Thursday, March 24, 2011


Clarification: Giveaway is open for ONE WEEK--ends on March 31!!!!! (enough time to follow-through with the promise to yourself). I guess I wasn't clear when composing at 10:45pm
The genesis of today's giveaway is not about product testing or self-promotion. It's actually related to the most recent book club book for my "book club, party of two, extreme husband-wife edition."

Eric has been nose deep in books about happiness for the past few months. He has proposed a "history of happiness" course for his school (unfortunately, it hasn't generated the buzz it needs to get approved--yet.) So he has been reading all sorts of interesting books about the state of being happy. And how it has been conceived over the years and from different cultures.

Eric and I have had some pre-book club discussions (I have not read the book, yet.) What makes you happy? For me, I easily rattle off, being a mom, wife, running, spending time with family, serving others. And while that is all true, all this happiness talk has made me realize some things:

If I am not sleeping or at work, I want to play my role as mother.

And most of the time, that's awesome.

And sometimes exhausting.

I take care of everyone else but myself. This became very clear in December 2010, which is why 2011 is about breathing, and taking time to be the protagonist in my own life again. It's slow going:

I've taken a hiatus from running--my meditation.

I don't go out with girlfriends as much.

I feel guilty for getting my hair cut every 8 weeks.

My toenail polish has grown out so much (and y'all know that toenail polish must be related to twinkies in that both could last through a nuclear holocaust) that the pink almost now looks like that white top of a french manicure.

When I am in the house, it's all about the kids.

But here's the rub. ANYTIME I do something "for fun" it almost always serves the purpose of giving to someone else. Every project I do, I have to do it FOR someone. I love knitting, but only give myself permission to knit when it's for (fill in the blank.) Luckily, there have been enough people getting pregnant or having babies that I am never short of a project...

But why can't I just dedicate time to knit it comes...I WANT TO. Period. Done.

Maybe I would be able to knit more than hats, scarves, stockings, booties, and elephants?

For Eric's 30th birthday, I got him private running coaching--something he has always wanted so he can really make the move to break 16 in the 5k. He gets to steal away 40min-2hrs most days to just be with himself. Run. Meditate. Unload his mind. He has no shame in doing it. It's just a given--Daddy is going running. No one complains, and he comes back a better man.

Why can't I do that?

I don't have that dedicated running time right now--and really miss it. (So do my abs and cardiovascular system.)  I was a meditative runner. I wrote letters, books, sang songs, created alternative realities during that time.

It will be a few months before I can incorporate that dedicated running time into my life again due to Eric's running focus and general chaos of life (you know, it will be right around the time Atlanta gets like 90 and steamy by 6am. I've got timing!)

But until then, in the spirit of dedicating space and time to personal happiness, I've established at least 1 hour every few days when I can retreat from being a mom and wife, and do something just for me. One week, it might be a nap. Another, actually reading the magazines I have piled up under the bed and not just breeze through the pictures while walking them to the recycling bin. I've even thought about getting the girliest movie from Redbox, and having a movie date night with yours truly.

A few days ago, I poured myself a glass of wine into an old jelly jar (because it tastes better in a jar, duh!), and had a date with a Trader Joe's ice cream sandwich. No one else was invited. Okay, so my first thought was, "is it a bad sign that I am not only drinking $3 wine from a jelly jar, but that I'm drinking it by myself?" But then I thought, "this $3 tastes kinda good!" And I read a magazine--from cover to cover. And I did it while Eric was putting Miles to bed. Yup. My child was still up. A few weeks ago, I would have gone all ballistic on myself thinking "how dare you take time for yourself while your first born son wants nothing more than for you to read him his stories and sing songs?!?" But the truth is, I'm at the point where always having to wait until my children are fast asleep, the laundry is done, the dishes are put away, and lunches are made, to have that personal time is just not possible. (Unless I want a drink at 11pm. Sorry, for the next decade, sleep trumps anything. Even jelly jar libations and Trader Joe's ice cream sandwiches.)

This isn't rocket science, nor is it a new concept. I just didn't get the memo that it's okay to do fun things for yourself that don't directly benefit your family, friends or even strangers.

And you can still be an awesome Mom. (At least that is what I'm trying to convince myself of.)

Because you know what? My mantra for life (so many of you have heard): healthy mom, healthy family/happy mom, happy family. How can you contribute to anyone else's happiness if you don't at least spend some time getting to know your own happiness first?

Last week, I just kind of wanted to make another rag wreath. We don't need another one (I have 3 I've made already), but I just wanted to spend a few hours organizing fabric, meticulously cutting it, knotting it on the ring, and feeling that instant gratification of creating something beautiful. Like knitting, I find this particular craft very meditative. It's an OCD thing I think.

