We’ve all heard that unless we take care of ourselves first, we will not be well enough to help and take care of others. And as moms, we have A LOT of caring to give. Not that long ago, a friend invited me to spend the day at the Junior League Christmas Affair. This type of thing is right up my alley – shopping, champagne, Christmas music. Yet the whole time I was there, I felt a heavy weight – guilt – for being there. I convinced myself I should be home with my kids. Moms, we all deserve time to rediscover ourselves, to connect, appreciate, feel, affirm and enjoy. Let’s take better care of ourselves and practice constantly!
Here are all the ways that I am choosing myself:
Rediscover. Ask yourself one question: Where do you find your flow? Your “zone”? Your sweet spot? You know, that thing(s) you do that makes you lose all track of time? Think about this state of energy, happiness and creativity. When was the last time you were so focused that time evaporated? Take a moment to write down the things that connect you with your flow…and do them! Allow yourself to do more of this, of what you love. I promise, magically, you’ll always find time for it. Yes, really! I find my focus while writing. I find my release while running. I find my peace while reading. I make sure I do each of these things as much as possible.
Connect. We all need connection. And to be clear, this means real, face-to-face interaction. I watched a TED Talk, “Everything You Think You Know about Addiction is wrong,” in which British journalist Johann Hari, after much research into the underlying causes of addiction, argues that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it’s connection.
Addiction in one form or another hits many of us close to home and I’m not simplifying it or making a judgement about it, I’m saying it’s powerful to see how critical connection is to our well-being. When I first moved to Austin 18 years ago, I was no longer near my college friends and family. As many of us have experienced, I had to start fresh. And it wasn’t easy. It was lonely and tiring and is still the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I tried really hard…book groups, sorority alum chapter, volunteering, church, work, bible studies. I met a few solid friends, but it truly wasn’t until I had school-aged kids that my connections really took hold. My village. Commit time to find connections and nurture them.
Appreciate. Being grateful is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. We have a lot of big things, our health, our kids’ health, friends, a home. I thank God for those gifts daily. Yet I find that it’s the little things that move me the most. Right now, say THANK YOU to your body. Do it! My body image isn’t healthy. I’ve always struggled with it. Yet the other day in yoga, I grabbed my calf (it’s big and strong and something I inherited directly from my dad) and I held it. I thanked it. I didn’t stop there. I looked at my ankles and feet, seriously the most functional things in the world. Appreciate YOU. And a side note, if at the end of the day you are so tired and done, and struggle with finding a grateful thought, thank God for each hair on your child’s head and move down his/her body piece by piece. We truly are living miracles.
Feel. At this moment, we all have something weighing on our hearts. We each have disappointments and unmet expectations. Some of us feel lost. We might feel restless yet tired. All of us are going through or recovering from something. Let yourself hurt. Sit with your pain. As a favorite blogger says, “Discomfort is purposeful: it is there to teach you what you need to know so you can become who you were meant to be. Pain is just a traveling professor. When pain knocks on the door—wise ones breathe deep and say: “Come in. Sit down with me. And don’t leave until you’ve taught me what I need to know.” Talk about your joys. Be vulnerable. Take a hike and slowly examine each of your senses. Ask God to take the weight off of your shoulders. Believe in you, I do.
Affirm. You are deserving. You are beautiful. You are perfectly created. Let go of any guilt you are feeling. Breathe it out and breathe in love, kindness, strength, courage. Post affirmations in your car and in your closet. Be kind to yourself (I first heard this in my late 30s and it took my breathe away!). I recently read a post, “5 Phrases That Can Change Your Child’s Life” from one of my most favorite bloggers, Rachel Macy Stafford. I’ve adapted it for you.
To YOU from me (or more importantly, to you from you):
- “I still believe in you.” Always will. You’re imperfectly perfect.
- “You don’t have to have it all figured out right now.” Take the incredible weight off your shoulders. Breathe. You just have this moment. Surrender.
- “I noticed something special about you.” YOU are seen. And wanted. And needed. And important.
- “Thank you for trusting me with this.” Thank you for your precious time and heart, for reflecting with me and rediscovering, connecting, appreciating, feeling and affirming together.
- “You can always come home.” You are loved unconditionally. You are forgiven. You are enough.
ENJOY. Give yourself the freedom to try, fail, and get back up. Give yourself the freedom to stay in bed, to watch a movie, read a juicy book, to get a pedicure, to window shop. Begin loving being good to yourself. Sisters, there’s never enough ways to be good to yourself.