06 August 2013

Making Time For Myself


Today I wanted to touch on another HUGE thing that made my transformation possible...

Making time to care for myself.

Doing a food diary, making healthy foods available, eating healthy meals, and going to my acupuncture sessions once a week (back in the day) was one huge feat for me, let me tell you - - mostly because it all took some extra time.  The first few times I showed up to acupuncture, I was so frazzled from just being away from the office - hoping that no one was looking for me.  Maybe this is a New York / finance industry thing, but you're basically expected to be at the desk at all times.  So I had to get really, really brave to "step out" once a week.  I practically felt like my job was on the line every time I stepped out.

But just the act of doing that  - doing something to honor my body against all opposition - caused something pretty amazing to happen.  It's like my body knew that I was trying to be kind to it and make it a priority...and it responded.  Our poor bodies put up with so much.  We ignore our health, we feed ourselves junk, we don't move enough, we make ourselves so busy physically and mentally that we "don't have time" to care for our bodies.  But just like any living being, the minute we nurture ourselves with healthy soil and sunshine or the minute we show kindness, gratitude, and love to ourselves - - our body will respond with extra vitality.  I learned this firsthand.  Just the act of making time for myself had so many positive results that I can't even begin to count. 

As I laid on that acupuncture table week after week:

-I started to feel worth (showing honor and respect to my body did wonders for my worth. It's a whole lot different than abusing my body.)
-I started to feel like less of a victim to my busy life.  I realized that the world didn't end and wasn't going to end by being out for 1 hour a week. 
-The fears associated with being away from the desk started to diminish.
-I started to feel alive again, instead of barely surviving.
-I began to have a shift and realized that my health mattered more than my job.

My health continued to become such a priority that I actually decided to stop working so late into the night. I made it a goal to start heading home about 6 pm or soon after.  Again, I felt my job might be on the line for doing so as the tasks at hand were so great.  I could write a whole post about how hard it was to sacrifice my identity of being the super star, the hardest worker, the one worthy of a huge bonus. I had to let that go.  But I decided it was worth doing (and it was).  

It turns out that life did start to improve so, so much.  That year was one of the best ever.  I was healing deeply in so many ways.  I was eating so well (thanks to the jumpstart of the food diary.)  And this is when my life started to completely transform.  I learned how to achieve the most content feeling of peace and happiness.  It was incredible.  Pretty much everything I write on the blog was discovered during that year.  And, it turns out...at the end of that year, my 7 year marriage ended.  But what an incredible, incredible blessing it was that I had already been making time to care for myself.  I was already on a healing path and getting better at managing my energy....so I had a lot of that energy stored up to face all that I had ahead.  It was one of the greatest blessings of my life.   And it led to many, many other blessings, including this  :)  :)  :)  :) 


And, here are my 8 favorite ways I care for myself (I'd love to hear yours, as well!!)...

1.  I take baths.  
In fact, I just took one tonight. :)  I looooove my natural rose essential oil bath salts by Antho.  But you can also add just plain himalayan salt (very high mineral content) or epsom salt from the drug store and a few drops of essential oils for an amazing mineral bath.

2.  I listen to music.  
Somehow during my divorce, I got addicted to hymns.  I had never really listened to them much before. But they filled my home and my ears during that time.  So I still love them as they remind me of that that time that was actually very spiritual for me...in fact it was one of the first times I ever felt spiritual. So, well...of course I'll never forget that.  Anything that reminds me of that time is now super nostalgic for me.

3.  I go to the Farmers' Market or CSA.  
I totally geek out over good vegetables.  And ok, our petty cash needs to be replenished often during the summer.  But paying extra money for good vegetables has become more and more important to me. I love to be frugal and save money in other ways but feel good about indulging in good vegetables. 

4.  Massage/Acupuncture.
I looove it.  There is something so, so healing about acupuncture and massage.  FYI, The Brooklyn Acupuncture Project offers a sliding scale for acupuncture (depending on your income:  $27-$52 per session.)  I really like the owner, Sarah.  She also will do massage + acupuncture for $80.  Such a smokin' good deal for New York.  (photo from B.A.P.)


