I have an opportunity this Friday to go out - by myself and I am struggling with what to do.
So wise women/men - what do you do to nuture your own soul or your self?
I think both of you have rightly pointed out I am asking 2 questions which will give very different answers!
In my mind - I wrapped them together since I get very little time to myself ever, so I think I was trying to maximize what I could with what little I was getting.
For my Friday night - I'm going to walk to a nearby coffeehouse, with a book and then take a stroll to the local thrift store and target to start some holiday shopping. Quietly and alone...
As for nurturing my soul - this is a bit different and I need to incorporate this more in my life. I have a love of cooking and tried for a year now to convince myself my stockpile cooking sprees was "my time". I love to read, but I have not purchased, checked out or read a new book in 2 years. I love yoga and I find difficulties in trying to get to a class or just finding time to do it without the kiddos climbing all over me (they are 4 & 2). I like art, and thought about starting small and just taking time to color a picture or mandala design. I love learning - but honestly the class I'm taking & graduate program is more stress than nurturing of myself at this point.
But this balance - how do you find it? Is it like taking a hour a day to yourself? or a set time period on the weekends? And how did you start nurturing yourself?
It's difficult with such small children.
What would happen if you started scheduling a yoga class for yourself every week when your DH is home? One evening or on the weekend. Yoga is the ultimate for me.
The other thing about practicing yoga, true yoga, is that it doesn't have to be a perfect little asana routine on your mat. Mindfully breathing for 5 minutes is yoga. Being fully present when cooking is yoga. Rocking your baby -- while totally in the moment with no other thoughts -- is yoga.
Yoga is about what is going on in your head, not how close the floor you can get your head. Clearing our mind is easier while practicing postures, and yoga is more accesable to most people in a yoga class than while doing other things, but taking your yoga practice off the mat can be liberating and amazing.
A book I once had, but passed along to a friend who needed it more; is called The Woman's Comfort Book by Jennifer Louden. http://www.amazon.com/Womans-Comfort-Book-Self-Nurturing-Restoring/dp/0062505319#_
It's just filled with ways to bring nurturing, self care, comfort, creativity and simple pleasures back into your life. Each page profiles specific ideas, with instructions. Maybe it's a bubble bath or being out in nature or playing like a kid. In the middle of the book is a chart that lists ways we might feel (tired, bloated, hyper, lonely, indifferent) then directs to the best self help pages in the book. This is really handy when you need inspiration.
I've found that it's not always about doing things separate from your children, but valuing those precious moments when you can relax even while taking care of them is what has helped me in the long run. Breastfeeding is an obvious one...if you can, lie down and nurse more often than not because this will enable to take a breather and check how you're feeling internally. The more aware you are of what's going on inside (whether it's physical, emotional, or mental) then the more in control you'll feel of your life and your sense of well-being. The more present we are inside ourselves the easier it is to figure out what our true needs are and how to go about meeting them. I did this quite often after my son was born...I would go into a meditative state, just watching my breathing and feeling whatever came up emotionally. The more I did this the easier it became. After doing this for awhile I noticed I was feeling calmer, more relaxed and more at peace with whatever is happening in the moment. Maybe try it and see for yourself if this helps or not
If you're not nursing anymore or can't do it lying down very much then you can apply this to other daily activities. Cooking, washing dishes, folding laundry, watching your kids play at the playground are all great examples of using those activities for becoming more conscious of what's going on internally. I've found there's something very meditative about activities such as these that naturally help me regroup and bring myself back to the present moment. If this is still too challenging for you for whatever reason then you might consider scheduling some time for yourself every evening or whenever you have free time for yourself to listen to your soul, allow yourself to simply be and feel whatever is in there without judgment...even 20 minutes of this a day can be very beneficial in the long run.
as a single mom if i had not taken care of myself - i would not have survived.
you dont need much to nurture your soul.
for me what mattered was trying to live in the NOW. to include myself under 'duty' too.
i am a movie buff.
so as a baby at the cost of sleep, i watched movies from netflix while dd slept on my chest. soundless with subtitles on. i would totally get into the movie, and they still relax me like nothing else. more than a good massage.
