Self-Care for Those With Tough Childhoods (The Last Selection From My Upcoming Book "Selfcarefully")

reparenting.jpg

Hello Dearest,

In celebration of my upcoming book, Selfcarefully, I’m sharing five of my favorite sections throughout December into early January. (Read more about how I wrote this book on metro rides and with lots of support here.)

Today is the last one so I wanted to make it special! In the essay, I discuss what to do if you didn’t have positive self-care role models growing up, and why practicing authentic self-care can have such a powerful effect on your self-esteem. I also touch on why self-care can bring up so many feelings! (Truly, it’s power goes very deep!)

I hope the message from this essay is clear. Even if you had hard experiences before, you have the power to change the abusive or neglectful patterns that you learned. You have the power to take responsibility for your life and forgive those who couldn’t care for you before (even if that means intense boundaries or total detachment). You have the power to become a positive self-care role model for those around you.

If you’re learning from and enjoying these reflective self-care missives, please consider preordering your copy of Selfcarefully by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign. We’ve raised more than $5000 with 18 hours left to go! Thank you all so much!

It’s been a pleasure to share “Selfcarefully” with you! I can’t wait to see the places it might go in 2019. I’ll keep you updated along the way and, as always, am so grateful for your support.

With care,
Gracy

***

Self-care and Reparenting Yourself

After working with many women around their self-care, I began to notice a pattern. The women in the course would start to put themselves to bed earlier and wake themselves up with gentle, loving routines, like stretching their bodies or drinking a mug of hot lemon water. Then, a whole flush of emotions would come up about their relationship with their parents. As we worked through these feelings in the program, they began to find a lot of healing and sometimes even forgiveness. I began to realize that these women were reparenting themselves through self-care. 

As I understand it, when we are young, our parents are responsible for all of our bodily and emotional care.  Some of us got the good stuff—the patient, loving, fun parents.  But others—like me—had the parents who were really struggling with their own lives and didn't always have a lot of extra care to give away.  I certainly experienced love and care—but I also remember rushed mornings and conflict-ridden bedtimes.  As an adult, I felt stuck in these patterns, and it seemed so hard to take care of myself, almost like it was wrong. When I finally pushed through the resistance and began caring for myself anyway, I gained more confidence. I realized that I could love myself, regardless of other people’s feelings about me.

And yes, with time, I've even begun to forgive my parents.  I see now that they were just doing the best they could—and that I don’t need to repeat their patterns. Staying angry with them only holds me back from the love and joy I desire in my life.  Growing up means I finally want freedom more than vindication.  This has made my life so much richer on every level. 

I'm always amazed by the healing that self-care opens up. When I see how much self-care helps me open my heart and enjoy my life, I feel inspired to take care of myself, no matter how hard it feels in the moment.

***

Want to read more? Preorder your own copy of Selfcarefully here.

Thoughts on Feeling Lovable (The Next Taste of My Upcoming Book "Selfcarefully")

oil.jpg

Hello Dearest,

In celebration of my upcoming book, Selfcarefully, I’m sharing five of my favorite sections throughout December into early January. (Read more about how I wrote this book on metro rides and with lots of support here.)

Today, I wanted to share one of the most profound lessons I’ve learned through my study of Ayurveda. It has to do with oil and it has to do with feeling lovable, a place that I have often struggled in my life.

Ayurveda practices are centered around oil. During food cleanses you eat ample ghee (clarified butter), and a time of restoration means you get slathered from head to toe in sesame oil. Being oily is a very, very good thing!

There is a reason for Ayurveda’s obsession with lubrication. In ancient Sanskrit, the word for oily is sneha. Sneha not only means rich in oil, but it also means the feeling of love. Yup, for more than 5,000 years Ayurvedic healers have understood that we need the heavy, grounding quality of oil to maintain our feeling of being lovable in the world.

Read the short essay below to learn more. I hope it helps you reclaim the extent of your own lovability (which I promise you is immense!), and gives you permission to eat more yummy butter with less guilt. :)

If you’re learning from and enjoying these reflective self-care missives, please consider preordering your copy of Selfcarefully by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign.

Thanks for reading and I’ll look forward to sharing the final sample of the book next week!

