Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Time for Jr. High!

A letter to our kids (yours as well, if this applies), as we embark on this newest season. I wrote a version of this to my boy. It contained some additions, that were for his sweet eyes only. I hope my sharing this version can serve you and yours. We are living this life together, all of us. Whether I know you or not, you are part of my world, our world. Let us strive to serve one another and share our truths. Let us strive to raise young people into this world of OURS that lead with their hearts. Young people who treat themselves and the people around them with care and attention.

Time for Jr. High!

So here we are …Jr. High, and all the stuff that comes with it. All the changes. Your body and mind are being inundated with hormones, questions, challenging emotions… as are all of your classmates. There will be great days, and not so fun days as all of these changes take place. Friendships may fall to the wayside while new ones form. Studies actually show, that a very high percentage of Jr. High friendships are short term and/or don’t last through to high school. It’s happening to all of you though, what matters most is how you handle it.
Try to remember a few things for me as we tread these new waters…..
You always have us. Mom and Dad, and even brother. We are here to listen, to support, to guide and to enjoy one another. You can talk to us about ANYTHING. We will never judge you. We may not always have answers, sometimes situations just need to run their course, but we will always have your back.
You are a unique and beautiful person. Made exactly how God wanted you. Try to remember that when you are tempted to get down on yourself. God did not make us to be perfect. Not at all.
Use and sharpen your tools. These tools are NOT just for difficult times. They are life tools! They will serve you through out every stage. Breathing, meditation and prayer, journaling, paying attention to the way you talk to yourself and the way your thoughts are making you feel in your body (because you can change those thoughts to build you up rather than tear you down), exercise, time in nature, getting enough sleep and eating well. If you need help figuring out what tools to use, ask. If you are struggling, assess which tools you may be neglecting and kick it up a notch. You will notice a shift in a positive direction rather quickly. If you need additional support we can reach out for that too.
Remember to take risks. Nothing magical happens inside of your comfort zone. No growth or new learning. No new insight, nor adventure. You have to be willing to step out. Not every risk will pan out, or turn out how you hoped, but each one will always offer lessons and growth. You love learning, and taking risks is a great way to do that and to experience new things.
Lead with love and do your best. That does not mean you always have to “be nice” and get straight A’s.
That means, treat YOURSELF and the people you interact with, with love, respect and compassion. If they don’t treat you that way, give grace, maybe a second chance, because everyone is transitioning and people make mistakes, and then move on from them if they continue to act without care because you aren’t a doormat. Stand up for what you believe in, while understanding that others may not be on the same page.
 It means do your best by trying hard and giving yourself the appropriate amount of time and support. Trying to take your time and give things your attention. Practice to get more skilled, study to be sure you know the material, and give it your best shot.
Grow your gifts. Whatever those things are that light you up inside. That keep you wanting to learn more and always curious. The experiences that fill you up, bring you peace, make you feel more alive. Feed those, and share those. Keep us in the loop on what those things are so we can help you find opportunities to do them.
I think that covers it for now. I know these next couple of years will be filled with ups and downs. We will ride the waves together, as a family.
You are an amazing person, truly. We are blessed to be living this life with you. 
All my love, every second of every day,  Mom  




Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Journey Continues

This post is a more detailed version of my OCD story, which I have shared previously. This post contains much more vivid recall of some of the intrusive thoughts that I've dealt with, in particular, those in the wheelhouse of HOCD and specifically those that came on after becoming a mom.

The journey continues....


It started when I was six years old. I constantly checked for my own heartbeat. I can’t tell you what I was thinking then, what obsessions were playing like a broken record in my mind. All I remember is feeling like I needed to make sure my heart was beating. I’d bring my shaky little hand to my chest and hold it there, waiting, eyes wide, until I was sure my heart was doing what it was supposed to, and I would continue living. I remember my mom saying, “honey your heart is beating, you wouldn’t be breathing if it wasn’t”.

When I was about twelve I had to cough and flick my fingers. It’s like I was expelling the bad juju. I had to forcefully breathe it out and away. I can remember sitting in my living room, looking out the window coughing and flicking. I usually had to look outside when doing it, so I could direct the juju out there somewhere and not into whatever space I was in where it could be re-inhaled.

There were obsessions about the devil possessing me.

