New routines. New self-care.

With my fiance all moved in, I had reminded myself to be Semper Gumby. Which I did phenomenally and now I’m happy to report that the period of flexibility seems over.

I have started a new, working routine, which is still being tweaked but it’s working.

We have to remember that our self care needs vary with time and with each passing day, so it is necessary to adjust accordingly. The same routine of 10 years ago is likely to not be as helpful today.

Hopefully, changes to your self-care don’t have to be drastic and overnight but small cumulative changes over time. However the change to your routine happens, remember to be flexible with yourself by do not give up.

Double red blood cell donation

I’m somewhat of a regular blood donor. Although 2017 was a bit of a wash with my iron levels dropping below minimum to donate. However, I went on the 16th to donate and was eligible to do a double red blood cell donation with an apheresis machine.

So basically, what happens is that it takes a little longer than a regular whole blood donation, but it’s touted as more beneficial for both the donor and recepient.

I couldn’t find much info to back this claim back, but I’ll take their word for it. I’ll assume that they have no reason to lie to me.

So this apheresis machine starts taking your blood and separates it into platelets, plasma, and red blood cells. Red blood cells are the ones that carry the proteins that make the blood a certain type, like O+ or AB-. And they’re able to take twice as much from you than with whole blood, without dehydrating you to no end, as the plasma and platelets are returned with some saline water.

The whole experience was not much different than regular blood donation, though it did leave a metallic taste in the back of my mouth. You can’t donate for 16 weeks (as opposed to 8). Which is fine by me. It gives me more time to recover between donations.

On the Occasion of My Son’s Birthday

What a long way I have come since I had my son!  While pregnant with him, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, which made it really hard to enjoy pregnancy and early motherhood.  To make matters a little harder, I couldn’t breastfeed as frequently and deliberately as I wanted, and then, when he was about 2.5 years old, he got diagnosed with High Functioning Autism.

Boy! It’s been a ride, but now we adore each other’s company and we love spending time together.  I torture myself over raising him right, and he does his best for mama.

It’s nothing but love, even though we can drive each other batty.  He is a loving, thriving boy, and even though I tortured myself over his diagnosis, it only means that neurodiversity is alive and well in our household.  I wonder sometimes if maybe I am high functioning autistic, because the stuff that he talks about that no one else seems to understand makes perfect sense to me.  Maybe I am just too in tune with him.

Either way, I hope my little boy continues to thrive and do better and better.  I have nothing but the best of wishes for him, including some hardship, so he knows how to overcome it, and some easy times, so he knows to be grateful.

He is, however, dangerously approaching his teens!  Eeek!  He has been quick to remind me about this, even though there are days he wishes he could be a baby again.  And as much as I long for that closeness that I wasn’t able to have when he was a newborn because of my depression, I wouldn’t change him for anything in the world!  We can’t turn back time, but we can make the best out of what’s in front of us.

Semper Gumby

There was a saying in the Navy when I was in (probably is still floating around) that one must be Semper Gumby, always flexible.

So my fiance has made it to me, along with all his stuff.  I’m beyond excited, but another thing that has happened is that my routines are all broken.  It was expected, as I no longer live alone with my cats.  But the Navy saying has probably never held so true as now:  I need to be flexible, because this is a fluid period.

My routines are broken, including my self-care, but I am working on it as I can.  Semper Gumby.  I got my nails done today.  I still drink my coffee religiously every morning.  Until things settle, Semper Gumby.

I try to take a few minutes here and there to take care of myself.  A little bit of deep breathing, a favorite meal, stretching my body mindfully, an exfoliating shower…

I know I sound very selfish, but if I don’t advocate for myself, the gains I have made in my recovery will be lost.  It’s not about being selfish, it’s about taking care of myself to be able to take care of others.  I can’t serve from an empty cup, so I have to make sure my cup is full.  It’s about not going backwards.  It’s about continuing to move forward.  And in order to move forward, Semper Gumby.  Until we figure out our routines, Semper Gumby.

 

What Is Your Self-Care Routine?

One of the things I hear the most often from my therapists is “what are you doing for self-care?”  Over the years, I have had different self-care routines, because they have had to be adjusted for different reasons.  Usually, because the routine wasn’t working too well, and it was time to go back to the drawing board and figure out the routine over again.

My self care routine nowadays consists of several things:  stress management, time management, symptoms and illness management, meditation (specifically mindfulness), and things that are likely to bring pleasure.  In addition, it also includes my values of creativity, spirituality, and friendship.

