Living Forward

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These guys! I think they’re both just so great. 

I was reflecting with some friends yesterday that just before Christmas last year (when I was pregnant with Jonah and didn’t yet know), I was touching bottom. My family had dispersed to other celebrations and I was facing the holiday alone for the first time. I wondered how I could feel so solitary at 35 years old and was sitting quite ungracefully in all my abandonment issues. 

Fast forward to this year’s Christmas dinner - we had so many people around our table that I feared we’d run out of space. 

How can so much change in one year? Why does it get so dark right before everything blooms open again? Why can’t I seem to remember this truth when I’m going through the hard moments? 

I share this because so many of us are in a collective dark moment right now. January is full of grey fog, long nights, and lowered resiliency. It can feel so harsh and absolute. We doubt ourselves and begin to lose hope. And then suddenly, spring comes and it’s hard to recall dark times. 

There’s a saying in recovery - “Don’t quit before the miracle.” - that can help us navigate the void of these deep transitions. 

We need to just keep going, just keep practicing tiny bits of warming self-care, just keep our hearts a crack open. Self-care will look different right now. Our best efforts are enough. 

We - all we’ve been and all we are just about to become - are absolutely enough. 

My New Years State Of Mind

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Ok, I probably spent a little too much time playing with FB filters over the break, but hey, fun is fun. 

Ok, so the Holidaze are over! Whew. It was a mostly joyful season here as we celebrated for the first time together. We landed in Asheville for the new year, visiting the grandmas (did you know that my mom lives there and Micah’s Mom is moving there this fall? It’s another crazy twist of fate.) 

We spent New Year’s Day driving back to DC. My job was to sit in back and crinkle plastic bags to calm the babe and Micah’s job was to navigate the frigid highways. Jonah just had to what he needed to do. Somehow we made it home and tumbled into bed at midnight, which we had not even seen the night before. 

The next day, we had to put our house back together - unpacking, laundry, shopping - and get Micah ready to go back to work today. I also wanted to do 25 things to get ready for the Self Care 101 launch on Sunday and Jonah wants to be carried with my full attention upon him all the time. 

It all felt like so much and I was putting extra pressure on myself to make sure it all happened. Predictably, I collapsed into tears by evening. 

After crying into Micah’s shoulder for a while, I called a good friend. “You sound exhausted,” she said. “I don’t feel tired,” I started. Then I checked in with myself. “Oh yeah, I’m really tired.” I was moving so fast I had forgotten to feel. 

I made the decision to close my laptop and take a bath with candles. When I emerged, Micah had gotten Jonah to take a nap and we ate instant pot kitchari (soothing Ayurvedic porridge) while watching that darling British baking show. 

Last night, I slept deeply and this morning I feel softer about everything. Sure, there are piles of laundry on the floor and many emails to be answered. But Jonah is snoozing on my belly and I have a moment to write this and I think everything is going to be ok, maybe even great, in this new year.

The Power of Acceptance: Stop Resisting

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Oh, it’s been the best and worst week. The big wins were hosting a big Christmas dinner for both families (I felt so very adult) and my brother and his girlfriend getting engaged (yay guys!). 

The harder part was taking care of Poncho. My ex (Poncho’s human father) has pretty much taken over his care since Jonah was born. I thought our crowded house during the holiday would be the perfect way to care for him. 

I was wrong. Poncho was so unsettled the whole time. Despite a few long walks, many people petting him and lots of treats, he stayed up both nights barking at phantoms and pawing at us while we tried to sleep. 

I could feel him asking me why we couldn’t go back to our normal life when it was just me and him. It was so sad to have to tell him “no” continually. I can’t play because I’m nursing the baby. I can’t pet you because I’m changing him. I can’t make things go back to the way they were. 

I was exhausted both physically and emotionally by how to make him feel better and was starting to realize that I just couldn’t. 

So when, on Christmas night, my aunt offered to take him until my ex got back, I knew I had to say “yes.” As I got his food together, I really broke down. It’s so hard to admit that I just can’t do it right now. He needs more attention and care than I can give him and I think we both just have to be heartbroken about that. 

I’m lucky that he has a great home with my ex and a superstar team of people to dog-sit for him. Still, I want to take it all with me. I don’t want to look at the losses that come along with the immensely joyful gains of this past year. 

But if I don’t, I’m not really living life in an intact way. My wholeness comes from looking straight at the heartbreak and holding it as tenderly as I hold my sweet baby. It’s not easy, but I know I won’t be the kind of mother (or human being) I wish to be unless I do. 

