When was the last time you gave yourself a gift?
A thank you note from our daughter for her birthday present was the incentive for tackling this topic. Our daughter Kelley is a very thoughtful, concerned woman whose most frequent request for a birthday gift is a check to one of her favorite non-profits. But this year, perhaps because it has been such a busy, intense year for her with a new job and a cross-country move, Dave and I felt it was important to give her money to spend on herself.
Her response was, “It’s so hard to choose to spend the money on me when there are so many others that need more than I do. But,” she went on to say, “I know that there has to be a balance.”
How right she is.
There are many types of gift we need to give ourselves; gifts you can’t wrap in pretty paper and tie with a bow; priceless gifts that won’t fit in a safe deposit box, either.
For instance, there’s the gift of time. Who among us doesn’t ache for 30 minutes a day to take a breather, call our own, and use any way we want to? If that means having a cup of coffee and doing nothing, reading a novel, working a puzzle, or going for a walk just to hear the birds sing or catch snowflakes on our tongue, so be it. It is our time to use as we wish. Whether we’re working for a paycheck, are busy volunteers, or spend 24/7 as family/household engineers balancing the needs of our spouses, children, and often our parents, too, our days are so scheduled that it is easy to convince ourselves we don’t have time to take time off. Whatever your situation, even if it is only 15, 20, or, if you’re lucky, 30 minutes a day, that time away from your responsibilities typically leads to the discovery that you’re getting more done than you were before because you’ve allowed yourself a brief change of pace. It is amazing how rejuvenating that gift can be.
Then there’s the gift of acceptance, and by that I mean acceptance of less than 100%. We usually grade ourselves harder than others do, but we don’t have to do everything perfectly. Nor do we have to constantly look like we’re ready for a photo shoot with everything in its place and well taken care of in our home, our office, our life. And our family’s lives, too, of course! Give yourself a break. If you are honest with yourself you know when 100% is critical and when it isn’t, and when you get to that point, you’re more fun to be around.
We can also give ourselves the gift of compassion, the gift of love, the gift of forgiveness, whatever it is you’re lacking. Listen to your heart. Listen to your own thoughts, and pay attention to the words you use. Comments that begin with “if only” or “if I could just” are clues to your unmet needs and to finding balance in your life.
So what’s on your Christmas list this year?
By Judy Osgood