thailand

What 2 months in Thailand & a daily walk have in common

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About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

The first year of our life in Turkey, we were entrenched in language learning and cultural adjustments. We set up a new home from scratch (using a language we didn’t yet know), then started learning Turkish as best one does while also parenting a two-year-old. Kyle typically went to a class downtown, since he needed and liked the school structure, and I hired a tutor, since I prefer the one-on-one benefits.

The honeymoon phase of our new life lasted about three months, after which things started malfunctioning internally and my knee-jerk reaction was to shut down. By month four, I was a mess, and was sure we had made a mistake by moving to a new country, 6,000 miles away from family and friends.

Oh, and then I got pregnant with Reed.

I was officially diagnosed with depression, and the psychologist on staff with our non-profit organization recommended we head somewhere to focus on my well-being for a few weeks to months. We looked into where we could go that wasn’t too far from Turkey, that didn’t cost an arm and a leg, where help could be found in English, and where kids were allowed on-site. The best place? Thailand, believe it or not.

If you haven’t checked a map lately, Thailand isn’t actually a neighboring country to Turkey, so it seemed wild to us that the closest place that fit those criteria was in southeast Asia. Going there in my second trimester with a two-year-old for two solid months seemed extreme at the time, but hindsight being 20/20 and all that, it was a short blip that made all the difference in the world.

thai neighborhood

I started on depression meds while meeting with a therapist three to four times a week (since we were there short-term, we met with him as much as possible). We separated ourselves from the otherworldliness of Turkey and found respite in a quieter, more refreshing environment—we stayed in a friends-of-a-friends-of-a-friends’ home who happened to be back in the States, and who had little girls with a bedroom with little girl toys. There was grass and neighborhood quiet where we were, unlike our concrete Turkish high-rise in a city of four million. I didn’t realize I couldn’t hear birds in our Turkish home until we were in Thailand, and I heard them out our window the first morning.

I got out and about a bit more, I got some much-needed sleep, and I even went running a few times. (And serendipitously enough, during one session, my therapist suggested I find a creative outlet in Turkey, so that I felt competent at something and could focus my energies on a task that charged by batteries. We left that session, and Kyle uneventfully said, “You like to write. How about you start a blog?”)

(This blog started about four months later.)

me

Those two months in Thailand saved my life. Taking a step back from my new world in Turkey also gave me space to evaluate the previous four or so years, and I saw that I had been running on empty for awhile—probably since I became a mother (I’ve written about my postpartum depression). I hadn’t taken care of myself for a long, long time, and in some ways, I realized that I barely even knew myself. As a chronic people-pleaser, I had marched to the beat of my best-laid plans since high school, and I never questioned whether the daily choices I made, harmless as they were, really were the best for me.

Fastforward. By the time we left Turkey several years later to return to the States, we were madly passionate about self-care—and about helping others find the same. We experienced, first-hand, how small, everyday, intentional actions to take care of ourselves made all the difference in the world—they helped us stay energized about our life’s purpose and take a breather from the myriad hats we wear all day.

I’ve mentioned before that’s what we do with our current non-profit—we provide guest houses around the world for other non-profit workers so that they can take small, regular breaks without having to spend lots of money. No need to wait for a diagnoses of full-blown depression; statistics everywhere show that most career non-profit expats return burned-out after five years, even if they plan to live abroad forever, and that a few breaks per year from their host country can make all the difference in the world to their sanity and longevity.

We are passionate about this, and I can’t imagine us ever not being in this line of work to some capacity. Kyle and I deeply and resolutley feel that this is what we are made to do, and we couldn’t be more honored to share in this small but significant, often-not-thought-of service.

kyles feet

But. This is what I’m also passionate about for all people, too, not just non-profit workers in cross-cultural settings. Moms. Dads. Students. Empty-nesters. Entrepreneurs. Everyone. I am a massive believer in self-care, and that making consistent, small choices on a regular basis makes all the difference in the world to our well-being.