So, as we step into 2018, I’m counting them all: the beautiful births, the tragedies that hit us all and the immense gift of being alive.

Wednesday Missive: What To Do When Caring Hurts

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Hello Love, 

Congratulations on making it through another week!  This time of year is not for the faint of heart or delicate in constitution.  Dressing up for all those parties, digesting a small mountain of cookies and wrapping so many gifts - it adds up to a lot of work!

Luckily, self-care is here to hold us along the way. This is why I’ve been creating a special winter series on Self-Care For The “Holidaze.” Each week, I’m offering real self-care to help you meet the excesses of the holiday (plus a gentle nudge toward Self Care 101, my transformational self-care support circle that starts on January 7th).

This week, I want to talk about a hard one: caring too much for the people around you.  It’s challenging because it comes from the place inside of you that wants everyone to be happy. Concern about others is a beautiful instinct. The world needs more of it in many ways.

However, when we don’t set boundaries around our personal caring, it can quickly make us feel crazy.

Caring too much is the craziness of staying up all night worrying about our mother’s financial well-being or being consumed with fears over our brother’s addiction. It can be as overt as draining our bank account to continually bail out a friend, or as subtle as suggesting better self-care tips to your partner a few times a week.

We can differentiate caring too much from helpful concern. Helpful concern is when someone asks for our help and we give it to them in a boundaried way. Acting from this kind of concern leaves us feeling energized and usually ready to give more.

In contrast, caring too much makes us feel ineffective.  When you’re in this state, people brush off your repeated attempts to help them, or they take advantage of your generosity without making any kind of change. Despite our best intentions to save everyone around us, we leave the situation feeling, once again, like we have been misunderstood and underappreciated.

Trust me, I know how challenging it is to let go of other people’s issues and blockages, especially when it seems like they are hurting themselves.  It’s excruciating to stand by and watch someone we care about engage in self-destructive behavior.  I’ve gone through it a few times in my life and it feels like my heart is being ripped out each time.

For all of us out there whose over-caring is causing pain, I offer the following self-love script to hopefully bring relief.  Use it during the holidays when you’re watching dysfunctional self-care patterns play out in your family or other communities.

Self-Love Script:

“Ok, I am watching my loved ones struggle right now.  It’s really hard to see this because I care about them so dang much.  I can so easily see how much better their lives would be if only they’d make healthier choices for themselves.  However, as much as I want them to take my helpful advice, I know from experience that they won’t.  People have to be ready to change before they take action, and I know they aren’t quite ready. I remember back when I wasn’t quite ready to change. In one sense I knew all the things I was supposed to do, but I just couldn’t make myself do them.  I think I had to suffer a bit more before I could really learn for myself what I needed to do.  Perhaps that’s what my struggling loved ones are doing as well.  There might be some wisdom to their actions.  And, even if they do really hurt themselves with their self-destructive behavior, there isn’t anything I can do for them other than tell them I am here for them but won’t enable them.  And then I am free to take care of myself in awesome ways.  If they see my thriving in my life, I will offer them inspiration when and if they are ever ready to make a change.  I am allowed to change and grow and experience joy, even if I can’t take everyone I love with me.  If I decide to take care of myself anyway, I may experience a lot of fear and grief around leaving my loved ones behind.  This is normal and okay.  In these moments I can practice more self-care.  I can reach out to others and share my feelings and go to bed early and eat nourishing foods.  This is the way I can most serve myself and my loved ones and, ultimately, the world.”

Self Care 101 Nudge

Do you make yourself crazy trying to save everyone around you?  Do you habitually put others’ dramas ahead of your self-care?  Is it finally time to put yourself first?

Caring too much for others can ultimately drag us down, especially if we don’t balance our giving tendences with a healthy dose of self-care. When we’ve been focused on others’  problems for so long - many of us since we were young children - it can be disorienting to put the attention back on ourselves.

This is where structure and support can work wonders. Self Care 101 is designed to show you the simple, joyful self-care routines to guide you through your days and weeks.  As a group, we get to the bottom of why self-care can feel so hard, and together, practice the worthiness we need to put ourselves first.

Want to learn more about practicing self-care in a supportive community?  Fill out this application to connect with me about joining the next course.   

***

Ok lovebug, that’s all for now!  I’ll be taking a pause next week to spend a quiet holiday with my family.  On January 3rd, I’ll be back with a very easy way to pick ourselves back up after the “holidaze” subsides and we once again need to face reality.

