By Brenda Grays, I Start Wondering Columnist
Life has its way of making or breaking you. Especially in these days of a worldwide health crisis that affects many of us personally, many also are facing various upsetting and stressful aspects in our personal life.
Fear is an unfortunate development of all this pressure in our lives. We all handle fear in different ways. Over the last year or so, I have certainly learned to push through obstacles that trigger my fear and interrupt my peace.
Some people are introverts with extrovert qualities and know how to function effectively in a fearful world with other people. But like Oprah Winfrey said, “I am happiest when I can come back home and cocoon.” Home is where I find my strength and restore my soul.
We have to move out of fear because of how it affects us, leading to negative consequences for our bodies and our minds. And if we don’t calm this fire, fear is what we will take back into the world. Fear preoccupies us and any messages our inner selves want to tell us about finding our true calling get lost.
I’ve found my true path to be helping others. Helping others lets me realize that I can grow spiritually when I can put my minor issues and problems to the side and help someone else who is going through a difficult situation. Someone somewhere needs hope, so I try to spark a light for them.
Over the years, I found wisdom from various sources on silencing fear and helping others:
Learn to be quiet—the quieter you become, the more you can hear. Proverbs 18:21 puts it this way: “The Power of Life and death is in the tongue. The stakes are high, your words can either speak life, or your words can speak death. It only takes a few words to hurt someone; wounds heal but they leave scars that never disappear.”
Learn to own and maximize the moment. Life coach Simon T. Bailey encourages us to “Look yourself in the mirror and rededicate your mind, soul, body, and spirit. It is now or never!”
Make a plan. “Staying focused on a project or plan is one of the most difficult challenges we face,” inspirational teacher Iyanla Vanzant says. “There is always the house to clean, calls to make, laundry to fold, and deadlines to meet. Actually, there is only one thing that keeps us from our goals - lack of focus. And very often, lack of focus is caused by fear.”
Self-Care and Thinking about Purpose
During the last year, I thought deeply about my purpose. I asked myself, “What is my passion?”
My answer became very clear, due in part to how close I am to retirement. I have built a large toolbox of skills and talent over the last 30 years, so why not use what I have developed and make it work for my future, focusing on health and beauty?
Self-care is an important habit that helps me be my best self in my daily interactions. My self-care approach focuses on mental, physical, and spiritual growth, all of which are essential to my well-being. Caring for myself helps me to realize that I cannot do anything for anyone until I take care of myself first.
As I looked for my purpose, I started to realize that I love to motivate people and encourage them to be healthy while also focusing on my own self-care. Exercise and other wellness choices have always been self-care practices that I rely on daily.
To that end, I was certified as a Zumba instructor in November 2019, but the opportunity to instruct classes was delayed when COVID hit. I stayed hopeful and was contacted by the City of College Station’s Lincoln Recreation Center Director Cheletia Johnson, who was looking to eventually expand the center’s health and wellness program.
Fast forward to May 2021, when the COVID pandemic calmed down enough for me to begin to teach classes. Additionally, I am now teaching at Trufit Gym as an instructor and at Texas A&M Engineering and Extension Service. I also am a Mary Kay consultant, which ties health and beauty together. I am passionate about both because I can help others appreciate and value how important it is to have self-care.
Finding Peace and Maintaining Your True Self
You might wonder what finding peace and maintaining your true self have to do with self-care. The answer is that sometimes we lose our way—and it’s only through caring for ourselves that we can find our way forward.
I have always known in my heart that self-care is important. No matter how scary, no matter the cost, I knew I needed to dig deeper to find my true purpose. I needed to go inside myself to find the answers.
Sometimes we are afraid to make a change—to take a risk. I invite you to try these questions, which I often ask myself:
What would I do, even if nobody paid me to do it?
What makes me come alive?
The answer for me was helping others. What is your answer?
If you can’t specifically say at this moment what your life calling is, don’t worry. Just know you will have your a-ha moment when both your mind and spirit are at peace.
Taking care of yourself is not selfish, it’s self-full. Reconnect to your health. Protect yourself, mind, body, and soul--feed into all three. Find your place of serenity. Then ask yourself, “What is my life like today?” Be honest, reflect, and think about the barriers you are facing. Don’t neglect yourself; other people’s happiness doesn’t depend on you. BEING YOUR BEST IS GOOD ENOUGH!
To help you move forward, I want to offer a few nuggets that I turn to when practicing self-care:
Take a moment each morning and thank God for another day.
Be mindful of your self-talk. Look yourself in the mirror every morning and tell yourself, “I AM SOMEBODY! I AM BEAUTIFUL! I AM MORE THAN ENOUGH!”
Eat healthy…and splurge on the weekends.
Exercise (walk, go to the gym, take Zumba or Hip-hop classes, meditate)
Most importantly, take time to enjoy life!