I used to feel that way. In fact, I could never really sit still when I was home, always popping up from the couch or outdoor lounge chair when a chore occurred to me. But I have changed a lot over the past few years, and one of the things I never feel guilty about is reading, which I thoroughly enjoy. I don't find time to do it during the school year, but when the kids are off for the summer, I often indulge in a good read during the middle the day.
Reading makes me very happy. And as I learned in yoga school, we all need to bring a little more joy into our lives without feeling guilty. Most women, including me, are people pleasers. But if we don't take time out for ourselves, it can lead to burn-out, frustration, anger and sadness.
We learned a lot about yoga during training, but one of the best things I learned was from guest teacher Colleen Breeckner. During her lecture, she asked us to list the relationships and roles in our lives beginning with our most important ones. I saved my notes. Here's what I wrote that day: "Loving mother, loving wife, writer, loving and caring daughter, sister and aunt, yoga teacher, good friend, good listener, faithful parishioner (well, sometimes), loyal and loved dog owner, tennis player, compassionate person, giving person.
As we went around the room and listened to some students' lists, there was a common theme. Most people listed their relationships with their spouse, significant other or kids are their top priority. But Breeckner was quick to point out that we had missed the boat. The most important relationship, aside from our relationship with a higher power, is our relationship with ourselves.
This revelation reminded me of a conversation I had about a year ago with a group of women at a neighborhood party. When I asked one of the women how she was handling the start of the empty nest, another neighbor piped in, "Well, Donna (named changed) would never feel that way because she's always done a great job of nurturing herself." I thought about that for a long time, and realized since I had become a mother 15 years ago, I had not been nurturing myself nearly enough.
At the urging a a friend who asked what I was doing with my camera lately (um, nothing), I bought a new Nikon and decided to take a photography course. The following month, I enrolled in yoga school to fulfill a longtime desire to learn more about yoga. "I know yoga works for me, but I want to understand why it does," I told my husband. "If nothing else, I'll be in a better place mentally and physically at the end of training.."
The mental part worked. Taking the class snapped me out of a funk I had been battling for months. The physical part, not so much. Increasing my yoga practice to teach has been tough on my body. As my husband often tells me, "Have you looked at the date on your driver's license lately?"
Point taken. But I don't regret training the spotlight on myself a little more in the past year. Deprivation is never a good feeling. As Breeckner told us, "Sometimes I congratulate people for making it to yoga class because they have made it a priority." I didn't get it then, but after teaching for a few months I do. Yoga is the first thing people drop when they are feeling pressed for time when it is the last thing they should be giving up. Breathing, bending, stretching and getting into poses that you never thought possible is a great way to get in touch with yourself.
If you've been off your mat for some time, come back.