With care,
Gracy

***

Self-care and oil

Something that surprised me about Ayurveda was the importance of oil. Oil, oil everywhere! Ayurvedic practitioners recommend that we eat lots of ghee (clarified butter) in order to stay lubricated from brain to joints to colon.  They also recommend daily self-massage with oil. During my first Ayurvedic massage, they slathered me up with sesame oil, including my hair. It was a great big mess! 

But the mess was worth it not just because of the effect on my skin and muscles. It was worth it because, according to Ayurveda, most imbalances, including anxiety and loneliness, originate in the dry, windy quality of vata. In Sanskrit, the oily quality is called sneha, which also means loving. When we feel dried out and alone, getting oily weighs us down a bit and reminds us that we are connected and loved. 

For me, who experienced a lot of loneliness in my childhood, oily food has always been something I crave. When I first tasted ghee, I wanted to eat the whole jar. Although I felt ashamed about it at the time, this is apparently a typical response. We crave the ghee until we fully saturate the dryness. With time, practice, and lots of oil, I have come to crave this quality less. And inside, I experience more sneha, knowing I can love and be loveable in our world. 

***

Want to read more? Preorder your own copy of Selfcarefully here.

Want to Practice Self-Care Without Just Buying More Stuff? Check Out the Next Free Section in My Upcoming Book "Selfcarefully"

Consumerism copy.jpg

Hello Loves!

It’s been such an exciting December! Over the past couple of weeks, I….

I want to thank you all for your support of Selfcarefully and of my work in general! It’s been an awesome and humbling experience of life to receive so much support in so many ways. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

I’d also like you to know that you can still preorder your copy of Selfcarefully until our crowdfunding campaign ends on January 3rd.

Two reasons you might still do this even though we are officially funded are:

  1. All people who preorder Selfcarefully will be invited to a very special virtual book “unveiling” where the Selfcarefully team will show off the finished copy of the book and share more about our book-making process, which involved lots of self-care like homemade pizza, good conversation and taking breaks when needed. (I want to note that writing this second book has been SO much easier than writing my first book because of this self-care. If you’re considering writing a book, I highly recommend learning more about our process!)

  2. Although the physical copy will not be ready until this spring, you can still give Selfcarefully as a holiday present. Simply preorder your copy and then print out this beautifully-designed certificate. When the book is ready, we’ll contact you to get your loved one’s address. (And yes, I am aware that I am offering this certificate in tandem with an essay critiquing buying stuff as a form of self-care. Alas, although our book could be considered more “stuff,” we hope these ideas extend far beyond the pages into actual people’s lives, work and relationships.)

With that, here is the next essay from Selfcarefully. In it, I discuss how easily we can get confused about our self-care when we try to practice it within a consumerist society. Unless we live off the grid, our lives are bombarded by daily advertising messages telling us that the answer to our problems is to buy more stuff.

And yet, we know in our hearts that real self-care has to go deeper than just things we can purchase. I believer it’s an immense act of self-care to critique the system that tells us we are never enough, and realize that we can be resilient and joyful without buying a single thing.

Read “Self-care and Consumerism” here.

Next week, I’ll share another Boxing Day-section from Selfcarefully. This one touches on something that is both mundane and profound in how it’s affected my life: oil. Tune in next week to read why adding more oil into my self-care routines has helped heal the feeling that I am not lovable (and made my skin so much happier).

Have a wonderful week! And remember that you’re allowed to take care of yourself, even within the most chaotic family moment or during a lonely-feeling holiday. You can drink water, eat food that you love, go to bed early, and politely refuse to participate in a toxic conversation. Trust yourself to take the right action. You know exactly what you need to do.

With care,
Gracy

Self-Care for People Who Don't Want to Buy More Stuff (The Next Section in My New Book "Selfcarefully")

Hello Love!

In celebration of my upcoming book, Selfcarefully, I’m sharing five of my favorite sections throughout December. (Read more about how I wrote this book on metro rides and with lots of support here.)

In this next essay, I discuss how easily we can get confused about our self-care when we try to practice it within a consumerist society. Unless we live off the grid, our lives are bombarded by daily advertising messages telling us that the answer to our problems is to buy more stuff.