Until then, much appreciation for each of you!  I wish you a truly nourishing holiday!

With care,
Gracy

***

Self-Care Inspiration

1. The Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore is one of my favorite museums on this planet (this museum is also up there).  Micah, Jonah and I spent my birthday exploring their new Mystery exhibit and felt dazzled by the creative genius that ran through the building.

2. During the most chaotic moments of life, I always turn to these affirmation cards to give me a boost. Affirmations feel cheesy but they really, really work to transform negative gremlin thinking patterns. They are quite the stocking stuffer, in my opinion.

3. One tiny holiday tradition I’ve practiced over the years is to make these incredible shortbread cookies. They’re the right blend of sweet, salty and herbal.

4. When I need to soothe myself, this instrumental album works wonders. I think it would complement a twinkling Christmas tree or flickering menorah beautifully.

5. I’m so charmed by the Swedish practice of fika (enjoying a leisurely coffee, pastry and conversation with another person).  It’s left me pondering how such a little act of enjoyment can change so much, and how much we need to slow down in order to build relationships.  I remember all the great conversations I’ve had while on vacation and have often wondered how to bring the quality of connection into my daily life. Apparently, it has to do with good coffee, a sweet treat and a little space to do nothing but enjoy.

***

Self Care 101 Announcement 

Are you ready to change? Do you thrive in groups? Is this your moment?

If so, I want you to join the next round of Self Care 101.  Starting on January 7th, twenty amazing women will work together to create a lifestyle of self-care and a community of support.  I've taken over 200 women through this process and have seen the wonders it will work in your life.  Yes, even you who thinks that you'll never be able to change.  Let's get started. 

Do you want to learn more? Oh goodie!  Please fill out this application and we’ll talk, commitment-free, to see if it’s a good fit.

UPDATE: Seven amazing ladies have already signed up!  This round is going to be really good!

***

A Final Thought

When geometric diagrams and digits
Are no longer the keys to living things,
When people who go about singing and kissing
Know deeper things than the great scholars,
When society is returned once more
To unimprisoned life, and to the universe,
And when life and darkness mate
Once more and make something entirely transparent,
And people see in poems and fairy tales
The true history of the world,
Then our entire twisted nature will turn
And run when a single secret word is spoken.

-Novalis (1800) translated by Robert Bly

Wednesday Missive - "Holidaze" Spending" How To Find Balance

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Hello All, 

Wow, we’re in the thick of it right now, aren’t we?  The “holidaze” are in full swing and by now, we may be feeling the effects: We’re extra tired, overwhelmed to the core and generally feel like a great, big overextended mess.

Last week, I discussed how self-care can be an effective tool to combat holiday overscheduling (the week before that I talked about self-care and holiday overeating).  

This week, I’ve promised to discuss holiday overspending.  I know it’s something many of us struggle with and I know self-care can offer important relief.  But as I thought through how to break this one down, I’ve honestly been feeling a bit stuck.

The issue is that I err on the other side: I underspend during the holidays to the point where I can feel a bit Scrooge-like at times.  While I do my best to maintain some holiday cheer, internally, I scoff that we’ve made the beautiful solstice holidays about consumerism.  While others shop and shop, I secretly count the days until the season is over.  

My bank account may stay stable, but I know I often miss out on the merriment that comes with the season.  In a moment of extreme darkness, we come together to share generosity.  This is a lovely thing, and something I cherished as a child and see in the eyes of others as they carefully select their gifts. Yet, because I often choose to abstain, I don’t fully join into the uplifted energy of the holiday season.

Others out there find themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum. They love the gift-giving of the holidays.  They spend extra time, energy and money finding the perfect thing for everyone in their lives.  Sometimes their generosity is reciprocated and sometimes it isn’t (perhaps by someone like me!).

But by the new year, they often feel overdrawn in a few different ways.  Once again, they’ve gone overboard and given too much. Now, they have to face the coming year trying to dig themselves out of debt, whether financial or energetic or both.

Regardless of where we land on the gift-giving spectrum, we can all use a little extra loving self-care to help us find our appropriate balance of being generous and responsible.  If you’re struggling with either overspending or underspending, use this self-love script to come back to the center that helps you enjoy this season authentically.
 

