The first time I did this (about three years ago), it was a no-brainer. I was working out regularly, had dieted down to a great "fighting weight" and it was my favorite class--straight Hatha Yoga.
The next time, was a bit more of a stretch. She had my children in a Kid's Yoga tape, and asked the baby and I to be in a "Mommy and Me" class...something similar to what we had participated in shortly after his birth. This time I wasn't worried about the physical challenge, the class is short and pretty low key, but the post-body in workout gear preserved for all to see? I was able to rationalize that I'd have the (very cute) baby in front of me the whole time, and that there were other Mommy models with their own Mommy body issues there. It ended up being a great day.
Now came the hard one. Irma was short a person for her Yogalates shoot. I don't mind the fusion classes, they're just not my favorite, mostly because after carrying four rather large babies, the sustained Pilates matwork portions are hard. And this time, there would be no cute baby to hide behind.
I did pretty well...I can only hope the camera men were nice to me! I did learn that when you're sustaining a tree pose, it's hard to remain in focus when a camera is thrust in your face! I had to find my focus point and hold it despite distractions. It took all of the discipline I had to maintain the pose during those moments.
I wonder how often in life I am thrown off balance because I forget where to focus?
Lord, help me to keep my eyes fixed on you, the Author and Finisher of my faith, and not the obstacles in my path. Even when it is hard and requires discipline. Even when I don't particularly like what the task at hand is.
Her post (inspired by her mentor's post) about finding a word for the year (instead of a resolution) inspired me. As I read her post (and her mentor's), I began to pray for a word of my own and was encouraged with an almost immediate answer.
Not the white-knuckled all-or-nothing balance of the tightrope walker that has characterized so much of my life.
Not the judgment scales of all success or all failure standards I so often set for myself (and others, if I'm being honest).
No, the picture my Heavenly Father gave me was the calm, deep-breathing, clear-minded balance of a perfect Tree Pose, or Pose of the Dancer in yoga class.
I can't wait to see how my word develops as the year unfolds.
Does the Lord have a word for you this year?
He was helping her put on her tights for church and evidently tugged a bit too hard, as she told him,
"Daddy, stop it! You're encouraging my panties to go up my bottom!".
Kind of a positive twist on the word, wedgie, right?
A popular author in the Christian homeschool community has recently published a series of articles in her family ministry's newsletter asserting that the "me" time for mommies is actually just a manifestation of cultural self-centeredness.
I understand that I'm oversimplifying her point of view here, but contrary to being convicted (especially considering my hiring a babysitter yesterday so I could go for a hike!) , my thought upon reading them was, "Great, one more thing for Christian women to feel guilty about".
I understand that what the Lord lays out for us to undertake, He will provide the strength for us to accomplish (provided we're operating in His grace and not trying to forge ahead in our own strength). However, I know in my own life, I've been consistently guilty of loving my neighbor better than myself.
I wouldn't hesitate to babysit a friend's children for a few hours so that she could take some "Mommy R&R", be it for a date night with her dh, a pedicure, or simply a nap. I'm not advocating that we spend our days pampering ourselves while our houses and families fall into neglect; but I also refuse to take on a sense of false guilt if I choose to leave my husband to cheer at the kids' soccer games while I meet my gal pals for a Pilates class and some mutual encouragement over coffee and bagels. While I may not "deserve" or "need" this "me" time, it certainly makes me a more cheerful wife and mother in the long run.
Obviously there are seasons where "me" time is less of an option. (For me, this has been the majority of the last year). But in that crunched season, the Lord also taught me to allow others to bless me with their offers of meals, babysitting, etc...support that I largely credit with keeping me from suffering a deep post-partum depression.
Maybe it all lies in our attitude. If I don't get time away and it causes me to be grumpy and irritable, playing "Mommy Martyr", obviously I've got an issue. But I have a hard time thinking that it's more spiritual to never take a momentary step back from our roles as wives and mothers to remember that we're also created beings that thrive on things like exercise, fellowship, and encouragement.
Today was one of those days.
When I went to drop my kiddos off at school and pick up my god daughter for the day (with her preschool on vacation, I've been brushing up on my skills with the Sesame Street set), the daughter of one of the paraprofessionals was there. She was hanging out with mom, since it was her last day of vacation before her school resumed.
I LOVE this kiddo. She is a lovely young woman of God, who just happens to be great with my kids.
So, grabbing the proverbial bull by the horns, I asked her to come and hang out with me and the "littles" for the day. She hopped in the car and were off.
What a lovely day! I got to run errands by myself and take a leisurely hike in the local mountain preserve with a friend. Then I was able to pick up some subs and chat with this sweet teen. In the afternoon, I taught her how to bake bread and had her herd the kids some more while I did some cleaning (without interruption!) and then took Princess Piggy for a haircut.
Bliss...at the bargain price of a loaf of bread, a dozen cookies, and a few extra bucks for the time I was actually out of the house.
I'm glad I didn't miss the gift.
I tend to have wildly ecclectic tastes in reading. One of the things I've been working through lately are some of the "gaps" in my knowledge of critically acclaimed literature. As a rule, I'm not a huge Plath fan, but I did love this quote. It's so me.
There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them. Whenever I'm sad I'm going to die, or so nervous I can't sleep, or in love with somebody I won't be seeing for a week, I slump down just so far and then I say: "I'll go take a hot bath."...
