Life keeps moving. There is NO slowing it down. We grow up, we get older and…well you know the rest. The journey isn’t always pleasant but it is ALWAYS eventful. And we learn. From the moment we’re born until we take our last breath, we learn something about ourselves or others or life in general. My motto is to enjoy the journey and learn all you can. Change is inevitable and it can be wonderful as long as you’re paying attention. Remember that phrase, it’s important.
Since we’ve been shaping up the landscaping and strategizing our garden layout for the season, I’ve started to consider that life is like a garden. You might plant the same type tomatoes every single year, but some years there will be an abundance while other years there will be little or nothing yielded. Some years your flowers will thrive rich and full, garnering the eye of every passerby (and envious neighbors). What’s the difference between those awesome years and the not so awesome ones? Not enough rain? Too much rain? Maybe. However much planning you do and whatever good intentions you have, ultimately there is one certainty about tending your garden and the same is true of your life: to get the most out of either you MUST pay attention. Neglect can be disastrous.
Neglect, hmm. Makes sense. If you’re paying attention to the weather you know if your garden needs extra water before the plants “show” you by withering. You’re busy, I know. So am I. Too busy to worry about all those little should’s and shouldn’t’s. Here’s the problem with being too busy—LIFE DOES NOT SLOW DOWN. The world keeps turning whether you’re ready for it or not.
This past weekend the speed at which life moves hit me right between the eyes and I learned something about myself that I have ignored for a while now. We had a party for my baby girl’s 22nd birthday. Goodness, how did she get to be all grown up? Where are those pigtails and that blankie she carried everywhere? She is so grown-up! A nurse. A wife. A homeowner. Wow. Also at the party was my older daughter with her husband. GROWN UP. All independent and paving their own way. It’s incredible. A trip to the powder room had me studying my reflection. How I had gotten this old? Worse, how could I look so old? I’ve been so busy with getting those two gorgeous girls raised, writing books and reviving this old house (and numerous others in the past) that I hardly recognize myself anymore. Yes, life is speeding by and I realized, not for the first time, that there is one MAJOR area of neglect in my journey.
I continue to neglect ME. I actually don’t understand why an intelligent person would do such a thing, but it’s done, honey! I would never, ever neglect my children, husband, dogs or home. You think I’d plant all those flowers and shrubs and not ensure they were fertilized and watered properly? Why, the truth is, I’m one hell of a rescuer, organizer, fixer, you name it.
For example, four years ago we bought this century-plus old house. It had suffered decades of neglect and no small amount of abuse. Slowly but surely we’re reviving the old place. We started with the essentials: the windows, siding and roof. Had to get her airtight and protected from the elements. Some windows were literally falling out of their rotting sashes and frames. Once that was done we moved to the electrical, plumbing, kitchen and bathrooms, and so forth. The landscape had to wait. We’re finally getting around to that this spring after four long years (thank goodness!). I call this the fun phase. It’s like the icing on the cake. The decorating. Making things look pretty as well as functional! I love this part.
As my husband and I laid out the raised rock beds we wanted for planting vegetables and the area for the bigger garden, and, of course, all the beds and niches for flowers and shrubs, I felt almost giddy at the idea of how beautiful it will all be. Even as we worked, passersby stopped to comment on what a lovely job we’d done. The transformation has been incredible. The house and yard are more than just well-maintained and serviceable now, they’re truly beautiful.
But as I tried to work alongside my husband, doing the sorts of things we’ve always done to our homes and yards, I was quickly forced to face the fact that I was desperately in need of some attention. It was more than that startling gaze into the powder room mirror. This was way bigger than just needing to lose a few pounds and trying to remember to take a leisurely stroll a couple of times per week. This was serious. The last couple of years, I’ve had to let many things go that were a part of my daily routine in the past and I’ve gotten sadly out of shape physically. The same way previous owners could not or would not attend to the needs of this old house, I was unable to give myself the attention I deserved. And, honestly, I unconditionally confess that I’ve always put myself last. Remember I said that along the journey of life we learn something new all the time? Well, I learned that my husband has been right all along when he says that I never do anything for myself. It’s true. Every single day I neglect me.
Well, reality has slapped me in the face and as it was with this old house four years ago, it is plain to see that I have been neglected. Not by my family or friends, but by me. I haven’t taken the time to do routine maintenance and all those other little things that keeps a mind and body working like a well-oiled machine. Oh I’ve talked about it, but I never really got to the part where I put a plan into motion. Combine that revelation with the reality of watching my two GROWN daughters with their husbands at the birthday party and the idea that one day there would be grandbabies and it all shook me hard. There are some things one can’t change but there are numerous others we can. If I don’t take care of me, my journey is going to be a hell of a lot bumpier and perhaps way shorter than I’d like.
So, I’m doing something about it. Walking, eating healthier, and taking TIME for me. My husband is doing the same. He quit smoking after 40 years! I am so proud of him. We’re not starting exercise regimes or going on diets. No, ma’am. We are making lifestyle changes. Changes in the way we look at ourselves and where we fall on the priority list. This is our NEW journey. If there’s a major bump in the road or interruption in our journey it won’t be because we failed to check the tire pressure or change the oil or fill the tank. And, like any good traveler who is forging into uncharted territory, we have our handy GPS—a great doctor who we will not neglect to visit properly so that we don’t end up taking a wrong turn or wasting time with recalculating.
I hope every one of you will think about where your time and attention goes every day. How much do you devote to you? What could you be doing to ensure you stay healthy and happy? As I said, there are many things we can’t control but many we can. Take a walk. Find a few minutes to relax. Eat something healthy. Do those things every day. If it’s unsuitable weather outside, walk around in your home. I walk up and down my stairs when it’s raining or too cold outside. And, please, get your annual physicals! If insurance or money is an issue and going to the doctor for preventive care isn’t an option, then please pay attention to your body. Know your body! The better you know yourself and your body the more likely you are to recognize when something is off. Pay attention, friends. Save a little of your time for the number one person in your life—YOU! Yes, yes, I said it! As women we never look at ourselves as number one but we should.
What are you going to do for YOU today? One lucky commenter will win a $15 gift card from Amazon!