Life has a way of being so hectic that “I” can get lost. Between being a parent, an employee, building my practice, and writing papers as a student, my core can go missing in the process. I lose touch with myself and the very things that make me, me.
Such was the reality when I turned 27. There I was a single mother. I was so busy running away from myself, and yet I had no idea who the person I was escaping from was. So I made a commitment to date myself for a full year.
Once a week I hired a babysitter and took time for myself by going out on a date. Being raised in a Chassidic environment and never dating prior to my marriage, I had no idea what I wanted and/or enjoyed. I found out that I loved to rollerblade, that I enjoyed dancing in clubs, that movies were not something I wanted to pay for… that the outdoors gave me energy and that the woods made me feel like I was in the home of the Divine.
I discovered that I was strong enough to cry. That being in room lit with candles while shedding tears helped me feel that God was holding me… I wrapped myself in a shawl as I allowed the little girl in me to weep, giving myself permission to feel all those uncomfortable emotions that were coming up for me.
I began to appreciate bubble baths, soft music and vanilla sprays. I became grateful for lotions and incense. I stopped judging myself for not taking pleasure in the malls, shopping and noise…
I bought myself roses and wrote cards to myself. For my birthday I wrapped a present and placed it on my night table. When I awoke the next morning, I was thrilled to see a gift next to my bed, wrapped in beautiful paper, and a romantic card with loving words in it. It was signed Love, Chani.
I made time to go out for a cup of tea with friends. Giving into the enjoyment of sitting and sipping warm liquid while connecting with people that I love.
That year of dating myself was by far the most important part of my spiritual and emotional journey. I trained myself to say “no” when people asked me out on a date. I became skilled at saying, “I am seeing someone” even if the person I was seeing was myself. I learned to honor the commitment I made to myself. In doing so I not only dated myself that year, but lay a framework of honoring and listening to my needs that are incorporated in my life today.
The project that is due, the laundry that is dirty, the e-mails that are unopened, the phone calls that have not been answered, will all be there when you come back. For me taking the time to nurture myself is vital. Because when I come back to my busy life, I am refreshed and more centered. The most amazing thing is that I get a lot more done having taken care of myself.
In the treadmill we call life, when was the last time that you took a day for yourself? An afternoon? An hour? How can you treasure the incredible human being that you are? How can you listen to the voice inside? How can you give yourself the gift of you?