self-care

Self Care for Your Menstrual Cycle

It can’t always be summer!

So many of us live packed lives with our foot on the accelerator at all times. We want or think we have to do all the things and be all the things for all the people.

We need to remember life is made up of cycles and seasons for reason!

There is no better way to demonstrate this than the menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle is indeed a cycle with 4 distinct phases, that very much can be connected to the phases of the seasons. When you begin to pay attention and recognize this in your own life and then live in balance with this you start to accept and even embrace what each phase offers and you may even begin to enjoy and appreciate your cycle.

Our bodies tells us what they desire each season of the year. In the summer we all have more energy. We want to be outside. The abundance of sunlight affords us extra day time and we take advantage by being more extroverted and active. In the winter our bodies slow down as does the amount of daylight. We crave inner depth, warmth and slow.

When we are in the bleeding part of our menstrual cycle, we are in the proverbial winter and yet many of us continue to act as though it’s summer.

Your body is asking you to slow down. Your hormones are at their lowest (like daylight) of the cycle. You may get mad, “bitchy” during this phase. Of course! One of the reasons might be because you aren’t allowing yourself the slow down. You are judging yourself, your feelings and resisting what your body is asking. You aren’t alone many of us do this!

The winter of your period is all about reflection. The left and right sides of your brain chemistry are speaking to each other maximally at this time, something that only occurs in menstruating adults. This chemistry invites us to see the bigger picture. To take stock of our life and evaluate. Have you ever had that thought or complaint that comes often or even repetitively during your moon cycle? You think that you are being grumpy, “your on your period”, it’s not really that big of a deal. Yet each and every month the thought returns? It is because deep down you want a change and your cycle is reminding you of that. It is “getting real” with you.

So what if you tapped in and honored your bodies rhythms?

Yes I know that you have a life to live, a to do list to cross off and that you don’t live in a society that has red tents. I too live in the modern real world!

what CAN you do to make this time slower?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Go into rest and reflection mode: Each moon cycle is meant to act like clean slate. The hormonal dance is at it’s end and a reset occurs. Get yourself a journal and each and every moon reflect on areas of your life: family, work, business, friendships. Use the natural change that occurs within your brain chemistry during this part of your cycle and marry critical thinking and reflection. Think of your period as a monthly chance to connect with important aspects of your life; what is working and what needs to shift. Get real with your self! Spend 15 minutes, pour a cuppa tea and let the realness of your period connect on a page.

  2. Stop being one long to do list: Let the laundry go, the dishes pile up a bit or the emails go unanswered for just a full day. Do the bare minimum! Take a nice bath, go to bed early and let it all go. It will still be there tomorrow. It doesn’t affect your worth! It shows you that you care about yourself and will listen to your body!

  3. Create your own moon basket of goodies: A special candle, bath balm, yummy smelling essential oils, a hot rice pack, a good book and then use them!

  4. Create a ritual: Ritual is a way that we can honor this time. It doesn’t have to be a big and elaborate thing just something. Buy a special tea that you love and take time to drink it. Choose a special outfit that you wear and can feel good in (ditch the tight jeans). Buy yourself a journal or take a nightly bath with epsom salts. Commit to something that you will do each and every bleed.

  5. Prep: Make a pot of soup full of micronutrients and freeze it ahead of time, rather than junking out as so many of us do during this time. Do any lingering projects or things that you can do in advance so that you feel more at ease slowing down.

  6. Reframe by looking forward to a bit of a slow down: I hear all the time that people are bummed that this time of the month slows them down whether they want to or not. Try for a cycle or two to simply entertain the possibility that you may look forward to a bit of a slow down.

  7. Become a visionary: Chart your cycles so that you know when they are coming and create space to allow yourself to slow down. That means that if you are asked to attend an event or make a commitment you say NO. The no is not based on your love or desire to be there or help but rather on a love and desire for yourself and an acceptance to let yourself be in winter. We all think that if we say no we are missing a chance to x,y or z, we will disappoint someone or that we are selfish. Every other women bleeds and just gets on with it so why are you special right? The thing is we are all special and we all have this right. Choose to take it!

Over to you! What do you do or plan on doing to slow down and take care of yourself during your period? Comment 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.  

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!  

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

Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_andreaobzerova'>andreaobzerova / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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!