be the right kind of selfish

pioneer trek

Be selfish.

Be selfish with your time and be gentle with yourself.

When you're slogging through the mess of life it's ok to be selfish.  Well, not literally selfish.  Not seeking your own profit and pleasure. Instead, taking a moment to turn inward and care of your most basic needs.

Last weekend Mr. Scabs and I were part of a pioneer trek for the youth in our church.  For three days we lived like the Mormon Pioneers of 1856.  A tribute to those who have gone before.  There were so many amazing experiences that I've logged away in my brain and journal.  But what I want to tell you know is what I learned about our bodies.

That first day was brutal.  We pushed and pulled a heavy pioneer handcart (not unlike many of the burdens we carry) up and down hills, over rocks and through deep sand.  At lunch we chewed on a dry biscuit and beef jerky and washed it all down with a glass of water.

That was all we ate.

We were told the first days trek was 11 miles.   After the sun went down and the lanterns were lit and the temperature dropped below freezing we began to wonder when the end would come (do you ever feel like this).  During the last dark, lonely 5 miles the tell tell signs of exhaustion began to set in:  dry heaving, cold sweats, headaches, one kid even wet his pants.

Through the trees we finally saw the burning of camp fires but it was bitter cold.  And when we stopped and rounded our wagons, all we could do was sit on the frosty ground and hang our heads.  Depleted.  Work still needed to be done.  We needed to gather firewood and try and start a with flint and steel.  We needed to pitch tents and try to make something to eat out of potatoes and canned chicken.  Our fingers worked so slowly in the frozen midnight air, too slowly.  Half the kids went to bed without dinner and without warming themselves by the fire.

Then next day was much of the same exhaustion except we shared a carrot for lunch.  A carrot.  

That second night I built a roaring fire.  Mr. Scabs chopped enough wood to last the night and I began to cook and prepare all the food we had been given.  We had tortillas, beans, beef and even some peach cobbler.  

The next morning, as the kids stepped one by one from the tent, I could see the difference good food and good sleep made. Even with two hard days behind them and one more hard day ahead, they were prepared and refreshed.

So this is what I say to us who are weary and exhausted and unsure of the end; be selfish.

Eat healthy food, get the right amount of sleep, shower, exercise.  Make sure you do these things for you. Focus on one step at a time.  Listen to your feelings.  If you are spiritual, pray/meditate.  Clarify yourself so you can more fully listen to your heart, and then, be brave and act.

Find a therapist and find a friend you can share everything with.  Don't be afraid to feel every terrible, ugly, weird, funny feeling that will comes your way.  Work through each feeling and when you are ready, the uncomfortable feelings will leave and be replaced by positive, light and loving feelings.

Be selfish with your time and be gentle with yourself.  Say no to outside obligations.  Keep life simple.  You will need the strength of simplicity to carry you.

Pick up a selfish hobby. For me it was yoga.  For u it might be reading or painting or knitting.  Do something productive for you.  

Use detachment.  I used it as a main tool for survival.  Detaching allowed me enough distance from my husband to be an observer.  Then, I watched him and listened and cultivated enormous amounts of patience.  I corrected him when I needed to but mostly, I stayed out of the way.  I stayed out of the way and I let what happen happen.  This way I was able to have a broader scope and a better place to make decisions from.

Being the right kind of selfish will prepare and refresh you for tomorrow.  

And, when you are refreshed you will know what to do next.