Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A-Z Challenge: F - First Things First

They tell you when you are on an airplane to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, and then your child or companion. It's a valuable lesson - put yourself first. At 62, I am finally learning to do this. In the past, everyone else mattered much more than me. Oh, you want you see that movie - sure, it doesn't matter that I've wanted to see such and such forever.  Sure we can go for Mexican food, even though there is nothing I can eat on the menu. You want me to drop everything and come over to talk. Well, this is one where it may be okay to let go of your own needs to help a friend, as long as it's not all the time and one-sided.

I have a list of things I want to accomplish each day. In the past, the list was a mile long. Now, there are six: exercise, blog, write, practice singing, practice piano, and do my knee exercises. The only ones that aren't absolutely mandatory are writing, singing, piano and blogging. If I am to remain a healthy person, I have to walk and do my knee stuff. But If I don't sing and write, I am miserable, so those are mandatory as well. Blogging is part of what I do as a writer, so that's kind of important as well. So, I do what feels most important in a given moment. I am finding that works.

Putting first things first helps keep the priorities where they need to be.
Blessings,
Karen

30 comments:

welcome to my world of poetry said...

It's strange you should write about this as only last week after being hurt by my son who could not be bothered to wish me a Happy Mother's Day( we celebrate ours earlier than yours) I thought to my self "You Can Be Everything To Others But Nothing To Yourself"
I have helped my family in anyway I can in the past and I think it's about time to think about myself more, I love my family very much but there comes a time when they have to stand on their own to feet. I wouldn't like to see them stressed out about anything but I was hurt and still am.
Yvonne.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

If you don't take care of yourself, how can you help anyone else?

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I SWEAR, you and I must have been separated at birth! Evidently, the parents who raised you didn't ingrain the self-denial quite as deeply, though, because I'm still working on it. Even when I was recovering from serious surgery, I was still determined to take care of everyone else. When a dear friend made me a cup of tea, I actually cried. So, oh yeah, I understand what you're saying! Great post.

Sharon Lippincott said...

I call that the Aunt Lois syndrome, and I often find myself in Aunt Lois mode. Two days before she died of cancer, her son handed her a prescription to have filled for him. Lest anyone be harsh on him, she had spent his whole life teaching him to be that clueless.

Not too long ago I realized that I could ask nicely for what I want, ask for a TURN. Well, gosh, why didn't I think of that sooner? Now I often feel like someone handed me a magic wand. Sweet!

Karen Walker said...

Yvonne, oh how I feel that mother pain. I am so sorry you are so hurt. What helped me with my son was to have no expectations.
Diane, that's so true and my whole point. We HAVE to take care of ourselves.
Susan, I'm an only child, but maybe my Dad had some fun before he got married!
Sharon, love that image of being handed a magic wand.
Karen

Laura Eno said...

I think women (especially in our age group) have had a tough time breaking away from the martyrdom but it's so important to look after oneself first. Yay, you!

KarenG said...

Such a good post. Setting priorities is so crucial. And then they change regularly as well.

GigglesandGuns said...

GOOD FOR YOU! Learning to say what I want/need has been difficult for me as well.
My list is three things. When I've completed them each day I take on something else -- one thing at a time.

Talli Roland said...

A great reminder, Karen! Sometimes in our quest to make those around us happy, we forget about ourselves, too.

Melissa Sarno said...

I love this post because sometimes we forget to put ourselves first and it's not healthy. I love that you sing and play piano every day. I wish I could make time for that in addition to my writing and exercising. Dumb day job gets in the way :-)

Liz Fichera said...

A wonderful reminder! (Piano is on my daily list too, although I don't play it nearly enough.)

Karen Walker said...

Laura, ah yes, martyrdom - sigh!
KarenG, yes it's important to be flexible, isn't it?
Giggles and Guns, sounds like a good plan.
Talli, yeah, this was a hard one for me to get.
Melissa, I'm lucky I don't have a day job anymore. If I did, there's no way I could do those things.
Liz, it's the one thing on my to-do list I truly look forward to.
Karen

Anne K. Albert said...

Sound advice...I need to do more to stay healthy. Thanks for a great post.

Lauracea said...

A post that hits home. I remember years ago a friend saying she was about to be 60 and that she'd reached a time when she couldn't be bothered to be nice to people who didn't deserve it any more. It sounded right then, and it does now.

Manzanita said...

My granddaughter would congratulate you. We just talked about that very same thing this morning. She's been going to a class to learn thow to stop
being a doormat.
Love and Peace

Karen Walker said...

Anne, you are welcome
Lauracea, that sounds right to me as well.
Manzanita, wow,what kind of class is that?
Karen

Laura said...

Great post... makes you wonder how many times a day we put others first and visa versa and what would be a good balance. Nice to meet you too. Lxx

L.G.Smith said...

Good for you. I actually think putting yourself first makes you healthier and better able to respond to others, if that makes sense. I don't mean in a selfish way, but by taking care of yourself you're happier and feel less put upon by others. I guess balance is the key.

sandy axelrod said...

You really do have to take care of yourself first and then you can take care of everyone who needs you. I have never thought of myself as a writer and yet now that is what I am doing. I'm working on two cookbook/memoirs and learning how to write articles for magazines so that I can hopefully earn some money as my husband and I travel the country. We plan on eating and cooking our way across America.

Lynn said...

So true! I have my top-three priorites, but sometimes one will take precedence over another out of a wise choice, instead of force. That is the difference now that I am older.

Fourth Grade Teacher said...

I love "first things first!" It always reminds me instantly of the other one -- easy does it (but do it!). Thank you for stopping by Pawny's Pen! I'm so glad I found your blog!

Retired Knitter said...

Hi Karen

Thank you for visiting my blog. And now that I have visited yours and read your a to z e I knew I had to follow you. Such thoughtful posts.

I'll be back for sure.

Elaine
Retired knitter

Karen Walker said...

Laura, I don't think I want to know...
L.G., yes, it absolutely does make you healthier - I can attest to that.
Sandy, thanks so much and good luck with your two books.
Lynn, whoever said older is wiser was so right!
Fourth Grade teacher - ditto
Retired Knitter, you are so welcome. And thank you.
Karen

Holly Ruggiero said...

It’s so easy to forget to take care of ourselves. There is a desire to make everyone happy, but to make them truly happy we need to be happy ourselves.

Bob Sanchez said...

Take good care of yourself, Karen. Keep singing and writing.

Claire Goverts said...

Wonderful post. It is to easy to forget ourselves if we are to focused on doing things for others.

Jules said...

This is one I have yet to learn and now I pay the price. I'm starting to catch on though, just a bit slow :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Jemi Fraser said...

Great advice! I have to get better at this!

Melissa Dean said...

Wonderful post! Glad I found you and thanks for following me, too. I have been teaching my students to put first things first this week. I'm with you. Writing, Singing and blogging are musts!

Christine said...

Oh you are so right. I know I have to look after myself or else I'm no use to anyone else. And part of looking after myself is giving myself space and time in which to grow... yes, even later in life we need to carry on acquiring new skills and developing new interests. I'm giving up the guilt trips.