The New Year is here again, a clean page upon which to write all the adventures for next year. It’s a time to build on last year’s successes, to start new projects and even to reinvent ourselves. The world is our oyster, at least for a short while.
The New Year is also a time when we often ask ourselves big questions. Who am I? Why am I here? What’s it all about? It can be a time of uncertainty as well as excitement.
I am Christine. I am a wife, a mother, a knitter, a gardener, a director in the business I share with my husband. I am a cook, a cleaner, a housekeeper. I am a teacher, a nurse, a counsellor, a confidante. I am a taxi driver, a logistics expert, a sheepdog taking care of my flock. The list goes on. And interestingly, if you were to look at the list of roles that make up who I am, many of them involve doing something for someone else. I bet that if you made a list, you’d be the same. It’s not a bad way to be - after all, the way to be happy is to help someone else – but I am aware, as I am sure you are, that we need to take care of ourselves as much as other people, and that’s something that I’m not always very good at.
It makes me think of the instruction in the aeroplane safety announcements – “secure your own mask before helping others”. It’s wise advice, often missed as we check what’s in the seat pockets or the duty-free magazines. We’re no use to anybody else unless we are already safe within ourselves; happy, healthy, comfortable in our own skin – and how many of us can say that we really are, before we launch into taking care of someone else’s life? It’s easy to get caught up in what we’re doing and focus on what comes next without thinking about how we need to rest and recharge our own batteries. Simple words, I know, and I’m not always very good at taking any notice of them.
This year, I want to be different. I want to reinvent the Christine that rarely stops to take breath and become someone who secures her own mask first. That doesn’t mean that I want to become selfish and inward-looking, ignoring other people to concentrate on my own needs. It means that I want to build up my own reserves so that I’ve got more than enough to support someone else. It means taking time out to have a soak in the bath instead of “just” finishing the ironing or the cleaning or checking for messages on my phone or the computer. It means sitting quietly and watching the grass grow sometimes. It means taking care. And it means taking care of me.