Having spent years working with women (and also being one), there’s no doubt that we are nurturers by nature. Putting our family’s, friends’, and community’s wants and needs above our own is in our DNA. In fact, it might be how the airplane emergency announcement originated: “If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your own mask first, and then assist the other person.” For sure, this was made for women to hear, since our natural instinct is to sacrifice our safety (or health) to save everyone else. Although this is indeed a selfless characteristic, too much sacrifice becomes an Achilles’ heel, which is detrimental to physical, mental, and spiritual health. It also can diminish the quality of relationships and lives.
I have found that, in order to be my best and wear the colorful hats of wife, mom, business owner, and friend, I must nurture myself and make my health a priority. Ironically, even having worked in the wellness and fitness field my entire adult life, making time to exercise is still never easy. However, when I dedicate the time to challenge my body and mind in outdoor cross-training, yoga, swimming, Pilates, or indoor dance class, the results are monumental. Giving myself this gift a few hours each week translates into every area of my life. I am more confident, patient, energetic, productive, and focused. All in all, I just feel better.
In addition to being inspired by the outdoors, I am also energized when I work out with a positive, supportive, and enthusiastic community of women. Only a woman can fully relate to another woman’s heart, which is why I love being able to share life with and gain wisdom from other women. Of course, the exercise component is awesome, but having the ability to connect on fun, honest, and personal levels is a spirit booster. Life is always more rich and fulfilling with girlfriends.
Most recently, I agreed to an escape in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina—a week long, girlfriend getaway hosted by my fitness company, iGnite Your Life. These trips are filled with a variety of exhilarating outdoor activities and provide each attendee the opportunity to stretch beyond her comfort zones. Having given birth to my second child less than three months prior to the trip, this may have appeared extremely selfish. But, for my own sanity and well-being, I needed to disconnect from the world and reconnect with nature. I craved female companionship, uninterrupted sleep, adventure, and late-night dance parties. It was vital that I do something for myself and allow my heart to sing, which it did many times (and especially while zip-lining through the treetop canopy overlooking the Southern Appalachian forest).
During each adventure on the trip, there were growth opportunities and life lessons galore. While rock climbing, I was reminded of the importance of commitment, trust, and teamwork. During our guided white-water rafting tour down the Nantahala River and a hike that led to a 100-foot waterfall, I was humbled by God’s masterful creation, which instantly put life back into perspective. And, while mountain biking, I was reminded of how quickly “you lose it if you don’t use it”: strength, balance, flexibility, and the mental capacity and fearlessness to try new things. But the best parts of all were the candid conversations around the dinner table, friendships made, and souls nurtured. At the end of the trip, there were no regrets, only joyful, grateful, and replenished women who were ready to take on various and important roles.
Finally, it pains me to admit that when I need a mental detox, I watch the over-the-top, overly-dramatic, and overly-publicized family reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which usually adds zero value to my life. However, while viewing a recent episode, I was struck by this wisdom: “If you don’t take care of yourself, you hurt your relationships.” Really, this sums it up! I believe we are created for relationship, and—without a shadow of a doubt—by taking care of our physical, mental, and spiritual health and well-being, not only does our light radiate in every direction, but our ability to joyfully serve our family and community increases exponentially, which is a win–win for everyone!