Give Yourself Over to Connection In Your Good-Bye

Michael Scott (The Office)

Image via Wikipedia

Hello folks.  Just cried my eyes out watching the well-developed character of Michael Scott close out his work at The Office.  What is it that moved me so much?  The connection.  Michael Scott, played by the talented Steve Carol, ended his performance with the question,

They say that at your death-bed you’re never going to wish you spent more time at the office.  Not me.  I’m going to wish I had more….  Who are the people you work with?  Your very best friends in the world.

I could barely breath at this point.  Pile of tissues on the table.  My stunned husband letting me blubber goo on his shirt.  He asked,

What is it that you liked so much?

Only my husband would ask what I liked in the middle of a good cry.  He knows that crying doesn’t mean I don’t like what’s happening.  He knows my twisted ways.  Connection is lovely enough to like, miraculous enough to marvel over, worthy enough to lose my cool over.  It is after all one of our favorite topics here at FriendtoYourself.com.  It is after all what you and I have shared, working so hard for, spending hours every day writing or whatever it is that each of us do to grow that fragile yet strong wonder of humankind – connection.  This bit of self-care follows us into heaven, or leads. Who knows, follow and lead, when we are connected.

Within the friendly grip of connection, in this marvelous episode, we see that good-byes might bring us even closer together.  I see this all the time in crisis settings, hospitals, illnesses, pending closures to something that was loved.  The closure draws us closer into what good the connection had offered us.  To improve what we had previously thought was so good that it was beyond improving.  To draw forth, our greater selves.

Self-Care Tip #  – Give yourself over to the miracle of connection in all your good-bye’s.

Questions:  What makes connection part of self-care?  How have you been a better friend to yourself by the influence of connections?

The Testimony of The White-Headed People – Connection and Aging

Once again, I find myself in a café.  This doesn’t happen often enough for me.  But here,Almond paste tart with chocolate mouse and blueberries

I am

at the wonderful le Croissant Bakery, indulging not only in the quiet of my private thoughts, not only in my delectable chocolate croissant with coffee, but also in the ambiance.

Here, there is this completely lovely group of white-headeds, maybe ten of them at a table, sharing the treasured community of each other.  None of them walk completely upright.  One is wearing his oxygen tubing with tank in tow.  The ladies are coiffed irregardless of their folding skin and thin hair.  Fruit tart

I am

so blessed to be in their community, testifying to me that aging doesn’t have to be done alone.  Flourless Chocolate cake with Ganache inside

I am

sure, 100% sure, that none of them are aging as they dreamed.  Each of them have outlived many loved ones and the ground they walk on has changed many many times.  They have, each of them, learned to walk again after suffering the type of loss that put’s any of us in bed.

I am

blessed.  This collection of café moments they have together does not account for these losses.  This does not resolve their ongoing conflicts or pain.

But none of them,

Almond paste tart with chocolate mouse and blueberries

I am

100% sure, did not let those things keep them from having this moment together today.

All this sureness without having checked my notes with them?  Yes.

I am.

Crumbs on a Plate

Image by rockbadger via Flickr

The Relationship Between God and The Me In Self-Care

Self-Care Tip #247 – Find the relationship God has in your self-care.  Be a friend to yourself.

Many of us are still getting bothered by the concept of “everything starts and ends with Me” from a Judeo-Christian perspective.  The largeness of the Me is bothersome and takes up too much space.  It seems to say that Me is bigger than God, Me is the Alpha and Omega and not God and that in the lap that starts at Me and comes back around to Me – God could be in that loop or not.  It seems to say that Me gets the “glory” and not God.  I agree.  This all does sound ugly put this way don’t you think?  And because I am a Judeo-Christian from the Western religions (although loosely at times when religion gets thick and boring), and because I love God, I don’t feel good implying that life is grand without Him.  Ugh.  Life is without Love from this perspective.  Not grand.  Ever.

Some of us feel better saying there is self-care, and then there is spiritual-care.  They are different because spiritual care is coming to Awesomeness so greater than Me that all of Me worships and humbles myself to Him.  Something like that.

From my perspective, I am really ok with saying self-care includes God or saying label them separate from each other – as long as they both come together.  I am wondering what your thoughts are.

