"I am a blessed person and to whom much is given, much is also required. You can't have all of this and not use it for the greater good." ~Oprah Winfrey
Truth be told, I LOVE Oprah.
Many smart, hilarious and cool people that I totally respect think she is way too commercial and mainstream.
I respectfully disagree and secretly, or not, now, think they must not watch, listen or read anything put out by her...which is hard to do since she seems to be everywhere.
Every time I listen or watch a segment where she is sharing her thoughts and observations, I am completely captivated. She personifies the "AHA" moment for me and I am a grateful and proud super fan. She has taught me many lessons and I consider her the ultimate teacher.
I want to share a recent lesson from an interview and expand a little bit with my own thoughts:
Years ago, Oprah had a life coach on her show that proposed the question to the audience, "What do u want?"
The audience full of women was unable to answer that question because of a whole host of reasons like being too busy with work, kids, aging parents, laundry, money issues, etc.. They claimed they didn't have the luxury of pondering such a colossal waste of time.
Next what happened caused Oprah to intervene between the booing mob of angry women and the well meaning progressive life coach.
The coach introduced the concept of women putting themselves 1st. The women audibly booed her for suggesting such a preposterous thing!
PEOPLE, she didn't tell them to abandon and leave their children in the street! However, the notion of women prioritizing themselves sounded selfish and non-maternal at the time. That was in '92.
Oprah says this moment changed the course of her show in many ways and a recurring theme began to emerge: "Fill up your own tank; put on your oxygen mask 1st; be at the top of your own list."
The lesson was to prioritize yourself and your needs as a human person, so there will be more to give to others. This is what all the "woo woo" enlightened folks refer to as "self care".
Oprah says this message has landed for many women over the last 23 years and I would like to add my spin to this conversation and dispel a few misconceptions.
Misconceptions and what putting yourself 1st does NOT look like:
• Spending your days escaping, numbing and procrastinating by: gossiping; complaining and blaming; shopping; meeting for coffees and lunches with people that don't light you up; spending hours on FB; closet eating; smoking; continuing at a soul sucking job.
*If you do any of this, don't beat yourself up or ME for striking a chord... but realize this is not what the conversation intended for you to waste your life doing.
*Although these things may be entertaining in the moment, trust me as I have been there done that, it will leave you feeling like crap later. Your energy will be depleted and everyone, including yourself comes in last.
The truth about putting yourself last and the negative effects:
• Doing EVERYTHING for your kids: cleaning their rooms; making their beds; packing backpacks; sitting next to them, all night every night, while doing homework; constantly picking up after them rather than having them do it; doing all household chores and requiring no participation from them, will make you resentful and cranky.
*Even writing this list feels depleting to me. If this describes your situation, I am exhausted for you.
* You may nag, resent, blame, and feel constantly frustrated and I don't blame you - you are freakin' tired!
*You begrudgingly make dinner or dont make dinner and complain about the expectation to make dinner.
You are better than this. You were meant for more. Life is supposed to be more fun. I'm begging you to please learn a different way to live. You deserve that.
Suggestions for putting yourself 1st that benefits YOU & your family:
• Prioritize your health. Start eating fresh nutritious foods. You will feel the effects immediately with increased energy. You will be more likable to yourself and others.
• Exercise or at least get outside and take a walk; get fresh air.
• Do yoga or another exercise that utilizes the breath and taps into your body's natural Prozac.
• Use creative energy every day and feel a sense of accomplishment.
• Your creativity might be something traditionally identified as artistic, like vision boards, painting or drawing.
• Your creativity may be like mine; refrigerator olympics - my go to creative outlet consisting of making a meal with the ingredients I already have.
• Creativity could be reorganizing and cleaning out an area of your house - and then come and do mine; crafting an email to a special friend; fighting for a cause; writing in a journal; cleaning while experiencing that feeling of being in the zone and listening to fun music.
• Connect with a friend you actually WANT to spend time with and release those that leave you feeling drained and in need of a nap...and don't feel guilty.
• Engaging and purposeful work (like writing a blog and connecting with others:).
• Say no to coffee dates you only say yes out of obligation.
• Be a team player at work and collaborate with a coworker without the need to be "right" and stroke your ego.
• Sneak in a well deserved nap - even just for 15 minutes.
• Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
• Have strict bedtimes for your kids and/or be off duty by 8:30pm (yes, it is absolutely possible...I have almost 18 years of proof;).
• Read, talk, watch, learn about something thought provoking.
• Do any activity that brings that feeling of being in the zone or losing track of time whether it's meditation, gardening, throwing a ball with your dog - knock yourself out!
Any combination of these ideas contributes to putting yourself at the top of your list in a way that helps you to show up as your best self.
No arguing - you deserve this and we all wanna experience you in this way...especially your kids.