This blog is about simple living, its definition here being living holistically with your life’s purpose. When we’re tired and depleted, it’s hard to live simply. It’s much easier to just give in to the system and swim downstream—to fill our home with things we don’t want or need, to cram our schedule full of extracurriculars we don’t want to do, to eat food we know isn’t good for us, and to make decisions according to the status quo, not because they’re actually best for us.

I have found a direct correlation between my eagerness and ability to simplify our family life—to live holistically with our life’s purpose—with how well I’m taking care of myself. True story. And yet the terribly ironic thing is that the best kind of self-care is the simple kind.

• A daily walk in solitude. Just 20 minutes.

• Reading a book, just for fun, while the kids are in their bedrooms for mandated afternoon quiet times.

• Date nights on a regular basis—even if it’s bringing home take-out and putting the kids to bed a bit earlier.

• Exercise, a few times per week.

• Meeting a friend for coffee once a month.

• Going on a drive out on country roads, listening to my music.

• Flexing my brain and taking an online class—just because.

• Taking deliberate time for that hobby that’s collecting dust.

• Just turning off the screen already and going to bed at a decent time.

Taking time for this, and I’m much closer to right-as-rain, eager to keep on keeping on.

morning still life

Self-care can look like a lot of things, but for most of us, it doesn’t have to look like much. Small, simple choices can make a night-and-day difference to how well we’re living within our life’s purpose. But we do have to actually do those things.

What are you going to do this week to take better care of yourself?

Psst… I’ll be at Idea Camp next month, exploring the idea of self-care as a significant task for the Church, something we don’t do pretty well, in my opinion. Anyone else going?

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Comments

  1. Oh Tsh, I love this post! I’m still here in Turkey, and it’s so easy to feel guilty about taking time for self-care. (Shouldn’t I be more “productive” with my time?)

    But I realize that it’s so important for people in all walks of life, and it keeps me sane. This week I’ll continue with my daily walk (time to think), and you’re challenging me to make time for one thing I haven’t been able to manage but know I need: regular time to read. (As in, a book, not something on-line! :-))

    • Betsy, just wanted to say I totally resonate with your question of “being productive” vs. taking time out to take care of yourself. I have to remind myself over and over that in the long run, it IS more “productive” to take the time to fill my soul. Blessings to you in Turkey!

  2. What a blessing those guest houses must be to non-profit workers! My husband and I are currently working towards moving overseas with our family to work for a non-profit organisation. This is still a few years down the line but I do sometimes think ‘we’ll never get to have a holiday again!’ How wonderful that there are people out there ensuring that non-profit workers have opportunities for rest and time-out.

    As you say self-care is important for everyone, so this week, as a new mama of a 16 week old, I am going to start eating more healthily and being more active. These things have just gone to the bottom of the pile during this hectic season but I realise they are so important to my health (and self esteem) that I can’t afford not to give them my attention any longer. Thanks for the push!

  3. This resonated so deeply with me! I have lived in Turkey (your old city– we have mutual friends!) for four years now and it is so easy to not take time for self-care! With parenting young kids, cooking almost everything from scratch, errands taking so much longer, homeschooling– it feels like another thing to add to the never-ending list!

    After seasons of depression though, I know exactly what you’re saying– it is VITAL to take a day away from your city, have a hobby, spend intentional time doing something that refreshes you if you are ever going to make it!

    Thanks for the reminder! I’m gonna head to Starbucks with my laptop and a book this afternoon to care for myself! :)

  4. Getting up early. Bible reading. My French lesson. Daily walks.

  5. Thank you Tsh for the little reminder. I’ve had what’s called ‘post-birth trauma’ which in my case is sort of a mix of post-traumatic stress and anxiety disorder. I’m mostly fine now but I have to remember that my wellbeing is central to the ability of my family to thrive, to feel secure and to be happy. Because our love is infinite, I think we as mothers assume our ability to give, express and use that love is infinite. But I think we’re a bit like vessels, full to the brim at first of the capacity to care and to give. Gradually we will empty out and that does no good to anyone. We have to give just a little care to ourselves every day in order to fill ourselves back up again. This is why I’m on the computer for 10mins reading your blog!