I know we have discussed this a couple of times before and if you want to reference some of those blog-posts, please see:  Self-Care is Not unChristianSet Your Self-Care Free, Emotions Don’t Have Intrinsic Moral Quality.

Questions:  How does your spirituality, view of your Higher Power, and your religion intersect with your take on self-care?  How do these views influence your action in self-care?  Please tell me your story.

Mental Illness Relapses When Medications Are Stopped

Free face of a child with eyes closed meditati...

Image by Pink Sherbet Photography via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #246 – Collaborate with your physician to change your medications.

It keeps happening.  People are stopping their medications and then getting more sick.  Recently it was Olivia.  I can always tell when she’s off medications – she personalizes things way more and she acts like a victim to many many random things.  She is irritable.

Olivia, did you stop your meds?

Olivia on medication was not a super easy-going person but she dropped much of the edge, her thoughts were clearer and she was able to see other people around her.  Today Olivia felt like her bullets were in place and about to fire.  She answered my question obliquely.

There are sooo many reasons I am better without those in me!   I used to not be able to feel God.  When I prayed, I didn’t sense His Spirit.  Besides, I’m doing fine.  There’s nothing wrong with me.  I’m happy!

The biggest bummer about getting into the scene after the medications were stopped verses before, when stopping them was just a consideration – is that the patient doesn’t see themselves clearly.  They don’t see how bad it’s gotten.  They can’t be objective largely because they are using the same organ that is ill to describe itself.  If I could have discussed it with her before she stopped her medication, she would have been in a healthier state and more able to weigh her risks and benefits of medication verses no medication.

Sometimes we do agree together, patient and physician, to stop medications and sometimes we don’t.  Doing it together is the key though.

Questions:  How do you work with someone who wants to come off their medication?  How about yourself?  Has this ever been a problem for you and if so, how did you deal with it?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Works You, Pushes You, Tires You Out Until You Are Happily Spent On Your Friend – You

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Image by mikebaird via Flickr

What is being a friend to yourself?

Being a friend to yourself is more than getting our manicure, shopping, watching movies, being spontaneous and doing what we want.  In fact, often times, being a friend to yourself is not doing what we want.  Sounds great right?

Being a friend to yourself might be the hardest work you ever do.  For a time, it might feel like you are turning your back on your family, being selfish, sacrilegious and unfriendly.  You won’t get kudos from your support groups.  You won’t be noticed or hear thank-you very often.  I’m sure you can’t wait to hear the rest!  “Where can I sign up?”  Right?

Being a friend to yourself is taking accountability for our lives.  It says, everything starts and ends with Me.  It looks for accountability for our actions, our feelings, our health, our spirituality or connections in Me and not towards any external locus.

When we are a friend to ourselves, we don’t apologize and then say, “but….” We make amends for what we believe we are responsible for.  We do this without clarifying and justifying our behaviors.  We are not victims even though we may have been victimized, hurt, misused and forgotten.

Being a friend to yourself protects us against apperceiving that we are defined by anything we don’t choose.  Public opinion, stigma or even our pain does not define us. Our pain is not special. We are special.

We believe that we are freeFree to choose self-care.  Free not because of the men who died for our freedoms, not because of our behaviors or spending power, but we are free because we are human.  Being our own friend is a privilege that we can choose freely to exercise or not.  No one can make it happen except Me.  Just like no one can make me love you or demand a gift because of the inherent freedom within them.  These things happen only because we believe in them, won over by Love.

We become our own advocate, admirer and treasure of high value.

When we are a friend to ourselves, we don’t deny our history but we claim the freedom to start over any time.  The history does not define us.  We are more than actions good or bad.  We have an essence that is timeless and unchanged by the ravages of illness or misuse.

Being a friend to yourself means caring for the specifics of your body, your simple needs that lead to complex outcomes.  Your exercise, your sleep, your diet, water and air are all worth fighting for.  These things you do for yourself become your currency.  You find that the better friend you are to yourself, the better you become for others.

At this new place of safety for you, where you give less, you give more to those you love.  You discover the mystery that no one can give what she doesn’t have.  Just like any bank, we deposit and withdraw and must protect our basic assets before we are taken over and lose the freedoms because we were poor managers of this one body that God gave us.