And yet, we know in our hearts that real self-care has to go deeper than things we can purchase. I believer it’s an immense act of self-care to critique the system that tells us we are never enough, and realize that we can be resilient and joyful without buying a single thing.

If this message of anti-consumerist self-care resonates with you, please preorder your copy of Selfcarefully by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign.

Thanks for reading and I’ll look forward to sharing the next section soon!

With care,
Gracy

***

Self-care and Consumerism 

I often feel confused about how to practice self-care in a culture that equates worth with productivity and buying power. It’s not surprising that my clients and I put too much pressure on ourselves to do more. Nor is it surprising that we buy lots of things that seem like self-care (gym memberships, protein powder, ten different shades of lipstick, etc.)—yet they don’t ever really work.

Consumerism sells the problems and the solutions in one. When I watch commercial TV, I see enticing ads of happy families eating pizza together followed by monthly diet-food subscription plans. They tell us we should be happy all the time (just for the record, no human should be happy all the time), and if we aren’t, there’s something we can buy to make us happier.  When that doesn't work, we buy more and more of both the problems and the solutions.  

Try as we might, it's hard to escape this influence.  The idea that we can buy our way to happiness is woven into our cultural fabric.  Without even realizing it, we've placed time, money, and emotional energy into filling the empty places inside of ourselves with stuff that doesn’t work. We lose faith in ourselves. 

I’ve found that it helps to talk about our self-care struggles in a community.  When we’re honest and vulnerable enough to share our experience of always feeling behind (scarcity!), we see that we aren't alone. What felt like a character defect now feels like a common problem. Bravely, we can support each other to experiment with different solutions—like buying less and listening to ourselves more. We begin to find some real self-care traction (abundance!). 

When we feel like we are failing, we must consider that we live in a culture that profits from us feeling like failures. We can make this influence conscious—and we can consciously choose to practice self-care, anyway.  When enough of us believe that a different way is both possible and necessary, we will begin to create a culture founded on the truth that we are already enough. 

***

Want to read more? Preorder your own copy of Selfcarefully here.

Is Change Hard for You? Read the Second Free Section of My New Book "Selfcarefully"

Change of Seasons.jpg

Hello Dear Ones!

First thing: You’re invited to the cozy winter self-care retreat (you know, the one you’ve been craving)! This February 8-10th, I’m leading a self-care immersion weekend in beautiful Charles Town, WV. I only have a few spots that are not promised to current clients, so please let me know if you want to sign up soon! Learn more here.

And now today…

I hope it’s been a most excellent week of coziness and cheer! This time of year - what I like to call the “holidaze” - can be unsettling to our nervous systems, but it’s also so fun to get unsettled sometimes. Here’s to finding the right balance of settled and unsettled in your life right now!

Personally, I am SO grateful and humbled to report that our crowdfunding for Selfcarefully (the collaborative “selfhelpish” book I’m creating along with Maria Habib and Thick Press) is more than three-quarters funded in just about a week! Wow, thank you all for your generosity! It’s amazing to work as a self-care community to turn this dream into a reality.

Today, I’m back with another essay from Selfcarefully. This self-care essay explores how to take care of ourselves during the transitional moments between seasons. Growing up, I wasn’t taught how to transition gracefully through the seasons. Learning Ayurveda has helped me to stay balanced enough in my health to actually enjoy these changes. I’m so excited to share this self-care knowledge with you!

Read “Self-Care and the Change of Seasons” here.

Learning to transition gracefully between the seasons has helped me during other big life changes as well. Now, when I’m going through a difficult transition, I think of how much nature is strengthen by ongoing change. I take a breath, and remember that this change is building my resilience in the most natural of ways.

If you’re inspired by this message of nature-led self-care, please consider preordering your very own copy of Selfcarefully.

My hope is that this collection of beautifully-illustrated, hand-printed essays will help you develop your own authentic lens of self-care. With this lens intact, I have full faith in your ability to artfully navigate the many changes of your life.

Next week, I’ll be back with another taste of Selfcarefully. I’ll share a few thoughts on how to take care of yourself without feeling like you’re just buying more stuff, i.e. “Self-Care and Consumerism.”

