Tuesday writing – Where is “me”?

It is now 8:30 am and Little Man will be tumbling through the front door and the day will be gone. There will be giggles, lots of walking, rock collecting and hopefully a nap. Those are the things I do with joy for my grandson. I spend each weekday fulling engaged with him. When evening comes I am tired so a bit of reading happens, no real writing, no drawing or painting, no real gardening.

It has got me thinking about what do I do for me. Even saying those words makes me cringe. Doing for me sounds selfish! Wanting to take time for me sounds like I don’t care about others.

I was raised to think about others first. “How can you help??” is what rings in my ears. So I jump right in – even get excited when I see there is a small way to help someone. Later I realize I have once again given away the small time I have to do something I personally want to do. It is hard for me to book an hour and a half yoga session each week because then I won’t be open for others that might need something. Even though I really need the yoga.

It has even gotten to the point that when I put a call out for names of local companies or individuals who could help with some heavy work in my garden (arthritis is making this work harder as I age). I had a young friend volunteer to come help so she could learn more about gardening. I was so excited to have her join me but the first thing I did was turn into teacher mode. What does she need or want to learn? What plants can I divide to help her start her new garden? I my mind this became all about her and I lost track of that fact that I was doing this for me. I was doing this to help get my garden in shape not to teach someone else. Once again I lost track of me and my needs.

It does not have to be one or the other – in the gardening case I think both can happen. It is just I am the one who lets things move or actually pushes things into a helping others mode.

I did this earlier in the gardening season as well when friend who moved out of town wanted some of the plants in my the garden that she was now missing in her new garden. We were going to work together to dig up things I thought needed dividing or moving. She would get the extras and I would get some things cleaned up and moved with a bit of help. The help was the part I needed. But as things got rolling this spring between cold and wet weather my friend did not make it in. I ended up digging up things for her and bringing them out to her when we visited. I also ended up helping her plant them. Here is the thing – I really enjoyed sharing the plants. I enjoyed helping find new places for them and planting and chatting with a friend. She was not insisting I do this. All was good but when I stepped back a few days later – there it was again. I was ready to help and did so with grace and fun but – my garden did not get thinned as I had thought. I did not get the help I thought I was going to have in digging up plants. So my garden sits as it was – a few plants lightly thinned but no real change.

In both of these garden situations it was not the fault of the other person – it was I who jumped forward to help. A nice trait to have, I know, but each time I lose track of what I originally thought was going to be helpful to others and to myself. Funny how that works!

While these thoughts have been bubbling up in my head I have seen more and more books or blog posts about doing for your self. They are about thinking about your personal needs. I follow Isolation Journals by Suleika Jaouad and on Mother’s Day she reposted a piece on Motherhood by Rebecca Solnit.

The writing prompt was – What mothered and mothers you? How do you mother yourself? How do you celebrate and recognize what cares for you and takes care of you, and what you care for in return?

I had copied this into my personal journal. I had cut and pasted it into my notes app to be sure to respond to it. Today I went back to both of those to find I have not written about it. I find it hard to know what I really do to support myself. What does self care look like for me? I can name things I want to do but they always get pushed aside. I let them get pushed aside. I am uncomfortable with people serving me or helping me. Example: Mothers Day they had to push me out of the kitchen because I was doing the dishes. Geez – I couldn’t even let go of that!

On Mondays at 10:00 am there is a one hour draw with Lara Gastinger on Instagram. I would love to listen and draw with every Monday. My husband has said he will take Little Man during that time but each Monday I seem to give that time away so no drawing or listening for me.

What is it about woman or me that makes it hard to accept help or allow others to do for us so we can step back and enjoy or nurture ourselves? It is not about the others – they have said they would help, or they have stepped back to help themselves and I fill the gap by helping them as well. They have realized their own needs and have gone about seeking out their own help. So how do I/ we find a balance. How do we get to where you can help others but also supporting our own needs and desires?

In all the years of teaching and doing I feel like a lost “me”? It is not a crisis and I am not depressed about it. I just have realized I need to learn to wait a while before I say yes to things. I need to think through how does an activity help them and me. Is this request something I really want to do? I am learning that it is ok to say no and it is ok to say I need or want help.

I also am learning that help can also just to be given a bit of time. Open time to do whatever you wish -a time that is not mid to late evening when you are already tired and ready to sleep.

So here is my writing prompt once again – What do I (you) do to support my(your) self? How do I mother myself?

Goal today is to find time to actually write in my personal journal an answer to this prompt. Then list a few steps to see how I can make this really happen.

Are you in need of personal care from and for yourself? What do you do to support yourself in these wild and busy days?

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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1 Response to Tuesday writing – Where is “me”?

  1. JenniferM says:

    It is so, so hard to convince myself to take time for me! This is something I’ve worked really hard at this year, just to survive, and I truly hope I can keep it up. I hope that now that you’ve realized this is a struggle for you, you can remind yourself that being at your best helps you truly serve others better!

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