5.  I clean.
Our home is not sparkling clean very often due to the demands of this blog.  It has been worth it.  But every once in awhile I do love to just clean and get our home in order.  It feels like a luxury to do that as I always have so many other things on the list.  But it is very much a thing I do to put everything else on hold and care for myself and our home.  (FYI, I've been working on "greening" my home.  I'm LOVING it.  I'm down to using zero harmful chemicals. Can't wait to share some posts about that.)

6.  Meditation.
I've listened to my infertility meditation for years.  I still love it.  But I guess right now those efforts to conceive have come to an end.  So I'm actually trying out some different meditations. I'll let you know if I find any I really like. 

7.  I go to our place of worship (a Mormon temple).
I actually didn't always love going there.  But when I became more interested in living a more spiritual life, I could see that there was a LOT of beauty and empowerment in the worship there.  I loved going as a single woman after my divorce and I love going there with Danny.  I went there during the day, prior to meeting Danny.  :)



8. Danny and I go on walks together often.  (I loooove it.)  
I do my power walks during the day usually with my walking partner.  But in the evenings Danny and I go on strolls.  We head to the dog beach in Prospect Park (we saw 8 turtles there recently!!), we walk through the winding paths in the forest, we enjoy the magical fireflies, and we just chat about life and all that we have ahead.  

What do you all do to care for yourselves?  Is this an area you need to work on? (me, too. trust me.)  I'd love to hear about what you do.  Caring for ourselves in whatever ways we can is truly one of the MOST IMPORTANT THINGS we could ever do each week (both for us and our families).  For me, I was so in the trenches before that I had to make those huge, huge changes in my lifestyle and career to start caring for myself.  And now, it's more about maintenance.  But it's still a lifetime endeavor. 

P.S.  I can't tell you how happy I was to see some of you doing the Food Diary.  YAY!!!  How about we do it this week, too?  As much as I maybe don't want to, I can't deny that it was hugely helpful for me to do it last week with you all.  Are you in?  I'll do it with you.  If you want to record it, feel free to continue recording it on the Food Diary post.  Also, try to pay attention to the way you feel after eating certain foods.  It's the BEST way to discover patterns in how well you feel. 

   

66 comments:

  1. this is such a sweet list! it is wonderful to enjoy small bits of daily life and take some time to do something special for yourself. well, if you are unhappy, you can't make others happy.

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  2. taking care of myself, as a new mother sometimes feels selfish. But recently I have been trying to make sure I get an hour away every week or so. My favorite thing to do is to get a pedicure. so relaxing and you are left with pretty feet!

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  3. I swim (about a mile). It lowers the heart rate, eases back aches and other muscular tensions that stem from working away at a desk, and is a physical exercise that can be successfully done no matter your weight and/or fitness level. So even if I´ve gained a few pounds or been lazy for a period of time, this always brings me back to a better physical condition. I simply love being in the water and also that it is a gentle kind of exercise that I can do at my own pace and without a partner. Bonus: It´s also a time for no talking, no music, no distraction so you get to listen to your breath or to follow your thoughts freely.
    In the warmer months this is a cinch (time wise), as the community pool is literally just down the road and it happens that I go multiple times a week early in the mornings.
    In the colder months (sadly two thirds of the year) I have to drive to the next indoor pool with a decent track length, so that takes a while. Once a week I make it happen anyway, because it calms my mind and strengthens my body.

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  4. I really like to have things to look forward to so I treat myself by planning ahead-not just with plans with friends, but with things I like to do by and for myself. For example, since we have struggled with fertility, too, I will put off a painting project that I'm excited about until the next time my cycle starts or if we find out that a treatment hasn't resulted in a pregnancy. It gives me something to look forward to during those hard days, and it re-focuses my energy on something creative like painting, re-finishing furniture, or even pulling up carpet in our old home. Saving the dirtier jobs means I'm not doing them while I might be pregnant and gives me plenty to do if I'm not! I also really like to luxuriate over projects, recipes, or plans by making a Pinterest board about them and planning them as though they were a party for someone else!

