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It's A Woman Thing: Feed Yourself First.

I have been very blessed in my life to have been nurtured by very strong, independent, intelligent, and creative women.  Starting with my maternal Grandmother, who graduated from college at the age of 18, each one has been my champion. I have learned about life, music, art, nature, language, trust, honesty, generosity, from all of them, in addition to other traits and values.

But when I think of a piece of advice that has had the biggest impact on me, I have to give the credit to my Aunt Dana.  I fondly refer to her as my “Angel Aunt.” She has been my spiritual teacher. I credit her with getting me started on a journey that continues today that has allowed me to explore my beliefs and ground me in a truth that strengthens me and guides me continuously.  My Aunt has helped me to build a great library and helped me to discover authors whose words have helped to shape my experience. Some of my favorites are Wayne Dyer, Carolynn Myss, Stuart Wilde, and Ayanla VanSant, among many others.  With her influence, I have amassed quite a library!

Feed Self First

Perhaps, what stands out the most to me, is a quote that she shared with me almost 20 years ago, which is the greatest advice: “Feed self first…”  At that time of my life I was at a crossroads personally and professionally. I did not know how to say no.  I was giving my energy to many things that were causing me a lot of unnecessary stress.  She explained it to me to mean that unless I take care of myself first, I will have nothing to give others.

This concept was a little vague as I was just beginning to understand what personal energy was as opposed to how much sleep I had gotten the night before!  Energy, as she described it to me was positive and negative. And, certain people, places, or things can drain you of your energy. She also explained that people can take your energy. I could understand that, as I was aware that there were certain people/co-workers who I just didn’t like to be around. I was starting to get it.

I started to recognize that I had a habit of saying yes to things that I didn’t want to do only because I didn’t want anyone to be upset with me. She helped me see that by not saying yes to me, I was draining my energy and leaving myself dissatisfied!  When I started to focus on what I wanted, as opposed to what I thought someone else wanted, then I started to feel more positive, and the result was I had more energy! When you are more positive, you can attract more positive into your life!  It was working! I was able to let go of things that were keeping me from the life I wanted. I basically started a new chapter in my life with a new mindset. I was attracting positive into my life.

Avoid the Energy Drainers

This can be true of people also. We all have people that bring us down. They are energy drainers. You know, the people who bring you down just being in their presence, but for whom you might be the positive attraction. If you apply this same concept, then these are the people to avoid. Surround yourself with people and places that make you feel good! This is a form of “feeding yourself!”  You can apply this to all aspects of your life; people, places, things; if it makes you feel good or gives you good feelings, do it!  If the thought of this person, place or thing is anything less than positive, don’t do it!  Guilt is a useless emotion, it does not “feed you.”

When my kids were little, it was easy to feel bogged down in the mommy routines. This can definitely be an energy drainer!  I realized that being away from my children for short periods of time was good for my mental health and good for them too.  I started to make time to connect with my friends.  I found that these moments of connection with my friend group “fed me…”

It became a weekly routine for us and we fondly referred to ourselves as the “Playgroup.”  When I explained to my kids that I was going with my playgroup, they understood!  These weekly outings gave me something to look forward to, connected me to my peers, and gave me a much needed break; it “fed me” in more ways than one and we still get together to this day!  I think that I am a better mother because I have taken the time to feed myself.

Over the years, this advice has become a guiding force; my go-to mantra.  I now know that I have more energy and power when I focus on the things that give me joy (feed me) and stay away from those things that don’t (going to a gym)!  I share it with others who struggle with negativity in their life.  As a mother, this advice has become more important because my children need me the most. They need my time and my energy every day. If I am giving my time and energy to people, places, things that don’t feed me, then I have very little to offer them, and they deserve my best.  I like to think that by following this sage advice, I am setting a good example for them, and this too feeds my soul…

Have you fed yourself today?
Bridget Buckaloo

Bridget Buckaloo

Bridget Buckaloo, MSN, is Executive Director of Women's Health Services at Beebe Healthcare.