This past Labor Day I tackled a project that I had been putting off for 25 years. I made up my mind that I had finally had it with my pantry.
Whether one of the kids lost their retainer and I had to replace it, a birthday or Christmas or sports tournament or vacation filled the calendar and I didn’t have the time, or I just moved my desires to the bottom of the to-do list, it was never the season to renovate the pantry.
I would wistfully stand amongst the boxes of macaroni and cheese, thinking to myself, “Someday I’ll redo this the way I want it.”
Fast forward to 2022. One of the best parts of being a seasoned woman is finally having the clarity, vision, and inclination to face projects I’ve been putting off. I’m no longer too busy, too low on funds, or too distracted to prioritize myself. Sound familiar? Are you ready to embrace your season, too?
It all started on Labor Day Weekend. I decided enough was enough. The shelves had been installed by the previous owner, and over the years, I made it work until I had the time to devote to recreating it the way I wanted it.
In the past, I reasoned away my wanting to redo the pantry with thoughts like, “It works for now” and “Having a pantry is a luxury” and “You need the money somewhere else.” But Labor Day 2022, I was fed up.
That weekend I managed to take down the shelves and paint the inside for a new system, and by the end of October the new shelves were installed and arranged the way I had always daydreamed about. I felt fulfilled after finishing this project – something I had wanted to do since moving into my house years before.
Another home project I had always meant to get to was bare windows. A year ago, I removed the old drapes in the living and dining room but that left the windows bare. I wasn’t sure what I wanted, and I didn’t want to invest the money.
After tackling the pantry, I decided that I was tired of living in a goldfish bowl, and I deserved some blinds! I did a bit of research, found something I loved, and now I have window treatments that pair with my rooms perfectly.
What else was I tolerating, you may wonder? I have a huge garden at home and fall cleanup was always a pain because of the plug-in leaf blower! Getting to the top of the yard with the cord and blowing the pine needles and leaves was a lot of work.
Over the years, I would put up with the cord and get tangled up in the logistics! This year I finally purchased a cordless blower, and I couldn’t believe the difference it made during clean-up. Not only was it easier, the task was a lot more enjoyable.
Why hadn’t I invested in a cordless blower years earlier? Simply put, I had accepted that this was just “how it was,” the expense was too great, and I had other priorities. Now that the kids are grown, the priority is making my life easier!
I decided to keep the momentum going and branch off from home improvement projects into other areas of my life. Over 10 years ago I had a tooth pulled and never did get the implant. Not having the time or money to devote to this expense while raising my kids, I put off getting the implant even though my dentist brought it up at every six-month visit.
Last month I decided that I needed to prioritize my oral health, pay the money for the implant, and take the time to go to multiple appointments. In the end, the expense and inconvenience was totally worth it.
While working a career and perhaps raising a family, we get wrapped up in urgent priorities and tend to let some things slide. It’s easy to put aside home improvement projects, car maintenance, and personal upkeep (like even going to dentist appointments) in order to focus on everyone else’s needs and wants.
Something pops up that is more important, that needs your attention or funds. This can be a form of avoidance, procrastination, and/or selflessness. For example, you may put others first because then you won’t have to think about the problems in your life (unfulfilling career, rocky marriage, health issues) that you don’t want to deal with (changing careers, going to therapy, starting an exercise routine).
According to a Psychology Today article, we are socialized to put others before ourselves on the priority list and rewarded for our altruism. Women, especially, are conditioned to put the needs of their families, career, community, and organizations ahead of their own.
Women are expected to keep track of kids’ assignments and permission slips, plan healthy meals, clean, work full-time or start their own business, volunteer their time, etc. You probably remember the demands on your time and money in your 20s and 30s. But when you continuously give to others without having your own needs met, you end up empty and resentful.
The things that matter to you, like reorganizing the pantry shelves to make it more efficient or spending time and money on important dental care, are acts of self-care. When you take the time to engage in acts of self-care and meet your needs, you decrease feelings of anxiety and depression while increasing happiness, patience, and resilience.
As we grow older and our time and resources are freed up from the demands of our 20s and 30s, it’s time to prioritize ourselves! Think of all those things that you’ve been putting up with for years as you put everyone else first – engage in self-care and start asking yourself what you want.
My neighbor Miranda had always wanted to go back to school and take classes in Art History. When Covid hit and her grown children mentioned online classes, she finally registered.
A friend, Jai, has an amazing backyard; she had always planned on putting in a patio so she could drink her coffee and draw in the morning. After she changed careers and freed up more time, her dream patio moved up on the priority list. Now she starts every morning in the shade of her giant oak, her heart filled with gratitude as she sips a dark roast.
Life is too short to put up with things, people, or circumstances that don’t resonate with who we are or how we want to live our life! Whether you are 40, 50, 60, or beyond, it is time to prioritize yourself and your happiness.
It may be something like taking a trip to Italy, registering for a class, jumping back into the dating world… or it could be something small like making a recipe you’ve always wanted to try, exploring different exercise classes at your gym, or finally getting rid of all the stuff you inherited from your mom that you’ve been storing in your basement.
I have a worksheet on my website: Tolerating and Coping. I invite you to jump over and download – and start exploring where you need to put yourself first!
Where do you need to make a change in the new year? What are you tolerating and coping with? I would love to hear what you have been putting off and what you would like to change for yourself in the new year! Let’s make 2023 a year of prioritizing your needs and wants!