More than just another New Year’s resolution, I joined the Y this month in a genuine effort to make my physical well-being a priority. I value my emotional and mental health and seek to be attuned to both, but I too often neglect care for my body. Off to right that wrong, I marched into the Y with a toddler on my hip to sign the entire family up for a membership. The practice of dropping the children off in the Y’s very fun childwatch room while I exercise is quickly becoming a favorite routine. I have savored selecting the songs for my workout playlist and am delighted to jump on the elliptical and move into a guarded, solitary space for a little while.

More than just moving my body and working to become healthier, I am moving into a sacred inner room for quiet and reflection. I am only just beginning to grasp how valuable this time is.

I’m noticing a similar theme at my dreamy new job where my office is coming together so beautifully. The walls have been painted a lovely blue, and the deep brown of the new desk looks so perfect against the pale backdrop. There’s something about that space that is powerful, special, and deeply affirming. These spaces in my life remind me of the Virginia Woolf saying about each woman having a room of her own. The full quote is really about the basic necessities for the craft of writing: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Regardless of our craft, some pretty basic life needs must be met before our dreams can flourish.

As I talk to mama friends across the spectrum of careers, many would love to have a carved out space for self without compromising their children’s needs (insert needs of congregation or any other demands on time and energy) as well as a carved out space for family without losing self. At times, it seems about as realistic to think about sitting down and writing a novel as it does to fully honor the demands around me while also honoring what I need in order to care for myself. But when I ignore the need for separate, quiet rooms of my own (both literal and metaphorical) it’s not just my dreams that start to atrophy but a central part of myself. I am striving each day to make time and space for these rooms, to embrace them when I see them, to name them and know them, and to sit peacefully in them, however briefly.

Every woman, mother, sister, minister or not, needs a room of her own.  How do you prioritize the ways you nurture your dreams and care for yourself? Or do you find yourself in a place of denial and atrophy? What can you change today to move toward new practices that balance and nurture you? Where do you find a room of your own?

When Elizabeth Mangham Lott is not exploring the world with her two young children, she serves as associate pastor of Richmond’s Westover Baptist Church.