This photo is from a moment I won’t ever forget. It captures one of the formal nights on our recent Caribbean cruise – Bill and I made reservations in the ship’s specialty Asian restaurant, Silk Harvest.
The dim lighting, rich ambience, peaceful atmosphere, and soothing sounds of cultural music with water fountains did me in. And if that wasn’t enough, our lovely waiter, Corsino, waltzed over to greet us and announce that he would be taking fantastic care of us that night. His soft gentleman-like voice, laser-focused eye contact, and welcoming body language spoke a thousand stories to me. It felt as though a knight rode up on a white horse.
For a moment, I wasn’t even sure that I deserved such all-encompassing pampering treatment.
I had to use everything within me to hold back from breaking down as he spoke to us.
As soon as Corsino headed back to the kitchen, though (on his imaginary horse), I lost it.
Bill knows me all too well and didn’t even flinch when I started to cry. He knew what this was all about.
My need to be cared for
There’s something at the core of my being that so deeply appreciates being taken care of. I’m not talking about the type of care where I’d want someone else to do something for me that I could do on my own. I’m not talking about shirking my independence (which I love) or my responsibility for my own life. And I’m not talking about selfishness.
I’m talking about the intrinsic, basic human need to be loved, to be cared for, to be valued, to be tended to, to be honored, to be treated special.
I’m so grateful to have grown up in a family where I felt very loved. So, as Bill Murray’s character said in Caddyshack: “So I got that goin’ for me…which is nice.” And if you’ve read one ounce of this blog, you know that I’ve got the best husband. In the world. So, it’s all good. It’s not like I’m lacking.
So what was the big deal?
Recently I figured out what the crux of all this emotion was for me. As I was leading a time management workshop full of business women, I told the group that often times – especially for women – it’s so easy to take care of everyone and everything else, that we lose sight of ourselves in the process. In coaching my clients, I see it over and over again.
This time when I said it out loud, though, I realized that I’m talking about myself here, too.
Now, I’m pretty good at knowing what my needs are and communicating those needs (Bill will tell you that’s true). But because I’m hard-wired to think of other people, to anticipate their individual needs, to put myself in their shoes, to cheer them on, to genuinely desire for them to succeed – and because my profession focuses on it – I have to pay extra special attention to my need to be nurtured…the way I inherently care for others.
I literally melt when someone goes the extra mile for me. Or intentionally acknowledges me. Or takes extra special care of me. Or goes out of their way to say something nice. Or cheers me on in who I am. Or gives me the thumbs-up on a blog post or leaves a supportive comment. With me, none of it goes unnoticed, and it’s deeply appreciated. These little gestures carry me for a long time.
Did you read the post Opening Yourself Up To Receiving where I got to be a VIP for a day? I have to consistently remind myself to stay open to letting all the good stuff in. I need it. And I bet you do, too.
I love this shot of me early in the morning about to board our flight, pre-cruise, headed for Fort Lauderdale. I love it because the joy in my face is palpable:
In this moment, I knew what lie just hours ahead of me once I boarded the cruise ship – ultimate pampering and being fully taken care of…for a whole week! And of course in Michelle fashion, the tears came as soon as I stepped aboard the Celebrity Solstice. I was welcomed by a crew member who treated me as though I was the only one boarding the ship, and then he handed me a glass of champagne. As I walked further in to the ship, the voice of one of the musicians echoed throughout the atrium as he belted out James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” with his guitar.
Another one of those times I thought I might lose it. :)
We each have a job to do
So. Knowing that this type of ‘care’ is core to my being, it’s up to me to ensure that I get enough of it in my life. I’ve made a list of all the things that speak to that need. I get regular massages – that’s one of my favorite self-care activities. I treat myself to quiet lunches out, just me. And just last night I honored myself by creating a spa atmosphere in our master bathroom: I filled our oversized tub with warm water, lit a ton of candles and turned off the lights, popped in my “Relaxation” CD, and let myself just ‘be’; just be taken care of.
My clients often talk about needing ‘permission’ in order to give to themselves. So this message is for clients, colleagues, friends, and readers:
Give yourself permission to be taken care of and nurtured. Honor yourself and make it non-negotiable. Starting today.
I love this quote by George Bernard Shaw: “Better keep yourself clean and bright. You are the window through which you must see the world.” Perfect.
It’s up to each of us to know what it is that we individually need. It will look different for each person. I LOVE bringing joy to others. And I will continue to do that because it’s what fuels me. It’s what’s central to my being. In order to keep doing that effectively, though, it’s absolutely essential that I give to myself first…so that I’ve got an abundance of reserves to share with others and with the world.
I appreciate all of life. And I’m intentional about every single thing I do. When I write about taking off for the Caribbean, or embarking on a road-trip, or making my favorite concerts a priority – it’s never simply what it seems and should never be taken at face-value. It’s always about me, taking care of me, and tapping into the joy of self-care – so that I can be of better service to the world.
It’s about me following my joy.
And so how about you? What do you need? What will you do to take care of you?