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Excerpted from The Gift of a Year by Mira Kirshenbaum. Copyright 2000 by Mira Kirshenbaum. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"Every woman who's given herself a special year has heard the voice of doubt."

  Mira Kirshenbaum, The Gift of a Year, Part 7

It's a reality that we're all busy. But it's time we stopped using "I'm too busy" as an excuse to deny ourselves what we desperately need.

You deserve it, damn it. Speaking of excuses, I'm sure you like to think of yourself as someone who has a lot to give. How do you square that with the gift of a year? With a world full of people who need what you have to give, how can you justify giving a special year to yourself?

Ah, there it is. The voice of doubt. The part of you that tries to talk yourself out of giving to yourself. This voice is real. Let's let it out for a moment. Every woman who's given herself a special year has heard the voice of doubt. Based on what women have told me, here are the top ten excuses they've come up with. Listen to all the insidious ways we deprive ourselves.

Top Ten Reasons Not to Give Yourself The Gift of a Year

1. "When your husband/boss/boyfriend/mother needs you, you've got to be there or else."

2. "There's always next year, or the year after, or when you retire."

3. "There's nothing you really want to do that you're not already doing."

4. "Once you start paying attention to what you care about, maybe you'll go crazy and go overboard and just want more and more for yourself."

5. "Truly moral women put themselves last on their list of priorities."

6. "What you really want is something you'll enjoy, and what does it say about you that you'd do something just because it makes you happy?"

7. "Your friends will hate you if you're not as miserable as they are."

8. "After all, women don't know what they want anyway."

9. "Maybe you'll discover something wonderful you want to do more with, and wouldn't that be inconvenient for everyone?"

10. "You're not really worth it, are you?"

You don't believe any of this crap, do you? Of course not. And yet, words like these make some women hesitate. Well, watch out. She who hesitates is lost. The fact that you need to give to yourself as well as to others is a lesson you can learn the hard way or the easy way. I hope you learn it the easy way. Here are two women who learned it the hard way.

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