By LJ Eastmead

One Saturday I was sitting with a group of 4 women sharing lunch and stories of our lives after enhancing our minds and understanding at a HIPPA Training we needed in order to volunteer at Alabaster Jar Project. We were all sharing our different reasons for supporting the organization, and the other ladies asked about what I “do”. This really is a hard question for me because I “do” inspiration; how I do it is fitness. Since I was talking to women who were willing to voluntarily attend a HIPPA Training on a Saturday in order to further volunteer helping others, I figured I was working with my demographic: Women with generous souls whom, somewhere along the path to help everyone else, forgot how to take care of their own bodies, minds, spirits, and relationships.

As I spoke with these ladies, I shared that my passion has less to do with fitness and more to do with getting people to a balance of health that suits their needs, and aids them in the healing process to loving their own bodies, minds, and spirits at any shape or size.

We discussed infin-8, our online challenge, and I shared that one of the ways participants accumulate points is to spend 15 minutes a day doing something, anything, they enjoy doing that has no other purpose than their personal pleasure. That can be watching TV, reading a book, going shopping, or talking with a friend; anything that is meant entirely for pleasure and has no other motive. One of the women stared at me for a bit as we discussed why I included the habit. When the conversation calmed slightly, she chimed in. In a very matter of fact manner she said, “I have no idea what I would do just to enjoy myself.”

She’s a single mom and with a significant age spread between children, all-in-all, she has been parenting with kids in the home for almost 23 years with at least 8 years more before they could possibly all move out. Where does someone like that find peace? Find pleasure? She is an engaged mom, a loving mom, a hard-working mom, but she only has the capability to do what she can with what’s left over of her because she doesn’t feed her own needs.

Imagine, if this woman began her day with something that was just for her- not a workout to lose weight, but a workout to feel good. Or imagine she began her day before everyone else woke and spent time meditating, or calling a friend on the east coast so she won’t be interrupted by the needs of her kids. Do you think that would set the tone for her day differently? What would that tone create for her kids’ days?

I believe modeling good self-care is as important as engaging with our kids. We need to take care of our own needs so we’re not just giving our loved ones leftovers. We're worth more than living "leftovers", and our loved ones deserve more too. Of course you can't give what you don't have, and the only way to have more than "leftovers" is to put you first! It’s a hard concept to practice, especially someone in this single mom’s situation, or the person who is always ready to lend a helping hand to anyone they meet.

How can we make time for our own needs and desires?

1. First, start by being intentional. I know I use this word a lot, but there’s a reason. Actions with which we are not intentional are swayed, swallowed up, and spit out by someone else’s intentions. None of us are meant to live another's life, so we must be intentional to ensure we live the life that best suits our needs, desires, and purposes.

2. Set time in your schedule, on your calendar if you need, and intentionally do something you enjoy.

I recommend jumping in with both feet and set a full 15 minutes in your schedule. Maybe it seems like a lot, maybe a little. Maybe you’ll do more, maybe less, but this way, it’s enough time to relax and it’s not too much time that it’s overwhelming.

3. Come up with ideas before it’s time to do something you enjoy. Here’s a few to get the juices flowing:

  • Turn off everything and sit in the quiet

  • Read a book or magazine

  • Knit

  • Go to the playground and swing

  • Take a nap

  • Go on a walk

  • Practice deep breathing

  • Do something creative like paint, draw, knit, or sew

  • Listen to music

  • Call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a while

4. Be forgiving and kind to yourself. You’re not used to this practice, so it may be difficult to stick with at first. Before you know it, however, you’ll be sending the spouse and the kids on a trip away for the weekend as you sit in your pajamas and binge watch Pretty Little Liars with your best friend, and eating your favorite ice cream without concern of the kids getting to it first….Nope, I haven’t dreamed about this before, but it is sounding like a plan…Is Pretty Little Liars worth the binge? (squirrel)

5. Relish in the moments of your "me time".

Remember, making time for you, gives everyone (including you) a chance to see the best version of yourself. What’s (s)he like?