When I turned sixty I was a successful educator, having been a classroom teacher, an executive teacher, an education consultant, the principal of a large primary school in Sydney, and at this point in time a lecturer at University. There wasn’t anything left for me to ‘achieve’ – to gain identification and recognition from, to prove that I was a ‘success-in-life.’ I had reached, in the eyes of society, the top of the tree!
But, was I truly happy in the sense of was I enjoying life for ME – honouring my ‘self’? Yes, I was living up to an image that I had created for myself, out of my own choices, but I had stepped away from the simplicity of knowing and living a life that was self-caring and loving for ‘Me’.
I found myself wishing there were twenty-seven hours in every day so I could claim the three extra hours just to be ME, and to nurture my whole being.
At last I was recognising that nowhere in my working life did I find time to just be ‘ME’ – to nurture and self-care for my body and my soul. I became aware that I was living from the outside in – caring for, and attending to the needs of my husband, daughters, friends and school first – and putting my own needs on the ‘back-burner’ to address, if there was any time left for me to do so.
My life was all about things that I would achieve on my ‘to do’ list in all my roles. That’s what I thought was the way to live! In my upbringing it was seen as being ‘selfish and self centred to want to care and nurture oneself at the expense of not doing things for others’.
On the outside, I was this Super-Woman who could do it all, but the truth was that inside I was feeling exhausted, stressed and resentful for all I had to do, always running from one role to another. I had truly lost sight of the actual ME.
I was very good at not letting anyone into my personal space, or was it not letting my ‘self’ emerge from the inside out to show my true self? Actually I was not sure that there was a true self in there as it had been buried underground for so long!
This perpetual cycle of achievement and recognition, followed by emptiness, is not a true way to be in life, nor is it in relationship with our self or others.
My values and priorities needed to change for the health and well-being of my body. Up to this point, my mind would continuously override my sense and desire to take time off to nurture ‘ME’ – the little voice inside my head kept telling me there was no time to feel me, to self-care and nurture my body or even to get to know me!
I knew in my heart that it was not a true way to live and I wanted my life to change.
I finally found many of the answers in the ensuing years, and surprisingly, they came from within my own body. I started to nurture, value and honour my body – in fact, I began to self-care for me first! I realised how much looking after myself was affecting my whole being; the manner in which I moved, walked, talked became my new way of being – a super tender, gentle, loving and honouring way of being a woman.
And, make new lifestyle choices I certainly did! This new way of living, from a place of feeling how I feel, and then going about my day/life in a nurturing and self-caring way was truly a beautiful way to live. In this way of being, and then doing, I am more aware of how I feel and it feels lovely to take ‘me’ into all I do - tenderly, gently, lovingly – definitely an honouring way of being a woman.
Woo-hoo! I started to discover a different way of appreciating me! It was no overnight transformation, but ever so slowly the self-care choices were happening, and ever so slowly l learnt to be super loving and appreciative in going about my day with gentleness and tenderness – a far cry from the old ‘rushy’ way of being!
These new self-care choices have not come about because I retired and had more time to look after myself. I am still working at 70 years of age and still have a long ‘to-do’ list!
Now my life is focused on the quality not the quantity of my daily tasks – and the results are astonishing as to how these changes contribute to my health and well-being. I am more conscious of knowing that to put self-care practices into my day is not a matter of ticking boxes or completing a ‘to-do’ list of beauty regimes, it is Living from the Inside Out.
Ruth A., Australia.