Feeling It All

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The vulnerability of parenting feels hardest to talk about. As I mentioned in a previous post, both my love and fear for Jonah is incredibly intense. I’m a person who likes to be in control. Ever wonder why I’ve always been so keen on running my own business? Yup, I like it to be a certain way. 

I can probably trace this back to my own childhood and needing this sense of control to feel safe in the world. Learning authentic self-care helped me to experience a different kind of safety - one rooted in kindness and surrender. Slowly, I’ve worked to let go of control and trust the flow of my own life. Having Jonah required the deepest layer of surrender yet. It’s asked me to live in the discomfort of my vulnerability (both my fear and my gratitude). 

Over this past year, I’ve let go of so much of my ego-based striving and found that underneath my hustle were all these super tender parts of me that needed love. Loving the parts of me that I would rather hide helps me to love Jonah more fully (and vice versa!). It’s a hard, beautiful, transformative process (so very much inspired by the work of @brenebrown). 

What scares me most about our dominant culture is that we are terrified of our own vulnerability. We spend most of our time and energy so that we don’t have to touch these hurting places and I know this affects our relationships, our parenting, our own authenticity. 

To me, it’s revolutionary to become willing to feel it all and most definitely a signal of our strength. The more we can do it as individuals, the more we can honor that vulnerability in others, especially populations and communities that are more vulnerability than us (people of color, immigrant, LGTBQ, religious minority). This is how the inner work leads to the outer work. This is how we hand a calmer, kinder world down to the next generation.

Wednesday Missive: Self-Care Beyond the Self

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Dear Ones,

First thing: this week I put a few inspiring self-care resources into the world.  Please check them out!

This article on why you should consider self-care when making business/career decisions (goodbye choice paralysis!)

This interview with health coach Gretchen Gegg which breaks down my whole self-care philosophy (including self-care for men!)

This podcast I recorded on why having conversations about racism is a form of self-care

(so important!)

***

And now, today...

You may have noticed that the content of my emails has changed a bit of late.  And you would be right. I’ve been intentionally steering my self-care missives in a different direction.  Oh my, it’s both exciting and scary to shift my messaging on self-care!

How did this change come about?  When I first started Beautiful Life Self Care, I wanted nothing more than to brainstorm the most awesome morning routines and share the recipes that help me cook three great meals a day.

Of course, I still want to share about this kind of self-care!  Tending to my own body, mind and spirit is essential for my well-being, as well as the health of my family.  Sharing about my favorite self-care practices is both fun and necessary, and I’m going to keep doing it.

But over these past years, my perspective has evolved.  I now understand there is much suffering in the world that can and should be prevented. As a world, we have the resources for us all to live in baseline wellness, but out of habit, fear and greed from the people in power, those more vulnerable than us struggle to meet their basic needs.

Before, I knew about these greater societal imbalances on one level, but just didn’t know what I could do to help.  So, I’d blame our leaders - and that blame was often very justified - and continued focusing on my own life. I thought that cultivating my own well-being might be the way to help other people.

I don't think I was completely wrong.  Being intentionally positive can be a powerful act in a world that often feels so negative.  However, in my heart, I also felt incomplete in my self-care. I knew I wanted to stop worrying about gaining weight and obsessing over relationships and struggling with FOMO (fear of missing out).  I knew these anxieties were a massive drain of energy.

I also knew I wanted to use my gifts to help others in a deeper way. I was yearning for something greater and I didn’t know how to answer this yearning.

Lately, inspired by the actions other powerful leaders - mostly women - I’ve decided to step up in a different way.  Rather than just blame, I can roll up my sleeves and work to create the world I want to hand over to future generations.  I can lead by example and set into motion a new vision for a more beautiful world.

Further, I can do this kind of work without spiraling into burnout, hiding in spiritual bypass or feeling massive amounts of guilt or shame about all the ways I haven’t shown up in the past.  When I feel overwhelmed, I can remember the power of taking one small step in the direction that feels warmest (like that kid’s game: warmer, warmer, warmer…). I can call myself out and ask for forgiveness when I misstep.  I can lean into support by joining communities that share my vision.

In short, I can become a socially-conscious self-care leader by using the same self-care principles that helped me build my own healthy routines, and create a business teaching empowered self-care to other women.

The next level of my self-care is to take it beyond just myself.  I’m ready to use my power and privilege to be the change I want to see in our world.

