Self Care

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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

Self Care for the See Ya Laters

Happy Labor Day! I for one am enjoying the opportunity to stay in my pajamas until eleven am. I have plans for coffee, and reading a book, and having dinner with friends. That is what days off should be about. I am procrastinating some fairly large tasks for the week ahead, and saying “Today, I choose self care.” The anxiety of what I should be accomplishing to manage my life can begin tomorrow.

This weekend I bought a Real Simple Magazine. One of the articles was talking about how hard it can be to make friends as an adult. I was shocked by a stat that said that on average, people change groups of friends every seven years. While I love my friends dearly, I thought to myself, hmm, its almost time for a new batch of friends. I simply mean that life choices and changes, especially in the second half of your twenties, draw you away from your tribe created in college and perhaps the terrifying years of when you are all moving home and floating a little bit. When you pass over twenty five, we all start to seem a little bit more ‘legit’ – whatever that means – and these legitimate choices of career, and partners, and lifestyle preferences push friendships into the great unknown. As a loyal person, this makes me sad. As a realist, this makes me understand, ‘heck, these changes have nothing to do with me as a person, it just happens.’

This past month I said “see ya later” (not good-bye – that is too final) to three friends going off to grad school – Boston, California, Scotland. I had friends start new teaching jobs, new outdoor adventure jobs, and I chose to leave behind a tribe when I started a new job – even if the location is literally across the street.  Through all of these swinging doors I’m learning how to take care of myself. I’m trying to ignore comparison, sending light and love across the country, and gaining new pen pals. Also choking back a sob, a healthy sob, that we are entering into the next new chapter of life with threads still connecting us.

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It is easy for me, in times of change, to beat myself up. I feel I should have a better handle on the unknown outcomes of my choices. My therapist gently reminded me that it is ok to be anxious about some of these changes – I’ve never done them before. My need to be perfectly predicting is preposterous. So this week, I’ve adopted this beautiful mantra above and allow myself to cultivate new thoughts as I change and grow at rates un-measureable. I didn’t create the image above, just took it from Pinterest, so to whomever did – I love it.

Also this week was my first wedding anniversary! Hard to believe 365 days have already gone by as a wife. It is so fun to celebrate and reminisce about one of the best days of my life. I know there are many more good days to come. We spent the day at the farmers market, bopping around town with a latte in hand, and looking in shops, admiring beautiful things. We went to our favor restaurant for dinner and exchanged small gifts. My favorite part, though, was coming home and watching a movie, sharing a whole bottle of prosecco and nibbling on Cheez-Its. Word to the wise – don’t get the reduced fat.

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There is a lot of pressure to make a first anniversary astounding. I’d say we had a great day, but it was the little snack of crackers and bubbles with my man that made my beautiful heart oh, so happy.

Self Care and Other Things that Start with S

It seems like I rip off the pages of my daily calendar at an alarmingly rate. It is already March. Days continue to turn into night, and the sun returns with a beckoning whisper of new hope. New beginnings. New identities starting to form. March is the whisper gently saying, “you’ve almost made it!” You can start thinking about bravely poking your new shoots through the dirt and soil that has kept you safe, and well, frozen. Let the sun thaw you into something green.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase, “refiner’s fire” mentioned in the Bible. How God takes all those gnarly parts of who you are no longer meant to be, and literally burns them away. The burning is a painful process, right, but beauty remains. I was talking with my mom about change and she reminded me that every cell in your body replenishes itself at least once a year, of course, if not more. Every single cell that makes up who you are in the world dies and begins again to allow for growth. How do you die and begin again? Is it a choice for a new habit to form, a new friendship to take root, a new place of being to spend your days? I’m going through some changes, and I will have a full update soon, but for now, am thinking of the refining process and allowing myself to celebrate amidst those fiery flames that lead to new, great and wonderful ways of experiencing our world.

So, here are some things that I consider to be my self-care lately. Judge as you may – the way we spend our time is often up for scrutiny isn’t it?

Sushi – There is a great restaurant in Boulder that Dylan and I often frequent for a splurge night out. Hapa Sushi is delicious, adventurous, and sparks the senses. I fear my tastes in sushi may be evolving. We wanted the fancier, more delicate rolls that are crafted with an immense amount of intentional flavor blending built in. I drove down to Boulder Friday night, and we thoroughly enjoyed a culinary experience. We talked, really talked, about our hopes and our perceptions of where we are at in this stage of life. Quality time and beautifully crafted raw fish made my heart happy.

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Scrapbooking – When I was a junior and senior in high school, I participated in the International Baccalaureate program. It’s a wonder I graduated. I still can’t spell that word without the help of spell check. Can I get an I.B. holler? One of my higher level classes was HL Art. In our creation of our pieces it was a primary responsibility to maintain a research workbook. Ah, the dreaded research workbook. We were supposed to document and identify every stage of the creative process for our artistic inspiration. This included pictures, techniques, supplies, articles and insights that led us to our finalized masterpiece. The books were a lot of work to maintain. I, being a collage creator and journaling documenter, loved this homework and have adapted the research workbook style of documentation into my life. That, and my love for rubrics, but that is something different altogether. I glue things into my personal journal, draw, sketch, capture readings and words that bring me up to speed with who I am today.