Self-Love Script for “Holidaze” Spending:

"Ok, it’s this time of year again.  There’s a lot of pressure on me to buy presents.  The commercials are screaming that caring equals spending, and I just know my family has gone overboard on buying gifts again.  Let me take a deep breath and sit for a moment to figure out how I feel about giving gifts this holiday. In my heart, I know that giving lots of presents doesn’t make me a good person, and likewise, choosing to give fewer presents doesn’t make me a good person.  What I can do is trust in how much feels right to give.  Maybe I want to get my mom something amazing this year but will skip giving gifts to my coworkers.  Perhaps I want to go overboard with everyone and enjoy the feeling of it all.  Or I could skip all the presents and give a big gift to charity. Or maybe I want to do nothing at all and feel ok about it. The most important thing is to take all the shame out of my actions. I deserve self-love, whether or not I go into debt or seem stingy to others. The holidays are an interesting moment of time to observe my inclinations toward spending. When I meet these instincts with gentle awareness, I can learn about myself and find a way to be generous this holiday in a way that feels authentic to me."
 

Self Care 101 Nudge:

Do you have trouble setting limits around giving to others? Do you turn to online shopping when you’ve had a hard day? Or, do you worry that you’re a bad person because giving to others is so hard for you?

Spending, just like any other activity, can be used in a fulfilling way or it can turn into a form of compulsion.  Buying something or choosing to deny ourselves something can both unlock a powerful hit of dopamine (a pleasure chemical) in our brains.

Unlike other compulsion, like eating or drinking, we don’t really have a vocabulary for the addictive feeling that spending money can evoke.

When these compulsions do arise, we can feel like we’re suffering alone.  We think something is broken in our relationship with money, and deeper than that, in ourselves.

In order to find the right balance in our material life, we have to find the right balance inside of ourselves.  If we don’t feel good about ourselves as people, we may try to overcompensate with material goods. This could mean buying way too much, or conversely, getting rid of our material possessions as a way to feel better.

Real self-care helps us find a balanced relationship inside of ourselves so we can create a healthy relationship with spending money.  It shows us the inherent goodness at our core and teaches us how to spend responsibly from this place.  Without self-care, setting healthy limits in our spending can feel almost impossible.

If you’re craving these healthy limits, Self Care 101 will help you. This winter, 20 amazing women will take 10 weeks to create a real transformation. Together, we will cheer each other on to greater balance - both internally and externally.

Want to learn more about practicing self-care in a supportive community?  Fill out this application to connect with me about joining the next course.   

***

That’s all for now! Next week, I’ll share my secrets for dealing with difficult family dynamics during the holidays.  Yes, self-care can even help you with that incredibly hard one: caring too much for the people we love.

Be well ‘til then!

XO,
Gracy

***

Self-Care Inspiration

1. For overspenders:  Watch this great documentary on the art of gleaning.  See how a thrifty subset of people around the world prefer to do more with less.  Learning about gleaning has helped me understanding my relationship with consumption and take pride in my preference for thrifting my way through life.

2. For underspenders:  Splurge a little!  I suggest checking out this beautiful Swedish line of body-positive, gorgeous clothing.  I particularly love their take on creating simple, cozy holiday cheer.  Even if you don’t purchase anything, browsing through their website will indulge your senses.

3. If you need a zero-waste gift, I suggest these yummy-smelling shampoo barsfrom my other favorite company: Lush.  They come in reusable tins and last almost as long as a plastic bottle of shampoo.

4. I also love this fascinating Netflix documentary about comedians Jim Carrey and the late, brilliant Andy Kaufman. It goes deeper than comedy to help unravel the big questions of identity and purpose.

5. Just before I gave birth to Jonah, someone suggested I check out respectful parenting coach Janet Lansbury.  I’ve grown to love her philosophies on how to teach our children healthy boundaries by using our own thriving example.  Her piece on parental self-care is a good one for all of us.  Even if we don’t have children, learning to treat everyone in our lives from a place of self-care will help us all create more satisfying boundaries with the world.

***

Self Care 101 Announcement 

Are you ready to change? Do you thrive in groups? Is this your moment?

If so, I want you to join the next round of Self Care 101.  Starting on January 7th, twenty amazing women will work together to create a lifestyle of self-care and a community of support.  I've taken over 200 women through this process and have seen the wonders it will work in your life.  Yes, even you who thinks that you'll never be able to change.  Let's get started. 

Do you want to learn more? Oh goodie!  Please fill out this application and we’ll talk, commitment-free, to see if it’s a good fit.

UPDATE: Seven amazing ladies have already signed up!  This round is going to be really good!

