Happy Monday, beautiful friends! This is the last week of school for my boys. Grace graduated from kindergarten last week which was a bit emotional since she’s my last baby. She wanted to wear a dress and “high heels” which were actually little open-toe booties with a chunky heel. She looked so grown up as she was smiled at her reflection in the mirror. I finished brushing her hair and she spun in a circle and watched the layer of tulle on her dress flare out slightly. I imagined her doing the same thing when she goes to a high school dance or even her wedding day and had to blink back a few tears. But I was trying so hard just to savor each moment of Friday morning with my sweet girl, focusing on the second I was in, not jumping ahead to the next thing.
It’s hard to be in the present, isn’t it? It’s hard not to dwell on the past or worry about future and just to be in this moment right now. I think most of us are guilty of that. We are living for the weekend or we are ready to put the kids to bed so we can veg out in front of the T.V. or check our phones. We don’t find our jobs stimulating or fulfilling all the time so we get lost in daydreams about the what-ifs of life.
Dr. Seuss is quoted as saying, “Sometimes, you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” Wow, spot on, Seuss…from the profound depth of The Lorax to his many philosophical musings, he never ceased to say it right. So to live in the present means you’re appreciating the value in more of your daily moments instead of wishing your days away, looking to leap-frog to the next big thing.
For this weeks assignment, I am channeling one of my all time favorite movies, “About Time.” If you haven’t seen it, you definitely should–It’s free on Netflix. We are going to exercise focusing the mind on living in the present. You will need a notebook and a pen. That’s all. I like to get mine from Marshalls; they always have pretty ones, but really anything will do. I’ve just always loved fresh office supplies and writing utensils. Place them next to your bed and before drifting off each night, take a minute to write down something that made you smile, laugh, or touched your heart that day. Go back to that moment, if you can. Try to write down the colors you saw, the sounds you heard, if there were any smells…how did all of it make you feel. This is something you can continue for the rest of the program (or even beyond), if you like. Maybe you don’t do it every single day, but maybe you will capture some really beautiful moments that will become memories if you do. The point is to notice The Now without skipping forward to the Next Big Thing you think you want to live.
If you already journal, this will be easy for you. This just gives your reflecting a little more focus. And remember, not all of the moments have to be happy! They might be sad but we can’t shy away from our feelings. Sometimes the most valuable lessons are born from pain. The important part is to simply be present. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. It’s happening in real time. We only need to show up and exist in it.
“Ugh. I’mSo frustrated! I went to sign up the kids for a day camp through our church and Luke’s age group is full. I knew I waited too long! Now I will be scrambling to find activities for them to do for a week during the summer. Oh well, it’s not like they don’t have things to do. Grace has horseback riding one night a week. Luke will be doing golf. Noah wants to do a basketball camp. Plus I’ll be busy keeping up with everything around here…laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, play dates, working three days a week…Hey! Wait a minute! Where does my time fit into this schedule? I guess my time doesn’t matter as much. It’s fine. I can deal with that. I am sure I’ll get a night out with the girls here and there. Oh but wait, we have those two weddings, three baby showers, the neighborhood bar-b-que. Hmmm. I guess my summer weekends are all accounted for. Sigh. It’s ok. They are only little once. This is just a season of my life. I need to find joy in what I have, not looking to escape. I’m so ungrateful.”
Does anyone else’s internal dialogue sound similar? Guess what, it’s okay to want time for yourself. It doesn’t make you ungrateful. In fact, it’s important that you make time for yourself if you aren’t getting this time on a regular basis. This is time that you need for yourself. I mentioned that before, this concept of becoming a “human doing” instead of a human being. You are the hands that make the sandwiches. You are the ears constantly perked for a crying child. You are the eyes being peeled open to help a friend who lost her job and needs you to help her find one. And these are all beautiful examples of selflessness. We should be eager and willing to help others. But we also need to prioritize ourselves so that we don’t get burnt out.
So here is your assignment for this week:
Schedule a Date With Yourself:
If your spouse isn’t available to be with the kids, talk to a friend whom you trust and would feel comfortable with her/him watching your kids for a few hours, or if you can swing it, hire a sitter, or ask one of the kids’ grandparents to watch them. If you don’t have children, schedule a day off of work. I know this seems like crazy talk! But we all need a break.
