(This is part of an on-going series Momma’s Soapbox and I are doing on Keeping Our Inner Aloha/Peaceful Life. See here for the Aloha lowdown and here for the Peaceful Life reason!)

I am at a point in my life that I can take a lot of time for me, in my Secret Place.  Actually, my house has become my Secret Place.  It hasn’t always been this way.  Before, life got in the way.  Now I can look back and see that I should have heeded my mom’s advice to me more often:  “You need to always make sure you take care of YOU because you are more than just a mother.” 

She wasn’t saying that it was bad to focus on being a good mother (good thing); she was pointing out that I am a better mother when I keep in touch with who I am aside from being a mother.  I am more well-rounded and happy.

At the time she was telling me this, I was working long hours at work (12 hour days 6 days a week) and met myself coming and going.  I more often just remember picking up a son who was fed, bathed, ready for reading and bedtime (for both of us).  One Saturday evening she said, “Let him stay overnight and go do something for you – go to a movie or something mindless, to rest your mind.”  I’m sure I gazed at her blankly, partly due to exhaustion and partly due to the foreign concept of doing something just for me.

Now I can look back and see how vital and important it is that we always have a Secret Place where we can step back from our lives and do something just for ourselves.  It is a place of recharging and taking stock.  Sometimes it is a place of thoughtful contemplation and other times, it’s just unwinding by sitting with a blank stare, thinking absolutely nothing, zip, nada (not too hard for me, hoho). 

 

We can’t all have a Secret Garden (book by Frances Hogdson Burnett) – but don’t we wish we did?  That place behind a locked gate, the place of beauty, peace, scent, exquisite aloneness, and quietness?  It is vital to have a Secret Place – secret spot – secret chair – secret anything.  A place you do NOT pay bills, do NOT discuss anything vital and important, do NOT stress, do NOT make lists or plans, do NOT work, do NOT fret, worry or stress, and do NOT share with your children.

You may drink a cup of tea, read a book, listen to Zen or spa music (nothing screaming, just restful like the Spanish guitar music you hear), lay in the grass and look at clouds, contemplate your belly button, listen to a water fountain, thank God for all your blessings, after thinking about all your blessings or jotting them down in a journal, light a scented candle and enjoy the perfumed air, and if your secret spot is in a room, make it dark and light all sorts of candles to sit by – but do nothing stressful. 

A Secret Place is where you can get alone for a few minutes – try for a minimum of 15 minutes – the time it takes to put together and then brew a pot of tea – and let your mind slow down.  Take a breather.  One woman I know would go in the backyard and sit on her glider during the children’s naptime.  She’d slowly move the glider back and forth with her feet, just breathing, slowly and deeply, letting the thoughts and worries of the day flow right out of her mind. 

Another woman would go sit on the back stoop and drink a Dr. Pepper in a glass with ice.  When it was gone, she got back up and went inside the house a little more refreshed. Another lady (who homeschooled 4 children so was never alone) would, a little bit after her husband got home from work, go to the spare bedroom, shut the door, put on quiet music, light scented candles, put a book on tape on with headphones and listened to one chapter of her book (minimum). As you can see, it just takes a little creative thought.

We can run away to the bathroom, to soak in the bubble-filled, perfume-scented bathtub, praying no one knocks on the door with an emergency (more than “Mo-oom, he hit me!!”).  For most women, it is after everyone is in bed for the night, that she may catch a few minutes of just sitting and doing nothing, before climbing into her own bed. 

My Peaceful Tip today is to find a spot where you can create a Secret Place.  Make it your place and put it off limits to everyone else in the household.  Even if it is just a chair in the corner with a small table and candle, it is YOURS and no one else’s.  Period.  Off limits.  And when you are there, you are unavailable to everyone.  It may take some training, but you can let those around you know that you are taking your “time out” or “nap” or “rest” or whatever terminology gets the point across to them.  When you are in that Secret Place it is: “leave me alone” (or else, implied). 

Slowing down is good for the heart.  Stress kills.  Slowing down heals.  Make taking care of you a vital part of your life.  It’s OK to take time out for you.  Whoever made the rule that you had to be Super Woman was a liar.  Super Woman dropped dead in the 80’s, from exhaustion.  Today, be a Smart Woman – one who takes care of her health and mental well-being.  You’ll like yourself – and life – a lot better!   And don’t buy into guilt – that is is wrong to take some time for you.  Hog wash – it is especially important to set aside you-time.  Don’t tell yourself, “I just don’t have time.”  MAKE time.  It’s that important.

Do you already have a Secret Place?  Tell us in the comment section so others can learn how to find their own spot, too!

Make a perfect pot of tea:  http://www.lbddiaries.com/beauty.html