Do you ever feel emotionally exhausted after spending time with someone? That's where I find myself today. I've had a few draining encounters with another human over the last week and I am WIPED OUT! My gut had been warning me that something was off even before I witnessed his erratic behavior. His words and behavior bounced back and forth... telling me how sweet I was one moment and how mean I was the next. His behavior was just as erratic. I couldn't keep up with the changes and often found myself saying "wtf just happened...?"
Being around this person and his inconsistent behavior made me feel frustrated, confused, and emotionally unsafe. I did my best to set boundaries, stand up for myself and call out behavior as it occurred, until the night it escalated way beyond my comfort level and I ended it. Thankfully this wasn't a long term or important relationship, so in this case, ending it was easy.
Caring for our wellbeing involves paying attention to how we feel when we're with people. Do we feel invigorated and fulfilled? Or drained and exhausted? Is it safe to be our authentic self and can we openly speak our truth? Or do we have to hide who we are and our truth?
This isn't the first time I've had to end a toxic relationship/friendship and I'm sure it won't be the last. Taking stock of our relationships is a critical component of self-love. Loving our self means choosing to spend time with people who fulfill us and releasing the relationships that drain us.
I chose to love myself when:
-I listened to my gut
-I called out his behavior and hurtful comments
-I noticed how I felt when with him
-I put boundaries in place
-I chose myself and my wellbeing and ended the relationship.
As we are doing the work of loving others, we must not neglect the work of loving ourselves. Self-love isn't selfish.
What is self-love? For me, learning what this means and how to *really* do it has been my biggest personal life challenge. In my past, loving my work was always a higher priority than loving myself. It's easy to list things like getting a manicure or going shopping or treating ourselves to our favorite treat. But are these things *really* self-love?
I used to indulge in my favorite ice cream - often. Indulging every once in awhile as a treat is much different than what I was doing - mindlessly eating a whole container in one sitting multiple times a month. THAT is not self-love, my friends. Any behavior done consciously, occasionally, and with awareness can be a nice indulgence or a way to pamper ourselves. But any behavior that becomes a habitual pattern or becomes a way to escape, avoid, or soothe our emotions - can quickly become unhealthy.
So what does it mean to really love and care for our self? Can we look deeper? True self-love and self-care practices support our LONG-TERM wellbeing - mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. My job isn't to tell people what to do to love themselves better, it's to point them in the right direction. I guide people through the aspects of wellbeing so they can discover for themselves how to better love and care for themselves. We are all unique beings with unique needs, interests, and preferences, so the specific self-love practices will look different for everyone.
Let's consider the aspect of physical wellbeing and how to integrate self-love into our physical health practices. The most obvious components of physical wellbeing include physical activity/exercise, diet/nutrition and rest/leisure. I'll touch on two of these today and revisit the third in a future post.
When choosing a physical activity or starting a new exercise program, I encourage women to find something that takes care of their physical body that they also enjoy doing. When we do this, we are connecting the concepts of physical wellbeing and self-love. Because then you move your body in a way that you enjoy and that feels good rather than one that feels like torture. And every time you show up for your workout, you are choosing to love your body. And you have fun while you're getting fit. Win-win.
What kind of physical activities do you enjoy? Walking or hiking? Running? Aerobics? Kick-boxing? Dancing? Strength training? Something else entirely? Or a combination of these? The ideal workout is different for everyone based on your personal goals, interests and needs.
And speaking of goals... when it comes to physical wellbeing, I encourage women to look beyond the scale. Losing weight is consistently among the most common new year's resolutions. But what happens if you start working out consistently and the scale doesn't budge? We feel discouraged, disappointed, bad about ourselves and we give up.
What if instead we go deeper with our goals? What if our goal wasn't to lose weight, but to improve our health? Or to feel better or have more energy? With these kinds of goals, we are more motivated to make choices that support our health and energy instead of worrying about our weight and depriving our body of nutrients.
I worked out *daily* for 2 months straight during COVID and didn't see the scale budge - not one pound. However, I could SEE other changes. I could tell that my physical strength was increasing and my cardiovascular endurance was improving. And I could SEE the changes in my body - my arms and legs were leaner and more toned and there was visibly less belly fat. Even though I didn't lose weight, I didn't give up on my workouts because I was *seeing* visible proof of change, and I was *feeling* different.
