What are you doing today to care for you?

Don't forget to care for you as you care for others.

It was years ago, yet it impacted me so much, I still vividly remember it today. I was at a Mary Kay Seminar in Dallas, and the speaker on stage shared a real-life story featuring a drinking glass and two water pitchers, which were next to her on a table. The drinking glass was full. One water pitcher was full and the other was empty.

As she shared the story of a woman who served others well, with each example she poured a small amount of water from the full drinking glass (representing the woman) into the empty pitcher (representing others). Examples were of how this woman cared for her children (water poured out of the glass), how she loved her husband well (more water poured out), how she checked on her aging parents often (more water poured out), how she worked hard at her job (more water poured out), and how she helped others in her community (more water poured out). You get the picture, right? With each way this woman served others, she poured out into the lives of those she served.

Because that’s what we do as women, right? We pour out into the lives of those around us.

Pretty soon, however, the drinking glass became empty. The woman had nothing more left in her to pour out. She had run dry. She was completely empty.

Ever been there? Ever been to the place of empty?

I have, and I’m guessing you have, too. It’s a difficult and sometimes scary place to find ourselves, isn’t it? And the thing is, it’s possible we don’t realize we’re headed to empty until it’s too late and we’re already there. We’ve run ourselves dry.

My mom called this “burning the candle at both ends.” I can’t tell you the number of times she’d say to me in my adult life, “Julie, you’re burning the candle at both ends again. I’m concerned about you.” She was often my nearing-empty gauge. Her words warned me I was heading to empty soon. After her death, however, my gauge disappeared. Empty soon came without warning, and I had to painfully learn the warning signs on my own. Such as struggling to find sleep and rest, compromising on the duration of sleep, agitated and discombobulated thoughts, a short attention span, not engaging with people around me, constantly on the go, dry eyes, and a sore jaw (from unconsciously clenching my jaw).

The warning signs helped me realize I was on my way to empty.

To prompt me to do something before I ran completely dry. Because nothing can pour out when our glass is empty. Thankfully, though, we don’t have to run dry. We have ways to fill ourselves back up!

The speaker on the Seminar stage turned her focus to the full watcher pitcher as she continued her story. The full pitcher represented the things we do to care for ourselves, to fill us back up. Again, as she shared each example, she poured water from the full pitcher into the drinking glass. Examples included such things as exercise, getting a massage, taking a nap, taking a vacation, relaxing, doing something you enjoy, getting a manicure/pedicure. As the woman found ways to fill herself up, the glass became full again.

Full enough to again pour out.

When we take time to care for ourselves with things we enjoy, we will rarely run dry.

In fact, I’ve learned I need to do something weekly for myself, to care for myself, to fill me up. It may be a long walk, spending time with my loved ones, having a Zoom call with my girlfriends. Writing fills me up, as well as bicycling with my husband.

A friend of mine fills up by retreating to her sewing room.

Another friend finds kayaking is her thing.

My sister-in-law reads books on her porch as one way to care for herself.

What about you? What fills you up? And when was the last time you did it?

When was the last time you did something for you? To care for you?

If it’s been awhile, would you take my words seriously and do something for you today?

In this season of social distancing and isolating, I believe it’s more important than ever to care for ourselves. We’re caring so much for others, either at work or at home or in our communities, caring for ourselves is a must. Find some way, even if it’s small, to fill you up today or this week. Then put it on your schedule every week. Not only through this pandemic, but beyond.

We can’t continue to pour out if we become empty. And, you’re too important to be empty. You matter too much to be sidelined because you were too busy to care for yourself. Please, friend, take care of you.

Don’t forget to care for you as you care for others.

Let’s hold each other accountable to care for ourselves, especially during this season. Let’s remind ourselves of this often. How do you plan to care for you today or this week? I’d love to encourage you in that today.

God bless you, friend.

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