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Hydrating is not difficult. Do it.

Hydrating is not difficult. Do it.

Oh, I should know everything about self-care by now? Why, because I’ve been a lifelong over-extender as well as someone who rarely gets sick, but when she does, watch out?

I will stop asking questions that only I can answer now. The questions come from a place of needing to be taken care of, just a little bit. I know I’m the one who has to do it, though.

Really, I do know this. I know it when I make myself do yoga before having coffee in the morning, when I remind myself to fill up my water bottle and carry it everywhere, when I force myself to go to the dentist and schedule an appointment to have my wisdom teeth out (finally, finally, next week, and also ouch plus mortal fear).

I did not know it when it comes to writing, it seems, until today. Today, I turned down an opportunity to contribute content to a trendy online women’s magazine. Maybe it’s my low-grade fever. I’m probably going to regret it. I want to build my audience, and I’m kind of a geek for this particular mag. And it’s actually paid work.

(Omg I’m talking myself out of talking myself out of it, as I write this post. Help me.)

Let me back up. Let me tell you about, say, my Tuesday. I woke up super early, took my son to a specialist appointment to have his little fluid-filled ears looked at, where I found out he has to have surgery. Tubes. Relatively routine, easy, outpatient, blah blah all the things that mean nothing when a doctor says your child’s name and “surgery” in the same sentence, but which you find yourself repeating to others in an attempt to soothe them (and yourself?). I came home, fed the child, put the child down for a nap, and since someone else was home, headed off to an appointment. When I got back, I did some work-related things until punkin woke up. Then we played in his kiddie pool, ate supper, read books, he went to bed, and I Skyped with my friend’s nonfiction class.

A pretty loaded day. My days have been looking like this recently. Except often, my days also include my two jobs. Sometimes there isn’t someone else home to hang with punkin while I run out to an appointment. Sometimes, I run so much, so hard, so fast, that the thought of adding even a stop at Sheetz to grab a coffee makes me want to scream and throw things (I don’t. Tantrums aren’t my bag.  But still.).

Enter sickness. Historically, I will have two or three days in a busy stretch when I feel that urge to scream at the thought of one more stop, one more commitment. If I ignore what my body is telling me, I get sick. Every time.

This week, I was sick by Thursday. Like, some 24-hour stomach AND respiratory thing that just destroyed me.

And this morning, I broke my own heart and turned down a chance to take on more work. Feminist work. Writing work. Paid work. Because I must.

Writing is one of those areas of my life where, for a long time, I believed I couldn’t do too much. I still want that to be true, want it to be sacred, but it isn’t. Nothing is sacred if I can’t breathe.

I am someone who thrives on being busy. When happy-busy turns into scary-busy—as in, I’m afraid I’m going to forget something major, or screw up royally, or I realize at 10 PM that I haven’t touched my water bottle since before noon and am probably dehydrated—I need to dial back. When I don’t, I get sick. I can’t afford to get sick.

How do you keep your schedule in check? How do you decide what to sacrifice and what to keep?