Monday, June 28, 2010

Take Good Care

Are you doing a great job of taking care of everyone in your life except yourself?

That's how I was living my life for quite a while. I was supermom, wife, daughter, teacher, friend, and more.  Then there came a day when I found I couldn't breathe.  It happened again and then again, day after day, and I was frightened. I came to understand I was experiencing panic attacks, which landed me squarely in a therapist's office for the first time in my life.  He helped me understand that I was caught in a loop many women find themselves in. We take on too much. We don't say no. We need to be extremely good at all of it -- giving giving giving.  We think that to take time for our self is to be "selfish."  But I learned (unwillingly at first) that this was a misconception and that taking time for myself every day was a way of being good to everyone in my life.  If I wasn't physically and emotionally healthy first, I couldn't be present for everyone else later.

I started with little things. My therapist and I made a list of things I could do for myself that would make me feel happy and cared for.   That list included 10 minutes of quiet meditation, a weekly manicure, 30 minutes at the gym or a 30 minute walk in my neighborhood with headphones and some great music. Everyone in my family understood this time was sacred. MY time. It could not be pushed back if someone else's needs popped up. I carved out that time every day no matter what, because I understood how important it was for everyone. 

I argued so strongly about it at first and assured the therapist there was NO time for me to do this. But oddly there was -- once I made it a priority.  And no matter how busy my day gets,  I still keep that daily "me time" as an essential part of my day today.  So, what do you do to pamper yourself?    


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Father's Day came and went

I thought it would be harder for me than it was, but I managed. I wish life's ending could be as glorious as the living, but it never is. I read lots of praises of dads last Sunday in newspapers and online;  I'm sure you did too. What I thought while reading them was, "That's nice. But none of these dads was my dad."  If I were to tell you about my dad now, you'd think the same thing.  So what I'll tell you is that to my dad I was the most special thing in the world and I felt the same way about him.  Just like lots of other people feel about their dads.  I won't ever feel that kind of unconditionally special to anyone ever again.

So if you still have a parent with you, and if you are lucky enough to have one who thinks the world of you as mine did of me, do what I did. Soak it up. Drink it in. Love every minute that you have it for as long as you can get it. And if you are lucky enough to have kids of your own, pass it on.  That, my friend, is the meaning of life. You can take that to the bank.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The food of Paris

We had a limited number of days (and more to the point, meals), and we weren’t going to waste them on anything less than delicieux. So it will come as no surprise when I say the food of Paris was incomparable. Just as J. Arthur Prufrock measured his life with coffee spoons, we measured our days by deliberating about which restaurant would be best for which meal and congratulating ourselves on well-made gastronomic selections. 
Snails in garlicky butter, sopped up with bits of bread followed by a thick lamb chop accompanied by sparkling water (de l'eau gazeuse) and a glass of cold wine made me ridiculously happy.  A peasant’s dish of chicken fricassee in a thick vegetable broth, carried to the table in individual copper tureens with a plate of homemade noodles on the side, reminded me of the wonderful food my grandmother made when I was a child.

Open-faced creamy cheese sandwiches on toasted bread at an outdoor café, with a bit of spring chill still lingering in the air and a steaming cup of cappuccino?  You tell me.  I’m actually a little surprised to find myself going on like this about food because honestly, I don’t love to cook and seldom find anyone else’s cooking that I love. But this place called Paris?  c'était l’amour