I am sure everyone has a good example of someone you takes care of everyone else first, before ever giving themselves any consideration. I know my grandmother was this way; just like the mom in A Christmas Story, “….she hadn’t eaten a hot meal herself in over 5 years.” My grandmother usually ate her dinner standing over the sink in the kitchen, tending to everyone else’s needs. After spending half the day preparing a meal, she would eat hurriedly, and then spend an hour cleaning up. She never complained about it, and would waive off any help when offered.
While this seemingly altruistic approach may produce good results or outcomes in the short term, you have to be good to yourself, too. In fact, the best way to be able to give as much of yourself as possible is to ensure your needs are being met. As the saying goes:
Be sure to put your oxygen mask on first.
I did what could be referred to as a “me day” yesterday. My version anyway, and I needed it. I have had a rough couple of weeks to start out the year. Nothing catastrophic, but things with weight to them. I was in Costa Rica on vacation just over a month ago, but it feels like a year have passed. I was in need of a reset, so I made plans to go fishing with my dad. Its one of my favorite things to do, and I was looking forward to it. I got an early morning text from my dad saying he wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t go fishing. I rolled over and went back to sleep. It would have been easy to blow it off and not go.
When I woke up a couple of hours later, I was instantly hit with the reminder that I am not going fishing today. I was already packed up and ready to go, so instead of taking the lazy way and staying home, I got out of bed and hit the road. While I didn’t go the the place my dad and I had planned, which was three hours away, I went up north to my go-to place to fly fish. I drove the two hours while listening to one of my favorite podcasters, Tim Ferriss. He and a friend of his do a combined podcast together they call The Random Show. In this latest one, they were reflecting back on the past ten years. It was interesting to hear both of them touch on this same topic. Being high achievers, they both struggled with constant distraction and difficulty ever relaxing. I get that, as I consider myself much the same. I have gotten better over the years about chilling out once in a while, but it has taken practice to feel comfortable doing so.
When I arrived at my destination, it appeared things were nearly perfect conditions. There was not a cloud in the sky, the creek was high and healthy looking, no campers to be found either. I was going to have the canyon to myself, and love every minute of it. I suited up and hit the water, enjoying the clean air and the mild temperatures considering it was the last day of January. While the fish didn’t cooperate to any degree, I had a great time just being outdoors and following the same path through the woods I have done for so many years now. I fished the six hour loop through the canyon, and then hit the trail out up and over the mountain. It was cleansing, a much needed reset. I ate fast food on the way home, something I don’t do with any regularity, finishing the podcast on the drive back. It was a great day.
Does what I spent that day doing sounds selfish? Not in my opinion. And this is not something I need to do every day, but on occasion, this is a must have. My wife knows that I need days like this, as I always have. It is part of my construct, and she has her own things she has to do as well. We understand that about each other, and don’t ever question it or take it personally when a “me day” is needed without the other. Days like this help me reset my mind, shift out of my micro view of the world I live in, and remember that there are bigger things than what I have been working through to start the year. There are days that are meant to be lived and cherished, but they are not offered to anyone. They must be taken, scheduled, and not deviated from when the opportunity arises. My soul needs the time on the water, and there is nothing I can do about that but placate the need and go fishing. It is who I am, and to deny that, or to allow myself to be lazy and not go ends up doing more harm than good.
I returned to town at the end of the day feeling refreshed, and I slept like a baby that night. I hope you have something that you enjoy to the level that I enjoy fishing. It is a cornerstone in my life, and it helps me…well, be me.