The idea of self-care was never something that I grew up thinking about. My parents, who lived through World War II, never really talked about the idea of caring for yourself. Looking back on my childhood, though, I know that I was blessed with daily self-care.

I grew up on a small farm in Agassiz. It was the best way to grow up. My days were filled with feeding animals, biking, playing with friends, and horseback riding. Every activity fed my soul.

But I no longer live on that little farm in Agassiz or enjoy the carefree days of childhood. I am no longer just a daughter; I am also a teacher, wife, and mother of three. Our family is busy with work, school, supporting parents, violin, GEMS, youth, playdates, birthday parties, and three kids who play hockey.

Where’s the time to feed my soul or care for myself?

The Safety Talk

Recently, Kirsi Antunes and Marvin Bravo, our school counsellors, led our morning meeting. Marvin spoke of feeding your soul and taking care of yourself. He used the analogy of a family boarding a plane. As they were taxing down the runway, the flight attendant starts her safety talk. After pointing out the exits, she informs the passengers that in the event of severe turbulence, oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling. The flight attendant explains that adults must place the mask securely over their nose and mouth before helping children and seniors. Why? You can only be helpful to others if you yourself are breathing.

But where’s my oxygen mask?

It’s a Puppy!

For all of you dog owners out there, you know better. Adding a dog to the family takes a lot of work and time! But after cuddling with this adorable, sweet pup, we knew we had to bring him home.

It didn’t take long, however, for reality to hit.

Only a few short days after we had taken Odis home, I vividly remember thinking, “Why in the world did we do this?” When it snowed the week before Christmas, I really began to regret our decision. Odis did not like the snow and wouldn’t go to the bathroom outside. Accidents were happening all the time. Our carpet cleaner was getting a workout.

The next week, our puppy mixed up his days and nights. During the day, he’d sleep any chance he got. It was impossible to pull him out of his slumber.

Then, around 10:00 pm, Odis would go CRAZY! His tail was wagging, his tongue would fall out of his mouth and his eyes got big and bright as if to say, “It’s time to play!” At 1:00 am, Odis would wake up the house with his incessant barking. At 3:00 am, he’d run from one child’s bedroom to the next.

Between the lack of sleep and all the extra cleaning, I was ready to re-gift Odis to another family for Christmas.

The Turn Around

Thankfully, all that soon changed. The snow went away, and Odis returned to his outdoor bathroom. Odis quickly realized that playing during the day was much more entertaining with friends to play with. The carpet cleaner has been returned to the closet and we’re able to sleep once again.

I’ve known for some time that my oxygen tank has been running low. I have been trying to put the oxygen mask on everyone else for so long, I didn’t even realize that I was unable to breathe myself.

But slowly, Odis is changing all that.

How, you ask? Well, his morning snuggles, unconditional love, playful spirit, and wagging tail for a start. But the biggest reason is walks with Odis.

I hate walking! Not the actual act of walking; I hate walking around the neighbourhood without a purpose. When we lived in central Abbotsford, I walked with the kids all the time to pick up groceries, visit the library, or play at the park. Since we’ve moved to east Abbotsford, there really isn’t anywhere to go, so I never walk.

Odis gives my walks purpose. While walking I have the time to clear my head, pray, think about my day, listen to books on Libby and focus on something other than our crazy schedule. It allows me to take time to focus on how I’m doing, and it feeds my soul.

It’s the oxygen mask I’ve been searching for so that I can breathe again, just like those carefree days used to do while growing up on the farm in Agassiz.