“Like hunger or thirst, the instinct for balance is built into the human body.” These words spoken by Deepak Chopra express the very essence of what I strive to manifest each day.
Establishing and maintaining a balanced lifestyle is an extremely prevalent theme in my life and should be in all our lives if we choose to commit to honoring its significance.
As mothers we often get so overwhelmed with responsibilities and expectations involving external variables that we tend to neglect the single most important factor of the equation – ourselves. We forget that our identities are not solely mom, career woman, spouse/partner, daughter, life coach, problem solver, love maker, cook, house cleaner, and a slew of other titles that come with specific expectations.
Truthfully speaking, women take on these identities and try to live up to the expectations associated with them because we start believing that we’re supposed to be Superwoman, that our DNA is a mixture of extraterrestrial-Zena-Warrior-Princess-medicine-woman-big-sister-Almighty-Goddess-with-super-duper-unbreakable-strength. We also buy into the notion, “If I want anything, and I mean anything done right, I HAVE to do it myself!” Whelp, my dear sistas, I have breaking news for all of you. While, I too, truly believe that I embody many (if not all) of the aforementioned extraordinary out-of-this-world powers, I equally have to recognize that each day that Father Sun graces me with his presence, I’m human. I have feelings. I’m imperfect. I make mistakes. I fuss at my children. I get too tired to express intimacy towards my significant other. I sometimes burn the chicken for dinner. And dang on it, “I should’ve worn flats instead of these four-inch heels to work, knowing good and well I’d be standing up most of the day! Now my feet are killing me, and I’m giving everybody the look of death each time I see another hand go up to ask a question or voice a concern.”
So, the million-dollar question is, how and when can I get some time for me, ALL by myself with absolutely NO interruptions? Well, I’ve learned the billion-dollar answer. Are you sitting down? Fully tuned in? Got your smartphone on silent? Waaaait for it. We have to TAKE the time.
It’s that simple. I know. I know. You were anticipating something a lot more complex and profound. But it’s really that simple. Taking the time to fully nurture, nourish, balance, and heal ourselves each day, of every week, of every month is absolutely imperative to our womanhood. We commit so much of our time to and expend so much of our energy on those around us – family, friends, careers, etc – but how often do we make ourselves the number one priority? How often do others make us the number one priority? That’s an “ah-ha moment” (said in my best Oprah voice). The light bulb comes on.
Striking a Balance, Concocting a Goddess’s Brew
Mothers, I challenge you to embark on a journey with me to explore the essential ingredients necessary for concocting the sweetest, tastiest, healthiest, soul shaking, lip smacking, energizing, regenerating, spirit filled Goddess Brew of what I like to call, Me-Time. Since all of us are unique, and have our own desires and needs, each Goddess Brew of Me-Time will consist of different ingredients, and that is totally fine. What works for me may not resonate with someone else, but the idea is to take the time. I repeat. Take the time you need to be with yourself while doing, thinking, acting, and feeling exactly what you want, when you want, how you want with no judgment – no judgment from others, and especially no judgment from you. This is your time to convene with the Goddess within, to reclaim your identity, and to unpack and sort through unnecessary baggage while loving and healing you. My Goddess Brew is a blended mixture of the following:
- 10 to 30-minute morning meditations and/or visualizations
- Prayers of gratitude
- Vinyasa and/or Bikram Yoga at least 3 times per week
- Dining at my favorite restaurants; either Thai or Eastern Indian cuisines
- Consignment/thrift shopping
- Creating my own facials with natural ingredients like avocado, honey, and Greek yogurt
- Cutting my hair
- Dream charting
These are all major activities that keep me in alignment with the divine energy within. However, my daily and weekly must-haves are morning meditations/visualizations, gratitude prayers, yoga, reading, and newly added to my list, dream charting. By making very intentional efforts to engage in each of these, I’m allowed to unabashedly honor, love, and dote on myself. I’m reminded of the beauty that exists within, without, above, and below. I’m able to see through and own all of my imperfections and insecurities. I’m open to be completely and utterly vulnerable with myself and God. As a result, I’m learning to wholly understand myself, my emotions, my gifts, my limitations, my place in the world, and ultimately the true connection I share with other entities – especially the people I spend time with and the things I expend energy towards.