  6. What amazing services you provide! If I don’t sit and read my bible in the morning, my day is drastically different than those that I do. Reading the Word first thing sets the tone and reminds me of my purpose. That is my daily self care.

  7. We have good friends who are missionaries overseas with two small children. Their mission’s agency requires them to take time out of the country at “rest homes.” I’ve often wondered if these homes are in any way connected to your ministry. Anyway, I know it’s been invaluable to them and their ability to continue their work while not ignoring themselves and their family. I think it’s awesome that they’re required to take this time yet so often I forget that I need it myself. I’ve been trying to sneak in a little time for myself *if* I can get my three month old and three year old napping/doing quiet time at the same time. No chores allowed during that time.

  8. I wholeheartedly agree, self care is so important. For me it is a solo run, or a cup of tea on the front porch swing before the children and hubby are up. Other days it might be a solo trip to the coffee shop to sit and write and people watch. When I am in need of a good talk it out session it is my Saturday morning run with my redhead runner.

  9. First of all, a HUGE thank you to Thailand for inspiring this blog, and specifically this post :-)
    I’m off to my parent’s house alone while they’re out of town for a couple of days this week. I’m incredibly grateful for this break once or twice a year.
    I finally discovered about 5 years ago that my self care time has is best spent 1)alone, and 2)doing hard things: research/study, solo camping, a sewing project, a full weight circuit, a challenging hike, preparing a new recipe, etc. Weird, huh?

  10. Thank you so much for this post, I find it so inspiring and it really, really touched me!

    greetings from Vienna,
    Eva

  11. !I’m headed to my parent’s place alone for a couple of days while they’re out of town this week. I’m incredibly grateful for these twice-yearly solo retreats.
    I’ve discovered my self time recharges me best when I’m 1) alone and 2) doing hard things: fussy sewing, research and study, a challenging hike, working through a new recipe, reading a classic, etc.

  12. Super enjoyed this post. Thanks for being so open & honest.

    The whole “put your oxygen mask on first” thing is something I had to learn while teaching in urban, high-needs settings. And I’m still learning now as a parent. Good stuff!

  13. I’m sitting in a coffee shop, trying to wipe the tears away without causing too much attention. I’m here for all of the above reasons and so resonated with this post. It wasn’t an overseas move but an across the country move and a lifestyle change to boot. Two girls born in 2 years with post-partum depression after one.
    I just emailed a therapist to set up an appointment and reading your blog has helped me see that there isn’t something ‘wrong’ but this is needed for caring for myself (and my family).

  14. Thanks for such an inspiring post Tsh! It resonates with me in so many ways. It took me a long time to figure out what I really needed to feel like an individual and not be defined by my relationship to someone else (mom, wife, friend, daughter). Because of some recent surgical recovery and the fluidity of summer, I’ve let some of my self-care slide. What I’ll be doing this week? Reinvigorating my regular run schedule, refocusing on my blog, finishing the book I’m reading just for fun, breathing & focusing on not feeling frantic. Life isn’t as hectic as its sometimes made out to be in our minds.

  15. What a timely reminder Tsh! I love my morning walks, and I’ve been working on trying to see them less as calorie-burning exercise and more as my husband put it a “daily restorative practice.” The Fall has officially started, and it’s going to be so full, but I think those walks are going to be key. However, if yesterday was an indication, those walks need to be coupled with drinking a lot of water. I had my hands full with the 12 week old and the 2 1/2 year old and realized at noon I had drank almost nothing. It was a headachy afternoon. So self care for the rest of the week: walking AND water.

    • So interesting that you mentioned water. For as long as I can remember, I’ve never been a big drinker – of anything! In my 20s, I would go all day long and be getting ready for bed only to realize that I had not taken a sip of a drink the entire day.

      Last year, I tried to make myself drink 60 – 70 ounces of water a day which proved to be too much of a stretch. BUT, during that time I felt so much better. I had fewer headaches, my mind seemed clearer, I didn’t get sick as often, my skin was better. Sadly I went back to my old ways but I’m trying to restart drinking more water because it really does make a difference!

