On Self-Care

2018's Self-love Embrace

Last year I went on a journey of transformational self-care.  Several years before I had a realization that I almost always put other people's to do's, wants, needs ahead of my own.   In fact I realized I was really disconnected from even knowing what my own needs were.  So much so that I often didn't even realize I was holding in pee because I was tending to someone or something else that I saw as more important!  I know I am not the only women or mom out there to do that!  I love to give, I love being a mom, I love being a wife and I love working.  I thought that in order to do all of those things "perfectly" I had to give and give and give.  The deeper issue there was that I was feeling my worthiness in what I was doing and showing up for people, rather than knowing that I am enough without doing or being but because we all are.  Then my body started to shout out to me that my pace and lack of attention to myself wasn't working and I realized that I had to shift. 

2017 was all about transformational self-care; taking care of myself in a way that truly transformed my relationship to giving, receiving and to myself.  When I went about this journey I knew that it couldn't be just about adding things to my to do list, even if that was an exercise class I would love.  I knew that adding more things would actually stress me out more and I wouldn't be able to sustain them.  I am a deep person and so I had to go deep.  Transformational self-care was about finding ways to bring self-care to all that I already do and take things out of my life that weren't serving my self and/or others.  It was about being brave enough to say no as a way to say yes. 

We are now one quarter through 2018...what?!?!  It has taken some time to reflect on the changes that were brought about last year.  A few weeks ago I spent a weekend alone and I realized what A LONG way I have come.  That changes that came about lasted and it was because I was intentional, connected and loving to myself even when I wanted to run away from what I saw.  It didn't require more money, more time, more things I didn't have!  It was about making small changes that last.  

This year my word is openhearted presence.  My focus is on self-love. 

Yes, it is a part of what I was working on last year but this year I am working on deepening that openness to myself, especially when things get gritty and I want to shut down.  In my experience whenever I commit to working on something it shows up everywhere and sometimes I think to myself, "Am I really up for this"?  Being brave, vulnerable and opening up, instead of shutting down when your stuff is brought up, is hard when you have been someone who shuts down, shuts up and then internalizes.  I have been working on opening, vulnerability, and communication for years with others but this year it is time to turn that around on me.  As always I want to share what I am working on, learning and finding along the journey with you all.  I know that much of what I am working on applies to so many of us.

So....introducing the self-love embrace. 

I am offering guidance, thoughts, and tools for the rest of 2018 via short videos and embrace activities in your inbox every Monday evening starting on 4/23.  

If you feel like self-love is something that is calling you to focus on and you would love more love and embrace in your inbox sign up below! 

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Winter Nesting- Using the Winter's Darkness to Embrace and Love Your Whole-self

One of the only things that I am truly sure of is this; things change. 

Change can feel so many different ways: unnerving, unsettling, ungrounding, exciting, wanted...  In order to feel grounded and secure, as well as to embrace change, I have found myself turning to the natural, rhythmic changes that occur each and every day, week, month and year.  This helps me feel safe and more able to embrace all the unforeseen changes that occur throughout life.  

I pay attention to what the moon is doing on any given day and notice what my own moods do in response.  I notice the new seasons that each of my individual kiddos enter and try and meet them there.  I embrace nature's seasons.  As a mom, I am so aware of how important the seasons are to shaping the rhythm of my family.

So imagine my shock when a recent ah ha moment slapped me right in the face. 

It was out of a movie: bells ringing in my ears, flashes of recent thoughts and action all speeding through my brain in fast, fuzzy images, becoming so clear all at one and then bang,  I got it.....I am freaking nervous for the coming winter.  In fact I am out right resisting it.

 I am reading a new book and through an exercise where the reader is asked to write a timeline of memories where you enter into the "dark parts of yourself", I had a major realization!  For many years now I have descended into the darkness when the winter season comes.  Winter has rhythmically symbolized for me a time of great heartache, stuckness (that has to be a word and so I am sticking with) and what some may call seasonal depression.  Well NO WONDER I am feeling anxiety about the coming season!  I can already feel the pull into the darkness.  For the past 4 weeks I have sat with this; like literally sat with it, often staring at the ceiling, sometimes praying and writing trying to get at the heart of the season.  

What I realized is winter is dark.  I know, I know, big realization there, but stick with me on this. 

The literal darkness is our cue, it's our gift to slow and go within.  It is a time of self-reflection.  In years past I have been to busy and maybe even more than that I have been a bit scared to let that be the guide for the season. 

