Thursday, August 31, 2017

Beyond the Bubble Bath

(Photo courtesy of Decorating Your Small Space)

I am a writer.

I am a lot of other things, too, but at my very core, I am a writer, a storyteller, a sharer of thoughts.

This declaration, I am a writer, is perhaps the most exquisite thing to come from my radical self-care journey so far.

What I'm discovering is this: not only do I have a lot to say, but I get to say it.  In fact, I'm sort of obligated to say it.  Listen, here's what I think: we all have gifts within us, some we haven't discovered yet, others we may know are there but for whatever reason we haven't fully explored.  

This is where I have been stuck.  In fact, I was so stuck, I didn't even know I was stuck!  Does that make sense?  I embarked on my journey of radical self-care because I needed to get back to myself.  I needed to get healthy.  I needed to move my body, eat healthy, think good thoughts.  That's where I needed to start because without that foundation I couldn't have gotten to where I find myself this morning.

I am here.

I am right here at this point in my journey on this morning.  Elizabeth Gilbert refers to this point as "possessing a fierce sense of entitlement" in her book Big Magic.  Poet David Whyte calls it "an arrogant sense of belonging".  I realize all the negative connotations around both of those phrases, but let me offer a different way of looking at it.  It's about my feeling empowered to at least try to create a life where I am free to explore my unique gifts and to put them out there.  It's about feeling brave, while at the same time vulnerable, and embracing all of that.  It's about being a hot mess and having my shit together all in one glorious moment.

It's about losing the fear and taking advantage of it at the same time.  And my radical self-care journey has gone way beyond a long hot bubble bath.

I am a writer.

Writing those words, putting it out there scares the shit out of me.  But I don't want to be afraid of that part of me.  I don't want to hide that side of me because I'm afraid that saying it out loud will in some way hold me accountable.  In fact, I want to be held accountable.  I want to be expected to put forth my thoughts and feelings and anxieties and emotions in a way that will cleanse me, freshen me up, then open me up to all the richness and wonderfulness and abundance that the Universe has to offer.

I want to live my life in living color.  I want to tell stories about the things that make me feel alive and make my heart sing. I want to shut down my nasty inner critic that tells me constantly that I have no business whatsoever doing any of this.  And I want to encourage my muse to take up residence whenever and for however long she'd like to hang out here.  I want to write, write, write until the words won't come anymore and my brain is fried, but in oh such a good way.  Like sore muscles after an intense workout. I want to design a creative life where that creativity is the center of my universe instead of something I do in my spare time.  

There.  I said it.

I want a lot of things.  And now I want to go after them with a vengeance, with a full heart and a spring in my step.

I am a writer.  I am here.  I am ready.
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Thursday, August 24, 2017

15 Reasons You Need Radical Self-Care


Self-Care and Wellness



I don’t know about you, but when life gets crazy busy any attempt at self-care, radical or otherwise, is the first thing to be sacrificed.  Ironically, it’s at those busiest times when I need self-care the most.  It just seems like more of an indulgence than a necessity.  Do you find that too?  

Self-care is not selfish.  It is self-full.


This is my mantra.  I have it on a sticky note in my day planner, on a second sticky note on my computer, and on a third sticky note on the front of the fridge.  Those are three places I’m in front of every day.  So, when the day starts to spin out of control, I’m scurrying about like a whirling dervish, and late to everything, at some point I will be in my day planner, at my computer, or looking in the refrigerator for a snack (or, let’s get real, a big glug of wine) and, voila, there will be my reminder: 

Slow down, T.  Fill your cup.  Self-care is self-full.  

And that’s when I take three deep breaths to slow my heart rate a little bit.  I replace the bottle of wine (for now) with an apple.  And I sit in my garden for a minute.  Or I go for a walk around the block.  Or I listen to a podcast or read a chapter in my trashy novel.  I fill my cup.  Then, I’m better able to move on to the next thing that needs my attention.


