Intentionality

Filling Your Own Cup

Every workday, a colleague and I walk around the large parking lot on our morning and afternoon breaks. If the weather is unpleasant, we walk the pedestrian pathway in the plant attached to our office area. Interrupting the workday with a little exercise and usually fresh air has become a beneficial routine for me. It energizes my body and mind to return to my tasks after the 15 minutes away. Today, my coworker admitted she sometimes feels guilty for taking our walking breaks, knowing the work that could be continued or completed during that time. As I have never felt this way about our breaks (though certainly I’ve skipped them on occasion to get through a project), my reply to her was, “I don’t think anyone should ever feel guilty for taking care of themselves.”

We sit on our rears for 8+ hours a day, giving our contribution to the productivity and profits of the company. Many in my department work through lunch, eating at their desks or not eating at all. The idea that we ought to feel badly about taking 15 minutes in the morning and the afternoon to refresh ourselves is absurd to me. But the American office’s expectations is not the topic at hand.

What I realized after I made that statement to my colleague was that outside of taking those walking breaks, I do not follow my own advice! At least once a day, sometimes more, I feel guilty for exactly that reason.

Sit down to read a book after the kids are in bed? No way, there are dishes to wash!
Exercise after dinner? I’d be telling my husband I don’t want to spend my little bit of free time with him!
Take a walk or bike ride on Saturday morning? Heck no, there’s laundry to do!
Fix myself a healthy meal that my family isn’t going to enjoy? That would be rude! I should eat what I have made for them and be satisfied.
Take five minutes to pray before tending to the kids’ needs, whatever they may be? Of course not, they’re waiting for me!

I am terrible at allowing myself to take care of me. Now some of it is laziness, absolutely. A lot of it though, is guilt. I get filled with unnecessary guilt, convinced that if I do these things for my physical and mental well being, I will slip below my standards as a wife and mother. Yet when I neglect these matters, I have less energy and clarity. I lose my patience more easily. I feel ugly and uncomfortable in my own skin, disappointed in myself. Obviously, tending to these simple needs of mine is integral to being the wife and mother I try to be!

Such a simple truth, by no means original to my brain, and terribly hard to learn.

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