Until then, please know how grateful I am for you. Keep shining, keep enjoying, and keep searching for your balance. Even if you never quite find it, the act of trying to find balance is an act of immense self-care.

With care,
Gracy

Self-Care for Those of Us Who Have a Hard Time with Seasonal Change (The Next Essay in My New Book "Selfcarefully")

Change of Seasons.jpg

Hello Dear!

In celebration of my upcoming book, Selfcarefully, I’m sharing five of my favorite sections throughout December. (Read more about how I wrote this book on metro rides and with lots of support here.)

This self-care essay explores how to take care of ourselves during the transitional moments between seasons. Growing up, I was never taught how to transition gracefully through the seasons. Learning Ayurveda has helped me to stay balanced enough in my health to actually enjoy these changes. I’m so excited to share this self-care knowledge with you!

If this message of nature-led self-care resonates with you, please preorder your copy of Selfcarefully by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign.

Thanks for reading and I’ll look forward to sharing the next section soon!

With care,
Gracy

***

Self-care and The Change of Seasons

As our earth rotates around the sun, nature shifts through the seasons. Depending on where you live, these seasonal fluctuations may be subtle, or they may be dramatic.  Through Ayurveda, I’ve learned the importance of modifying my self-care with the change in seasons.  The easiest way to do this is to eat what is most readily available at the moment.  Living on the East Coast, this usually means grounding root vegetables in the fall, or cleansing green leaves during the spring. When the days are shorter, I take more baths, light candles, and go to sleep earlier. As the days grow longer, I wander more often in nature, delve into creative projects, and stay out later. 

I’ve also learned that the transitions between seasons are important moments for increased self-care. (Aren’t transitions always so vulnerable?) During these times, I like to do a gentle cleanse by eating a simple diet for a little while. Ayurvedic doctors often recommend an exclusive diet of kitchari, a rice and mung dal mixture that has been cooked down to an easily-digestible porridge.  During a cleanse, I do more self-massage and give myself extra downtime. (These are the practices I have access to that work well for me.  They might look very different for others.)

In our one-size-fits-all culture, it can be hard to shift our daily practices with the seasons. We live during a time when strawberries are available year-round from grocery stores and heating and air-conditioning help us escape the elements. Most of us don’t really have to go through the cycles of the year in the same way as generations past.  

This is yet another instance of self-care feeling counter-cultural. Going against the cultural flow and aligning with natural cycles takes energy in the beginning—energy to pay attention to my body; energy to establish a new rhythm; energy to feel my feelings that come with the change.  Once I make the transition, I find that shifting my self-care with the seasons always gives back more energy than it takes.

***

Want to read more? Preorder your own copy of Selfcarefully here.

The Cozy Winter Self-Care Retreat You've Been Craving - You're Invited!

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Join me for a Cozy Winter Self-Care Retreat in Beautiful West Virginia

February 8 - 10, 2019

Claymont Seminars, The Great Barn

Is winter already wearing you down? Are you craving time for relaxation, contemplation and a deeper practice of self-care this season?

Join me at the beautiful Claymont Seminars for a cozy weekend of delicious food, gentle yoga and life-changing self-care workshops. Learn the essential self-care practices that help you live a beautiful life, every single day. Be in community with people who appreciate meaningful conversation as much as you.

Over the course of this weekend, you’ll gain a much deeper understanding of who you are and what you need to care for yourself within the busyness of modern life.

You’ll also leave our weekend together knowing how to:

  • Craft and practice a dynamic morning routine

  • Set boundaries around your time and energy

  • Share your self-care with your loved ones

  • Transition gracefully from winter into spring

Learn more in the FAQ below and email me at gracy@selfcarewithgracy.com with any questions.

Sign up before January 15th to take advantage of early bird rate!

Can’t wait to retreat with you!

XO,
Gracy

***

Retreat FAQ’s

When is the retreat?

February 8-10, 2019.  Check-in starts on Friday from 4pm and we end after lunch on Sunday, around 1:30pm.

Where is the retreat?

A very sweet retreat center called Claymont Seminars near Charles Town, WV.  Depending on traffic, it takes about an hour to get there from downtown DC.   This is the 19th retreat I’ve led at Claymont and they are always wonderful experiences!

