Over the holidays I was visiting with a family friend whom I seldom see. She has a busy husband and three active boys under the age of 12, life for her is in constant motion. I told her how wonderful she looked and how I admired her energy. I asked how she does it, and this was her reply:
I learned a long time ago, to put my oxygen mask on first, before helping others. If mama is exhausted then there is no way she can take care of her husband and three active boys.
WOW! I was speechless.
How wise, how simple, and yet how completely opposite of the way I have lived my life as a wife and mother, sister and friend. I have lived giving, and doing, and sharing, and thinking of others long before I think of myself. It is no wonder that I usually felt exhausted and craved those little moments of quiet and alone time when I was able to find them.
I began to wonder how different life might feel if I took her advice to heart. What if I put my oxygen mask on before helping others? How would that change how I felt and how I interacted with others?
In the days after that conversation, her words resonated in my heart and would bubble up once in a while as a gentle reminder that I needed to take care of myself and if I did not, there may come a time when I would not be able to take care of others.
So in early January I started going once a week to a mediation class. One hour of sitting quietly, breathing, focusing on myself, offering loving kindness to my soul, and forgiveness to my spirit had a profound impact on me from the very first session. I craved more. Someone in the group recommended a meditation app so I downloaded it right away and proceeded to make time every day for meditation, not usually an hour, but at least 20 minutes. I felt myself become calmer and more receptive. It was in the weeks after I started meditating that I began to see the messages and signs around me that would support me in my journey of sobriety.
Have you put your oxygen mask on?