Self-Care Does Not Equal Self-ISH

Can we just admit it? We moms can be good at playing the martyr. Young or old, it’s as though we’re programmed to believe that if we’re caring for ourselves then we’re neglecting the care of others. I’m guilty. I can convince myself in a heartbeat that my unshaven legs and cancelled doctor appointments are proof of how hard I work for my family rather than the evidence of poor time management.

ID-100233627The fact is, if we believe that self-care is selfish then we have bought into a lie that exhausts us and robs us the joys of motherhood. Self-care is neither selfish nor optional. It is critical to our health and our ability to be who we were created to be and do what we were created to do.

It’s about stewardship, not indulgence. It isn’t going on a shopping spree at the expense of paying the mortgage. It isn’t opting for a spa manicure instead of rocking a sick baby. It’s carving out time in a busy schedule to care for ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually for the sake of being renewed and restored.

Life’s demands do not have to govern us. Motherhood doesn’t have to drain us. As moms, we need to nurture our children, de-clutter our homes, and feed our families. But we can be more effective when we start with nurturing our own bodies, de-cluttering our minds, and feeding our spirit. Without this, our to-do list grows while our energy shrivels, along with our joy and effectiveness.

I know between carpooling and carschooling (my version of homeschooling many days), we all have too little time, but we still have the freedom to choose our schedule rather than let it dictate our lives. Start small and learn to build more margin into each day for activities that rejuvenate you.

If you’ve been meaning to catch up with an old friend, call her today for a short chat. If you’ve been wanting to wake up earlier to do a short devotion before the day starts, go to bed thirty minutes earlier (yes, even with a sink full of dishes) and do it.

Self-care is not selfish; It’s life-saving and life-giving. It’s not optional, but imperative. Without it, we find ourselves unraveling under the demands of life and unmanaged stress, making us vulnerable to illness, anxiety, and depression–all of which limits our ability to do what we’ve been called to do.

We don’t have to be martyr moms. We make it difficult to enjoy our lives and for others to enjoy us when we choose that path. I believe Jesus came to give us an abundant life (John 10:10), but a long face and exhausted body isn’t the best picture of that abundance.

This is the day. Not some day. Today is the day to choose to recharge your body, renew your mind, and refresh your spirit. You and your family will be glad you did.

So what are you waiting for? Are you guilty of waiting for some day to have more time or more money to really care for yourself as you should? What really keeps you from starting today? 

 

 

 

 

 

Time To Breathe

Do you feel a bit stretched thin right now? Any of you mamas just on the verge of, or well past, wanting to pull your hair out (or someone else’s :-/ )?thumb_FullSizeRender-2_1024

If so, please PAUSE… 

and BREATHE…

And know that everything that’s making you crazy is temporary and won’t even be remembered by anyone this time next year. What will be remembered is whether Christmas is the joy you say it is or a burden, whether it brings the peace it promises or spurs chaos in your home.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord…Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”–Luke 2:9-10, 13-14

So…this year, in the midst of all the excitement, let’s not forget to bring good news that causes great joy. Let’s celebrate the Savior as the angels did and receive His peace.

Please say this with me: I are not a slave to anyone’s expectations. Especially my own! I hope you really believe that.

I hope that if you’re harried, you will slow down, connect, and find rest. Maybe jump in the car with your kiddos and go “light-seeing”. Curl up on the couch with hubby and watch a sappy movie. They matter. The “one more batch of cookies” you think you have to make for the party you don’t want to go to? Buy them. Or skip it altogether. And those gifts you want to wrap as beautifully as Macy’s? Stick ’em in a bag and know it’s enough. Sometimes, enough is just perfect.

“Enough” will leave you time to do what you love with the people you love.

thumb_FullSizeRender-5_1024Like chatting with friends over a cup of tea. Yep, that’s me with you…

…Thank you for hanging out with me during such a busy season. It means so much to me.

 

 

 

 

 

10 Ways to Make Peace With Your Mirror

This week, I babysat a friend’s granddaughter and I overheard a conversation between her and my youngest which left me nearly bent over with laughter.

This red-headed cutie asked, “When’s your mom gonna get bigger?”

My daughter quickly responded, “She’s not. She’s as big as she can get. Now she’s just gonna get shorter, fatter, and uglier.” I don’t know where she got that notion, but I clearly have much to look forward to in her 9-year-old opinion :-).

I couldn’t help but consider though that, sadly, many of us see ourselves in just such a negative light, calling “ugly” what God called “very good”. As a result, we often pass this same skewed perspective to our children. Whether we find fault with our skin, hair, weight, or other feature, it seems we’re never truly happy with what we see in the mirror, so we work feverishly to color over, cut into, or cover-up every perceived flaw, never attaining the contentment we hope it will bring.ID-100254378

Believe it or not, it is possible to break free from a negative self-perception and make peace with your mirror image! It’s a process that doesn’t happen overnight–for me it was a long one but somewhere along the journey from age 15 to nearly 45, I became comfortable with my 5 foot stature, unruly hair (and matching eyebrows), freckled skin, and extra curves.