I think I wrote the next great American novel during its creation. (And then it leaked out of my mind when my children got up 7 times the following night with fevers and emphysema coughs.)

Now I have a wreath I don't need. The purpose has been served--in the creation. It was not assembled with the intent on giving it to someone, nor did I have a "deadline" to get it done.

Okay Sherlocks, guess what the giveaway is?

My meditative wreath!

There are no rules about going to another website and telling me your favorite product, or in what year a particular company started.

Let's be honest. I'm no Martha Stewart, and there isn't a chance I'm going into any sort of craft business any time soon, but I thought it would merely be fun to pass the wreath along.

All you need to do is comment below on ONE THING you will do within the week that is for you. (Let's keep it legal though, k?) One thing where the main purpose is to contribute to your happiness. Yeah, it's like I'm giving you license to be selfish.

In one week I'll do this really cool and magical thing on Excel where I can randomly select one entry to win.(Except for my mother. She cannot win--she already has a wreath. Nor can my husband. But he doesn't read my blog regularly anyway.) Oh, and each person gets only one chance...even if you have multiple personalities. I don't need you to follow me on the blog...I don't need you to "like" me, I don't need you to join me on facebook. I just need you to take care of yourself (and contact me with your mailing address if I don't have it already.)

Winner will be announced Friday morning. Whatever that date's 10:45pm, and I only have enough energy to either complete my dental hygeine routine, or do mental math. Sorry mathletes--the oral cavity wins.

I'll ship the wreath to the winner--with the restriction that you have to follow-through on your commitment to yourself.

And here's where I get all mushy gushy. I truly feel like the "giveaway" is not really the wreath, but the opportunity for you to commit yourself TO yourself--I'm asking you for accountability. And I promise you'll be better off for it.

So, what are you going to do for you?


  1. Alison, this is wonderful post and exactly what I needed to hear. We all need to be able to stop in the moment, breathe and seek balance.

    My plan for adding back some happy is to sing. I'm going to pick up the guitar, and learn some new songs to sing. It might be fun to record them too.

    I'm also sending healing vibes to the sick ward. Love you.

  2. By the way, it's T not your brother.

  3. Wow! Great post Ali,
    And considering that I have a house full of little people myself (and one more on the way), I think I'd like to commit to taking an hour-long walk/run in my neighborhood or nearby park. I haven't made time to exercise because I want everything else to be done first...but we all know that is impossible!
    So, for my health and the health of the new bean I will use the extra daylight savings hour to work up a sweat...and if I don't make it the entire hour, I'll hop in the car and drive to McDonald's for a $1 hot fudge sundae...mmmmm!

    Even if I don't win, thanks for making me challenge myself to do something solo...kind of sad that it's a challenge, huh?

  4. Ditto to the previous "GREAT post". It's like you were reading my mind or something.

    I might be having a panic attack trying to think of what I am going to do for myself...thinking of all that there is to get done for others, but....

    I am going to go for a run BY MYSELF. No baby stroller. The thought makes me nervous just writing it.

    (And can you magically rig your Excel sheet to pick!?!?)

  5. Holy *#*)@#. Fantastic, amazing, wonderful post! I've been thinking about happiness a LOT lately too - reading books myself. Brilliant minds...

    I'd like to do a couple of things. One I'd like to commit to 5 minutes of silence every day. Just 5 minutes. But every day.

    Secondly, I've been dreaming of having a lovely lunch outside in this glorious, short-lived spring weather with a book and the chirping birds around me. Fresh air, sunshine and lots of sunscreen of course.

    I'm going to do that this weekend damnit. You've inspired me.

    Now give me that wreath!

  6. Amanda and I are getting pedicures at 2pm on Sunday!!! Wanna come? Thats what I'm doing for myself.. and on the way there, I'm going to take out the toddler tunes cd and listen to the radio really loud... and drink a tea that's just for me!! Can't wait... come with!!
    P.S. Just so you know... that wreath matches my house PERFECTLY!!!! Just sayin'...
    xo, Amber Sacha aka Winner!!!

  7. I am confused. The selection is random? So it doesn't matter what I write? Shouldn't it go to the most impressive time-in?

    Ok, ok...I am going to drink 5 pints of beer and smoke a thousand cigarettes

    I am, actually, doing that right now. Every da, I mean, Friday.

    I expect there are no toddlers reading this.

