If you had to choose the ONE book that has changed your life the most, which one would it be?
For me, without a doubt I would choose the book Life Makeovers by Cheryl Richardson.
It’s February 2007. I am in Maine for the weekend visiting my mother, and I come across this book on her bookshelf. The cover claims 52 Practical and Inspiring ways to improve my life. Looks interesting to me. Leafing through, I see the chapters are really short. Perfect, because I don’t have time to devote to reading a long book right now. I’m lucky if I can focus my attention on anything other than my kids for even a few minutes. My 4-year old is constantly attached to my hip, and I can’t take my eyes off my curious 2-year-old for even a second. I am utterly exhausted, and being 4-months pregnant doesn’t make things any easier. My kids ARE my life, but I’m longing for just a few minutes to myself once in a while. I desperately need to recharge.
My mom gladly lets me borrow the book. What have I got to lose?
I get the book home and open it up to the Introduction. This book is going to help me reconnect with myself and discover who I am (I can’t wait to find out!). Each week I will be challenged to make a small change that will improve my life. I can handle that. I can’t wait to start!
I move on to Week 1. The first challenge suggests I keep a journal. I dig out the journal my husband gave me 5 years ago when I was pregnant for the first time. It is at the bottom of my nightstand. I take it out and open it up. The last entry reads April 9, 2003, almost 4 years ago! It seems I’ve had more important things to do?
While I desperately want more time for myself, it just doesn’t seem to be an option at this point in my life. My kids NEED me. EVERY second. Nobody else can take care of them the way I do. It’s selfish to spend time doing something I enjoy when I should be spending time with them. I feel guilty when I am anywhere but with them. With all these things running through my head, it feels like any title other than “mommy” is out of the question for at least another 18 years. Regardless, I know I found this book for a reason and I’m feeling very excited about it. I’m willing to give this a try…
Boy, am I glad I did!
7 years after initially opening the book, I still continue to take the time each week to do the weekly challenges. I find it fun to go through journals of previous years and see how I have grown.
This book has helped me in all areas of my life. I learned that we have to MAKE the time for ourselves. It is worth it. Make yourself a priority. Schedule time for yourself (in ink), and treat it just as you would a doctor’s appointment. Yes, you still need to take care of those who are dependent on you. But set a good example and show them that it’s important to take care of yourself, too! At first, this was really hard for me to do. I felt guilty when I wasn’t with my kids. But over time, it got so much easier and I realized that I was not the only person in the world who could care for my kids – my husband was perfectly capable as well. And it was good for all of us to have a little time apart from each other. Just a little time to recharge each week, and the benefits were immense. I was happier, less stressed, not as burned out, and I was starting to really get to know and love myself. In finding myself, I also found God. Deep within each of us lies wisdom, love, peace, and EVERYTHING we will ever need. And there is NOTHING better than finding that place. Trust me. This book has taught me that self care is NOT selfish, and it is important for your overall health and in the best interest of everyone around you.
I have found the experience to be even better when done with a friend. A few years ago, I invited a few friends to take this journey with me. We meet occasionally to discuss the changes we are making to improve our lives. We have found that small changes make big differences. Doing this Life Makeovers challenge with a friend also provides accountability. We are more likely to make the time for it and put our self care first if we are doing it together and need to report our progress to each other.
I invite you to check out this book and make the time for yourself that you deserve. You can read the introduction to the book here.
Which book has had the greatest impact on YOUR life? Please leave a comment below.