Day Twenty Challenge – How can you give yourself a break today? (mentally, physically, or emotionally)
If only all of the daily challenges could be this easy! This morning I was called by my agency and offered to work an extra shift today…I declined giving myself an emotional and physical break today. I also decided not to hit the gym today giving myself yet another physical break.
This last week I wasn’t too successful in setting limits or taking care of myself. I accepted extra shifts all week. On Friday night I was exhausted and in pain, I decided to take a hot bath and ended up falling asleep while in the bath. Fortunately I only nodded off for a moment and didn’t drown. Thank the Good Lord I wasn’t on the road driving either. In hindsight I realize I should have declined the extra shifts and not pushed myself so hard at the gym. I have such enthusiasm at times that I forget to put limits. I am accustomed to putting my needs last, a habit I am trying to break through this self love challenge. At least I am aware of the mistakes I made this week. In moving forward I know I need to be more mindful of my needs and overextending myself.
artwork credit – “Waiting for the ferry at the Falcon” and “The Garden Bench” by James Tissot
Day Nineteen Challenge – How are you making the world a better place?
I am a nurse. I take care of the sick that’s how I make the world a better place. I have sacrificed time with my family especially my son and my own time doing multiple overtime shifts taking care of others.
I have mostly worked in the long-term care setting such as nursing homes and rehabilitation centres. I consider my job a privilege. Being a nurse is a very difficult profession. I remember one particular case that stands out in my memory. We received a gentleman at our facility who was falling at home and had become violent with his wife. She was no longer able to care for him safely in the home setting. This gentleman was of short stature with beautiful blue eyes the colour of the sky. He had dementia and he would become combative. He fell multiple times at the facility regardless of the safety measures we had in place. He would get sent out to the hospital for scans but always return. During his moments of happiness he had this infectious smile, he grinned from ear to ear. He loved the Dodgers and would talk incessantly about baseball. As the supervisor I tried everything to find his “happy” place where he was not violent. One day I discovered that he enjoyed a particular intervention, taking a bath in the Jacuzzi tub. When he smiled at me I was humbled. Those baby blue eyes glistening. This patient taught me humility and patience. As months went on he his dementia worsened. He stopped eating and the light in his eyes dimmed. The night he was dying I was present. As a nurse I am not allowed to show emotion I am supposed to be neutral in order to be able to be supportive towards the family and patient during this difficult time. Also showing that emotion would not be appropriate around my colleagues as I am their supervisor and must maintain my composure. However this particular patient had a profound effect on me as a person. When he died I stayed with the family and I kept my composure. I did my job. When the family left I locked myself in the bathroom and I cried. I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. In the nursing home setting you see your patients every day and you form this bond. I genuinely care for them as I would my father or mother. To some nursing is just a job, a paycheque so to speak. Nursing is my niche, caring for others allows me to feel fulfilled in life.
I am no longer in the nursing home setting. To be completely honest I needed a change and losing my job was necessary for growth. I am now working in the home care setting. I have a permanent case working with a young girl with cerebral palsy and seizure disorder five days a week. I enjoy the change and a new setting along with a new patient demographic which is encouraging professional and personal growth. Caring for others is how I am making this world a better place.
artwork credit – “Japanese Scroll” by James Tissot and “A girl reads to a convalescent while a nurse brings in the patient’s medicine” by R.H. Giles
Day Eighteen Challenge – WHAT’S ONE CHANGE YOU CAN MAKE TO INCREASE YOUR HAPPINESS?
I have recently started to work out again. However it is sporadic and not consistent yet. A change I would like to make to increase my happiness is going to the gym at least five days a week. Everybody’s idea of going to the gym is different, to specify I want to run sixty minutes on the treadmill at least five days a week. Running has always been an activity that is therapeutic for me. Running releases endorphins giving you this running “high”.
I started running in grade eight. My father placed great importance on physical activity when I was growing up. As a toddler most of the pictures of me are in a backpack on my mum’s back with my dad crossing the finish line of some triathlon he was doing. As I got older my father introduced me to running, cycling, and cross-country skiing. I never gravitated towards cycling or cross-country skiing much to my father’s dismay. Throughout high school I was on the track team and I did ten kilometre races with my dad. My training was gruelling. On Mondays I ran five kilometres, Tuesday ten kilometres, Wednesday five kilometres, Thursday ten kilometres, and Friday five kilometres. Saturdays were never fun… I ran twenty kilometres with my father either running with me or driving a long side me. My diet was constantly monitored and restricted by my dad. Running got me through high school and taught me great discipline. I am forever grateful to my father for instilling the importance of exercise. My father died when I was in my early twenties despite his healthy lifestyle. It’s been over ten years since his passing but when I run I feel his presence.
In order to increase my happiness I intend on running on the treadmill for sixty minutes five days a week. Running outside is not really an option for me although preferable since I live in a heavily populated area and have no wish to be hit by a car or breath in the fumes of exhaust. I have stated my goal and I hope I can stick with it!
Day Seventeen Challenge – When was the last time you indulged yourself and how?
