The Best Gift a Mom Can Give

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I often prescribe self-care to Mom’s. I post Facebook statuses ad nauseam instructing women to nurture and love themselves. I have even, jokingly, gone so far as to make someone confirm their commitment with a ‘yes ma’am’. Yet, I still get the glazed over ‘yeah, sure…okay’ response from most women. Then recently, my husband was looking at my Valentine’s Day posts urging women to remember to love themselves for the holiday. He said to me so simply and brilliantly “explain why”. Hand-to-forehead moment, of course.
So, I get it. I’m a mom and in the course of the day you have to meet a lot of people’s needs; children, spouse, boss, co-workers, teachers, and on and on. You are like a well-oiled machine; you have to get everything done and to fit it all in 24 hours. Not to mention, the world around you tends to be a little more expecting of moms to get it all done for their family and a little less forgiving if they miss a beat. Usually, there is very little time left over to indulge in luxuries for yourself, and if there is, you are so high-wired the best you can do is a glass of wine at the end of the day. Does this sound at all familiar?
I’m going to explain to you why it is not only essential for you to put yourself at the top of your priority list, but why it’s selfish not to.

1. You teach the world how to treat you
Translation, if you are constantly putting yourself last, what are you teaching those around you? If you get frustrated that your family isn’t treating you as you’d expect them to, it could be what you taught them. Part of our job as parents is teaching our children how to get along in this world. We should be teaching them to honor their mothers, as is done in many other cultures, not expecting them to appreciate martyrdom. No one does. By teaching our daughters to honor their mothers, we teach them to love and respect themselves as well, and we teach our sons to take care of themselves and one day love and respect their future partners. Children model our behavior, showing them to nurture themselves sets them up for a lifetime of good mental and physical health. It’s actually selfish not to give your children this gift.

2. A good habit does not just happen after 20 years of pushing it aside
I’ll take care of myself when the kids get older, or when the kids move out, or when the kids have kids. The start date continues to get pushed back until it’s just you. The kids have their own families taking up their time now. What now? Why do you think empty nest syndrome hits so hard? Everyone thinks it’s easy to just start taking care of themselves when they need to, that it will naturally kick in. When you have told your mind and body for 20 or more years to ignore doing something, it doesn’t just start doing it with the flip of a switch.

This is actually a scenario that has become really personal. A family member unexpectedly lost her husband a few years ago. All of her children were long gone with families of their own. They all wanted to support her in any way they could. She resisted all of their efforts not wanting to be a burden. At the time, this woman was beautiful, healthy, and vibrant. She did yoga and ate well. However, not being prepared for the scenario of suddenly being alone, and not knowing what to do, she chose to give up. This same woman, just three short years later, lays bed-ridden barely speaking, with a tube in her nose to provide sustenance despite having no medical problems. I can’t even think about this without tearing up. Many will dismiss this as an extreme case that can’t happen to them, but the truth is she was no different than most of us and you have no idea how you will respond until you are in the situation. We have no guarantees in life, but by practicing to take care of ourselves even just a little each day, we prepare ourselves to take care of ourselves when we really need to. Imagine how difficult it would be for your family to see you deteriorate when it’s totally preventable. Preventing this is an amazing gift to give your family.

3. You are freakin’ worth it
Sorry I didn’t mean to get vulgar there, but think about you and your life, and the person you are, and the kindness and love that you give. Don’t you deserve to feel as amazing as you make everyone else feel? Besides that, how can you keep giving love if you aren’t replenishing it from within? Depending on others to provide you with the love and nurturing you need can be a dangerous game, and lead you to co-dependent, unhealthy relationships. Start showing yourself the kindness and love you deserve.