For example, here are five things I’ve done over the past month to examine my power and privilege and take my socially-conscious self-care to the next level:

  1. I took this wonderful 5-week course in creating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in organizations

  2. Inspired by the course, I wrote a DEI statement for Beautiful Life Self Care

  3. I read this thought-provoking article on white feminism and white supremacy

  4. I recorded this podcast on the self-care for having conversations about racism

  5. Fired up for the November elections, I’ve made a financial donation and am getting excited to phonebank for Ayanna Pressley, a woman of color, female democratic candidate in Massachusetts 7th district who is gaining steam in her campaign (thanks for this suggestion Ann!)

(As always, this list isn’t exhaustive or enough.  Yet, I chose to celebrate the small wins and keep getting warmer…)

In the face of so many challenges in our world, I know self-care can lead the way.  It’s only with authentic self-care that we have the energy to show up for others. It’s only with self-care that we can join our individual efforts into a sustainable movement of empowered leaders.  Together, we can be accountable to serve those who need our care.

I don’t want you to read this and feel guilty.  I hope you read it and feel excited! This is our time to rise up !  We have a path to follow. We can lead in a way that honors life - the life that is in ourselves and the life that is in each person on this planet (and all that will come). Actively creating a just world is the supreme act of self-care.   

Over the next month, I’ll be sharing my most effective self-care principles and sacred guidance to take your self-care beyond the self.  These life-changing and world-changing perspectives and practices will take us up to the launch of The Beautiful Life Collective, my new socially-conscious self-care cooperative (launching on October 1st, join the waitlist here, I’m so excited!).  

Are you ready to take care of yourself and our world in a whole new way? Tune in over the next five Wednesdays and join this movement with me!  It’s going to be ride that’s as powerful as it is beautiful. This is the unprecedented self-care that will take us into the future. Our time is now and we're going. I feel so blessed to be beside you on the journey.

With care,
Gracy

What's our Secret?

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This guy! As part of the motherhood series I’m posting this week, I of course want to talk about partnership. 

Many of you already know this, but Micah and I were only dating for two months when we got accidentally pregnant. There would be so many situations where this would be no bueno, however it didn’t feel that way to either of us. We both had such a strong “yes” that we wanted to have this child and decided to just figure out the rest as we went along. 

As we move toward celebrating the two year anniversary of our first date next month, I’m going to say that we’ve done a decent job of figuring it out. I feel so lucky and grateful to have Micah as a partner and co-parent. This doesn’t mean things are perfect. We still have our fights and awkward moments and petty resentments. However, we also have nourishing routines/rituals, a very good sense of humor, and both are quite dedicated to our own personal development. 

Currently, I’m so proud that Micah just took a new job at Vera Institute for Justice where he is working to better our saddening criminal justice system in the USA. 

Each relationship is unique, but I do think our secret to having a thriving partnership is that we continue to encourage each other’s spiritual growth. It’s tough work to hold space for the hard parts of growth in someone you love. I want to fix it so those places don’t get triggered in me. Yet, by showing up, keeping faith, sacrificing myself, for Micah and our family, from time to time is how I grow too. 

Of everything we are giving Jonah, I think this lesson might be the most important: we need each other to grow, and in that growth, we all become more liberated.

My Self-Care Evolution

yoga retreat-self care-wellness program- mindful eating-meditation workshop-women's support group-setting boundaries-self-care routines-daily routines-daily rituals-daily yoga practice-ayurveda-ayurveda dc-work/life balance-simple self-care-self-care activities-emotional self-care-self-care activities-self-care tips

This is me, one year into motherhood. (Also, this is me after another fantastic haircut from @jeanjekal 💜). 

Yesterday I promised more on mama self-care and I want to start by saying this is just what works for me, based on my needs, proclivities and resources. Self-care is rarely one-size-fits all, and that’s both the beauty and the challenge of it! 

So for me, my self-care has evolved over these past 12 months. After giving birth, self-care meant rarely leaving my bed for two weeks and allowing others to take care of me even when I wanted to do it all myself. Later, self-care meant giving myself grace as I rockily adjusted back to working again, and making time for long baths while Jonah was at daycare when it all felt like too much. 

