When was the last time you did something just for you? Not your kids. Not your spouse. Not your mom. Not your work. Not your community. Not your church group. Something for you and you alone.
How many excuses can you list off the top of your head for not doing so? How about the list of “Have tos”, how long is that? The laundry needs to be folded. I have to run Little Johnny to practice. I have to clean the toilet. I have to do this, I have to do that. How about I have to find some me time?
Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy writes, “We are too busy listening to everybody else instead of our authentic selves. Maybe it’s because we’ve convinced ourselves that we really don’t have the time for personal pursuits that bring us contentment if they take longer than fifteen minutes. Perhaps we don’t hear the whispers of authentic longing because we don’t want to hear. If we hear, we might have to acknowledge, even respond. We’re afraid to hear the promptings of the woman who wants to learn how to draw, dance, raise orchards, re-upholster a chair, cook Szechuan. We might have to take a class or buy a book, a pad and pencils, a leotard, a plant, a fabric, or hoisin sauce. No time to be passionate, we have to be practical. Essential, uncompromised longings will have to wait until there’s more time: when the children are back in school, when Mom’s feeling better, when things let up at the office.”
Taking time for self is an important aspect of self care and stress management. When you neglect your needs and forget about self nurturing you are increasing your chances of unhappiness. Your self esteem can suffer. When you spend every waking minute doing for others and not following your dreams and desires, burn out and resentment can set in.
Do you have a secret passion that you have always wanted to pursue? Is there a famous writer lurking in your soul? Have you always wanted to try your hand at painting? Does your heart resonate with a beautiful piece of handcrafted furniture? How about letting your natural rhythm out and trying out your dance moves? You never know if you will be good at something unless you give it a try. Chances are, if you have an interest, there is a reason. A desire that is calling to you to chase it.
Several years ago, I followed one of those “passions” when I signed up for a belly dancing class. The art of belly dancing had always fascinated me and it was something that had been on my bucket list for years. I loved the music, the drumming, the fluid moves. I danced with a troupe until I started flying for the airlines and wasn’t able to make the practices and performances anymore. I had the time of my life! It didn’t matter that I was in a class with people that I was old enough to be their mother, heck one of the girls was the age of my grandson! It was something that called to me and I went after it!
When you follow a creative desire, your life can be enriched. It can help you unwind and find balance in your life. In the world we are living in, we all could use a little help to balance the stress that seems to be running rampid. I found joy in dancing. Was I the best…not by a long shot but it took my mind off of the stress that was engulfing my life at the time. For a few hours a week I was able to engage in something that I enjoyed and escape the pressures of my world. I was able to allow the music and the moves to transport me to a different realm. My mind let go of the stressful thoughts as I laughed with my classmates and laughed at myself when my body just wouldn’t gyrate the way that I wanted it to.
Learning something new and following a passion gave me the strength and the confidence to do what “needed” to be done to keep my life pointed in the right direction. It helped smooth the edges, making life a bit easier.
My friend Tony told me this week that his 85 year old mother was taking an online yoga class that is helping her to deal with the stresses of recovering from cancer and the craziness of the world! At 85, she was doing something for her. She has made her needs and desires a priority.
Taking time for self is not selfish, it’s essential. If you honestly don’t have time or money to take a class, please, find something. Take a relaxing soak in the tub, add some bath salts or essential oils, play soothing music, light a candle, and get in touch with you. Grab that book that you have been wanting to read, find a comfy spot, open the pages and escape for a while. Find a new recipe on the internet that speaks to your taste buds and give it a try. Go for a walk, a bike ride, a hike in nature and bask in mother earth’s healing. Buy or make your favorite treat. Take time to sit and savor it, don’t rush. Delight in the texture, smells, deliciousness, enjoy every morsel with mindful pleasure. Sit with paper and pen and record your thoughts, feelings and emotions. Do something that engulfs you in pleasure, something that speaks to your soul.
When are you going to put yourself on your list of priorities? It’s time. I’m not saying that you have to be at the top of the list, let’s just start with getting you on the list. I realize that we all have busy lives, but we also owe it to ourselves to make time for some creative pleasures. The responsibility of taking care of yourself is in your hands. It’s your responsibility, so stop putting yourself on the back burner. Make “me time” a priority. Stop putting it off. Find something that sparks your interest. Something that calls to your soul, then do it. You and everyone around you will be glad you did.