Guest Post: Love Actively
Today you are in for a special treat! My good friend and former sorority sister from my Hope College days, Monica Davis has volunteered to write a guest post for the moms here!
I was reading my brilliant friend’s blog. She had challenged us to suggest better ways to love our families. And well, it got me thinking. And it made me make a new challenge that I felt had been over-looked at least in my house.
I always believed that love was a verb. You know, actual actions taken to better those you care about. As a mother, I have tried to do things out of love for my family. I do things like reorganize bedrooms, fill the schedule with meaningful activities, spend extra time at the grocery store trying to ensure healthy choice availability, and many other everyday practices to ensure the wellness of my family. I stuck to the basic schedule of mind, body, and soul. I felt that everyday these three aspects of one’s life should be nurtured.
In doing this, I noticed that at the end of the day, the person whose mind, body, and soul has not been nurtured was mine. How easy it is to care for all those around you, and forget one’s own needs. And, I thought about this often. However, at the end of the busy day, and laundry,soccer, dance, birthday
party, and cleaning, I plopped down exhausted in bed. I didn’t do anything I promised myself. I struggled with fitting my promises in because I felt my priority should always be others first. Or perhaps, my maternal instincts are so well trained that all the wires in my brain over trump my needs. Either way, at the end of the day, I noticed this pattern. I wasn’t actively loving myself.
I am in my forties now and my newest realization is gravity and lack of metabolism. I am very aware that without a plan in place for a lifestyle change, I will ever look like DaVinci models. I know they are very pretty, but I prefer to be strong. I need to be strong and healthy for me and my family. I am now challenging myself to teach both my child and myself that this action is just as loving and important as all the other chores. It encourages stress relief, strength, fitness, and longevity.
So, I started waking up early in the morning because, realistically, once the gears of the day start turning, it is the only unused time. And, wouldn’t you know it, I started doing laundry, kitchen prep, and other miniscule chores that needed to be done. I started to think I was procrastinating or dreading starting this new plan of mine.
Well enough is enough already. I remembered this lady I knew. She used to tell us every morning, remember the top 12 is most important! She was referring to the top twelve inches of our body.(Basically necklaces and up) It was the idea that first impressions are important so the top twelve inches should be perfect before going out for your day. Well, I made a new slogan. My motivational slogan is Heart, Health, Hygiene, then Hair! The idea is that my health is as important as everything else and I need to put it first in my schedule or else it doesn’t get in. I am retraining my brain and my body to actively love myself.
I made a list of 30 ways to actively love ourselves following my mind, body, and soul system.
Pick and do at least one activity from each category every day:
- Read at bedtime. It is hard to find time to read, and daily mom life can be very mundane. Reading can stimulate your ideas and refresh your mind. Also, reading can help stop the cycles of worry and increase good sleep.
- Make time for planning tomorrow’s day for you. eg. Pick out your clothes, get work out clothes ready, paint your nails to match, have your work prepared, and have a plan.
- Purge your house for simplicity. Do this once a week or daily. Your mind will thank you.
- Make your bedroom your sanctuary. Redecorate or simplify. This one is easy to ignore, but has many rewards.
- Make yourself a jar or vase. This will help motivate and reward you. Use marbles or glass stones. Every time you do something for yourself, drop a stone in the jar. It’s great to see progress in keeping goals and you can use them for rewarding yourself later.
- Learn something new. Learn a new skill, craft, language, or activity. This keeps your mind active and healthy.
- Join or create a book club. Mom’s need to engage and discuss things besides child rearing. Engaging in groups is key in longevity so join group activities.
- Make a chalkboard sign or whiteboard where you can write down a motivational phrase that works for you. Not all motivational phrases work for me, but there are a few that really get me moving.
- Write down your dreams. If this alludes you, think what you wanted to do or be when you were younger. This can help you to start a path that is satisfying to your true self.
- Write down goals. Some daily goals and some long term goals. It is important to take steps that you can accomplish because our human brain likes the feeling of achievement. This feeling of personal achievement will benefit your mind greatly.
- Do cardio exercise for at least 20 minutes a day. Try to do this one every day.
- Do strength training for 20 minutes. This can be with weights or without like Pilates or calisthenics.
- Do flexibility training for 20 minutes. Stretching has amazing benefits for your body.
- Do accessorize. Make sure that accessories are part of your attire. They are details that can spruce up everything including your mood and look.
- Actively play. Find an activity that is exercise to do with or without your family. Tennis works great for this. Playful activity activates different muscles.
- Clean your pores. Drink water and take good care of your face.
- Get a mani/pedi. Foot health is very important and hand health is very noticeable so do both.
- Hydrate your skin. Use lotion that moisturizes and…drink water.
- Do the top twelve rule. The top twelve inches are what most people including you see, so do this for you.
- Try the new slogan Heart, Health, Hygiene, then Hair! Admit it, you know you’re going to brush your hair and teeth before you leave the house. Just add exercise to the list. They say it takes 30 days to create a new habit so give it a try.
- Laugh, laugh, and laugh some more.
- Enjoy music. Play it, sing it, go out and dance to it.
- Connect with nature. Try gardening or taking hikes or walks outside.
- Use color. Paint or color. Create anything with color.
- Build or make things that last. Holding a creation has value to it. Many things moms do cannot be seen tangibly so give this a try.
- Calm activities create balance in our go-go world. Meditate, read, or sit quietly.
- Write. Some people are born writers or journalists. But, even writing 5 words a day as an exercise has benefits. p.s. Words with friends doesn’t count.(is that 5?)
- Go out in a group. I see great benefits in groups because I look for them. I have encountered these mini-groups of ladies all around who say they meet every Tuesday for coffee for the last 10 yrs.Or that they meet for dessert once a month. In any event, these little group outings seem to have a beneficial reward for the members. I’m not sure whether it’s laughter, purpose, togetherness, or membership, but it seems to result in joy.
- Engage in an activity that gives you purpose. Some people pay it forward. Some volunteer. Some assist in their community. Again, these activities can bring joy.
- Try some type of inner spirituality. Follow some guide or inspiration to balance goodness and life.
Chime in! What have you done to nurture yourself lately? What have you been inspired to try?