Monday, November 9, 2015

Handle With Care: 17 Weeks of Learning to Live a Beautiful Life

It's Week 9 in my 17 weeks of Learning to Live a Beautiful Life series. 

I don’t know about you, but there are weeks that I can’t seem to get it together. My days and nights seem hopelessly unproductive.

This past week was one of those weeks.

I slept poorly, my body ached and my brain was pea-soup foggy.

The foggy brain is more of a frequent state of being. But that’s another story.

I can’t completely call the whole week a wash. My family ate every night (I didn’t even have to pull out the PB&J meal plan). My kitchen stayed relatively clean and Josiah got his math for the week done.


So what does a girl do when she feels her days, nights and every minute in between are catching up with her?

It’s time to take a step back and work in some “me time” into your life.

I realize that the idea of “me time” is completely against everything we tell ourselves.

Our society is filled with women who spend more time primping for their selfies than they do snuggling with their kids.  We all shake our heads at the ladies who seem to neglect their families with endless social events, appointments, parties and manicures.

On the other side of the equation are the moms who devote every second of their existence to children, friends and church. This is the group I am more personally acquainted with.

We feel as if we are juggling a million perfect eggs and at any minute one of those eggs (or 13) is going to fall…what a waste of eggs!

Here is a truth we need to accept. There has to be a balance between the two extremes in “womandom.” And we need to show grace to ourselves and others.

So here is the question I need to ask you (and myself).

When was the last time you did something for yourself?

I am not talking about brushing your teeth. Or reading that book on effective parenting.

I recognize that there are seasons in your life that require you to give every spare inch of yourself to those around you.

You might be caring for a newborn. Or an elderly parent who is living with you.

There still has to be some balance.

The truth is that your inability to care for yourself could lead to other bigger issues.

A decline in your physical health.

A decline in your emotional health.

A decline in your spiritual health.

Caring for yourself doesn’t mean you have to turn in your “I’m Every Woman” card. It just means that you are learning to thrive.

So. My friends.

Here are a few things you can do to start looking after yourself. Please keep in mind that my advice is just that. It's advice. I can't even begin to pretend I know everything there is to know. I am not privy to the inner workings of your heart or your life. This is what I have learned through my that what it may! 

1.       Choose one way to pamper yourself. This could be enjoying a long soak in the tub, a DIY pedicure, a trip the hair dressers or a massage. For us budget conscience gals the tub soaking and the DIY pedicure can be cheap (obviously). You can also bat your eyelashes at your husband to offer the massage (I’m sure he’ll be willing). A trip to the hair salon can be pricey…however, consider going to a beauty school. As a former member of that tribe, I recommend it….they even do manicures!

2.       Schedule some Alone time!  Doesn’t that sound heavenly? This is where your spouse needs to show his support. Even though I only have one child, I am (by nature) an introvert. I am energized when I can spend some time by myself. Your alone time doesn’t have to be a retreat to a spa in the woods…though doesn’t that sound delicious!...The Muffin took Josiah to swim team practice last night. I spent 2 blissful hours by myself pinning recipes on Pinterest.  If you are a single mom, think about exchanging “alone times” with another momma.

3.       Address any health concerns. This is where we fail. I understand completely. My health issues have cost my family so much. I can’t even begin to express how I feel about that. However, my husband would tell you that he would rather have me than new cars and a new house. How long has it been since you’ve had a pap smear? Are you of an age to get a mammogram? Are you eating right, exercising and getting plenty of sleep. If you can’t answer those questions with confidence you need to figure it out. I realize I am being fairly blunt, but this is where I have been. Your family needs you as healthy as you can be.

4.       Enlist the troops to help care for the home and other responsibilities. This, of course, only applies if you have “troops” to enlist. I saw an interesting meme on Facebook the other day. It was a picture of a washing machine and a dryer. The basic idea is this. If your child can operate a cell phone, he or she can learn to do laundry. Boom! We are doing our kids a disservice if we are not training them to be responsible in the home. Especially our boys. Especially the littles. I figure if Josiah can operate an Xbox with certain prowess he can certainly be responsible for daily chores. And, yes. He does laundry. In fact, this week he did his own laundry. He even put it away in the correct drawers...which is more than I can say for how he puts away the dishes. 

5.       Have a hobby. What? Some of you will tell me that you don’t have time for a hobby. You have as many hours in the day as the rest of us. Having a hobby doesn’t mean that you have to carve out a corner in the living room for basket weaving, scrapbooking and macramé. It means that you take time in your life to do something that is stimulating to your creative brain. Having a hobby helps you combat stress and helps keep those brain cells active. Your hobby might be recreational reading, knitting or baking. My hobbies change from time to time, but I like creating things. I have always loved to read. I also love to go to Thrift Stores and Flea Markets. That has also become time I can spend with The Muffin and Josiah. The Muffin and I have had many date nights at The Thrift Store. 

6.       Spruce up the outside just a bit. I don’t want to appear shallow, but just like fixing up the front of the house can “up” its curb appeal, so can putting some attention into your physical appearance can make the whole package more charming. This is my nice way of saying…take some time to look as nice as you can! This has been a hard one for me. My big deal is that I have always felt “fluffy.” I felt that it wouldn’t make any difference to dress up. People would still see the fat. However, I’ve found that taking time to spruce up makes me feel so much better.  My momma was right!

7.       Devote Time Every Day to Prayer and Heartfelt Study. Even if it is 10 minutes you need some time alone with God. For a time, I was combining Josiah’s devotion time with mine. I wanted to be an example. I found, however, that I truly missed those moments when I could scribble in my journal and have time alone with the Father. Josiah’s Bible Reading and journaling is now scheduled into our school time. I make sure I spend a few minutes every morning with my journal, my Bible and a hot cup of tea. It centers me for my day in a way that can’t be replicated any other way.

I think one of the big things I want to address here today is that you are also training those around you (namely your children) how to treat themselves and future spouses. I want my son to be a thoughtful partner to his wife. I want him to learn to care for others and take pride in a job well done.

I also want my family to love being with me. If I am tired, cranky and miserable to be with...what am I teaching them? Am I shouting because I feel overwhelmed? Do I smile enough or is my face hold a permanent worried look? Does any little crisis or catastrophe throw me off my game or do I take minor bumps in the road in stride?

And speaking from experience…it is a horrible feeling to be helpless in your own home. To have to rely on someone to perform even those most basic of needs can be quite humbling. But it also taught me a valuable lesson. I have to handle myself with care.  

My sweet friends. My prayer today is that we all learn to do this. And that we recognize our worth.

You can read more of my 17 Weeks of Learning to Live a Beautiful Life  series by cleaning on the Banner below. 

Just a little note: This post had been up a good two hours before I read back through and noticed I had asked you to "clean" the banner below. My friends. I need all the help I can get. By all means...clean to your heart's content. 

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