Self-Care and Wellness

Here’s what happens when we don’t make time for self-care: b-u-r-n-o-u-t.

Burnout, excessive or prolonged stress, reduces productivity, zaps your energy, and if ignored, can lead to physical and emotional concerns.  Who needs that?

What I’ve learned is that when I take time for my self-care plan, I actually have more energy to carry me through my to do list.  Just like we’ve got to put gas in the car, we need to refuel our bodies, minds, and spirits with self-care.  A radical idea, I know.  But trust me, bringing more balance to your daily routine will help you be more productive and more resilient to stressors.


Self-Care and Wellness


How do you know you’re in need of some radical self-care?  See if any of these resonate for you:

  1. You are burning the candle at both ends
  2. You think putting yourself first is selfish
  3. You can’t relax; things feel like they’re spinning out of control
  4. You’re the Queen of Negative Self-Talk
  5. You can’t delegate because no one lives up to your perfectionist standards
  6. Fast food is on your list of the basic food groups
  7. You can’t find time to exercise
  8. You don’t get enough sleep
  9. You get too much sleep
  10. You don’t listen to your body; you don’t even know it’s talking to you
  11. You constantly feel overwhelmed
  12. You’ve become extremely critical of yourself
  13. You can’t remember the last time you did nothing
  14. You get annoyed easily or have less patience than usual
  15. Me time?  What’s that? (‘Nuf said.)
Self-Care and Wellness


Scoring:
Give yourself point for each "yes".  
8 points or more - Congratulations, you are a Radical Self-Caretaker!  
3-7 points - You are well on your way to Radical Self-Care.  Keep up the good work, and see where you can add even more jewels to your Radical Self-Care tiara.
0-2 points - All is not lost, sweet thing.  There are plenty of ways to get your Radical Self-Care groove on.  Watch for future posts with a gazillion ideas to get your Radical Self-Caretaking groove on!

If you want to dig a little deeper, visit my Start Here page for a free download.

Well, how did you do?  Are you a Radical Self-Caretaker?  Ready to fill your cup with a little more Radical Self-Care?  Or is it time to get your Radical Self-Care groove on, sister?  What did you find out about yourself?  What changes could you make today to improve your score?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Totality




I decided at the last minute to head into the Totality Zone yesterday for the Great American Eclipse.

Wow.  What an experience.

My partner had been planning all along to drive the 20 or so miles from our house into the zone to see the eclipse.  I was back and forth in making my decision.  I'm not sure why I wasn't all in from the get go, but it wasn't until about half an hour before she was leaving that I decided to go.  I woke up with the song Aquarius playing in my head, where it stayed all day long thank you very much.  But that was sign enough for me from the cosmos that I needed to be there to witness it.


I am so glad that I made the decision to go.  If you've ever experienced a total eclipse of the sun, you know what I'm talking about.  It's just an amazing thing to see the moon's silhouette pass in front of the sun, blotting out all but that beautiful solar corona for a minute or so.  When I removed my goofy glasses and took that in, I involuntarily gasped at the beauty and profoundness of what I was seeing.  Absolutely breathtaking.  And then the moon began to slip away from it's position in front of our sun, glasses were put back on.  It was over.

I could have looked at that for another 20 minutes.

In the moments leading up to totality, the small crowd gathered with us grew quieter.  As everyone took their glasses off, there were quiet "oh my God"s,  whoops of appreciation, clapping, cheering, even tears - and I could hear it from the people around me, but also all throughout the distance as I realized there were people all along the highway for miles.  It was amazing.


What I wasn't prepared for was the drop in temperature, the suddenly intense smell of the grass in the field where we were sitting as the day turned to twilight, and especially how I was going to feel at totality.  I felt as though a cosmic force had hit my reset button.  Everything felt fresh and new and wondrous.

My goal is to carry that feeling with me always - that a feeling of wonder and awe and fresh perspective.  I'm going to carry that experience always tucked into a little corner of my heart to return to again and again.

