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Self-Care at its Finest

When I was 11 years old I recited my favourite poem, The Cremation of Sam Mcgee by Robert Service in front of my grade 5 class. I had my friend Ashley dim the lights to set the mood.  I was about to speak the lines of this classic poem with a gusto that only an over-achieving child looking for the approval of her peers could muster.

Nervous stomach cramps haunted my lower abdomen. The soft hum of uninterested children made me second guess my decision to select a poem about dragging a dead man halfway across the Yukon but it was too late for recourse, the show must go on!

And so I began;

“There are strange things done in the midnight sun, by the men who moil for gold…” To this day I am certain that when reciting this particular poem it is all in the deliverance of this first line. It is a whispered line, a secret that you are letting your listeners in on.

I looked out to my audience and knew at once that I had them hooked. Hawzaa!

They were listening, and dare I say enjoying, this strange string of rhymes.  I placed the book I was reading from on the table in front of me for I didn’t really need it. Everything I needed at that moment was safely stored in my memories of Grandpa Bert and me practicing this poem for days on end the previous summer.

We would sit in the backyard, shaded by trees while Grandma Curry weeded her garden and smiled at the two of us. We were constantly trying to one-up the other with the theatrics that naturally came along with this particular poem. Those warm summer afternoons with my grandpa were the best acting classes I could have asked for.

This was my “ah ha” moment as The Oprah would call it. The moment when I knew that I loved to be in front of a room full of people. It was the moment I knew for sure that creating and performing were my jam. Although, I’m pretty sure “jam” still just meant a sugary topping for toast back then.

I believe that everyone knows, by the time they are 10 what they like to do and what they do not like to do.

I knew I’d never be a famous athlete; my stout frame, strong aversion to competitive situations and intense love of cheese and crackers made me steer clear of these types of extracurricular activities from a very young age. It is pretty amazing how self-actualized young people are. We just need to listen to them seriously once in a while to find out about this stuff.

I bask in the days I am given the time and temperament to sit and listen to my son Lars, and daughter, Sophie chatter about who they are and what they think about the serious issues going on at their school and in their group of friends.

Right now Sophie says she will be a veterinarian by day and an artist working on all sorts of abstract animal paintings and sculptures by night. She knows she prefers artwork that is a little abstract. She is pretty sure she can read animal’s minds because she always knows how they are feeling. As she speaks, her eyes are wide with hopes and dreams for this important and extensive future. She is ready to dream and I love to watch as her imagination shapes the path ahead.

Lars loves comedy. He is a funny man with a big heart. I don’t think he quite understands it yet, but it is, in fact, his huge empathetic personality which makes him such a fine comedian. He is a watcher of the world and he can re-purpose the happenings he witnesses into funny and interesting anecdotes. Almost every day he tells me how much he loves jokes.

Sophie and Lars know what they like and they dream of a future involving these aspects.

It’s really the best thing we can do, isn’t it? It is the human condition at its finest. Allowing ourselves the acknowledgment of the things which make us happy and whole. It is scraping together a few minutes each morning to tend the herbs and small plants you have sitting atop your window ledge before setting off to your desk job. It is the immaculate job you do on your best friend’s hair and make-up before a fun night out. It is writing poetry on your lunch break and speaking with gusto and courage while reciting it later that night at your local poetry hub. It is the knowledge that even if you do not have the means (right now) to have a career in the thing that you love, it is always possible to feed your passion.

When I was eleven years old I didn’t know that one day I would own a sandwich shop with my best friend. I didn’t know or ever imagine in my wildest dreams, that my best friend would be a boy with whom I would end up marrying. I didn’t know how hard and scary and wonderful life could be. But I did know that I would recite, and write and always do the creative things that fuel me.

As I stood in front of my peers in that grade 5 classroom and recited my favourite weird poem I beamed with accomplishment. Now, twenty some years later I still remember this moment and how it made me feel.

I don’t think we should ask small children what they want to be when they grow up. Instead, I think we should ask them what they are now. What are their str

engths, what are their passions? What excites them and gives them the courage to try something new?

The reality is, we are always changing. We are always growing and ideas flit through our brains like fireflies in starlight. If we are healthy and courageous in

dividuals we will try to be many things as we mature and “grow up”. But for most, by the time we are 8, 9, and 10 years old we are beginning to shape ourselves as our own individual h

uman beings. We are learning what drives us and makes us, us. I think THAT is what we should be nurturing in our children. The job titles are just logistics, changing cour

When we stop worrying so much about the specifics of our children’s future and start focusing on growing them from the inside first, this is what will cultivate a happy and healthy next generation. Knowing our inside self is a long forgotten necessity that is key in blazing the trail for our future selves. It is self-care at its finest.se hundreds of times before reaching eighteen years old and that is okay.


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