Everyone pull out your wallets and please empty them on the desk.  How much do you have?  How far will that take you?  Do you ever go a little crazy wondering where you will get more?

Now imagine that this is your body.  You have these assets; this currency.  Currency like your energy, positive emotions, interest, motivation.  You have bank when you can move around, walk, and muscles to lift your child, this vision to admire her new dress.  This is money, this beauty that you offer your significant other, your body, and your shape.

Now you are giving to your children.  Up in the night when they wake up and you can’t sleep afterwards.  You skip exercise the next day, in fact, why even talk about it.  You haven’t exercised in a year or more.  It’s been really hard when your body is either pregnant or recovering from pregnancy over the past seven years.

You never lost the weight and for some reason, now that you want to, your body is firmly telling you, “No.”  You don’t care enough about not having had sex with your husband in four months, but it does bother you that he uses porn so much.  You don’t talk about it.  You’re too tired.

Your child now develops eczema.  She’s nervous and complains of stomach-ache often.  She cries a lot and you can’t remember the last time you enjoyed being with her or any of your kids.  No doubt.  You do love them.  That’s what all this is about, right?  You are sacrificing everything for them and would do it again.  They are your life and when they move out in 15 years, you’re moving with them.  Husband or no husband.  What else do you have?  You aren’t even interested in anything to want to do anything else besides bleed yourself for them.

You can see that this story isn’t anyone’s fantasy.  But can you see that the mother-character – she’s not very nice.  She is not nice to herself and not that nice to anyone else either.  Even though many people are on her list of party invites, she is not connected much to any of them.  You can bet that her family enjoys her about as much as she enjoys herself.  She is angry with them for this but doesn’t realize that she feels ashamed by it more than angry.  Betrayed.

Now enters the victim-role this mother plays.  Oh boy.  I know.  You probably don’t want to hear about it.  It hurts just to start in like this, huh?  So let’s not.  Let’s draw another picture.

Look at your wallets again.  Now how do you get what you need to keep it full?  How do you get what you want to give and splurge on the ones you love?  Where does all that money come from?

Work.  You said it sisters.  And so this is you.  You are a mother of how many?  Three?  Two?  Who do you live with?  What are your jobs at home and elsewhere?  How much of that can you do if you don’t have energy?  Motivation?  Interest?

Oh but you do.  You take care of your basic needs.  You exercise even when your kids are pulling on your sweat pants all the way out the door to the gym.  You don’t get up for your kids at night as quick.  You let them cry it out or do what ever it takes for them to get themselves back to bed.  You take medication if you must to get back to sleep after you are awoken.  You practice sleep hygiene and although you miss, you desperately miss having spontaneous late night TV, you don’t.  You go to bed.  Recently you lost twenty pounds and you are working all your resources to keep it off.  You can’t believe how hard it is to keep off even though you can barely believe how fantastic it feels every day without that weight.

You take your medication because you understand that emotions and behaviors come from the brain.  When you used to not feel pleasure, it wasn’t because you didn’t want to, try to, pray to.  It was because the symptoms from the condition of your brain health were emotions and behaviors in the down direction.  And thank goodness!  Now when you see your kids, you not only love them, you like them.  Sometimes it takes your breath away.  You just can’t believe that you didn’t feel this before.  You like your kids.

I can go on.  But I think you get it.  No one can give what you don’t have.  Now show me your wallets.  Put whatever you took out back in.  Not much?  No worries.  You are your own friend and will take care of yourself.

I know I’m making it sound like being a friend to yourself isn’t that fun.  Having fun isn’t the agenda of friendship.  The agenda is doing what is positive for your friend.  It is some of the hardest work you’ve ever done.  It means connecting with others because you know it is good for you – even though you are shaking, nervous or just plain don’t want to.  It means going out to find love when love doesn’t find you.  It is hard!  It isn’t necessarily doing what is smooth and easy, although sometimes it may be.

Self-care is a discipline of action, presence or whatever is called for by you, your friend.  It takes your natural genius, the things that came to you without working, and it uses those to steer your energies.  It uses those to tell you where you will be working like a mad-dog at times to find the most pleasure and be the most productive, have the most service to offer, be connected in the most intimate way with those you love – God and man.

Self-care is not for the people who need it.  It is for those who want it.  If you don’t want it, stop listening and be on your way.

