Self Care

Here’s to the ones

To the ones who pick up the phone, send the texts, check in and ask how you’re doing.

To the ones who whisper and tell us on repeat, “We are ok. We don’t have to accomplish anything.”

To the ones who are seeking validation and a space to share your story.

To the ones aching for community.

To the ones who want more, better, beauty.

To the compassionate ones crying in your cubicles.

Our world makes you small when your heart beats so big you don’t know how to handle it.

bruno-cervera-1173727-unsplash

To the ones listening and leaning in.

To the ones who are haunted and hoping and hurting and here.

To the ones who bend and smell the roses and fill your arms with blooms in the garden, sorting weeds from the tiny blossoms of potential.

To the ones who buy themselves the peonies and bring their friends bread.

Caring for ourselves and our friends is a radical act.

To the ones who sit on blue benches whispering this just sucks.

To the ones who have loved and lost and to those who are waiting.

To the ones swirling to make sense of things.

To those who want to be seen.

Tonight, you are beautiful to me.

In Denial

I got an email from Nordstrom Rack this week. A classic promotion and the subject line read, “Which type is your dad?”

Screen Shot 2019-06-10 at 9.49.53 PM.png

A dead one – I thought to myself.

Oy

I wanted to send of a snarky reply but I didn’t.

Sometimes it’s easier to keep those little remarks to yourself. Advertisers are not often in the business of being sensitive to these kind of pain points.

Here we are. Another calendar year rolled by and I find myself clicking delete on promotions in my email, in the accounts I manage, and ignoring blatant ads on social media.

These Father’s Day triggers are everywhere.

After reading some of the pieces I published last year on the holiday I realized I’m at year number four, not three, of this holiday without him.

Four seems so much bigger than three.

You can ask the toddlers who have become bigger children in his absence.

I’m in Father’s Day denial. I was hoping to keep it at an arms distance.

But Nordstrom and Macy’s and Apple and even Starbucks are telling me I better prepare.

Sigh. Deeeeeeeeep sighs.

I’m missing him and breathing in his scent found in the hot popcorn popped fresh at the hardware store. I finger his sweatshirts hanging in my closet, next to my work blazers reminding me of how his fibers felt when brushed against him as I rushed out the door.

I’m in denial this year and so I turn my attention here. To the …

White walls painted fresh in a completed basement.

Slices of crisp dill pickle on dry crumbly bread.

Ham spread with mayo, no Minnesota butter to be found.

Small floating bubbles in spritzer.

Peas sprouting up in the garden.

Translucent squirts of lemon juice easing their way down into glasses full of cool water.

Coffee beans grinding.

Fitness instructors reminding me to tend to my back.

Encouragement from bosses.

Kisses on the cheek with an old friend. The ones who knew him too.

Red lipstick marks on coffee cups.

Baby Opal just one miraculous week old.

Maintained eye brows.

Dinners with grandmas and aunts and mother-in-laws.

Lottery tickets scratched clean.

These are the beautiful things this week is made of. And I’m focusing on them instead.

 

June Favorite Things – 2019

This month’s theme is self-love. I’m really good at loving others, giving to causes, caring too much, listening just a bit too long.

And I’m really bad at doing the same thing for myself.

So here are some fun and interesting ways to take care of yourself.

  1. Get a temporary tattoo
    Check out these mantra inspired, mental-health improving temporary tattoos. I’m sending my friends packs and putting unicorns on myself. We’re majestic creatures and we are enough. Sometimes you need to put these truths on your body to believe it.
  2. Eat a wholesome breakfast
    My friend JC is moving forward to turn his dream into a reality and is offering adventure-ready meals using flavorful, clean, gluten-free, dairy-free ingredients. While meant for camping and outdoor adventures, these pre-made meals have been known to be consumed by the quick and busy millennial on-the-go during the morning commute. Congrats to JC, Anya, and the team at Backcountry Staples.
  3. Wear Your Feelings
    Our culture mutes our emotional expression too much. I’m currently waiting for this delightful sweatshirt to arrive from Bando. I have a feeling I’ll be purchasing more from this site soon.
  4. Invest in Lavender Shampoo
    I’m not quite sure if I’m allergic to lavender. Sometimes yes, other times, like when using this delightful shampoo at my mom’s house, no. It leaves your hair smelling delicious and fresh and clean for days. So I’ll be stocking up here shortly and praying for no delayed allergic reaction. The lemon sage one is great too, just in case.
  5. Read, or Watch, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
    We read the book for Book Club and I got really lost and confused. And then I watched the mini-series on Amazon and it all came together. This is a hilarious Armageddon story and has me hoping for humanity as we approach the end of the world. Read the book. Or watch the show. Either way.

