Submitted by: Dawn Sinnott
My children were young and in elementary school. I had joined the PTA and was involved in various social activities in order to get to know the other mothers better. I had bowled my entire life so I joined the PTA bowling league that met every Monday morning.
I had gotten to know a number of women through the bowling league and enjoyed talking with them about everything from the best teachers in each grade, to what they were making for dinner that night. One particular Monday morning the women were talking about what they had done over the weekend and when it was my turn to share I said that I had gone upstate to my parent’s trailer on a lake…..alone.
Every head turned and every face looked confused. One friend said “Alone? What do you mean alone?” I told them that I went upstate by myself and my husband kept the kids home with him for the weekend. It felt like each woman gasped “WHY?!” in unison and I was taken back. It was confusing to me that this idea was so foreign to them but I didn’t give it much thought at the time.
A few years later I read a wonderful description in 12-Step program literature that described how we are told in an emergency situation on an airplane to put our oxygen mask on first before we help anyone else.
The power of this metaphor is that you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself. The first time I read that description I remembered that awkward day, having to explain to some PTA mother’s how I could possibly leave my children home with their father in order to spend some quiet time alone. I realized that I was practicing self care before it became a buzz word in our society.
Extrovert vs. Introvert
The major “aha” moment for me came when I read a description of an extrovert versus an introvert while I was learning about my son’s Attention Deficit Disorder.
In this description, an extrovert was someone who received their energy from being around other people; an introvert received their energy from being by themselves and became drained being around people for extended periods of time. A light bulb went off in my head – I was a classic introvert!
That explained why I was so drained at the end of the day when I spent most of the day around other people, why I always felt the need to sneak off to have quiet time, why I enjoyed the company of one good friend rather than a group.
Once I understood why I naturally felt better taking time to myself and I stopped making myself “wrong” for being that way, something shifted in me. I now began to understand what gave me energy and I learned that putting my oxygen mask on first is in the best interest of everyone, especially my children.
I would have never had the strength, patience and desire to be the mother I am if I didn’t practice self care. I used to tell my children that Mommy was going into “time out” so she could fill up her love cup. They would giggle and knew that giving me 10 minutes to myself would mean a more energized, happier, playful Mommy.
My children are teenagers now but the practice of self care continues to be a priority to me as well as an example I am setting for them. As my life has evolved, so has the idea of self care and what I routinely do or don’t do to take care of myself. Yet it remains an important part of who I am.
Many years after that day at the bowling alley one of the women told me that she’ll never forget how impressed she was that I put my self care at the top of my priority list; she had never given herself permission and after that day she did.
Flying the friendly skies of life is much easier when we put our oxygen mask on first, everyday, not just in emergency situations.
- What does the idea of self care mean to you? Do you carry the beliefs of past generations or other people in your life regarding self care?
- What are you afraid will happen if you start putting your oxygen mask on first?
- Where are you on your list of priorities? What one thing can you do this week to move yourself up on the list?
Author bio: Dawn Sinnott been a CPA for 22 years however her life experiences have empowered her to become a divorce recovery life coach. The interesting thing about Dawn’s story is that she was recovering from her ex-husband’s addiction at the same time she was recovering from her divorce and was able to use the same Spiritual tools to recover from both difficult situations. Dawn is passionate about sharing her experience, strength and hope with anyone considering divorce, in the midst of divorce or post-divorce and asking “Now what?” Her message is “If Marriage is a Spiritual Union of two people’s lives, why has divorce become only a Legal Separation?” In Dawn’s experience the Spiritual Dissolution of her marriage was even more important than the legal dissolution. The legal dissolution did not help her with the acceptance of my situation. It didn’t help her with fear of the unknown or the changes that were brought about by her divorce. She believes that divorce can be a catalyst to live a more authentic life with new hope and possibilities; She knows this to be true in her own life and loves empowering people and helping them to see that they’re not alone.