Self Care

How do you practice acts of self care?

You hear the term often, I’m sure. In Insta-Land alone there are over 16 million posts hash-tagged #selfcare. So it seems like we are aware of the idea but do we really know what it means to practice self care? And more importantly, are we taking the time to practice?

If you aren’t familiar with the idea, self care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness. Or as psychologist Agnes Wainman explained, self-care is “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.” And the practice can vary drastically from person to person. With our crazy busy lives, overly packed schedules, and nearly constant comparisons to strangers on the internet (if you don’t participate in the last one, damn you’re good because that shit can be hard) self care often gets over looked.

While writing this, I was inspired to revisit my Simplify post of things that make me happy and ways to practice acts of self care. You can check it out here.

But before getting too far ahead, I think it’s also important to know what self care is not. First off- it is not selfish. Remember how when you get on a plane and the flight attendant reminds you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others? They get it… because, really, what good are you going to be if you’re passed out and slumped under the tray table in front of you with your face smashed into your carry on backpack? You’re not. No good. Not unless you take care of your self first.

Self care also isn’t something you force upon yourself- but instead, is a compilation of things that naturally bring a smile to your face, things that make you feel full of goodness. And once you are ‘good’, you can then let your cup of goodness overflow to others… because you can’t pour from an empty cup. You feel me? I should also note, to be super clear- It is not something that we force ourselves to do just because it seems right. If you hate bubble baths- don’t take a bubble bath! Your self care, your decision. It is not necessarily what others have defined as self care.

This practice can be woven into your daily life. For example- giving yourself permission to let go of those persistent energy vampires in your life can be incredibly empowering and healthy. If you walk away from someone feeling completely drained each and every time, it might be a sign to let go, simply because that energy suck can lead you to being incapable of caring for yourself.

The practice can also be something that you schedule in to make sure you don’t overlook YOU. An example of this might look like scheduling an hour a day to do something that truly brings you joy. Or scheduling a massage once a month if that’s what tickles your fancy. Remember, self care is necessary in order to keep us in tip top shape- so release the guilt that might try and creep in and trust that taking care of yourself is also the best way to take care of and serve others.

Some of my favorite acts of self care include:

Epsom Salt Baths

Yeah, I’m that bitch. No shame in my game, I love a hot, half an hour bath in silence. Or maybe with a little John Mayer playing guitar only for me.

Journaling

Just getting ideas out of my head and on ‘paper’ releases so much stress for me. When I write things out, it has the ability to take away the power a negative thought may have had over me. Journaling can be extremely therapeutic… once you get past the feeling of being a young teeny-bopper pouring her little heart out.

Giving Myself Permission to Say No

“If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no”– Jen Hatmaker. Preach sister. If I can only half ass it, or not give it my full attention, or do it just to bitch about it the entire time- it might be best that I bow out in the beginning to avoid resentment and stress later on. I’m learning to really dig boundaries.

Alone Time

My alone time is sacred. It is when I calm down, process, and recharge. I love quiet and I require time where I can focus my energy on only me. Working, being a parent, a partner, etc. are all wonderful things but they can also take a lot out of you. Setting aside alone time to just BE is be-utiful. For me- sometimes this looks like waiting until everyone is asleep and organizing and consolidating my many sticky notes from the week, preparing my schedule for the upcoming month, organizing my to-do lists and upcoming projects, or just taking a moment to step back and re-evaluate priorities. And sometimes it looks like me… sitting there… in a locked bathroom… savoring the silence.

Being Outside

Connecting with nature may sound hippy-dippy and very woo-woo but I dig it. If possible, I take my shoes off and connect with the earth, face up to the sky so to take in the sun or the moon. Being outside is an instant refresher for me. And if I can hear birds chirping and singing, it’s an added bonus. No shits- I will literally hug a tree if it feels right.