so i make this fabulous cup of tea OR pour a glass of icewater that i am REALLY looking forward to - i make sure dd is occupied by giving her something to do and then sit down and really enjoy just sitting and crunching on the ice. or i get dd and sit and wait at teh window for the 8 am appearance of the hummingbird at the hibiscus flower in front of our window.
when dd was younger i started little by little. then her dad started taking her after she was 3 and i had time to do things.
however a part of nurturing of my soul is having dd with me. when i was EXHAUSTED by 5 pm when seh was 1, i'd just and watch her. not engage or play with her. she would be playing and i'd just sit and watch her. i watched her eyebrow motion, her lips curled in concentration. ooh and then she'd look up and see me watching her and give me this big smile <swoon>
while yeah i do big things now, however i notice it is the little things that nourish my soul. giving myself permission to eat that donut or the yummy nut granola bar. giving myself a break. THAT is the best way i nourish myself. and having started that i have never stopped.
like i emptied my account for something really frivolous like a burrito. but somehow from somewhere i do get that money or i am willing to deal with the consequences.
those little things do add up.
personally my biggest thing is nature. anything to do with nature or farming or cooking or villagers and i am good to go.
OP- here with a update: Friday was nice, but our sitter didn't arrive until 7:30pm so I just ran to goodwill and walked the aisles (found a pashmina & a pot which I've been trying to replace), went to Target for some holiday ideas and then treated myself to a small turtle sundae. It was quiet and nice, but not exactly what I was looking for. I think trying to read or finding a book I would like next time and spending time at a coffee shop or the library might be the ticket.
I am too!! Its nice to see such self-exploration and it's helping me explore more with regards to this question.
I love the reminder that yoga can be (and should be) practiced off the mat in being mindful and present. I think for me right now I am in a state of needing something for myself (time, being present whatever) and I love my kids but I have nothing for me. Its either tied to my work (including my schooling) or the kids. When I had lived in Seattle, I remember I used to have this long walk to work and there were many times I hated it, but more often it was a nice break in my day between working and coming home (still no kids and etc) to just breathe, take in the sunset or sunrise and enjoy the moments. I want to find that again in my life.
Here's how I nurture my soul:
1) When kids are in school (it gets easier when they get older, BTW :), I go for my guitar lesson
2) I put the kids to bed REALLY early! we start around 7:00-7:30. They are usually asleep by 8-8:30.
3) I read when I am waiting outside their door for them to fall asleep. (I started doing this when the youngest was 2). I stopped letting them fall asleep while BF (I don't know if you do this, but I did until DD was two, and I am SOOO glad I put a stop to it then).
4) I put on music that I love and engage in silly dancing with the children. (Are you a Grey's anatomy fan? Think Christina Yang in the last episode!). The kids LOVE it, and hearing their laughter and giggles is amazingly theraputic!
5) I play the guitar and sing songs with the children
6) I write in my blog when I am feeling particularly upset, emotional, or drained
7) I watch a good TV show in the evenings when kids are asleep
8) I don't work (no housework, no financial work, no career work, etc.) after 8pm unless it is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY!
9) When the kids are in their lessons (swimming, karate, etc.), I bring my guitar with me and practice while waiting in the viewing areas.
10) I bring my own bathing suit to the pool when the kids have lessons and I take a shower in the changeroom if I didn't have any peace that morning.
11) If there's something that I REALLY want to do, like go to a movie, or go out for dinner, or whatever... I do it. When I hit a brick wall (for example, no baby-sitting), I find a solution. I ask a neighbour, I expand my search for baby-sitters, call family members (even the ones which I only ever see on holidays or at the cottage)... if all else fails, I have even been known to arrange for play-dates for my children with other moms in the area and work hard at building friendships with the moms. Then I offer to babysit their kids to give them a break, and subsequently we build a reciprocal-relationship and they repay the favour. (Yes, I've tried it, and this method actually works!).
Basically, if there is something that I REALLY want to do, when I hit a brick wall, I climb over, dig under, or walk around walls. There is usually a way to accomplish your goals, if you are creative and determined enough to get it done.