BALANCING ACTS: Women's Diverse Roles & The Impact On Self-Care [via UPTOWN Magazine]

In case you missed it - as of last month, I officially got on-board with UPTOWN Magazine as a contributing writer. Because I lost all power thanks to the crazy storm in Toronto last night, I didn't get to finish the piece that I wanted to post today - however, I thought I'd re-up my first piece for UPTOWN! This is one that I have to repeatedly read to myself as a reminder to work towards better balance and self-care. Take a read and let me know what you think!


image via shutterstock

The lyrical enchantress known as Erykah Badu once sang, “Been such a long time/I forgot that I was fine” - and for me in this moment, truer words have never been spoken.

In my hopeful naïveté, I always thought I’d be one of those women who would always have everything together. I thought that once I got all the pieces of life in place (happy relationship, fulfilling career, great friendships, healthy lifestyle, etc.), I’d be able to maintain and side-step the gaping hole of “letting oneself go” that I had witnessed other women tumbling into. That won’t be me, I thought – until it was.

With the New York Times reporting that women are more likely to be primary caregivers and are rising as primary breadwinners, women are redefining balance.  Increasing responsibilities, diverse roles, and juggling it all in today’s world means that it’s only natural for some balls to get dropped while focusing on all the others in the air. Thanks to life’s realities my naïve bubble has been burst, but I’m working on doing a better job with my own juggling act.

My mother is a key representation of balance – both the blueprint and the “Don’t try this at home!” model. As one of the key women represented in the NY Times article (a single mother, primary caregiver, and primary breadwinner in subsequent relationships), she exemplified the great ways to maintain balance, and imprinted in my mind the things I wanted to avoid. When she was bad, she was very, very bad – constantly taking on extra shifts at work, turning down opportunities to spend time with friends, and missing out on chances to do the things she loved like traveling and working out. When she was good, she was great – making time to pamper herself, enrolling herself in Continuing Education classes to fulfill personal passions, and finding time to enjoy the mature woman’s dating scene. Though her life’s motto was “Everything I do is for my kids,” my younger siblings and I found her so much more interesting when she did things for herself.

These days, I’ve got a lot on my plate. I try to be am an attentive wife, productive employee, consistent blogger/writer, engaged community builder, household financial planner, dope sister/daughter/friend, and more. Unfortunately, self-care and ‘me time’ have gone right out the window as I work to build an empire, keep bills paid and make others happy. Erykah forgot that she was fine, and I have too. I’ve also forgotten that I love Afro-Cuban dance, working out at home, getting dolled up for dates with my husband, and spending quiet time writing in my journal. So, what can I (and the multitude of women who are experiencing the same thing) do?

It’s simple. Make YOU a priority.

Far too often, we can feel that making ourselves a priority alludes to the neglect of others – and while it’s a hard function to re-wire in our brains, we must. A friend reminded me that when we fly, we’re instructed to put on our oxygen masks before we assist others with theirs – so life must follow a similar principle. When I’m not balanced, I’m not happy. When I’m not happy, I’m not of good service to myself or others.  I’ve resolved to make Bee a priority in order to restore balance, be happier, and have more to offer to the world around me.

This morning I laid in bed and wrote in my journal while singing to Teedra Moses. Next week I’m buying a new blender to get back to making my favorite green smoothies. Tomorrow I’ll be returning to my beloved Afro-Cuban dance classes. The sensuality and passion I feel from dancing will no doubt transfer to my current schleppy appearance. Bright colors in my wardrobe, flirty summer dresses, getting a much overdue  mani-pedi, and taking time to do my hair are all part of my new balancing act.

For many of us, the NY Times are just catching up to a reality that many of us (and our mamas, and our mamas’ mamas) have lived for ages. We’ve been caring for others and bringing home the bread, bacon, and milk for decades. Simply put, we’ve mastered that. We now need to master the art of balance, and ensure that we nourish all aspects of our lives – not just the financial/career/family obligations. Operation Find Your Mojo/Get Fine & Prioritize is on – are you joining me?

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