Also a Rock Hugger

Affirmations and Belly Breathing

Affirmations are my jam. I have been using them for years to help manifest positives in my life but also as a form of self care. When things seem out of my control or overwhelming, I say to myself “Breathe, everything is happening exactly as it should be” or I might remind myself that “I am enough”. Affirmations paired with deep belly breaths can help calm the nervous system, alleviate stress, and improve confidence. Plus, breathing is pretty important to living, so there’s that. * Special thanks to my pal Jacqueline who introduced me and the tiny humans to this number one hit.

Sweatpants

Not just anything without a button and zipper, I mean like early 90’s PE clothes sweatpants. Not leggings, not swishy pants, not PJ pants. I’m talking Straight. Up. Sweatpants. They just make me happy. Pair them up with an undisturbed binge sess’ of a Dr. Pimple Popper marathon… that, right there, that is my ultimate self care.

What self care is not for me: Spending money I don’t have in the name of self care just to stress later and require more intense self care. I mean, I’m all for Treat Yo’ Self as long as Yo’ Self can afford it. There are lots of free and inexpensive ways to take care of your mind, body, soul. And it won’t look the same for everyone.

Oh, and to be clear- It’s definitely not being a total bitchwad and labeling it as self care. Because, rude.

If you are struggling with what self care looks like for you, start by jotting some ideas down. Get your mind used to the idea that self care is not selfish and instead, so very necessary. Eventually your mind will begin to recognize what fills your cup and ideas will start to flow.

If you already practice, what are your preferred acts of self care? Comment below… because you never know when sharing your story might be the ceremonial fire lighting under someone else’s ass.

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What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Lately, the kids and I have been talking a lot about school and why they go. It’s usually started by a complaint from one of them on the way there. And by complaint, I’m talking screaming, kicking, and tears. Usual kid stuff, right?…. Right?

They ask me why they have to go, tell me they’d rather stay home- and then I remind them that they can’t stay home because mama and daddy have to go to work and make money, honey. Most times they get it because they remember that money (or when Har was little he called it fucking mundy 😂) is what we use to buy treats, toys, food, clothes, a roof to live under…

I’ve been trying to explain to them that they have to go to school so that when they grow up, they can be whatever they want to be. They’ll then start to ramble off all of the rad professions that interest them- firefighter, animal doctor, paleontologist, police officer. It’s exciting to hear them dream about their futures and I hope that John and I can support them to find what truly fits them and brings joy and fulfillment. So we discuss that when they get a little older, they get to choose classes based on their interests. And until then, if they want to learn more about a profession, we will find a way for them to meet someone face to face and they can ask all of the questions they can come up with.

It’s funny, as far as I can remember, I never really concerned myself with these thoughts as a kid. I mean, ok- yeah, I had wanted to be a singing veterinarian for a while, and then a Fly Girl on In Living Color or a member of Wilson Phillips, and then a stand up comedian… And obviously, those things take a certain level of dedication and talent- that I totally lacked and they ultimately didn’t work out. But wouldn’t it had been cool if they did? And then after elementary school, I don’t really remember dreaming about what I wanted to ‘be’.

Fast forward lots of years, I graduated college with a BA in Applied Design and a minor in Sociology and a total lack of drive to do anything with them. Then my quarter life crisis hit hard and lasted too long- I felt I was continuously searching for my purpose and who I wanted to be as a ‘grown up’.

About 8 years after graduation, John and I got married and had our first baby. To be totally honest- and I have probably said this before somewhere on these interwebs- I never thought I wanted to get married or have kids- but of course the universe had different plans and these things turned out to be some of the most spectacular pieces to my life’s story and have since helped to mold me into a person that I am proud to be.

Really, every happy, sad and difficult moment and life experience has helped create my reality and I am truly thankful for them all. No matter how fucking shitball-terrible they felt (and sometimes continue to feel) in the moment(s).

So when Har asked me this morning what I want to be when I grow up, a smile filled my face as I responded with “well babe, I am already what I want to be.” I told him how when I go to work during the day, I get to work in an office filled with people who are helping others find affordable living situations. When I leave at nighttime and on the weekends, I am helping people heal themselves through yoga, meditation, reiki, and other energy aspects. And when I am with them and John, I am a wife and mom to the most special people.