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    1. I LOVE your idea...to save something special to do during a difficult time. I bet that helps so much.
      xo

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  5. I'm terrible at self-care. Especially lately. I'd rather have fun with friends, stay up late talking to my boyfriend, or just enjoy life more than getting enough sleep, doing good meal planning, and just generally taking care of my needs. But when I am mindful, I cook. That's my happy place. And I love yoga but don't get there nearly as much as I'd like (it's a monetary expense that I can't quite rationalize much). I also porch-sit. As in sitting on my fire escape with a book, maybe a glass of wine and just breathe.

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    1. When I was single, it was the same for me...not enough sleep, not caring for my needs, not eating well. It's like every bit of extra time went into dating, going to events, meeting people, etc. I learned the hard way that I really should have taken more time for myself. When I dated Danny, things were still pretty crazy, but we just saw each other every weekend and so that did leave time for more self-care during the week, which was great.

      Oh, and your fire escape! That sounds so, so lovely.

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  6. I've recently realized how much I NEED to take care of myself more. From 7:00 am till 8:00 at night I'm busy with my kids and then my piano students after the kids are in bed. It's hard to take time for myself because I feel like it's "not worth the money" or "I don't have enough time". But no more... I've started working out, eating better, and I'm going to sign up for a tap dance class in the fall! haha! I'm super excited. I also love walks by myself at the end of the day, baths (and reading in the bathtub with a seltzer and candle burning!), and journal writing.

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    1. tap dance!! You are so awesome. :) :)

      In fact, classes of any kind are awesome. Thanks for that reminder.

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  7. I recently started taking all of Monday morning to go biking with a friend. This felt so selfish the first time as I was leaving my children for so long. The results have been so worth it. I am happier, my sex drive has returned, and I have more energy to serve others. I was feeling so drained. I have also taken time on Sunday to go sit by a river and throw my troubles in so they can be washed away downstream. Feels great and always me
    to release my burdens to a Higher Power. Thank you for sharing this post, Mara. We are so disconnected from ourselves in this busy world.

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    1. I LOVE this!!!! Thank you for sharing. This could be inspiring to any mom.

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  8. I take my dog for a long walks, I used to hate going outside twice a day, but now I realized that it actually calms me a lot and I enjoy it and it makes my dog happy:)))That's my thing now, I don't let anyone to walk her as I consider it my time to think and to decompress, to relax and let the stress of the day out

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  9. I have been working on this too. Somethings I am trying to do: exercise-- jumping rope and waking/jogging, reading some fiction, cutting out sugar (inspired by your post) and trying to listen to my body more. Tending to a small garden of plants that my sister-in-law planted for me. Also, I am trying to take time to focus on gratitude and things that are going well. I tend to want to problem solve so much that I spend too much mental energy running through/worrying about the things that are not quite right (the list is LOOOOONG) that I forget to appreciate the things that are going well. The funny thing is, I am pretty sure that worrying does not actually help resolve the problems, it just wastes energy and instills negativity. Remapping my thoughts to appreciate the good takes conscious and deliberate effort that is good self-care and good for energy conservation so that when a solution arises, I can actually pursue it.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. Love the jumping rope part. I actually started adding in a minute of jumping jacks after every mile or so of my walk. And - - - gardening. YES. I should have added that. I've been tending to my window boxes and houseplants like a mother hen and it is so, so fun.

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  10. I go to yoga. I've been taking Bikram yoga for over 2 years now, and it's the one place where I don't have to think about anything outside of the room. Also, I've been doing some meditations as well. I know you've mentioned Depak Chorpa before... I just started a 21 day meditation series he's doing with Oprah! I've done a few of them beofore, and it's become a great way to start my day! I would HIGHLY reccomend it for anyone who is just starting with meditating, it's short, effective, and FREE!!!

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    1. YES to yoga!!! Love it. I felt sheepish about adding to my list as I've only been once (I need to get my own mat once and for all and go to a class asap!!) And thanks for the meditation recommendation. Someone else sent an email about it, too. Can't wait to check it out!!!! thank you!

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  11. I love that you put cleaning:). That is one of the most therapeutic (sp?) things I can do- I feel so much better and feel so accomplished afterwards! (Until my toddler wakes up from his nap hahha). One other thing I love to do is read. I love curling up on the couch with a good book. Unfortunately I really don't take the time to 'take care of myself' nearly as often as I should, but it is something I have decided I really need to work on! I can't take care of my family or others if my tank is empty.

