Essentially, each of these four women stepped out of their comfort zones to do something they'd never done before, and each event ended up changing their lives for the better.
The life-changing events ranged in complexity -- from writing a novel to deciding to go on anti-depressants -- but the underlying message I took from each of their stories was that they were finally putting themselves first and doing something just for them.
I know I've talked about this before, but it's still something that I really struggle with each day. For example, whenever someone asks me what I like to do for fun in my spare time, I really don't have an answer for them.
My responses are always in the past tense. As in:
I used to volunteer at the zoo.
I used to be a runner.
I used to paint my nails and wear make up.
I used to watch hockey and attend the occasional game.
There was a whole lot of fulfillment in my former self, but now I just feel tied down with obligation all the time. And I really shouldn't complain, either, given that I'm very blessed and don't have it all that bad.
Things first changed for me when I became a parent, but everyone has SOMETHING in their lives that runs interference in this regard, whether they're parents or not. Everyone is facing some sort of challenge - and often times it's actually a multitude of challenges and not just one single thing.
But it doesn't have to be this way, does it? At some point we should be able to take control of our lives and do something we've always wanted to do, right?
Thinking back to my first maternity leave from work nearly four years ago, I'm reminded of just how naïve I was at that time. One full year off work? Fabulous!
I was going to organize and decorate the house. And diligently work out every day. And have a healthy dinner ready on the table each night. Oh, and aside from all those things, I was also going to get around to scrapbooking my wedding photos and become a published author.
Ahem. All in my spare time away from work.
Of the above things on my list of things to do, the only thing I achieved was the getting published part. Well, sort of. It was just a few articles in a local publication, and I didn't exactly get rich off of them. (But they did buy us some groceries... does that count??)
This time around I'm much more realistic going into my next absence from work, and I've set my expectations much, much lower. As in, if I manage to get a shower in there somewhere, then that's the mark of a good day.
The truth of the matter is that staying home with a child is more work than, well, actually going to work.
But, again, I have difficulty in just accepting that this is the way it's going to be. I have to find some way to take that first step and, like the four women in the article, do something I've never done before. And then maybe that will lead to something else. And so on.
Of the four women in the article, I was most intrigued by Katherine Hilton who, in her early 40s, finally wrote a book and found a publisher. The thing that really got me was that, on the surface, it appears as though she did this all in her spare time. But this isn't entirely accurate, either, and that's the lesson I really need to learn.
Like me, this woman had a family and also worked full-time outside the home, so to say that she had any spare time at all is probably a fallacy. But what sets her apart from me is the fact that she committed to her goal and MADE the time to write.
She started out by carrying around an idea book in her purse. Then she hired a babysitter to look after her kids every Sunday afternoon so she had a set time to write. And then, eventually, she went down to working just four days a week outside the home, which allowed her to devote more time to writing.
Obviously the success of her writing career didn't happen overnight, and she certainly had setbacks along the way, but she pushed on.
And so I truly believe that nothing significant is going to happen to any of us if we simply leave it to occurring in our spare time. Without proper planning and dedication, that's just a recipe for failure and disappointment.
So if I really want to achieve a healthier lifestyle while on my next maternity leave, then I have to make time for it. And I suppose there's no better place to start than by scheduling in those
And after I achieve that, then maybe I'll start making healthy dinners again each night..... and eventually work my way up to writing a novel.
Entirely plausible, right?