Sunday mornings come quietly here at our little house, especially in this frigid Midwestern winter. We start a fire, settle in with our coffee and a book or newspaper, munch on some toast and honey from our local bakery. As the morning progresses, we might brew another pot of coffee, put some music on the CD player. I might finish one book and pick up another; my husband might move into the den and catch the latest replays from Saturdays soccer matches.
Sundays haven’t always been this way. For many years, we were very active in our church music programs, and would hustle out of bed on Sundays just as we did on other weekdays, needing to be there prior to service time to rehearse. After worship, we often went out for brunch with friends, arriving home mid-afternoon. This was all quite lovely, of course, but it often made Sunday mornings feel frantic. So perhaps this was one reason we’ve fallen away from regular church attendance. With age has come a sense of needing to choose those activities that serve us best, that provide comfort and care, rather than the sense of one more obligation to fulfill.
Until the last few years, the idea of self-care was foreign to me. By nature and nurture I am a caring person, born with a deep sense of responsibility and need to be loved, but also trained in the Golden Rule. The top priority for most of my adult live has been caring for others – my husband, my child, my grandparents and parents, my dogs, my friends and jobs and volunteer work. While I never begrudged any of that, it kept me in a perpetual state of agitation and anxiety, trying to juggle everyone’s needs. There were many times when I felt out of sorts, or even physically sick, without really knowing why.
My Self became lost in the mix of caring for everyone and everything else.
As the years have passed, many of those obligations have disappeared quite naturally, with no intervention or intention on my part. My son grew up and moved away, all of our relatives have died, and last year we lost both of our precious dogs within five months of each other. I’ve retired from all my jobs and narrowed down my volunteer work to one or two activities. Life is simpler, and it’s easier to make those choices I mentioned before – the ones that provide comfort and care.
Of course comfort care for me is heavily weighted toward enjoying a creative life. It means books and music. It means enjoying lovely scented body creams and fresh home cooked food. It means a soft blanket to wrap around my shoulders on chilly mornings. It means looking for beautiful moments in the day – watching the sunrise from my favorite window, hearing a friend laugh, cuddling on the couch with my husband.
In actuality, most of my mornings look a lot like that idyllic Sunday morning I described in the first paragraph. Hot coffee in my favorite cup, an hour of two of reading a good book.
I came across this quotation and it spoke volumes to me: “You have permission to rest. You are not responsible for everything that is broken. You do not have to try and make everyone happy. For now, take time for you. It’s time to replenish.”
It’s a relief to give myself this “permission” – to take care, to replenish the needs of my own body and soul for a change. It’s been a long time coming, but now it’s here. And it’s really comforting.
How about you? What are some ways you provide your own comfort care?
About the Author: Becca Rowan
Becca Rowan lives in Northville, Michigan with her (newly-retired!) husband. She is the author of Life in General, and Life Goes On, collections of personal and inspirational essays about the ways women navigate the passage into midlife. She is also a musician, and performs as a pianist and as a member of Classical Bells, a professional handbell ensemble. If she’s not writing or playing music you’ll likely find her out walking or curled up on the couch reading with a cup of coffee (or glass of wine) close at hand. She loves to connect with readers at her blog, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.