Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The power of a hot bath

While my baby was napping yesterday I began running my mind over my "to do" list. It was long. I had already slipped the cake in the oven and had a good 40 minutes before it would be done. The kitchen needed cleaned, but the bathrooms were already scrubbed and the laundry was going. While there was plenty I still could have done I decided to take a few minutes to soak in a warm bath while the cake was baking.

I stepped out of the tub with just enough time to throw on a robe and dash to the kitchen. The cake was done to perfection. As I was making my way back to the bedroom to get dressed I paused and looked in the mirror. My hair was disheveled in the pony tail that it was mostly falling out of. My face was clean. No make up. I was totally natural as they say. And I realized in that moment that I liked what I saw. Not only did I realize it, but I admitted it to myself. Looking in the mirror in that state I let myself enjoy the beauty that is me. Not because I'm perfect. Not because I had taken the time to get all fancied up. But just because I was me and that was enough.

What happened next surprised me a bit. As I acknowledged that I liked myself I felt this urgent need to take good care of what was there. Despite the fact that the smell of the most seductive chocolate cake I have ever made was pervading every corner of the house I was craving cherry tomatoes and a big glass of water. This made me smile. The girl with the sweet tooth didn't want sweets, even with the smell of chocolate on the air.

I went back into my bedroom and used one of my "fancy" lotions just because I felt like it, got dressed in some comfy clothes, turned on some relaxing music, poured myself a glass of cold water, and indulged in some delicious cherry tomatoes. It was only an hour that I spent pampering myself, but it was enough to energize me to finish decorating the cake and clean the kitchen.

The best part is, after taking a few minutes for myself I was a much better (and more patient) mother as the day went on. I was a kinder wife as well. Because I had taken a few minutes for myself I was able to take better care of the ones around me. I love this. 

Too often we feel that if we take time to take care of ourselves, let alone like ourselves, we will be selfish. Women are supposed to shoulder the burden of taking care of everyone around them selflessly. Or at least that is what we have come to subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) believe. What a shame. Some days we may not have an hour to spend on ourselves, but even 5 minutes of looking at what your needs are can make a difference. By caring for ourselves first we are better able to care for those around us.

The other thing I love about this story is how much I wanted to take care of myself as soon as I acknowledged that I liked myself. I knew I was special enough to wear my "fancy" lotion just because. Liking ourselves allows us to take better care of ourselves which in turn allows us to better care for our loved ones. So everybody wins. Eating intuitively is one of the best ways I have found to nurture and take care of myself, and to foster feelings of self-love. Yoga has also been instrumental for me in finding self-love. I have said before that learning this love is hard, but it is probably the most worthwhile thing you could do. I stand by that. And I think this story is evidence why.

Find what makes you feel amazing. Focus on that amazing feeling. Appreciate your body for how it makes you feel. And learn to love yourself. It can be done. Less than a year ago I proclaimed my hatred for my body. Today I feel the opposite. Oh there are still days and moments, but they are becoming fewer. The more I learn to love myself the more I am able to love others. Believe me, it is worth it.