Motherhood and wifehood (is that a thing? Wifehood? It should be. It is now) are by far my most difficult roles- mostly because I never get to ‘clock out’… but they are also the most rewarding, fulfilling, and important roles for me. The universe blessed me with a supportive and loving husband who puts up with all my crazy, lack of patience and focus, and intense mood swings. My children have made me realize what I am capable of, how much I can love, and continue to teach me about the world around us, about other beings, and about myself.

So, to me, the question of ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ isn’t just limited to a profession. I think it includes the person you want to be too. And I want to be a kind and loving person. A supportive family member, friend, human.

Life is a process, a journey, a chapter book… or how ever the heck you choose to refer to it. Where I am in this part of my story, I am happy. I am who I want to be and with the people I want to be with. All while remembering that it’s an ongoing process and we are all forever evolving.

So, what do you want to be when you ‘grow up’?

Simplify

A while back I wrote myself a note.

I do this often.  If you were to look inside my purse… car… pocket… desk drawer… you’d find several pieces of scrap paper or sticky notes.  Sometimes with reminders, sometimes to-do’s, sometimes blog ideas, sometimes I just frantically jot down something that a person has said or lines from an audio book or podcast that really resonated with me.

But this note was different.  It was a question to myself.  It asked “Is it possible to live a simple life while being a busy and working mom?”

I scribbled it down one day while at work and stuck it to the back of my phone so I knew I’d revisit it later.  I had asked myself this question because I truly didn’t know the answer. At that time, I felt like I was failing at being a good mother and wife.  Overall, I felt like I was failing at life.  I should mention, this question came about during one of my “stress spells”- a time where I had spread myself too thin and the stress began to get the best of me.  During these “stress spells” I usually begin sliding down a slippery slope.  Stress becomes anxiety.  The anxiety becomes fear.  And the fear becomes deep sadness.  Eventually I find my way out, only to write myself similar notes later on.

But that’s a whole different deal.

Back to the question… I didn’t have an answer for myself, so what did I do?  I consulted Google.  Of course there was no simple answer but the searching made me sit with the question and actually begin to work it over in my head.  I started to make a list of things that are important to me and ways to give them the attention they deserve, while really looking at things that are not worthy of so much of my energy, in order to start living a simpler and happier life.

Like I said I would- eventually I found my way out of the stress spell but my list stuck with me and I found myself actually taking {tiny} steps to live a simpler life.  Then came a little health scare (things are OK) and it was the swift kick in the ass I needed to really focus on simplifying and reevaluating what’s really important to me.  It all really came down to my hub, my core, my heart center- John and the kids. Hopefully, living a simple lifestyle will allow me to be a happier and more patient mother, a nicer wife, and a more present person with less stress and distractions.  I want to spend quality time with quality people and I want to be satisfied with what I have rather than focusing on what I don’t have.

In order to help guide myself and stay on track, I have created an ongoing and quite large Google Doc with actual steps to achieve the simple life I strive for. Now, I know that you’re probably thinking that making lists and Google Docs doesn’t sound like simplifying, in fact it sounds like more work.  But it actually is a form of simplifying for me.   And I really LOVE lists.

Below is my list to myself, in no particular order:

Be Careful With Commitments

It’s ok to say no sometimes.  Do not overbook, ie; appointments, play dates, subbing classes, outings with friends, etc.  Create boundaries around my time while maintaining kindness.  If I really don’t want to do something and I do it, I will end up resenting that person and that is not fair to either of us.  I want to be able to give all of me instead of part and in order to do that, I need to be able to set boundaries and respect them.  

Quality Family Time

Put the phone down and enjoy these moments.  Enjoy more adventures and create more memories, do not accumulate more things. Focus on doing instead of spending. Wake up an hour earlier each day and in that extra quiet time, take care of any chores that might lead me to tell my kids, “one minute, let me finish this real fast…” if they were awake.

Choose to be Happy

Maintain an attitude of gratitude.  Let go of what no longer serves me and understand that this may be ever changing. Let go of toxic relationships and energy vampires- you know who they are. 

