• She Selfish

Who Do You Love?


During the month of February, there are many celebrations.


We celebrate Black History Month to acknowledge the contributions that Black people have made to the United States (#BlackHistoryIsAmericanHistory) and the world.


People get excited about Ground Hog’s Day because Punxsutawney Phil—the all-knowing rodent who resides in Pennsylvania—annually reveals whether we will have six more weeks of winter or an early spring.


Then there is Barack Obama Day. I mean, Presidents’ Day. (LOL!)


Between the start of Black History Month on February 1st and National Chili Day on February 24th (Yes! That is a real celebration!), we have the love holiday: Valentines’ Day. The day we buy gifts, send cards and otherwise shower our affection on that special someone in our life.


On the other hand, some of us are waiting to be invited to dinner. Or to receive a bouquet of flowers. Or to enjoy the gift of a delicious box of chocolates. What if the invitation for dinner isn’t extended? What if the flowers aren’t delivered? What if the box of chocolates never arrives?


Far too many of us are waiting for others to express their love to us. And if those expressions of love aren’t present in our lives, we are left feeling empty.


And sad.


And lonely.


Well, in anticipation of Valentine’s Day, I want to pose a question: Who do you love?


Your list might include a spouse or significant other.

Your children.

Your mom and dad.

Your nieces and nephews.

Your BFF.

Heck, your family dog, cat or goldfish may even make the list!


But did YOU make the list?


When you think of all the people that you love…

All the ones you shower with affection…

All the ones who are the recipients of your time and attention…


Do you show that same love…to yourself?


As I speak to women all across this country, it has become clear to me that we (Yes, I am including myself!) find it easier to do for others, to serve others, to show love to others… but we don’t always do the same for ourselves. As women, we have been to be “nurturers.” While we can always find time to take care of others, many of us have lost ourselves in the process. We put everyone else’s needs before our own. Our commitment to these ongoing acts of selflessness are impacting us in ways we don’t even realize.


As we strive to meet society’s definition of success, climb the corporate ladder, manage our relationships, raise our children, and serve our communities, we neglect ourselves.

We "pretend” that we have it all together, but as a result of the chaotic lives we are leading, we suffer: physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.


We must make self-care a priority!


If we don’t take care of ourselves, we will be unable to take care of anyone or anything else. After years of living a life that was overscheduled and overcommitted, I became overwhelmed. Then, I decided to make ME a priority. And while initially I felt guilty about putting ME first, I soon noticed some very positive changes. As I moved from chaos to calm, KaeLyn and Syron’s mom wasn’t so stressed. Sylvester’s wife wasn’t so aggravated. But most importantly, I felt better about ME!


In order to move from chaos to calm, you must understand that it is both acceptable and necessary to make yourself a priority in your own life. While this may sound hard or perhaps even unrealistic, here are three reasons why you should:


Reason #3:


The way you lead your life is an example to those around you.


One afternoon my daughters invited me to watch a movie with them. As they sorted through the DVDs, I left the room in search of a basket of laundry. (Yes, you read that right: DVDs. OK. This was a while back. But hang with me. The message is still relevant!). I figured that as long as I was sitting on the couch, I might as well fold clothes. When I returned with the basket, my oldest daughter said, “Mommy, just watch the movie! Don’t do any work!”


At that moment, I thought about the lessons I had been teaching my daughters:


Mommy always had to do something.


Mommy’s chores were never done.


Mommy can only watch TV if she is also completing a task.


That is not the way I wanted my girls to view my role as a wife and mother. Yet, that was the exact lesson my actions were teaching. If you don’t have daughters, what lessons you are teaching your sons? That the wife is always in motion? That the mother can never relax? If you have no children, what are the lessons that your life is teaching the younger generation of girls and boys who are watching? That it is the responsibility of women, mothers, grandmothers, aunts and sisters to be in constant motion, in service to others, and always putting themselves last?


We must make self-care a priority!


Reason #2:


When you lead a balanced life, it will positively impact those around you.


I am a proponent of the concept of TiME: Time for ME!


I am intentional about identifying those things that bring ME joy…and then, actually doing them. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I wasn’t always this bold. As a matter of fact, the first time I decided to make myself a priority, I ran away from home to do it! My family thought that I was on a business trip, when in actuality, I had checked into a hotel. It was the first of many “PMS Weekends” that I have taken over the years. Just to be clear—PMS stands for Pamper MySelf!


When I give myself the gift of TiME, when I schedule a PMS Weekend, I return renewed, restored, and revitalized. This is not just good for me, it is good for everyone around me.


It has been said, “When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Conversely, when mama is healthy, happy, and whole, everyone reaps the benefits.


We must make self-care a priority!


And finally…


Reason #1


On planes and in life, it is important to put your mask on FIRST!


Whenever I fly, I am reminded of the importance of taking care of myself…FIRST. Regardless of the distance or destination of the flight, the safety instructions are always the same:


In the unlikely event of a change in cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from the compartment above your head. Put your mask on FIRST, and then assist those around you.


While the woman-mother-nurturer in me would instinctively act to help others before helping myself, such a choice might very likely lead to my demise. The same is true in life: If we are constantly giving to others, but not giving to ourselves; if we are toiling to make sure everyone else’s life is comfortable and in order, while our own is in disarray; if we are focused on those around us while making ourselves an afterthought, then we are depleting ourselves. Over time, this selfless way of living will be detrimental to lives.


Although I don’t know you or your story, I do know this:


YOU must make self-care a priority!


Self-care is not a luxury.


It is a necessity!


As we celebrate Valentine’s Day—the day when we focus on those we love—take a moment to love on yourself.


Because self-care is an act of LOVE.


Who do YOU love?


By Karen M.R. Townsend, Ph.D.

President/CEO

KTownsend Consulting

As the president and CEO of KTownsend Consulting, Karen M.R. Townsend, Ph.D. works with leaders across the country in their efforts to promote diversity by equipping them to create inclusive environments and build high-performing teams. Her goal is to help her clients live and lead…confidently. While she loves this work, Dr. Karen is equally as passionate about serving women. She is the founder of About My Sisters—an organization on a mission to empower one million women and girls. She is also the author of the best-selling book It All Started When I Stopped Using Lotion: One Woman’s Journey From Chaos to Calm (Available at https://tinyurl.com/TheLotionBook2022).For more information on her programs, or to schedule a complimentary Discovery Session, contact Dr. Karen at (937) 602-4641 or via email at DrKaren@DrKarenTownsend.com.