The Sweet Life

imageIt is said that Americans consume 27.5 lbs. of sugar a year, which is an alarming statistic for sure.  I often wonder how much of this consumption is tied to our emotional need to bring more sweetness into our lives.  As more and more of our time is devoted to busy-ness and less time is spent on simple pleasures that make us feel good, we find solace in a quick sugar fix that satisfies temporarily but leaves us wanting once the high wears off.

What if, every afternoon, instead of reaching for that chocolate chip cookie, we took 15 minutes to indulge in an activity we really loved?  Taking a walk outside and enjoying the flowers and sunshine, for example, or visiting travel websites to gather ideas for your next trip.  Or writing a quick email to a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile.  Anything that gives us a feeling of satisfaction and connection will bring sweetness into our lives.  It is amazing how strong the energy boost can be from feeding our true needs. Taking time to honor ourselves in this way not only powers us through an afternoon.  It can create a habit that is sweeter than chocolate.

Mother’s Daze

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As I was dropping off my kids today at school, I was the recipient of road rage from two separate middle-aged women.  The first one was angry at me because I decided not to run a red left turn arrow.  The second one sped past me with her window down screaming GO!! when there was clearly no where for me to ‘go’.  I was following a long line of cars on a very busy street.  I wanted to say to them both, “Sweetheart, you clearly need to get a meditation/mantra practice.  Preferably one you can use in the car.”  Clearly, they were both stressed out and over-scheduled.

I am assuming these women were both moms since we had just come from the drop-off queue, so I want to offer them and all the other wonderful mothers out there a little perspective.  You have to take care of yourselves before you take care of anyone else.  I know a lot of your mouths just fell open, but bear with me and think about if any of these realities might apply to you. 1) You are with your children but you don’t hear a thing they’re saying because your mind is so focused on your to-do list for the day. 2) Your seven year old accidently knocks over a cup of juice (for the 3rd time this month) and you go ballistic because you just can’t ‘do’ one more thing.  or 3) You are at your child’s recital that you have practiced lines for for the last month but you keep zoning out and looking at your watch.  If any of these apply to you, it is obvious that you have no reserves left.  You have been so busy getting all of the kids where they need to go, with the permission slip signed and the $5.00 fee, in the right outfit, teeth brushed, hair combed, good breakfast in their stomachs that you forgot to have a life.  Of your own.

Not only that, but you forgot that you have permission to do just that.  As moms, we keep waiting for a break in the chaos to take time for ourselves, do things that feed our soul and put a smile on our face.  Things that only we take pleasure in.  But here’s a lesson I learned the hard way:  There will never be a time when there isn’t one more load of laundry or a darling child who needs something.  We have to take a stand in the middle of the chaos to carve out our own time.  Usually, whatever needs to get done can wait a little bit.

This is something I have struggled with for a long time and I have consciously been working for the past year to put a daily practice into my routine that is only for me.  It looks something like this: Wake up 30 minutes before the kids so that I have time to meditate/pray for 15-20minutes and quietly go over my goals for the day.  Practice yoga at least 2-3/wk (Yoga classes can be found at any time of the day making it easier to squeeze them in.). In the car by myself, I either listen to 80’s dance music that totally pumps me up or I listen to one of the many inspiring authors that I am interested in.  I regularly schedule in time to pursue things that interest me like concerts, art shows, nights out with my friends, lectures, massage, etc.  The point is that I build in time throughout the week for myself.  Dates on my calendar that are non-negotiable unless someone needs to go to the hospital.  And then, once a year I take a small (or big) trip without the family to get a break and gain some perspective on my life, usually in April before the crazy end of the school year crunch and looooong summer break.

You may think that there is no extra time to do these things, but I assure you, there is.  If you take a hard look at your life and all the commitments that you have said yes to without consciously deciding that it fits in with your life goals, you will see that there are pockets of time that you could re-dedicate to yourself.  And maybe your kids don’t need three extra-curricular activities each.  They will thank you for the extra time in their week to do what they want, as well.  Trust me, if I can do it with five kids, you can do it, too.

What I am telling you, dear ones, is that this is a practice.  One that I recommitted to working on, myself, at the life-coaching retreat that I just returned from.   You have to constantly calibrate your thinking to allow space for yourself in your own life.  No one else will do it for you.  And the rewards to your family and all your fellow drivers are profound. Because when you live from a place of contentment and happiness, you can’t help but have that spill over into every interaction you have with other people.  It is a gift you will give the world.

So on this Mother’s Day, I hope you will take an hour to yourself and make a plan, a new schedule, that will make yourself a priority again.  I promise, your kids will love the new you.