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Self Care

You may have noticed that I have been quiet these past two weeks. I’ve had a lot going on personally and I’ll be honest, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed. This has kept me from my keyboard which has left me feeling a bit down on myself. During my time away from facebook and from my blog, I’ve allowed myself to think that I was “slacking.” I mean, I just shared my new venture with my family, friends, and facebook-land only to go silent the following two weeks. That’s no way to build a following! What am I doing?! Was the blog and the facebook page a bad idea? Should I just stick to writing books? I don’t know if I have it in me to create new content all the time and to engage my followers and to build up a platform. It’s so overwhelming! Then I realized, the goal of this blog isn’t to build a following. It’s to share my life with others. The good, the bad and the ugly. I’m sharing it all in case something that I’ve been through, some perspective I’ve gained or some lessons I’ve learned may help others. I realized that I was putting too much pressure on myself and losing sight of the real reasons behind what I’m doing. I don’t write for fame or money. That will never happen! I don’t expect that to happen. I hope to reach people with information that will help them. I hope to show people that a life lived alongside God will be a good life, no matter what comes their way. That’s the goal of my books, too! I have no aspirations to be a best-selling author. I just hope my books find themselves in the hands of people who need them. I want to help others and I want to show others that a life lived with God is a life well-lived. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. So why the pressure all of a sudden?

I guess in some ways, I’ve always been someone who aspires to achieve more. It’s never been in me to relax and enjoy. I’ve always looked to the next thing. In high school, I took evening classes at a local community college and earned an associate’s degree at the same time I earned my high school diploma. I wasn’t even finished with my bachelor’s degree when I started trying to figure out my master’s program. I stopped there with my education. But I always felt like I gave up because I didn’t get a doctorate degree. So as an adult, I started my doctoral program. I couldn’t leave well enough alone with a master’s degree when I knew there was another degree out there that I hadn’t earned. I have many other examples I could give, but I don’t want to bore you with the details. Suffice it to say, I’m always looking for the next achievement.

Over the last few weeks, I realized that I fell into this same trap with my blog and with social media. I had convinced myself that I wasn’t doing enough. Not posting enough on facebook, not writing blogs often enough, not on enough social media channels. What about Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, etc.? I beat myself up to the point that I wondered if I was making a mistake doing all of this. That I wasn’t cut out for it or that I didn’t have the time/energy for it.

Sitting in Eucharistic Adoration this past Thursday, I discussed my anxiety with Jesus. That’s the great thing about being in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. You really are in the presence of Jesus. I go to sit with him for two hours every Thursday and those times are always the times I feel a change in myself. Sometimes I pray, sometimes I say a rosary, sometimes I just sit and think and talk to him. If you’ve never gone, I highly suggest you go! But I digress… I was sitting in adoration Thursday, talking to Jesus about my anxiety over the blog, the platform, the books, social media… All of it! I then heard, loud and clear what my real mistake was. Pressure. I was putting too much pressure on myself. This was causing me to lose sight of my true goal and to make this journey into something it was never supposed to be. I was focusing on the wrong outcomes. I don’t want to judge the success of this new venture on how many followers I have or how expansive my platform is. I want to judge its success on the basis of helping others through Christ. Did something I posted on facebook help just one person? Success! Did something I wrote in my blog help just one person? Success! Did one person who needed to read my book read it and grow closer to God while making a positive change in their life? Success!

High expectations and the pressure to succeed as the world defines success puts us all in a bad place. It robs us of seeing what is really important and it robs us of peace and joy that could be ours. It also robs us of the ability to care properly for ourselves. I see it every day in my own husband. The man works six or seven days a week, usually 10 hours a day. He says he loves it and I don’t doubt that. He loves what he does, and he enjoys working. But what are the long hours costing him? He is in construction, so his job is physically demanding. I see that he’s tired and I see the toll it’s taking on him physically and mentally. It’s a rare delight that he takes a day off. Maybe two or three days a month, he will have a “lazy day.” His lazy days are usually spent doing things around the house and napping. Never fail, he always asks me if it’s ok that he takes a nap. My answer is always the same: “yes!” “I beg you, please take a nap and get some rest! You need it.” I used to wonder why he’d ask me if it’s ok to nap. I wondered if he thought I was some kind of tyrant that kept him on a tight leash. (I’m not!) Then I realized. He’s not asking if it’s ok with me, he’s asking if it’s ok in general. He’s wondering if it’s ok to rest sometimes and not to keep working all the time. He, like most in our society, has bought into the idea that productivity and self-sacrifice are noble ventures. That success is measured in accomplishments and income. I talk to him about his expectations of himself frequently and his answer is always the same; “I have to work. I want to get just a little more ahead financially. When I’ve reached the point I’m happy with the bank account, I’ll stop working so much.” The truth is that he’s lying to himself. Once you fall into the trap of measuring your successes by how society measures them, you put yourself on a hamster wheel. It’s never enough. Each milestone reached puts you in sight of the next one. I tell him all the time that he doesn’t have to work so much. That we are ok financially. That money isn’t everything. That the level of your productivity doesn’t correspond with the level of your worth. He says he hears me, but then he puts in another seven days/sixty hour work week the following week. He says I don’t understand. And so, we agree to disagree. Although, for the past two weeks, he has only worked six days, not seven. Progress, not perfection.