Be kind to yourself.

Twenty Things I Learned in My Twenties

charles-etoroma-374017-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Charles Etoroma on Unsplash

Today I turn 30. The ‘big birthday.’ When I started this blog I was 23, unmarried, and unanchored. A lot has changed in the last seven years and I’m eager to see what the next decade brings. Thank you, dear readers, for watching me grow up.

Reflection brings its own kind of wisdom and before I dance into the next new decade, I’m sharing my love letter of lessons I’ve learned about myself in the last ten years. Enjoy.

  1. Career may not fulfill your soul.
    I spent my early twenties bouncing from job to job searching for the perfect fit. I had nine jobs in ten years. There will be conflict at work. There will be days that feel tedious and boring. It is important to find people you can learn from and environments to push you out of your comfort zone. It’s ok to make a switch, and ok to fail. At least you tried. There’s more to your worth than what you do from 9-5.
  2. Ask for that raise sooner than later. 
    You’re worth it. Practice negotiating and communicating how your skills bring organizations different value. It takes practice and it pays off. The least they can say is no, not right now.
  3. New paint makes a big difference.
    Make your spaces your own. Your house can be a reflection of you. Paint is affordable and it takes just a few hours to reclaim space for rest and rejuvenation.
  4. Planning a wedding is fun. Planning for marriage is improbable.
    I got engaged at the age of twenty three and walked down the aisle at age twenty five. That was young. We did marriage counseling, had dated for six years, and talked about many things. We weren’t prepared for how unemployment, unexpected death, and financial uncertainty would change and shape our young marriage. You can’t plan for all of the scenarios. You can, however, pick a partner who will fight for you and hold your hand when things fall apart.
  5. Pick up those shoes.
    Really, I leave them all over the house. Weekly shoe round-ups should be a thing. I’m messy. Tough.
  6. People will die.
    Yes, your people. They will die. Before your heart is ready with things left unchecked on bucket lists and words left unsaid. This is the worst truth of the universe. Surviving the death of my dad has rearranged me leaving gaps for compassion, empathy, and tears. Death sucks. Grief sucks. People die. It sucks so frickin’ bad.
  7. Say I love you every chance you get.
    The last time I saw my dad, he left my house without me saying good-bye. I just assumed I’d see him the next day. I didn’t say ‘I love you’ and I regret that. Life is short. Tell people how much you love them every chance you get.
  8. Friendships change.
    As you grow and change, so will your friends. Give others grace, stand up at weddings, cheer when they announce they are going to have a baby. Honor the space of sadness when the people you could always count on don’t respond as much as you’d like. Hold space for new relationships. Be the friend you want to have.
  9. Metabolism slows.
    Damn. Buy bigger-sized pants. Eat a few less french fries. Get back to the gym and love your body.
  10. Stop resisting when they offer to do the dishes.
    For a long time, I’d be mortified when my mother-in-law would do my dishes. It made me feel like a horrible host. She’s not silently commenting on the state of the kitchen. She’s instead using her gifts and sharing her time. People will show you their love in all kinds of ways. Stop resisting and say thank you.
  11. Having a dog is beneficial.
    They’ll pee on the carpet and destroy a few of your favorite things. But the little creature will warm your heart, absorb your tears, and take up space on the bed when you’re cold. Eye contact with an animal will soften your soul.
  12. Get a few stamps in your passport.
    Planning a trip and traveling abroad will give you confidence and joy in unimaginable ways. Gelato in Paris is delicious. Kidney pie in London is not.
  13. Graduate from an amaretto sour.
    Try different alcoholic drinks and explore how your tastes evolve. Know a few classic cocktails to ask for in a bar. When you order a shot of Fireball with your brother’s friends, they will laugh at you. Don’t let shame shape your choices. It’s ok to like what you like.
  14. Softball is not fun.
    I’d just rather not spend my summer evenings on the ball field. Practice saying no to the things that don’t bring you joy so you can say yes to the things that make your heart beat a little faster.
  15. I’m sensitive. So be it.
    My awareness of others suffering is a gift, not a weakness. Refuse to let others squash the sensitivity out of you. Continue to give the homeless woman a granola bar, make donations to charity, and cry at the news.
  16. People want to read these words.
    I must believe this every time I click publish. Your voice matters and you have every right to share your thoughts. Not everyone will resonate and likes and comments don’t qualify my words as worthy. Keep typing. It doesn’t have to make you money … though that would be nice.
  17. Family is complicated.
    It gets tricky when pain trickles through long-standing relationships. Keep trying. Keep praying. God’s grace can fix holes in family tapestries. Where we come from matters. Hold onto the good stuff, let go of the crap.
  18. You can take care of yourself.
    Of course I want others to take care of me. Bring me soup, vacuum the dirty carpet, offer tissues for the mountains of snot grief creates – yes please. More empowering though? Learning how to care for myself. Take space to sit and be sad. Invest in good shoes, honor your body with clothes that fit, and pay for a therapist to help process. Accepting help is self-care. Putting things in place to meet my own needs – even better.
  19. Money is a tool – let it flow.
    While I prefer to sit on my savings account for fear of not enough, I’m learning money is a tool for joy. Using funds responsibly can create positive, life-changing experiences. Travel. Save for the car. Get a haircut. Sponsor a child. Trust you have the capability to make more money and believe God provides.
  20. Hope lives in the relentless search for beauty.
    The gifts God gives are in the small and ordinary. Keep seeking good and you will find beauty. Clean water, fresh flowers, a kiss on the nose. Bubbles in sparkling wine, puppy breath, baby toes. Suffering and beauty co-exist. We won’t live in a world without both.