  16. My family and I just moved to Thailand from the US almost four weeks ago. I am currently almost 38 weeks pregnant, and this transition so far has been SO much more difficult than I thought it would be. A lot of people come here for a retreat from other countries, so it is a very transient place, it seems. There are so many wonderful things but so many hard things…I know I need to give it time since we just arrived and I’m emotional being so pregnant. I’m glad you had such a great time here; it helps me think of our surroundings in a different light. I don’t know what self care here for me looks like yet since we are so new and everything feels hard.

  17. We spent two years in Nepal and our organization had a yearly conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It was truly our saving grace! That one precious week stepping out of our context (which in January meant water shortages, massive power outages, and cold concrete buildings) into a beautiful, balmy, GREEN Thailand really helped us through the year. On our way back to the states after our two years were up, we also spent a week decompressing in Thailand at a Juniper Tree resort before jumping back into American culture. That time of stepping back and talking to other ex-pats and even a counselor in our organization brought us back into focus and allowed us to see the big picture of what we were doing when we just got completely bogged down in the day to day mess of life in a different culture. Our team leader often talked about how easy it was to keep our eyes low, trying to trudge through and just see the dirty streets and mess of Kathmandu. But if you just stopped, took a deep breath (but not too close to a trash pile ;-)) and looked up, there were the Himalayas, soaring overhead! It was always breathtaking and energizing and gave just a moments pause. Enough to remind us that we lived in a really amazing place, we just had to look up and SEE it.
    Anyways, self-care for me involves uninterrupted conversation. I have 3 kiddos, 5 and under so this doesn’t happen even close to enough, and honestly, I’m not sure how to make it happen as a stay-at-home mom. but I do realize how energized I feel when it does happen!

  18. avatar
    Deborah P says:

    I seem to operate on the needs and demands of others, reacting to their needs/demands more than intentionally acting for myself and others. Currently, my “free” time is before or after work 5 days a week with an occasional weekend. I say “free” because that’s the time available for everything related to house/yard care (which have been neglected, so need extra time now), laundry, groceries/cooking, etc. Thank you for reminding me that I need to have a plan, not only to deal with those things, but which will carve out time (guilt-free!) just for me, unrelated to any of those responsibilities. Whether that’s for reading, hobbies, or vegging out in front of the television – it will be just for me. From the other comments, it seems we’re all in the same boat on this one – looking out for everyone else and if there’s time available after that (ha!), then for ourselves. Thank you for reminding us of the imperative – we can’t help anyone else if we aren’t healthy ourselves and self-care helps us be healthy.

  19. Don’t forget “get enough sleep”, one of the best self care things you can do.

  20. This post is exactly what I needed to hear today. After medical school, having two children in medical school, buying a home during the process, my husband working two jobs to make it work, and then taking my medical licensing exams a few weeks ago… I am exhausted! It’s hard almost knowing how to “rest” now because I’ve forced myself to live at high speed when I had zero energy. I love these suggestions and I will be doing them. Thank you so much. This post almost made me cry.

  21. While I *know* that self care is important and find myself reminding my friends and family to take care of themselves first… I realize I am terribly deficient in taking care of myself. I have this image in my head of all the things I’m doing (regular walks, yoga, eating heathy, drinking enough water), but my reality is much different!

    I do a lot of PLANNING for self care – see post-it note on my desk with yoga class times, pretty new (but empty) water bottle, and exercise clothes hanging front and center in the closet – but the IDEA of self care is worthless if I don’t do it!

    This week, I will start walking again. (and fill that water bottle, darn it!)

  22. This is such a great post, and just the reminder I needed this week to stop and take a moment for myself. It’s so easy to get caught up on everyone else.

  23. Thanks for the good reminders and encouragement, Tsh! I’m in the midst of Sacred Rhythms right now–good read!

  24. I needed to hear this today. I constantly get the pangs of guilt at the though of being non-productive, even if it’s rehabilitating.
    Having grown up in a missionary family, these respite homes sounds like heaven. I’m positive my parents (and our whole family) really could have used something like that from time to time.

