work a corporate job.
I was getting married on May 12 that year, and I wanted the wedding to be a fresh start on a whole new life for me. A life where I actually gave a shit about myself, and proved it by indulging in the self-care I so desperately needed.
I didn’t know how I was gonna make all this happen. I just knew it was time for me to make my health, happiness and sanity a priority. It was time for me to declare that I deserved better.
I’m happy to report that I pulled myself out of that toxic world two months earlier than planned—on March 20, 2012. I quit my secure corporate job, cleared out my 401(k) and started down the path of business ownership.
Making that choice was one of the hardest and best things I’ve ever done, for myself, my life, my family and my career. But I wouldn’t take it back for anything.
Nowadays I can’t even think of the last time I complained about something. Complaining isn’t part of my daily life anymore, not like it used to be. Nowadays I’m grateful for everything that I have in my life, everything I’ve created and grown into. I have a free life, a beautiful little family, a creative practice that fills me up, and a business I love.
I have all these things because I was willing to step up and declare that I was important, and that taking care of myself was a priority for me.
I encourage you to look at how you’re allowing yourself to live and be treated in your own life. Are you sabotaging your creative efforts because you don’t feel worth it? Are you staying stuck in negative behavior patterns that no longer serve you because you’re afraid of the unknown?
Whatever it is you’re dealing with, if you take some time to really care about yourself—your needs, your wants, your desires—you’ll find that everything you’ve ever wanted is now within your reach.
Share With Me
How do you define “self care” in your own life?