Our society teaches women to base our self-worth on caring for others. Seldom are we taught to take excellent care of ourselves. Instead, we find ourselves running through life in crazed attempts to prove our value to ourselves and others.
I write this article on the night of my son's fifth birthday. I celebrate this day not only because it marks the birth of my shining son, but also because it marks the beginning of my journey towards radical self-care.
Goodness knows I didn't always take great care of myself. In college, I threw myself into organizing countless events to raise awareness about issues from the war in Iraq to environmental justice to sweatshops. I worked several part-time jobs, all in community organizing. I traveled throughout Latin America to witness the impacts of US foreign policy and raise awareness back home. Meanwhile, I somehow earned a 3.97 GPA. After college, I worked for a union where I fought to win fair organizing rights for hotel workers and ironically continued to put in fifty or sixty hours per week.
I followed the program. I took care of everyone else, but I rarely stopped to consider my own needs. I was known for what I did for others, but I had very few close friends. I believed in health care for all, but I ignored my own needs and developed several stress-related health conditions. To anyone on the outside, my life appeared exemplary. The problem was, I wasn't happy.
I knew nothing about self-care. That is, until I discovered that I was pregnant. When I was 37 weeks pregnant, I learned that my baby was breech. My midwives suggested that I ask my baby what he needed to feel ready to be born. When I returned home, I lay down on my bed, put my hands on my belly, and asked my son what he needed. With the ear of my intuition, I heard the response. I was called to become grounded and healthy. In order to be the mother I wanted to be, I had to learn to care for myself. There was no other option.
Throughout our lives, we are called to leave behind old patterns that hold us back and embrace new ways of being. It can be downright terrifying to make change in our lives, and we can therefore refuse our calls for a very long time. Eventually, the moment arrives when it becomes impossible to ignore our call any longer, and we commit ourselves to change.
My commitment to follow my call to self-care shaped my life from that moment on. I have created a life that I love, and I am living the life that I am meant to live. Of course, it hasn't all been easy. I have had to let go of many things I was attached to including my good-paying, secure job with the union and relationships that no longer served me. Most importantly, I have shed old beliefs about how I needed to earn love in my life, and I embraced the fact that I am worthy of love and acceptance simply for being me. Yes, I realize that this sounds cliché, but how many of us are experts in accepting and loving ourselves? What would the world look like if we were?
Soon after my son was born, I answered another call, and I dedicated myself to helping other women learn to practice radical self-care. I now believe that the necessary first step to caring for our communities is learning to care for ourselves. In order to work towards the health of our planet, we must become healthy individuals first.
My purpose and passion is helping women follow their call to practice radical self-care and lead a life that feeds their souls. A new life, a new way of being, a new world truly is possible. You can learn to take deliciously wonderful, radical care of yourself. All that is required of you is to say yes to your call and make the commitment to yourself. The time is now. Are you ready?