Indulging oneself is easy to do however justifying the necessity is rather difficult. Perhaps you don’t think you deserve to take the time for yourself or perhaps the cost deters you. I last indulged myself about two months ago at the spa. I usually go every month or couple of months depending on my budget. I usually have aqua therapy prior to massage which is 20 minutes in the private whirlpool. I particularly enjoy the soothing jets and aromatherapeutic scents of rosemary and clary sage as I drift off into a divine state of relaxation. The massage lasts 50 minutes, I prefer the classic Swedish massage. The treatment also includes these aromatherapy blends mixed in with the massage oil.
I started getting massages about eight years ago. I was apprehensive at first, I don’t like to be touched. I’m definitely not a “touchy feely” kinda person. However the massage brought to light how much tension I carry around on a daily basis. Jody Buzzell was the first person who encouraged me try a massage. Jody was the most talented massage therapist. She could work out every knot in your muscles any once of tension was gone. She had an aura about her, one of the kindest people you could ever meet. You felt so safe and loved around her, a truly beautiful soul. She was devoted to her family, especially her kids and grandchildren. Jody Buzzell’s life was ended too soon in a murder/suicide by her husband Mark Buzzell. Jody changed my ideas on the use of therapeutic massage from a medical stand-point and it’s beneficial qualities for the body such as relieving tension and improving circulation. I am forever grateful to her for her friendship, kindness, and encouragement to love thy self. Her husband robbed the world of such a beautiful soul.
On a more positive note indulging oneself doesn’t have to be at a spa. When my budget doesn’t allow for these expensive indulgences. I do my own aqua therapy at home. I fill the bathtub with foam bath and simply relax for twenty minutes. I discovered this one bath and shower gel called “Willow Song” by Noble Isle, it is divine with notes of rose, lily of the valley, water lilly, and willow bark. There’s no jets in my bathtub but it will suffice. I also use aromatherapy to indulge myself daily. I have a diffuser which runs all day when I’m home and not working. My favourite essential oil blend is by Neal’s Yard Remedies and is called “De-Stress”. There was a time when I thought essential oils were for “granolas and hippies” however I am convinced of its therapeutic use now. The “De-Stress” blend includes ylang ylang, neroli, and petitgrain oil. Ylang ylang oil is made from the flowers of the herb Cananga odorata genuina. Neroli oil is an essential oil produced from the blossom of the bitter orange tree and Petitgrain oil is extracted from the leaves and green twigs of the bitter orange tree. This blend is particularly pleasing to me however any blend or essential oil on its own has therapeutic qualities.
Indulging oneself is a necessity for self love/self care…you may think it frivolous but I guarantee you will feel its benefits once you take the chance.
Artwork Credit – James Tissot “Reading the paper” and “Young women looking at Japanese articles”
Day Sixteen Challenge – WHAT IS THE MOST LOVING THING YOU’VE EVER DONE FOR YOURSELF?
The most loving thing I’ve ever done for myself is recognizing that I have low self-esteem and have allowed behaviour in my life that is not respectful towards me. The recognition was the first step. I was even more loving towards myself when I decided to challenge that low self-esteem and make the changes necessary for self-care. It took a lot of courage for me to start this blog and the 31 day self love challenge. It was by no means an easy feat for me but in doing so I have encouraged more introspection and growth. Loving and accepting one’s self doesn’t happen overnight it’s a journey. I have made little changes like saying “no” to extra shifts when my family and I need me to be present at home or being honest with a friend about how she/he made me feel. A habit I am slowly breaking is my negativity toward my appearance. I am finally learning to cut myself a break…I have always placed an enormous amount of pressure on myself. I will have set backs in this journey but there will also be progress and growth. With being more loving towards myself I can be more loving towards others.
“self-love is a continuous manifestation of courage to keep on living as your most authentic self” – unknown
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things” – Henry Miller
“Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength” – Corrie Ten Boom
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell
artwork credits – “A winter’s walk” and “Seaside” by James Tissot
Day Fifteen Challenge – WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID TO ASK FOR? WHAT DO YOU NEED TO SPEAK UP ABOUT?
I have great difficulty vocalizing my wants and needs in general. For example when asked to do overtime (If you’re a nurse this happens almost daily) I always used to say, “Yes” however I didn’t set limits. I am trying to change that pattern. I was asked to work this Saturday which I did and then I was asked to work Sunday. I refused to work Sunday sure the money is nice but taking care of myself is nicer. I had groceries to get, help my son with homework, I had a lunch date with friends. I had things to do which to some may be trivial but I realize now (after not setting limits for so long) I have a life and my life is important.
In romantic relationships I have always been afraid to ask for what I want and what I need. Primarily I believe my inability to voice my wants and needs stemmed from my lack of self-esteem. When asked where do I want to go for dinner or what movie do I want to see. I would respond “it doesn’t matter whatever you’d like”. I’m a pretty laid back person and it’s true I realize that spending time with the one you care about is truly all that matters. However I do have likes and dislikes, preferences and aversions, and these do matter because I matter.