So, after our honeymoon and the realization that we took over 400 photos, I had the idea to create a research workbook style scrapbook that would document the start of our official “us-ness”. This weekend, Dylan was brewing beer and I got to work organizing our photos and our memorabilia from our trip, and set to work to craft our story of how our marriage started out. All I could think of was my professor in college who taught my “Families in Society” class as she repeatedly said, “Women are primarily responsible for the documentation of family history. This involves Christmas Cards, scrapbooks, kid’s memories boxes.” Well yes, Professor, I’m taking on this work diligently. This project is going to take me longer than I originally anticipated, but it’s off to a great start. I think my forearms are actually sore from using the glue stick and my fancy paper cutter. Sore. I know, it’s pathetic. There is beauty in documenting my life, and in my efforts to do so creatively.

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Snow ShoesSierra Trading Post was having a sale so I bought some new snow shoes. I’ve only ever tried this hobby once, borrowing the much needed gear from a co-worker. In efforts to invest in new interests, I now have my very own pair. They are pink, and they have stars on the bottom. They are fabulously girly. They also give me reason to desire the snow, and I hope that I can have a few adventures tromping around in that white powder before it melts for the year. Cheers to the beauty in trying new things, in investing in interests that will allow you to expand, and to pink! If you want to go on a snow shoeing adventure, please, please invite me along!

Books – Beautiful, Beautiful Books – I continue to read, and love my time with words on tangible pages. I just finished “Yes, Chef”, by Marcus Samuelsson, and was tantalized with his way of mixing our connections to food and culture to his own story. I’ve got a stack of new books on my coffee table and I just scheduled a “Book Swap” party with some of my favorite women in town. Stories are important. We need to document them and we need to explore them. At least, I do.

As winter begins to thaw into spring, where are you growing? What are you doing for self-care and how are your very cells regenerating into something new? Do you find the process to be beautiful, or painful, or both?

Biscotti Update – replaced with Banana Bread this week. Use half the amount of allocated sugar, and add chocolate chips

Essie: They just release their spring collection. I’ve got to go check it out

The Four Agreements

The 4 AgreementsI was given a gift this week, once again, in an unusual format. Sitting in staff meeting on a Monday morning is usually not people’s favorite place to be. I would say for me, its manageable, but you know, sometimes, it’s just something you want to check off your list. This week, we had a guest speaker, which is pretty common for us as we collaborate with many business partners, agencies, schools, supporters. I was hunkered down, listening, but admittedly, thinking about a few other things that have been on my mind.

But this gentleman, he caught my attention, and as he spoke about his experience working with at-risk youth in prisons, in rehab, in places where kids are deemed unworthy, casts off, trash, I put away my notebook, and fully tuned in to what he had to say. This guy exudes authenticity, real personable skills, and began his presentation with the genuine desire to help others. He said he approaches his helping work with the premise that he does this work for a reason;  ” ‘It’s not because I am better than you, but I am older and have a lifetime of experience.’ I was speaking from my gut, not trying to be tough or be anything but my own true self.” Ahhhh, how refreshing. Isn’t this all what we are trying to do – well maybe not all of us – but come on, when the mess of daily life boils down to our true selves, we just want to help and share our experiences, and our wisdom. I would argue very few people approach their work with I’m better than you so listen up. None of us respond to that kind of false, unearned trust or authority. I don’t know this presenter guy, but I think I love his approach already. I want to know more, learn more, and pass on what he has to say.

He passed out a hand out called The 4 Agreements – see above – and I have literally put them next to my bed. Each statement, each affirmation, is something that can help me get through the day – help us all get through the day. I think the one that I have been working on all year – at work, with wedding planning, with my family, with my friends and my therapist – is the ” When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t need to be the victim of needless suffering.” Thank you universe, for bringing that message round again. I love it – it makes me giddy and unbelievably calm, because while each of those statements are hard to live by every day, they carry such buoyant truth. Context, in this situation, isn’t important to me because these transcend those thoughts and apply to so many situations in my life. Be me, be Katie, don’t absorb other’s drama, seek my own truth, and take care of myself. Easy on paper, hard in practice, but that’s why I’ve put them above my side of the bed.

This week too I found simple pleasure in going to look at flowers for the wedding. Whole sale flower markets are really interesting and the textures and colors and potential of fun little tokens of promise for the wedding were fun to look at. And it’s freezing. They keep those coolers COLD – my teeth were chattering and I wanted to make quick decisions, and my recommendations were voiced by the stacks and stacks of vases while my arms thawed. Dylan’s mom and his aunts came with us and what a blessing it is that his aunt is going to do the flowers for us. I got so lucky that so many members of my family are lending a hand and making our day special with their own contributions.

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And I tried a new brussels sprouts recipe and devoured them at a restaurant when I got to go on an impromptu lunch with my mom on Friday afternoon. Isn’t it interesting how those little cabbages are making such a resurgence? I love the metaphor that these little veggies present. Something that has been written off for years, by children and adults since probably the 1960s have made the trendiest come back and now we pay $5 for a small bowl as an appetizer – brussels sprouts glazed in orange sauce (I highly recommend them at Restaurant 415 in Fort Collins) – or I try roasting them at home with cranberries and feta. Click here for the recipe. Don’t sell yourself short, you never know what you will find yourself loving years down the road that perhaps you hated for quite some time.

So which of The 4 Agreements stand out to you? How can you apply them to your life? Would you eat brussels sprouts with me if we sat down and had a chat about how we try to live authentically?

 

For more information about our guest speaker, Steve and his business Teach Authentic visit his website