***

A Final Thought

A good philosophy to use when dealing with our children or anyone who is challenging us:

"Feelings flow more easily if we don’t take them on as our work. We don’t need to fix every problem or even work our children through them. It’s exhausting. Instead, all that’s needed is to accept, acknowledge, and let the feelings be. Shifting into this mindset can certainly be challenging at first (when most of us have the instinct to do something to make the feelings pass), but it’s more positive and a relief for all concerned when we simply breathe, observe and trust." Janet Lansbury

Wednesday Missive: Holiday Overscheduling: How to Find Relief

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Hello Darling, 

I hope you’ve been having a good week!  Hopefully you’re going easy on yourself about your holiday indulgences and finding your own comfort level of cheer.  As for me, I’ve never been much of a seasonal decorator - I haven’t had a tree in years - but with the little one, this year will be different. Micah and I are getting a tree next weekend and looking forward to forming our own holiday family traditions.

As I mentioned last week, for the next month, as we lead up to the winter round of Self Care 101 starting on January 7th, I’m creating a special series: Self-Care for the “Holidaze.”  Each week, I’ll discuss a common self-care pitfall that you may experience during the beautiful, and often-imbalancing, holiday season, and offer a self-care script to help you treat yourself with more compassion and love during these moments.

Also, I’ll add in a reason why joining Self Care 101 could help you find long-term peace with your self-care in this area (and so many others!).

This week we’re talking about holiday overscheduling. It’s super easy to do right now.  Happy hours, holiday parties, office lunches - it seems like everyone wants to celebrate with you!

In the abstract, all these plans sound great. You’re going to have so much fun this season. You’ll be so busy that there won’t be any time for the winter blues that have knocked on your door in the past.

But when the time comes to actually attend all those back-to-back celebrations, the holiday fantasy bubble begins to deflate. Night after night of socializing and other merriment begins to take its toll as you lose your energy to keep up with your calendar.

Soon, you begin to crave a night in to cozy up in your PJs and go to bed early.  You need some time off.  However, you’ve already committed yourself and feel so bad about canceling. So, you show up and just feel off - you’re tired, you don’t like your outfit and you want out of every conversation you get yourself into.

You wish you could just find a way to get the most out of life and feel like a bit of a loser that you can’t.  Why are the holidays never as shiny and happy as you wish they could be?  Why aren’t you as shiny and happy as you wish you could be?  Why does this season always start so promising but always end with such a let down?

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. The holidays can be an intoxicating moment for us all. This may be our one time of year to get in some quality time with the people we love, and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make the most of it.

But, since the vast majority of us aren’t hard-wired to be energetic and happy all the time, thinking that we could be constantly upbeat during the holiday season is not only unrealistic but it actually sets us up for consistent disappointment. When we do surrender to downtime, we feel like failures.

Our achievement-oriented minds put pressure on us to keep pushing through, partying on and deal with the aftermath come January 1st. But this year, what if you could check in with yourself sooner and arrive in 2018 feeling refreshed for the new year ahead?  

If you’re ready to break the cycle, use this self-love script to help you slow down. With love, you can begin to discern you actual self-care needs during this holiday season and gather the energy to really put that self-care into practice.

Self-Love Script:

“Wow, look at my calendar.  I have four parties this weekend. Whew, this is a crazy time of year.  Ok, deep breath. How am I actually feeling? You know, it’s been a hard week at work and I feel like I’m getting sick.  What do I really need right now? I want to get under my comforter, drink a big cup of Throat Coat tea and snuggle up with my cat. But what about my friend who is throwing her annual holiday party tonight? I’m afraid of making her upset. Ok, let’s think this through. Yeah, she may be upset. This party means a lot to her. It’s ok to cancel and let her have her feelings. But if she can’t eventually get over them, if she doesn’t understand that I’m burned out and need to take a night off, then I may need to examine our friendship. I didn’t get upset with her the last time she canceled plans because she didn’t feel well. I don’t need to put all that pressure on myself to be perfect. I deserve to surround myself with people who respect my need for self-care. That’s my goal for 2018 - to cultivate my self-care support network. And yes, if I don’t go to the party, I might get a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out), but truly that’s just in my head. If I take care of myself, then I will probably enjoy the hell out of the party on Saturday evening. If I take care of myself, I never really miss out, because I enjoy wherever I am. Being with myself is important, and being with others is important. Self-care, and the self-love that comes from it, helps me find the right balance to thrive in my life.”

Self Care 101 Nudge:

Are you constantly overscheduling yourself?  Do you struggle with the fear of being alone and yet get overwhelmed by always being social?  Are you scared of disappointing others so you can take care of yourself?