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  12. Taking time to take care of yourself is SO important...I'm definitely still learning this. : ) But exercising and just being outside is one of the most therapuetic things for me to feel rejuvenated.

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  13. at night, i've started soaking my feet at nighttime while working on my blog or other writing. I put peppermint, rose geranium, and something clary sage oils into hot water. It feels amazing, and smells wonderful. And I'm doing something for myself :)

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    1. Ok, ok...that's it. I'm doing this one. I'm sold. thank you!!

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  14. Love this & love what you bring to someone's life!

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  15. Sometimes taking care of ourselves feels like a chore or task that you have to do so I will often remind myself that I am doing these things because they make me feel better even though in the moment I may not want to do it. This is generally my conversation with myself before heading to the gym or out for a run. I also keep a gratitude journal, read my scriptures and pray. Oh and I read, I love to read. I also make sure I have a healthy social life. My social life brings me more joy and happiness than anything else.

    I've always insisted on a healthy work/life balance so I don't struggle with that. In fact, for a long time, I refused to learn how to check my work email at home so that I couldn't.

    I have recently decided to put cleaning on my to do list of taking care of myself. I've realized that have a clean organized home has a huge impact on my well being.

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    1. I agree with the cleaning...I always dreaded it and put it off, but when it's done it's such a great feeling! I love that you put it in the same category as taking care of yourself! That makes so much sense!

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    2. yes to having a social life! Oh man - this one makes a world of difference.

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  16. sometimes it's so hard to do the things you KNOW are good for you and will make you feel better in an hour (and for the next day(s))! It's easier to sit on your bum...
    I've gotten over that hump with eating, though; the last time i had a hamburger, i felt so gross, it was nowhere near "worth it" to eat it for how i felt afterward. VEGGIES TO THE RESCUE.

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  17. Running or hiking. Nothing gives me time to myself or more clarity of thought than a long run or hike.

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  18. I loved this post. I think when it comes to careers, it can be so hard to let go of the title & the status and the extra money. But if it's making you unhappy, none of it is worth it. On monday I am starting a new job. It is less hours and a super frelible scheudle. Whenever I have told my friends about this new endevor that say the same thing.."what are you going to do with all that free time, arn't you going to get bored?" I sort of just laugh to myself and I say, I am going to take care of myself! I feel fortunate that with my new scheudle I will be able to establish a healthy routine every day, walking the dog, exercise, eating breakfast and lunch at home, spend more time in the kitchen. All sorts if things that make me really happy. I think I will have to try more baths though. That sounds lovely!

    Katie

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    1. I love the sound of your new life. :) What an awesome thing to step down from the craziness. And good luck at your job on Monday!

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  19. I've been trying to add things here & there to take time for myself. I started by walking about a mile a day in the mornings. However, I found that evening walks were much more beneficial to my sanity (after a day at home with my 2 boys). I need that time after my husband gets home to just clear my head & not have any noise. I don't listen to music on my walks, instead I just listen to the sounds around me. It's so peaceful & calming & I'm in a much better place when I return home.
    I'd like to eventually add more good things, but this has been a good first step.

    -Erin

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  20. This is a topic that my mom and i were discussing yhe other day. In june i became a mom for the first time and ive loved being a full time mom, but everything i do is for her which i believe is how it.should be, but i noticed that sometimes.i.cwould not be super happy as other days, and i noticed that on those days i just felt bad were days i couldnt get a shower inbecause my baby was fussy or i was busy doing dishes fron the night before, etc... So since then ive made a point to do something for myself every day, whether it be reading my scriptures, working out, showering, ive been a happier wife and a happier mother because i was feeling good and that spilled.over into other aspects of my life.

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  21. Doing a food diary was helpful to me as well to put my days food into perspective. I found it easier to just take pics with my phone and it was also a great reminder for meal ideas in the future when I would be stumped as to what to make for dinner or lunch.

