Color Your World With Kindness
The Kindnesses We Can Do for Ourselves
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We’ve just finished the "it’s better to give than receive" season. Many of us have made New Year’s resolutions that have us living some part of life with long teeth. And we’re only weeks away from the liturgical season -- Lent -- where many will give up something dear to them for six weeks of penance and self-denial.
So I’m going to turn the tables and talk about giving something to ourselves.
I’ve said before that MS is a thief. It takes more from me than I am willing to give, but it usually doesn’t matter whether I’m willing or not. For that reason, I’ve decided (well, Caryn and I have decided) that we need to be a little bit kinder to ourselves.
After three weeks of holidays and illnesses, our housekeeper is back and I am joyfully writing with the sound of the Hoover whirring and the dogs running from room to room to avoid the same.
It’s an expense we have budgeted and for which we have made sacrifices. We live a pretty frugal life here in Ireland. I say we live simply here so that we can simply live here. This little kindness to ourselves allows us to spend more quality time together.
The same goes for my love of gardening. Hands in the soil is a wonderful way for me to spend several hours even if I’m not feeling all that well. And – let’s face it – I haven’t as far to fall if I’m on my hands and knees. All the pretty annuals can seem a waste of money as they are a one-and-done splash of color.
Rather, I spend money on inexpensive vegetable seeds and start them in old egg cartons in the spare room in March rather than small trays of plants. Even now, in the midst of a January storm, I can look out on a forest of kales, Brussels sprouts, and parsley in our raisedfront beds. That six Euros worth of seeds not only gave me hours of quiet joy in the garden and pounds of vegetables to eat, the shades of green on this dark gray day bring joy to my eyes and heart.
Pedicures for those with MS who find it difficult to attend to their feet can border on requirement, but they can also be of great joy and worth the expense as well. A subscription to a video streaming or music service can afford hours of entertainment even if moving from one room to the next is a chore.
We spend one Euro per week on a bag of carrots so that I can feed the neighbor donkeys a little treat, and I share a bit of the oats I use for porridge with the heifers who are wintering in the field behind the house. If you’ve never seen a donkey foal skipping across a field to collect her carrot or felt the strong, rough tongue of a Holstein Friesian licking your hand, you may not think of it as a kindness to yourself, but trust me, it is.
Sometimes MS and the "big" issues of life can make it seem like there is no way we can spend time, energy, or money on something for ourselves. I say that it needn’t be a lot of money, it needn’t take much energy, and we all have the same 24 hours in a day. How we choose to spend them is what makes all the difference.
I look at these little expenses as an investment in myself as they make me a better person to share with those around me as well.
I spend 10 or 12 hours a week, for example, working on this blog for our community. I think of that as a kindness to myself as well. And it doesn’t cost me a cent.
How about you? What do you do for yourself that makes you a better person for others in your life?
Wishing you and your family the best of health.
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