self-love

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.  

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!