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  22. Taking time for yourself is a hard one sometimes. One thing I've been trying to do lately is get out by myself for at least an hour a week. With two little ones and a husband in grad school, even just an hour can be tricky! I usually go to the library and sit down with a good book in a comfy chair and just read. It feels so good! It's amazing what that one hour can do. Also, I've been trying to take just a few minutes each day to make it special for me, lighting a candle, taking a few more minutes on my hair, putting on jewelry or writing in my journal. Simple things that make me feel good.

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  23. So I know you've said you didn't feel beautiful before. But once you started doing all these things to take care of yourself then did you start to see your beauty? How did your concept of beauty change?? I'm going through this all now with a husband who is not happy with My looks and I realized I'm not happy with them either! But I want to be. And I need to come to a place of peace no matter what anyone else says or thinks. Did you come to that place before you had Danny telling you that you're gorgeous?? Was this a struggle?? How did that look for you?? Please share!! Your experience and wisdom is a gift from heaven bc so many are going through this.

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    1. My heart goes out to you so much.

      So, I guess that I never really cared about being beautiful that much (personally) or cared about it in others- - but my previous husband cared about it a LOT. And it felt as if his treatment of me was based on how he felt I looked that day. So I became very concerned with what I looked like (for him) and always wished that I could be attractive to him. But his suggestions & adjustments regarding my appearance never stopped and his desire for me to look different never stopped. So I did feel very, very unattractive in his presence. But during this time of personal healing, it's like I was able to separate his sickness from myself or my looks. I learned to no longer give a crap about what he thought about my appearance because I could finally see that it was a sickness..that it wasn't about me. So then (and now) - I think I just tapped back into what was my more natural feeling about beauty. I see beauty in everyone. Beauty comes from within...and that's what makes someone radiant and attractive. Anything else is just a facade.

      So -
      1. I had to learn to not take his behavior personally any longer. It helped to realize that his behavior was a sickness and that I didn't have to be a victim to it.
      2. I had to decide to have worth and act like it. That involved a lot of self talk and changing the script in my head. I repeated statements about myself that I wanted to believe. And it worked. I changed the script in my head and changed the way I viewed myself.

      (also, this did all take place prior to my divorce and prior to meeting Danny. )

      Sending you lots of encouragement...and lots of love.

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  24. Hot tea, hot yoga, green juice, gratitude, and surrendering prayers. Xoxo

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  25. I guess I'm wondering too what place beauty does and should have in our lives.

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  26. This post is perfect- exactly what I am struggling with :) I have three little boys (4, 3, almost 2) and am exhausted most days. Luckily I have a husband who WANTS me and totally encourages me to do whatever I want to spoil myself. Unluckily, I have a horrible guilt complex (it really is ridiculous). But I'm learning if I don't take care of myself, then I will never improve and become the better person I know I can become. AND be the better wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, etc I can be. So I'm listening to my wonderful hubby and taking at least one night a week to go out with my sister or by myself and just decompress. I've started exercising again (running and yoga- love it!). I'm trying to eat better and drink lots and lots of water. I'm sewing again. Amazing how therapeutic that is! I've always loved walks, but lately my kids have hated it. Which is sad, because it's such a great thing to do. Someday :) Anyways... thanks for sharing and reminding all of us how important ME is

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  27. We have always been REALLY strict with our son's bedtime - mostly so the evening is ours to relax and be together or do what we need to do to end the day.

    And, odd as it sounds, I spend time with my planner and notebook and do a giant 'brain dump' once a week. I cannot be my best if my mind is full of to dos and things to remember.

    I also blog. Blogging is not for profit or readers, but to remind me of who I am and flex my writing muscles.

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  28. Hi Mara and Danny,

    I read this beautiful speech today and had to share. It's George Saunders' advice to graduates: http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/31/george-saunderss-advice-to-graduates/?_r=1&

    Hope you are well.

    Best,
    Kimberly J.

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  29. I read your blog. :) And others. I'm pretty sure my husband thinks I'm a little crazy for reading from strangers, but it gives me so many good ideas! I used to write in my journal every night. It started with me writing a small page each day in my "Day in the life of..." project. Then I spend a semester abraod and knew I'd forget unless I wrote everything. That semester I also had time to ponder on commutes. That never happens now, and I still miss that time to sleep, thing, dream.

