How do I take care of myself when I’m old enough to have a conversation with my child that goes like this:
“Happy Birthday, mom. Should I not ask how old you are?”
Umm, that’s the sign.
I’m more than 40.
But since I’m not remembering the exact number anymore (my kids tell me that I’ve told others an older age than I am–I’ve actually forgotten), what do specifics matter?
Though my age is reflected in my external appearance, my spirit feels younger, freer, happier than when I was fourteen, twenty, or thirty.
I have integrated a few things into daily life that have helped make my life the younger, freer, happier way it is right now.
Also known as strengthening stretching.
For the cynics out there, no need to be afraid of this exercise practice. If 47 has taught me anything, it is that this body is not remaining static. I am getting achy.
The older I get, the more frequently we change our mattress. This is not a sign that mattress construction is declining. My stretching routine, aka yoga, keeps this thing agile (pointing to my back).
No reason to be afraid to meditate either. It’s really just quieting our minds.
Getting our minds to slow is much like choosing to go on vacation temporarily. In your room. To focus on not focusing actually focuses our body to move into a quieter mode.
You might want to call this prayer. But I don’t mean talking to the Creator. I mean not talking at all. Not sharing our worries or our petitions.
Just letting the thoughts, the words, the constant mental chatter slow.
Anti-inflammatories (& turmeric tea).
Anti-inflammatories for the aches and pains unresolved by a good night’s sleep and yoga. Or by trying to move too many wheelbarrows of bark mulch to garden beds. Or attempting to keep up with my seventeen-year-old’s Pilates online class.
The medical world isn’t out to get us with their western ways.
They have children that get hurt on the playground, have aches and pains after fourteen-hour shifts in emerg, and get terminal illnesses and car accidents too. They’re neither convinced that the medical system can save us, nor western (or eastern) remedies will perfect our lives, but they try to improve our daily experience with a couple of Advil, just like we do.
So I take anti-inflammatories when I need them.
Or I take a turmeric tea on the regular too.
- A teaspoon of turmeric
- A teaspoon of honey
- A pinch of pepper (to absorb the turmeric better)
- A half teaspoon of fresh ginger
- A spoonful of coconut oil
- And boil it with a cup of almond milk
The non-western medicine alternative to Advil. (And it’s comforting like a hot chocolate).
I have a resistance to our culture’s perfect body syndrome. I have learned that exercise for pride and vanity is an unhappy-making, shame-inducing experience.
Still, there will be no circumstance where I tell myself not to exercise. Exercise doesn’t have to be about mastering aesthetic perfection.
Exercise is what our bodies were meant to do. When we don’t do it, we get sore, bored, lazy, and less happy. Exercise helps us burn off tension and increases our endorphins.
My ideals are an exercise in the outdoors: hiking, biking, canoeing, walking, yoga, paddle boarding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing. And in the worst weather, the elliptical machine, a video, dancing with the kids, or running stairs.
Is there a perfect routine? Yes. The one that I enjoy the most.
Experiment with variety.
Adolescence doesn’t have to be the only time in life we discover who we are and what we’re about. We have our entire lives given to discover us.
How will we know we don’t like something if we never try?
Having said that, my twelve-year-old asked if I would skydive with her on her eighteenth birthday. Naturally, I told her emphatically: not gonna happen. RIP twainausten February 10, 2021. I know my limitations; I will surely mess that one up.
I’m not experimenting with things that test my adrenals, but I am looking to live the life that is most engaging, with new experiences, new activities, new foods, and new people.
Building authentic connections with others by being authentic and reaching out.
We were made for a real connection. When we share who we really are, and sit with the truth of others’ real experiences, we gain as much as we give.
It’s especially helpful during this time of great change. (Can I just call it to change? Tumult? Trauma? Crazy?) It is definitely a massive life shift this last year.
We play a meaningful role in others’ lives and we build communal connections. And we build our own community in an authentic community.
No matter my actual age, I have learned I will always be 25.
I set my life to believe what I did at 25: life will never end, I will always have a place in it, my body will always function as I like, happiness is always an option, others can make me happy, and I have much to look forward to.
Idealistic yes, and resolutely hopeful.
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