GRITS in Paradise – A Little Something about Self-Care

You’d probably think that living on the Big Island of Hawaii is a form of self-care. And you’d be right. The decision to move here was a big one, and there were plenty of fears and worries to consider. The move was, literally, a huge leap—across the Pacific Ocean, no less—and not without its challenges. It wasn’t easy, but we’re glad we had the courage to leap into the great unknown, and we haven’t regretted it. We love it here.

But wherever you go, you’re still there, and life’s challenges don’t miraculously go away just because you’re living in paradise. It still takes courage and commitment to maintain a healthy balance of work and play, solitude and social interaction, relaxation and striving to meet goals that make a difference in your own life and the lives of others.

Struggles still arise, some of them reaching out from the mainland to pull us off-kilter. Island life comes with its own stresses: Products and services are often harder to find here, and some are unavailable altogether. Healthcare is a challenge. It took months to make an appointment with a doctor, and to see a dentist sooner than a year from now, we will have to fly to Oahu.

We are surrounded by beauty: from where I’m sitting on the lanai right now, I can see three different kinds of orchids in bloom. The temperature is perfect, and there’s always a refreshing breeze coming in over the ocean. But that makes it easy to stay house-bound, and I could be perfectly content to stay home and accomplish nothing but working in the garden. Even here, I have to force myself to go out and have fun.

The dogs (and Hans) encourage me to walk to the tide pools or the beach on a regular basis. Friends encourage me to step out of my comfort zone and go dancing or make new friends at potluck gatherings. The almost daily rain that swoops in for a short while sends me inside to make the difficult decision whether to write or clean the bathrooms.

I still have to choose to make time for meditation and yoga and making art. I still have to choose to be kind to myself, to say NO enough times to preserve my free time and my sanity, to say YES enough times to live a full and interesting life.  My one-and-only New Year’s Resolution was to have fun. If it ain’t fun, I ain’t doing it. (Well, except for cleaning the bathrooms. Some un-fun things are non-negotiable.)

Self-care is a daily, or even minute-to-minute commitment we must make for ourselves. It never just happens. It’s a practice, and the word says it all. It’s not 100% attainable; we can only strive to do better. We all know what we should be doing for our own good, but giving ourselves permission to spend time on self-care is hard, and forgiving ourselves when we fail is even harder.

I was talking with a friend about all this the other day, and she told me a trick she uses: She sets an alarm on her phone that reminds her several times a day to read and reflect on a positive affirmation she has written that pops up with the alarm. I’ve installed mindfulness apps on my phone, but none that really stuck. Maybe if I wrote my own affirmations and set an alarm, I’d be more likely to do it. Maybe. I’m highly motivated but intrinsically lazy, so it’s always a toss-up whether motivation or laziness will win.

I will say that I found one nugget of truth today; sometimes it’s enough to take a few moments to appreciate something small that’s right with your life. A great cup of coffee, an orchid that’s blooming, a Gold Dust Day Gecko that’s finally decided to partake of the jelly and grape buffet I’ve been setting out in baby food caps along the lanai railing. (He still won’t let me get close enough to take a picture. That’s a worthy goal for another day.)

Wherever you go, you’re still there, and a high level of self-care may not be easy to maintain. But there’s always time to appreciate the small, fleeting things that bring happiness, and that’s self-care, too.

One Response

  • Thank you for those words. Right now I am being pulled from every direction. It seems everyone needs something from me. Finding me time is all but impossible
    I am going to try harder to take a few minutes from each day to just breathe and relax.
    Also, I really enjoy your beautiful pictures of Hawaii and family

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