Now that I’ve found a pretty good rhythm for my work days (Jonah is home with me twice a week), my self-care consists of a lot of meal planning (three good meals a day is so grounding for me), and some creative multitasking to meet a few needs at once. I love talking to friends on the phone while strolling with Jonah and folding laundry while listening to a podcast (recently love “Unruffled” by Janet Landsbury - respectful parenting revolution!). 

Taking time with my partner Micah is also essential (more on this tomorrow). 

I’m also always working to let myself feel complex feelings, engage in difficult conversations, and show up for social justice in the ways I know how (and investing in education so I can learn how to show up more). 

All of this is quite a balance between myself and others, between joy and grief, between allowing and resisting. It’s a intricate dance, and although I always feel pretty challenged by the art of being a human, I’m very happy to be alive and caring for my people and helping envision the next stage of our world.
 

12 Months

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Jonah turns one on Sunday! To celebrate, I want to share more about motherhood here this week.

Lately, I’ve been eager to talk about different topics - racism, classism, empathy - partly because they are so necessary for this moment and partly because I don’t want my life and work to be centered in motherhood.

However, a year after Jonah was born, I see my ability to share on these difficult subjects in direct correlation to the softening of myself that’s happened since becoming a mother.

I don’t want to romanticize parenting - my tenderization has been joyful but also oh so painful - and I think this softening can happen in many different ways for different people. I just know for me, my heart changed when I saw the “+” sign on the pregnancy test (surprise!).

I just LOVE Jonah so much. I am just so AFRAID of something happening to him. I now relate to how many other people feel about their children and how this makes us do so many noble and terrible things in the world.

Raising Jonah through the ups-and-downs of this first year (almost two, if you count growing him in my womb) has awakened a much bigger compassion in me. I feel more pain, but I think I suffer less. I delight more in my days. I’ve taken on this glorious and unnerving weight of love.

This reality reminds me often of how much I have to lose and how much so many of us have lost. It’s a groundless place to live - as Pema Chodron might describe it - but if I’m practicing enough self-care, living in this space keeps me ever so close to my heart.

(More on the motherhood self-care piece tomorrow!)

Self-Care for Having Conversations About Racism with Reba Thomas and Elsa Duré

Can you imagine having a conversation about racism that is both challenging and enjoyable? 

Do you think there is a place for love when diving into such difficult topics? 

Listen to this podcast with my self-care co-facilitators Elsa Duré and Reba Thomas, and learn how a group of women from our community went through a powerful conversation series about racism.  (Note, we have a few tech issues in the podcast, but please keep going with it - it's just such a rich conversation!).

Then, check out the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement for Beautiful Life Self-Care (this was inspired by a transformational course I took with the brilliant Adaway Group). 

This focus on anti-racism is part of my continuing effort to recreate Beautiful Life Self Care as a business that inspires and protects the self-care of all people. 

Are you interested in this work? Sign up for the waiting list for the Beautiful Life Collective, my upcoming membership program that will help us find the balance between caring for ourselves and caring for our world. 

Wednesday Missive: What Does Social Justice Have To Do With Morning Routines?

 I just finished  this beautifully-written and haunting novel  by Tomi Adeyemi. She wrote it as a response to grief she was experiencing over so many young black men losing their lives in socially-condoned ways. It's HarryPotter-meets-Black Lives Matter, emotional, political page-turning young adult literature at its best. 

I just finished this beautifully-written and haunting novel by Tomi Adeyemi. She wrote it as a response to grief she was experiencing over so many young black men losing their lives in socially-condoned ways. It's HarryPotter-meets-Black Lives Matter, emotional, political page-turning young adult literature at its best. 

Hello Loves,

Over the past month, I’ve shared resources to help you build your dynamic morning routines.  I’ve shared the messy-yet-workable reality of morning routines and motherhood, an interview on morning routines that work, and last week, my AM Routine Troubleshooting FAQ.

Whew, it’s been a lot!  I hope these resources have been helpful for you in building more self-care into your mornings, and hopefully watching it spread into the rest of your day.

But why?  Why I am talking about morning routines?  Why do I think we should be focusing on our self-care right now?

When I work with clients, I always ask them about their bigger “why.”  This is because I don’t believe we should be practicing self-care to be good at self-care.  I believe we need to be practicing authentic self-care because it gives us the fuel to do the other complex, deeply important work of our lives.