In a Dressing Room on a Tuesday Evening

I’ve got a tender little heart. This I know. I see people and I feel for people and I’m always wishing I had a granola bar in my pocket when I drive by homeless folks standing on the corner.

I am quick to give to YouCaring campaigns and bring my friends flowers. These past few weeks I brought my husband’s team coffee at work. Made a handmade card for a mentor who just released a book and stuck a gift card in the mail for a new momma.

I don’t say this to brag. I just feel like I’m good at these things. At giving gifts. At making others feel seen.

And then I read this.

love

Ouch.

When it comes to taking care of treating myself, receiving. or extending the same kindnesses to myself, I realized I can often suck at this.

In my head I punish myself, rolling around threats of not-enough money or those flowers on the kitchen table should really be five dollars in my savings account instead. Little treats I give to others. Not often myself.  I brush off compliments and say, no, no, you first.

I prefer to be in the background. Anonymous.

It can be scary to be known. Sure, I want to be loved, but what if people don’t love me back?

What if I struggle to love myself too?

Earlier this weekend I found out another dear friend got a job at J.Crew Mercantile. Hmm, I thought, I’ve got some old gift cards burning holes in my stack – cards collecting dust, being saved for a sale or a time when I deserved to spend them.

Enter more punishing thoughts.

He needs pants more than me. I can wait another month. What if there is a better sale later?

“No”, my friend said firmly, “the time is now! Come visit me after work.”

“I deserve it” I tried to convince myself “plus everything is 50% off.”

In I walked, tentatively, into the beautiful shop. Realities of pending bills darting through my lizard brain, scratching and clawing at my ears, slithering you ought to leave.

Keep walking across the wood floor – straight to the sale rack.

My friend greeted me with a smile and open arms. She followed me around the store, making suggestions of new pants to try, a skirt she thought would look good. I asked her to bring me a t-shirt and a size bigger, or two.

I picked out a Spring outfit and felt waited upon and loved. Loved by a friend who kept telling me, ‘no, those pants really do look good’. Who encouraged me into a shop for some self-kindness and attention. Beauty found in feelings of admiration – for myself and the way my feet look in Spring sandals. Beauty in the reminder that it takes a little nudge to love myself and feel seen. That my needs matter too.