There were obsessions about being gay, when I was barely even old enough to know what that meant.

I would hold my breath around certain people that gave me weird vibes.

I avoided certain rooms in our house because they were cursed.

I’ve obsessed over my food being poisoned or contaminated.

There were times in which if I touched something with one hand, I had to touch it with the other, so I could feel balanced.

I compulsively prayed. Over and over the same prayers from childhood. Not offering any solace, only making noise in my mind and giving me a moments reprieve from the fear.

I was somehow able to keep any outward compulsions mostly sequestered to home or in the car. I didn’t perform them at school or where anyone else, besides my family would see me. The majority of my compulsions were, and still are, mental, so most people would never know the way my own mind tormented me. They would never imagine the pure terror that coursed through my veins throughout most days. Besides being a little quirky, I probably seemed like a pretty average kid. Of course, my parents knew. My mom struggled with OCD herself growing up and knew right away what was happening with her little girl. She tried to find help, reaching out to the pediatrician, but in the 80’s there was not a lot of support for kids with OCD. The doctor gave me pills to help my anxious tummy and told me I was too young to be worrying so much.

I don’t remember having any real specific obsessions in high school. OCD, as I had known it, had taken a back seat. Anxiety and panic took the lead when I was about 16 years old. It came and went throughout high school, until one night when I was about 20. I was living with my boyfriend (now husband) at the time. We were in bed, when suddenly I had the most vivid thought of stabbing him through the chest. I broke out into a cold sweat. I shook with fear, and was terrified to move, because if I moved, I might move right on to the kitchen to grab the knife. When I was able to get myself out of the bed I called my mom. I could always count on my mom. I told her what was happening. I don’t remember the details, but she talked me down somehow. Again, I was a master of disguise, completely composing my outward appearance. The man I lived with didn’t even know I was a soon to be ax murderer. Some months, or years later, I found a therapist.

I had been to therapy before that. Mostly talk therapy, for the anxiety, but had never seen an actual psychiatrist until somewhere around 23 years old. God, I can remember that appointment so well. I hold a special place in my heart for that doctor. I went into his office, sure he was going to tell me I was a threat to society, a sociopath killer about to be unleashed at any second. I knew I had to be honest and tell him everything. He made it easy. He had such a warm presence. When I was done spilling my guts and explaining how I was certain I was on the verge of completely loosing my sanity, he looked at me with such compassion and certainty in his eyes. “You have OCD. A mild to moderate case. You are not crazy, and you are not dangerous.” Just thinking of it now, 2 decades later, still fills me with relief. It had a name. It was a real thing. The doctor had no question on the diagnosis. Of course, that didn’t leave me completely convinced, because OCD is the “doubting disease”. “What if he’s wrong? What if I’m the first case…the first one who actually does it, who acts out their obsession? Maybe he doesn’t see the whole picture and I’m really a dangerous killer?” He explained the way OCD works. He defined obsessions and compulsions for me. He explained treatment options. He emphatically insisted OCD was not who I was. In fact, very opposite of who I was at the core of my being. He told me that we would begin ERP and medication. He compared OCD to diabetes, saying just as diabetic needs to take medication and care form themselves with diet and exercise, so would I. That with therapy, medication and self-care, I should find significant relief.


And I did. It took time. There was probably a year or so in which holding knives or cutting things panicked me. Many years in which I adamantly avoided the news and violent movies. But it got better, little by little. I plowed through, cut chicken even though it petrified me and, although it often sent me into a tail spin, even let myself be exposed to the terrible nightly news. For years following, I was nearly free of OCD. Or at least, when obsessions came, I was mostly able to recognize, relabel them, and refocus. I got married, had a career in banking and moved on. Then I got pregnant. At the time I was on Paxil, so immediately started weaning. I lasted almost the whole pregnancy. I began struggling again towards my last month (replaying past guilt inducing events over and over like a broken movie film in my mind) and the OBGYN started a very low dose of Zoloft. I had the baby, and post-partum OCD hit like a bullet train.

