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  • Jessica McQuistin

Caring for Others and for Oneself: Catching the Overflow



How long does it take you to paint your toenails? Fifteen minutes? An hour? How about several months?


Back in December I wanted to paint my toenails a bright shiny red but for some reason, I just couldn't get myself to sit down and do it. A few times, I prepped my toenails by cutting and filing them, but that was as far as I ever got...Until this past weekend. What changed? Well, I painted my mom's toenails. Then I went ahead and painted mine too. Somehow, the act of painting someone else's toenails gave me the momentum I needed to finally paint my own.


In a previous post on self-care and community care, I used this Eleanor Brown quote:

Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.

I fully agree with this sentiment and regularly prioritize self-care (as you probably already know if you're a regular here). On the other hand, to quote Gretchen Rubin,

The opposite of a profound truth is also true.

With that in mind, I'll attempt to turn the Eleanor Brown quote upside down. It doesn't sound quite as elegant but I'm going to suggest that:


When you take time to serve others, your spirit is replenished and you can use the overflow to care for yourself.

Does this seem true to you? I keep witnessing this in my own life. Another example relates to cleaning toilets. (Not as glamorous as painting toenails but hey, everybody's gotta do it!)


I'm not great at cleaning our bathrooms at a regular interval, especially if nobody's coming over anyway. But lately I've gotten much better with this, thanks to my yoga studio work-trade gig, where I clean the bathrooms every Friday morning. Once I've cleaned their bathrooms, it's much easier for me to come home and clean my own. (I've also adopted their genius strategy of keeping cleaning supplies in each bathroom so that I don't have to carry them all throughout the house as I go. What a game-changer!)


I've also noticed this phenomenon when cutting up fruit or vegetables for the kids. It's so much easier to prep food for all of us than it is to just make myself a healthy snack!



So...Is there anything you'd like to do for yourself that you keep putting off? Try doing it for someone else and you might just be able to fill your own cup with the overflow of energy and momentum!


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