Also important to our physical (as well as our mental, emotional and spiritual) wellbeing is making time for rest, relaxation and leisure. The nourishing rest and leisure activities we choose must also be enjoyable so we make time for it. Do you enjoy lounging in a hammock? Sitting outside? Reading? Journal writing? Making art? Doing yoga or Pilates? Meditating? When we do something we enjoy while also giving our bodies time to replenish, we are practicing self-love.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to physical health or self-love. What nourishes your body? What fuels you? What makes you feel better - energetically and emotionally? What honors your unique needs and preferences? Find your unique path to self-love and really embody it through your physical health practices and daily choices and actions.
Making positive personal changes can be HARD!! But by doing a little groundwork, creating a strong foundation, and putting support mechanisms in place, we can make it easier. Here's an example of a personal challenge I was struggling with and how I approached it. Part of loving and caring for myself means paying attention to how I am nourishing my body and energy level. I found myself in a place where I was neglecting these aspects. I wasn't exercising or eating well and as a result, I often felt "icky" and sluggish. I knew better than to try to integrate two new habits at once, so I chose one to focus on first.
I decided to address the exercise habits first, because 1) I knew that would be easier than addressing my eating habits, 2) I had identified a coach and an accountability group to help me get going and build consistency, and 3) in general, when I'm consistently working out, I tend to eat better overall. So establishing a workout habit first would actually help and support the eating habits later.
For the first 5 weeks of staying #safeathome I focused on getting a daily workout regimen in place. Five weeks later I am still doing it and am seeing changes in my body. Success!! Now that that habit has been established, I'm ready to start focusing on my eating habits too. I have been wanting to eat healthier for quite some time, but am an emotional/stress eater, so this is often a challenge for me. I know from my past struggles with this, that I will need extra support to accomplish this goal.
First, I got clear on WHY I want to eat better. Yeah, I'd love to lose a few pounds and feel better about the way my body LOOKS. But that's not the deepest, most motivating factor for me. If it was, I'd already be doing it. As part of my overall intentions to love and nourish myself, I want to make better choices that support this intention in all areas of my life. So my deepest WHY in relation to my eating habits is to better love and nourish my body through food choices that give me positive energy and contribute to my long-term health and wellbeing.
I chose the nutritional lifestyle (not diet) I want to follow: mostly whole vegan foods, organic when possible. For me, this means fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and vegan protein shakes. No processed soy/meat or cheese replacements and no processed sugar. I chose this lifestyle because I've eaten this way in the past and I know that it makes me and my body feel good.
Then I set my specific goal: To choose whole, healthy vegan foods for at least 31 days in a row.
To help me establish this habit and achieve my goal, I created a daily tracking chart. It's nothing fancy, just hand drawn. I included my why and my goal at the top and a summary of the food choices I want to make along the side. I hung it on my fridge and at the end of each day, I will put an X to mark the days I stuck to my plan. I hope to fill this chart with Xs!
What personal intentions or goals have you been struggling to achieve? Consider why this goal matters to you, the specifics of what you're wanting to implement, and then choose a specific goal to focus on. What foundation, support, or tools can you put in place to help you achieve your goal?
Almost four weeks into social distancing and self-isolation and I need a haircut. Badly. But, I did something a little different today. I shaved, got dressed, AND applied makeup! That's the first time those three things have all happened on the same day in over 3 weeks! Most days I work in sweats because they are comfortable. And let's be real, I've not had a need for shaving or makeup. We're in unprecedented times here and there's no ONE right way to do this whole stay-at-home thing. We're each experiencing different emotions, focusing on different things, and spending our time in different ways. What's right for one may not be right for another.
We all handle stress differently, too. Some of us appreciate humor to help get us through, some of us need to lean on our friends, some just want to be left alone to process in whatever way works for us. And some of us may need all three of those at different times or in different quantities, or need something completely different.
I'll repeat... there is no right or wrong way to experience this situation.