For me, this means using self-care to show up for social justice.  Honestly, it wasn’t always this way. At first, I wanted to practice self-care because I was suffering in my life.  I always felt behind the mark and not good enough. The negative voice in my head would tear me down ruthlessly when I made a mistake.  Although my life looked totally fine on the surface, underneath my self-esteem felt weak.

Self-care helped with those things, immensely.  After becoming more intentional in my self-care, I felt stronger, more resilient, and like I could be my own friend.  But then, as I kept practicing self-care, something magical happened. I noticed that my self-care was helping me serve others and I noticed that my clients were also stepping into deeper levels of service.

Self-care was not just healing, it was empowering.  I saw that it could be a tool for changing the world in positive ways.

Just as I wrapping my mind around the vast scope of this self-care work, two shocking things happened back-to-back:

  1. Donald Trump was elected president.

  2. I found out I had gotten (surprise!) pregnant

I was, and continue to be, deeply changed by this period of time.  Trump’s election showed me how much healing work we have to do as a nation around racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and ensuring religious freedoms. I thought things were getting better when for so many vulnerable populations, they weren’t. I preached about self-care as the answer to complex problems, and I left so many people out of that equation. My ignorance of what was really happening in our world is still hard to admit.

Finding out I was pregnant added an extra weight to this painful awareness.  Not only was the world struggling, but now I knew I would be personally handing down this world to the next generation.  Becoming a mother has made me feel connected not only to my child, but to all children and all the people in our world who struggle against systems that don’t care about them in the name of ensuring a better life for their family.  To me, this is the deepest of the deep vulnerabilities - both dignified and heartbreaking.

Thus, I’ve committed to doing better in my work to stand up for the self-care of all people.  Next week, I’m going to share a list of actions I’ve taken to stand up for social justice in my life over the past two years.  I know my efforts are imperfect. However, I know how much perfectionism can trap us into inaction, so I’ve chosen to move forward anyway and do the best I can.   

I want to note that none of these actions make me feel like a better person.  Actually, now I’m a lot more uncomfortable about the troubled state of our world and my compliance with the status quo (because it does benefit me).  So, I don’t stand up for social justice - what I see as the self-care of all - because it makes me feel better. Instead, I take these actions because I want to be in alignment with my values.  I know how painful it is to be out of integrity with myself. Now that I know better, I am doing better and commit to continue doing better.

For this, I am steering the direction of Beautiful Life Self Care to the place where self-care and care for all intersects.  My bigger “why” is my belief if we take better care of ourselves, we will find the inner courage and ingenuity to stand up for the care of all.  This is the movement from scarcity to abundance. This is the reclaiming of our humanity, which is the beginning and the ending of every self-care journey.  Our liberation is tied up in the liberation of those around us, especially those who don’t look like us.

(Do you feel stirred by this too?  If so, I hope you can join The Beautiful Life Collective, an affordable, accessible community where we will tenderly practice authentic self-care and courageously stand up for our deeper values.  Join the waiting list here and be the first to learn when enrollment opens next month.)

As I write this, my heart tells me I am on the right track with this work.  My fear, however, tells me that I might lose clients or receive harsh criticism for bringing up these uncomfortable topics or not doing it well enough.  What I’ve learned over and over in my life is that I must move with my heart. I can be strengthened by sacrifices as long as I feel intact in my interior.

In closing, I want to share the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement that I’ve crafted for Beautiful Life Self Care.  I was inspired by to do this after taking a wonderful training on building equitable organizations by the Adaway Group. I highly suggest taking one of their trainings, strengthening your bigger “why,” and continuing to show up in our world.

(Note, although I am a “soloprenuer,” I wrote the following from the “we” perspective so that everyone associated with Beautiful Life Self Care can share this values statement.)

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Beautiful Life Self Care Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement

Beautiful Life Self Care is here to help all people authentically care for themselves, care for their communities, and care for our world as a whole. We are here to teach effective and transformational self-care practices and perspectives that can be utilized by people of all body sizes and abilities, gender identities, races, ethnicities, classes, sexual orientations, and/or religious affiliations.

Beautiful Life Self Care is here so that all people, especially those who are marginalized in their ability to care for themselves because of the damages caused by the dominant culture of white supremacy, can use self-care to practice resilience and access the power within themselves. We believe that as the self-care movement awakens a critical mass of people to practice authentic, accessible self-care, we can create a cultural shift toward cooperation, compassion and true equity for all people in our world.