I was able to receive the gift of attention when I let myself be taken care of in a dressing room. On a Tuesday evening, in the back of J. Crew, she helped me feel beautiful too.

 

On Doubts

Oh yes, I have them too. Big, fat, ugly, warty doubts that sit on my heart and squash my finger’s desire to type. Little wispy doubts that wear tutus and dance among my strands of hair, swinging along and whispering as they pass by my ears. “You shouldn’t write” they say. “Your stories, your truths – they are going to keep you from getting a job, or make your friends run the other direction. Give it up, no one tends to give a damn.”

I wonder, almost daily, if it is worth being vulnerable on the internet. I doubt the sharing of my tears, my heart, my hopes and my grief on this space. I filter my failures and minimize my successes.

And then, beautiful people like Anne Lamott give a Ted Talk and post on Facebook and I remember, once again, that I’ve got to. I’ve got to write.

19399804_1209688352494139_1369083157027682811_n

So today, my beautiful thing is Anne Lamott’s reminder that she shared. Take that world, I’m going to continue telling my story.  I don’t want to feel like hell.

I personally like #6 on her list. Take heed world, take heed.

Zoom In

The world hurts. The world aches. This blog was created to alleviate some of that internal tension for myself, to look for the silver lining, and the good amongst the struggle, the suffering, or feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. On every level, I am learning, we have the choice to acknowledge the broken parts of our lives while striving for peace and enjoyment.  You know that video from elementary school that starts with an atom and magnifies and magnifies until you are stuck in the middle of the cosmos? This one? 

I’ve been thinking about how we are called to examine ourselves and the connections on each level of magnification. Where do you stand, and how does your world expand or contract based on your own power of ten?

On a macro level, it is no surprise that our world is struggling. The refugee crisis that is unfolding has caught my attention in ways that are new to me. I’ve always loved history and quite often said if I was given the opportunity to go back in time, I would search for an adventure during World War 2. The thousands upon thousands of stories that come from those years peaked my interest since sixth grade. Twentieth Century Politics was my favorite class in high school and I was shocked by the way one book written by Marx could influence so many lives through political repercussions leading us to where we are today.

Now, however, I am realizing that tomorrow’s history is created in the present. The political conflict that is occurring now will be in textbooks when my children reach high school. These choices that leaders are making are affecting trajectories now, and that potential is of monumental size.  These are lives of individuals, families, societies, that are living today. The ‘then’ expressed in history textbooks has caught up to the now – at least in my almost fully developed frontal lobe. I send empathy and compassion to those attempting to rebuild, to strive for something good, to make sense of things that seem unfathomable overseas.

As I zoom in a little bit, and reflect on community connection, waves of sadness hit me too. A young man my brother grew up with lost his battle to mental health this week, and I was shocked by his passing. Pain on a micro level ripples here too, in our own little communities that are supposed to be free of these social issues. I’m learning no, the suffering is here too, in our own circles, with our own friends, with our co-workers, and women in our book clubs.

I am not claiming I can begin to relate to these stories, these struggles, or the tremendous questions that arise out of situations like this. Rather, I am asking myself this week to zoom in. Zoom in and think about how my actions can help or hinder other’s struggles. Zoom in and allow myself to cry, in the middle of a crowded restaurant, while we try to make sense of these situations that are never perfectly going to make sense. Zoom in and recognize the beauty in feeling all of your emotions.

…….. the emotions related to your own relationships

……… the emotions related to situations outside of your control

……… the emotions of simply being human

The beauty in feeling the confusion, the grief, and the gratitude for the knowledge that by acknowledging these emotions, they too shall pass. Find someone you trust to process with. Or perhaps schedule a time to cry in your planner. Either way, allow yourself the space to find release.

Sometimes, you can plan when tears will cleanse. Other times the process of emotional release catches you off guard, and you have to weep. Keep weeping, keep feeling, keep searching for the beauty in the feeling not so very beautiful. This dance of zooming in and zooming out helps us find our place.