On Giving and Self-Care
Our 16 Days of Kindness Challenge began on Monday and is making ripples far and wide. I have heard from people I know all over the country who have been inspired by it and are joining in, with many including their children.
For myself, I have been amazed at the effects I have felt from the Challenge. For one thing, it has brought me so much joy and excitement to plan each day’s kindness. I have felt a thrill every time I have figured out who I could bring a small kindness for the next day. I have felt a jolt of excitement as I arrive at the post office to send a care package (and then have checked the tracking, which I never do, to see how the package is progressing, and when the recipient might receive it). I have loved picking out small gifts with my children for someone we all love and then felt my heart beat fast as they walked down the path the deliver them to her. I was practically giddy as I brought flowers to a shopkeeper I know in town who has always been kind to me.
And I have loved seeing all the kindnesses other people are doing as well. Each time I see a new photo under the hashtag #16daysofkindnesschallenge on Instagram, I swear my heart skips a beat. And I have loved all the articles and organizations related to kindness that people have sent me information about lately.
It has all been so good.
But there’s another side to it as well. All of these efforts and all of this excitement take energy. I’m tired, y’all. All of these extra efforts, as joyous as they have been, also have required me to double down on kindness to myself.
I am a mother of two fab kids. Mothering requires giving in various forms each and every day. And my husband has been traveling abroad all week for work. And, on top of this Kindness Challenge, I’m also still blogging, working on my book, taking a few classes, and generally trying to keep my head above water.
I’m feeling wiped. And so I’m listening to my body (as I try to always teach my kids to listen to theirs). One night I gave myself ten extra minutes while I had dishes sitting in the sink and a bath to draw for my kids to just sit outside in my happy place and watch the sunset. (And my son surprised me by starting the bath himself, without being asked– his own kindness to me!). One night I, myself, took a bath with special salts (which I don’t often do, but when I do, I decide I should really do more often).
Kindness to yourself is kindness too. And when we are giving all the time, it is even more essential to make sure we are giving to ourselves as well. Otherwise, we’ll quickly find that we are burning out, or feeling resentful, or just feeling like we have nothing left to give.
I am going to double down on self-care starting now. Maybe I’ll see if I can book a massage for the weekend. I am going to take time for things that I love. I am going to take some time to just do nothing– just sit in nature, or hang with my brother and his family who are coming to visit, or- who knows- maybe even take a nap.
I am going to give kindness to myself. And I hope you’ll join me in that too!