To make these goals a reality, we at Beautiful Life Self Care are actively creating a diverse, inclusive, and equitable wellness business.  Particularly, we are learning from women of color who are able to understand self-care from the deeply important perspective of marginalization.  We are learning from them by reading books written by women of color, enrolling in workshops led by women of color, and by ensuring the ongoing place of women of color in the Beautiful Life Self Care leadership council.  

Beautiful Life Self Care is an explicitly anti-racist and body-positive wellness business.  Unfortunately, we have fallen short of these values in the past, particularly in the lack of representation of women of color and women of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations in our programs. Additionally, in the past, we have produced and published materials that have been body shaming by praising weight loss as an ideal.  Further, we have not created materials to specifically support men in their self-care growth. For this, we issue a standing apology and commit to doing better.

As part of this commitment, we offer part and full scholarships for our self-care programs for those with socioeconomic need. If you identify as a person from a marginalized group with this need and have a desire to study self-care with us, it would be a gift to have you in our community. To express your interest and learn when these opportunities open up, please contact us here.

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With care,
Gracy

The Beautiful Life Collective - care for yourself so you can care for our world

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The Beautiful Life Collective

A Cooperative of Women Leaders Caring for Themselves So They Can Care for The World
 

What Is The Collective?

A self-care community providing inspiration, accountability, resources, and the opportunity to invest in your most important asset: your ability to care for yourself, other people and the world as a whole.

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”  - E.B. White

 

The Beautiful Life Collective Is For You If…

  • You feel compelled to act and show up for vulnerable communities, but are not sure how or where to start.

  • You sense that only through self care can you be the change you wish to see in the world.

  • You know that caring for yourself without caring for the world and examining power and privilege is incomplete.

In The Beautiful Life Collective, we see social activism as an essential form of self-care and understand that the only way to show up for others consistently is to show up for our self-care. Authentically caring for ourselves, working compassionately with our fears, and being part of a supportive community is the recipe to equip us to create change we know is possible in our lives and in broader cultural issues.  

I advocate that every woman be a part of a circle … a group of people, women - smart, wise, can-do women - who are in the world doing their work, and you need to meet with them as often as you can, so that they can see what you’re doing, and who you are, and you can see the same. …. It is crucial for our psychological health and our spiritual growth – it’s essential.  - Alice Walker

***

How Do I Sign Up?  

Right now, registration is closed for the Beautiful Life Collective. However we will reopen in 2019! Join our VIP waitlist and be the first to hear when we are accepting new members. (And shhh…maybe receive a little discount too!)

Wednesday Missive: My Morning Routine Troubleshooting FAQ

 Woo-hoo!  Here we are as a family protesting against white supremacy last Sunday in DC.  Self-care has helped in both becoming parents and upping our game as politically activated human beings over this past year.  Both activities have been been hugely rewarding and require a lot of self-care replenishment to stay vital and connected. 

Woo-hoo!  Here we are as a family protesting against white supremacy last Sunday in DC.  Self-care has helped in both becoming parents and upping our game as politically activated human beings over this past year.  Both activities have been been hugely rewarding and require a lot of self-care replenishment to stay vital and connected. 

Hello all!

I’ve dedicated this month of my Wednesday self-care missives to cultivating morning routines.  This is because 1) I love geeking out about morning self-care routines (Listen to my podcast with My Morning Routine creator Benjamin Spall to hear the full geek-out), and 2) I think creating a dynamic morning routine is a great place to start focusing on your self-care.  

The good news is that you can do your morning routine super, super imperfectly and still gets a great deal of benefit (Read how my morning routine changed as a mother here).  Yet there seems to be common places where we all struggle with our mornings. Over the years of helping my clients with their self-care morning routines, I’ve heard many of the same questions over and over.  I’ve decided to compile them into a Morning Routine Troubleshooting FAQ.

A couple of things before I launch into the troubleshooting.  First, these are my ideas, opinions and lived experiences (or the lived experiences I’ve noticed my clients having over and over).  My philosophies are inspired by a mixture of self-care resources I’ve experienced, particularly the sciences of yoga and Ayurveda. Of course, I see these experiences through the lens of a 30-something Western woman, and thus, my interpretation will be unique. Please begin applying the practices and perspectives that feel inspiring for you, and leave the rest behind.

