My mind is almost always going a mile a minute – pondering, reflecting, planning. Is this okay? or What will happen if _____? or What do I think about ____? Here are a few things I’ve been saying to myself this week. See if you notice a theme.
1. It’s okay to stay home from the gym this week; you’re sick!
2. It’s okay to leave work to go to the doctor. They can survive without you for one afternoon.
3. Yes, you and Jonathan are doing a good job managing Jonah’s screen time.
4. You’re not a bad mom for having a babysitter two Saturday nights in a row.
5. You’re not a bad mom for taking a few minutes for yourself between getting home from work and picking up Jonah from Nonni’s.
6. It’s okay that you haven’t written a blog post in a while.
7. You will have a job next year. (More to come about this, perhaps.)
8. You and Jonathan and doing a good job with the dogs. They are loved, happy and healthy.
9. It’s time to find some friends here. But the thought of that is pretty exhausting!
10. You can’t do much about the fact that the world seems to be going to hell right now. Do what you can and focus on the positive.
About two months ago I began doing yoga. I’ve always wanted to try it, but all the studios I had looked at were pretty expensive, and as the working mother of a toddler I didn’t see how I had the time. At the beginning of March Jonathan found a Groupon for a local studio and suggested that we buy it, and I agreed.
I started going to classes and was immediately hooked. The combination of pushing my body outside of its comfort zone plus mindfulness and proper breathing did wonders for me physically. I felt better.
Soon I noticed that something strange was happening. During and after class, I began to have lots and lots of ideas to write about. I’ve enjoyed writing for a long time, but have always been very much a slave to inspiration, meaning that I would only write when I had a great idea–which wasn’t often. But once I started doing yoga, the ideas just started flooding into my mind. Yoga inspired me, and I started writing multiple times a week. I haven’t stopped yet.
Then, I got the crazy idea that someone else might want to read what I was writing, and that they might even pay me for it. Why not submit some posts to some other websites and see what happens, right? Can’t hurt. And two weeks later, I had five posts featured on BlogHer, including one I was paid for, and two accepted for publication on YourTango and Scary Mommy.
I think yoga has inspired me to write in three ways: 1) I am actually exercising on a regular basis, which benefits my body and mind, 2) the mindfulness that is a part of yoga practice helps me to clear my head and focus on my breathing, so when I do begin to think of other things again the ideas flow freely, and 3) yoga and writing are both things that I am doing only for myself. They are mine–not part of my roles as wife, daughter, mom, employee, just Holly.
I really think this is the crux of the whole issue: When I started taking care of myself in one way it enabled me to take care of myself in other ways, too. When I started believing that my writing was worth taking seriously, I found out that other people thought so, too. And that’s an empowering thing.
As women, we seem to have a tendency to discount our gifts. Maybe you have a little hobby that you dabble in now and then but you don’t think that it’s worth showing to other people. Or you downplay your strengths at work in order to not seem pushy or like you’re showing off. And this benefits nobody. It doesn’t help the people who would benefit from your gift, and it certainly doesn’t help you.
So I guess the moral of this story is to find whatever it is that inspires you, and make time for it. Don’t be afraid of the gifts that you have. Embrace them, and find others that do, too. Make yourself a priority. Take yourself seriously. And try yoga–it’s the best.
I’ve had a wonderful couple of weeks. I’ve just been really happy recently, after not being so happy for a while. Nothing special has happened, so it’s taken me a little while to figure out why this is.
I’ve realized that I’m happy because I have been reading and writing every day. Jonathan and I have been doing better about maintaining a clean house. We’ve been cooking regularly instead of eating fast food and take-out. I’m spending time outside. I’m getting enough sleep.
These are the essentials of my happy life. I feel content because I am reading great literature, writing and creating on a regular basis. A lot of these things boil down to picking what is right for me versus what is easy. It’s easier to binge-watch tv at night after Jonah is in bed rather than make time to write. It’s easier to get Chick-Fil-A for dinner every night instead of cook. These things may be easy, but they don’t make me happy. Instead, I’ve been trying to simplify my life and focus on the things that I know are good for me.
Kristen Howerton at Rage Against the Minivan wrote recently about the challenge of self-care for busy people, particularly busy moms, and that really resonated with me. I realize that self-care is what this is all about. For women especially, it can be so easy to push ourselves and our own emotional needs to the side in trying to fit it all in and take care of everyone else. But I’ve learned that choosing the easy option is not what is best for me or for the people who depend on me. My goal is to choose a life that is simple, that prioritizes physical and emotional health, and that involves time for myself and the things that wake me up inside.
What are your life essentials? Do you feel that self-care is a challenge to fit into your life?
A few months ago, I wrote over at great books and where to find them about how I needed something for myself, something that belonged to only me. Since my husband and I had our son in December, I spent a lot of this spring feeling like who I am as a person was to some extent disappearing, being subsumed by who other people needed me to be: wife, mom, teacher, etc. I wasn’t sure what exactly to do about this, but the idea was germinating in my mind that I needed to be better about carving out time for myself to pursue my personal interests, and just to be me. I think a lot of moms (particularly new moms) probably feel this way. I think some of that was just new mother blahs, and I am happy to report that for the most part I’m feeling better now. But the feeling like I needed a new hobby or personal interest to pursue has remained, and this blog is somewhat a result of this feeling. Writing has always been an outlet for me, but I haven’t been intentional about setting aside time to do it. I would only write when I felt inspired, rather than setting aside the time and writing whether inspiration was there or not. It is my goal this year to write regularly. Since I am about to start a new, less time-consuming job (yay! more on this later), I will try not to let busyness be an excuse to not write.
I’m so excited for what the future holds, and I can’t wait to use lovelyintrospection to document it.