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  30. I really appreciate your points about how one can redefine boundaries at work and choose to be less busy and hectic. So many of my professional friends CREATE and maintain a busy, hectic, frazzled work life - and then they pretend they have no control over it and act as if they are victims. I think it builds people's identities of being important and valued, and they aren't willing to admit out loud that they are actively trading more money (like a bonus) for their sanity. But, as you discovered, few of us are that important at the office, and the world keeps spinning if we work a little less. I have had high-powered, professional jobs, and I find that I can do well in them while still setting reasonable boundaries. Sure, I might not be the super-star and I might not get the huge bonus, but that's okay. (And sometimes I'll work a ton if it would be irresponsible not to, but then I"ll balance that by a time of working less.) I've also learned that you train people how to treat you. If you're on your Blackberry every 10 minutes and you respond to emails at midnight, people will come to expect that. If you have a life outside of work, work hard while you're at work, and maintain some boundaries, people will also come to expect that and will often be fine with it.

    Also, "yours" never has an apostrophe (a little typo in the post). It's already possessive.

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    1. I couldn't agree with your points more. thank you for sharing. It's so, so true that we do have more control at work than we think. And YES - we absolutely do train people how to treat you. yes, yes. It's like if you respect yourself and your time, other people will, too.

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  31. Many of your posts resonate with me, but this one rings unbelievably true. I never thought I would be the type to try acupuncture, but I too fell in love with it. I was a workaholic in the DC area nonprofit sector who had been trying for years to have a baby.
    The physical and mental benefits of acupuncture quickly alleviated my guilt of taking an hour out of my schedule each week. I made certain my staff knew when I would be out and even encouraged several of them to also try it. I always came back to the office feeling refreshed and reinvigorated. I also found myself eating better and keeping slightly better work hours as I knew she would inquire about them each week.
    I cannot thank her enough for aiding me to let go of the helpless feeling that came with my fertility challenges and then helping me keep my stress levels down when I was fortunate to become pregnant. My twins recently turned one and I'm still amazed that the trepidation and sadness I felt at the start of the first appointment changed into feelings of empowerment and a sense of well-being (not to mention the laughter we shared as she helped me get my compression hose on over my swollen feet).

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  32. Strange question - do you walk before or after dinner (and the clean up). Is it a summer thing, or year round? I'd love to add that into my day with my bf, so we'll see what I can wrangle!

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    1. We usually walk before dinner while it's still light outside. Though if we are going on a date, it's usually on foot and find ourselves walking home after dinner, which I love so much.

      I guess on super cold days in the winter, Danny and I usually don't go for walks. Though at times I meet up with a friend and walk in a well lit area. Though I still try to get my day time park walk in and just bundle up. Or I'll go walk or run in our building's gym.

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  33. So many of these are great suggestions! For me I do a few things, take a power walk 5-6 times per week and listen to my favorite podcasts, make time to read before bed, and my favorite, keep a gratitude journal. It's just one sentence per night and even if I'm having a bad day, there is always something to be thankful for -- air conditioning, a hot shower, a loving husband.

    As I'm undergoing fertility treatment, I am doing acupuncture and really enjoy it! I find it so good for my body and soul and look forward to those Friday afternoons all week long.

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  34. Exercise by far has to be the most rewarding treat/time I give to myself. I get in the zone, and am proud after I push myself harder than I think I can. I love the "high" of a good workout (particularly a good run).

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  35. my cousin just emailed me one of your posts the other day and i am blown away by your blog. your posts resound so deeply. thank you. i am in the process of recovering from an eating disorder while continuing my life long battle against my chronic illness. your words give me hope.

    and i'm taking care of myself by nourishing myself but with food and walks and relaxation daily. the best i can. and trying not to be too darn busy. but the day is only so long!!

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  36. Such a great reminder! I have three little kiddos that I give so much time to everyday, because I love to, but also because they need me too. But giving time to myself is in many ways more important, and makes it so there is more of me to give to my kiddos - does that make sense?
    After reading this post earlier I vowed to have a lavender bath after putting the kids to bed. I did. And it was wonderful! My teething baby woke up soon after I had slipped into the warm water, but my husband was able to keep her occupied for a couple minutes so I could just breath and be present. It was a wonderful gift tonight. And I wouldn't have thought to do it without your list, so thankyou.