I am a huge proponent of self-care. Ask my friends and family. Ask my colleagues. Ask the staff I oversee at my full-time job. Ask anyone who knows me. I’m very often reciting the words “self-care” at anyone who will listen. Of course, I sometimes need someone to say them to me. I’m human and I often find myself not following my own advice. But I can usually catch myself and make corrections when necessary.

Know who else is a proponent of self-care? God. Yup! Its all throughout the Bible. The Bible is our love letter from God and our instruction manual for a good life. Even God took a day off when he created the Earth. “On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.” (Genesis 2:2-3 NABRE) Did you notice how many times the same thing is repeated in those two verses? Two little lines tell us three times that God rested. Hmmm… Must be important… What about the Ten Commandments? God’s rules for us here on earth. Commandment number three. “Remember the sabbath day – keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8 NABRE) Its number three out of ten. Its pretty high up there on the list. Must be important… I have found that most people think this commandment refers only to going to church on Sundays. It doesn’t. It actually has been interpreted by the Catholic church to include not doing any work and taking the entire day as a day of rest. Real rest. No dishes, no laundry, no cutting grass, no washing the dog. Nothing. This interpretation is supported by a number of Bible passages including but not limited to; “Therefore, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God. And whoever enters into God’s rest, rests from his own works as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:9-10 NABRE) Jesus also reiterated the need to rest to his apostles; “The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.” (John 6:30-32 NABRE)

(Let me note here that for Catholics, the third commandment also applies to holy days of obligation and not just Sundays. I’m what you would call a cradle Catholic, and I didn’t even know that. I learned it when I started working for a local diocese in 2020. If you don’t know what the holy days of obligation are or when they are, you can find them here: )

No work. Got it! So, what do we do? We rest. Great! So, what does that mean? Some of us don’t know how to rest and that in and of itself is just sad. Are you someone who has forgotten what it means to rest? You aren’t alone. So many of us have forgotten what it means to rest. I was one of those people. In the last year, I have figured out what is restful for me. I usually read. I love to read and that is my go-to relaxation activity any day of the week. I also like to be outside. I enjoy taking my dogs outside to play on our patio. Those two activities easily qualify as rest. Sitting on my recliner with a book. Check! Sitting on a chair outside and watching my dogs run and play while enjoying my flowers and the beautiful weather? Check! It’s easy to qualify sitting and doing next to nothing as rest, but what if sitting still is not restful for you?

There are restful activities that aren’t work. I like to paint and sew. There are actually a number of crafts I enjoy. So much so that I’ve taken over the spare bedroom in our house for my craft room. These activities are restful for me and bring me peace and joy. But some would say that even enjoyable activities could border on breaking the day of rest rule. As I mentioned earlier, my husband loves what he does for work. He gets a great deal of joy out of his work. So, if he wanted to build a piece of furniture on his day off and that is restful and brings him peace, is this working or an enjoyable relaxing activity? Some people find cooking to be enjoyable and relaxing. What if you are a cook in a restaurant? Does that mean you can’t cook on Sundays even if it is a relaxing and enjoyable activity for you? All good questions and I don’t have the answers. Or maybe I do. The answer is prayer and discernment. If that’s too vague for you, the general rule that most follow is not to do anything outside of the home that is considered employment and not to do around the house what one would reasonably consider chores.

(In the context of the Catholic church, the catechism says this about the day of rest; “rest from servile labor” and “resting from those works and activities which could impede a sanctification of these days.” Both excerpted from CCC 2042)

Clear as mud? Let me tell you what I do on a typical Sunday. First, I try to sleep in. Sundays are the only days where I can reasonably indulge in doing this. When I do get up, I go to 11 o’clock mass with my unbiological family (my best friend of 40 years, her daughters, her mom and dad and other relatives that come and go on any given Sunday.) After mass, this best friend and I do lunch which turns out to be two or three hours of catching up and free therapy for each of us. Then when I get home, I sometimes look to one of those previously mentioned enjoyable activities to fill my time. Or, if I didn’t sleep in for whatever reason, I might take a nap. Or maybe I’ll just sit and watch TV with my husband. If he’s home and not working…


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