Radical Self Care

Updated: Apr 29

Question: I find myself repeatedly debating how much of my time is spent on self-care vs action for others and the environment. - Anonymous

I was raised understanding my job was to be nice above all else. That translated my focus to giving everyone what they needed. That translated into taking care of everyone else’s needs before my own. That translated into forgetting about me.

In 2010, standing at the back of a workshop full of participants, I was listening to Lisa Nichols. She had a commanding presence and a compelling story. A welfare mom struggling to survive now a motivational speaker, I was listening and yet distracted by yet someone else talking about selfcare. I understand selfcare.

I was the room monitor and had the opportunity to experience her behind the scenes and on stage. It’s an interesting experience to be with a leader off stage and on. She was real to me.

She was telling her story and demonstrating the meaning of personal boundaries and selfcare. The question hanging in the room was how much of us do we give away to help others? She had a pitcher of water and a teacup and saucer. We are the teacup. I was intrigued. An assistant held the teacup with saucer and she started pouring. At half full, she paused and asked, is this enough of you in the cup? Shaking her head no, with a smile she kept pouring. The water reached the rim of the teacup. She said, how about now? Is there enough of you in this teacup to focus beyond selfcare? Not yet.

She continued to pour and water overflowed into the saucer. She exclaimed, the water in the saucer is what we share to help others.

This concept of selfcare is not what I learned as a child. I was called selfish and labeled other names for thinking about me before others. I would feel guilt and shame because I was selfish. This demonstration shook up my belief system because first and foremost, I am a mother and a caregiver. It’s my job to give of myself to care for my children.

I hit a wall in 1999 and was forced to redefine selfcare. Embedded in my health challenge was a core belief. I’ll do anything to help my children at all costs and I get the leftovers.

I hit bottom in 1999 diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and chronic myofascial pain syndrome, two debilitating conditions that took me down. For two years I was 100% disabled, bedridden, unable to use my hands and arms, walk without assistance and in constant pain.

It was a hard way to learn about selfcare. It was hard on my children as well because they were used to mom the doormat. I rehabbed and recovered over a five-year period, redefining my needs, relearning what it means to be a parent with healthy boundaries, and a human with physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

Granted, this was an extreme example of how I learned parameters for selfcare. I tend to learn by extremes because I have the capacity to put up with a lot of pain, have immeasurable patience and mountains of compassion.

And pain is a great motivator. I’m learning to manage myself better and not wait for the walls of extremes. It’s up to me how much I push myself into a corner. It’s up to me how much I extend myself. It’s up to me. I say with true meaning I am worth the time and energy as I practice selfcare.

Poem by Rupi Kaur, The Sun and Her Flowers

The universe took its time on you

crafted you to offer t