Visible Self Care – Trying to Set Examples for the Kiddos

My goals for this moon cycle was self-improvement. With the New Moon, I focused on creating internal self-care habits that can be seen by others, but only work for me.  Things like journaling and meditation.  It’s nice when the kids see that I am trying to make time for myself, but I can’t really include them into these activities with me.  Sure, I can try and have the 2 year old sit still and meditate…  (I laughed as I typed that sentence) or have the 5 year old color with me while I work on my journal and maybe not ask me how to draw an X or Y or Z.

And that led to my external list.  The goal is to take time for myself, but these are also things that the kids could do too with little explanation or coaxing.  While I will NOT let them light incense for a few years, we can sit at the table and enjoy the smell or look at the smoke together.  I can make them lemon and honey tea to sip along with me while I sip my coffee and we can try to be mindful about how it feels to drink our beverages.

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Somedays I feel like the dormouse, but I act the part of the March Hare

And even though the point of self-care is to focus more on yourself, these simple activities actually cause the kids to slow down for a few  minutes with me and we both benefit.  They don’t join me every time, and occasionally I do wait until they are doing something else entirely (mommy needs space some days).

However, the fact that they can see me taking a break is important to me.  I don’t remember seeing much of this in my own family.  I am sure my parents had their methods of taking a break, but most of it was at the end of the day.  My mom would always go to bed early and read or watch TV, and my dad was a computer geek who would be working on his computer for fun.  Beyond that, I don’t remember much.  Day time was always for being active and busy, and while there is nothing wrong with that, I need breaks of silence and aloneness to function my best.  (yay for being an introvert!)

For my parents, the active days and relaxing nights worked for them.  But for me, after I left home, I thought I was doing something wrong.  I would seek out lunch breaks at work alone or with a book.  I would come home and not want to talk or even see my husband because I had to be around people in a very small clinic all day long and I was very done.  And even now, staying home with the kids, I thought I was a terrible mother because I still make my 5 year old take naps (okay, rests) in her room, so that I can have time to just sit and be still.

I didn’t “know” I could take a break or a minute when I became an adult, especially a mother.  Not during the day, anyway, I would rush rush rush to get everything done – chores, meals, handwriting and letters for the soon to be  kindergartener, errands, lesson planning/grading (I taught part time at the local technical college), laundry.  I had to do ALL the things before the sun went down.  I would read at night, but sometimes I’d still be thinking or worrying about my day or work the next day, or the kids (once they came into our lives).

The burnout was intense, but I didn’t realize it until I stopped my teaching job last month.  I have extra time without grading and lesson planning.  And when I tried to enjoy it, I felt wracked with guilt.  I can’t sit and work on a novel that I tried to start for last NaNoWriMo.  I can’t take a nap.  I can’t actually (and finally) open and start playing Stardew Valley (only been putting that off for about two years).

This moon cycle was my first step to making sure that I take care of myself in order to take care of those around me.

I’ve read about self-care for years.  I even talked about it in my English 101 classes (hypocrite!).  I studied it, but never acted on it (what I do about everything I’m interested in)  I even started trying to make small things happen daily.  Things that were just for me, but then something would throw off my rhythm and I would spiral downward.  But, if I can have small things, non-routine things, that I can even do with the kids, then this habit should grow and help all of us.

These simple things are something I can pull from when I need to clear my head and only have a few minutes.  They also can work when the kids want to be with me (which some days is ALL day long).  And things they can pick up and use for themselves.  My daughter occasionally takes short breaks in her room where she just lies on the bed and looks out her window for a few minutes.  She usually comes back a lot more relaxed.

Eventually, I plan on teaching them about journaling.  That is my real outlet when I’m over-stressed or can’t shut my brain off.

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But for now, I am trying to incorporate something daily that they could join me in if they want to.  Something that is not a routine either, so that I can be more flexible – something I really need to work at right now.

I am trying to make an effort to take a break in front of them.  And tell them that I am taking a break.  It will be a challenge – I will have to fight off the mom guilt for ignoring them for 5 minutes (maybe).  Something we can both benefit from.

 

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Book of Light & Steps to a New Happy

I’ve only heard the term once, but I quite liked it.  If a Book of Shadows is all secrets, spells, and things that I created based on my research; then a Book of Light should hold and store all the research, notes, and general information that I collected.

I have a lot of interests so far:  divination, candle magic, moon magic, deity concepts, holidays/celebrations, magic in general, meditation, chakras, mindfulness, visualization, and the list continues.

However, if I don’t SLOW DOWN, I will get overwhelmed and give up.  And that is the last thing I want to do.

I don’t want to give up again.  I did that for years.  I lived with the thought that my choices don’t really matter, because every week we were forgiven.  This led me to feel that my choices didn’t really matter UNLESS I chose not to take sacrament.  I could murder someone, confess and talk about it, do some praying, then BOOM forgiven.  So what does human life matter?

I was lost in my own head – stuck with the ideas of having to be perfect because of what my peers and complete strangers do on social media or talk about at gatherings.  I love my children, but their constant needs (through age appropriate) drain all my energy and cause me to become short tempered and reactive.

They deserve better.