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  37. These are such great tips. I actually just scheduled a massage earlier today because I felt my tired body craved something healing like that. (I was reminded of one of your previous posts about getting a massage and how it feeling so healing for you). I also recently signed up for Oprah and Deepak Chopra's 21-Day mediation challenge. I've never meditated before, but so far I'm enjoying it. I'm finding it a little difficult to not let my mind race about work, relationships, etc., but hopefully it becomes easier to let those go. Thanks again for the tips!

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  38. I am a full time (very involved) student and during the semester I run on little sleep and lots of stress. With the upcoming fall semester I have made a few resolutions I plan to keep. 1. No caffeine 2. Make time for exercise (I am currently training for my first 1/2 marathon in November) 3. Continue to journal. I started journaling around a year ago and it really has been good for my soul. It is mainly a positivity journal. 4. Continue reading A Blog About Love! You guys have been such a blessing in my life! I love your enthusiasm, spirituality, and positivity. Thank you guys! :) And last but not least number 5. continue keeping a food journal. It really does make all of the difference in my diet to do this! I use myfitnesspal.com! Thanks for all of the inspiration Mara!

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  39. I love the bath idea. I am 5'10" so I normally have to curl up to fit in a bath tub but I still love it. One of my "me time" activites is to read a book that uplifts me. There is so much negativity in the world when I choose to read (or watch) something I want some feel goodness to come with it. Yoga also helps me feel better. I am still working on how to work it in more often but I really enjoy it.

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  40. One thing that happened when I became a mom is I lost some time in my schedule for exercise. My morning sleep was too precious suddenly to wake up early for a run and after work I would rush home to be with my son. I finally figured out that if I wanted to get a workout in, it would be over my hour long lunch break and I joined the gym across the street from my office. Now, at least four days a week I head over there for 45 minutes. More recently, in working with a therapist on my own self care and self love (something I make time for every other week), I have started to indulge myself in other ways. These include, regular pedicures and manicures; purposeful time with girlfriends; asking for what I want and need with pride and the knowledge that I deserve it (as opposed to apologizing that I have needs or allowing guilt to lead that I want some time or a material item for myself). I have learned that many women have judgments about self care--Oh, you have TIME to exercise? I can't leave my desk at lunch or I don't have time to get my nails done, etc. I've also learned to tune out that negativity. Another thing I've learned, and maybe this comes with aging, is that there is beauty and indulgence in the simplest of acts: Saying no to a project I might want to work on but that will muddy my already busy schedule or saying no to plans with friends I only semi want to hang out with; saying yes to myself more; taking time and care to prepare meals; taking my son for surprise ice cream on a summer night; going to bed early with my New Yorker, etc. I'm learning to appreciate those small indulgences, to view them as such, and to pause for a minute and say, I am loving myself in this moment and it feels good. Thanks for a great post. -Emily

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  41. Oh Mara, I love your posts and you know that :) But this kind of posts that combine honesty, girl talk and small tips are your forte. If I would award you a trophy, that would be "Soul Healer" :)

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    1. you made me smile big. :) thanks for this sweet note.

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  42. I do a 15 minute pilates workout every day, and this makes me feel more energetic and gives me a better figure than if I were just lazy and not taking care of myself. The extra effort and care is worth the time spent. Also, during my lunch break at work I will take a stroll around the beautiful city, rain or shine. There is beauty each day and I like to take pictures of it to document what I saw that day. This is good for my soul and makes for some lovely art.

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  43. I totally relate to this topic, but from the perspective of having my church calling as my "job". It is so hard to let anything slip in my responsibilities as RS Pres. but after getting pregnant with my third child, having gestational diabetes, and then caring for a new infant- all the while trying to plan for an imminent move- I had to let something slip, and it wasn't going to be caring for myself and family. So, I had to realize that I couldn't do what I was doing before, and that if it wasn't enough, then I would be released and they would call someone else who could do "enough".

    But it was so hard to let go! I don't want to be seen as a failure, and lame for not being able to do my calling the same great way I was when first called. I'd rather be released on a high note, and not when I am miserably failing (in my eyes at least) because of my new circumstances. I hope people that I've served in the past two years can remember the past good things, and not the most recent failings.

