by Nanda Wubs-Huizenga
“This current chapter of my life is called my turn, and I’m unapologetic about it.” This quote resonates with me. As a Wife, Mother, Business Owner and Community Volunteer, I’ve spent my entire adult life meeting the needs of those around me. Somewhere along the way, I lost myself and it took special people to nurture me back to where I needed to be. How about you? Do you give yourself space to be you? Do you have people who nurture you? If not, do you nurture yourself? International Women’s Day is a good day to start reflecting on you!
Last summer was a time of personal reflection and I realized that while meeting the needs of others motivated and inspired me, there was something missing. I forgot to listen to what I needed to be happy and settled far too often. Life was ‘good enough’ and I was blessed with the love of family, goodwill in the community and business success. Yet, I was hurting.
Hurt has a way of disconnecting you. Pain can be so deep that your heart can’t bear to feel anything. When I lost my son to cancer in 2019, grief made me numb. So… I filled my time with more giving. The loss of a child is a pain so unbearable that many cannot overcome it, but I chose to overcome. Today and everyday, I look for things that bring me joy. I do things for myself that nurture my own heart and don’t rely solely on others to do that.
As women, we grieve for many reasons; relationships that are not healthy, loved ones who are suffering, children who are making bad choices, even our aging appearance. I am my own worst critic. As a young mom, I was frustrated and angry a lot, raising four busy boys. The grief and guilt of not living up to my own standard of motherhood took years to overcome. Eventually though, I learned to forgive myself. We can be so understanding with others, but can we be that to ourselves?
Counselling has been an important part of my healing journey. Recently, my therapist asked me to put my hand on my chest and tell myself loving things. “It’s going to be okay; you’ve endured so much…” I didn’t expect the response I had. My chest was warm with emotions and tears poured from my eyes. Often, we bury our emotions just to cope with the busyness and stresses of life. This lesson taught me how important it is to be a friend to myself and not just others.
A short time ago, I felt inspired to post this on Facebook. “Who needs a friend today? I’ll bring you a cup of coffee or some flowers or a beer. You pick! I know we all have times where we need a friend. Just want to put it out there.” One Facebook friend said she needed flowers. Her husband had been battling cancer for a few years and life was hard. Bringing her a beautiful, large bouquet of flowers brought joy to both of us. Do you need someone to bring you flowers? Maybe you just need to take time to smell the roses. Give yourself that pleasure and buy some!
My friend’s life is still hard, but a moment of joy broke through her hardship. I don’t know what hardships you’re going through. We aren’t always who we want to be when we go through these times. Sometimes we disappoint ourselves. Regret can weigh heavy on our hearts. Sometimes deciding who we are is deciding who we will never be again.
When our hearts are troubled, it affects every part of our life. We can shut down and avoid life, just to cope. Many of us stop caring about our looks, for this reason. As a mom, my focus was not on my looks or well-being, but on how to be a mom. When I became a business owner, work ruled my time, so I didn’t do things for myself. I realize now that those decisions were based on the needs and expectations of others.
Now that I’m healing and nurturing myself, I look after my skin, my health and my fitness, as well as my looks. Joining a gym last summer has had a huge impact on my healing journey. Putting 100% effort into a recent wall-sit completion, I was able to place second out of all participating men and women. What a feeling that was! Visiting a naturopath gave me insight into the type of diet I should eat and the vitamins I should take. Even getting my nails done every six weeks makes me feel good about myself and reminds me that I’m worth it.
Do you know what you need to feel good? Are you taking time to look after yourself? There’s no need to pause your life until you are healed, so listen to your heart. Discern what makes you happy and what doesn’t. I chose to dance in the puddle of my tears and not drown in them. I chose to love myself and stop living to please others. We can “remove the ‘I want you to like me’ sticker from your forehead and place it on the mirror where it belongs,” says Psychologist Susan Jeffers.
Let’s make today – International Women’s Day 2023 – about being kind to each other and most especially to ourselves. So, on this day set aside for WOMEN, go ahead… buy the shoes (or the flowers), give yourself grace, be beaYOUtiful.