 The winter is asking our bodies, our souls to slow down! To sit with our own inner darkness and embrace and love ourselves, not just the great stuff but all of us!  

To love the impatience, the grumps, the imperfectly perfectionists and well to love all of us.  

My plan for the season is to embrace the dark, literally and figuratively.  To let the dark come in at night and after the children are asleep to simply sit more, write more, look at my whole self and focus on my practice of self love. To be with the darkness no matter how uncomfortable and to let love be the warmth of the season.  

 

We must feel weakness to experience strength.

It is often a shock for people to hear that I have not always felt comfortable in my own body.  Whenever I share this nugget of vulnerability, more often than not I am met with utter surprise. 

"But your a midwife and more than that you are so passionate about empowering women and girls to feel comfortable and stable in their own bodies?" 

I am currently comfortable in my physical body and becoming more so each and every day.  Dang, it has taken a lot of work on self-acceptance, self-love and digging through the depths of what got me to the feeling of disconnection in the first place.  In fact, it is one of the reasons that I do this work, to share my own journey and wisdom that I have uncovered along the way AND so that I continue to walk my own walk and grow in this way.  I know many of the struggles that you go through because they are my own, We are on a journey together my friends.  

A few months ago I met my four best friends for our annual girls gathering.  One morning one of my friends suggested we all work out.  I am the queen of NOT WORKING OUT.  In fact I have been known to say I hate it.  I gave into peer pressure and did it with them.  I felt incredible after.  I felt present in my body and full of energy. In the 6 months prior to this I had been working on embracing my new body.  It seems to have been rapidly changing as the big 4.0. has come, things sag, touch and moving independently of me.  Rather than fighting against it, I decided I was going to let myself and my body take up more space in the world and it felt liberating.  I began to love my curves and undulations.  What the work out taught me was this, I can love my body, embrace my curves AND cultivate deep inner strength.  I have to say that first learning to love before starting to change was an important step for me. 

When I returned I decided that I was going to get strong, not to loose weight, or to be a certain size or weight, not to judge my body but just to feel strong from the inside.  That declaration was met with daily work outs that I love, dancing, moving my body and doing some exercises that help me feel connected to that deep inner core of my physical and emotional body.  As all things that we declare after some time I went through a slump; kids got sick, I got my period, the energy of the house and world seemed heavy and I went to the underworld for awhile.  I was doing a different type of strengthening work.  In the past this would have made my recovering perfectionist self feel horrible, "I can never finish anything, I will never be strong, I can't do it, another thing started and not followed through".  This time those thoughts were seen with awareness and called out for what the hell they are...bullshit.  I went through a slump, people got sick, I was on my period and needed a rest, I was strengthening in a different way.  Now this isn't some fake think positive bullshit activity that I have done in the past.   Just think happy thoughts and they will come into manifestation.  No, this was a complete shift of reality, and embracing what was and not letting the thoughts that aren't true win. 

I started my work out routine again and it was rough and hard.  As I did it, I felt like I was in labor.  I was counting, roaring and pushing myself, knowing I could do it.  It didn't hurt but it was intense and I felt oh so weak and then... oh so strong.  Afterwards I cried and cried.  I did it.   Later my husband, who had walked in at the end of the work out told me how proud of me he was.  He reflected on a conversation we had had the night previously and said these amazing words, "You are just going through a slump but after the slump you come out every time stronger and more present". 

He is right, it's about feeling it when it comes, staying aware within it, embracing it and coming out on the other side.  When I feel empty and try and fill it with whatever I can (food, stuff, busyness) it stays empty, but when I jump into the emptiness I end up being filled up.

We are all on the journey friends.  Keep being weak every day so you can see the strength.  Keep embracing the pain, sharing the vulnerability and being with one another.  

What to do when things fall apart

Sometimes in life things falls apart.  There are days, weeks, and seasons in life where everything goes “wrong”.   We have this idea of what this day, week, or season of our life was supposed to look like and everything is just wrong!  It often feels confusing, sad, horrible and very uncomfortable. 

When things feel like they are falling apart it’s often because what is occurring feels so incongruent with what our plans were.  We are judging, fighting and kicking and screaming inside against what is actually happening.  Of course we are because most likely, it SUCKS!  When we aren’t accepting the moment, we are actually pushing against what is.  In order to move through the moment we must continually come back to accepting it for what it is. These are wise words that I have heard, read and occasionally actually practice and what I know is this, it is so easy to say and so freaking hard to actually do! What I also know is that acceptance does create peace!  From peace can come a peaceful action if need be and a shift occurs either way.