Great, I’m convinced. How do I do it? For everyone it will be a little different. If you are still working on feeling worthy, I want you to spend a couple of minutes every day in front of the mirror making eye contact with yourself. Tell yourself out loud: ‘I love you, you are amazing, you deserve everything you desire from this life’, or whatever else comes to mind, but you get the idea. It may feel awkward at first. Have you ever heard the saying “fake it ‘til you make it”? That’s what you are going to do here. Just do it until it feels authentic, and you can really look yourself in the eyes, say these beautiful things and mean it.

Also, find moments in your day to capture for yourself. Sit and relax with a cup of tea, stop at a favorite store, read a chapter or article, get a massage, whatever gives you enjoyment. Even if it’s only a few minutes each day, eventually, you will get so good at this that you will start pursuing hobbies and activities that fulfill you without feeling the least bit guilty about it. As we have already covered, you should not feel guilty, you should feel proud of the lesson you are teaching.

If you have trouble with this, don’t feel bad, its hard work to break a bad habit, and its hard work to start a good habit. Get an accountability partner, someone who will check in on your progress without judgment, or work with a holistic wellness coach (make sure they use a holistic approach). A well-trained wellness coach or adviser is trained to support you without judgment, give you individualized progressive goals, and give you the tough love you need to hold you accountable so you are successful. No more excuses, no more saying ‘I don’t have enough time’. There is always enough time for what’s important. Make this important. Let me get a “yes ma’am”! Good.

Gotta go. If you need me, I’ll be in the mirror.

KalusionKaluwa  is “the Dancing Health Coach”.  She has graduated from SUNY Oneonta with a BA in Human Biology, and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition  as a Certified Holistic Health Coach recognized by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.  She is also a  Certified Group Fitness Instructor, and a Dance Instructor. Kaluwa enjoys healthy living, and “walks the talk”. Her family shares the passion and enjoys activities together such as growing herbs and vegetables, cooking, walking, rollerblading, dance, martial arts, meditation, yoga, and learning and playing at every opportunity.

World Sickle Cell Day – June 19th!

World Sickle Cell Day is celebrated across the globe –The focus is on educating the general population, medical professionals, caregivers, and those living with the disease about prevention, research and access to resources that will minimize the complications associated with sickle cell. World Sickle Cell Day provides an opportunity to increase understanding and gives everyone the opportunity to be a part of the solution. JOIN US on Thursday, June 19 as we celebrate! http://www.worldsicklecellday.webs.com.

Taking Your Own (Good) Advice

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On any given day, I find myself advising clients on how they can complement their massage sessions by performing some type of self-care. Depending on the situation, I may suggest exploring any number of options: yoga, improved nutrition, deeper breathing, perhaps seeking out another professional to address their unique concerns. And while they agree that investing more time in themselves would be beneficial, they just don’t seem to have the time. Or perhaps they, (i.e., WE) just don’t make the time. Hmmmm. It got me thinking….

My clients share some commonalities. The one that stands out to me is their trait of giving…and giving and giving. They do, do, do and go, go, go! They’re responsible and strong and caring and in most instances, people depend on them. In short, they’re a lot like me. Inevitably, I learn that they take better care of others than they take of themselves. (Hello!!??) And while benevolence is an admirable trait, I’m of the mind that too much of a good thing is – well – not so good.

Fast forward to me – at the end of yet another long week of working on clients & offering golden nuggets of wisdom – I head home with an aching back. I wonder when I’d ‘find the time’ to take my own advice and perform some self-care when I’d rather just hit the couch. As they say, ‘when the pain gets great enough, change will occur’, and my back is screaming! Quickly, before I change my mind, I pull out an oldie-but-goodie workout DVD and begin to hobble around my living room floor, attempting to keep up with the routine. In no time, I’m keeping in step, working up a sweat and finding that my muscles sing a happy tune when I’m using them the way they’re meant to be used (one of my golden nuggets)! It goes without saying that the high after a workout is a wonderful thing, and the benefits to my body, mind & spirit are amazing. But my biggest take-away is to recall something that I conveniently tend to forget – ‘We all make time for the things we WANT to do’ (pending any life crisis situations). If I’m not making the time to care for myself, it’s usually my choice and not because of (fill in the blank). I’m perfectly capable of shifting things around to care for myself; in fact, I’m actually better prepared for those other responsibilities as a result of my self-care efforts.