Who can attend?

All people who want to learn, practice and share self-care!  You can take as much personal time as you need - there are lots of wonderful walking trails, cozy meditation places and nearby Harper’s Ferry to visit.  There will also be a wonderful community of supportive folks with whom you can eat delicious food, engage in meaningful conversation and giggle with by the fire.

What if I am traveling from out of town?  

If you book your travel to arrive in DC by 2pm (or Dulles by 4pm) on Friday, we can most likely find you a ride to the retreat center.  Please book your return travel for after 4:30pm on Sunday.

What are the sleeping arrangements?

The accommodations are single/shared rooms (single rooms are first come first serve unless you have a medical need to have a single room) with shared bathrooms.

What is the food like?

I’m so glad you asked - it’s delicious!  Our baseline menu is a colorful, yummy vegan and gluten-free menu with the option of dairy + bread to add in.

Will there be yoga?

Yes, there will be gentle, all-levels yoga taught by Gracy.  You can participate or sleep in! :)

What is the cost of the retreat?

For those who sign up before January 15th, the price is $325.  For those who sign up after, the price is $350. Prices include all food, accomodations and supplies (though you might want to bring a little extra money to buy Claymont’s honey - so good!)

Self-Care for When You Think You've F*cked It All Up (The First Essay in my New Book Selfcarefully!)

fuckin it all up.jpg

Hello Dear!

In celebration of my new book, Selfcarefully, I’m sharing five of my favorite sections. I hope this opening essay in the book helps you to see you are not alone in feeling like you’ve fucked up your self-care, again, and that these moments of messy confusion are the most generative of spaces to get to know yourself.

If this message of self-care rather than self-improvement resonates with you, please preorder your copy of Selfcarefully by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign.

Thanks for reading and I’ll look forward to sharing the next section soon!

With care,
Gracy

***

Self-Care and Fucking it All Up

There comes a moment in every self-care journey when it's easy to feel like you’ve fucked it all up. How do I know this? Well, I’ve watched a lot of women—including myself—go through these moments. 

The pattern goes like this: I work hard and gain some positive momentum.  I feel pretty great, and my mind is full of possibility. Then, I have a bad day. The negative voice in my head starts in on me, and nothing I do is good enough.  When I get home, I’m crabby with my partner and I just want to numb out in front of the TV. The next morning, I hit "snooze" again and again.  Groggy and emotionally hung-over, I tell myself I've messed it all up. Perhaps I’m just not capable of change.

I want you to know that it’s normal to have these digressive moments. We all have them and we will all continue to have them.  However, these moments are not a sign that we can’t grow. Rather, they show that we are growing. Our over-stimulated nervous systems get freaked out by change and decide to slam on the brakes by telling us—over and over—to hit “snooze” or watch another episode or do whatever makes you feel like you’ve fucked it all up. 

When we fuck up, we don’t have to give up. To restart our self-care, we only need to recognize what’s happening. As we do, we can speak gently to ourselves. We can ask for support from our loved ones. We can pivot back to ourselves and realize that we are allowed to mess up, because we have the tools to care for ourselves, even on our worst days (when we probably need the most care).  Practicing resilience during these times of supposed defeat is rarely glamorous.  However, learning to care for yourself, no matter how broken you may feel, is essential for navigating the rocky moment of growth, many of which are still ahead. 

***

Want to read more? Preorder your own copy of Selfcarefully here.

Read a Section of My New Book (and learn what to do when you f*ck it all up in your self-care)

fuckin it all up.jpg

Hello darlings!

I’m so excited to announce a project that has been cooking for quite a while. It started pretty soon after I had Jonah, when my friend Erin approached me about writing a book. Erin, along with her friend Julie, had just started an independent press to create self-care resources for caregivers. She asked if I could write a book about self-care for Thick Press.

Of course, my first instinct was to say “no”. No, I had way too much going on in my world. No, I had nothing else to give to others. How was I supposed to write a book teaching people to take care of themselves while I was just staying afloat as a new mother?

(Especially because I still had no idea what to do with my first book. Which I still don’t, but now I feel pretty confident that its publication will work itself out in time.)