As a midwife I have seen countless mamas fight against their labor.  One of my favorite stories was a mama who had had many babies before.  She was well aware of the pushing stage and she already knew this was a stage she didn’t like.  As her body began to push she said, “Please God I will be ready to push if you just give me a break”.  She said this over and over again.  I stepped in and said, “Your body is telling you it’s time, there is no controlling this, you’re safe and what if you just went with it”.  She looked me in the eye with an angry all knowing face and pushed her baby out in one push.  All was better! Once laboring moms are able to get out of their own way and accept what is occurring the labor becomes “easier”.  Mamas describe it not that the contractions change in terms of pain but by no longer fighting them, they accept and rode along with the feeling and it became a part of them.  It became easier. 

Life is the same way!

When you are experiencing yourself or one of your loved ones falling apart; have a temper tantrum, experience something incredibly hard, acting in a way that hurts them, it is hard to stay present and in the moment and let the emotions pour out.  It is hard to sit there and be present to not think how the heck did I f#*k this up.  Where did I go wrong on this one? Did I give enough space, enough love, enough……   To watch your child go through any hard time in life is like you are dying with them. They are a part of your heart and you feel it all right along with them.

Recently I had such a day like this.  My family was literally falling to pieces all around me.  The teenager had his first teenage EPIC temper tantrum filled with so many emotions that he and I couldn’t even name.  The baby was teething, the toddler was being so naughty and the 9 year old was a ball of NEEDS. We went from one melt down to another and all along I had an idea of what the day was going to look like and it wasn’t this! I felt like everyone was going INSANE!  In the beginning I felt like a strong oak tree.  This is something that I call upon when days become really windy with emotions.  Then I reached my breaking point and thoughts and feelings of the day being horrible, grumpy, and resentment all flowed.  I caught myself and retreated to my sacred space for 15 minutes and breathed.  In the bathroom I worked on just letting go.  Letting the day be what it was and riding the wave.

So what do you do when things are falling apart?

The most common paths that people take are: to check the heck out, to stop showing up and unconsciously retreat, to spiral and engage in self-blame and bullying talk, to ignore, to think it’s all roses or to be the fixer and try and fix it no matter what. There is always something you can do to make things better right?  Yes and No.

Have you ever tried just letting them?

What if I told you that the best thing you could do when things are out of your control and falling apart is just to breathe and let them.  In that space that you create if there is solution it will come otherwise you just keep on breathing.  You may have been hoping that this post was going to give you the 5 steps you need to survive when things fall apart.  If it was I would say that step number one is to accept that things are falling apart and step two is to let them.  These two things are so simple and powerful!  They are however not EASY!  It requires a great deal of self-awareness and commitment to accept and let go as a way of life.  There are other things that will help like: taking breaks, regrouping, centering, connecting, grounding yourself and giving some self-love.  But what if the best thing you can do is just to let it all fall apart.  To trust that there is a lesson, some wisdom, something you are meant to be getting from this experience and the best way to receive is just to let go.

Giving birth is hard, parenthood is hard, life is hard AND it is joyful and beautiful.  It is this and that.

So when things are falling apart, when it’s the best of times and the worst of times stay with it mamas, accept it, feel it, show up to your bruitiful life, and show up with each other.

Has being selfish gotten a bad rap?

 

Who out there has ever thought any variation of following: I can’t possibly take an extra hour to be by myself, to say no when people really need me, to ask my partner to put the kids to bed while I go spend some time with friends.  How many times have you really wanted to do something but didn’t because you thought you were being selfish? 

What does it actually mean to be selfish? 

Technically being selfish means to only care for oneself, regardless of others. So when we take that extra long shower, when we say no to a function that we don’t really want to go to, even though we know it is expected of us, are we being selfish or stay with me here, are we really caring for ourselves and therefore caring for others?  Are we actually creating more life energy to put to good use serving others in ways that we do have energy, talents and excitement for? 

If we don’t want to be selfish, what do we want to be?  Selfless.  Selfless is the opposite of selfish it is concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one's own self.  Based on those definitions it is no wonder that we want to be selfless and not selfish, right?

Where did the strong negative association with being selfish come from ladies? 