And I've added Aquarius to my playlist.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

How to Get Some Radical Self-Care Today


After chatting about what I think of when I think Radical Self-Care, I realized I wanted a daily reminder for myself.  Since I'm on my computer every day, and I'm inspired by photos of places I've been or things I've done, I thought a great way to remind myself to "fill my cup" would be to create some desktop wallpaper that will be a reminder every time I turn on your computer!

I loved the way it turned out so much, I thought you might like to have it, too.

Just click the image to download to your computer, then save as desktop wallpaper.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Radial Self-Care: This Shit is the Real Deal


As you know, I recently had a Radical Self-Care epiphany.  Here's my take on Radical Self-Care - what it is and what it isn’t.

Here’s the thing, as women, we are hardwired to nurture.  We constantly take care of the people we love, putting their needs before our own.  It’s a generous and loving act.  Nothing wrong with it.  Until we run out of gas.  

There’s a reason the flight attendant instructs you to put your own mask on before assisting someone else:  you can’t take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself.  Period.  It’s like pouring from an empty cup.  

Enter Radical Self-Care.

Radical self-care is about putting yourself first, not just by developing new habits, but by changing your whole approach to making decisions about what is truly important.  It’s a whole new mindset.  It’s a radical idea.

Wikipedia defines self-care as maintenance of one’s personal well-being and health.  The word radical comes from the latin “radix” which means root.  So, it tends to follow that Radical self-care is tending to your own roots.  It's a bold act.  It’s a very active and powerful choice to gain or maintain an optimal level of overall health, and not just physical health, but intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual health as well.  Radical self-care is about taking care of the whole of you - body, mind, and spirit.

Wow, you may be thinking.  That’s a lot to take on.

Well, it is and it isn’t.  Radical self-care is vital to a balanced, vibrant life.  It demands we take our own needs into consideration and act upon them.  It’s about filling your own cup first, then giving to others from all that spills over.  Make no mistake, radical self-care is “something that fuels us, rather than takes from us,” says Dr. Agnes Wainman, PhD, C. Psych, founder of London Psychological Services.

When we come to radical self-care from that perspective, it is a little less overwhelming isn’t it?  

“Radical self-care is quantum, and radiates out into the atmosphere, like a little fresh air.  It is a huge gift to the world.  When people respond by saying, ‘well, isn’t she full of herself,’ smile obliquely, like Mona Lisa, and make both of you a nice cup of tea.”  Anne Lamott

Radical self-care is learned, purposeful, continuous.  It is a true knowledge of self.  It is a holistic approach to well-being.

Radical self-care is not a selfish act.  It is self-full.  It’s fulfilling your needs first in order to fulfill the needs of the people you love and care for.  Again, it’s filling your cup before attempting to fill everyone else’s.  If you attempt to care for everyone else, not devoting enough time to your own self-care, believe me, you’ll wind up wiped out.  And bitter.

So, let’s break it down.  I mentioned earlier some areas where we can focus our own radical self-care.  Let’s take a look at those.



Body
Let’s get in 75-150 minutes of physical activity this week, and every week.  It increases serotonin - the runner’s high - which improves your mood and energy.  Who doesn’t want that?  And, no, you do not have to buy running shoes to accomplish this.  Try gardening, walking the dog, taking the stairs, parking further away from the door, cleaning house.  The point is, choose exercise you will enjoy and stick with it.  Also, get 7-9 hours of sleep, drink your water, and follow-up with medical care (get that mammogram, have a wellness check with your doctor, or update your eyeglass frames).  With radical self-care, you can enjoy a higher quality of life, perhaps even extend your life.  You can reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.  Radical self-care will boost your energy and ease pain and stiffness in your body.  This is good stuff!