Questions:  What is called for by you, your friend, to do?  What has pushed you, worked you, tired you out until you were happily spent on caring for your friend, you?  Please tell me your story.

Sleep Does Not Lose As Gracefully As He Lets Us Think

Cougar sleep

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Care Tip #244 – Sleep when the day is over, and play another time.  Be a friend to yourself.

Sometimes it is hard to let the day end.  Michael told me that he was having trouble sleeping.  I asked him to tell me more and heard him describe fun-filled hours of movies, computer, phone-calls and late-night snacks that were disturbing his sleep-initiation.  Just listening to him, I felt a yearning catch spark in me to have the freedom to be spontaneous again.  You might know what I mean.

The opportunities to be spontaneous have shrunken up as our choices have brought us expanding fillers for time, attention, money, energy, emotion, personal resources and magic.  It is no wonder that letting the day end meets reluctance.  Those last few hours that sleep called shot-gun for are ours with less fist than big brother used to stage.  Sleep doesn’t put up much fight …at first.  At first, it concedes to us.  It lifts it’s chin casually until given turn.  However, much like the loan shark, sleep will never go unpaid.  It will take it’s due.  Maybe just not tonight.  Maybe you won’t hear about it until later.  And there are no promises that it won’t take by force, from one part or another of our body, our brain, our beauty, our emotions – debts are not forgotten here.

Michael says, as if he were the victim here,

It takes most people about thirty minutes to fall asleep.  But me!  It takes me hours to.  

We started talking about sleep hygiene and Michael just wasn’t interested.  I asked him to simply read about it and just see what he thought he might be able to start with.  One change maybe that he thought was tolerable.

These negotiations are sometimes best when the patient feels like they came up with the idea.  Michael is going to read about this and hopefully become his own advocate.  He will hopefully “sell” it to himself with the information both from facts but also from experience.  It’s no accident that Costco sets up samples at ever turn of their superstore.  Nor that we can never seem to leave without spending at least $100 in cash – not credit!  Cash!  (Argh.)  Maybe Michael will sample and decide to sleep rather than play at night.  He might have to “taste it” to believe and choose for himself.

Spontaneity will always lure us, dangle her jangly jewelry, give her side-ways glance and make us long for those midnight hours to open up in playful company.  However, sleep is not as gracious as it seems.  Don’t be fooled.

Question:  Do you consider sleep hygiene important to self-care and why?  How do you see it related to you being a friend to yourself?  Please tell me your story.

What Comes To Me From Others Is a Gift

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Image by krystal.pritchett via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #246 – Take care of yourself and expect that what comes from others is a gift.

Do you ever ask,

Why does drama follow me?!

It is just darn hard taking care of ourselves (including taking psychotropic medication.)  Much of the rest of the world has difficulty with it too.  Despite our best efforts to go towards what is friendly, we might decide that choosing the company of un-self-cared-for loved ones is more friendly to ourselves than cutting them off.  That is our choice.  If we want them in our lives, we are not able to just take the bits that are friendly.

Some of us are more dramatically affected by this than others.  Wonder about why that is.  I’m wondering if it has to do with our different perspectives of who will take care of us.

Feeling like someone else is going to take care of Me is a trap.  Expecting someone else to find us for love, to expect leadership, to follow without accounting for our steps, to decide without knowing we decided, thinking someone else decided for us – these are traps.

Drama-icon

Image via Wikipedia

What do we expect other people to be for us?  We will interpret the drama we encounter differently when we are our own leader.  If we take care of ourselves and if we come in a state of readiness then we can offer more of these gifts and visa versa.  Gifts are free and as free of agenda as our flawed selves can give.

We embrace our emotional self, our thinking self, our judgmental self, our sensory self, embrace and live ourselves up most fully, and we are most friendly when we do it with the freedom our lives were designed for.

Drama will always come up as long as we think that someone is worth being in our lives.  We will remember that we chose them and can choose quantity of time, the volume, the reception and the degree of connection.  We can choose freely what we will do or not do with them and live and die surrounded inside of ourselves and outside of ourselves by the connections we fought hard for.

Questions:  Why do you think drama is in your life from the perspective of self-care?  Since you’ve been more in tune to being a friend to yourself, has anything happened to the drama in your life?  Please tell me your story.