Real self-care begins by cultivating a real relationship with yourself. This means learning to deal with other people’s feelings in a healthy way, and lifting the heavy expectations you put on yourself to always show up with a smile on your face, even when you’re struggling inside.  (This is perfectionism, and only makes you feel more alone in the end!)

It’s difficult to find this authentic self-love on our own. Changing our self-care means pulling away from familiar, and often toxic, social structures. Since our human need to belong is paramount, we often will sabotage our self-care efforts in order to avoid the loneliness that can come with personal growth.

But what if you could change in a community? What if you could go through all the sticky and ungraceful transitions of growth alongside others who are also searching for a real relationship with themselves?

Self Care 101 is exactly this. Twenty amazing women take 10 weeks to create a real transformation. We cry our tears, celebrate our gains and cheer each other on to greater and greater self-care.

Want to learn more about practicing self-care in a supportive community?  Fill out this application to connect with me about joining the next course.  

“I was drawn to working with Gracy because years of ‘trying to fix’ myself had never really seemed to yield deep and sustainable results. I would feel better for a short while, and then fall back into the same destructive patterns. I first expected to learn improved eating habits, a daily routine that would keep me feeling refreshed, and more about the philosophy underlying yoga, but I have gained so much more. Yes, I certainly now am equipped with an arsenal of knowledge about how to eat, rest, play, and exercise that makes me feel more focused at work and has translated to better skin, happier days, and less sleepless nights. But I have so much more. I have a sustained daily practice that nourishes my body and soul; I have deepened my relationships with friends and family, and made new ones along the way; I have gotten to know myself and am more empowered to pursue my dreams.” -- Sarina, Self Care 101 Fall 2015

***

Ok, buttercups, party on with your loved ones!  Or stay inside and enjoy a decadent night alone.  Both can be forms of self-care, if you treat yourself with the internal self-love you deserve.

Next week, I’ll be back with a few self-care thoughts on holiday overspending.  With self-care, we can figure out the difference between true generosity and a broken bank account.

Until, then take extra good care of yourself!  

XO,
Gracy

***

Podcast Alert!

Rebecca had been dabbling in self-care for a while before joining Self Care 101. Working on her self-care habits in a more concentrated way not only helped her feel healthier in her body, but also opened the door to a whole new level of authenticity in her work and relationships.

Listen to our conversation and learn how Rebecca used her daily habits to get honest about her deeper needs and desires. Be inspired to discover your own truth and use self-care to start sharing it with the world!

This is part of the ongoing podcast series on self-love and self-care I’m hosting this fall. Listen and learn how to use self-care to stop looking everywhere for love (because you’ve finally found it in yourself).

Listen to the full podcast here on the Self Care with Gracy Blog

(Or check out past episodes and subscribe on iTunes!)

***

Self-Care Inspiration 

1. One of my favorite parts of being alive is getting to share the planet with RuPaul. Watching a season of RuPaul’s Drag Race always uplifts my spirit and educates me on the liberation of gender-bending. This podcast from the New York City Public Library reveals more of her genius and why we should all consider some form of drag in our lives.

2. As I transition between sizes, these leggings are saving my life.  They’re super soft, hug in the right places and are long enough for my 5’10” frame.

3. This weeknight pumpkin curry from the newly redesigned website of Why Food Works with Sarah (my brother’s girlfriend, my friend and the talented chef of each Self Care 101 opening lunch). Sign up for her monthly newsletter to get easy, seasonal and healthy recipes in your inbox.

4. The second cookbook from Smitten Kitchen author Deb Perelman.  The first one has been such a go-to for me (baked huevos racheros, yum) and so far this second one is pretty amazing, too (mushroom parmesan dutch baby, oh yeah).  

5. I love this piece on the real meaning of self-care that’s been making its rounds on the internet.  It captures a lot of what I’ve learned through helping women with their self-care over these past years. Particularly, it captures how hard it is to practice authentic self-care, i.e. saying “no” to other people in order to honor your own well-being.

***

Self Care 101 Announcement 

Are you ready to change? Do you thrive in groups? Is this your moment?

If so, I want you to join the next round of Self Care 101.  Starting on January 7th, twenty amazing women will work together to create a lifestyle of self-care and a community of support.  I've taken over 200 women through this process and have seen the wonders it will work in your life.  Yes, even you who thinks that you'll never be able to change.  Let's get started. 

