Today’s to-do list is shockingly long. Important stuff. Urgent stuff. Stuff that’s important and urgent, along with all the things that I need to cross off before flying back to the UK tomorrow.
But right now I’m not queuing up in the post office to pay bills, I’m not planning lessons and I’m certainly not editing the video to meet tonight’s deadline because as much as it’s important and urgent, it can wait.
Instead, I’m sitting at my favourite beach bar sipping a cappuccino as I watch the waves roll in only to fizzle out before reaching the shore. In a minute or two, I’ll pack my laptop away, grab my board and spend the next hour paddling, lost in my rhythmic strokes and the beauty around me.
Because what I’ve realised is that the sea is important to me. When I’m out on my board and thoughts spill from my mind, I have no problems, no worries. There is no right, no wrong, no stress, no angst and everything is as it should be. When I arrive back at the beach, I’m in a state of zen and more able to concentrate on the tasks I’ve got to get through. Put like that, it’s obvious why it’s become my number one priority on my to-do list.
If only I’d known how important self-care was back in that scary place that was the world after my brother killed himself; that not only was looking after myself not selfish, it was vital if I wanted to make it out of the black, fragmented chaos I found myself inhabiting. But nobody told me. Nobody. At a time when I was mentally beating myself up, guilt-ridden over Matt’s suicide and for the things I’d said and done 25 years earlier, I wish someone had gently – but forcibly – taken my hand, pushed me into their car and driven me to the beach. “Sit here and breathe,” would have been the best four words anyone could have said. Perhaps then my grief could have been carried away by the breeze instead of remaining wedged internally and choking me to brokenness.
Now that I’m happy, I have no intention of getting sucked back into that vortex of mental anguish, which is why, on my ever growing to-do list, wellness and self-care will always be my number one priority and I make no apology for that. So, if you need to speak to meet, then sorrynotsorry but you’ll need to wait until I’m back from the beach.