“Every small positive change we make in ourselves repays us in confidence in the future.”
This Valentine’s Day, I leave for my first two-week vacation by myself in … I literally don’t know how long. I’m excited, proud of myself, and so pleased that I have finally given myself enough space to dive deeply into a few of the things I love: writing, hiking, meditating. It’s taken me 61 years to get here, and I’ve only found my way to this moment by stumbling over and over again through the sandpits of perfectionism, martyrdom, victimhood, and ignorance.
I’ve been ignorant about the need for and value of centering myself in my days. I’ve been captivated by the false trophies of believing that I could handle more than others, and ought to shoulder more than others. And I’ve been deeply confused about my worth—thinking that somehow more suffering, or more challenge, or more striving meant something about my value. Taking time for myself seemed selfish, unnecessary, and undeserved. These beliefs have lead me to frustration, exhaustion, world-weariness and ineffectiveness. Not to mention unhappiness, anger, and a constant undercurrent of irritation.
The pandemic triggered many of these old patterns for me—believing that I had to show up everywhere and feeling as though I was never quite enough. The good news, though, is that—after decades of paying attention to what works for us in terms of recalibration of a happier and healthier life, and of what works for me in particular—I have been able to recover with a deepened commitment to caring for myself, in a more balanced way. Caring for myself in order that I may return to caring for others. Caring for myself so I can have enough joy to spread positivity around. Giving back to what I love and investing in it so that I can inspire others to love what I love.
I won’t be with my partner on Valentine’s Day—and that is just fine, for I will be with the one person who will benefit most deeply from my attention in this moment. This choice will not cause harm to my relationship with my partner or any of the people I mentor, coach, guide, or care for. It will instead energize my work, my play and my care when my return.
Happy Valentine’s Day—and by that I mean, Happy Love of Who You Are and What You Love Day!
Find out about Maria’s new course, Masterful Self-Care, beginning March 7.