For me and where I am, at this point in my journey, my mission is to do my best to stay focused on my personal wellbeing and spiritual growth path, to cultivate positive emotions such as gratitude and joy for myself and others, and to stay healthy and be fully present for my daughter. In order to do those things, I can't get sucked up into the fear or worry or anxiousness. YES, I do feel it. I'm not avoiding the reality of the situation. I certainly have moments when I experience fear or sadness or loneliness. Last week when I had to make a DIY mask for my daughter, just so we could go outside for 30 minutes, I felt it. Every time I go to the grocery store, I feel it. When I hear stories from people living in the hardest hit areas, I feel it.
I feel the feels when they arise.... I allow myself time and space to be sad or scared or angry, or whatever other emotion is coming to my awareness. But, I choose not to camp out there. Staying there too long, for me, isn't productive. I bring my attention back to the present... to what is in front of me right now. I focus on what I CAN take action on, and I move forward.
What has helped me stay grounded the last few weeks has been bringing more attention to my wellbeing and self-care. I have been exercising at home, getting out for walks when I can, and trying to eat (mostly) healthy foods. Sometimes I crank music all day and have solo dance parties. Other times I enjoy total silence. I spend a little time staying connected with friends via text and Zoom, and spend a LOT of time alone in my sacred space, journaling and meditating. I do what I feel I most need in that moment.
I've been reevaluating my priorities and the true essentials in my life. I've taken this opportunity to let go of some unhealthy habits, unproductive patterns, and even a relationship that no longer fit. I've continued learning more about myself and exploring what kind of life I want to create for myself and my daughter.
These are the things that work for me. But what matters is that YOU do what works for YOU. If you could use a little help focusing on any of this for yourself, reach out. I'm here and able to offer support. I can help you find YOUR path forward.
My sensitivity used to make me feel so broken. And the reality is, sometimes it is very heavy.... it can make certain situations incredibly challenging to work through. Things that are easy for others to brush off without a second thought, I carry for much longer. I feel everything deeply and experience a wide range of emotion. I'm not gonna lie, this makes shit really hard sometimes. So in every situation, in every relationship, I have to choose if I'm going to guard my heart or if I'm going "all in"...
Sometimes I choose well and frankly other times I don't .... and then I have to deal with the consequences of that choice and do the hard work to change the situation. This often leads to heartbreak and grief, which of course I feel deeply. But I've learned that I need to let myself feel my emotions fully, even these painful ones. I need to explore what I'm meant to learn from the situation so I can choose differently next time. And I've learned that the best way for me to do this is to retreat in solitude for a day or a week, or however long it takes. This is what works for ME, it's how I tend to my heart when I am hurting.
But there's a flip side to the pain. The depth of my feeling isn't just limited to the painful emotions. I also deeply feel joy, gratitude, and love. I am a very passionate woman. I care deeply and when I choose to invest my energy somewhere, I truly do go all in. I am fully present and give my whole heart. Yes, sometimes this leads to heartbreak. But sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it leads to something truly amazing.
My sensitivity traits are what allow me to experience such richness in life and are what make ME. As challenging as it can be sometimes, I've come to embrace my sensitivity as one of my greatest gifts.
Today is World Introvert Day. I wanted to take a moment to share a few of my own experiences and insights on living as an introvert.... because sadly, many of us have been grossly misunderstood for much of our life. Part of my mission has become to help educate and increase awareness about introversion. Until I understood that I was an introvert and learned what that really meant, I often felt different, outcast, and/or broken, like I needed to be "fixed" or improved in some way. I've been either made to feel or outright told that I was too timid, too reserved, or too shy.
People think introverts don't like people or are anti-social. In reality, each introvert has his or her own levels of comfort with sociability. It's not that we dislike people... we can be very social and enjoy being in relationship with others. However, we may have different preferences in terms of what being social looks like, as we may become quickly drained when around too many people at once. Many introverts are uncomfortable in large crowds. We recover our energy through solitude and need ample time alone.
We have different needs and preferences in all aspects of our life. We are deep thinkers and processors, which means we spend a lot of time in our heads and like to think things through. Our many gifts and talents look different than the gifts and talents of extroverts. This doesn't make our way wrong, just different.