Mind
Improve your mind with radical self-care.  Start a jigsaw puzzle habit.  Add some creative activities to your week - my favorites are creating journals and making jewelry.  Listen to podcasts on subjects that interest you.  Watch TED Talks.  Take yourself on a date to the art museum or historical society.  Learn a new language.  Read books.  Read more books.  Write about the books you read.  Write your own book.  You’ll begin to observe details you didn’t notice before.  You’ll question things, then go a little bit crazy until you find an answer.  Spend time alone, enjoy the peace and quiet.  Practice meditation or relaxation exercises.  And watch that negative self-talk; reprogram it to a more positive message.  Radical self-care feeds your mind and makes life more interesting.  


Spirit
Religion, making time for communal worship in a religious setting, is only one aspect of radical spiritual self-care.  It’s also about reading about religious or spiritual practices that intrigue you.  Other areas which will nourish your spirit include volunteering to help others in need, hiking, biking, or canoeing to connect with nature.  Go on a long walk to contemplate purpose and meaning.  Spend time in prayer or meditation.  Walk a labyrinth.  You can also boost your spirit having fun with the people you love - do this now, life is uncertain.  Call your best friend and meet for coffee.  Plan date night with your partner.  If you’re having conflict with someone, talk it out.  Research shows that spiritual vitality positively impacts health outcomes.  That’s radical self-care.  Amen.

The goal of radical self-care is to live in a perpetual state of wellness in body, mind, and spirit.  That means reducing stress, meeting your emotional needs, maintaining relationships with your friends, family, and partners or spouses.  Radical self-care is finding balance between your personal and academic or professional life.  

Radical self-care is a bold move, a new perspective about putting yourself first in order to take care of the people you love.




Don’t put radical self-care off until you have more time.  You’ll never have more time.  Make the powerful choice to do it now.  Layer into your days and weeks the activities you know will increase your overall physical, mental, and spiritual health.  Take time to figure out how to integrate radical self-care into your day.  You won’t be sorry.

Here’s a radical question:  What can you do this week to take care of yourself?  Leave your thoughts in the comments section as a bold setting of intention.  You so deserve it.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

How to Start a Daily Journal Practice


I have written in a journal since I was a young girl.  I love the feeling of my favorite pen in my hand and the way it glides across paper.  And there is just something about the slow pace of hand-writing in a book that really opens up my mind and allows ideas, goals, dreams, and lots of other juicy stuff come forward.  It fills my cup.  Plus, I heard somewhere a long time ago: our minds are not meant for remembering, they are meant for creating.  I love that, and journaling really allows me to focus more on creating rather than trying to remember all of the ten thousand things I need to get done/think about/put on my to do list.

I will use just about any notebook for a journal, from a spiral notebook I pick up in the office supply section to a Moleskin to a pretty hardcover journal I might find on vacation in a groovy little shop.  When I have time and am feeling my creative mojo is present, I love to create my own journals.


Whatever journal I'm using doesn't really matter.  It's about the writing, the ritual.  My favorite time to write is in the morning.  I usually get up around 5am then make myself a cup of coffee.  I sit in my favorite chair under a quilt with my journal and my favorite pen and just start writing.  Some mornings the writing just flows, sometimes I just start putting words and sentences on paper - sort of a stream of consciousness - until cohesive thoughts start to come forward.  

It's as much about the ritual as it is about the writing.  It's my favorite way to start the day.  Sometimes I just purge on the page, sometimes I'll create a detailed to do list.  Other times I will have an idea that's been pinging around in my head that I need to give some life to or I'll work out a problem I'm having with a project that isn't quite coming together.  Some days it's my meditation.  Writing in my journal every morning clears my head so that I'm ready to take on whatever the day is about to bring to me.

If you've started a journal practice, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  If you've been considering the start of a personal journal practice, it's super easy to get started.  You only need a few tools and some quiet time to yourself.


My Favorite Tools for Journaling

First and foremost is my journaling space.  

