I wrote the word courage and immediately Evie my evil inner voice started thinking about the EMS folk who might be reading this, people who run into burning stuff to save people, the folks like my husband who dodge gunfire to get patients out, people who sacrifice family time, their health, their sleep to be there when needed. Military folk, protesters, refugees, school teachers, all the people who put themselves in harm’s way to better the lives of others. Evie’s worried that I will embarrass myself if I talk about another kind of courage. The kind of courage I’m thinking about is the seemingly small daily type courage required to take care of myself. First. Yes, first, ahead of everything and everyone else.
If I don’t take care of myself first then I’m not bringing my A game to any of the rest of it. I’m shortchanging my life, my family, my community. Not cool, not potent, not courageous. And I know that, but moment-to-moment it can still be tough not to listen to that voice that says, “rally.” Sure there are things worth rallying for, but most of the time I’m better off rallying for me.
So often though it is easier or more pleasant to address other people’s needs, the external to-do list’s needs, the keeping up with the shoulds needs than my own. I’m not talking boost a jet and move to Bali, I’m talking take a nap, eat a sandwich, decline a social invitation, send away the bread basket, get an artificial deadline extension. I’m talking take a walk to the corner and back instead of eating a pint of ice cream. I’m talking telling my husband I’d really rather stay in.
It’s a certain kind of courage, not the running into burning buildings kind, but a still-valid kind, to value myself and my needs enough to take the time to a) figure out what the needs are, b) figure out how to meet those needs, c) actually do what’s required, and d) not let Evie override the process of a, b, and c. I’m going to try that today.