We have spent much of our life trying to learn how to flourish in an extroverted world. This in and of itself is exhausting. We feel constant pressure about trying to conform to the way others want us to be, when in reality, we are so much more successful when we are allowed to do things our own way.
Part of our challenge is to find our place along the continuum where we are pushing the boundaries of our own comfort zones so we grow, while also finding comfort in who we are and honoring the fact that we are different and have unique qualities, traits, and needs. Through this learning process, we find our inner power and learn to stand up for ourselves rather than trying to be someone or something we're not. Magic happens when we release external expectations and pressures and find the courage to follow our own heart and to create our own path through life.
Why is it so difficult to extend compassion and forgiveness to ourselves? My journey with self-compassion has been challenging for a variety of reasons...mostly, because I expected myself to be PERFECT .... All. The. Damn. Time. I expected myself to be perfect, even when perfection wasn't realistic (which, if we're being honest, perfection is rarely realistic!).
I used to have zero tolerance for mistakes or failure. When I did mess up, I was incredibly hard on myself.... mentally (and sometimes verbally) judging, criticizing, and berating myself. The negative self-talk would run rampant!
It took me a long time to understand that mistakes and "failures" are actually a good thing. Because if we are messing up, it means we are trying. We are choosing. We are taking action. We are taking risks. We're learning and growing.
We actually do most of our learning during the challenging parts of life. In our mistakes and failures we learn what works and what doesn't. We learn what's important and what's not. Through our actions, choices, mistakes and failures, we learn about ourselves.
In reality, there is no perfection in change. No matter how badly we want to change our behaviors and make better choices for our life and for our self, it is all too easy to fall back into old patterns. It takes a lot of inertia to implement new habits because it's *easier* to keep doing what we are doing rather than changing our behavior. This is NORMAL and doesn't make us a failure. Change is hard.
I like to approach change from the mindset of "practice." I will keep practicing the new behaviors until they become my new natural choice. Sometimes this takes days, weeks, or months. Sometimes it takes a year. It depends on what the change is and what else is going on in our life. As we experience setbacks, challenges, mistakes and failures, let's open to the idea of extending ourselves patience, compassion, and love. Because we deserve it.
Do you ever find yourself in a position where you've been putting off making a decision for too long, full well knowing that a better future awaits? But you've been putting off deciding, because even though you want the change that lies on the other side, there's something about your current state that you don't want to lose? Or because you're unsure how you'll navigate the new, unfamiliar territory you'll be entering?
I've been stuck in indecision on one particular situation for a few weeks now. Deep inside, I knew what I needed to do, but I was resisting it. I didn't want to let go of the comfortable and safe situation I had created for myself. Even though I knew I wanted and deserved something better, I was still clinging to the familiar.
Fear is a powerful force. If we let it, it can hold us back from receiving what we most want in life. It takes courage to let go of what's become comfortable and allow ourselves to flow into uncharted territory. But if we really want to reach our biggest desires, we absolutely must loosen the grip, make different choices, and open to receiving what we want. All decisions are different. Some we can make fairly quickly and easily, others may take us awhile. And that's OK. This post isn't about how long the decision takes. This post is about tuning into your inner voice, listening to your heart, trusting yourself, and making the choices that are best for you longer term.
So I made the tough decision I had been putting off. I knew in my heart it was time. I wrote in my journal to help me process my fears and hopes relating to the situation. I asked for help to release the old and make way for the new. I cut the emotional cords that were keeping me bound to the past. I reminded myself why I wanted the change, and that I was worth the new possibilities on the other side. And almost immediately, I felt lighter and more open, ready for the exciting new beginnings that are to come.
What decisions have you been putting off in your life? How can you create the space you need to decide and take a step forward?
Mommy Guilt. One of the heaviest things we can carry (aside from our kids, of course!). Here are just a few of the biggest sources of mommy guilt I've noticed in myself.
The thing is, Mommy, that not a single one of us is perfect. We ALL make mistakes. We all mess up. We all feel like we're "falling short" or failing sometimes. And for me, when I see myself falling short, I can't tell you how many times I've caught myself saying, "You're a terrible mother!"