Now this doesn’t have to be this week. It can be, but I just want you to get something on your calendar and STICK TO IT. Unless you have a kid home sick or something else unforeseen happens, reschedule the date immediately. But you are going to take yourself on a date.
This is ideally a solitary adventure. We should get comfortable with being alone.
This is a minimum of two hours from when you leave the house to when you step back through the door.
3. You are not allowed to feel guilty. This is part of your assignment.
4. This date must occur some time between now and June 30. No exceptions.
Ideas of things to do:
Get a pedicure.
Go to a movie.
Grab a coffee and macaroon at the cute little coffee place you’ve been meaning to stop into (Proving Grounds in Milford is my favorite).
Go to a resale shop and look for treasures.
Go to a museum.
Go on a hike or walk at a state or metro park.
If it’s a rainy day, and you want to be around nature, go to an indoor botanical garden.
Workout for an hour then treat yourself to lunch.
Go shopping (try small business shopping in a local downtown).
Take a cooking class.
These are just suggestions because I can tell you from experience, when I don’t have the kids for a few hours, I suddenly can’t decide what I could be doing so I end up pacing around the house and freaking out that I can’t think of anything to do and how pathetic am I that I don’t know what to do?!
It’s not only acceptable for you to make time for yourself, it’s necessary! It’s important! We need to recharge our batteries now and again. It’s not something to feel ashamed of. You’re not weak for needing a break. Actually, I hope you enjoy it so much you decide to make it a regular thing. Even if it’s once every other month, you deserve this!
If you need proof, check out these scripture verses:
“Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” – 1 Peter 3:4I take this to mean, you are more effective in your efforts carrying out God’s work when you have peace and stillness in your spirit. This comes from self-care.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test what God’s will is: his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2My interpretation: Don’t get so caught up in “busy-ness” that you forget to renew your mind and spirit. We can channel God better when our minds are rested and at peace.
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” – Mark 6:31-32 Look, even Jesus needed rest and to regroup! He is God’s son and he needed a break. If Jesus can take a break so can you.
So please, friends, give yourself grace. Take your well-deserved breaks.
Oh and if you happen to take a picture of your date with yourself and would like to post to social media, feel free to use: #SummerBeautificationProgram –Shameless promotion, I know! But I want others to know, it’s ok to rest. Even strong, intelligent, beautiful women like yourself prioritize self-care.
*I had a typo when I first published this post and typed assignment 3 instead of 2! This is only the second assignment. You haven’t missed a week. Sorry for the confusion.
First I just want to let you know I am giddy as a three-year-old at her own birthday party over the response this idea has had. Thank you for making it possible. I usually just throw these ideas at the wall and pray something sticks. Like when I was ten-years-old and tried to get my neighborhood friends to band together to raise money for fireworks and a pizza party but I killed the idea cold in its tracks when I decided to call the group “Autumn Splendor” because the fundraiser was to take place in August with the celebration over Labor Day Weekend and my friends didn’t have the heart to tell me I was a super dork who specialized in being cheesy with my love of words. But obviously, this isn’t anything like that because I have lived a few more years and most people have secretly discovered that they are as nerdy as me. Or they appreciate my nerdiness because it makes them feel better about themselves. Or they’re benevolent souls who take pity on us socially awkward ones. Or you got peer pressured into taking on the challenge because another friend asked you to and you thought, “Eh, what the hell…”
Whatever your case may be, YOU ARE HERE; Welcome to the party! There may be pizza and/or fireworks. It just depends on how far we decide to take this thing.
So here we are approaching summer even though Michigan is being a cantankerous crone and refuses to warm up appropriately, have faith it will be warm soon! I have talked to more people lately who are in a self-proclaimed funk, especially my mom friends. We don’t know why. We are just less than enthused with life. Everything has lost its sparkle a bit. We are underwhelmed looking at ourselves in the mirror. We are feeling tired, drained, and depleted. We may even be angry at ourselves for letting resolutions slip through our fingers yet again.