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    1. Bless you. i'm so glad you shared this...because yes, sometimes stepping down from church service is exactly what a person needs to do for themselves and their families depending on the circumstances. Life just ebbs and flows..and I think that's totally ok! Also, what an amazing thing you've done to serve for 2 years.

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  44. Oh I love this post. I do a lot of the things you mentioned (along with my husband, for walks and such). Thank you for the great reminder though. :)

    One thing I love to do is go to our public library and just browse. I'll waste an hour or two and sometimes come away with a jewel of a book. It's in walking distance of our apartment, so I make sure to walk, and grab a tea or coffee on my way back. I take my time.

    One thing I used to to when I was single (now I'm married and pregnant and on a serious budget) is go away on my own for a few days. I live near the San Juan Islands in Washington state, so I would use that as an excuse to rent a room, and spend a few days walking the beaches, eating out, sleeping in, exploring...all by myself. I bet there are so many fun little places around NY you could get away to for a night or two, or three. :)

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  45. Hey Mara! I love this post, and I agree with every point. I'm currently dealing with searching for a job, and I recently started meditating--it's already done wonders in terms of my self-confidence and staying positive throughout this difficult process.

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    1. SO glad meditation is helping. I know firsthand that looking for a job - and being jobless - can be such a difficult time and can really test your self confidence. But hang in there! Sending you good wishes!!

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  46. I always know when I need to stop and take better care of myself because when that happens I . . . paint my nails! haha. It is one of my "tells". It's something I do when I get too busy and frazzled and it's like I just rebel against all of that and sit and do this purely cosmetic thing that is not going to last very long and is completely for me. :)

    I love getting out of the house. One or two evenings a week is awesome if I can manage it. Dates with my husband or book clubs or just a night at a friend's place.

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  47. I didn't see the dentist for 10 years because we didn't have dental insurance. Bad choice! I figured if I just brushed and flossed, I'd be okay. Wrong! One painful (both emotionally, financially and physically) thing I've done to take care of myself is to finally go to the dentist. It is so embarrassing to admit that I have caused my body this much harm, but as I sit in the dental chair, I pray for courage and thank God for "helpers" who are able to solve my dental problems. Even if all you can afford is the $50 exam each year--do it! We are lucky to live in an area with a lot of dental schools, which provide low cost dental care. I am vigilant with my kids about dental health and tell them, "These teeth have to last you 100 years, or maybe more!"

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  48. I always believe in the saying "love yourself first and anything else falls into line. I have a friend who continue her studies. She's already a mother and I was inspired for she resist all her longings in order to become successful. can you see the logic? we Filipinos are family oriented, our OFW's
    are example of those people who wants the best for their children. In order for us to help others, we must help ourselves first that everything that's happening on us depends in what and who we are. Our attitude, our lifestyle on how we take care of ourselves. We must love ourselves in order to be love by others'

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  49. Such great ideas here, some of which I do as well. I think one of the best things I did to take care of myself was to quit a job. It took a huge leap of faith that everything would work out, but it was so worth it to not be stressed out and unhappy all the time. These days working out, eating well, meditating, spending time with my puppy and reading good books feel like such an investment in myself, and I enjoy every minute of it. I also like to infuse elements of happiness and self-care into activities I don't particularly love. If I'm writing a report I've been dreading, I make a nice cup of tea, light a good smelling candle nearby and put on some beautiful music to make it feel more enjoyable and luxurious than it would normally be!

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  50. Mara, your blog always has me smiling by the end of it. I normally get lost in several posts and get lost in all your amazing readers comments. Your openness and willingness to share you truth is really inspiring for me. Finding time for myself has always been especially hard. I always feel time spent on me is selfish, but when I actually take a moment to do something for myself I feel refreshed. I recently completed a yoga teacher training program and realized after months of struggling with the "selfishness" of my commitment that taking this time to myself truly transformed my life. I have been stopping to enjoy more of everything, everyday. It's been amazing to find that by taking time for myself, I have not only transformed my inner self but found new depths of love for those around me! Thanks for always making me smile.

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