Tag Archives: self care

Maybe it’s time

In a few days I will have another birthday. I will take one step further into middle age. I will leave the year of 40 and enter the year of 41.

Birthdays aren’t really that big of deal any more, although I confess at one time they were. You reach a certain point where it all just seems silly, and big celebrations become needless. As long as I get my black forest cake from my favorite baker, I’m good.

But last year felt like a big deal. Turning 40 felt like a really big deal. So I decided to celebrate it, rather than dread it. Entering both my 20’s and my 30’s had seen big celebrations and major bucket-list items were checked-off with each. Forty was to be the same. I made a list of 40 things I wanted to accomplish. I even gave myself an additional four months, starting the list in January last year instead of on my actual birthday. But the truth is many of those items, maybe even the majority, went unchecked.

They are still on that list, staring me in the face, as I reconcile the fact that I will not be able to visit 10 more states, hike 25 more miles, squeeze in 30 more dates with my husband, or lose 40 pounds in the next four days.

It’s hard not to feel a sense of disappointment, like I let myself down. Forty was going to be a year of celebration and also a year of self-care. Care that I have woefully neglected for way too long. But it wasn’t.

I didn’t start that exercise routine, I didn’t run those 40 miles. I didn’t do those push-ups and I didn’t lose a single pound (in fact, I went in the opposite direction). I also didn’t go to bed earlier, cut back on TV and social media, or finish that writing project that’s been in my head for over a year.

I could tell you that I have some really good excuses for not accomplishing these things. And maybe I do. My husband had a stroke a few days after I turned 40. My son was diagnosed with two mental illnesses 3 months later. My grandmother moved to my town so I could help care for her 6 months after that, and a lot of other stuff happened in between.

My year of 40 became a year of caring for others, of which I don’t regret or wish away one single moment. I felt, and still do, privileged to be able to do the things that I have for the people I love. But somewhere along the way, despite a few positive starts (like finally getting that check-up and blood work done), I decided I had to trade my self care for the care of others. Self care for me became sleeping in on a Saturday because I was so exhausted from the week, and binge-watching The Crown and Outlander until 2 a.m. because once the house was quiet and no one needed me, I needed to escape to another world for a while. But it felt less like self-care and more like survival mode for much of the time.

So here I sit. The list still staring me in the face. And I have to make a choice: Do I wallow in the failure, the let-downs, the “should haves” and “could haves”? Do I only focus on the things I did accomplish (and there were quite a few of those) and say “to hell with the rest”? Or do I dare try to be brave enough to say, “This year! Forty-one is the year. I will get this self-care thing right,” and try again?

Honestly, I don’t know what to choose. But I think maybe I don’t have to pick just one. Maybe I can say “Good job on these 12 things you did do, Jelise. Cross them off the list and celebrate. But don’t give up on the things you haven’t finished yet. They’re still important. And you can learn from your mistakes and do better.”

That’s what I would say to one of my kids, isn’t it?

Maybe 41 is the year of self-grace and shortening the “to-do” list instead of adding to it. Maybe 41 is the year to say “less is more”. Maybe my 40’s are the time for slowing down and savoring what I already have; what’s already been accomplished. Maybe this decade doesn’t start with giant celebrations and major bucket-list items but ends with peace and contentment, knowing that each day was celebrated for the gift it is, and that I tried to love well. And maybe this season is when I finally choose self-care — not just once or in some big, bold way — but every day in small, meaningful ways that strengthen my body and nourish my soul.

Maybe it’s time.

I finally choose self-care. Not just once or in some big, bold way, but every day in small, meaningful ways that strengthen my body and nourish my soul.


This has not been an easy week. In fact, it’s been an up-at-5:30-go-all-day-collapse-into-bed-around-midnight-dog-tired kind of week. The day job has been stressful. The extra-curricular activity shuttling of children started in full-gear. There were spelling tests and math quizzes to help study for, PTO meetings to prepare for, committee meetings to attend, volunteer events to plan, piles of laundry to fold, the suitcase to finish unpacking from that business trip I took 4 weeks ago, etc.

It’s Friday night and I’m exhausted. This is not a new feeling for me. I’m pretty sure the last time I felt rested was in 2002. But this Friday, instead of wanting to break down into tears of exhaustion or hide under my covers, I actually have a smile and feel at peace. And I know the reason is because this week I have made time to spend in the Word and prayer every single day.  And every day God, in His undeniable ways, met me where I was and I either read a devotion, heard a song, or found a bit of scripture that spoke directly to what I was struggling with that day. I know after 37 years I shouldn’t be surprised that He does that, but it still amazes me.

This past Sunday the message at church was about being tired. Not just physically, although that’s a big part of my life, but being mentally drained and spiritually depleted, as well. The sermon could have literally been written for me, as it described my life to a tee. Every week I talk to my step-mom on the phone and she always asks me the same question, “how are you?” and I always answer the same way, “tired, stressed…you know, the usual.”

The worst part is I keep kidding myself that if I can just “get past this one thing,” “finish this one project,” etc. then things will return to “normal” — whatever that is. First it was getting through the infancy of my first-born. Then it was getting through being pregnant with twins, and then the first year of having infant twins and a toddler (not much I remember about their first 6 months). Then it was, changing my job, ending my commute, finishing grad school…you get the picture. But there always seems to be one. more. thing.

What really stuck with me after Sunday’s message was the idea of margin. Like a piece of paper, we all have a margin in our life that needs to be reserved and protected. As a marketing person who has taken a design class or two, I know how important white space and margin are. You fill up a piece of paper with too much text and images and it looks terrible! Not only that, but your core message is going to get lost in the midst of the chaos and clutter.

I can keep waiting for this phase or that one to end. But as long as I keep adding things that spill into the margins of my life I will stay in this same, exhausted place, where often the core message of my soul is lost in the chaos and clutter. Intellectually I know this, but for some reason I continue to struggle with actually doing it. For years I have beaten-up and berated myself, thinking:
“Why can’t you get this figured out?”

“How hard is it to say ‘no’ or take care of yourself.”

“No one’s going to do it for you.”

But listening to the core teaching verse this Sunday I finally realized I don’t have to –nor can I– do this alone.

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

If I want to find rest. If I want to eliminate excess and lighten my burdens. If I seek healing and restoration then I must start with Jesus. For He is “my strength and my fortress, my refuge.”

Matthew 11:28

When I don’t know what to let go of, He will show me the way.

When I feel depleted, His Word will fill my soul.

When I forget how to care for myself, He will remind me what is needed.

While I may not have been able to let go of much of the worldly things I had on my “to-do list” this week, I was able to spend time every day looking to God for guidance and wisdom.

I’m a work in progress. I know with time, practice and dependence on the Heavenly Father I will learn how to maintain margin.