Love and Self Care

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Tiffany Belferder is a practiced therapist, mother of two, and Head of School of Fusion Academy Long Island. Professionally she supports others, but Tiffany aims to ensure that we never fail to take care of ourselves first

    It’s a new year. Congrats. Everyone wants the “new you”. It’s very exciting to look forward to bigger and better ideas. It’s empowering! We all want bigger, better, greater, and more! Right? Before you look forward, do you know who YOU are?
    I am an educator, therapist and mom. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to others. How can I change the world? How can I improve your life? 
    I have an older son and two years ago, I had a little girl. She is my youngest and I’ve never been given a mirror that so clearly identifies who I am. She acts like me, sits like me, eats like me, has a sense of humor like me, holds others pain like me, and worries for others like me. Holding up this little redheaded mirror made me question  myself, who am I? What do I want to model for my daughter?
    I talk a great talk. I’ve often been told to, “Find a way to decompress.” Or, “Create a tool box of things that make you feel good.” And, “You’ve got to put your own oxygen mask on before you help others.” While all of that is good advice, I’m really bad at following it. I work 12 hour days and then again after my kids go to bed. I haven’t done something for myself in who knows how long. I say I love to travel, but haven’t left New York in six years. And thus, I’m watching my daughter cry when others cry, get anxious if someone is wronged, and share before doing anything for herself. However, there are also very impressive things that she does innately that she most likely has not learned from mimicking me. She will fight for herself when she is wronged. Put up her own boundaries and name her emotions. This little girl is inspiring. I want to do that!
    Something I have learned while working with people, is that it appears those people who are happiest, are simply their true authentic self. It is the least exhausting and most genuine fun way to be. We often default to putting on different “masks” before taking on certain tasks and activities. For example, some of us don a mask as we head into an important presentation, or when  getting ready to meet a new group of people, attend various meetings, be with friends, and spearhead business interactions. However, in my experience, people seem most receptive to me when I’m humble. Every once in a while, giving the strong impression that, “I sure as hell don’t have it all together, but I love everything I do and everyone I do it with, so do you want to get on this train?” which elicits a powerful call to action.
    The last few months, I have been mirroring my daughter. I am learning who she is and what she gravitates towards. She could spend 75% of her day “cooking” in her toy kitchen. She tries everything out (cars, building things, drawing, taking care of her 32 baby dolls and touching absolutely everything just to see how it feels). When was the last time that I did that? To quote Darius Rucker, “When was the last time you did something for the first time”?
    So this is what I commit to do. Find ME. Figure out as an adult what I like or don’t like; what I should try, and what is appropriate self-care for me. Spend some time loving me. I’ve made it my mantra. Love me. Because of my self-love, I can and will teach others to love and treat others with love (or at least in my presence). THAT is what I want to model for my daughter. She deserves to be caring and cared for. Everyone deserves this.