There is a simplicity and beauty in life if we just stop and take a moment to let it unfold. It’s not easy to do, though. That’s why we chase it endlessly, day after day. We start our mornings in a rush (and let’s be honest here, I’m referring to myself as well), and the day gets away from us. As we finish up the dishes after the family meal is served but before we settle into the couch for the latest This Is Us episode, we think, “Where did the day go?”
I left a career in marketing to pursue life as a mortician. While in marketing, I was home when my boys came home from school, and I had time to bake in the afternoons for the following day. I worked for myself and made enough to enjoy the afternoons off. I loved being a mom and I loved being home, but I wasn’t so keen on the work. A sacrifice, I thought, for the simple pleasures. It’s funny how one can feel so unfulfilled when denying a calling. I woke up every day thinking, “Is this all there is?” (Insert mom-guilt here. Yes, us moms are allowed to have passions outside of motherhood.)
Once I entered the funeral business, I knew it was where I needed to be. Luckily, my boys were older and understood that I wouldn’t be at home as often. After losing their Granny, they knew that showing up for other families meant sacrificing time with your own. However, as I quickly learned, the long hours and days on call can make one burn out quickly, no matter how understanding your children and partner can be. After two years in the business, I’m by no means an old-timer, yet I’ve already realized that self-care and family-care are important.
The time I spend with family now is quality time. I savor every moment, even if I’m still learning to put the phone down. I’m not perfect, but I’m present. Sometimes I sit back and think, “This is what a fulfilled life feels like.”
The self-care part, important as it is, is something I am still learning to embrace. I’ve always taken care of others before taking care of myself, and it is very easy to continue that trend in this industry. When I’m on a long stretch of days at the funeral home, sometimes my self-care goes right out the window. Yet, this is when I need it the most.
It’s the little things: a quiet bath, a trip to the nail salon (still trying to fit that one in), a nature walk, ordering groceries online so you don’t have to shop, or a home yoga session. It’s also the big things: a cleaning crew to come in and do the detail work, that new light fixture, or a mini-vacation with the family.
The latter is what I indulged in recently.
Every day, I try to see things with fresh eyes. I can see how this would sometimes make people want to break out the eye-roll emoji with the naivety of it all, but death with do that to you. When you see it on a daily basis, it’ll really do that to you. If you’re in the industry and it doesn’t do that to you, it’s time to leave.
We went to Florida to spend some time with my grandfather in Panama City, and I’ve seen the beach a million times. I’ve reluctantly headed to the beach for photo opportunities with my mom and grandmother (both of which are no longer with me), and I’ve gone seashell hunting in the white sand only to misplace the shells when I arrive home. But ever since my mom died… damn. The beach is spiritual experience.
The snowy sand, the way it feels in between your toes, the way it glistens in the sun. The vast expanse of water that dances translucently, somewhere between an emerald and a blue topaz. Standing on a mound of sand and watching your husband play with the kids in the distance, and no place is better than this because if you were a part of it, you’d never feel the sun on your face and the pull on your heart like you do in this moment.
Every day is precious. Every day is a miracle. When we have so many of them, we forget that it is so. That is a tragedy.
The root of self-care is understanding that your contribution to this world is worthwhile and knowing that you have to be your best self in order to show up every day. How can you be your best self? Well, that is up to you. We all have an inner voice that guides us. Listen to it. How can you take care of you today?
For me, I can’t always make the drive to Florida (although I’d love to see my grandfather more often. He is 84 and the wisest man I know. He is also the only grandparent I have left.) Sometimes, it’s sitting in the tub and appreciating that I have access to water to take a hot bath, with a bath bomb no less! Sometimes, it’s sitting in traffic and being thankful for the heartbeat that sustains my life in this moment. Sometimes, it’s an indulgent shopping trip with the girls for all the things we don’t normally buy for ourselves. And sometimes, it’s the quiet whisper inside of you that knows what is good for you. It’s best to listen to it.
So here I am, back at my desk, back in the real world. No sand between my toes or salt spray in my hair. This is my real life, that delicate balance between nurturing others and nurturing myself. Today, I will take a small moment to nurture myself. You should, too.