But in reality, I'm not a terrible mother. True: I don't always make the best choices. I mess up. I make a lot of mistakes. I'm not perfect.
Also true: I'm human.
So I've been practicing rewriting my story. Instead of reprimanding myself with statements such as "You're a terrible mother" - I've been practicing with inquiries like:
Before I became a mother, I wanted to control every aspect of my life: I wanted to *feel* in control, always. I set incredibly high (*unrealistic*) expectations for myself and then would work myself to exhaustion trying to get everything done. As an over-achiever and people pleaser, I was always on the go, striving to meet everyone else's expectations, too, and then berating myself up when I didn't get everything done. 😩
Shortly after I became a mother, I realized (the hard way) that I needed to let go of my unrealistic dreams of perfection and control. I learned that I'm not in control, I'm not perfect, my child isn't perfect, and life isn't perfect. That was an unexpected wake up call.
As I've been learning to release my needs for perfection and control, I've also been practicing flexibility, patience, and SURRENDER (ugh, that's a hard one, isn't it?!?!) I've been learning to extend myself kindness, compassion, grace, and forgiveness. 🤗
This has been challenging work... these are deeply ingrained mindset and behavior changes that do not happen overnight. I mess up often. Sometimes I forget to be patient or kind or forgiving to myself. Sometimes my desire for perfection and control reemerges in a BIG way. 😟
Even though this has been challenging inner work, it's been equally rewarding. I've been shifting my perspective of what it means to be a mother. It's also making me a better mother. I'm learning to be more flexible, more present, more patient. I've been living more in the moment, and have been learning to appreciate the little things.
When do you tend to feel the weight of mommy guilt? In what ways do you struggle with control, perfection, high expectations or over-achievement? How have you extended yourself kindness, grace, or forgiveness?
I have been through a lot of big life changes over the last few years. Through all that, there has been confusion, uncertainty, doubt, fear (lots of fear!), pain, sadness, grief and loss. It's fair to say that my heart has been hurting for awhile. I've had good days and bad days. Some days I was able to get out into the world and function with a smile on my face, doing my best to mask my hurt. Other days, I needed to retreat from the world, lie on the couch all day, fill pages in my journal, and/or cry it out. I listened to my body and my heart and let that guide me in terms of what I most needed for my healing each day.
Several years back, I asked the Universe to help me open, heal, and soften my heart. In order to do that, I needed to be shown all the old wounds, fears, limiting beliefs and negative self-talk, patterns and habits that were blocking me. And the best way to see those is through life experiences and relationships with people (all relationships, not just romantic). So the Universe brought exactly what I needed to learn, grow, heal, and open. And I needed to show up and do the work. Some of my life changes were initiated by me, as I saw what was no longer a fit for me and where I wanted to be. Other changes and situations were brought upon me. Through each change, whether I chose it or not, there was loss, grieving, and hurt.
After a few years of this deep learning and big change, I got to a point where I literally pleaded with the Universe, "enough already... I'm exhausted!" I just wanted all the life lessons to stop. I felt beaten down and lost. But each time, I chose to keep moving in spite of the pain and difficulty. I dove deep into self-observation and self-reflection, paying attention to what I needed to learn from each situation. I started to see when old patterns would emerge and became clear on how my own thinking and behavior was causing a lot of the turmoil in my life. And now, I'm finally feeling like I'm coming out the other side. I've learned a lot about myself. I've evolved into a better person. My heart feels open. Softer.
I know now that this work will probably never end for me. I believe it'll be a life long journey. And I'm okay with that, because it's connected to my life purpose.
The reality is that shit gets hard sometimes. And for anyone out there who may be hurting and trying to keep that to yourself, I get you. It's unfortunately become kinda taboo to talk about the hard days and the pain, and sometimes we just don't feel like sharing that part of ourself with anyone... I know I didn't always want to.
Just know that you are loved.
Today, I woke up feeling so grateful and full of joy. My heart literally feels like it could burst open. I have so many amazing people in my life, each offering support in ways that only they could, sharing their gifts, their talents, their hearts with me. This woman is blessed.