Entrepreneurial Tightrope: Here's a gift to give to yourself

— -- A calm and balanced mind, body and spirit can be a challenge to maintain during the holiday season.

Decorating, shopping for gifts, planning holiday celebrations, attending endless parties all while keeping your business and professional life in drive can tip the scales of balance. Keeping yourself in good working order requires conscious awareness and effort.

A few days ago, I stopped by a friend's retail clothing store to invite her to lunch. She was busy taking a phone order while wrapping gift purchases to be mailed, while periodically covering the mouthpiece of the phone to give directives to an employee.

In addition to all of this she was suffering from a cold that she claimed was just a sinus problem. We've been friends for more than 20 years and I know that her "sinus" problem only shows up when she is under extreme stress.

I was unable to convince her to go out for a quiet, sit-down lunch. She said she had already ordered pizza and soda for lunch. So, I took myself for both a nice, peaceful lunch and a movie.

To some of you this might imply that I have more time than I know what to do with. That is far from the case. I own and run a couple of businesses, and wear many hats as daughter, mother, grandmother and a friend to more than a few. In addition I have 28 nieces and nephews belonging to eight brothers and sisters that call for attention, especially at this time of the year.

However, the most important person of that tribe is ME! And, the most important gift I can give to both my family and friends is the proper care and maintenance of myself.

It is easy to allow the many distractions of life to draw your attention away from your own health and wellness particularly during the holiday season.

Develop a few tools of self-care and balance during this busy time. Here are a few things from my "take care of self" toolbox to get you going.

• Take time each day for at least one peaceful meal. Whatever you stop doing to enjoy your meal will be waiting for you when you return.

• Have a holiday decorating party and invite only friends who will have you doubled over in laughter. You will be able to scratch decorating off of your to-do list and have a fun time in the process.

• Make a stop at a sacred place and listen to the silence. Consider a quiet walk in a park area, or even visit a local labyrinth — one of those peaceful, garden mazes. Contact the folks at http://www.labyrinthsociety.org/ to learn where the closest one is to you. In the midst of all of the hustle and bustle the sound of silence will be rejuvenating.

Moving away from stress for short periods of time allows you to return to the things that need to be done with a sense of renewal.

Your physical, mental and emotional health and well-being is the most important gift you can give to both yourself and the people around you.

Gladys Edmunds' Entrepreneurial Tightrope column appears Wednesdays. As a single, teen-age mom, Gladys made money doing laundry, cooking dinners for taxi drivers and selling fire extinguishers and Bibles door-to-door. Today, Edmunds, founder of Edmunds Travel Consultants in Pittsburgh, is a private coach/consultant in business development and author of There's No Business Like Your Own Business, published by Viking. See an index of Edmunds' columns. Her website is www.gladysedmunds.com. You can e-mail her at gladys@gladysedmunds.com.