Do you ever think about what your life really means? Do you observe your friends, neighbors, celebrities and people in the media and wonder what got them to where they are today? The truth is: we all have a story. Our stories are made up of the days and events of our lives and the interpretations of those memories. My story is quite simple. I grew up in Bayside, Queens as an only child. My parents divorced when I was six and I was raised primarily by my visually impaired mother and maternal grandmother. My father was in and out of my life as a child as he struggled with addiction, finally getting sober when I entered college. Despite the challenges, my optimism was a superpower from early on. I loved my friends, my extended family, my summer camp experiences, my teachers and on a whole, I enjoyed my childhood. I was content and I followed the path that was laid out for me to graduate high school, attend college, get a job, get married and have children. It wasn’t until I became an adult and tragedy struck my life that I realized I had been living by default.
When I was 36 years old, a suburban wife and the mother of a 7-year-old boy and 3-year-old girl, my entire world was turned upside down. I received a phone call that my husband had died and from that point on, nothing would ever be the same. When death is unexpected you do not grieve right away. For me, my initial reaction was to protect and shelter my children. I kept us busy and distracted all the while honoring and keeping Eric with us. My journey of transition from a former teacher turned stay at home mom turned widow happened in a flash. My next journey–to transition myself into a career woman who could financially, physically and mentally care for myself and my children–well, that took time and a lot of hard work. The rebirth and renewal that I experienced over the next few years was a choice. I chose to not let Eric’s passing define me or my children. I made a promise to my children and myself to live and love as best as I could despite our loss.
Today, almost seven years after we lost Eric, I can proudly say that I have once again found love. I have a partner that loves my children like he is their biological father. Because of Mark, I have two intelligent and beautiful bonus children that my kids and I adore. For the last five years I have been a part of the Breezemont Day Camp Leadership team as one of the directors, and this year, I fulfilled my dream of becoming a certified life coach specializing in helping people get unstuck, feel less overwhelmed and deal with life transitions, as I did myself.
Life is full of twists and turns. I believe that the past is gone, the future is unknown, and the present is our gift. This spring, make a promise to yourself to get outside, breathe in the fresh air, take a nice walk with someone you love, and make a list of your hopes and dreams. The next step is to make small, achievable goals and ask for help when you want accountability and insight. Remember life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you deal with it. Every day you have the chance to take back control and create a life that you love.
Marnie Levy’s Self Care Advice
Self care is a term that is used so often, but can also be a source of frustration and confusion. Friends have told me that to them, self care is merely brushing your teeth and combing your hair and they have questioned the reason why this seems to be such a buzzword. Others believe that true self care needs to cost an arm and a leg and will take too much time. The reality is that you can’t open a magazine or scroll through Instagram without hearing about self care. Everyone has an opinion about what to do to take more care of yourself. All of this can be overwhelming so human nature often tells us to just forget all about it.
The definition of self care from the Oxford dictionary is: The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health. The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.
If self care has ever felt unattainable, costly or time consuming, the good news is it doesn’t have to be any of those things. Here are four (and even no cost!) ways to take care of yourself which can make you happier, calmer and give you more energy.
#1 SET HEALTHY BOUNADRIES
Are you a yes person? If you have a hard time saying no, you might have a hard time with boundaries. Often times, the more we say yes to other people, commitments and responsibilities, the more we are saying no to ourselves. This can be especially hard when it comes to loved ones, friends and employers. The problem is when some of these asks drain you of time and energy you end up being exhausted and unfulfilled. The shift here can be to choose wisely. Take some time before you commit to others. Think things through and decide if your choice will serve you or hurt you. Some things are mandatory when it comes to work or family but make sure that what you are saying yes to can be accomplished in a fair and realistic time frame. Have patience and foresight to decide before you commit to others.
#2 YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO IT ALONE
A key to taking care of yourself is understanding when you need help. For some people, asking for help is a sign of weakness or vulnerability so we avoid it. The problem with this is that it can lead to burnout, stressing out and failure. It is human to need support. I often say that life coaching is like having a personal trainer for your brain. Personal training is the same for your body. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of self preservation. Most of the time other people can give us a new perspective and motivation we might not gain on our own.
#3 TAKE A TECH BREAK
You might not realize how much time you spend on your devices. The endless scrolling on social media, electronic games, computers, television can consume most of your day. Have you ever figured out how many hours you spend in front of a screen? Are there other activities that you can do without a screen in front of your face? Constant screen time can negatively affect your eyes, your posture, your wrists and hands and your brain. Can you commit to less screen time? Perhaps first thing in the morning or before bed? Choosing other activities, like maybe getting some fresh air, can help us in many ways. This is especially important in the winter months when we are stuck inside. Along with the calming effects of the outdoors on your body, you can also get natural vitamin D, physical movement and a better connection with nature.
#4 GET SOME REST
Giving yourself the gift of sleep is the best thing that you can do to set yourself up for a good day ahead. When we sleep, our body has time to repair and recover. The easiest thing to do is think about the time you would realistically like to go to bed and the time you end up turning in and find a middle ground. Slowly create a sleep routine that will help your mind and body prepare for a restful night. Getting a good night sleep can have great benefits for your life.
Hopefully the self care strategies in this article can help you to begin caring for your mind, body and soul. There is no better time to start than now. – Marnie Levy