It sounds like a lot, and some days, it really is a lot.  There are days in which managing the self-care routine manages to be the task of the day.  But with practice, as with anything, it becomes a part of daily life.  Thankfully, stress management is closely related to meditation and mindfulness.  Time management is a task in and of itself, especially for someone as disorganized and unfocused as me, but with the help of calendars and to-do lists, and bouncing off my fiance helps a lot.  Structure and routine make things like time management more manageable (was that a mouthful?).  Friendship is instrumental, as isolating is usually not a good thing, and it is something that is likely to bring me pleasure.  My value of creativity is part of what fuels my blogging, sewing, and beading, which are things that are likely to bring me pleasure, too.  And of course, spirituality:  A biggie for me, as you can tell from my posts.  Not only is my spirituality good for the soul, it is also good for my mind.

My meditation practices revolve around biblical reflections and prayer.  And my mindfulness takes several forms, but usually it involves exercises that are helpful in keeping my mind in the here and now.  One of my favorite exercises is to take a shower with an exfoliating soap.  The scrubbing with the bumpy soap doesn’t let me forget that I am just taking a shower, and well, a good exfoliation is not bad for you, right?

In terms of friendship, I make sure that I cultivate the friendships I do have by keeping up with them with messages, phone calls, and the occasional coffee date or dinner out.  And sometimes, even creating bags and jewelry with them.

So, while self-care may seem like a big chore, incorporating daily exercises dealing with self care every day and in every little action possible, it is possible to make it a routine.

 

 

 

 

Self-Care

According to what I see on my Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter, self-care is kind of the new buzz word, but what does it entail?  It is about taking proper care of yourself, for you, by you, because you have individual needs that only you can address best.  Self care, as the word implies, is care of yourself.  What makes you happy and recharges your batteries?  That’s self care.  And once you have figured out what recharges your batteries, coming up with the plan on how to do so.

One of the most important points of self-care is that it works for you, in accordance with your values.  Value, in this case, is a way of defining what matters to you.  Your personal values will vary a lot from person to person, even within the same group of people who generally share the same philosophies.  For example, I value creativity, therefore, a creative outlet is very important to me and my self-care.

So, for self-care to be effective, you must figure out your personal values.  Do you value spending time with family?  Do you value spending time outdoors?  If you’re not sure, it’s okay to try what other people are doing and see if it works for you.  For example, I tried drawing, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea.  I don’t draw and I don’t get pleasure from drawing, so while it may be a really good outlet for others, it certainly wasn’t for me.  But I tried, and I am happy I did, because now I know it doesn’t cut it for me.  On the same vein, I did realize that coloring is indeed anxiety-reducing for me, so it is in my self-care arsenal.

Sometimes, however, self-care can be as simple as taking a nice, long, warm shower, or drinking a cup of tea slowly, mindfully, even.

It is important to add a self-care item or two to our daily routines, and it is also important to schedule time for more involved self-care.  For example, to add an item of self-care to our daily routine, we can try to drink our morning coffee mindfully, every day.  Another way to add something to the daily routine would be to spend 5 minutes in prayer and/or meditation prior to going to sleep.  (It seems the best times for me to add some self-care to the routine is either first thing in the day, or last order of business).  I also like to schedule time on the weekends to do some coloring, journaling, or something crafty.

 

 

 

Focus and Organization

Sometimes, my largest obstacle to becoming more organized is my lack of focus.  I find something and I get completely derailed from my mission: impossible, I mean, mission:  organization.  While I have been somewhat successful at organizing, I definitely don’t have the organization of thoughts and concentration that probably needs to occur when you’re going to organize.

Well, that sounded like a tongue-twister.  But it’s true.  There is a certain level of concentration that needs to occur in order to organize a house.  The truth is, the more I research and try to deal with organization, the more I realize that I don’t know anything about organizing.

As of late, since my concentration is pretty null, I have been trying to do it only in 10 minute intervals, since it seems I can only concentrate for about 8 – 10 minutes at a time.  Cue the book: 10-Minute Declutter: The Stress-Free Habit for Simplifying Your Home.

I really enjoyed reading the book and taking notes, and even implementing the ideas it suggests.  However, the problem for me, comes when I need to plan for organization.  You can’t just throw stuff away and put stuff in drawers and cabinets, unless you have a plan to deal with it in the long-term.  And really, the only solution to clutter should be long-term oriented, or you will end up with a mountain of stuff on the dining room table all over again.

I am curious to read Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking, by the same authors (SJ Scott and Barrie Davenport).  I wonder, if there is a link between worrying and anxiety with actually having a cluttered home.  (I will report on this later, I promise, but I am trying to stay on topic.)  I do feel, that the more grateful and the more joyful I feel, the easier it is to organize.

Is it possible to organize 10 minutes at a time?  I don’t know, but I am able to do laundry 10 minutes at a time, so why not?  Here goes to hoping I can get it right!