Social media doesn’t help us. Scrolling through my feed it looks like everyone is having the best days of their lives. Meanwhile, I think I need to reapply deodorant, I’m hoping I remembered to buy bread the last time I went to the store, my hair looks like it’s about to take flight from my scalp with these fly-aways I have, and I don’t know if it’s considered neglect to have your kids eat cereal for dinner three days in a row, but I’m hoping not because I don’t have enough cash to tip the pizza delivery driver tonight.
So, do you feel me? The problem is, we are so stuck in our own heads all the time. Judging by what we see, it’s hard to believe anyone feels unhappy anymore. We think we’re the only ones. But how can I be so discontented? 23 people liked my Instagram picture? I had ten really sweet comments from people who saw the picture I posted of little Timmy at the zoo…why do I feel sad?
Let me ask youa few questions: When was the last time you played?I don’t mean Pokemon cards with your seven year old. I mean, when did you do something for yourself that made you feel creative or joyful like painting, writing or journaling or even photography—not with the intention of posting it to social media? When was the last time you ran around outside and had pink cheeks, tangles in your hair and were out of breath from doing something fun for you, not just your kids ? When was the last time you connected with another soul in a real and meaningful way, like by having a real discussion, one-on-one with a friend or family member. A conversation that made you think, “Wow! I never thought of it that way.”
When was the last time you became completely vulnerable, opening yourself up to be judged and found not only did that friend not judge you, they loved you harder than they did before because in that split second, they saw your humanity and your imperfections laid open bare and decided that they see the real you underneath it all? And when was the last time we did that for someone else? This, friends, is LIVING a creative and meaningful life. This is LOVING yourself and those around you exactly as you are, not worrying about what anyone will think of you. And so many of us have lost the ability to do these things.
SO here is where we are going to spring board from. You are going to catapult yourself right into living with purpose. Each week, I’ll post a prompt or assignment for you to do at any point in the next seven days. It will help you to get in touch with your inner self. It will require you to use imagination. You will need to make a little time for it.But before you say, “I really don’t have time for it,” may I please point out to you that you make time for each of your kids to do their things? You make time to help other people every day. There is that metaphor about being on the airplane and securing your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else with theirs. You cannot effectively help anyone else until you are willing to help yourself. Make time for this. Make time for yourself. You will notice that you’ll start doing all of your work and duty with more joy when you start paying attention to yourself.
Your assignment for Week 1…Get ready, it’s a tough one. You might have to ignore your phone for at least a half hour after you get the kids to bed in order to accomplish it.
Write a letter.
Not an email, an actual paper letter hand-written (not typed) to someone you love. But here is the catch; you have to tell them what they mean to you. I know…warm fuzzies… Uncomfortable. But I promise, so worth the reaction. You may actually be really excited about this. Other ideas: draw a picture to go with it. Stickers. If you’re feeling daring, sprinkle it with glitter. Or “Elle Woods” it with a little fragrance.
Pro Tip: Shake out your hand if it cramps up while writing; it’s probably been a while since you wrote anything longer than a grocery list (if you don’t have Alexa).
The OnlyRule: This is only a letter. You cannot send a gift with it. The written words are the gift to the recipient. We are harkening back to the days when flashy things didn’t impress us yet. I repeat: You can only send a letter. Do not try to sneak in a gift card. This isn’t a birthday gift. This is a “Just Because I Love you and I Need You To Know Why” gift. If it also happens to be someone’s birthday, you can send a separate card and tell them it’s my fault and you will have to buy another stamp. Sorry. You should have picked someone else who wasn’t celebrating a birthday.
Last step: Put it in an envelope and place a stamp on it. If the lick-able seal on the envelope is a dealbreaker for you, two words that will change your life: Glue. Stick.
Last, put it in a mailbox. Wait. See what happens. You might get a phone call in a few days OR A LETTER BACK!
Bonus Assignment: Take a twenty minute walk withoutyour phone. Unless you are pregnant or diabetic, or have another health condition that requires you to have access to a phone. But the idea is to get outside and listen to the sounds of nature around you. Twenty minutes. You can do this as many times this week as you like. Just be sure that you disconnect and are alone in your head.
Again, thank you for joining me in my quest to liberate our bodies, minds and spirits from the oppression of expectations and societal pressures that we and others place on ourselves. I look forward to reading your comments of your experiences if you feel like sharing them. And if you don’t, that’s fine too!