I never feel so much myself as when I'm in a hot bath.
--Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
1. What did you do in 2005 that you had never done before?
I send my children off to a traditional school setting for the first time.
2.Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I think I jokingly resolved to loose at least ten pounds in 2005...but I was about seven months pregnant at that point. So, by default, I met that resolution. I'm less about resolutions than I am about goal setting!
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Do I count, LOL? I gave birth to my fourth child in Februaray. My sister also had a beautiful little boy in September, my cousin had a little girl in August, and my childhood best friend had a baby in December.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
I belong to an amazing email loop of Christian ladies. I only met my friend Karen once "in real life", but I was profoundly affected by her life and death. She has dancing at the feet of her Savior for a year this week.
5. What countries did you visit?
Not my year for international travel!
6. What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005?
The ability to consistantly weed out those things that have temporal value from those that have eternal value. More flippantly, I'd like to be able to go to the bathroom with out the children, the baby, or the cat thinking they need me right then!
7. What dates will remain etched in your memory and why?
--The evening dd #2 gave her life to Christ.
--The day the baby was born.
8. What's your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting our youngest child appropritely diagnosed and medicated.
9. What was your biggest failure?
I had hoped to get my certification as a yoga instructor. However, with the year going the way it did, I hardly attended any classes, let alone complete my certification. I guess it's something to look forward to for this year!
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes, I fell on my tailbone (and dislocated it!) in a most undignified manner. To add insult to injury, it was my birthday!
11.What was the best thing you bought?
New dress clothes for the holidays. Also plane tickets to Virgina and to Florida.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My husband was the "wind beneath my wings" during a rough pregnancy, and treated me like a princess afterward.
My friend Amy got a book contract! (check out www.amywallace.com)
My friends Rob and Lori opened their heart and home, enlarging their family by three siblings, all under the age of five. (This was added to their brood of two). The children are flourishing under their loving parenting.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and disgusted?
A certain staff member at the kids' school...enough said on that rather unedifying subject!
14.What did most of your mone go to?
Tithe, major house repairs, savings and life insurance, kids and medical bills...not terribly exciting, but we're thankful that the Lord provided!
15. What did you get really really excited about?
My daughter getting saved, the baby's arrival, my youngest sister landing a HUGE account with her business.
16. What song will always remind you of 2005?
That's a stumper...probably a very silly Sandra Boyton song called "Bad Babies".
17. Compared to this time last year are you?
a)happier or sadder? happier
b)fatter or thinner? That may be a trick question, but I'm fairly sure I'm thinner!
c)richer or poorer? Financially, about the same. In friends and wisdom...infinitely richer!
18. What do you wish you had done more of?
Taking care of myself (yoga, pedicures, etc), more date nights with my sweet hubby, more one on one time with my older children.
19. What do you wish you had done less of?
Wishing my circumstances were different in multiple areas of my life.
20. How will (did) you be spending (spend) New Year's Eve?We had a Chanukkah party with some friends. (Every pound of those latkes disappeared!)
21. Did you fall in love in 2005?
Yes, with my husband (see behavior to be celebrated above!). I also got to experience (for probably the last time) the miracle of falling in love with a brand new person that I had just lifted from my body.
22. What was your favorite TV program?
Embarassingly enough, Grey's Anatomy on CBS. It's pure brain candy...but ooh how delicious!
23. What was the most fun you had this year?
Celebrating Thanksgiving with my mom and all my sisters for the first time in ten years. We loved being in the DC area and having snow that night, too!
24. What was the best book you read?
The Time Traveller's Wife. I also loved re-reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn with my oldest daughter.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Revival in Belfast (a worship album), Also Margaret Becker's Celtic Project.
26. What did you want and get?
A beautiful "upgraded" engagement ring. Also a "stork" in my yard announcing the new baby to the neighborhood.
27. What did you not want and not get?
A traffic ticket!
28. What was your favorite film this year?
It'd be a tie between Chronicles of Narnia and Pride and Prejudice.
29. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
Cruised the scrapbook store with my sister. Went out to dinner. Dislocated my tailbone in humiliating restraunt fall! 33.
30.What would have made your year measurably more satisfying?
Cutting myself a LOT more slack!
31. How would you describe your personal fashion in 2005?
Heavy emphasis on postpartum camoflauge! My best fashion moment, my dear friend telling me that I was one of the few women she knows who "has gotten hotter as she has gotten older". P.S. Laurie, I love you forever!
32. What kept you sane?
Friends who were faithful to keep pointing me to the truth in the face of frustrating circumstances. The babysitting and Starbucks they provided helped, too.!
33.Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
mmm....nope, no good or snappy answer for this one.
34. What political issue stirred you the most?
A former Lousiana resident, I was impacted very strongly by the mismangment of the Katrina cleanup.
On a local level, I was rather riled up by a lame iniative locally to ban breastfeeding in public.
35. Who did you miss?
Geographically, I miss my little sisters. I also still miss my dad, who has been gone over eleven years now.
36. Who was the best new person you met?
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005.
All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
It's all about you, Jesus.
And all this is for you, for your glory and your fame.
It's not about me,
As if you should do things my way.
You alone are God and I surrender,
To your ways.