Go Ahead and Spoil Yourself!

The world today passes by at warp speed; our children are born, grow up, move out and have children of their own…and looking back, we always ask ourselves, “Where did the years go so quickly?”

During the hectic years of child-rearing, building our careers, continuing our own education, volunteering for a myriad of worthy causes and juggling what feels like hundreds of balls each week, we can get worn down, become cranky and depressed, feel isolated and confused. There are never enough hours in a day, hands to do all the tasks on the list, energy to keep moving forward through our jam packed lives.

Survival is often the mode we shift into, mindlessly accepting life’s complex patterns, never questioning the reasonableness of going, going, going – just like the Eveready Bunny. We’re proud when we push ourselves and get everything done on our daily To-Do lists, feeling worthwhile and indispensable. But are we?

I don’t believe in indispensability. We can all be replaced. If we simply walk out the door in utter desperation, like Meryl Streep’s Joanna in Kramer vs. Kramer, who rambles nearly incoherently at her husband, “It’s not you, it’s not you. It’s me, it’s my fault. You just married the wrong person, that’s all. I can’t hack it, I can’t hack it!” we’ve reached a point where we no longer care what happens – to us, to those we love, to anyone. If we become seriously ill or worse die, the people who love us may be left stunned, overwhelmed, bereft… but life goes on.

So, why do we wait to take care of ourselves? Why do we push ourselves beyond reasonable limits…sometimes to the breaking point? In a game of sports, when a player needs to catch their breath, they call a time out. In a marathon, it’s not unusual to see a runner S-L-O-W down in order to catch their breath. But life is not a game or a marathon.

Time and time again, when I talk with women, I hear the same excuse, “I don’t have time.” My answer is, and I know you’ve heard it before, “Make the time.” You have to put YOU on your schedule! Even Oprah Winfrey admitted, when her weight began to creep up and up, that she had forgotten to put herself on her own schedule. She’d lost sight of her priorities. She slipped back into old, familiar patterns that did not serve her before, nor would they ever serve her.

Go get a calendar and a marker – make it a BRIGHT, FUN color – maybe even pick your favorite color! From now on this is YOUR COLOR to write on this calendar with! Now pick one hour this week and set it aside for you. Write your name on the calendar in BIG, BOLD letters, draw a box around your name, add some doodles. (You DO remember how to doodle, don’t you?) Write the hour that you plan to claim as yours. Honor this hour!

This is one hour when you can do anything you want. Lock the bathroom door, put on some music, light a few candles and soak in a hot tub. Don’t forget the bath salts or body oil. Pack your lunch, go to the park, pick a bench and then…just sit. Do nothing, clear your mind, breathe deeply. Or stretch your time to 90 minutes and go see a movie in the middle of the morning when the kids are at school. See something ridiculously funny or heart wrenchingly sad. (Belly laughs and hard cries release tension – they’re good for us!)

Once you claim one hour a week to SPOIL YOURSELF, then, go for two, three. It gets easier! Like potato chips, you’ll find yourself hard-pressed to stop at one! And remember, there are no limits when it comes to “taking care of ME.” If you work so hard that you need an hour each day…just do it!

Also begin to do small, nice, fun things for yourself; buy a bunch of marked down flowers at the grocery store and put them in your favorite vase on your desk at work or by your bed at night. Visit a pet store and pet the puppies or hold the kittens. Dab your favorite essential oil on a tissue and tuck it in your desk drawer at work. Buy bubbles, sit on your porch and blow while remembering a favorite summer as a kid. This, too, gets easier and less laden with guilt as we find that we are happier and healthier with each act of small, hedonistic pleasure! I promise that your family and even some friends will notice the change in you, too.

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