The first week or so home with the baby, I don’t necessarily recall intrusive thoughts, just intense consuming anxiety. I was not able to eat and constantly shaking. I was still able to care for him but looking back I’m not sure how I did.  It didn’t take long for OCD to pick a new obsession, and really it wasn’t new. The theme was the same thing I struggled against for years, now it just had a new target. The obsessions, of course, centered around my sweet new bundle of joy. More specifically, on throwing my precious baby against the wall and killing him. I have a vivid imagination which enables these types of intrusive thoughts to be very realistic and detailed. I saw every millisecond in slow motion. I’m leaning over my beautiful boy as he lay on his changing table looking up into my face. I go to pick him up, like I always do. Then, instead of holding him to my chest and kissing his head, I throw him, with all my strength, against the far wall. His arms and legs flail. He looks at me, wide eyed. His cry pierces my heart. I hear his head hit the hard-flat surface and see the blood on the light blue wall as his quiet body falls to the floor. My body would instantly be inundated with cortisol. My breath became shallow and sweat poured from me in sheets.

It’s difficult to remember this time with accuracy. I can’t recollect what behaviors I performed to counteract the intrusive thoughts, other than falling back into compulsive praying and reciting certain phrases in my mind on a loop ("it's alright, it's okay"). I remember some lovely moments of rocking him to sleep while singing to him. Looking into his angel face, nuzzling into his neck. I think it was just all mixed together. Pleasure and pain, moment to moment. But I was lucky in a sense. OCD was not new to me. Although I was completely overwhelmed and sickened by it, I knew what it was. I recognized this bully, even in it’s new mask.

 My trusty old therapist who began my OCD recovery was not available, but his office recommended another. I made an appointment and met another angel and we got to work. At this point I was a pissed off mamma bear. I was completely terrified, yes absolutely, but I was not going to let myself go down this pit. I was going to fight this with every ounce of my being, because now it was for my baby. I needed to be a strong and healthy mommy, and I knew that meant ERP. The new doctor and I got down to the nitty gritty immediately. I was habituating the obsessions by purposefully and vividly bringing on the images that filled me with panic. I was doing so many times each day. I was singing about killing my baby as I took my bath, letting the fear flood my body and the tears run down my face. As we strolled down the sidewalk on our daily walk I told myself out loud, today was the day, today I was going to kill him.  It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever EVER done.  And it worked. The obsession lost its power within a month or two. It no longer paralyzed me. The intrusive thoughts were not gone. They still popped in, but the fear associated with them, the worry that these thoughts meant something, was completely minimized.

That was 12 years ago. I stayed on Zoloft and continued to use “my tools” when things came up.
About 4 years ago I became a passionate yoga student. Followed by practicing meditation, then becoming a Reiki practitioner and teaching yoga. Almost a year ago I went off the medication, feeling I had the tools I needed to do this without the pills. I have grown so much since the beginning of my journey. I have learned breathing practices and mindfulness. I have delved into non-attachment, acceptance and the subtle energy body. I have essential oils and herbal remedies……

And…..several months ago I reintroduced Zoloft. I have grown, and I do have amazing tools and beautiful practices that have opened a whole new way of seeing the world and the people living in it…and I STILL HAVE OCD. My old friend, harm obsessions, came back to remind me of that. Gosh, I swear, you’d think OCD would come up with some new material after decades. It’s sneaky though. Even if the theme of the thoughts is the same (harming a loved one) the specifics will be slightly different. Just enough to create the rise of panic OCD feeds off of. Different enough to enable the worry that this thought is different, therefore a new manifestation of the truly hidden desire to kill those closest to me. Tricky tricky.  I habituated these old but new obsessions immediately. I, mostly, stole their thunder. I felt like sh*@ while doing it, but I did it anyway. And it gifted me with the opportunity to reexamine my self-care, and my beliefs. It allowed me to practice giving myself grace that I would not have otherwise known was lacking.

Grace because...when I began feeling like maybe it was best to go back to having the medication as part of my self-care potpourri, I struggled. I overthought it. I analyzed and investigated. I pros and con-ed it to death. I reread vast amounts of information on OCD, what causes it and what treatments are most successful. Of course, this in itself was compulsive.

Ultimately, I was feeling beaten. I was looking at this as a failed attempt to live without the support that medication brings. I was taking the easy way out. I was blocking my path to enlightenment by adding this substance back into my body, into my life. I was admitting defeat, admitting that I didn’t have the mental or spiritual strength to do the work, to walk the path I’ve been given.