    Seriously I think most people have this problem.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. I agree with the rest of the comments. This is an awesome post. I absolutely, 100% identify with what you're saying. It's not that husbands aren't supportive of us taking me time, it's that we aren't supportive of ourselves taking me time. I commit to do a full yoga practice (not the 20 minutes I can sometimes fit in after the kids go to bed) this week.

  10. I'm getting in under the wire!

    This week I will actually exercise...and pushing the stroller or carrying Oliver around can't count. At least one myself...for me:)
    Ps-we should have an OCD craft party sometime...$3 wine included!

  11. First, I love the luscious wreath you are offering! I can't wait to make mine (just need to find time...).
    I have a thought about your making things for others. I believe that there can be deep satisfaction in doing something you enjoy to a purpose or for someone else. I believe that only adds to the value of what you've accomplished. For example, I take great joy in hospice singing. It is for me because I love to sing, but it also provides comfort for others. That being said, young mothers definitely need to have time for themselves to take care of their physical beings. It is easier to do that when there aren't little ones at home, but it's still a challenge because we spend a lifetime doing for others, and that's a hard habit to break. Definitely getting some sleep is HUGE, too (write I as it's past my bedtime...).
    I look forward to reading all the entries and to finding out the results. What fun!

  12. After two weeks of being a second parent to many of my troubled students, writing detailed report cards, planning a stellar open house, all the while getting sick, and sending ten homemade cards to friends...

    I am going to get the hell outta town this weekend...and we're not coming back until TUESDAY. That's right, not only are we leaving kitty behind, but I'm evening running the risk of another disaster day with a substitute where I could be picking up the pieces for another two weeks.

    But by George, we deserve it. And so rarely do we admit that to ourselves.

    I'm proud of you for this post. It's a hard hard realization to admit that you're not taking care of yourself, and that taking care of yourself can be harder than taking care of others. But, it's even more challenging to make that happen. You go girl. Healthy mama, healthy family, healthy relationships.


  13. oops, i missed the deadline, but just wanted to say that this was indeed a great post, and the wreath is beautiful! :) and in honor of your request to do something for ourselves... i'm committing to write for an hour this week, just for fun. :) hope team heintz is finally recovering from all these bugs and that you have a lovely weekend!

  14. Some additional thoughts-
    ~Never compose comments after one's mind has already gone to bed...
    ~There is lots of time to contemplate while clearing the yard of winter's devastation...
    ~In my previous response I didn't mean to ignore that reality that all women (and men who are in the service professions), not just mothers of young children, are challenged to take care of themselves instead of everyone else. Small children do compound the challenge, but we all need to make time for ourselves and our passions.
    ~Judging by the clamor for your wreaths I think you will have to construct more of your amazing wreaths, Alison!

  15. I vote with the others - great post, and needed for sure! After 23 years of marriage and 3 children I still find it difficult to spend guilt-free "me" time. To this day I continue to find myself rushing home if the family is all there to be part of the activity and chaos, or to just be around -in case I'm "needed". As though they can't do without me. Many times they don't even realize I'm gone - I should learn my lesson. But that's part of being who we are - wanting to help others. If we could turn off the "other" world for just 30 minutes each day we would all benefit.

    I do find that doing for others is in itself rewarding and feels good (ok, maybe not the laundry, cleaning and cooking), but it's easy to wear ourselves out. So to meet your challenge I've thought of lots of things I could do for myself this week. Too bad the exotic beach trip can't happen! But I will stop at the gym to inquire about renewing my membership so I can get back in shape. I've been trying to get there for weeks now. This will push me. If I win, I want to use the wreath as a signal to my family that mom is in "quiet time".

  16. Great post! It's interesting to see how many people's commitments had to do with exercise. For me, it's the first thing to get cut out when the schedule gets busy.

    I too will jump on the exercise bandwagon and commit to taking a group class at the gym this week.

    We just moved to a new place and that wreath will be just the thing to make it feel like home! Thanks for the continued inspiration, Alison.

  17. Love this post! Acutally it reminds me a lot of one of the current ACS campaigns directed at women to "choose you"

    I feel like I actually spent the entire weekend when Beth was here choosing myself. I would constantly have this internal debate and guilt if we went out to do something before Sarah was in bed. But, I did still do it, I guess I was choosing my friend, too, so that made it easier!

    This week I am choosing to take the time to get myself better!

  18. Lovely! I don't know why we feel guilty for taking that hour or so for ourselves. What I need to do is start using the Wii Fit plus I bought a few weeks back, in the hopes it would help my back. But it remains unused. I haven't been able to exercise in so long, I think it would be good for me, I just have this mental block about it. So I need to

    I really want that wreath. :D