Mamas, you are beautiful because God didn’t carelessly or mistakenly create you. When you are tempted to believe otherwise, please choose instead to:

1- Stop seeking perfection, which doesn’t exist, and start seeking health which is vital. A healthy body, mind, and spirit converge to create genuine beauty that others are drawn to.

2- Eat well, exercise, rest, and play. A healthy routine means a healthy mindset which generates a more accurate perception of yourself.

3- Refuse to buy into media-defined ideals of beauty which are fluid and cultural. Instead, set a personal standard that is based on truth and reality rather than shifting public opinion.

4- Stop comparing—it either makes you feel inferior which is unattractive, or it makes you feel superior which is also unattractive.

5- Break the tie between beauty and self-worth. Internalize once and for all this statement, “I am not the sum total of my body parts.” Period.

6- Count blessings, not flaws. Keeping a grateful journal will truly transform your perspective and your life. Thankful people are happier people. (See Gratitude, Not “Attitude”– 7 Ways to Teach Thankfulness).

7- Get rid of everything anyone but God says about you. It doesn’t matter who said you were too fat or too skinny, too short or too tall. God, who never changes and is not fickle, says you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

8- Surround yourself with positive people. It’s contagious.

9- Recognize that your body is an instrument, not an ornament. It is meant to be used to bring hope, healing, and love to those around you, not to be draped and put on display.

10- Celebrate aging and the future rather than live in the past which you likely weren’t happy with anyway. I’m not a 20-year-old size 2, but I wasn’t happy with myself when I was. Nearly 25 years later and so not a size 2, I look back and wonder what my problem was. But then, in another 25 years, I’m likely to look back and wish for what I have today. So why not just enjoy where I am right now and look forward to where I’m going?

I’m grateful to have made peace with the mirror, although I occasionally have to remind myself that the lines around my eyes are evidence of years of laughter. My wrinkled brow is a reminder of unnecessary worry as God has brought me through every trial that caused those deep furrows. Each scar and bump on my body tells a story of hard work or hard play. My hair is graying quickly, but then, my eyesight is fading just as quickly which means I can’t tell what’s blond and what’s gray anyway, so I suppose it doesn’t matter :-).

How about you? Is the mirror still your enemy or have you called a truce? What do you do to remind yourself that you are a treasure no matter what your reflection says? 

 

*image courtesy of Aleksa D at freedigitalphotos.net

 

The Dangerous World of “If Only”

Rita Clucas smI remember the 6th grade like it was yesterday. After all, I walked its halls many years after I left its classrooms. It was the year that changed my life forever—the year that the boys noticed I didn’t look like the other girls who hadn’t developed quite as much over the summer. It was the year that I began to hate the fact that no matter how good my grades were or how soft my heart was, my body had become the focal point and subsequently the catalyst for years of harassment and self-loathing. My young heart questioned why God thought I was so wretched that He didn’t care about my getting groped at in the halls or descended upon in the bathrooms, and later my scarred, angry heart began visiting all the “If Only” scenarios it could conjure.

If only I’d been stronger. If only my body had kept the same pace as my friends’. If only I wasn’t too ashamed to tell. If only I knew how to not wear someone else’s sin as my own. If only…

Maybe you can relate, or maybe your “If Onlys” are:

If only I was prettier…

If only I was thinner…

If only I had finished college…

If only I’d married someone else…

If only I had more money, more confidence, more friends, more __________ (You fill in the blank)…

And those are some of the simpler ones. Maybe yours are more complicated:

If only my parents had wanted me…

If only I hadn’t gotten pregnant…

If only I hadn’t had that abortion…

If only my husband hadn’t cheated…

If only I hadn’t cheated…

If only my kids would listen…

The fact is, “If Only” is a dangerous place to visit too often or too long, whether it’s a past or present circumstance. On the surface, it’s just a temporary diversion from our here-and-now. But on a deeper level, it justifies why our lives are inadequate and keeps us chained to our mistakes or to what “might have been” or “should be” instead of released into “what may yet be”.

So, what do we do when we’re tempted to visit the world of “If Only”?

  • Decide not to camp there. A backward glance is one thing, but a rear-view lens is often blurry. It’s too easy to let our imagination either skew reality or re-create outcomes that would never have been.4664571024_ccff2e5ccc

As Elie Weisel, a survivor of three Nazi concentration camps once said, “Some stories are true that never happened.”

  • Let go of what you didn’t have, embrace what you do have, and dream for what you can have. Your past or present circumstances don’t have to dictate your future. I love how Paul says it in Philippians 3:13, “…but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.”
  • Forgive. God. Others. Yourself. You can.
  • Find a way to be grateful. Being grateful for something is not the same as being grateful despite something. Gratitude doesn’t change your circumstance, but it does change your perspective of it and reaction to it.

