Shamefaced.

That’s a word, you guys.

I was trying to figure out if what I was feeling would be defined as shame or as guilt. So I looked up their definitions and there it was…shamefaced.

That’s just too good a word to pass up.

Sometimes I feel shamefaced, and for all the wrong reasons.

So I intend to stop.

I have a lot on my plate – most of us do, I would imagine.

As the mother of two young girls, and a huge dog (who is sweet, but a terribly indiscriminate eater) and an elderly cat; as the daughter of a newly widowed, cancer-fighting mother; as a small business owner (responsible for the livelihood of a dozen amazing women, for the care of many precious children, and for maintaining the confidence of over a hundred parents who leave with us their world wrapped up in a tiny package)…

I care, so deeply, about all of it, about everyone – I feel so grateful and proud to be given this privilege, and it’s a lot. It’s a whole lot of caring about very important people and very important things.

So why then, in light of all this caring…do I feel shamefaced when it comes to caring for myself?

You see…I have a confession to make. Every day for the past week, despite the many things on my plate, I have either taken a long walk (in the woods or at the beach), or I have gone to yoga. Each of these things takes about an hour and a half.

An hour and a half, and it feels like the most decadent thing I could possibly do – taking that time for myself.

I know this is what I need in order to maintain my sanity.  I know that it is, in the end, in the best interest of every other human who needs something from me. 

And yet…this morning after I got up, made breakfasts and lunches for my kids, fed the dog, drove the kids to the bus, cleaned the kitchen, took out the trash, started some laundry, spent and hour and a half doing tax prep and responding to emails…

I still felt shamefaced about taking the time to go to yoga…that little bit of time before ramping back up to do all the things for the rest of the day and evening.

I texted my assistant and said I would be “out of touch” for an hour. You guys, I almost lied and said I had “an appointment.” I don’t lie…and yet, I felt like I should…like I would be disrespecting her by admitting I was doing this thing –  just for me.

That’s so messed up. Seriously.

Whether your stolen moments of sanity look like finding a quiet corner of the house to enjoy a cup of tea or a glass of wine, or a phone call to a friend, or a walk with your dog, or a yoga class…whatever your self care time looks like – can we just acknowledge how hard it is to take that time without feeling like we should be doing something else….probably for someone else?

Why is it so hard to learn to put our own oxygen masks on first, before assisting others?

I think so many of us mistakenly wear our selflessness as a badge of honor.

Look at all I do for everyone else all day long!

We should be proud of all that we do for others – absolutely. We should be proud of our ability and our willingness to recognize all that needs doing, and to do it.

We should also be adept at identifying our own needs, and tending to those…and we should be, perhaps – even prouder of that.

We are constantly told that we should love ourselves. Self care and self love are interwoven – one cannot exist without the other. So if we must love ourselves, we must begin to trust, value and honor our own needs…

To place the oxygen mask firmly on ourselves first. 

The following is an achingly beautiful passage from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo –

“I can only say that loving yourself is like feeding a clear bird that no one else can see. You must be still and offer your palm full of secrets like delicate seed. As she eats your secrets, no longer secret, she glows and you lighten, and her voice, which only you can hear, is your voice bereft of plans. And the light through her body will bathe you till you wonder why the gems in your palm were ever fisted. Others will think you crazed to wait on something no one sees. But the clear bird only wants to feed and fly and sing. She only wants light in her belly. And once in a great while, if someone loves you enough, they might see her rise from the nest beneath your fear. 

In this way, I’ve learned that loving yourself requires a courage unlike any other. It requires us to believe in and stay loyal to something no one else can see that keeps us in the world – our own self-worth.”

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