I have a favorite chair where I like to write.  For me, journaling is about getting comfortable, so I sit in a big armchair under a quilt rather than at my desk.  You may be more comfortable at a desk or table.  The important thing is to find your space, a space that inspires you.  

During the summer, I open all the windows to let the fresh air in and so I can hear the fountain that is in our garden.  During the winter months, I light a candle and only turn on the lamp next to my chair so the room stays cozy.

Secondly, you need quiet time when you'll have no interruptions.  This is why I get up at 5am.  I'm the only one up, the day is not quite dawning.  The world is quiet.  This allows me to really focus, to be still and hear what is going on for me, what needs to come out of my head and onto the pages.


Finally, there are the actual writing tools.

My pen is not fancy, it's a Uni-ball Vision Fine Point in black and I lovelovelove it.  It writes very smoothly and dries quickly on the paper so smudging is not a problem.  If you don't have a favorite pen yet, give it a try.  Give lots of pens a try.  You might prefer a fountain pen, or a fine-tip Sharpie, or a gel pen - maybe even a pencil.  The key is to find a writing implement that feels good in your hand and writes nicely.

Selecting a journal is a lot of fun.  I have a stash of empty journals in a basket on my desk.  Some of them I've purchased, some of them I've made myself.  When I fill one up, I just start another.  I like a smaller size, roughly 6" x 9", rather than an 8.5" x 11" size.  I like to be able to throw it in my bag so I have a journal when I'm in a coffee house or the waiting room of my dentist's office.  Oscar Wilde said, "I never travel without my diary.  One should always have something sensational to read on the train."  Don't you just love that?

So, there you have it.  Three steps to beginning a daily journal practice:
     1) Find a cozy spot and a quiet time of day
     2) Try lots of pens until you land on a favorite
     3) Purchase or create a journal that you will love writing in each day

Oh, and one more step:  enjoy this gift to yourself.  Incorporate it into your day as a time to recharge, rejuvenate, relax.  Cheers.



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Creating Intention


I am not a religious person.  But I am very spiritual.  I believe in a higher power.  You may call that higher power God, Buddha, Allah, the Universe.  You may call it that which resides within you - your higher self, or your best self.  Whatever resonates for you, that is the place from which I'm writing this post today.

"Good morning.  This is God.  I will be handling all of your problems today.  I will not need your help, so have a miraculous day."

The late, great Wayne Dyer wrote these words.  He is without a doubt one of my favorite teachers.  I've read and re-read his books for years.  One of my favorites is The Power of Intention. His message is this:  everything you want for yourself, for your life, for your family - it is all there for you.  By creating intention, using your imagination, and practicing the art of assuming the feeling of your intention being fulfilled, while at the same time stubbornly refusing any distractions to get you off track, you will discover, simply by virtue of your spiritual awareness, that have the ability to become the person you wish to be.

Wow, right?

He goes on to say, "Our creative power is the ability to convert the energy of our thoughts into a newly materialized form.  Manifestation is the result.  Beginning with one intention at a time, you can learn how to manifest anything in your life."



So, I guess this is what my radical self-care is all about.  It's about living a life of wellness - in body, mind, and spirit - intentionally creating that for myself, in order to manifest the dreams I have about my career and my future.  I suppose it's what this blog is about, too.  Setting that intention, putting it out there, sharing it with all of you, so that you will bear witness to what I wish to manifest.  My hope is that it will be an inspiration for you if you are looking for inspiration, or a wake-up call if you're as I was, asleep at the wheel of your life.

What would you like to manifest in your life?  What intention would you declare right here, right now?  As always, I'd love to hear what you think.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Personal Best


Just had to post this!  Guys, I had a personal best today!  My mile split was 18:26, which is well under my nearly 20-minute split a year ago.  I am so excited!

This is me, post-walk today treating myself to a whole bunch of watermelon, ice water, and feet out of walking shoes getting some air!  Took a big shower after this - I was stinky!  :)

Hope you're getting out there and enjoying this summer Saturday.  Take care everyone!