I have identified an epidemic in modern times. It is the glorification of being low-maintenance. We brag about how many hours we can work, about how we can function with little sleep, about how we can skip breakfast. We brag about all the ways we can neglect ourselves and still manage to be upright.

Being low-maintenance is not sustainable. Sure, if you are twenty you can live on donuts and three hours of sleep mixed with two pots of coffee and some Solo cups of beer, but if you are over the age of thirty this begins to wear out our edges. If we don’t learn how to take care of ourselves we can get burned out and sick and depressed and fat an anxious and…I could go on, but you get the idea.

I propose that we need a paradigm shift. We must give ourselves permission to be high-maintenance. Because we already are high-maintenance, we just don’t act accordingly! We work more, get more sensory input and have more things to do to maintain our lives than ever before.


This requires that we take better care of ourselves, not less care. We need exercise, meditation, massages and healthy food. Yes, all that takes time. Yes, all that takes resources. I paid $60 to get the oil changed and tires rotated in my vehicle on Saturday. Why would I not invest in taking care of myself? The car cannot tuck my children into bed and inquire about the status of their hearts today, fix healthy meals, hold space for my partner, or teach. I mean, I love the car, but in ten years it will be dead and ideally I’ll still be here.

Instead of giving ourselves permission to be high-maintenance and encouraging others to be high-maintenance, we begrudge others who get pedicures or massages, or who are taking vacations. My mother says things like, “I hate you for going to California.” What she means is, “I’d love to take a vacation to California but I have not saved up the money and given myself permission to have that good thing. So I am going to begrudge you that good thing, too.”

I work part-time still. I know, it has been four years since I was diagnosed. But I am really high-maintenance. I need a lot of sleep. I need exercise. I still have a lot of doctor appointments. I get oncology massages twice a month. I get acupuncture sometimes. Most days I fix at least two home-cooked meals. I get pedicures because…well who cares why really? Maybe it’s just because I like painted toe nails. The point is, I am high-maintenance and I’m totally okay with that. And if I had decided to be okay with being high-maintenance before I got cancer maybe I wouldn’t have. I don’t say that in a “woe-is-me” way, just as an observation.

Today! Give yourself permission to be high-maintenance. Go to bed at 8. Or insist on organic vegetables with your dinner. Tell the kids to clean the kitchen and you go take a bath, or a walk. And while you are giving yourself permission, give a friend or partner permission, too. Let’s support each other in self-care. Be high-IMG_3859maintenance!

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