For most mamas, the upcoming season will be full. Full of work events, school celebrations, parties and shopping. Places to go, and people to see… If you are like me, your preference would be to enjoy yourself through the fullness rather than feeling caught up in a whirlwind of busy. This is a time when self-care becomes critical to actually enjoying all the holiday season has to offer us. That might mean simply slowing down to focus on deep breathing. It may mean developing a centering practice through meditation or prayer which also generates energy to fuel all those to-dos. Whatever the self-care ritual, the important thing is to set the intention and then following through.
Through my own journey of inner work, I know how difficult it can be at first to be still, so start with 5 minutes at a time if that’s all you can bear! Practice letting go of the to-do list, the guilt, the “shoulds.” This was damn near impossible for me at first, but just with any learning a new skill – it takes practice. The real work is being with ourselves without judgment.
When I began consciously giving myself the freedom to devote time to myself – to do the work, to contemplate, to explore, to discover – I began to emerge. Not the hats I wear, but me. I began to understand who I am, and I now love and care for myself as a good parent does a child.
One structure that works for me, is meditation. Now, I don’t mean the traditional sense of the word which lead to visions of sitting cross-legged on a pillow chanting oms. That works beautifully for some people, and not me. I meditate through art, yoga and nature walks or bike rides. This practice of stilling the mind is intensely important to me feeling grounded and centered. Ha, I’ve even meditated over dishes. The point is, when I am in healthy practice, I am more patient and in good spirits for my kids, my husband, my work, my errands – you name it. I am actually enjoying and participating in my life rather than reacting to it. (When I’m not, well…let’s just say overwhelmed and bitchy comes to mind.)
As I am looking ahead to the holidays, I would love to feed two birds with one hand (I’ve really always disliked that other saying!). I know how important my self-care is, and I also want to create some magic for my loved ones.
Giving of gifts for me is less about the tradition and more about contributing to a person’s feelings of love and connection. So, I began looking at the intersection of two things I value: contribution and creativity. (Spoiler alert friends and fam: this year, I will be using my creativity to make some of my gifts!) With this idea, I am already getting excited to see what creations will come forth. Not everyone shares the same values, so this idea might sound like a lot of extra work and totally unappealing, maybe even stressful to some. I know there are some who really look forward to the hustle and bustle of store-front shopping this time of year and enjoy humming along to holiday tunes while going to and fro. For me though, those crowded stores and traffic are a total drain of my energy.
When I am drawing or painting, I meditate to clear the clutter in my mind and do some self-coaching around a decision I’m facing or something I want to explore. It is the time I connect with Source. I even have a sacred space in my home office that my kids know is Mommy’s art desk. Now the time that I’ve already built into my planner for art (yes I schedule it in), will also be a time for gift creation!
I still cannot believe that I spent so many years ignoring the part of me that creates. I was someone who actually thought “I’m not the creative type.” Other than my children, I thought I couldn’t make anything beautiful or fun. Now it’s less about the creation and more about the peace that comes from the creating.
In the past year I’ve learned that we are all creative – the distinction is those who are actively developing a relationship with their creativity and those who aren’t.
By the way, have you read Elizabeth’s Gilbert’s Big Magic? I believe it should be required reading for all women, especially moms! Here are the three most important take-aways from the book for me: (1) create for the sake of creating – for the energy and pleasure that it gives us – therein lies the worth, (2) ideas want to be made – we must do the work of creating to open ourselves up for the inspiration, the “big magic,” and (3) follow your curiosity. This last one was like a “duh” moment for me, as it is something so pivotal to my coaching training, and I hadn’t yet fully connected how that’s exactly what I am doing when my art “works.”
We all have birds in our heart that want to sing. In choosing to give loving attention to our self, we are letting those birds out to feed them now and again, and modeling for our children to do the same. ♥