  25. Thank you for your timely post. As my calendar begins to implode with “the year” starting I’m already forgetting self care. I struggle with depression too, and too often accept it as an unwelcome guest rather than an illness to treat.

    Thank you for sharing your experience in Thailand and your simple self care list. These are such great reminders for me to keep pressing on, to keep battling it out, and to get help when I need it.

    My list so far:
    -budgeting for a monthly massage
    -walking
    -sleeping
    -reading for fun
    -and I’m still working to hone in on a creative outlet. My issue is that I enjoy SO many creative pursuits that I dabble in all, and don’t settle in to anything long enough to form a habit…but lately I’m gardening :)

  26. Thanks Tsh for sharing your experience. It’s extremely hard for anyone adjust to a new place, where culture, atmosphere and language is totally different than he/she used to live up before. When I traveled to Italy first time, it was painful for me live there. The place I used to live in Middle East where most time things stays warm and language is totally different. After staying 2 years in Italy I adjusted with the conditions and terms they have. Thus I can feel how tough it was for you living in a country where you not belong.

  27. Oh ladies, I hear you! We are prescious too, and worthy of a joyful life with time to care for ourselves. Honestly, after years of practice and contemplation, I’m actually feeling the truth of that more and more.

    But if I’m having trouble with feeling too needy etc, I ask myself if this level of stress, overwhelm, tiredness and self neglect would be a good life for my beloved child/friend/dog/sibling. If the answer is no, I need to take better care of myself, for their sake aswell as for mine. We’re all role models for eachother, especially our kids I would think (I don’t have any as of now). And then I try to forgive myself for all the times I’ve failed in taking care of myself and being a good role model. Being a perfectionist about self care kind of defeats its purpose. :)

    Also, I think it’s important to use the me-time on things that actually fill us up, instead of things we think we should do, because they’re supposed to be so healthy. If your heart is calling for Harry Potter instead of cross-legged mindfulness meditation – I think I’d go for Harry Potter! Maybe a little fantasy adventure is just what’s needed at that time. :)

  28. Yer c-r-a-z-y! :) I just have to say that because that’s what I was during our ex-pat experience and discovering that I was pregnant and finally deciding to have the baby overseas. C-r-a-z-y. I fell apart, too, and found my solace in Austin. Austin has become my centering place. I do a better job now of taking care of myself than I did before – and I make sure I get plenty of preventive care, too – in my favorite neighborhood in my favorite zip code in my favorite city. ;)

    I like your Daily Docket with the little box at the top right for today’s self-care plan. I wrote, “Nap @4″ for today. :)

  29. Yep. Needed to hear this. And its exciting to hear about your work. I lived overseas for 3 years, dealt with depression there, and upon coming home.

    I read your post on PPD. I’m certain that’s what I experienced when my son started weening…. at 9 months. It continued and got worse through fully weening him at 15 months, and on another 6 months, till I started on a fertility med. (we did the same med to get pregnant the first time). No one bothers to check on PPD when the baby is 9 months or a year old, and I’m positive it doesn’t just hit in those first few months.

    anyhoo, I enjoyed the post. Thank you.

  30. Thank you, moving post. Perinatal Mood Disorders is the term I’ve really latched on to. Because so often we (moms) figure out we need help and we depressed long after the return to work and maternity leave is all used up. And then we are left with a shell of our former self and no more time off. My family only moved across town to a new neighborhood ‘in the burbs’ and that was enough to make me feel totally disconnected and was just one more crack until I ‘broke.’ Post parteum depression is so hard. We need to confide in one another and encourage our friends to get medical help. It makes such a huge difference. If you are in Indianapolis and need help – you need to find the nurse specialist at IU North Hospital, her name is Birdie and she holds amazing support groups.

