Getting in Touch With Your Very Own Part 2

Feeling scared but intrigued, she gave it a shot. Burr stopped running her business totally at the convenience of her clients and started reading, having massages, seeing movies, shopping for herself, taking a yoga class, even watching Oprah if the mood hit her. The results? A less frazzled head at the top of her business. No lost clients — they all took it in stride. Plus, she had the creative energy to write a book, “Fashion Secrets Mother Never Taught You.”

What she learned from biting the bullet and putting her own needs first — at least on two days a week — was that “cramming” doesn’t work nearly as well as self-care, which “allowed me to clear my mind so I could be creative.” But she says that to get her to do it, “It took having a coach to check in with every week.”

Other Instances of Self-Care:
Beth Sirull, an author, business-owner, wife and mom from Chicago, caught herself when she started succumbing to the work-work-work drive. On days her childcare provider came to watch over her 6-month old son, she made a beeline for the home office. But the pieces of her life got realigned when she realized her own personal needs should be part of the mix, and she started allowing herself the luxury of a leisurely, peaceful cup of coffee or a quiet, invigorating walk. “We have to create quiet time, a quiet, contemplative time to clear the mental chitchat,” says this co-author of a new book on solving the work/life dilemma, “Creating Your Life Collage.”

Mary Bradford, a sales manager with Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in Portland, Maine, got into the swing of self-care real fast. She allowed herself a week of massages — one each day. She says it was an “outrageous” experience, but this mother of two daughters realized that “with all the other demands, the first person to get shut out was me.”

Talane Miedaner, a coach in Manhattan, tells of a woman who set out to be wicked for a full week, wicked meaning shredding a donation request, saying no to a Scouts’ request to bake brownies, and buying herself a pair of “nonmotherly” leopard shoes. Dumping the “shoulds” from your life can give you room to contemplate your natural desires so you can start developing goals tied to your true values, says Miedaner, author of “Coach Yourself to Success.”

Marcia Radin and her husband, David, run an annual seven-day meditation/living foods retreat on their 60-acre wooded property in Spencer, N.Y. Since she was 26, she has taken a “hermitage” most years — that’s a major time out from work, friends, even family. She moves to one of the cottages on the property with “no agenda, nothing to accomplish.”

All she’s after is the opportunity to clear her mind, slow down her thinking, commune with beetles and ladybugs, replenish the well. To honor her 50th birthday, she spent a day reflecting on each year of her life. Though most women may not be able to drop out for such a long period of time, Radin says that even a daily “mini-hermitage” can work wonders. Sit on a park bench and watch the birds. Or scrunch your feet up on the couch and watch the hypnotic dance of a fire in the fireplace.

Of course, resistance does come into play. And why wouldn’t it? Research shows that working women have less and less leisure time: Their Saturday driving time is up by 3 percent over the last decade and their reading time is down by 20 percent, according to NPD, a research firm based in Port Washington, N.Y. The excuses, says Richardson, — no time, no money, no support — may feel valid. But the truth is, “we all have choices. They may be tough choices, but don’t confuse that with having no choices at all.”