Motherhood and making healthy choices

Sometimes it takes hearing another woman's story of survival to help you see that in many ways you aren't truly living... that in some ways, you’re living on autopilot. Ellie Schoenberger and Heather King delivered that much-needed message to me recently.

A to-do list that never ends

Your days undoubtedly look something like mine:

Get up.
Resist the urge to drink coffee directly from the pot.
Make breakfast through bleary eyes.
Prep and pack lunches.
Facilitate face washing and hair and tooth brushing.
Repeat at least 62 times, “Please put on your shoes and socks.”
Hurry out the door for school drop-off.
Try to get as much work done in the blink of an eye that we call a school day.
Make dinner and nag your children to eat that dinner.
Corral the kids into the tub.
Oversee homework completion.
Facilitate hair and tooth brushing... again.
Tuck everyone in.
Empty lunch boxes.
Clean the kitchen and run the dishwasher.
Fall onto the couch in a heap.
Crawl into bed, vowing to find the time tomorrow to find time to take care of yourself along the way.

The stress and demands of the everyday have an insidious way of mounting over time, pressing and pushing until you’re overwhelmed by the realization that something big will have to happen to make real change.

Learn how to steal 10 minutes of me time every day >> 

A message I needed to hear

As I headed off to Creative Alliance '12, a recent conference for 45 writers and other creative types in gorgeous Ojai, California, I hoped to come back feeling recharged. Four days away sounded like the perfect solution.

On the last full day of the retreat, we sat in a circle in the sun and listened to Heather King and Ellie Schoenberger lead a conversation called "Identity and Surrender" in which they talked, among many other things, about what happens when life happens.

They each shared bits and pieces of struggles they've faced and bravely overcome in recent years.

Ellie and Heather recalled Ellie's battle with cancer and their words pierced through me. Ellie described lying in bed, with the sounds of family life carrying up the stairs to her room. She recalled how difficult it was to lay there and listen to the sound of someone else mothering her children.

Their message was bigger than I can summarize and do justice to here, but in that moment, there in the warm sunshine looking at Ellie's beautiful face... the face of a survivor... I had a moment of realization.

"As I listened to her words, I grew angry with myself."

As I listened to her words, I grew angry with myself. Angry that I take my health for granted... ashamed that I don’t take better care of myself. Because I can but I don't.

During the daylong drive home from the retreat, her words kept swirling through my mind.

Learn more about the power of self-care >>

A commitment to healthy changes

This morning, I put on my running clothes, laced up my running shoes, unearthed my neglected treadmill and I ran.

I ran for Ellie.
I ran for my family.
I ran for myself.

Tomorrow, I will quite likely hobble to get there, but I’ll repeat the process over again.

And I will strive to remain mindful of just how fortunate I am that I can.

Thank you, Ellie... a million times over.

Read more about taking care of yourself

Why “me time” is such a big deal
The science of thought: How changing your thoughts can change your health
Why “me time” is essential to your health


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Comments on "Practicing Gratitude: A healthy reminder"

Katie October 09, 2012 | 5:57 PM

Aww this was incredible. It is crazy to think how many things in life we take for granted because we're "too busy" to realize just how lucky we have it. Being busy is a sign that you are blessed. Having a family shows you have people who love you, making time for friends seems hard, but it again shows just how many people care about you. Being busy is a blessing :)

Rachel Voorhees October 08, 2012 | 9:25 AM

I am so happy to hear that you are doing something for yourself and am so proud of you! I too loved Ellie and Heather's message and also love that everyone got something different out of it!

Amy October 08, 2012 | 9:14 AM

I had much the same experience while listening to them. I didn't go home and run (because I will only run when being chased) but it was extra motivation to work out when I just didn't want to get off the couch.

Sherri October 05, 2012 | 10:58 AM

Perfect...we all take these things for granted, and we really shouldn't. I loved that time listening to Ellie and Heather, and their story stirs in my mind still.

Ellie @ One Crafty Mother October 05, 2012 | 10:50 AM

Oh, my goodness, Nichole. I have tears streaming down my face. Thank you for your words - I'm speechless, really. I never intended that to be part of my message, but I'm glad it was - for you, mostly. Because the gift of loving yourself IS the gift you give your family. A million times over. -xo -Ellie

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