Originally posted 2010-07-09 10:45:20.
The “Take 10 More Minutes” challenge is important to me. I’m a believer in the concept of learning how to take time for myself, because it teaches me to value my needs just as much as I value the needs of the people who depend on me.
I know that in the beginning, I was always told that old – and by old, I mean caveman-esque – line of “How can you take time away from your family for you? How could you be so selfish?”
Um, the same way I’d take time away if I had to make money. No one would complain about that, right? Because that would be better for the house, right?
The notion that I shouldn’t take time away from everything simply to make sure that I’m OK, to me, basically implies that I’m a robot – no feelings, no emotions, no needs that need tending to. It says that my purpose is being filled elsewhere – my purpose is being filled by handling everyone else’s needs – and that there’s no reason for me to do anything else.
I don’t buy that.
I spent some time looking at how I care for my daughter. As a single parent, I’m always aware of the fact that I am who my daughter depends on all day, every day. To some, that looks like justification to pour all of themselves into their child, but to me – especially as the Mother of a young girl – it’s all the more reason for me to take extra special care of myself. How can a broken woman teach a girl to be a whole woman?
I know my shortcomings. If I am emotionally worn down, my patience is limited. If I am stressed, my tolerance is low. If I am frustrated, the last thing I want to do is educate or enlighten someone (and risk becoming that much more frustrated.) She is a child – she demands my patience, my wisdom and my tolerance. If I bring my shortcomings to our doorstep, I’m denying her that which she needs to grow. By denying myself the care I need, I’m neglecting my family’s needs.
I believe in ten minutes. I’ve even learned to take several bouts of ten minutes throughout the day. In the morning, I take ten minutes to practice yoga to help me stretch and wake up in preparation for my workout. Around 8, I take ten minutes to decompress and organize what I’ll be doing for the day. Around noon, I take ten minutes and pace up and down the stairs to help me zone out and relax while getting a little exercise in. After naptime, we take a ten minute jog around the neighborhood to help the little one wake up (because I’m not tolerating grouchy toddler attitude by any means). I take ten minutes during cooking dinner to decompress and read/count/dance with my daughter.
I keep a jam-packed schedule, but I know full well that if I don’t tend to and take proper care of me, I am no good to anyone. I can’t justify taking a ten minute jog with my heathen daughter if I don’t take ten minutes in the morning to properly organize my day. I can’t enjoy dancing with or reading to her if I am so frustrated with how my day went. I can’t remember all the ways I need to care for her, if I fail to care for me. It’s literally like running your car 4,000 miles past the point where you should’ve gotten an oil change. Something’s gonna blow pretty soon.
I mean, I get it. I’m a “strong Black woman.” I can have everything, be anything, do everything and anything. Yeah, I get it. But with all that “everything,” shouldn’t that include being able to take ten minutes out to tend to myself and make sure that I’m around in optimal enough condition to “have everything, be anything, do everything and anything?” Seriously, here.
So to me, taking ten minutes is a representation of my desire to tend to myself. Not using it to sleep, but to sort out my life and how I can include all the things I need – fitness, food, love, enjoyment, achievement – in order to be a more agreeable and productive person. I use my ten minutes to show myself some love. Tell me – how do you use your ten minutes?
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