Do you want to learn more? Oh goodie!  Please fill out this application and we’ll talk, commitment-free, to see if it’s a good fit.

UPDATE: Seven amazing ladies have already signed up!  This round is going to be really good!

***

A Final Thought

"It (self-care) often means looking your failures and disappointments square in the eye and re-strategizing. It is not satiating your immediate desires. It is letting go. It is choosing new. It is disappointing some people. It is making sacrifices for others. It is living a way that other people won’t, so maybe you can live in a way that other people can’t." -Brianna Wiest

How Self-Care Creates Authenticity: Testimonial from Rebecca H.

Rebecca had been dabbling in self-care for a while before joining Self Care 101. Working on her self-care habits in a more concentrated way not only helped her feel healthier in her body, but also opened the door to a whole new level of authenticity in her work and relationships.

Listen to our conversation and learn how Rebecca used her daily habits to get honest about her deeper needs and desires. Be inspired to discover your own truth and use self-care to start sharing it with the world!

Wednesday Missive: The Real Reason You Can't Stop "Holidaze" Overeating

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Oh, the love I feel for this boy!  But that love is heavy sometimes too. Read more here.


Hello All, 

I hope you had a warm and festive Thanksgiving weekend! I spent mine traveling to Pittsburgh to meet Micah’s (my partner) extended family.  Not only did we eat two Thanksgiving dinners (complete with pie + whipped cream!), we also found out that Jonah can handle a road trip.  Overall, I’d call our first full family trip a success.

Now, we are moving into the holiday season. For the next month, as a lead up to the winter round of Self Care 101 starting on January 7th, I’m creating a special series of Self Care for the “Holidaze.”  Each week, I’ll discuss a common self-care pitfall that you may experience during the beautiful and often-imbalancing holiday season, and offer a self-care script to help you treat yourself with more compassion and love.

Also, I’ll add in a reason why joining Self Care 101 could help you find long-term peace with your self-care in this area (and many others).

This week, we’re talking about overeating during the holidays.  So many of us struggle with this -- I know I do.  We are surrounded by flaky pies, colorful cookies, big slabs of baked brie and tall glasses of sparkling wine. It’s festive, it’s fun and it’s so yummy.  Something in you wants it so badly. It feels almost impossible to say “no.”

A night of this isn’t a big deal, but it goes on and on.  Soon you feel the effects. Your wake up feeling soggy in the morning, your pants start to fit a bit differently and your skin looks a bit gray when you look in the mirror.  

Internally, you get down on yourself.  Did you really have to eat five cookies? Why did you go back for seconds?  Is your self-control broken?  Do you have to go through this every year?

I wish I could offer you a simple three-step solution to combat holiday overeating.  I could tell you to eat more protein, switch to seltzer, or up your time at the gym.  But you know that already. Why can’t you just do it?

The problem is that we don’t fully understand the problem.  We think we need to fix our out-of-control eating and lack of self-control and finally GET IT TOGETHER.

But what if that’s not true?  What if the only thing we need to fix is our relationship with ourselves?  

These past years of helping women with their self-care have taught me a lot.  I’ve learned that none of our best self-care tips and tricks will work if we don’t start with a baseline of self-love.

We can work really hard to change ourselves, but without self-love we will just be spinning our wheels and drowning in our same struggles. Without self-love we will continue to miss out on enjoying our lives.

  Read when your pants are feeling too tight or when you wake up in the morning angry at yourself again. My hope is that it will help you remember that self-care only works when administered from a kind place in ourselves.

Self-Love Script for Overeating:  

"Ok, I did it again.  I ate too much and I don’t feel good.  Now, I’m beating myself up about it.  I did it because all of those cookies looked so good.  And, you know what?  They tasted pretty good, too.  Really, I couldn’t stop myself because I didn’t want to stop myself. I wanted to eat those good-tasting cookies. Honestly, I’m so stressed out right now.  Cookies make me feel better sometimes. I know I have this idea in my head that I should have better self-control but sometimes I need to eat the cookies.  Also, I feel like I should be thinner.  But what if that isn’t true?  Does being thinner really make my life go better? I remember that time in college after I studied abroad that I lost all that weight.  Did that make all of my problems go away?  Hmmm...no, I remember still having problems. I know that we vilify overeating and gaining weight in our capitalist culture of perfectionism. This is a rough way to live our lives. I could spend the rest of my life trying to live up to an unattainable ideal of eating “clean” or staying skinny or other forms of perfectionism.  Or I could enjoy myself and go easy on myself when I overindulge. We all overeat, especially around the holidays. Eating too many cookies doesn’t make me a bad person.  I know that that no choice I make could EVER affect my true self-worth.  I’ll resolve to love myself no matter what, and love every cookie I decide to eat. It’s only from this place that I can create a life of real health, inside and out."