Oh, how we beat ourselves up. How we talk down to ourselves. How we twist our own reality. We sometimes expect so much more out of ourselves then we do anyone else. If my friend were in the position I am in, I know what I’d say. I’d support them. I’d tell them “you are a warrior, not broken but completely perfect in your imperfection.” That taking medication does not make them weak. It does not block their truest potential but actually allows it and supports it. That caring for themselves the best that they can, whatever that means, is the right thing to do.

So, I’m taking own advice. I’ve reintroduced medication. I’m continuing with my yoga, Reiki and meditation practice. I’m absolutely using ERP, and mindfulness. I'm allowing for various paths and supports to continue healing. And I’m remembering….

I am a warrior. I am not broken but completely perfect in my imperfection. I am just as I was meant to be. OCD and all.

I share this story with hope in my heart, that it will serve someone. That my story will shed light on OCD, in it’s various forms, for those who are unfamiliar with the disorder. And mainly, for other sufferers. New moms who are being tormented by terrifying intrusive thoughts and all-consuming anxiety. New moms who are afraid they will hurt their babies. Who only want to be the best parent that they can be but are battling for their lives in secret. You are not alone. This pain, this fiend has a name. And it’s not yours. It’s OCD. There is help and there is hope. Don’t hide in shame. Come into the light. There are lots of us here.



Monday, June 11, 2018

What Do You Believe About Yourself?

As adults, we have had lots and lots of years to form our belief systems. We have so many, even core beliefs, that we are unaware of, and yet our beliefs act as our subconscious autopilot.

Most of our core beliefs are formed when we are children. Our family dynamic, our earliest friendships, our primary school experiences, and for some, trauma, are the instigators to our deeply held beliefs about the world around us, and especially about who we are.

As children we internalize what we see, believe what we are told, and begin assigning meaning to things as a result, including our own strengths and weaknesses. We begin to differentiate between what we believe is good or bad. We begin to decide what we find beautiful and what we see as ugly. What is appropriate and inappropriate. What is worthy and unworthy. We begin to label things and people based on these new beliefs. We begin to label ourselves too.

Our beliefs affect out behavior, our thoughts and our emotions. They dictate our decisions and our responses.

Beliefs can be empowering or they can be limiting. They can build us up and invoke positivity, or the can weigh heavy on your shoulders, making us feel incapable or broken. Beliefs can enable us to share acceptance and compassion, or they can demand we seclude and judge.

Have you ever taken any time to examine your beliefs?  I know that sounds daunting! I mean there are so many, so many. But as with everything, we can start small, start where we are, and just grow from there.

I find catching my own self talk, a good clue into some of my long held core beliefs about myself. We say things to ourselves all day long. When something doesn't go the way we want it to. When something goes smashingly! When we make a mistake. When we are stuck in traffic. When we yell at our kids. When we finish a project. When we walk by the homeless man on the way to lunch. All day, all the time, we are talking to ourselves. I talk to myself out loud often too... at my desk , in the car, but that's another story :)

Becoming aware of that automatic self talk can be a huge light onto your hiding beliefs. And once you shine the light on them, guess what?! You get to decide...is this belief TRUE? Just because I believe this does not mean it's accurate. Or, even if it were true at some previous point, is it still? Is this belief building me up and pointing my in a positive direction? Is it helping me to feel strong and feel worthy? Or is this belief making me see myself as weak or unlovable? Is this belief enabling connection with other people? Allowing me to see them and love them? Or is it pushing me to create distance and judgment?

We get to decide you guys. We get to choose what we want to believe about our world, ourselves and each other. Our beliefs can and will change, as we grow and change. Look at your should and always and never statements and hold them to the light. It's not easy peasy, especially the older we get, but it's work worth doing.

Especially now, with so much attention on mental health, and for good reason, opinions are flying around. Statistics being quoted. Our beliefs rearing their heads and hopefully allowing support of ourselves and others, but possibly building walls instead. Our hearts affect our minds, our minds affect our bodies, our souls are always true and round and round it goes.

And if I may be so bold.......

