Tóg go Bog é, or Getting my Sparkle Back

Tóg go bog é means “take it easy” in Irish (literally “take it softly”).

Partly because of age (ahem!) and experience, but also the ethos of the charity, ACET, that I work for, I am pretty good at self care.

Working with people at the margins, usually in extremely difficult situations, we need to be able to help them take steps toward their own care, and to mind ourselves. We recognize the importance of a good chat, and allow for that in our day. We know the value of being at table together, so our team meetings always involve food. We remind each other to find the beauty around us, to take moments in our busy schedules to stop12144845_10153778878573933_6329173515545379114_n and just be. When I returned after my eight month break, there again was the reminder written on the whiteboard in the office: Beginning, middle, end, rest – find a rhythm to projects and days, be mindful to follow a task or challenge through without giving up, but also take time at the end to just pause. That could be a 15 minute break after a care call or a challenging admin task, or it could be a day away after a longer project or busy time.

Even though I am aware of taking care of myself, in this season of caring for others not only was it hard to see the middle and the end, but hard to find the rest. I made an effort to get out for exercise and fresh air, and that did help, but it didn’t stop the knots forming in the middle of my back, which quickly enough began to to be obvious with pain, that great attention-getter, and numbness in my arm and hand.

And now, how to rest at the end of a challenging and wonderful season and before the next? How to pause while simultaneously getting people back to school, myself back into office rhythm, and the house and garden back to how I know it? Back to routine, back to keeping this household ticking over. Where is the rest in that?

Since I cannot take a holiday, taking care of me in this season means:

  • saying no to most extras. Just because we’re settling into work, school and activities, doesn’t mean we have to do everything that’s out there.
  • getting physio for my back and shoulders, and doing the exercises. It really is working, and I’m feeling much better for it, in my body and in my head.
  • watching what I eat. A new Facebook group for losing a bit of weight before Christmas is helping keep me accountable, and motivated when all other resolve fails.
  • listening to my Fitbit and getting in my 10,000 steps and active minutes – or at least trying to! Reminders to move are always good.
  • getting to bed earlier. Okay, this one is still in progress, but when I do manage it, the rest is so worth it.
  • getting out for fresh air. One of my favourite places featured in my latest blog post, but even in my own neighbourhood I can go for a ramble, and the Irish autumn has been very kind so far.
  • remembering to be thankful. I have much to be grateful for.

It’s taken me a long time to write this piece, partly because I still am feeling draggy and don’t have the energy to put into it – somewhat ironically I guess – but I also don’t feel like saying “Here I am, bouncing back!” when I actually feel like it’s more of an uphill climb.

Yet in the last week I felt a difference, so I asked myself “Why now?”

It wasn’t one big change, but a few key things: a lovely craft morning reminded me about crochet and set me off with not one, but two projects that I am loving seeing progress; beautiful flowers newly planted in my pots and hanging baskets bring an abundance of cheery colour when I approach my front door or look out my back; a visit to the Dublin Flea Market with a good friend was a revitalizing time of browsing, finding good bargains and reminiscing over past ones, then back to mine for coffee and another inspection of those deals; a hanging out, catching up evening with a neighbour and good friend who’s life is also very busy at the moment was just one more thing to enjoy.

Projects, deals and craft mornings.

And so I move on, finding a different rhythm, watching for beauty around me, remembering to breathe.

A few links to send you on your way:

For those in Dublin, The Wellness Clinic offers self-care workshops through URBANMAMA.

Around the Table Crafts does craft workshops.

The Dublin Flea Market is in Newmarket Square the last Sunday of every month and not only has great bargains, but some pretty tasty falafel too.

The “Drink from the same cup” reminder on the whiteboard isn’t a literal instruction, but a reminder of sharing the journey with people, a reference to our 20th anniversary collection of stories, Drinking from the Same Cup.



7 thoughts on “Tóg go Bog é, or Getting my Sparkle Back

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