Second, I’ve learned that practicing authentic self-care isn’t easy or just a matter of pure logic.  If it was, we’d all be practicing the self-care we desire for ourselves. Rather, real self-care is challenging, nuanced and cyclical.  When applied bravely and compassionately, it will teach you so much about yourself, your culture and the world. My hope is that this advice will help you fine-tune your morning routine so that it feels truly useful for you, and that you feel less alone when you struggle with common self-care blocks.  

Please reach out to me if I can answer any other questions for you along the way.

I’m excited for your self-care and all that it will bring!

With care,
Gracy

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Morning Routine Troubleshooting FAQ

Why is it important to keep a morning routine?

As human beings, our nervous systems are inclined to follow habits.  The more tried and true something is, the safer it feels to our brains and bodies. This is why we have such a hard time letting go of our habits, even when they aren’t serving us!  Establishing and practicing a self-care morning routine is a great way to ensure that you get your self-care needs met first thing in the morning, which will benefit you all day. Being authentic in your self-care is a really effective way to show up as the best version of yourself. In turn, your self-care efforts serve the people around you, your community and the world as a whole.
 

How do I begin to build a morning routine?

Well, chances are that you already have some kind of a morning routine!  Sure, it might not feel the healthiest - perhaps involving 30 minutes of Facebook, four cups of coffee and then a mad dash to work - but it’s still a routine.  I think an effective way to build a morning routine that gives you energy is to make small changes in the direction of self-care. Can you drink one less cup of coffee or one more glass or water?  Can you meditate for a moment before you reach for your phone? The smaller and more realistic the change, the more likely you are to actually do it. Then, once you change something effectively, you’ll begin to build the identity of being someone who is capable of change.  Once you have that identity, it gets way easier to change many things in your life.
 

How do I break the habit of hitting “snooze” over and over?

It’s funny, right?  Snoozing gives us the feeling of getting more sleep, while only chopping up our morning rest into odd little pieces that might actually make us feel more tired.  I’ve learned that you can begin to break any habit by carefully interrupting it. A fun way to do this is to keep a strong scent - perhaps a eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil - by your alarm.  Before you hit the snooze button, take a deep inhalation of the scent. See if this wakes up your brain more naturally and takes away your desire for one more snooze. You can also move your alarm across the room, which might motivate you to snooze less. Finally, see if you can plan an array of enticing morning activities for yourself.  If you are excited to get up and work on your watercolors or read a novel for 15 minutes, you might naturally want to snooze less.
 

I’ve heard I’m supposed to poop every morning, but it never seems to happen.  What should I do?

I hear you!  For me, it’s always been hard to make sure I eliminate consistently.  Ayurveda taught me that in order to poop, I need to cultivate downward energy during my mornings.  I do this by drinking a big glass of warm - almost hot - water in the mornings. Drinking enough warm liquid puts a bit of pressure on my colon and seems to help my body release naturally.  Sometimes I squeeze lemon in my water - which is said to have a detoxifying effect - but often I go with just plain hot water because it’s easier.

Cultivating this downward energy also means staying relaxed. I try not to think about my to-do list in the morning, and instead focus on the energy of being.  I wander around my house, cuddle my people and pets, and basically do my best to feel softly optimistic about the day ahead. On the days when I can’t poop, I try not to worry about it too much and just go about my day. It will come out eventually! Also, taking a little powdered magnesium supplement, like CALM, at night can also help with elimination -- but be careful: you can easily take too much and wake up with the runs the next morning!
 

What are these “morning pages” that everyone keeps talking about?  When is the best time in the morning to write them?

“Morning pages” are one of the tools from The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron’s book about creative recovery, or the theory that everyone has repressed creativity to explore.  The instruction is to write three pages of stream of consciousness in the morning so that we can tap into the creative energy that exists underneath our everyday thoughts and anxieties.  Personally, I’ve done “morning pages” on and off over the past decade. I do notice that when I do them, my life just seems to flow in my enjoyable ways. Like many practices, there isn’t a right way to do them, but for myself, I enjoy writing them after I’ve gotten out of bed and while enjoying a cup of coffee or tea.
 

Speaking of coffee,  I’m afraid you’re going to tell me to give it up in the name of self-care.  Do I need to be caffeine-free in order to practice self-care?