Believe that you are strong
Believe that you are healthy
Believe that you are beautiful
Believe that you are worthy of every good thing
Believe that you are needed
Believe that you are loved
Believe that you make a difference
Believe that we are all connected
Believe that you are compassionate
Believe that there is always hope












Thursday, June 7, 2018

So Where Have I Been?


It's been a long time since I've written and posted. When I first started this blog everything was pouring out at high velocity. It was like a dam broke and all I could do was write like my fingers were on fire. Last year it slowed down. When I started the blog, I would write and post immediately. No over thinking, no triple checking, just sending the message out trusting it would reach whoever needed to read it.

Looking back at the last year I can see some of what contributed to the dampening of the flow.

My yoga practice became inconsistent. Where the years previous I was engaging at least several times a week in some physical practice (including one on one time with a teacher), and likely every day in some kind of meditation or even just quiet time, I began to allow the busyness to invade. I was not committed to keeping time on the schedule designated to a yoga class or time in the healing hut. I found myself falling back to putting everyone else's "needs" in front of my yoga time. For example, where as before, I would let my man tribe fend for themselves for dinner or order a pizza if I had a class scheduled, I started to feel like I needed to prepare dinner before I left, which inevitably led to me being late, or no longer motivated to go. I began to have "too much going on" to squeeze it in. Instead of it being the highlight of my day as it used to be, I designated it as another thing I had to do. I knew in my heart that this was false, but somehow continued to allow myself to be detoured. Yoga opens me in ways nothing else has. Allows for truth, creativity, compassion and connection to flow unhindered. Lifts the veil and allows me to see me and trust my purpose. It really has played a huge part in my realizing why I am here in this life, this time.

I quit taking the medication that supports me in OCD/anxiety management. I decided I did not need this type of support any longer. That I had built up enough tools to manage these things myself. That I had done enough therapy (specifically cbt/erp), and now had mindfulness tools to add, and medication was no longer necessary. I had not really struggled with symptoms for quite a long time (years really) and figured it would be smooth sailing. I did not notice any substantial recurrence of symptoms for almost a year. Although now I can see there were ways that it was creeping in, even before it made it's presence very known, which of course it did. I began writing and stopping. Questioning whether what I was writing made sense. If it would offend anyone. If it really meant anything or even mattered. I began thinking things like "Who do you think you are? You aren't an expert in mindfulness, yoga, self help...you aren't a trained writer...you didn't even finish college. What is the point in this? Am I making a fool of myself?" For years I would write, and I would post and share and felt like I was doing a part of what I am here to do. No matter if I was an "official writer", no matter if I was some kind of "expert" with street cred. and titles and certificates. But suddenly I had drafts on my blog that never got finished and never got posted.

I wasn't spending as much time in nature. Partly due to season changes. I am one of those people that is pretty much always cold, unless I'm in the sun, and fall and winter are not warm times. Okay, I live on the central coast of California you guys. It's never THAT cold. It doesn't snow, and barely rains. But it's still cold to me (I am admittedly a complete wimp when it comes to being cold). The sun shines less and the days are shorter. It definitely effects my outside time, which is truly a critical part of staying awake and connected to source, which basically feeds creativity and purpose. Without the beautiful medicine nature has to offer being ingested on a regular basis, we dry up. Our eyes, which once spotted beauty at each turn, become less attuned to picking out the little bits of magic that can be found anywhere.

I wasn't "feeling" creative. Ideas weren't keeping me up at night, or coming to me in bursts throughout the day like they were previously. I wasn't playing with paint or wood or pretend. I had lost my juju!

So now what? Here I am, writing today. Not really feeling completely fired up about it, but I am noticing a bit of the pull again. I'm going to post this, even though I am already questioning whether I should. That undeniable force that can't be ignored, is starting to stir. It's getting warmer, the weather is nice and the days are long. Being outside is easy and feels good. I am accepting the reminders that I receive on a daily basis (just looked over and saw 11:11 as I do regularly) and allowing them to guide me, once again, to my path. I'm heading to a yummy yin yoga class tonight and am clearing the energy in my healing hut this weekend. About 4 months ago I decided to go back on medication. I experienced a nice jolt in the form of a good relapse, which did a couple of things for me. One, reminded me that OCD and anxiety, although not always in the forefront, will likely always be there. Reminded me that part of my purpose is to speak out about that struggle and to bring light and encouragement to others. That relapse enabled me to sharpen my tools, to continue to educate myself on the disorders and the multitude of ways that I have to manage them. It brought about a new acceptance. I am able to use the mindfulness I've learned to allow intrusive thoughts and uncomfortable feeling in a way I was never able to do before.

