“Bye, woman.” On wellness and self-care

I told the kids “bye, guys” one morning as they headed off to class. Vera promptly turned and said “bye, woman.”

She thought she was cheeky, and I must admit I laughed. (I only hope I remember this incident years down the road if and when the kids use this reference not so innocently.)

As I spent the last week or so reflecting on my journey and reviewing my goals and plans, I realise that I often forget about my own needs as a woman.

A woman needs love and affection. She is cheered on by words of encouragement and affirmation from the people close to her heart. She loves to be pampered, desires to dream and to realise those dreams, seeks time to rejuvenate herself, time to rest and feed her soul.

She needs to know that she is worth fighting for and protecting, that her thoughts, feelings and ideas are worthy of a listening ear. She dreams big, gives of herself to worthy causes, fights for the things and people she believes in and loves. She nurtures her clan ferociously.

As “mum”, I often neglect the other aspects of womanhood. I don’t dedicate time to care for myself. Exercise and grooming gets relegated to “when I have a minute.”

Many needs vy for my attention, and it can get pretty overwhelming on some days. (Now and then, I feel like locking myself in a quiet room and sitting alone in the stillness for five minutes. And occasionally, I actually do.)

This is where I collect myself; the million pieces of me that have been spread thin like butter on toast.

There, when the sky feels like it’s falling and when my heart is so noisy and worry-filled, I’m able to focus on the promises of God. He often reminds me that He is the one holding it up for us.

I feel lately I’ve been buzzing around without a clear purpose. It’s time to re-focus on the things that matter to me, not just as Mum, but as Woman.

When I became a mum in 2009, I launched into motherhood – mad, glorious motherhood. Now, ironically, being a mum has taught me that I cannot simply mother all day long and neglect my own needs as a woman. This quote says it well:

The quality of a person’s inner being – the body, mind and spirit – affect the quality of his/her outward expressions – the ability to maintain healthy relationships with others, produce quality work, etc. One’s inner wellness is, hence, not an option, but a necessity. Every individual, especially women who tend to sacrifice themselves for their loved ones, must unwind and pamper his/herself to achieve that inner balance and well-being. – Esther Lee

As much as my children mean to me, being a better person for them means stepping away from them, to re-fuel my tank.

Ways to re-fuel

  • Keep fit and healthy (through good food and exercise).
  • Regular me-time (coffee dates work well for me, and the occasional coffee retreat).
  • Catch up with good friends.
  • Invest in personal development, give voice to your dreams.
  • Creative pursuits and fun relaxing activities, like picking up a new hobby or catching a play (not a kiddy one)
  • Nourish your soul by feeding on God’s word daily.
  • Date your spouse. Find new ways to show your love.
  • Create mental white space or thinking space (this should involve stealing away from the noisy world of technology and social media) to reflect on the past, learn lessons, and plan for the future. (This often helps me to gain new energy and perspective. When I take a step back, I often catch a glimpse of the bigger picture.)

In a way, this blog is my way of investing in myself; an expression of my desires to write and create, and to encourage other parents who are going through similar struggles.

It is also a small step towards achieving my dream to be a writer.

Yes, it’s hard to peel away. Yes, it’s hard to find the time. But if it’s something important and close to your heart, you will choose to do it, even if it means saying “no” to other things. This is for you, and for the family too.

Parenthood isn’t an excuse for you to shelf your dreams and needs for personal fulfilment away. Instead, allow parenthood to inspire and motivate you to go beyond what you ever imagined, and to invest in those needs in a different, perhaps more creative, way.

From now on, I’m committing myself to not run on empty, and to re-fuel on love, God’s word, and good company. For the month of July, I’ll be focusing on the theme of self-care. (If you have an idea to share with me, do drop me a note!)

“Hello, woman.”

self-care quote

Do you struggle to meet your own needs and desires too?

How do you find ways to recharge and refuel?

Worker, mother of two, writer, wife

It has taken me a while to realise this.

That I am a worker (part-time but worker no less.)

A mother of two.

A writer.

A wife.

I don’t know how I cope with all the various demands from these four major roles that I am focusing on right now. I really don’t, as in I have no clue. But quite recently, someone at work came to me and asked me. (This was after she found out I had two little ones.)

How do you do it?

I was taken aback. This wasn’t a question that I’ve considered before. I haven’t quite found the secret recipe at keeping it all together. Some days, I don’t. Some days, I surprise myself that I still have energy to write and to upkeep this blog. Other days, I get by by telling myself that it’s okay I don’t have time to apply nail polish and trim my eyebrows and shop for new shoes. It is enough that my husband and kids love me, and these itty-bitty things just don’t matter as much anymore.

But still I have certain expectations of myself. Every night, I try to clean and wash out my kids’ water bottles. Every night, the hubs and I try to make conversation, to share about our day, what went on, what went right or what went wrong. Every night, we hug and kiss the kids to bed. Every night, I ask God to keep us safe and sound. Every night, I ask for strength and grace for the next day.

At night, I also come face-to-face with the truth.

How do I do it?

The answer is, I don’t quite do anything in my own strength.

I do give my best at the different areas of responsibilities that I have, but I would be totally faking it if I said that everything is done at 100% and that nothing is breaking. Let’s face it, we were never meant to be superwomen. At least, I never set out to be one, because I would just fall flat on my make-up-less face.

But this is who I am. I am a woman content with what I have. I am thankful. For both the joys and messiness of motherhood. I see that we don’t lead picture-perfect lives. We all struggle in some shape or form. Every day, we juggle the perennial balls of family, work, dreams, health, finances, love. Maybe sometimes we just need to know that it’s okay to drop a ball once in a while. Let it slide. That no one will wag the naughty finger at us.

I depend on God. I depend on others. I can’t thrive in a me-and-myself world. It would be too lonely and isolated. I’m intricately connected to several important people, and I see that these relationships are my lifeblood. It gives me pure and simple joy that others can depend on me too. Truly, I would not be who I am now, if not for the presence and support of family, and the love and encouragement of friends. And the sweet precious grace of a wonderful and loving God.

Without them, I would lose balance. Without them, I would probably fall.

strength and dignity

 You balance many roles and responsibilities too…How do you do it? How do you cope?

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