A woman with her hand on her heart and music emanating from behind her

Why Does Self-Care Really Matter?

At my age (I'll turn 73 in September), epiphanies are few and far between. That could be the price of grasping at life and all its experiences so greedily for so long. Maybe my memory's almost full, and there's little space left for a "defrag" of my mental and emotional hard drive. But when I receive an epiphany, it's loud and significant.

Folding towels

The other day I read an article, Steal Back the Best Parts of Yourself Through Self-Care, written by health leader, Mallory Royal. What she wrote about folding towels hit home.

"It's important to me to decide to be present in the moment instead of worrying over how I folded the towels."
-Mallory Royal

I'd found myself worrying about that as I folded the laundry over the weekend. I also worried about finally donating my late wife Lynette's clothes to a local women's shelter. And I worried about the 3 boxes that have sat in the living room since we moved here a few weeks before her passing.

The busyness of life

I've spent most of my life dedicated to music. Music has always been my reason for living as a singer-songwriter since the 1960s and, more recently, a classical composer and conductor. I put all that aside when I married Lynette, however. She had 3 children we needed to raise, and frankly, I needed a break from pursuing musical success. I'd burned myself out. Then came metastatic breast cancer and my subsequent role as Lynette's primary caregiver. My music simply dissolved into the busyness of life.

What are the things that matter most?

Well, it's been 2 years since my wife died, and I felt the call of my muse once again. But, like any artist who's been away too long, I avoided the encounter. There's laundry to wash, boxes to unpack, things to do.

But Mallory's article woke me up. None of these things matter. Not really. I mean, things have to get done, but not at the cost of my self-care through music. I don't want to find myself on my deathbed, regretting the time I spent on distractions that could have waited a day or 2. I really doubt I'll think, "Gee, I wish I'd folded those towels differently."

Bringing the important things into focus

It's so easy to lose focus as life goes on, and bringing things back to clarity means changing patterns of thinking that have been set in our minds. When music was my main focus, I figured it became one of those joys that I outgrew. Now that my priorities have been brought into focus, I'm on the way to pursuing music again. I have much more to say now that I've lived so many years and have come through so much.

Self-care really matters

Self-care means different things to different people. For me, it's more about being creative than road trips, traveling, or going on a cruise. I can't afford those things anyway, but music is free. And creating it takes me farther than travel ever could.

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So, if you're a caregiver, please find ways to feed your soul. Self-care really matters. Life is as short as unpredictable, but your soul is eternal.

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