Then I remembered the power of making tiny moves in the direction of something I care about, also called kaizen, a Japanese business philosophy. Erin, who is also a believer in the the tiny, productive steps mentality, encouraged me to think about how to make writing a book feel easier.

So I said “yes”. If I could break it into small parts, I could do this. Erin and I made a big list of essay topics that related to self-care: Self-care and oil, Self-care and feminism, Self-care and the sunrise, Self-care and kaizen, Self-care and racism…. (We ended up adding more along the way and now we have 30 Self-care and… titles)

I wrote almost all of these little essays on my iPhone while riding the red line from Brookland to downtown. This ride takes about 20 minutes and provided just enough time to get some messy thoughts down in an email to Erin. When I arrived at my stop, I’d hit “send” and forget about what I just typed out. This process took about six months. Slowly, without a lot of pressure, the self-care essays piled up.

After that came a lot of editing help from a few kind readers and some beautiful design and illustration from another dear friend, Maria Habib. Within this cleaning-up stage, these short essays took form as a truly collaborative project. We decided to call the book Selfcarefully and label it under the “selfhelpish” section of reading.

Today, I’m extremely excited to share the very first essay in Selfcarefully! It’s called Self-Care and Fucking it All Up. In it, I share how to use self-care in those moments when you feel like you’ve fucked up your self-care, again.

Read Self-Care and Fucking it All Up here

I hope this opening essay distinguishes our book as one that promises to never try to fix you (ugh, self-improvement), but rather one that will teach you to compassionately care for yourself through the inevitable ups and downs of authentic self-discovery.

If these self-loving, activated messages resonate with you, please consider contributing to our crowdfunding by preordering a book or just making a $5 donation because you believe in our message.

Preorder your copy of Selfcarefully here

Over the next month, I’m going to share four more of our illustrated essays from Selfcarefully. Speaking for all of us on the project, we hope these essays inspire more softness in the way you treat yourself. We hope they motivate you to show up more fully to serve others in our world. Mostly, we hope they help you continue to navigate the long journey home to yourself.

With care,
Gracy

My Latest Definition of Self-Care

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

Hello lovelies! Exciting book news coming next week. In the meantime - in my ever-present search to define self-care - I wanted to share my latest definition. Today, self-care is a shift…

...from feeling like you’ll never get everything done to realizing you’re allowed to do just one thing at a time (and take breaks in the process).

...from the desire to go on restrictive diets (or other ways of clamping down on your compulsions) to the desire to eat in a normal, sane way while exploring the roots of your compulsions with tenderness and support.

...from feeling like practicing your self-care routines will make you a boring person to understanding that your routines are a gift you give to yourself.

...from saying that you’ll take care of yourself once your to-do list is done to caring for yourself whenever you feel sad, tired, lonely, or otherwise depleted.

...from living from a place of obligation (all those “shoulds” and “have tos”) to living from a place of opportunity (the “get tos” and “want tos”).

...from feeling overextended because you’re afraid of disappointing others to consistently saying the word “no” with love, and seeing how it brings relief to yourself and others.

...from frantically rushing around, wolfing down meals without tasting them and leaving the house like a tornado to mindfully moving through your life, savoring your food and getting calmly into your car each morning.

...from mercilessly beating yourself up over simple mistakes to giving yourself grace for being a human being who is doing the best she can.

...from seeing vulnerability as weakness to understanding real strength happens in the moments you can fall apart and allow yourself to be supported in the breakdown (or breakthrough!).

...from thinking you have to do everything yourself, beloved martyr you, to realizing that you can ask for help, collaborate and enjoy the process.

...from shutting down your creative desires as being unrealistic to exploring them slowly, steadily and with childish glee.

...from meeting your reflection in the mirror with judgment (“The pounds, wrinkles and problem features!”) to saying a real “thank you” to your body for steadfastly carrying you through this lifetime.

...from spending most of your energy trying to keep up an image of having it “together” to spending most of your energy caring for yourself and your loved ones, during your moments of togetherness and your moments of falling apart.

...from believing that voice that keeps whispering “you’re alone in this world” to seeing the myriad ways you get to connect to the people you’re with every day.

...from feeling lost in your own suffering to realizing you can be of service to others who are also suffering ( this service is what truly sets you free).