Over the last few years a common theme has been surfacing in my conversations with women from all over the country and around the world: The struggle of juggling work, family, friends and permission for this elusive thing called "self care".
Many of the women in my life - friends, colleagues and clients, discuss being on the edge of burn out, feeling snappy, snarly and sad.
They share that they feel disconnected with their authentic and creative self and have no idea what happened to their dreams.
I so understand! Like many of you, I would read the latest and greatest book or article about creating work/life balance clutching the words to my heart like a beacon of freaking hope. I might even try out a few tips (usually yawning and muttering while I did) but, over time, just like the unicorn, self care felt like a magical mythical creature only gifted to a lucky (or wealthy) few.
Juggle, Juggle Toil and Trouble
As a life juggler it can be very difficult to give oneself permission to take a much needed, and often well deserved, break. To lift our heads up from the laundry and lap tops and to step out of the F.O.G. (fear, obligation and guilt) that often rules our life roles.
Believe me I get it, I was the queen of finding excuses not to take care of myself and to put off placing my own needs at the top of the list. My crown would have said, "Queen of Putting Myself Last." Which only left me feeling tired, pouty, cranky and resentful. I needed to factor myself back into the equation of my life!
One day about 6 years ago, after a very sad and unexpected loss of a loved one, I said, "Mari, enough is enough!" I was so tired of all of the excuses I'd been giving myself for years and years about why I could not make time for me in my own life. I made a vow to nip the excuses and fears in the bud, and to take a deep breath and go for it. To imperfectly stand in my joy, to create a life that allowed for fun, play, and connection, and growth and most importantly...dream weaving.
The Women Weigh In
Recently I asked a few women in my life the following question:
"What is it that you need to feel like you are living a more authentic, balanced and joyful life?"
Time and again these ladies shared that they are longing, deeply l-o-n-g-i-n-g, dare I say even salivating to their cores, to get away for some self care, and fun, and relaxation. Or as one sassy friend stated, "I really need a fucking break before I end up on the evening news."
I think we can all relate to that from time-to-time!
Many of the women I spoke with shared that they feel disconnected, or wish that they had a tribe of other inclusive, kind, and creative women to help fill their cup and the time to form heart centered friendships. A dear pal said to me, "Most of my day is spent running down a list of errands, chores and responsibilities, interrupted by coffee. Shoot, I hardly have time to pee let alone find time for fun and friends!"
This is so common for women. The soul wish for "me time" is often followed by a sigh and some version of, "But I really don't know how I'd fit it in to my schedule and budget. So...yeah, probably not going to happen."
Here are a few more snippets from conversations I had with some amazing wonder women on the topic of self care (shared with permission):
1. "I am juggling so much, I honestly can't remember the last time I really relaxed." R.D., 42
2. "If I don't do it, it's not going to get done, I can promise you that!!" L.Q., 38
3. "Me" time? Yeah right Mari, LOL, tell that to my boss!" M.Y., 31
4. "I love my family, but man sometimes I need a freaking break!" Y.G., 36
5. "I'd feel guilty if I left my kids for a weekend. Plus, I'm such an anxious introvert." D.A., 40
6. "The last time I spent money just on myself was...wow...I honestly can't even tell you." B.W., 51
7. "Women who invest in self care seem selfish to me. Or maybe I'm just jealous, ha!" T.A., 39
8. "I'd like to stop and smell the roses but I've got too much shit to do!" F.F., 34
9. "The idea of spending time to check in with myself sound like heaven, but..." D.L., 43
10. "I feel so blah and bloated, I wouldn't even know what to do or where to go." M.P., 51
11. "Planning a vacation somewhere sounds like one more job I'd have to manage." J.B., 44
12. "Isn't there some place where women can go to re-charge? Or do we just suck it up?" C.R., 45
If you are a woman reading this right now and nodding in agreement, I feel ya' sister friend! I've been there. The good news is even little self care steps incorporated each day can add up to a better you. That might be a 15 minute walk at lunch, or an evening yoga class, or making a healthy breakfast a priority.
Or it may mean setting aside a little time to step out of your regular routine and invest in some focused "you" time!
Our Time has Arrived!
