Not so long ago I did a short (online course) called Literature and Mental Health : reading for well being. It was run by Warwick University (UK) under the Future Learn umbrella.
This owl is a bookworm. Reading is one thing I do for me – it’s a thing of pleasure (and learning) of extending my horizons and sometimes pure escapism. I honestly don’t know what book is my all time favourite – or even which book has influenced me the most and that’s ok – I’m still learning.
Sometimes one of my darkest thoughts is losing my eyesight. I can’t imagine not being able to read. One of the awful things of early onset Alzheimers – for example – is recognising you are losing the ability to make sense of words -written or spoken – and for me that would honestly be akin to a living hell. I think I would also lose the will to live. I could so identify and sympathise with the main character in Still Alice (which incidentally is so very different from the film as you see and feel the progression of the dis-ease as Alice) – but I digress.
Right now this owl is thinking of two – not unconnected – things.
The first was prompted by this article entitled 10 great things when you set boundaries. It lists the benefits of setting boundaries as follows:
You’re more self-aware.
You become a better friend and partner.
You take better care of yourself.
You’re less stressed.
You’re a better communicator.
You start trusting people more.
You’re less angry.
You learn how to say “no.”
You end up doing things you actually want to do.
You become a more understanding person.
What I liked most about the article though was its byline –
“It’s not selfish to prioritize yourself.”
This seems to be a particularly difficult thing for women of my generation to grasp. That might be because – in English – the word selfish has such negative connotations. It is often understood as ” being a person lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.” whereas in the context of self-care, prioritising oneself can – I think – be very much about becoming a blessing to others precisely because you allow yourself (your needs, desires) to be part of the equation too.
The second was prompted by a novel I’m reading called The Widow’s Tale (by Mick Jackson- interesting a male author writing about how a woman feels and reacts). The main character (unnamed throughout the book) makes an observation
You hear about those couples who retire to the country, and how hubby does all the driving – how, in fact, she doesn’t drive at all. Then, three or four months into their new rural life, when they’ve barely started the redecorating, he has a heart attack. And suddenly she’s in the middle of no-where, doesn’t know anyone, and there’s only one bus into town every second Wednesday …
She (the character) goes onto comment
You can either read it as a cautionary tale against moving out to the sticks (the countryside!) when you’re in your sixties or becoming too dependent on one’s spouse.
She warns that the latter can actually creep up on you, and in my own observation I think that’s so very true (both for men and women). Being a couple does mean sharing a life – and that in turn must mean (I think) in sharing and delegating responsiblities. The rub is that if we delegate too well, we can become incompetent in areas that were once our strengths. If I never read the map and always take the wheel – for example (which would be my preference) my map reading skills become really rusty, and when I’m driving alone what happens then, I wonder.
Looking back at the first list – in the light of the second – one of the things I might need to learn to say ‘no’ to is indeed the pattern of a partner (or friend) and my self always taking a particular role. Self care might require our self awareness of the dangers in not mixing things up a little.
With that in mind this owl rolled up her sleeves and washed the car yesterday :)