So, you’re probably wondering, WHEN do I take time to do these activities? Great question! Here’s what I do, and I’ve added a few suggestions for you, too:
- Make the initial commitment to whip up a batch of Goddess Brew; Me-Time. Your mind, body, and soul may be shocked at first, as your ingredients may appear to be foreign substances. But, after a few more sips each day, your body will get used to the transition, happily comply, and become so very thankful. Trust me!
- I wake up 30 minutes earlier than anyone in my home. This time is very quiet and peaceful. The sun may be dawning and nature begins to sing her morning hymns. I can pray and meditate in front of my window that faces east while basking in the sun’s rays.
- I create a structured weekly routine that consists of a set bedtime for my boys. At 8:30 PM, its lights out! Yes, even for my 11 year-old. Moms, be mindful that your growing children between the ages of one to 13 require minimally nine to 12 hours of sleep at night. Even if they’re not actually falling asleep at 8:30 PM, at least their minds and bodies are peacefully resting until R.E.M. is in full effect. This allows time for me to catch up on my reading and possibly get a quick 20-minute Vinyasa yoga session in with Gaiam TV.
- Develop a schedule at least two months in advance for your Me-Time with the disclaimer, “non-negotiable.” Unless something earth-shattering happens, commit to your schedule, and others will too.
- Say NO! And mean it! You truly don’t have to be everywhere, doing everything, ALL the time.
- I’m more transparent and authentic in my communication about what I need and how I am feeling. If I’m too tired to cook, we order takeout. If I get frustrated at my children or significant other, I attempt to calmly communicate that and go into a different room or outside until I calm down. If I truly don’t feel like going to work, I contact my supervisor and tell her I won’t be in the office.
- If ever in need of a reminder, refer to numbers 1, 4, and 5. Especially 5!
I hope these suggestions provide a strong foundation for beginning or rebooting your journey to establishing and maintaining a healthy balanced lifestyle. Before we finish, let’s do a couple of quick exercises.
Managing Your Stress, Practicing Deep Breathing
Sit still for a moment and pay attention to your breath. Not recognizing how it smells (although that’s important too) but more specifically, assess the depth or lack thereof of your inhalation and exhalation.
Notice if your breaths are short and shallow or long and deep. Does your breathing flow freely or is it restricted? Does the capacity in which you breathe expand down to your abdomen or does it start and stop at your throat?
Now, try to recall during stressful and challenging times whether you’re even aware of your breathing patterns at all.
The answers to these questions can paint a very vivid picture about your overall health, how you manage your stress levels, and if the seven major centers (known as chakras) in your body are functioning at their highest potential.
I won’t delve extensively into the various spiritual and metaphysical practices that focus primarily on unblocking and balancing the chakras and other energy points in the body, but there is a plethora of resources available and books written by amazing healing practitioners/authors on this subject.
I would, however, like to challenge moms to take the time to participate in the following breathing exercise for managing stress, at least four mornings out of each week. This exercise is from one of my favorite websites: MindBodyGreen.
- Sit up straight in a chair.
- Place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Keep it there through the entire breathing process.
- Breathe in silently through your nose to the slow count of 4.
- Hold your breath to the count of 7.
- Exhale through your mouth to the count of 8, making a slight audible sound.
- Repeat the 4-7-8 cycle another three times, for a total of four breathing exercises.
If you’d like to learn more about these breathing exercises, read MindBodyGreen’s full article, How to Manage Stress in 76 Seconds.
Moms, what will be your Goddess Brew for creating Me-Time? We want to know what ingredients you’ll mix into your daily self-care routine! Remember, you deserve it.
About the Contributing Writer:
W. KaNeesha Allen is the Motherhood Empowerment contributor for the Phoenix Rising Collective. She is an educator with extensive project management, student support services, and community outreach experience in K-12 and higher education institutions. She is also the mother of two extremely rambunctious and fun loving boys – Ausar and Mikah. Seeking to master the balance between being a highly engaged mother and taking time to BE with herself in the divine energy of the universe, KaNeesha finds peace, solace, and regeneration through meditation, Vinyasa yoga, and her “Sistah Circle”. She welcomes mothers from everywhere to join her on a journey of self-discovery and evolution towards harnessing, embodying, and emoting the Goddess power within.