It's all a process, and not a linear one. We ebb and flow. We will have times of health and happiness, and times of real challenge be it physical, mental or otherwise. We will have seasons of truly living our magic and being the light we are meant to be, and times when our light is dimmed and we struggle to know our purpose, or maybe to even find joy. We change. What we are here to do may change, and that is perfect. The things we find delight in will change. We may face illness. We may find ourselves suddenly living the dream, whatever that is. There will be times of exuberance and times of despair. Through all the times, let there be hope and let there be gratitude. Let there be knowing, that it is all part of our soul's growth and education.

I hope this finds you in a good place. And if right now, the day doesn't look so bright and you feel down, know that tomorrow is a new day. And not only that, but that you are here for a very important reason. You have something inside that is needed and is to be treasured and is to be shared. Please reach out if you need help finding it.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Light, Please


"Shine your light!" I say it often, to myself and to my kids. It's usually the last thing I say to them in the morning, after I love you, as they swing open the car doors to race to the school playground.

I consider it part of my life purpose, to shine my light, and to remind you to shine yours. Every light, just like every being, is completely unique. Your light is different then my light. Brighter, softer, a different color, serves a different purpose. Not better, but different. Your light offers something that mine doesn't, and I need to see what that is. Your light offers growth and truth for me, as mine does for you.

Light can be understood in many ways. Just look up light on dictionary.com and you'll find a page of various definitions, nouns, adjectives, verbs. As I speak of light, I refer to something along the lines of....

Noun:
the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible

Now, I know I'm a bit of a logophile and find excitement in words, but I love this definition. Light makes things visible. Basically we help each other see by shining our lights. How cool is that? I think it's pretty magical.

What does shining your light mean? How do you do it? Is there a hidden switch somewhere that you were not aware of? Can every person shine their light? What if I don't wanna shine my light? What if I wanna keep my light to myself. I'm not even sure I have a light.

We all have a light. Everyone of us. It never ever dies. It may go dim. It may struggle to shine. It may scare you to let it be seen. Maybe it's a funky and fantastic tie dye rainbow swirl and you are convinced there is something wrong with it. There is not. Your light is perfect. If you aren't ready to shine your light, that's okay. At least allow yourself to recognize it. Acknowledge it's presence. The more you acquaint yourself with your light, the more likely you are to begin to share it.

When I think of shining my light, I consider the why. I think, although the meta purpose for all of us is to walk each other through this earthly plane, sharing personal truth and offering support... opening eyes to things that may have never been seen, I believe each of us has a smaller more intimate place in that big picture.

When I shine my light I am authentic. I am ME. I do not filter myself, nor diffuse myself. I allow my personal truth to be known. My human struggles and my soul's desires. I puke my guts into a blog post and share it with you. I do not play small, instead allowing myself to fill the space if it's supposed to. I, for that time, live in my power, knowing my power offers you power. It offers you an opportunity to see something you may not have seen before. Most importantly when I shine my light, it invites you to shine your light. Like one candle lighting another. I gently bend to you, flame burning, wax melting and offer you ignition.

Sometimes I shine my light by offering comfort. By holding space for another and allowing them to just be. Giving them time to connect with their own light, maybe long since forgotten, or becoming aware of what might be blocking their light from shining.

Other times I shine my light by being silly. By encouraging us to laugh at ourselves. By telling personal stories with cuss words, extreme hand gestures and award winning facial expressions. It's a thing.

So maybe take a minute today. Think about your light. Visualize it inside of you and surrounding you. See it's color. See it's breadth. Feel whatever feels it brings on. Then ponder on how you share it. What are you doing when it shines most true? Do more of that. We need you to help us see.

xoxo









Monday, February 5, 2018

The Self-Care Mash Up - Pills to Savasana


Self Care. It's become a bit of a buzz word I guess, but seriously, I think it's worthy of the buzz. I imagine some of the responses when people hear self care mentioned probably go something like this....

"Oh geez, people, come on. Quit worrying so much about whoo whoo self care and just sack up already."

