You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.
When I was in 6th grade, our classroom was visited by the local sheriff to talk to us about drugs, smoking and alcohol. I remember sitting with acute ears as the details dripped in between all the incomplete pieces of data and experiences I had on the subject. Empowered with this knowledge I felt courageous, like I had been given the answers for a crucial component on how to live a life of health, well-being and happiness.
In between classes and on the bus ride home, I feverishly wrote a 4 page letter to my dad with all of my fresh and powerfully potent data on smoking. I highlighted statistics on death and illness and how, if you quit, you can heal. I wrote about how smoking hurts not only the smoker but also those who are exposed to the smoke. I expressed how much I loved my dad and how I wanted him to live to see me grow up and get married and have kids. I pleaded for him to quit in my sweet naive way, from the very depths of my tender 12 year old heart.
When I arrived home from school, with my letter in hand, my legs ran with anticipation up the driveway. As I burst through the door the letter seemed to drift effortlessly into my dad’s lap. “I wrote this for you at school today!” He smiled and carefully opened the letter. He read the entire thing as I sat and watched, waiting, waiting. I was so excited to share with him all that I learned. Surely if he knew how harmful smoking was for him he wouldn’t do it. If not for his wellbeing, then for mine. Out of love.
As he finished reading the last sentence, he looked up and said, “This is nice, but I’m not going to quit smoking. I’m going to die someday anyways.” (which he did at age 65)
The shock on my face is still there to this day. I was crushed. How could someone willingly harm themselves, do something repeatedly that they KNEW would lead to illness and difficult life. And if he didn’t have enough self love to care for his body, what about me? Didn’t he love me enough to care for himself, so he can care for me?
From that point forward my paradigm shifted. My inner self continually contemplated how someone could not care for the sacred temple that we live in, our body? How could one not see how caring for yourself is ultimately caring for those around you? Why would you knowingly do something that is harmful? What brings a person to that point?
This changed me. For good. The way I practice physical therapy, my drive to learn about and practice a deeply wellness focused lifestyle, the desire to create a nature based school with organic school lunch, the creation of an outdoor classroom for a local school, how I create my home, my philosophical journey into the mysteries of self love, my love of yoga and purpose in doing it all comes from this moment, in 6th grade. Amazing really.
From this comes my commitment to cultivating self-love in my self and helping others grow this too. From this comes my desire to not only share ways to live a healthful and whole life but to inspire one to break down the barriers that prevent one from living that way. From this comes my way of being in the world.
What can you do to take better care of the beautiful body that you were given? How can you heal what is getting in your way?