In their own words …
After leaving my corporate job, moving 1,000 miles away from close friends and family and navigating a new freelance career, I was worn out. Signing up for a Personal Renewal Group was an opportunity to claim valuable time – just for me. I could count on our monthly gatherings as an opportunity to slow down, question and re-set my perspective. Through this work, I learned two important lessons: to release the need to please everyone and to practice saying no. Both are essential skills for any mother and any self-employed professional. I also reclaimed my passion for adventure and recognized my family’s desire to spend more time together in nature. As the calendar keeper for my family, it is now a priority to schedule frequent outings to explore new state or national parks and to spend time together unplugged. —Ellen
I learned that caring for yourself is not selfish, but rather a necessity of being a good friend, wife, mother and employee. I have much more to give the people in my life when I feel more in balance, rested and healthy. This requirement changes shape depending on the moment—it could mean taking time for a yoga class, going to dinner with girlfriends or taking a nap (instead of doing laundry) on the weekends. I am a recovering perfectionist and have learned that I can’t do everything perfectly all of the time. I’ve become much more comfortable with the concept of focusing my time and energy so that one area of my life gets a lower or higher percentage of attention that week, day or even hour. It can’t be split up evenly all of the time. And, it’s your contribution over time, as a mother, wife, friend, employee, etc. that counts—one hour does not define your overall performance. My stress level and our family dynamic have improved infinitely as a result of my shifts in how I think, and this is the best gift I could have ever imagined. —Tonja
As a mother of three, I fell into a common syndrome – take care of everyone else first and letting my needs come last. Deep down I knew something needed to change, but I didn’t know where to begin. My Personal Renewal Group taught me how baby steps—like reaching out and asking for help– can have a profound effect on the way I feel about myself and my key relationships. My biggest realization was around the importance of self-care and having strong boundaries—particularly around how I manage my time and energy. I am very grateful to my PRG because I now live more in the present and am able to better handle what life brings to me –and I have many amazing PRG friends to help me navigate the ups and downs. —Liz
After the birth of two children, I was carrying around some extra weight. To say I was not an athletic person would be putting it mildly. I used to joke that the only time I would run would be so I could stand first in line for the buffet. My physical well-being had definitely taken a backseat to the care and nurturing of my kids. After focusing for quite a while on the self-care message, I decided to take a big step, and when a woman in my Personal Renewal Group said she needed a walking partner, I raised my hand. That next week we set off with my kids in tow. As we walked each week, the weight began to drop off, and my friendship with my walking partner grew. The confidence I found inspired me to train for and participate in my first Danskin Triathlon. My walking partner was there with me all the way, as were the other PRG moms, providing encouragement and support. I felt such pride following the race. It took a lot of training and a few sacrifices along the way, but the experience taught me so much about my internal power and myself. I now understand that acknowledging and addressing my needs (physical, emotional and spiritual) is not a weakness, it is a priority. —Kelli
The demands of mothering (and nursing), particularly when your kids are young, are great. Often, despite their good intentions, your partner or family members just don’t understand how much physical/emotional energy it takes to care for and nurse a newborn, or to take care of children, period. When you begin to think about self-care and getting in touch with your own needs, you realize there are times when you’re the only one who really knows what you need to be/feel your best. And you have to stand up for your own needs, despite outside influences. The bottom line is that there are many times a nursing mom needs to sleep—and let the dishes go. More and more I’m starting to be able to recognize this and be okay with it. Self-care was not something most of us were taught—it’s something we have to learn. Baby steps. —Lara
I used to become physically sick from stress I put upon myself to be perfect. If the laundry wasn’t done or the house picked up, how could I leave to go to the park? And yet, if the kids didn’t get outside, they’d drive me crazy. I’d react to their behavior by yelling at them. I was certainly far from perfect. Since I’ve started thinking about what’s most important to me in life—right now—I’m gaining better perspective. I have let go of a lot of things that I used to think mattered (a perfectly clean house). I also started to make my needs a priority, and now we have a much more harmonious household. Best of all, I appreciate and enjoy my children more than ever before. —Megan
Once a week, my husband and I sit down and plan our week and look at where we need help. The idea of utilizing a support system used to be foreign to me—I did everything on my own. Now, we are always on the same page and it feels so great to be connected to him. (And our kids love to see a happy mommy and daddy.) Before we did this, we were frustrated and disjointed. Asking for help and seeking support can be hard at first—but it’s well worth the effort! —Rebecca
I walked away from my life as a music business executive for a more balanced existence. I created a career that supported that, but my thinking about self-care and time were still driven by the corporate machine. After my involvement in my Personal Renewal Group, I realized that I had to come first, even before my daughter. I began to see that the life I desired was possible. It all begins within me, and balance follows. Don’t get me wrong, that perfectionist is still inside me, but I am so much more willing to look at my motivation and my deepest desires before I commit to things. The greatest gift I have learned in the last year is that saying “no” brings abundance. The more I say no to opportunities that don’t feed my desire for balance, the more opportunities that support me make themselves available.
I feel like I have reached deep down inside myself and found a nice warm spot to reside. Much of the worry I used to have about life has lessened; I have started taking the time to truly appreciate the gifts I offer my family. Tapping into “me” through self-care has been a blessing. —Wendy
I have never been good at achieving balance in my life. I always threw myself into whatever phase of life or new challenge I found myself in: college, career, traveling, career again, boyfriend, wedding planning, house remodeling, etc. So motherhood became the next challenge to obsess about. I wanted to experience as much as I could and didn’t want to miss anything. I wanted to drink it up and cherish each moment. After all, you can never get back the first years of your child’s life, but you have the rest of your life to sleep, work, exercise, etc. When friends, family and mentors would advise me to take care of myself and my relationship with my husband, I could understand what they were saying on an intellectual level. My brain could rationalize and understand that self-care was important, but the work (from the Personal Renewal Group) helped me to know it in my heart. I really believe that if I take care of myself first, I will have more to give to my husband and children. It’s important for me to set an example for my children so that they learn to take care of themselves, lead healthy, balanced lives and realize their fullest potential. —Renee
Learning to say “no” was a huge milestone for me. It improved my ability to manage my time, care for my family and care for myself. Magically, saying no increased the power and significance of saying “yes.” Now, if I decline a coffee date, a project, a meeting, an event, a volunteer commitment, I do not feel guilty. I feel smart and in control. I feel more reliable. But I have to keep practicing. In my journal, I started a list of things that I decided not to do or declined. I’m more confident in my ability to make good decisions. I honor my family, myself and my time by saying no. And the rewards of that are so great. When I say no to many big and little things, I get to say yes to a few, very important things, beyond my family. I now have a leadership role in a local professional group. I have budding new friendships through my Personal Renewal Group. I am able to help clients whose work I love. I can usually whip out a dinner or an afternoon of babysitting for a friend with a new baby. I can spend a weekday at home with my daughters without checking email. For me, that is the power of self-care and learning to say no. —Laura
Being in PRG has helped me focus on the importance of self-nurturing and taking care of myself first. It’s made me a better and happier parent and partner. My husband and sons have reaped the benefits from my involvement in PRG. It’s refreshing to hear other moms self-disclose some of the same feelings and concerns I have about parenting and keeping our own dreams and aspirations alive. I’m very grateful for this experience and the new friendships I’ve made. I highly recommend PRG! —Rhonda
Hear from RTA-Certified Facilitators about their experience here.