A heavy sigh comes from the kitchen.
"Why didn't you buy more milk at the store?", the boy asks.
"I didn't realize we were out," I mutter, defensively.
I had just went to the store earlier in the day. I jotted down what I knew we needed and darted off to knock this task off my large and ever increasing to-do list. However, I didn't really stop and do a full inventory. So, guess what I get to do now. Yup. Go back to the store.
When we are deciding we want to make a change in our life, it's a good idea to take a full inventory. What are we doing well? What habits have we outgrown? What do we need to work into our life? We need to open up the pantry, peer into the fridge, and see what's still hanging out in the freezer. Fully evaluate and be honest with yourself about how things are going. Once you know exactly the areas of your life that need some TLC, then you can build a plan of how to do just that.
Just like building a grocery list, there are templates available to help you get started on assessing your life and your self care. Here are some resources I found.
Lovable You: A Best Self Inventory by Positive Living Now
Self Care Wheel by Olga Phoenix
Self Care Assessment Source: Transforming the Pain: A Workbook on Vicarious Traumatization. Saakvitne, Pearlman & Staff of TSI/CAAP (Norton, 1996)
For me, I have 10 areas that I want to primarily focus on.
- Journal – It's important to keep track of your thoughts and progress. It's a great way to plan, continue to access how things are going, and to continue to take inventory of your life. It helps to stay accountable, present, and aware. This blog will be part of that process, but I won't be publishing every mundane thought I have here. You're welcome.
- Exercise – I did a wonderful job in my past life of losing a lot of weight through both diet and regular exercise. However, I have put a decent chunk of that back on after my divorce. Part of it, I can toss the blame over to a shoulder surgery back in November, but the rest is time, excuses, and placing my energy in other things. I have to move this up the on my priority list. I feel slower and heavier, and my energy level is in the toilet. Exercise is this weird thing where it takes a bunch of energy to do it, but then your body and mind turns around and thanks you by giving you twice the energy later. Not to mention all the mood-enhancing benefits.
- Nutrition – My eating habits have become atrocious. I am fully aware of how wonderful I feel when I am filling my plate with leafy green vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats. However, I have been spending a few months feeding my emotions, and my emotions love tacos, beer, and nachos. It's fine and dandy if I chow down on these things in moderation, but let's be real – I got lots of emotions.
- Finances – I need to do a better job of respecting my money, think a little bit more before spending, and pay attention to what is going out of my bank account.
- Housework – I did a lot of work on organizing my home, and I plan to share that with you. But, I do want to do a better job of the routine items, by building a plan to stay on top of things. I feel like there are little elves running around making messes, and then giggling as I stare at the new clutter wondering where in the hell it came from. (Hint: those aren't elves, but more likely #6 and #7 of my list.)
- Kids - A new school year just started, so I want to do my best to help them succeed. I have two kids, 10 and 15. The thing about being a parent is that just about the time you think you have it all figured out, they go and throw new things your way. It's like you set the rules, but then the game keeps changing. Chore lists, adhd research, online safety, college prep, nutrition – there is much to do here. I know I could do better in this area. Who couldn't, really? The "perfect parent" is just as rare as the unicorn.
- Dog Training – On New Year's Day, I took my kids to the humane society, and we got a puppy. Now, that was not the plan when I left the house. The logical, non-emotional plan was to go look at full grown dogs, and begin the search for the best dog that would fit into our family. A full grown dog. Well, I took one look into Cosmo's eyes and I was done for. Helpless! (for the Hamilfans). We brought this 8 week old pup home with us with nothing but a bag of puppy food and a leash. We had no clue what we were getting into. Now, it is 7 months later, the children have claimed amnesia on the promises to help, and I'm still relatively clueless. He is a bundle of love and joy, but he is also probably the greatest source of stress. Nothing quite like chasing a dog around the room because he has just stolen your son's glasses, while you cringe at hearing the sound of plastic being crunched between his teeth. This is after 6 weeks of puppy classes! Sigh. Love him, but lord help me.
- Appearance/Physical Care – Sometimes this gets neglected. When it comes to how I spend my time, my appearance and physical care ends up somewhere on the bottom of the list. My makeup routine takes 7 minutes. My hair – well, I wash and brush it. I shower and smell nice, so don't go imagining Pig-Pen from the Peanuts. However, an elaborate facial regimen to keep my face as smooth and wrinkle free as a teenager – newp. I'm not saying that I want to go sign up for botox (no offense to anyone), but I do recognize that this is the only body I get – so I should take better care of it.
- Writingand Creating– I have missed writing soooooo much. I don't know how I went from writing pages and pages every single day to disappearing from the written universe. Art is key to a person's survival, no matter your form of creativity. Expressing yourself creatively keeps you sane. I think part of the problem is that I stopped reading. I listen to podcasts, and occasionally, I download an audiobook. However, there is nothing like sitting and reading a book. Words on the page feed your creativity like no other fuel source. (a top contender is nature, but i digress.)
- Spirituality – This is different for everyone, but putting time into appreciating the universe is important. Connecting to your calling, a higher power, and the world around you keeps you grounded. For me, this is done in meditation, in reflective thought, practicing gratitude, and exploration. I'm not a religious person, but I am deeply spiritual. When I ignore that side of my personality, I tend to feel disconnected and lost. It was in meditation that I felt called to do this–to type these words–to start this blog–to try to connect with you.
Over the next few months, I will be posting about what I'm doing and what resources I have found to improve my life in these areas. Let me know what you need help with. What areas are you wanting to focus on? If it's not on my list already, then I will see what resources I can find. Don't get me wrong–there are other areas I need some help with, but top 10 lists work much better than top 28. 🙂
Together we can become better versions of ourselves.
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