I recently took my 7-year-old Grandson, Jude, to the airport to fly home after a nice summer visit here in Utah. As we entered the terminal, I told him to be careful on the moving walkway (aka “travellator” in Britain– who knew) which would take us down the long hallway much quicker.
He excitedly lurched onto the human conveyor belt and within moments, was running backwards towards other travelers. I told him to come and join me…to no avail. My pleas remained unnoticed as he began doing the “moon walk”. Again I coaxed, careening my head around in a panic. Still nothing.
Then, I pulled out my final tactic: turning my body around, I gave him the “stink-eye” and began counting with my fingers, 1-2-. Actually it was more of a grandma grimace, not nearly as effective as the faces I used to give my own kids. Ahhh, success…he made his way forward slightly but then, false alarm, he ran backwards again. More stink-eye and counting.
All of a sudden it happened. I hit the end of the moving walkway, my legs went right out from under me and I landed smack dab on my buttocks on the floor. Naturally, the quick landing came with no warning since I was facing backwards. As I sat on the floor, purse strap around my ankles, legs sprawled out, attempting to get back up, I began laughing uncontrollably. I did manage to hoist myself up off the floor just in time for Jude to emerge safely from the walkway. Then, it happened. The woman in the group behind us said “you were so busy taking care of him that you didn’t take care of yourself”.
Right then and there in that terminal, a stranger no less, summarized my entire life as a woman. I’m sure you can relate to what I felt that day. We constantly serve and sacrifice for others but rarely take care of ourselves. What wisdom and clarity came as I stopped laughing and contemplated her message. Tired, sore and somewhat embarrassed, I smiled to myself at this unexpected pearl of wisdom offered to me at no charge! Then I did what any grandma would do and bought Jude some gummi bears.
Another example…on airplanes, the flight attendants always admonish travelers as follows: “in the event of an emergency, please put on your oxygen mask before assisting others.” If the cabin pressure is lowered because of some emergency, the oxygen masks drop down. Like you, my first reaction would be to put the oxygen mask on my loved one. Here’s the thing…if we can’t breathe, we won’t be able to help anyone else breath. Breathing is important. Seems simple right?
Isn’t this the story of our lives? Neighbors, friends, children, in-laws, church assignments, volunteering, committees, the list goes on and on and on…What in the world can we do to make small adjustments?
We can find ways to fortify our souls, to fill up our hearts and prepare ourselves to continue nurturing and serving our family and others. But first, I recommend breathing. Breathe deeply and often…deep cleansing breaths are so helpful!
We can also take “time-outs” for ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally. Part of this may involve finding our “happy place” or a location where we can shut out all distractions, commune with God, relax and let go of our troubles and cares.
For me this place is the beach. Although not available here in Utah, I find solace under a shady tree as I look up at the majestic mountains. Turning off my mind is more of the issue than anything else. Certain songs or music can bring much sought-after peace and perspective. Josh Groban has been a life-saver!
I also recommend listening to upbeat music and find that dancing is a huge stress reliever. My kids are usually horrified when I start moving, but it helps me to feel alive again! Life is short. Just dance.
Note: Some of my favorite dance songs for you to try out are linked below.
I also like going to the gym and feel as if my small effort just might make my aging body less saggy and stronger. I enjoy grabbing some soup too. Warm and comforting, I find that a simple cup of delicious soup makes me feel happy inside.
My daughter, Jennie (Jude’s mom) loves to go hiking and enjoys the peace she finds in the mountains, communing with nature. Setting electronics aside and appreciating all of the beauty around us is a wonderful way to stay centered.
I have a friend who goes into her closet to study, ponder and pray. Daily meditation, scripture study and prayer are all good ways to let go of our troubles and feel God’s guidance, love and peace that we so desperately need.
If you have any ideas for relaxing, rejuvenating and taking care of yourself, share them here. We all need to find ways to put on our oxygen masks first so that we can put them on for those around us. And by all means, don’t ever turn around or dance on a moving walkway (unless your name is Jude)!
A few of my favorite dance songs…
- “Dancing in the Moonlight” by King Harvest https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMc8naeeSS8
- “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” by Leo Sayer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhSjwU8gEsI
- “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5RobDomh5U