I deserve better.

It is my life after all, and my decisions are significant for those around me.  Sure, my choice of what’s for dinner isn’t going to cure cancer or cause the next war (hopefully) but my choices are seen by my family and if they see me not able to take care of myself, and not value myself then what are they to expect for their own lives.

So I looked outside of “traditional” religions.  (traditional being Judeo-Christian oriented.  That’s all I’ve experienced, as far as attending services, being a member of, and youth activities, etc).

It started with Buddhist teachings, but I don’t feel that I could be a true Buddhist due to the vegetarianism and not killing insects that are invading my sacred living spaces.  (Sorry, but any insect or spider within 10 feet of my bed has 2 seconds to run as far away as they can)

What I do like are the ideas of mindfulness and self-regulation.  I need mindfulness in my life.  I spend too much of my day rushing through chores and making dinner and entertaining the kids, that I forget about actually enjoying the time I had that day.  I fall asleep exhausted and feel that I have nothing of matter that shows for my stress.  Sure, I cleaned the living room, but my kids are little, so it’s as good as trashed by the time lunch rolls around the next day.  Was it worth the aggravation of trying to make them help me?  Was it worth the yelling and over-reacting because I was trying to control everything?

Hell no.

Instead, I need to send the kids outside (weather permitting) let them be kids.  I need to sit still and enjoy how my coffee tastes, how tense my shoulders are, how shallow my breathing is and how this is making me crabby.  I need sit and be still.  Sit and relax my mind.

Meditation, self-reflection, journaling.  All things I need to keep myself more relaxed.  Help myself understand and discover myself.

But what about outside myself?

I looked into lots of different directions and settled with magick.  Paganism and Wicca.  These have a lot of systems that I naturally connected with.  I have always felt a connection with the elements – earth, air, fire, water.  Always liked the moon and her cyclic nature.

Most of all I like the idea that there is divinity in all things.  It isn’t missing until I am baptized or blessed.  It is there, it has always been there, and it will always be there.  This divinity connects us all beyond our religious, cultural, and racial beliefs.  We are all divine.  And with that comes responsibility.

I am divine.  You are divine.  My lilac bush is divine.  I have no right to be disrespectful, unkind, or aggressive towards you or my lilac bush.  You share this right as well.  We are connected and we can make our own paths and choices.  I am responsible for the consequences of my actions.  Me and only me.  I have to live with them, so I better make ones I can stand, so that when I can’t sleep at night, it’s not because I’m tormented by the awful things I did that day.  (I have other things that keep me up, potty training, sick kids, sinus headaches…)

Along with a new found self-respect, I can also adapt this to what I need at any given time.  Growing up, it was all-or-nothing all the time.  Somethings I wasn’t comfortable with, but my family would lose face if I didn’t participate.  Some things I loved and was happy to dive in head first.  It wasn’t that it was miserable, it just didn’t always fit and that always seemed to be my own fault because I wasn’t worthy enough or “holy” enough or “righteous” enough.

This path I have chosen is also something I can do alone.  I love that.  I never liked testimony meetings.  I felt the pressure from my parents to stand up and address the congregation, but the idea of talking to that many people at once made me nauseous.  I had a testimony at the time, but I feel that it was built on peer pressure.  When I was left to do my own soul searching, I found I wasn’t happy alone, but I naturally prefer to be alone.  This was contradictory and made me super anxious and even depressed because obviously something was wrong with me.  I wasn’t happy like my friends and family in church, so I must be full of sin or broken, but never unhappy.  That was never an option.

And yet I was, and I seemed to be the only one.  Anxiety overload…

For a while, I just gave up on anything as far as “religion” or divinity.  The universe was just chaos, nothing made sense, nothing mattered, especially me.

This was not healthy…  not in any sense –  physical, emotional, or mental.  I kept it under control a lot, replacing this feeling with becoming a control freak and workaholic.  But when I found myself working too much for a company that cared too little and I was about to have baby number 2, I realize that I had had enough.

It took about three years to find something I can feel confident in.  Something that will meet me at my own personal level, not a level that others think I should be at, but where I am, without any shame, guilt, or disappointment.

The vastness of this path is overwhelming at times.  I totally understand why having a set path is both appealing and comforting.  But the individuality, the personalization, the self-accountability and self-improvement is  what I need.

Preparation, Practice, and Reflection.

These are things I need in my life.  I have been working through this in my journals, and this is what feels right.  My own path, my own heart leading the way, my own connection with the divine centers of the universe, my own self discovery and development.

And this blog will become a place to reflect.  A place to slow down.  A place to try and find myself once again.  For myself.  Maybe I’ll open up with this, maybe not.  There is nothing wrong with either choice.  As long as I do what helps me in the end.

It’s hard to write like that.  I tend to be more selfless when it comes to making time for me or spending money on myself, etc.  So this part of the whole mindfulness/magick path will be unexplored territory for me.  It’s not wrong to be selfish – one needs to stand up for what one needs, desires, and dreams.  But that word has so much weight with it.  But it’s not wrong.  Without taking care of oneself, you cannot adequately take care of others.

With that said, here I go, one step towards a new happy, and new me.