On a cultural level being selfless is something that is culturally ascribed to a female.  We receive this message over and over again.  Women are supposed to be selfless; it is part of our nature to serve and in some ways that is actually true.  However, we have taken it on so much that it can cause us to feel bitter, angry, and burn out because all we do is give, give, give.  It becomes this unconscious thing that we do because we are suppose to rather than this beautiful thing that we do because we want to.

We need to examine the messages that we have and continue to receive about women and selfishness. Even as I research images for this blog post I am struck by the images that I have to choose from.  Images of women and mothers that depict being selfish are shown as mothers doing things for themselves and a child left crying in the corner…seriously.  Images depicting selfless involve mothers shown as a bird flying, rain coming down and the mother sheltering the babies and getting sopping wet.  Images of words that say help others, and love is selfless. Basically proving exactly what so many of us have in our heads…in order to be a good mother, wife, daughter etc. we must be selfless and give, give, give.  It we take time for ourselves then our children will be crying in the corner and that is bad.  So it’s time to make some change and that starts with YOU!

Maybe being selfish has gotten a bad rap

Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of actions that warrant a negative connotation to the word but as many things in life humanity has created this all or nothing/black and white idea; we are either selfish or selfless. So imagine here that you have said yes to something that, given where you are at in your life, this is causing you feelings of overwhelm.  You do it anyways because you think it is expected of you and you don’t want to be selfish.  Your might think we all have a full plate so you just have to suck it up and do it.  After you are done with the project you get extra grumpy with your kids and short with your partner.  You stay up way late and the next day you turn in the project feeling bitter and burned out.  Ugh! Now say that you said no to the project.  You were self-aware and knew you had too much on at the moment and this particular project wasn’t in your skill set.  Consciously saying no helped you realize that you were feeling low on energy and so you enacted some strategies to help fill you up.  You DID NOT beat yourself up and knew that you would be able to give at some point just not right now.  The next month when another event comes you have more space and energy so you dive right in, getting the project completed in half the amount of time and twice the amount of joy as you would have if you simply would have said yes the month before.  Sounds easy right?

How can we change this in our lives? 

First we need to figure out our own relationship with the word and idea of selfish.  I suggest doing some journaling around what this term means to you in your life.  What is your history with the term and how does it show up in the now?  Then if you find that this is a major barrier for you create a list of what triggers your thoughts of selfishness.  Become self-aware of what occurs in your mind when these reactions are triggered.  Finally, make a commitment to change and see how it positively affects your life. You can change by becoming more aware and making different choices both internally and externally.  It takes time and effort to change!

Start here and answer the question, how would your life look differently if you lived it from a place of self-awareness to what you can really do and what you want to do in service to others?

Let's do this!  

Saying NO can change your life!

How many of you out there have said yes to something that you really wanted to say no to?  How many of you would like to change this habit in order to create more space for ways you do want to serve others and yourself?  I assume that all of your hands are up because we have all done this at least once in our lives. I was once a serial YES offender!  I by all means am not cured but I am definitely well into recovery.  Do you want to know how I did it?  Follow these 5 easy steps and you to could be on your way….oh wait there are no easy steps, it takes focus and work people!  I can however, offer you some great food for thought and even some tools that have helped others and me!

First of all it is a process my friends!  No one has ever been cured of being a Yes woman over night.  Most of us were brought up in this way; it is ingrained in us.  Here's what I want us all to consider, when we say yes to something we don't want to do we often feel over extended, bitter, or angry and NO ONE wins…truly NO ONE WINS!  Here come the yes but’s…yes but I have to do it, yes but its my responsibility, yes but, yes but, yes but.  Here is the thing I want to make really clear, when we say yes to something we really don’t want to do we are also saying no to things that we really want to do, it's just that simple!  