Do Not Compare Myself to Others

Less social media- PERIOD.  They only show you what they want you to see.

Purge

Purge and donate more often- aim for once a month.  Remember that I cannot take things with me whenever the day comes to travel to the great beyond and I don’t want to burden my grandkids with crap that grandma kept in the garage that no one has a clue as to why she kept it.

Family Calendar 

Create and abide by the Family Calendar- add To-Dos here, grocery items that are needed, important reminders, dinner menu for the week.  (“sync” with my personal planner and online calendar) 

Bedtimes

Start a mellow bedtime routine for the kiddos 1 hr before they get tucked in.  After they are in bed, prep for the next day to make the mornings easier- lunches, backpacks, etc.  Keep my To-Do list in one place, write items down before bed so I can try to clear my mind.  No phone use before bed- Read a book instead.

**Set my alarm 1 hour earlier to avoid rushing in the morning and enjoy the ‘me time’.   

Work Space

Shred papers that create clutter, file ones that absolutely need to be kept.  Take pictures of documents if I just need the info for a later time and then toss the physical paper.  Clean my desk and use it for writing and not for my piled up books that I am going to read (ha!), the clothes that are too clean for the hamper but too dirty to be put away again (you know you have those too), and all of the bobby pins that I can never seem to find in the mornings. 

*** While I am at it, keep the kitchen counter free of crap and piled mail that I’ll just eventually toss.  This is be the saving grace for my marriage.

Unsubscribe!

Go through emails that I trash before ever opening and unsubscribe from them.  While I’m at it, unfollow peeps on social media that cause me to think negatively of myself or others, or make me feel inadequate, or like I need to create a life that does not actually serve me or my family. 

Reactions

Take AT LEAST one deep breath before responding to something that irked me.  (DO NOT roll my eyes during this breath) This will give me a chance to clear mind before I say something I might regret.  It’s better to respond kindly and clearly than to yell and freak out- this way I don’t have to fix things later. 

Self Care

Remember that self care is ok and so very necessary.  “You can’t pour from an empty cup” – This can be scheduling a massage, going to yoga, taking a bath when the kids are asleep to avoid toys being hurled at my head while trying to relax. I am worth the time.  Utilize the hour when I wake up early to meditate, move my body, write, savor my tea/coffee- anything that fills my cup and sets the tone for a good day. 

Laundry

Do a load if I have the time to avoid spending an entire day on laundry (and to avoid running out of underwear).  Put the folded clothes away immediately because looking at that shit is stressful enough. 

Food

Eat slowly. Drink slowly.  Savor the flavors. PUT THE PHONE DOWN. Meal plan for the week with quick, yet nutritious meals and enough leftovers for lunches.  Pack lunches the night before for work.  Eat out less.

Finances

Create a budget and actually stick with it. Avoid impulse Target and online purchases by holding the item in my hand (or ‘add it to my cart’ when online shopping) and seriously contemplate if this is something I need to survive or will it make me a better and happier person.  Ask myself- Will I just end up donating it in a few months? Will it be one more thing I have to pick up when I clean the house?  

Let go

Let go of trying to please everyone. Focus on my hub- John and the kids. Remember that I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, cup of coffee, glass of wine, shot of whiskey…. and that’s ok. Remember that that’s ok.

Fun Fact:

I tried digging through my purse to see if I could find the note that was the catalyst for this post.  It has since disappeared into the black hole, just as so much has before it.  Though I did find- two dinosaurs, only the spring and the ink portion of a broken pen, the plane ticket from when I flew up north for the birth of my niece Aubree, some microblading ointment (did mention that I got my eyebrows microbladed and it’s awesome?!?), expired DayQuil tablets, a $10 bill (score!), crumbled up Post Its (of course), rocks (lots of them), 95 cents (tiny score?), and flattened pennies from- the Santa Ana Zoo, Cafe Du Monde, Gettysburg, Dodger Stadium, Hunting Beach, the San Diego Zoo, Monterey, and Disneyland.

So, no note but my purse is now clean.