Self Care 101 Nudge:

Do you continually struggle with beating yourself up for eating too much?  One of the first things we do in Self Care 101 is understand the difference between “self-improvement” and “self-care.”  So many of us are fighting a losing battle to improve ourselves, which only increases ourself-judgment.  

Automatically beating ourselves up for eating too much = self-improvement  
Taking the time to understand why we make the choices we do and going easy on ourselves in the process = self-care

Self-care is different.  To practice it, we start with our current state of mind and body.  It’s only from that place of accepting ourselves as we are that we invite a sustainable transformation. In Self Care 101, I will guide you away from the struggles of self-improvement and into genuine self-care.  It’s like a sigh of a relief and a warm hug wrapped up in one.  

Want to learn more about how to practice real self-care?  Fill out this application to learn more about joining the next course.  Want to hear a real life testimonial?  Listen to Ruth Ann’s story here.

***

Ok, that’s all for now, dear!  I wish you unprecedented self-love during this upcoming week of holiday season build-up.  I’ll be back next week with a few ideas on how to use self-love to get a grip on your chronic overscheduling during this time of year.  

With care,
Gracy

***

Podcast Alert!

Arielle, who was in my pilot group for Self Care 101, was one of the first ladies who showed me the incredible connection between self-care and self-love.  

Listen to the journey of this yoga teacher and working mother and learn her gentle + curious approach to caring for herself and her family. I was buzzing from inspiration after we finished our conversation!

This is part of the ongoing podcast series on self-love and self-care I’m hosting this fall. Listen and learn how to use self-care to stop looking everywhere for love (because you’ve finally found it in yourself).

Listen to the full podcast here on the Self Care with Gracy Blog

(Or check out past episodes and subscribe on iTunes!)

***

Self-Care for Overeating/Healthy Body Image Inspiration 

1. I can’t recommend this book and this book by Geneen Roth enough.  Her philosophies on emotional eating have changed my relationship with food and life itself.

2. Max Daniels is a sensible lifestyle coach who helps people stop compulsive eating for good.  I love her weekly newsletter and was honored to record this podcast about dignified eating with her. 

3. This eating philosophy is based on cross-cultural nutritional research by a dentist in the 1930s. It turns out that great dental health and solid nutrition have gone hand-in-hand together throughout space and time. His findings provide a great baseline diet to return to when I dive too deeply into holiday sweets.

4. This body-positive Instagram feed that reminds me that people of all shapes and sizes are beautiful if they make the decision to own their greatness.

5. This inspiring documentary reminds women how truly beautiful they are when they accept their amazing bodies and live life to the fullest.


***

Self Care 101 Announcement 

Are you ready to change? Do you thrive in groups? Is this your moment?

If so, I want you to join the next round of Self Care 101.  Starting on January 7th, twenty amazing women will work together to create a lifestyle of self-care and a community of support.  I've taken over 200 women through this process and have seen the wonders it will work in your life.  Yes, even you who thinks that you'll never be able to change.  Let's get started. 

Do you want to learn more? Oh goodie!  Please fill out this application and we’ll talk, commitment-free, to see if it’s a good fit.

UPDATE: Five amazing ladies have already signed up!  This round is going to be really good!

***

A Final Thought

“It's never been true, not anywhere at any time, that the value of a soul, of a human spirit, is dependent on a number on a scale. We are unrepeatable beings of light and space and water who need these physical vehicles to get around. When we start defining ourselves by that which can be measured or weighed, something deep within us rebels. We don't want to EAT hot fudge sundaes as much as we want our lives to BE hot fudge sundaes. We want to come home to ourselves." - Geneen Roth

A Deeper Meaning of Self Care: Testimonial from Arielle M.

Arielle, who was in my pilot group for Self Care 101, was one of the first ladies who showed me the incredible connection between self-care and self-love.  

Listen to the journey of this yoga teacher and working mother and learn her gentle + curious approach to caring for herself and her family. I was buzzing from inspiration after we finished our conversation!

This is part of the ongoing series on self-love and self-care I’m hosting this fall. Listen and learn how to use self-care to stop looking everywhere for love (because you’ve finally found it in yourself).