I have more than 30 parenting books sitting on my shelves at home.
Nary a one on self-improvement.
This is not because I think I am perfect—far from it. I just never have the time to focus on me. When I learned of the e-book release of life coach Marla Majewski’s “The Girl I Used to Know,” I was intrigued. Does looking back help you move forward?
Her message is simple—that as moms we are so totally focused on our family and work that we’ve let our own aspirations go fallow. By following some well-defined journaling assignments, it’s possible to re-discover our hopes and dreams and work toward achieving them.
“It’s OK to focus on all these different areas (e.g., parenthood), but the reality is we never have that moment … There are a lot of women going through major anxiety. They haven’t set anything up for refilling that gap when the kids go off to college. I believe that can largely be avoided if you have interests for yourself.”
How do you get started? In addition to following Majewski’s journaling prompts, there are several keys that stood out:
Inspire Empire: Majewski’s philosophy is summed up with this concept—build a network of supportive ideas and people that encourage you to achieve your goals while at the same time compartmentalizing those influences that detract from them. The Inspire Empire Box is a physical manifestation of this process, and not unlike a vision board, except that it is three-dimensional.
“Inspire Empire is more of a 3D visual that allows you to move toward people that support you and place barriers around people that don’t,” she says.
Defining abundance: Majewski writes in her book, “Abundance is not about having ten of one thing, rather it is having one of something and knowing you have the means for more if the need arises.” Once you define your personal needs, it’s easier to move to the next step: organization.
Organization/De-cluttering: Both a physical and mental process, getting organized and eliminating the unnecessary material and mental distractions is crucial in rediscovering your interests and setting new goals for yourself.
Majewski notes that her childhood was less than organized, and it left an imprint on her. “I was always trying to recreate this chaos in my life as I was older. I was trying to create my ‘normal,’ which is what I had growing up. I was spending a lot of energy trying to recreate some kind of chaos.“
Why is defining abundance important to organization? Majewski uses the example of an overstuffed linen closet. “When someone has 10 sets of linens for single bed, it becomes difficult to store them in a single closet. If someone is dealing with trying to get organized, and they can’t fit all the linens in their closets, then they feel overwhelmed.”
“It’s always sort of an excuse,” she says. The result? A lot of women use the façade of a messy or unorganized home to keep them from re-discovering themselves.
“Find your vitamin.” What is it that you’ll make sacred? A morning run? That cup of coffee? Majewski says women must make that time commitment for themselves.
“Look for the space and move toward it,” she says. “If you feel like you don’t have the time, you look for the space and move toward it. It’s about looking for the opportunity. Every woman’s definition of that will be different.”
And if you don’t? “If you don’t carve out that time for yourself, then all of the sudden, it’s, ‘Wow I didn’t realize I had these interests—I didn’t nourish myself.’”