If a behaviour or something someone says bothers me, I simply obsess over it in my mind. I think of all the scenarios all the possibilities of what it could mean. Which in itself is not a good practice. When an act or words bother me, make me feel uncomfortable or if I don’t understand the meaning of what someone is saying I need speak up about it. My feelings and interpretations matter. I matter.
Throughout this challenge I have come to the conclusion that I am my biggest advocate. The behaviour I allow that I tolerate whether is may be disrespectful or not is dependent on me. I have the power to set limits. I have the power to speak up if something bothers me or makes me uncomfortable.
Accepting myself for all my flaws and qualities is one step in self-love. The second step is to speak up for myself and set limits no matter the situation. Being fearful of rejection or non-acceptance by others doesn’t allow for self-love. For example if you set limits and someone becomes angry with you for setting those limits they were obviously taking advantage of you and disrespecting you. If someone says something hurtful and you speak up for your feelings, you are letting the other individual know “I matter”.
“Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life” – Miguel Angel Ruiz
artwork credit – “Marquise de Miramon” and “Tea Time” by James
Day Fourteen Challenge -WHAT WOULD YOUR YOUNGER SELF BE PROUD OF YOU FOR TODAY?
I have accomplished a lot…I have a career I’m proud of and I have raised my son to be a loving, kind, and caring human being…all by myself. I can’t take all the credit for my son as my family has been a big part of his life. Throughout this challenge I have been forced to take a long hard look at myself. I feel as though I am on the cusp of accepting myself for all my good qualities and all my flaws. I’m realizing everything is not perfect and that’s ok because everyday I’m making changes. I’m finally seeing progress and how negatively I used to see myself. Looking to others for validation or acceptance is definitely not productive for anyone. Essentially I am all there is no matter who comes in or out of my life. The only acceptance that matters or has any validity is of myself. Being truly acceptant of one’s self means you can offer the world your gifts being authentically you. My younger self would be proud of how far I have come…all I have been through.
One particular story of survival I want to share: On August 6, 2005, my mom’s birthday, I became deathly ill. For about 2-3 weeks prior I had this pain in my abdomen that would move around. It was a sharp pain, I was moving boxes so I thought maybe I pulled a muscle. At one point the pain was so intense it would wake me up out of dead sleep. I went to see a doctor who told me he thought I had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). He sent me for blood work which showed no abnormalities. I accepted his explanation. Although deep down I knew something was seriously wrong but at the same time I didn’t want to deal with it. I was scared of the unknown, maybe I had cancer. On my mom’s birthday my dad and I went out for last minute supplies (we were both procrastinators), her cake and birthday present. We got back to my parent’s house and the pain started with an intensity I cannot begin to describe. I did everything to find relief lay down, take a bath, take some tylenol. My father, God Bless him, wanted to take me to the hospital but I refused. After all it’s just IBS. I became incomprehensible and my dad put me in the car and brought me to the ER. The ER was packed with people and in triage the nurse told my father I am probably just dehydrated so she sent him to wait in the car (there was no place to sit). I was waiting with everyone else but one nurse (she saved my life) took one look at me and said authoritatively “You come here”. My blood pressure was 64/32, my heart rate was 162, the colour of my face was green. I started vomiting and didn’t stop. They took x-rays and moved me to ICU where they took an MRI. I was in and out of consciousness, I was in pain that feels like dying would be a good idea because at least you would have some relief. I had multiple IV’s of morphine and fluid. The ICU doctor came to me and explained to me that I am septic and have an obstruction in my small intestine. An obstruction means that parts of my intestines are not getting blood and therefore the tissue is “dead” or “dying” spilling its contents. She didn’t know the extent of the damage but explained that if I didn’t go into emergency surgery right now I was going to die very soon. The surgery lasted 9 hours. Can you believe I was so delusional that I thought I would just have the surgery and go home in a couple of days (rather funny when you think of it now). There were three surgeons in total, two gastroenterology specialists and one general surgeon. They removed several portions of my small intestine and large intestine. Dr. Richards (the main man) saved my life and I am forever grateful to him. I was on the ventilator in a medically induced coma for several days, I had an epidural for several weeks, and the nasogastric tube (that’s in your nose) for almost 3 weeks. When I was woken up I had to be on morphine around the clock on top of the epidural. Under my skin I have 150-160 stitches that are there permanently. I had 14 staples and I have a permanent scar that goes from my belly button to my pubic bone (I guess bikini modelling was never in the cards). I lost 40 pounds because of muscle wasting and the severity of what my body had endured. Towards the end of my hospital stay, one night I was walking around wheeling all my IV poles with me and I decided to go to the floor with the outdoor space. While I was waiting for the elevator I looked at the reflection in the window, it was night time, and I thought,”Oh there’s another young woman”. When I turned around and there was no one there I realized that was me in the reflection. I didn’t even recognize my own reflection that was a turning point for me. I decided I am not going to give up. My food finally started staying down after I ate and the nasogastric tube finally came out. I was on parenteral nutrition at this point. I was discharged home nearly a month after my mom’s birthday (one unfortunately she will never forget). I survived. I am a surviver.
artwork credit – James Tissot “The Political Lady” and “Quiet”