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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Monday Reflection: Self Care Is Self Love!

By Rae Lewis-Thornton

June 18, 2012

This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.

Me and Sophie in the ocean in Turks and Caicos.

Me and Sophie in the ocean in Turks and Caicos.

I've been threatening to take better care of myself for months, but something always seems to get in the way. Yep, one project or another always seems to be more important than me. I work and work until I crash.

I keep a breakneck schedule almost never coming up to smell the roses, literally or figuratively. And that only adds layers of stress to me both physically and emotionally. STRESS is a KILLER People!!

I never ever listen to my body! In spite of the fact that Markeeda and Luke scream it from the top of their lungs. I understand that, but no matter how I plan time for myself it never seems to work out, I break the plan within a week. For real. It is a sad reflection on my self-care.

Then I went on vacation and there I realized how much I needed time to renew, not just yearly, but daily. I came back to Chicago rested and committed to get more balance in my life and then after a week that commitment went to hell in a hand basket. I started to think about the fact that there are no speaking engagements on the books, and everything changed. Work became my best friend yet again. It became my God and I dropped the goddess in me like a hot potato.

Within a week I was back to my old workaholic self, but my body started to feel the stress right away and right away and I was singing that same old song about how I needed to find BALANCE!

Then last week I had a welcomed interruption, well not at first but sort of. My good friend Peter called out of the blue and said he was driving to Chicago to lay his eyes on me. He was tired of seeing me through Facebook. I was happy to see him, but the visit came at a bad time ... Ummm I HAVE WORK TO DO!

One view on my morning walk!

One view on my morning walk!

Entertain, ha and I told him, "You can come BOO, but I have WORK to do! Well Peter brought the spirit of renewal with him and it became contagious. Every time I started to work, he would start a new and profound topic that distracted me from my work and forced me to sit on the sofa with him and relax. It became infectious. So we spent most of the time curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea, hashing out life.

During that same time, I had another friend to drop by and Peter thought that he had a wonderful spirit. After he left Peter convinced me to go walking with my friend, who has been pleading with me for two years. OK, so I agreed mostly to shut Peter up, but OMG it was exactly what I needed.

My visit with Peter helped me tremendously and I figured out part of my problem. I work against myself not with myself. My body was in sync with the schedule we kept in Turks. The mornings are a gift from God to my body and my spirit. I am my best at the top of the day. The only reason my days became a drag was that I extend myself way into the night when it's not necessary and that affected the next day. In Turks I gave myself permission to chill and to go to sleep. With Peter hanging out I gave myself permission to stop and enjoy the moments.

I'm coming to terms with it all; the need to renew and how that directly impacts your mind, body and spirit. There will always be a next project and something that needs to get done, but there will only be one of you. There is no need to destroy you in the process of getting it done.

Living with AIDS is hard enough. It works against the body and the spirit and there is no need in helping it to kick my ass. I'm clearer than ever! Self-Care is Self-Love! I no longer have any guilt when I stop my morning project to take my morning walk. The walk is just as important as the work. They both serve to add value to my life.

Another morning view.

Another morning view.

This has been a breakthrough for me of sorts. The combined trip to Turks and then Peter's visit helped me to see the path that I must take to be a better me for me. Then, actually taking the time, I mean TAKING it proved its own point. I had been playing lip service to rest, but once I really allowed myself to rest guilt free, I could see more clearly. My body was happy and grateful and my spirit was thankful.

It does not matter if you have a high paced job or work at McDonalds, whether you're a student or a mother, you must create some time to take care of you for you. At the end of the day, your worth to others and most importantly to yourself will only grow if you are able to be the best you can be. If you spend every moment of your day, until you lay your head down being busy, you are doing yourself a disservice.

As I am working to be the best I can be for me in this next half century of my life, I challenge you to start now! Join me in self-renewal and self-care. Step away from the crazy of the day! Step away from the crazy of the people, even step away from your goals for at least an hour every day. Take a walk, read a book, flip through some magazines, listen to some music. I downloaded Sting's Symphonicities, I had forgotten that I like soft rock.

See this as an investment in your feature. No one will love you like you. Don't devalue your life like people devalue their things. Invest in yourself! Continue to let the value of who you are grow. Happy Monday!

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See Also
More Personal Accounts of Women With HIV/AIDS

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Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.

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