Husbands and wives quickly learn each other’s foibles.
It wasn’t long into our marriage when Carle noticed that my temper got short and I felt sick if I’d forgotten to eat for too many hours. So now, when I’m grumpy for no apparent reason, the first thing he asks is “when did you eat last?”
It’s not that I don’t love food. I’m a good cook; I often say cooking is therapy for me. But whereas he gets out of bed in the morning and the first place he heads is the coffee machine, I’m different. I feed the cats. I check the bird feeders to see if they need filling. I put in a load of laundry. And while I *do* brew myself a cup of coffee, I take it and I sit down at my desk to start work: as an entrepreneur I have deadlines to meet and promises to keep to clients and emails to answer.
Notice breakfast is nowhere in there. Everything else has to come first.
More and more often, I was finding myself testy — unable to focus on anything but work and edging out husband and cats and everything else that got in the way of That Stuff.
One morning, Carle challenged me to an experiment: for thirty days, eat breakfast first. Sit for a half an hour before the day started. Just to see what happens.
Oh, I balked and fussed. The cats were demanding. The birds were depending on me for food; it was winter, for Pete’s sake! But Carle was adamant. “I’ll feed the cats and the birds won’t fall off their branches with an hour’s delay. Just try it.”
So I did. I steeled myself not to go into my office for an hour every morning: a half hour for a leisurely breakfast and then 30 minutes for getting ready for the day (including feeding the birds).
By the end of a week, I stopped fussing. By the end of two, I was actually savoring that first cup of coffee. And by the end of the thirty days, I was shocked to find out how much more efficient I was: my workload didn’t explode, my blogs got written more easily, and my clients didn’t feel ignored.
And breakfast with Carle has become very pleasant, indeed.
The moral of this little story is this: if you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll very quickly find you have nothing left to give to anyone. And taking care of yourself can cover a lot of things. Making time for your daily walk…making time for a meal…saying no to insistent friends when you know you need some solo downtime.
How we treat ourselves is our message to the Universe: I don’t need anyone to care about me, I’ll do it all, we tell our guides Upstairs. And the Universe, being a short-order cook with no imagination, doesn’t tell us “that’s not very smart.” The Universe gives us exactly what we asked for: nobody caring about us, and everyone expecting that they come first.
Think of occasionally putting yourself first as ordering the best meal at the best restaurant in the world. Because when you can savor your life the way you savor a fine wine, you’ll notice you can get just as mellow as that virtual Chardonnay.