I used to believe that self-care was selfish. The first time I read a sentence telling me that it wasn’t, I resisted the idea—so deep was my conditioning and domestication. Slowly, life has been waking me up and I’ve had to question and challenge my thoughts and programming. Now I believe that self-care is not selfish. In fact, it’s necessary for my caregiving, helper-type personality.

My transformation began with a wake-up call 2 years ago. I’d resigned from my nursing position with every anticipation that I’d quickly obtain another job. Within a week of getting off the treadmill of my life however, I found myself in bed for 3 days, totally depleted. This was unexpected and a first for me. At the time, I used to pride myself in believing I only needed 4-5 hours of sleep per night and I rarely if ever took a nap. But I simply had no energy. None. I was exhausted. It’s been said that when you don’t know how to say no, your body will say it for you.

I decided I was too tired to go back to work and made the unorthodox decision to take a pause in my life.

I still remember the bliss of waking up to the sound of birds instead of my alarm.

Once I regained my energy, the story I had been telling myself began to expand. Yes, it was still true that healthcare was dysfunctional. Change was needed and I certainly wasn’t going to be able to change the system on my own. What I had to also admit, was that MY unhealthy patterns and habits needed to change.

I remember looking in the mirror one day and was surprised to see how clear and green my eyes looked. I had previously been working as a research nurse in ophthalmology and my eyes were often red and bloodshot from fatigue. The irony is that I helped my study patients care for their eyes while neglecting my own.

I continued to take time to reflect on my life and make changes. Slowly my self-care grew. If I were a queen, I’d grant everyone a sabbatical when they crossed the threshold from the first half of their life to the second. It’s a good time to re-calibrate.

I remain grateful for my healing journey. I’m not an expert in living well and I don’t have all the answers to our healthcare “crisis” but I have learned how to generate health and well-being.

Healing begins within and we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.