Last year I decided, "Enough is enough! We women need a place to go at least once a year, even if only for a weekend. A place to unplug from the stressors of work, relationships, kids, and you name it.
We need time to tune in to our own dreams and desires, and to have someone else take care of the details. We need a chance to enjoy a beautiful weekend away, to sip some wine or sparkling water by the waves, to attend inspiring workshops. We need some toes in the sand laughter with other awesome women. We need time to fill our own cup, without having to worry if we are bikini ready or waxed to perfection, or whatever. Screw that noise! "
So I teamed up with my colleague pal Anna Osborn, a fellow therapist, busy wife and mother of twins, host of "Her Life Unscripted", and an authentic woman who understands first hand how busy life can be and how important self care is. Out of many heart-to-heart meetings, tons of hours of creative planning, much laughter, number crunching and m&m munching, the Shine Retreat for Women was born! Anna and I stayed focused and committed to making sure that Shine would be a retreat for every woman, single or coupled up, with kids or kid free, no matter her age, size, ethnicity or profession.
Anna and I were passionate about designing a women's self care weekend retreat where every woman could come and truly relax without worrying about her hair, make up, or weight. Where she would feel warmly welcomed and embraced by a tribe of inclusive and kind hearted ladies. A true "drop your bag" retreat (as in: show up, drop your bag in your room, and leave all the details to us).
We also wanted Shine to be a small retreat so that the women attending could truly relax, restore, connect to their own authentic self, as well as create life long friendships with women from all over the world without feeling overwhelmed or lost in the crowd.
And, I am so happy to share that our dream of support has blossomed and manifested into a beautiful weekend where women have been catching the vision, getting excited about taking a stand for their own self care, and will be joining us from near and far this Sept. 29-Oct.1, 2017. We have women coming on their own without knowing a soul. We have sisters, moms and adult daughters, best friends, and even co-workers attending as well. This is going to be a weekend of healing, restoration, connection, relaxation and yes, FUN!
But, But, But...
Still finding excuses not to invest in you? Read on lovely...
We. Get. It. Anna and I have been there. Many of us lead lives that are so focused on every one else's needs that there is little time left over to focus on our own goals, healing and dreams. We have been caring, and giving, and loving, and-and-and for so many years we have lost ourselves in the shuffle.
Maybe you have recently experienced a loss or are going through a life transition. Maybe your heart is hurting and your wings are dragging. If so, we will gently embrace you in to our tribe of women.
When was the last time you stood in front of a mirror and gazed into your own beautiful eyes? Do you remember that wonderful girl staring back at you? Do you still recognize her hopes and dreams? Doesn't she deserve some attention and love, even if just for a weekend?
More than ever before women are feeling exhausted, irritable, and sometimes lonely or shut down. Women talk and talk and talk about a future time where they can invite fun and creativity back in their life. But...the day never seems to arrive.
So let me ask you this you incredible woman (and feel free to add your response in the comment section below):
When will you finally give yourself permission to invest in your own self care and truly fill your cup? Next year, the year after, when the kids are in this or that grade, or when your significant other isn't so swamped at work, or when your boss isn't breathing down your neck, or your business isn't taking up all of your time, or when your budget is just right, or when the bills are all paid off, or when you are in a great relationship, or when you lose weight, or when you cross of all of the tasks on your "to do" list, or (fill in the blank).
And the weeks turn in to months, and the months in to years. Your time to show up for you is now.
Don't wait until you are almost 50 years old like I was. Or if you are 50+, woman, what are you waiting for?! Join us. Anna and I will welcome you with open arms and we will take care of every last detail so that you truly can shine once again!
I'll wrap this up with one of my favorite sayings: "Everything will work better if you unplug it for awhile. Including you!" So true!
Registration and other self care info is located here, take a peek, lean into your heart: The Shine Retreat for Women
Kindly and in support,
Mari A. Lee, LMFT, CSAT - and beyond the title I am a:
Sister, Friend, Aunt, God Mom, Partner, Therapist, Author, Speaker, Animal lover, Rebel, Supporter, Advocate, Self Care Guru, Imperfect Mermaid, Planner, Teacher, Spiritual Warrior, Boss Babe, Wanderer, Hiker, Dreamer, Healer.