Lately, I found myself gravitating towards books that in one way or another bring up the question of how we’d live life if we were more aware of its limits, like Paul Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air or Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists, both of which I think are brilliant, by the way.
As much as I might have changed in many capacities over the course of my almost 29 years, what always has, and, I guess, always will be most important to me are the people I spend my life with. Sure, many of the hats I wear are an important part of my identity, but first and foremost, I always think of myself in relation to others - as a wife, friend, daughter (in law), sister (in law), cat mommy, you name it. Leave me with someone I love and I’m a happy camper, no matter what (ok, unless I actually had to go camping).
Towards the end of last year, I felt increasingly unhappy and, wondering why that was, came to realise that a majority of the choices I made this past year didn’t really reflect what I care about most. I got so caught up in the bliss of this new self employed life and in finally having found a work that felt like what I can see myself doing for a long, long time to come, that the work aspect of my life (and personality) took over most of it while almost every other aspect vanished. Every single day I felt guilty for not being the person I wanted to be in my relationships, including the one with myself, even though everyone was always so understanding and patient with me. On the other hand, it seemed like all I heard was how fulfilling and how much of a blessing their work was to fellow creatives, and here I was, wanting more happiness than just in the work part of my life, feeling greedy for it.
Don’t get me wrong - being able to do what I do for a living does make me incredibly happy, and it can be great when work and life meet in the way they do when you’re self employed and work a job that includes sharing bits and pieces of your life. But it can also make the already challenging task of balancing work and life in a somewhat healthy way that much more of a struggle, and I clearly didn’t do myself any favours here last year. As ironic as it sounds, I realised that I centred my work around sustainability and at the same time created a work life for myself that was all but sustainable. After all, if we think about what sustainability means for a moment – the ability to keep a balance and maintain a specific state or behaviour while avoiding the depletion of resources – how can we make it a priority without making sure we're treating ourselves in a way we can and want to keep up?
So when 2017, my year of the cleanse, came to a close and I was looking for a new focus for 2018, I decided that this year would be all about self care. About finding my way back into healthier routines, about balancing various aspects of life, about growing my business while at the same time making what matters most to me a priority. Now I’m a rather private person by nature, but what started out as a way of holding myself accountable turned into me actually enjoying sharing about and connecting over more personal aspects of life lately. There’s so many important, interesting and inspiring self care and work / life related conversations to be had, and I can’t wait to join (and hopefully ignite) more of them!
What are your thoughts on this? Is there any aspect of self care you’re particularly interested in? Anything you find most challenging, any routines or reads that you find helpful?