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Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Importance of Self-Care (and How To Do It)

It’s been a week since I posted my letter to Jennifer O’Brien.  I shared it in exactly 3 local mom groups.  The same 3 places I share all of my blog posts and get *maybe* a few hundred views on a very good day.  I expected much the same on the letter, but instead it went viral.

I am blessed that I was given the words to express what I wanted to say to the family.  I had so many feelings and released them in one of the only ways I knew how.  I meant every single word and will continue to mean them.  My offer of support in any way I could possibly be useful stands with no expiry. I am humbled by the amount of people who have echoed these sentiments – sometimes the most powerful displays of love and community come in the face of extreme tragedy.  I had several comments from people telling me I had articulated exactly what they had been feeling but couldn’t quite form into words.  Several more sending their prayers and thoughts to the O’Brien and Liknes families.   The Huffington Post asked me to reblog it on their site.   Quite frankly, the post took on a life of its own and I hadn’t expected it.   And then I realized.  More than vaccinations, or postpartum woes or Matt Walsh – this post resonated for people.  This was raw.  This was too close to home.  This was more than just a scenario, a what-if.  This was real.  This was heartbreaking.

We were all affected by the horrific events of the past few weeks.  We are still affected, still processing.  It doesn’t matter if we personally knew the people involved – it still hit home.  And in doing so, it can stir up a lot of feelings, anxieties and stresses, perhaps completely by surprise.   Self-care is critical to our well-being always, but maybe even especially in the face of this (or any) tragedy.

So, how do you do it? Well, like most things in life, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy here.  My solutions are yoga, writing and copious amounts of napping.  If that sounds dreadful to you, that’s not your solution for self-care.  You need to find what soothes your soul and do that.  Need help? I’ve provided some tips for self-care below.  Take what you need and discard the rest.

Feel the feelings.
Allow yourself to feel what it is you feel.  There’s no ‘right’ emotion, and it looks differently for everyone.  Trying to force sadness when you are actually anxious won’t help the process.  Accept what emotions come to you, acknowledge them so you can start to let them go.  If burying them is necessary for self-preservation at the moment, do that.  We all need to survive.  Just as a caution, though – emotions have a sneaky way of resurfacing ten-fold when we supress them too long.

Talk to someone.
Friend, spouse, family, pet.  Having a sounding board can make all the difference.  Even just saying what we’re thinking out loud can be immensely helpful.  I personally find it useful to lay out what I need from my person in advance so I’m not stuck with a Mr. FixIt when really all I wanted was a sympathetic ear.  A simple “Hey, I need to talk and I just need you to listen instead of offering solutions, okay?” can go a long way.  Or the other way around if you are indeed looking for input.  If you don’t feel like talking, try a journal instead.
If you find yourself consumed by your emotions, unable to function or if you just need a more skilled ear to help you work through your shit, consider seeking the help of a professional.  There is no shame in asking for help when you need it, and most employers will foot the bill.

Swear.
Or yell, scream, hit a pillow, etc.  Sometimes a physical release is the perfect compliment to an emotional one.  I took a bit of heat for my language in my letter but I was staying true to myself and my own way of processing.  It isn’t meant to be insensitive.  Sometimes things truly are fucked up and no other words will do it justice.  I think it’s okay to say so.  If you need an unconventional method to aid your healing, take it.  Only you know what you need.

Find what soothes your soul. Then do it.
Not tomorrow. Not someday.  Now.  Got the urge to take your dog for a walk? Stop reading right this second, put on your shoes and go.  Like to run? Hit the pavement and only stop when you need to.  Just want to curl up and read a book?  Find your comfiest pajamas and get cozy.  What nourishes me may not nourish you.  Find what your thing is and go do it.  You owe it yourself to take care of number one, so that you can continue to take care of all the other things and people that need you.

Check the stats.
If you have an analytical mind, it may be useful for you to look up the statistics of whatever it is you’re feeling emotional about.  Sometimes knowing the odds that your concern will become a reality helps you to prioritize where to spend your energy.  Also, ask yourself if your worry puts those odds more in your favour: chances are the event is exceedingly rare in the first place and your worry does nothing but rob you of your joy.

 

Above all, don’t feel badly for taking care of yourself or for asking others to facilitate it.  It’s critical for all of us.

Tell me – what do you do to practice self-care?

 

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Posted by on July 20, 2014 in Random Shit

 

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To Jennifer O’Brien – The Deepest Sympathies

 

Jennifer O’Brien – I’ve never met you.  I don’t know anything about you or your family other that what I’ve seen on the news.  I’ve never had the pleasure of interacting with your gorgeous boys; never got to personally tell you how much I was thinking about you and your family; never gave you a hug and told you I was praying for you.  And yet I am deeply affected by the news today, of your family’s situation and the horror you are going though.  Jennifer – I’m a mom, too.

I bawled during your press conference when you talked to your superhero Nathan and told him to stay strong.  Actually, I bawled every time I heard about him and your parents on the news.  I know I’m far from the only one.  We are all crying with you.

I have been obsessively following your story, praying hard for a miracle.  I went out of cell phone reception for 3 days and your family was the first thing I looked up when I returned, hoping that in my absence everything had turned around. It hadn’t, and today the news looks bleaker.

I can’t pretend that I understand.  I could never fully understand, could I?  I’m not sure I would ever want to.  But I can imagine.  I’m a mom, too, Jennifer, and I can imagine.  I’m imagining my own boy and the thought of going though what you are, well, it’s the most pain that anyone could inflict.  The biggest horror.  My worst nightmare.  Even the imagining makes me cry, and for me it’s only a scenario.  For you it’s real life.

I know you’re spiritual and love God.  Trust in Him.  Lean on Him now and let Him carry this for you. I don’t know His reasons for this (quite frankly, I think sometimes the things that happen are quite fucked up, indeed) but I know that you need your faith right now.  Lean on your community and your God – they will be strong for you even if you can’t be.

Know that you have an entire country and beyond grieving with you right now.  You’re not alone.  You’re never alone.  In fact, I’d like to personally offer you help in absolutely any way you need it.  A shoulder to cry on, a person to run your errands, someone to distract your kids, just an ear to vent to – call me.  Call me in 6 months, a year, two years when it hits you like a Mack truck because grief is a sneaky bastard that doesn’t fit nicely into the timeframe that you usually get the most support in.  Call me at 2 am when you can’t sleep and you don’t want to bother anyone.  I can never be bothered.  And I know that there’s thousands of people who will echo this, Jennifer.  We’ve got your back here, and we’re not going to let you fall.

Most of all, allow yourself to feel whatever it is you feel.  It looks differently for everyone, and there’s no wrong way.  Be kind and patient to yourself.  And if you can’t? Call me.

 

UPDATE: This post has gotten massive amounts of love in just a few short hours.  I’m investigating tangible, legitimate ways to contribute to this family and will update here.

UPDATE:  A trust account has been set up at ATB Financial under the name O’Brien Family In Trust.  Donations can be made at any ATB location.  I don’t wish to display the account number here, but the account is held at the Calgary Creekside branch. Out of province donations can be made via email money transfer to MBegin@atb.com

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2014 in Random Shit

 

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