I think each of us is different, and thus, we all have specialized limits around caffeine.  If you love the ritual of drinking coffee each morning, please don’t give it up. Happy-making is happy-making, after all!  If you’re drinking multiple cups of coffee out of habit, then perhaps you could swap a cup or two for herbal tea, and see if you feel better throughout your day.  Like with all self-care, you just have to experiment and see what works best for you.

Keep in mind that your self-care feel-good habits may shift and change. For example, sometimes I feel better coffee-free and sometimes I worship a cup in the morning.  Letting my habits be flexible with the shifts in my life helps me uphold my self-care, even during big moments of change and transition.
 

I’m not a morning person.  How do I change this?

Regarding our self-care efforts, I think it’s important to not try to change ourselves.  Perhaps you just don’t like being awake in the morning, and that is ok.  However, I do wonder if having an established morning routine that you enjoy might help you enjoy your mornings more.  Or, perhaps you can just feel groggy and cranky and still half-heartedly do a few self-care acts for yourself in some kind of order each day.  My sense is that even 50% effort in your morning routines will still yield so much helpful benefits throughout the day.

Also, mornings are tough when you haven’t had enough sleep.  If you don’t sleep well, you could try getting into bed a bit earlier.  It’s easier for me to go to bed earlier when I avoid electronics and other forms of stimulation too late in the day.  I’ve learned that a dynamic morning routine almost always starts with a solid nighttime routine. Winding down for sleep before 10pm (when possible) isn’t very glamorous, but it yields many benefits that serve me in all parts of my life.  For this reason, I make myself turn out the lights earlier than I want to and go to sleep.
 

Is it really important to eat breakfast?  Should I force myself to if I am not hungry?

Again, each of us is really different in our constitutions, and thus, our self-care needs.  For this reason, I can’t make a universal statement. I will encourage you to pay attention to how you feel when you eat breakfast and how you feel when you skip breakfast.  Do you feel better when you eat a big home-cooked breakfast or when you blend up a smoothie? Whatever you decide, I do think it’s important to follow a general routine. So, if you usually eat breakfast, you’re might feel off if you rush out of the house without it.  Try to stay consistent most of the time in the name of your own care.
 

I used to have a good morning routine and then I fell off the wagon.  How do I keep myself from backsliding?

Join the club!  I’ve gotten on and fallen off so many wagons when it comes to my self-care habits.  When we backslide on our self-care routines, a very mean part of our brains will tell us that we failed. It will tell us that this failure is proof that we are defective and that we are better off not taking care of ourselves so we don’t fail again. To this, we have to gather up all of our inner strength and speak back to that mean voice.  We can say: “So, what? I’m allowed to make mistakes. Everyone makes them. I’m still as worthy of self-care as anyone else. I’ll just start again. See? I’m already taking care of myself!” Then pick one tiny habit and start taking care of yourself.

Also, it might be helpful to examine if you were being rather strict and rule-adherent with your last morning routine.  If your chosen self-care habits are a killjoy, then the fun-loving part of yourself will naturally rebel. Choose workability and joy over perfection.  Aim to do your best 70% of the time and do whatever you want 30% of the time. Also, ask for support when you need it. You don’t have to go it alone.
 

How can I get more self-care support?

Look around you and notice who in your life seems to have inspiring self-care habits.  Ask that person to tea and begin a conversation about self-care, perhaps starting by asking about her morning routine.  Chances are that she struggles with her self-care too, and knowing this will make you feel less alone when you struggle.  Once you’ve had a few of these conversations, see if you can band together a few of these self-care friends into a little support group.  Add more people to it over the months and years and soon you’ll have your own self-care community.

Also, if you’d like to join my self-care community, I would be honored.  I am launching The Beautiful Life Collective, my membership program that will support each member to use our own self-care as a way to care for those around us.  Registration opens in September - stay tuned to my newsletter and blog to learn more!

Morning Routines That Work with My Morning Routine Blog Co-Creater Benjamin Spall

 

After a big pause (geez, moving is hard!), I am back with a new podcast on morning routines!  I recorded this podcast back in May with My Morning Routine co-creater Benjamin Spall, right before the launch of the blog's amazing My Morning Routine book. As you might know by now, I am a big believer in the power of self-care morning routines and love learning how other people begin their days. 

In this podcast (and their awesome book), Benjamin shares the morning routines of some the most creative and effective people in our world today. Listen and get inspired to create your own dynamic morning routine!