So how does this look in real life? Well, back to the 6th grade…I’m by no means grateful for what happened to me, but I am absolutely grateful for what it produced in me. From it, I gained compassion for young, hurting women and even for the young, hurting men who violate them. I developed the instinct to protect my own daughters and the wisdom to instruct my son to honor every daughter. I was propelled down dark roads that eventually led to these invaluable truths:

I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14),

I am dearly loved by my Father in heaven,

I am not responsible for the sins of others but am fully forgiven for my own,

I have the strength to leave my land of “If Only” and stay connected to my reality and be the best wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend I can be .

Okay Mamas, your turn. What “If Only” are you going to stop visiting? I’d love to hear from you.

(photo credit: #ds198 – Not a Morning Person via photopin (license) )

Ditch or Do?–Fueling a Lean, Healthy You

MWM blogger

MWM blogger

I’ve been dragging my feet on this post. I guess it’a because I’m really dragging my feet on getting started with new habits, and publishing makes me more accountable. Whew! That’s scary :-).

I hope you’ve thought about my last post and decided with me that the best you ever starts with fitness from head to toe–body, mind, and spirit. They are all interconnected and all contribute to wholeness and health. You were put here for great things, so please don’t underestimate the value of your health in living a fulfilled and abundant life.

If this is all new, don’t be overwhelmed. Start small and remember the old question, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is still the same, “One bite at a time.” Approach health habits the same. Start with what is do-able to you and when you’ve mastered it, move on to the next. Otherwise, you’ll be tempted to quit altogether.

So today, start small and move on when you’re ready. You’ll be glad you did.

1-Ditch sugar and especially sugar substitutes. Do choose more nutritional sweeteners like raw honey or stevia, keeping in mind that less is still more.

courtesy of papaija2008 at freedigitalphotos.net

courtesy of papaija2008 at freedigitalphotos.net

Not only is sugar highly addictive and a leading cause of obesity, it is also linked to a number of illnesses in the body. This is not new evidence so you can find a great deal of information on this, but one of the simplest sites I found was http://authoritynutrition.com/10-disturbing-reasons-why-sugar-is-bad. Beware also of hidden sugar. Search the labels for dextrin, dextrose or other “ose” words, syrups (especially high fructose corn syrup) and malts.

Sugar substitutes are not an option. These are chemicals, not food, and highly toxic to the body. They are linked to tumors, cancer, and surprisingly obesity as they inhibit the body’s ability to determine when it’s full.

2. Ditch all processed foods. Do choose instead real food, a.k.a. whole food. When you read a food label, you should see food. Crazy idea isn’t it? One of the best sites I’ve found regarding healthy food choices is http://www.whfoods.com/foodstoc.php. It’s a non-commercial site with a wealth of info. Avoid so-called diet foods such as those labeled “low fat” and “low carb”. These are most often filled with chemicals. Our bodies were meant to burn energy, not detox after every meal.

3. Ditch refined carbs. Do good carbs. No carbs are no good. Our bodies need healthy carbohydrates to function properly, so just stick with those that come from fruits, veggies, and whole grains and you will not have the spikes and crashes that come from junk carbs.

courtesy Suat Eman at freedigitalphotos.net

courtesy Suat Eman at freedigitalphotos.net

4. Ditch high-sugar drinks (which we talked about). Do drink more water. No argument from any health experts here. Our bodies need water–typically half your body weight in ounces daily. Don’t budge on this. Not only does it rid waste, but it carries necessary nutrients through the body, metabolizes fat and so much more.

5. Ditch hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. Do choose butter and unprocessed oils like coconut and olive. This is a hard one to fully implement because these processed oils are everywhere, but they are incredibly toxic to the body and cause us to pack on the pounds. They are in virtually all baked goods and snacks on the supermarket shelves as well as refrigerated doughs and fried foods like yummy restaurant french fries. So, while it’s great to avoid them entirely, even efforts to limit them from our own cupboards will go a long way. To understand why, go to: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/09/07/ban-artificial-trans-fat.aspx

6. Ditch all processed meats. Do opt instead for grass-fed meat and wild fish. Of course, I’m a firm believer that wild salmon is the world’s perfect protein–and that is only partially because it’s what I sell for a living :-). All protein is not created equal. Again, processed meats are filled with all kinds of chemicals that keep our bodies from functioning properly while grass-fed and wild meats offer lean, healthy, Omega-3 rich protein. Want to lose fat and build lean muscle? This is a sure way to do it. And don’t forget other healthy protein sources like raw nuts and organic eggs. For easy, readable charts on this, please click this link from a site I love,  http://www.eatwild.com/healthbenefits.htm

7. Ditch the idea that you have to spend hours in the gym to be lean. Do what you enjoy instead. Just DO. We were created to live life, not watch someone else’s on TV, so keep moving. Play with your kids, enjoy outdoor games, go to the park, take long walks alone to think or a jog through the neighborhood. Don’t complicate it. Just move and move every day.

You are well on your way to a healthier, happier you. You are not only shaping your own health, but little eyes are watching and you are shaping theirs as well. Give your children not only tools for a healthy life, but an example of it as well.

I’m in this for the long haul and I hope you are too. Contact me anytime and let me know how it’s going for you.