by Shadra Bruce

I don’t know about you, but somewhere along the way between being a wife, a mom, a writer, a business owner, and a caretaker, I’ve forgotten the pleasure of indulging myself. I skip buying new clothes because the money is better spent paying off a credit card or buying new shoes for the kids. I don’t take the class that interests me because of the time commitment. I skip a night out with friends because it would mean leaving Dave with his hands full or make the kids sad. It’s not that Dave would begrudge me my indulgences. On the contrary, he supports me in everything.

I think moms just get in the habit of putting their own needs and wants aside. (It starts somewhere around the 5th month of pregnancy when you stop sleeping through the night because you have to pee every 15 minutes and continues until your kids graduate from college, or at least I hope so. Mine aren’t there yet).

This week, I had a day that was light on requests from clients and rather than jump right in and hit the ever-growing to-do list, I took a couple of hours and watched Eat, Pray, Love. It’s been in the queue on Netflix for a while, and I’d been waiting for the perfect day to watch it – without Dave. He just doesn’t appreciate chick flicks the way I wish he would. 🙂 It was a guilty pleasure – but what I’ve learned from the movie is that women need to embrace the pleasure and skip the guilt.

I don’t think it’s the best movie ever made, although I love Julia Roberts. I don’t even think it was totally applicable to me, since I’m not struggling with my relationships or frustrated in love. But the overarching message in the movie was one I think every woman should embrace. No matter where you are in life, you need get in touch with your authentic self. Ok, we can’t all afford to spend a year traveling through Italy, scrubbing floors in a temple, or working with healers in Bali…but we can all take a moment to remember that we are as important as the people in our lives that we care for, and act like we believe it. The book, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, is better, and worth the read, according to my sweet niece (it’s on order).

Say yes to the new pair of jeans, the night out with girl friends, the bubble bath, the trip to the spa – to whatever helps you unwind, reconnect with yourself, and feel pampered. Skip the guilt and embrace the pleasure. Allow time in your life to do the things you dream about, whether it’s learning something new, traveling, volunteering, or taking up knitting. As much as it will do for your own feelings of satisfaction and contentment, taking care of yourself more fully sets a great example for the girls whose lives you influence.

In the end, I’ve come to believe in something I call “The Physics of the Quest.” A force in nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity. The rule of Quest Physics goes something like this: If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you.

—Liz Gilbert