Do yourself a favor: Take some of your own advice today and do something nice for yourself: workout, have some herbal tea, rest, meditate, laugh, have fun! Do what you would want your best friend to do for themselves, then call to tell them about it. My guess is you’ll get a big ‘atta boy – and you’ll have earned it!

 

20140218Enliven-10758-CropLaura M Turley, LMT – After working over 30 years in various corporate roles, then managing the many challenges of middle age, Laura finds that she’s uniquely qualified to relate to – and address – the myriad issues facing individuals in this age group. Certain aches and pains that accompany growing older (and wiser!) are quite common but equally as significant are the increasing side effects of our habitual patterns, life stresses and the fact that we make little-to-no time for ourselves. Massage allows her to bridge the gap between your daily pressures & pains of life to a more healthful, pain-free existence – and it feels good, too!  Laura’s clients say that her knowledge – coupled with her compassionate approach – is what keeps them coming back.

 

As You Breathe, So You Live

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As You Breathe, So You Live. What type of reaction does that instill in you?  Did you hold your breath & think about it?  Or did you breathe deeply & calmly, perhaps a gentle smile crossed your face, as you continued to read on?  For many of us – in fact most of us – breathing is not as simple as it sounds.  As we continue to toil in our daily lives, we rarely give much thought to our breathing and how it relates to the lives we’re living.

When this statement was first presented to me almost 3 years ago, I was deeply discouraged; it was a true ‘ah ha moment’ for me.  I had to confess that I was in a constant state of overdrive, worrying about one urgent matter or another, both in my personal and professional life.  I noticed that my shoulders were creeping up close to my ears, I rarely breathed much deeper than my shoulder blades and as a result, I had constant neck & back pain. I realized that my shallow ‘fight or flight’ breathing mirrored my life.  Horrors!

So what to address first, my life or my breathing?  Well, I couldn’t quickly or easily change the matters that were present in my life, but I COULD start to pay attention to my breathing – especially when I found myself rushing or worrying – again!  I decided to put into practice what I had learned in my yoga classes.  I began to breathe deeply into my lungs, down into my lower rib cage first – so that all four sides of my body expanded – before filling my upper chest.  When exhaling, I emptied the top of my lungs first, then, compressed my diaphragm as I pushed all of the stale air out completely.  (It’s kind of like filling and emptying a water balloon.)  I started counting to 5 on my inhale and to 7 on the exhale.  Even if I only made time to do that 3-5 times in one sitting, I found that I was able to slow down a little; it had a calming effect.  My neck felt some relief and I had an increased sense of well-being.  I even had to give myself a little chuckle, recalling how the old adage “take a breath” suddenly took on a new, powerful meaning.

While I don’t always practice what I preach, I have to admit that hearing the truth: ‘As you breathe, so you live’ was a bit of a life saver for me.  I now check my breathing on a regular basis because it does accurately reflect what’s going on in my life.  Today, I enjoy making time to breathe deeply and experience the benefits; I consider it my secret weapon against stress.  And when things are going well, it just feels really good to pay attention, take a breath, and be grateful for the positive change in my life.

20140218Enliven-10758-CropLaura M Turley, LMT – After working over 30 years in various corporate roles, then managing the many challenges of middle age, Laura finds that she’s uniquely qualified to relate to – and address – the myriad issues facing individuals in this age group. Certain aches and pains that accompany growing older (and wiser!) are quite common but equally as significant are the increasing side effects of our habitual patterns, life stresses and the fact that we make little-to-no time for ourselves. Massage allows her to bridge the gap between your daily pressures & pains of life to a more healthful, pain-free existence – and it feels good, too!  Laura’s clients say that her knowledge – coupled with her compassionate approach – is what keeps them coming back.