"Self care? Who has time for self care. I work, and have kids, and don't have enough hours in my day as it is. I'm lucky if I get the gym twice a week"

" Does wine count as self care?"

"I'm all about self care! Meditation, yoga, plant medicine and all natural EVERYTHING all the time!"

It can be tricky, finding a version of self care that works for you, and understanding that it can and will change.

Self-care can be defined as any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated.

Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.

Self-care is “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.”

As with most things, I have found giving grace in this area is the key. Grace allows for balance. Because honestly, it's easy to get wrapped up in all or nothing thinking.

I've kind of always been one of those people who has friends in various circles. I find different points of view intriguing, and like to give and take. Sharing ideas, beliefs, ways of doing things that differ, that get you thinking and exploring, and then deciding which of those you can add into your potpourri, and hopefully offering something that someone else can add to theirs. I do believe we are all different for a blessed reason, and no one way is right for everyone.

I am a student and teacher of yoga. I meditate and share guided meditation with my yoga classes in most instances. I have been attuned to Reiki, share Reiki and have attuned others to Reiki. Being part of this circle of gorgeous souls, has taught me so very much. I have become open to parts of myself I really wasn't sure existed, and have grown in my capacity to give and receive love and compassion, and my ability to train my breath, thoughts and reactions exponentially.

I have found that some in this "circle" of wellness can be anti-western medicine at all costs, leaving it ostracized from their self care regimen. Medication may be considered poison and likely blocking you from reaching your fullest potential. Plants, breath, self inquiry and awareness, essential oils, juicing and supplements are IT. All you need to live a healthy, happy, authentic life.  I love all of those things, but do not believe they are the only way.

 I hold faith close to my heart and have a treasured relationship with God. The Creator loves us unconditionally, as we are and as we can be, and every single one of us has God's love. No matter your religion, no matter your sexual preference, no matter if you read the bible, the Torah , the Qu'ran or any sacred text at all. Even whether or not you believe in the One.

I have found that some in the "circle" of spirituality can put so much emphasis on religion that they neglect to see the other beautiful options of self care available. So much fear of good versus evil, causes them to try to pray away their trouble, which is likely caused (in their minds) by sin or the devil. They are often afraid of "letting things in" or "letting their guard down", which unfortunately can be very limiting for your self care options.

I've done quite a bit of self study in terms of the science of the brain and mind, as well as mind body connection. I'm not a trained professional. I am not a doctor. I've been to see a few though (as have most of us), doctors for my physical health as well as my mental health. I've participated in therapy, and even took part in a study through John Hopkins on the role genetics plays in OCD.

I have found some in this "circle" of science find it hard to believe in anything without having experienced it themselves and/or cold hard facts. Alternative therapies aren't given much support, not often recommended and kind of looked as..."sure try it, it can't hurt, but don't expect it to actually work." Sometimes they want to throw medication at everything and that is scary.

I do see this changing, which I think is very exciting. I recognize that many more alternative therapies are being covered by health insurance companies, and offered in hospitals as supportive/in-tandem options. This very much plays into my potpourri theory.

As you read this please know, I am not trying to create a separation between these some and the rest. I believe with my whole heart that we are one. I am pointing these things out to say, not everyone (inside or outside of your circle) is going to support your self care plan, and that is absolutely okay. Doctors may recommend things that don't ring true for you. You can say no. Friends may not agree with your choices. That is their prerogative and it really doesn't matter.  The only one that needs to believe in your plan is you. That's were the potpourri comes in......

I recently posted something on Instagram about prayer. I described my prayer life, and the potpourri I have created, that serves me well. I look at self care the same way. I love potpourri you guys! I little bit of this and a little bit of that. Exactly what is right for you, and only you. I can often be overheard saying, "take it with a grain of salt'. What I mean by that is... read that book that everyone is recommending....try that class that your friend guarantees will make you feel great....learn the stuff. And as you do, listen to yourself. Take the parts of that book, or class, or whatever that work for you and leave what doesn't. You don't need 100% buy in all the time.

My self care potpourri changes occasionally, but the main ingredients usually stay pretty true. I shoot for balance in these areas, sometimes I achieve it, sometimes I don't. All about balance and grace y'all!

