Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Airlines are Right

I've been doing something I have rarely done: I'm cooking. For myself!!

Usually I just don't see the point in mucking around in the kitchen just to eat something and THEN have to clean up after myself. If someone is coming and I'm doing it for them, then I'll go nutty and nothing is too extravagant. But for myself? Eh. Cheerios are good. (and good for you!)

But the past couple of weeks I've been on a cooking kick. I'm actually buying things that require cutting, chopping, mixing, heating... you know cooking: like with a pan and fire!

And I'm just loving it!

I had the urge to cook, but my old lazy, "why cook for me?" attitude (where's the applause in THAT?) tried to take over. Luckily my best friend Gary was coming one day last week, so I took advantage. When, as usual, he asked where we should GO to eat, I said: I'm cooking!

Poor thing almost passed out.

Luckily my culinary skills revived him - instead of putting him in the hospital... (Oh Taco Bell what's become of you?) And ever since I've been cooking something new every night. Just for me!

Where are we going with this, you might be asking.

And I have an answer.

You know how the airlines do that happy little speech before you take off?

Here's the slide in the event of an 'unscheduled' landing (take off your heels ladies!)

Here's your flotation device in the event of a water landing (oh puh-leez, like I wouldn't have had a heart attack beforehand)

And most interesting and most important and TRUE:

Here's your oxygen. "put your mask on before assisting your child" Because you can't help anyone else until you help yourself.

And that is the goddamned truth. And it took me a very long time to 'get' it... I'm still working on it, but that's life... you keep working on it.

A lot of us are caretakers. Most women are instinctive caretakers. Some men are as well. The problem with the caretaker mentality is that we are so busy taking care that we forget to put on our oxygen masks first. In the frenzy of worrying about others, whether it's a real emergency, illnesses, or just being concerned that our friends or guests are comfortable and happy, we overlook the one person that we need to care for first, and foremost: ourselves.

It's uncomfortable at first. Who am I kidding? It's damned near impossible at first. We worry that we'll be seen as selfish, or cold. Saying "No" is tough! And I have to admit, if my parents were still alive I don't know that I would have gotten to the point of learning this. I spent my entire life caretaking them... and anyone else who came within 3 feet of me... it happens a lot to children of alcoholics, it's what we learn, it's what we know, it's comfortable (even when it sucks).

But I'm getting it. And I'm consciously working on it all the time.

So every day I'm pulling out the cookbooks. Yes, I have over a dozen of them. A shock to many who know me. Hey, I love books. I love food. It's a natural.... of course they needed to be dusted off, but still...

And every day I'm making something new. Just for me! Guess what? It's nice to put the oxygen on and get cooking. It actually feels good to take care of yourself first. It's not selfish. It's not cold. It's important. You matter, and you have to take care of yourself before you can do anything for anyone else. So Do It. Breathe deep and remember to take care.

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