So how do we begin the path to recovery?  First we must truly want to make the change! I suggest doing this each and every day, maybe as part of your morning routine.  Bringing it to your awareness each day will enable you to change your habit patterns.  In order to change a habit we must create a new habit and that takes dedication and work.  Then we need some tools.  The best tool we have at our disposal is already present in us, self -awareness.  Start with taking stock of all the times in your day/week when you catch yourself saying yes when you really didn’t want to.  Start to become aware of how your body reacts in that moment.  What do you feel in your stomach, throat etc. when you say yes but mean no.  That is your bodies inner guidance system telling you that you don’t want to do this!  Pay attention to your guidance system for a few days, a week or longer to become more aware and friendly with it.  You may feel resistance, just be aware of that.  Next, find yourself a trigger.  What’s a trigger?  It’s something, often an object, that you use to help you remember.  Brene Brown, the author, talks about her own struggle with being a yes woman. She shares that she bought herself a ring that she turns 3 times and says her own self created mantra before saying yes or no.  Her ring allows her the time to check in with herself and see if she really wants to put her energy towards whatever she is being asked to do.  She then has a canned response to saying no.  This canned, rehearsed response will help you feel more powerful when you say no.  You will need to create your own trigger, as well as response.   Ideally your trigger it is something that physically reminds you of your new mission.  Something like these custom temporary tattoos on etsy could be helpful.  It could also be as simple as writing a word on your wrist.  Finally, celebrate your successes and be gentle with your hiccups.  It’s a process, right?!  You will not always say yes when you mean no but you should make sure you keep coming back to it.

If you aren't convinced yet, why the heck not?  Try it for a week and see what shifts!

 

Check out or Check in?

Here’s the thing, all of us feel exhausted sometimes.  All of us experience feelings of anger, sadness, anxiety, loneliness and boredom.  So here is the question, when those things arise what do you do with them?  Do you check in or do you check out? 

Do you engage in activities that will allow you to feel and move through those feelings, or do you engage in things that allow you to mask and numb them?  No judgment here, just a real question that I ask myself all the time!

Personally, I have found myself numbing out on way to many occasions.  Over the years, as I have become more aware of the effects of numbing on my body, mind and spirit, I have chosen to check in more often.  Here are a few examples. 

Some days I feel cranky and/or sad. We all do.  For a while I was noticing that when those feelings came up I would check out on social media…like a lot! It was a way to numb those feelings.  What I saw was it was actually making it way worse and it was making it last a lot longer.  Feelings come and go.  By checking out I was not acknowledging them or letting them in and so they just kept knocking on the door over, and over, and so I found myself scrolling down the Facebook feed over and over.  So what does checking in look like for me?  I practice self-awareness and notice what is going on inside.  Most of the time I don’t question the trigger or the whys behind it. I just notice the feeling and the urge to check out.  I then go to my bathroom to take some breaths and let it be. Sometimes that is not enough and I have to write, cry or simply sit.  What I have noticed is that I am then able to return to my work, the kids or whatever I am doing and be present again.  I don’t need to check out…I need to check in. 

We all could use some work honoring our feelings and giving ourselves permission to feel them and be with them. They will pass.  I have found that when I put my effort and intention on checking in as part of my daily morning routine, I have so much more energy. And when I recognize I don't have energy, I am able to address it to create more.  I also have found that I am more emotionally up.  When I fall into the traps of checking out and numbing I am much more snappy, grumpy, down and have way less energy. Are you convinced yet? How about this example? 

On days that I stay home with my kiddos, about mid way through the day I put the littles down for their rest time.  So what do I do with this time?  It has evolved over the course of a decade of rest times.  A decade ago, I would use the time to get some housework done and maybe even start dinner so that I could play with my  two kiddos all afternoon. I got a lot done but I felt exhausted all afternoon and I counted down the minutes until bedtime.  So scratch that! So rest time became a time when I could catch up on work that I hadn’t gotten to…and as a self-employed, work from home mom there is ALWAYS work I can be doing.  Again this left me feeling tired and grumpy and often wanting to do more work.  Then I had an idea to reclaim that time for myself. So what did I choose to do?  I checked out Facebook for 30 minutes, surfed the web or watched a show.  Now, how in the world is that ever going to help me have more energy or feel rested?  I don’t know about you but being on the Internet or watching t.v. rarely helps me feel rested.  Which is all well and good but that isn’t really what my goal for rest time was.  So fast-forward to doing something where I check in and serve myself and you will find me writing, stretching, taking a walk (don’t worry the littles aren’t home alone, the homeschooled older kiddo is around), or even taking a nap.  After one of those rest times I feel ready for the rest of the day.  I have energy and excitement to carry me through the witching hour!  This simple shift has helped me thrive in the afternoons, rather than become a snappy mama who counts down the hours until bed time (well most days).  

Here is what I know.  I am not alone in my urge to check out, I noticed people doing it all around me all the time!  There is a lot of really intense, sometimes traumatic issues in our world and in our personal lives;  and it is one response to check out and numb.  It is something that is increasingly easy to do in our gadget filled world.  Here is my disclaimer I build a business online.  I am not saying technology is bad or that I always practice what I preach.  I am on this human journey with you.   