I allow western and eastern and alternative therapies and medications to work together for my mind and body (that has included an anti-anxiety med. in the past, and may again someday in the future because that works for me, and there is no shame in my game).

 I exercise mostly by staying active in things I enjoy doing like hiking with my family, yoga, and even sometimes working out (I don't really enjoy that last one very much, but as I get older I see the benefits and feel it is worthy of a place in my potpourri).

I am conscious about what I eat (most of the time). I enjoy food and like to keep it nourishing. I don't eat animals or dairy. I juice... sometimes.

I pray the way I want to (see the aforementioned IG post) and I meditate.

I write and take pictures, re purpose things and paint rocks with my boys to feed my creativity.

I allow myself to rock out to loud music and dance with the kids, and in my car, and whenever it feels like a good time.

I support others, through sharing yoga, Reiki and holding space, through volunteering at my kids school and by being there for my loved ones. You may not see that one as self care but I do. Giving to others is a beautiful and unique way to give to ourselves and fills a very special place. Again balance is key. Can't support others without supporting ourselves; can't pour from an empty vessel, all that jazz.

Maybe take a few minutes today to ponder your self care potpourri. Have you been allowing others' ideas and beliefs to limit what you allow yourself access to? Have you been stuck in the scenario of no time for me? Do you sometimes feel defeated before you even start? Remember, it doesn't have to be all or nothing guys. It doesn't have to be a perfect plan, and it doesn't have to be right for anyone but you.

Take care of you, whatever that means and however feels rights. You know best.

So much love.
xoxo





Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Weight on Our Shoulders

This morning, is one of those mornings already. One of those mornings in which I feel the weight of responsibility heavy on my shoulders and tight in my chest. I'm weepy and stressed and I've been awake for an hour. Today is Wednesday. On Wednesday I don't go into the office. The boys have a short day at school, so I have about 4.5 hours of the morning to myself. I always intend to use this weekly allowance as "me time". Ya know, yoga, maybe a hike, or read a book in the sun, just some time for me to breathe and center. Because truly, a happy and healthy mamma, makes for a happier and healthier family. That happens about a third of the time.

We just wrapped up a several week break from school and work. This is our first week back to the regularly scheduled program. So this Wednesday, today, I have a list a mile long. Phone calls that need to be made, stores I need to go to so I can feed my people and my pets, some bills to pay, you know the drill. And you know what friends? It just feels like a lot.

I feel, this morning, like I am responsible for EVERYTHING. And I'm sharing this with you, because I know you've felt it too.

Grocery Shopping (which entails several stores because everyone needs something special) This is my least favorite chore of all chores. I may have mentioned that before.

Cleaning up the house

Breathing

Scheduling appointments

Calling on accounts because we can't remember user names and passwords

Breathing

Backing up technology

Giving the damn dogs their flee medicine

Breathing

Pick up the kids

After school crossfit and homework

Breathing

Homework

Dinner

All the stufffffff

Breathing

I want to shout....I can't do everything! I can't remember every one's everything!

Then as the shouting subsides, a little quieter I realize, ... I don't want to do it all.

And now, pours forth the real feels, the wordless and soundless and buried......I sometimes feel like I'm drowning in other peoples expectations of all that I am supposed to do and keep track of.....I'm sorry I am not always able to do it all.....I feel like a failure..... sometimes I want to hide away where no one can expect me to get things for them, know the answer to every question, remember every story and request, be the strong and positive cheerleader and make everything better. Tears. Anger. Why doesn't he help more? Why do I have to feel the weight of all of this? Why can't he see how much this all is? Guilt. Because how blessed I am to have this family and these things and money and a home and food. And how can I complain and bitch and moan while people an hour away are loosing homes and LIVES to natural disaster? Worry. Tension. Emotions battling for the most attention. Release.

Deep breaths now. Lots of deep slow breaths.

Forgiveness now. Because I am human. They are human.

Gratitude now. I am truly honored to be their mom, and happy to be his wife. Because we are alive. Because I get to think and feel these things and then choose a new way to think and feel.

Feeling more centered now. Grounding. Breathing. Oh breath, how I love thee.

Moving now. Away from the keyboard. Off to get dressed and get on with my day. With a little less weight on my shoulders and a bit more pep in my step. <3