  31. I have always thought about these things but never had a name for it – self-care. So true and incredibly important! I have been living overseas for over 4 years – now in Cambodia, previously in Tanzania – and I think that another important component of self-care, when living abroad, is a connection to home. This can be so many things and not necessarily related to family. Cambodia is fairly modern, compared to Tanzania, so I feel like I can still live some of my familiar Western ways and be alright, but in Tanzania and previsly in Honduras as a Peace Corps volunteer, the need to “escape” and feel like an American again were so deep. Sometimes it was going to the Western-style movie theatre and sometimes it was just having a Big Mac. For some reason those activities made me feel like I was on familiar ground, even if they weren’t movies/foods I would normally see/eat at home. They were like mini-trips back to my world.

    So I think guesthouses where ngo workers etc can escape their day-to-day is an amazing idea! I look forward to hearing how it progresses!

  32. Tsh: I’m reading Organized Simplicity and came and read this today and it’s all really starting to click for me. As a family in ministry, a family with three young kids, and a family in the midst of adopting our fourth child, it’s so easy to to feel bogged down by the stuff. The stuff on the schedule and the stuff in our house. And I’ve seen the simplicity of life in a third world country. And it’s so refreshing. I come home, and some days I actually feel like I’m suffocating from the stuff. So, all this to say, thank you. There are stirrings of change in my heart and I’m ready to take action. Grateful for the role you’ve played in helping me navigate to a simpler, fuller life. Many thanks and blessings, Lauren Mills

  33. I SO needed this.. I am a HUGE advocate for self-care BUT have been guilty of neglecting it for my own self. Yeah, easier said than done sort of thing.. I keep telling myself I’ll make time for me when {insert name of task} is done. Somehow, that never happens. Thank YOU for the reminder and for sharing this LOVELY post. Thank you. Thank you!

  34. I know you’ve written about it before, but it came home to me more reading your post today: you started blogging as a form of self-care.

    And it is. It really is. It’s not being selfish, it’s being real about what gives you life. As well as, hopefully, connecting with others, which is also live-giving.

    So, thank you for the reminder – and for the little list of your own self-care ideas. It reassures me to see some I know and do, like regular short walks, as well as to remind me on others I don’t do so well (like turning off the computer earlier in the evening).

    Thank you, and thank you for being willing to share your story again.

  35. I started CrossFit this week! And even though my body is sore, people say I’m smiling more, and my self-confidence is already soaring. The success I feel at the box seems to be transferring to the rest of my life: “Well, I don’t WANT to fold another load of laundry, but if I can do 10 push presses and 10 squats 3 times in a row as fast as I can, I can fold another load of laundry.” :)

  36. This was a great reminder, Tsh. My main struggle is the “But we actually have to do those things” part. I know what things make me feel more energized, more centered, more “together,” more at peace, but for some reason I don’t do a lot of them. I’m not sure if it’s a self-discipline issue, or an organizational issue, or what. I kick myself all the time because I KNOW that if I go to bed earlier and exercise more regularly, I feel better, which makes me more patient with the kids, more motivated to stay organized, etc. Why do I have such a hard time actually making myself do it?!

  37. You know, its easy to become envious of other peoples lives. Looking at pics on Face Book and the like. Its nice to know that although your life seems so interesting and worldly, its not always easy and there are many challenges along the way. Thanks for the inspiring post!

  38. avatar
    Elizabeth says:

    Waking up earlier than the kids, afternoon quiet time so I can read my Maeve Binchy book, going to bed early after I watch one episode of a favorite TV show at night, going for a hike in the park early before I start my errands (while my babysitter is here), sitting down and eating my meals quietly (as much as possible).
    This is what I try to do most of the time, sounds boring but keeps me sane!

  39. I learned a lot about self-care in college while seeing a therapist for anxiety and depression. He gave me an analogy that really stuck – that self-care is like emptying a bucket. We all carry around a metaphorical bucket that fills up daily with all the little stresses (positive and negative, because your body reacts to both the same way), and to cope well with those stresses, you need to empty the bucket. When I feel anxious or depressed, it’s probably because I need to empty the bucket. For me this looks like taking a walk, spending time alone, cooking, watching a favorite TV show, etc. Thanks for this post – self-care is so important and something too many of us neglect.

  40. I so needed to read this post today! I have had an extremely emotionally rough week, and yes, probably partially due to lack of self-care. I really struggle with feeling like it is okay to focus on myself. After all, as a SAHM I am supposed to be taking care of my kids and being a help to my husband, right? Where is the line between self-care and being selfish?