Here is something that you may want to try:

  1. Simply become aware of your habits around checking out.  Write them down for a week if you need to. 
  2. Then decide to take some action in small ways and in areas that you want to create a shift.  What do you want for your day, your energy levels, your moods?  What steps do you take to check in?  These you may need to try out and see what works for you.  Here are some ideas: Take a nap, go outside and feel the Earth on your feet, write in a journal,  color, meditate, pray, create a retreat space in your house.
  3. Start.  Not tomorrow or next month but today!  When you notice you are back on an old habit pattern that doesn’t work get back on that proverbial horse.

 Give yourself gentle nudges to create more presence in your life so that you show up more each day.  As someone who is on this journey I can say that it isn’t always easy!  Especially those really hard days or emotions but the work creates so much more life, happiness and connection!

 

 

Morning and Evening Rituals

A morning and evening RITUAL is the perfect way to bookend your day with intention, motivation and self-care!

 

How many of you wake up to an alarm, feeling oh so tired and wishing you had more time in bed?  My guess is that many of you out there in cyber land are nodding your head to this question.  The first thing in your mind as you awaken maybe thoughts of scarcity or not enough: not enough sleep, not enough time in the day etc.  I know this because this was the way I started my day for years and years, even prior to having kids.  I felt like I woke up and was already on someone else’s agenda, until I discovered the art of a morning and evening ritual. 

A morning ritual is a way that you can feel empowered and enlivened when you awake, as you know that first and foremost in your day you are going to be serving yourself in the way that YOU have decided.  Instead of jumping out of bed and making breakfast for others, checking your email, surfing the internet etc.  what if you created a ritual that would allow you to connect with yourself and your needs.  The best thing is that YOU get to design this for yourself.  Okay now I am well versed in the art of sabotage and "yes but" thoughts of the mind and I have a feeling that some of your brains are beginning to start this tape now.  Yes but...I have to get kids ready for school, yes but... I have an early morning meeting, yes but... I just don’t have time in the morning, yes but..I am not a morning person etc.   These yes buts are great ways of keeping us living small and not feeling abundant in our time and space for ourselves.  What if I told you that you can still do all the things you need to do in the morning and FIRST you will do those things you need for you and that quite possibly this may create space, energy and make the rest of your day go smoother!

  A morning routine can be short and sweet or long and elaborate.   I suggest that you create some connection in the following categories: mind, body and spirit. Personally my mornings are busy times with 4 kiddos and all the different places and needs they have.  That is my current season of life AND I still make this a priority.  My morning routine at this season in my life is vitally important to preventing burn out and right now it is a short and sweet.  I lock myself in the bathroom to read my seasonal goals in a loud and bombastic way, write my morning pages, love on my skin as I put my yummy filled lotion on my face (man I can’t tell you how loved I feel when I put it on in an intentional loving way, seriously), and I say my morning prayer.  That’s it!  At some point in my life I would love to expand and include exercise in this part of my day but for now it’s best found elsewhere in the day. 

In the evening I create the same space for myself.  I used to end my day by dragging myself to bed and crashing.  Now I have created a space where I turn off all work, books etc. 30 minutes prior to bedtime.  I go into my bathroom and go over my day as I celebrate how I showed up that day, I write in my gratitude journal and give myself some love in the mirror by saying I love you.  Whoa was that one scary when I first started doing it!  Seriously, I think I laughed my way through for the first few months, and couldn’t even look myself in the eye. 

Confession time here...over the years of doing this ritual I have fallen off the wagon many times, especially during times when I really needed to do this.  My M.O when I mess up used to be to fall into the trap of thinking that it just wasn’t working for me and sometimes even to beat myself up and think of myself as a failure rather than a bump in the road.  Now a days I still have times when I realize that its been a few days and gulp sometimes weeks, since I woke up and made myself a priority and what I do now is get back on it!  It is a journey my friends!  We are all on this together.  Rituals are amazing ways to set yourself up for greater success on this journey and so is being gentle with yourself. 

Journey on!

Self-Care Challenge 2017

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I have been on the path of culminating greater self-care and self-love into my life for a long time now.  It has taken me time to integrate into my heart what I have known in my head and then to take action on that knowing.  The win in my story is that I eventually found my way here!  To the place where I can be a witness to the excuses of all the other things that I need to be doing, items to check off the to do list, and all the other things that prevent me from showing up for myself.

