Like last year, I want to shine a little bit of light on all different sorts of love this February with a Love Letters miniseries. Every Friday I’m featuring posts about love from some fabulous guest bloggers—and they’re not the typical boy meets girl, cue fireworks kind of love story. These stories show that love comes in all different shapes and sizes—and all of them should be celebrated. Today’s post is from Katie of The Superfoodery.
Why the person you should be loving this Valentine’s Day is not who you might expect…
This Valentine’s Day marks 10 years since my first cancer diagnosis. I was mid-20s and ‘living large.’ I’d moved across country twice since finishing university. I was moving up the corporate ladder. I had a man, but no responsibilities so life was a pretty awesome party.
Then I turned 27 and my new life—the After Sick life—began.
I fell crazily ill, hospitalized in Intensive Care for weeks. Every organ was biopsied, every medical specialist had a look. Answers were not forthcoming. It was literally months later, when I was living with ambiguity, loaded to the eyeballs on steroids and 45 other daily meds, when I was given the diagnosis on Valentine’s Day. “It’s good news,” my doctor said. “It’s an answer. And we have drugs for it.”
It was only the first diagnosis of many to come since. I’ve clocked up another round of cancer, a stem cell transplant, more autoimmune conditions than I have fingers to count, multiple hospital stays, a joint replacement, a pharmacy load of medications, a range of alternative therapies, and enough medical intervention to become a teaching case study and to feel I have more medical knowledge than half the doctors I meet!
Like many people who get hit unexpectedly with a life-interrupting diagnosis, I have become supremely grateful for the life I have and the cards I was dealt. Cancer and the rest of this cocktail introduced me to myself. It shook me awake. This didn’t happen instantly, it wasn’t the lightning bolt of sudden diagnosis, it was the slow burn that comes from forever living with the burning desire to create your best life before it’s threatened again. It’s been a traverse, a journey, as I’ve railed against myself and my lot, I’ve explored and read every alternative health option and tried them all. It’s taken ten years and still things aren’t perfect but I’m beginning to realize… I’m looking back and suddenly the dots are starting to come together to show me the lessons I’ve learned and the progress I’ve made.
This is not a love story about cancer. This is about the person cancer helped me fall in love with. And one of the best parts of that is truly embracing what it means to care for yourself, to show yourself that love, not just say it.
What is self care?
“Self-care” refers to our ability as human beings to function effectively in the world while meeting the multiple challenges of daily life with a sense of energy, vitality, and confidence. Self-care is initiated and maintained by us as individuals, it requires our active engagement.
Self care is the way you demonstrate the love you have for your self—mind, body and soul. And I believe it’s at the heart of all love. Loving yourself is nurturing the roots of a tree so that more love and relationships may flourish and thrive above ground.
Why should you (self) care?
Love begets love. When I opened myself up to this practice of self-care and self-love it made me more thoughtful, reflective and honest. It caused the ripple effect of deeper connections within my family, my friendships, my relationship and my workplace. Self-love drives me, year by year, success after failure after success and more failure, to live better—to find my nourishment and to embrace the things that nourish me. Cancer made me fall in love with myself and the life I had been given to live.
Taking time for active self care doesn’t mean you’re selfish; it recognizes that your needs are important too.
It isn’t meant to add more tasks to your to do list; it will help you be better prepared and able to manage all the other tasks on your to do list.
It doesn’t take you away from your role as caregiver; it makes you a better caregiver.
How to practice self care
Everyone is different, but time alone, a break from stress and experiencing soothing feelings are what you should be aiming for. If you get this through a massage, a walk in nature or just time curled up alone reading a mystery novel—embrace what works for you.
Be intentional about it. Acknowledge and be present to your precious self-care time. Take a moment to breathe and be grateful for the gift you’re giving yourself.
Form habits around it. What are your daily self care rituals that keep you vital? It might be an essential oil body scrub you do every morning in the shower, or writing in a gratitude journal at night. It might be the 15 minutes of meditation you do before bed or the 10 minutes you spend sitting alone at a cafe having your morning coffee.
No one should have to give you self care, it’s a gift we must give ourselves. This Valentine’s Day why don’t you give this gift to the person in your life that truly deserves your love and affection: you.
Katie Wyatt is the owner of The Superfoodery, an online store providing access to premium superfoods to nourish your body and soul. She’s a mum, a blogger, a business coach and she also podcasts as The Wellness Entrepreneur. Sign up to her newsletter at www.thesuperfoodery.com.au to get a great deal on your first order, or drop by on Instagram to see pics of her superfoodie adventures.