Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Be Good to Yourself

Like many busy moms, I struggle to find the time to exercise, eat properly, get enough sleep and catch up with my friends. I can somewhat routinely care for five kids, a large dog and, on a good day, even my husband but, it seems almost impossible to find the time to take care of myself.

I think of myself as relatively low-maintenance. I don’t wear a lot of makeup. I don’t blow dry my hair. If it takes me a long time to get dressed in the morning, it’s only because I’m still trying to locate items in my wardrobe that disguise “Big Bertha” – the deflated party tent that replaced my belly when Kevin, Declan and Cormac moved out.


In any case, all things considered, I really am fresh off of an extended year where I was truly committed to taking great care of myself. I had to, I told myself. I’m doing for the babies. In fact, I believe we all go to great lengths to ensure our physical and emotional well-being while we are pregnant and/or breastfeeding – ultimately, we justify our semi-self-indulgent actions because we are doing them for someone else.


We tuck ourselves in to bed early. We make sure we take our vitamins. We eat breakfast. We stash healthy snacks in our glove compartments and desk drawers. We eat balanced meals. We stay connected to our friends, relying on them for wisdom and support. We permit ourselves little treats. Or, does a pint of ice cream count as a big treat? Either way, we exercise. Perhaps not hard-core body-battering exercise but rather, well-intentioned toning, stretching and perhaps even a bit of yoga. Which is how I got to thinking about all of this in the first place.


Last Monday night, I had the unique pleasure of taking a Sunset Yoga class. As the sky turned from blue to pink to lavender to grey and the stars rose up above us, I tried to turn my focus inward. I tried to ignore the nagging to-do list that was racing through my mind and the pesky mosquitoes that were feasting on my ankles. Needless to say, I don’t have much of a yoga “practice”. While the triplets have perfected their downward dogs as part of their crawling routine, the closest I’ve gotten to a downward dog is when I yell at Finn (our spunky lab) after he raids the garbage can. So, as you might expect, I found this yoga class extremely challenging.


I tried desperately to wrestle my poor bod through a Vinyassa that the other ladies seemed to execute effortlessly. I had to repress the urge to cry “Timber!” as I toppled over from an attempted tree pose. I really only found solace in the child’s pose – perhaps because with so many kids at home, this one was a natural for me. As I mentally beat myself up for my lack of coordination and inability to focus, I heard a voice say “be good to yourself.” It was the yoga instructor. And, while I’m not sure her whispered words of wisdom and encouragement were necessarily directed to me, I took them to heart.


There I was on a stunning summer evening with the opportunity to zone out, lighten up and savor a few “all about me” moments. And how was I spending them? Lamenting my lack of skills and processing a to-do list that there will never be enough hours in the day to complete! Enough, I decided. That’s enough. I had stumbled upon something that I’ve now moved to the top of the daily to-do lists.


Thanks to Sunset Yoga, I have a renewed commitment to simply be good to myself. Perhaps it’s not a revelation to you, but I’ve just realized that it is OK (more than OK!) to take care of yourself even when you’re NOT preggers or nursing – what a remarkable idea! I suggest that you try it too.


1 comment:

elizabeth said...

Big smile from reading this. And, I fall from 'tree pose' without having as much on my 'to-do' list. It sounds like the class is perfect and has reminded me to make sure I get to yoga this week.