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"Sorry, I'm Booked" (The Importance of Making Ourselves a Priority)

Like many of you, I started the New Year with a list of Resolutions. Some were new, while the others were the same old ones I make every year. It’s only the beginning of February and I probably have broken about 80% of them. Or, at the very least, I failed to be consistent; which is supposed to be my word and focus for the year.

Back in December I attended a Vision Board party. It’s where you cut out pictures or words from magazines and put them on a colorful poster board. And then you hope and pray that as you look at the board throughout the year you subconsciously cause all the pictures/words to come true for you within the coming calendar year. (Or something like that.)

My board, I must admit, is beautiful, colorful and inspiring. The problem is I keep it in my den (where I usually do most of my writing). But these past few weeks I have been unable to sit in the den due to a draft coming through a window. (Yes, I know, I need to get that fixed.) This also forces me to keep the pocket doors to the den closed so the cold air doesn’t drift into the living room and disturb me while I sit on the couch and “Netflix and chill.” Needless to say I haven’t even looked at that board for at least three weeks.

I guess we can all agree, I am not starting the year off on the right foot.

As women we are raised to be the number one caregiver of the family. Many of us take that duty seriously and with honor. Like so many mothers and caregivers, I spent years putting the needs of others before mine. My children, my spouse and my job all came before my own needs. I didn’t complain because I didn’t see anything wrong with it at the time. That’s just the way it was.

If we do occasionally take some “me time”, even for just a few minutes, we tend to feel guilty and selfish. The guilt invades our special time to the point that we can’t even enjoy our time off as much as we should. It isn’t until we are actually lying flat on our back from exhaustion or illness that we realize we “may have over done it a bit.”

The older I get and the more I see women suffering physically, emotionally and mentally, the more I realize that taking the time to make ourselves a priority is not being selfish, it is a necessity. If I’m not feeling well, how can I help my family with their needs? If I’m not happy, how can I make those around me happy?

Because we are used to putting others first it is easy for many of us to come up with reasons (OK, excuses) for not doing what we need to do to make ourselves a priority. That needs to change. And it's gong to start with me. So now I’m going to erase the first month of the year and make it a “do-over.”

First, I’m going to revisit that looong list of resolutions and see which ones I really want/need to do and which ones are just “good to have.” Then I’m going to throw out the “good to have” ones (maybe look them over again mid-year) and prioritize the list. Hopefully by that time there are only a few items left.

Then I’m going to schedule (complete with my trusted alarm) the items on my Outlook Calendar and Planner. Whether it’s working out on a specific day and time or pre-planning my meals so I don’t eat out as much; I will not let anything or anyone (especially me) get in the way of what needs to be done.

Making ourselves a priority is a mindset that we all need to change. We can no longer afford to put ourselves last. Self-care benefits all those around us and especially ourselves. Living a long, healthy and happy life should be a priority for us all.

As for my Vision Board, I’m going to put it on my Vanity in the bedroom. A place where I have no choice but to see it every day as I continue to fight the aging process and gravity.

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