    And in all reality, there probably is a post-partum element to it as well. I have a 3 month old and almost 2 year old, and in the last 3 months have left the corporate world, am adjusting to being a full-time SAHM, my husband got a new job (with a new schedule) and we’ve been in the process of shutting down a business. I would tell anyone else in that situation to give themselves a break and go take a nap. Time to take your advice for myself! (And try to find time for a solo coffee date).

  41. Excellent post, Tsh! I think people are afraid to take time for self-care, thinking it makes them selfish or lazy. But I believe it is very important to take care of oneself, not just physically, but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. If you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of others?

    Thanks again!
    ~Emily

  42. I appreciated hearing your story about what led you to self-care and to helping others learn to care for themselves. This is a topic that I too feel passionately about. I too work for a non-profit and have had to learn over the course of several years and teetering on the brink of burnout how to care for myself so that I could care for others. Hearing your story is encouraging and refreshing. Thanks so much for sharing it!

  43. Tsh, can you please email me the organization you guys work for? My husband and I are full time in Australia and Papua New Guinea and that would be an incredible resource for us and our coworkers. (Would you believe I’m reading/writing via satellite internet while in the middle of the open sea traveling to PNG’s Western Province right NOW on our medical ship?! Ha!) Anyway, I’m 13 years overseas now and have been thinking/grappling so much with this issue of self care and what that looks like on a few different levels – the practical daily stuff but also the more intense seasonal stuff, especially with a growing family as our needs morph and change. Also, I’d just really love to meet you on one of my visits back to Bend one day (where I’m from). We have a few mutual friends so a trip to Looney Bean or Thump is in order I think. :)

  44. I’m just reading this now, having returned to our MidEast city home from a week of vacation. Ahhhhhh. (Yes, the unwinding is audible!)

    I love that your encouragements toward self-care are always in service to the bigger picture – living holistically with our life’s purpose. There’s a time to take a step back, and time to step up. But hopefully if we steward our own lives consistently well, there are less of those pit/peak fluctuations.

    For me, that’s writing and good coffee, sometimes cooking & sharing a great meal, having a great (amen to the person who said “uninterrupted!”) conversation, putting just about anything in a list or spreadsheet, playing and singing along to worship music in the house.

    I’m also fueled by following friends’ blogs on their passions – running, photography, theology, writing, whatever. Being around restful, inspired people begets rest and inspiration! (Which is why I often find myself here – thank you, Tsh!)

  45. The new school year officially starts tomorrow morning in our house, and your post could not be more timely. I mentioned to a friend yesterday–in a “mommy needs to go out with her friend” self-care evening–that Sundays seem to be disconnected from the weekend in that they are all about preparing for the school week. I will take your reminder to heart and change my outlook to Sunday mornings being for my self-care. The rest can wait until after 12:00 pm. P.S. I love your new home page photo!

  46. I would agree the church does not do well in this area. We are taught JOY comes by putting things in this order: Jesus, Others, You. I am very slowly learning to take better care of myself, and I’m so much better at serving Jesus and Others when I’ve taken care of myself.

  47. What a great post! I’m like Betsy–it’s so easy for me to feel guilty about self care and tell myself I should use my time more “productively.” Articles like this assuage the guilt and remind me that, not only is self care OK, it’s wise and necessary. I’m doing self-care right now: taking an hour or so to catch up on my favorite blogs! My other fave self-care practices are exercising in the morning and reading in the evening. And DH and I recently decided to practice some family self-care by hiring someone to do our basic house-cleaning. My freelance writing business has reached full-time level, and he often works long or odd hours. This new arrangement protects a few hours of family “fun time” each week.

  48. Hi Tsh,

    I wondered how I could find out more information about the ministry you mention providing guest houses for NGO workers? I am a missionary in Mozambique for ten years now and know a lot of people, including myself, who might benefit from that. Regardless of if I ever use it, thank you for providing such needed care! Blessings, Laura

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