I have noticed that I am not alone on this journey.  Everywhere I look these days women around me are talking about, writing about and proclaiming their allegiance to self-care and self-love.  That is fabulous ladies!  

I personally have noticed that there are season in life where it is much easier to take care of yourself, to love on yourself or even find love for yourself.  Most of the seasons that make it easier to engage with self-care are those when we are actually feeling good.  It is much harder in the winters of our lives to activate this muscle.  We retreat into our ineffective coping mechanisms that can keep us in our winters longer sometimes than needed.  This literal winter has been a hard one, as winters often are on my self-care.  I often feel stuck in the winter season, being inside so much with littles in tow and less light.  The winter naturally asks us to slow down but I can take that on to much and hibernate.  About this point in the winter season, the half way mark I begin to feel it in my body and soul.  As I was going to work today I heard my inner guide tell me to go for a walk.  I of course promptly scolded myself that I had far to many things on my to do list.  My guide has been getting stronger with all my self-love work and it spoke back with a gentle and firm reminder that work would be swifter, more inspired and at ease if I would simply take some time for myself and get moving!  I heeded this inner call and out of this came a large ah ha moment.  I need you all!  I need to you to witness my self-care and I think you may need me/us too.

 Recently a friend and I committed to texting each other every night after we did our core healing exercises.  I have been trying to do these exercises for a year since my babies birth and because they are physically and emotionally really hard for me I have found so many excuses.  Knowing that my friend was waiting for a text made me do them each and every day, accountability.  At first because I knew someone was on the receiving end of the text and that we were doing it together, and then it just became part of my evening ritual.  So what if we all joined together this year and bore witness to each others self-care?  The self-care/self-love 2017 challenge!!!  If you want to show up with me come visit my Facebook page and share your daily self-care, sacred moment; or share it on your page with the #selfcarechallenge2017

UPDATE-  Due to overwhelming response from my #selfcarechallenge I have created the 7 Day Self-Care Challenge for you dear readers!  Click below to check it out!

Connecting through Rituals

What does it actually MEAN to create and live our everyday lives embracing and creating rituals?  Being intentional and creating rituals helps provide that thing that so many of us are lacking….connection!  Connection to ourselves, to others, to our surroundings and our Earth.  New research is being done around our health and what causes illness.  Studies are showing that what causes disharmony inside may have as much to do to with a lack of connection and loneliness as the food we eat and whether or not we exercise.  Connection is something that we all think we have at the end of our fingertips with our ability to use ever fast pace “connecting” technology, yet people increasingly report feeling more and more disconnected and lonely.  There is more anxiety, more fear, and more loneliness.  Engaging in rituals is a way to slow down, to be mindful about what we want to create, how we want to connect and then actually putting that into ACTION

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Rituals by definition are repetitive, behaviors that involve gestures, words, and objects and are most often performed in a sequence.  Rituals are one of the major practices that we share as a human race throughout time and history.  Rituals have been connecting people to each other, our natural world and ourselves for centuries; they bind us together. Rituals may be done individually as a family or as a larger community.  The hymns sung in Christianity, the meditative breath work in Buddhism, the chanting in Islam all illicit the same response in our brain.  We are all activating parts of our brain that intimacy, connection and spiritual growth spring from.

There is a reason why we are all naturally drawn to rituals around major changes in our lives.  Science has shown that engaging in rituals big and small help create a sense of peace and calmness in situations, especially those that are typically anxiety producing.  People who engage in rituals prior to going for a job interview report more success getting the job as their anxiety levels decreased.  On a biochemical level researchers and neurobiologists have found that rituals actually connect our brain to our memories, specifically our long-term memories.  Creating rituals help us order and connect with our experiences, especially those experiences that are life changing like birth and death.  Studies have shown that those people who process grief through a ritualistic behavior report less depression and greater peace than those that don’t.   Rituals help us create meaning and order in our lives.  On a personal level we use rituals all the time without much thought.   Morning and evening routines help us bookend our days. Children love their bedtime rituals to help them feel safe and secure at the end of their day. 

   We are hard wired to engage in rituals.  So why have we as a society gotten away from or reframed the rituals to have little to do with connection and meaning and more to do with accumulation and stuff?  How can we, YOU return to connection in your own personal life in the form of an intentional ritual?  What can you create for your family to connect through RITUAL?