Last weekend I took a last minute trip down to Portland from Seattle. A friend of mine from college just moved there and I was due for a little getaway exploration. The months of January and February have been full to the brim for me with work, and other personal life engagements. I knew I was reaching a point where I just needed to be away from the possibility of working, because truly, with my work I never really “leave the office” or “log off”. I have to make that a distinct and intentional choice and during busier periods that is increasingly harder to do especially since I love everything that I do!
So getting away just came at an opportune time. I needed the time to reconnect with my friend but also to just be. I needed to feel the sideways rain drizzling on my face as we walked along Cannon Beach. I needed to be immersed in the joy of seeing the haystacks for the first time. I needed to relish in the glory of a spectacular rainbow, being in the right place at the right time. To let me mind solely focus on how to get across the water canals that made sand pools along the beach and to contemplate how these giant haystacks are created out in the water. I needed to let my spirit be free and not thinking of anything outside of BEING.
After living with an autoimmune disease for over a decade I have experienced both living well, and not so well during that time. I’ve had periods of flares, years of remission and years of soul-growth and healing. Each of your personal experiences in living well with a chronic illness will have parallels to mine and yet also be different. There are a few key factors to living well with an autoimmune disease that have profound impacts on daily life. They are spiritual, mental and physical aspects that when all working together help me to live the best life possible.
August has been about making a ton of things happen. From launching a video program (more to come!) to hosting my annual self-care program, to creating and amazing yoga workshop experience coming this fall, all on top of what I already do for a living (writing + coaching) it’s been a busy month in the most fun way.
Self-care isn’t selfish, it is however, a choice to actively love yourself through actions, practices and rituals. Self-care is about learning refinement of how best to take care of yourself, not about attaining perfection. This comes from a deeper commitment to love yourself. It doesn’t matter whether you love every inch of your body, or if there are certain things you’re working on to better yourself. It is a strong connection to honoring yourself for where you are right now. It is a deep, loving support of yourself so that you can live with intention and peace within your life.
It’s such a pleasure to introduce you to Shannon Keating, this months contributor to Soul Power. I came to know this vibrant young woman about a year ago after we were paired together in this interview with Eileen Laird from Phoenix Helix. I got to hear her story first hand in how she battled an autoimmune condition and lifestyle changes while still in college. So much of her resilience and tenacity reminded me of my own but I applaud her immensely for committing to personal growth in ways her peers don’t yet understand, I know because I have been there. What I love about her piece is the ability she has to share conversationally about her experiences as though she is right there talking with you, and trust me, her genuine enthusiasm will radiate to your core.
I have always been highly inquisitive. My dad likes to tell a story about how he used to take me out in the running stroller when I was a toddler and throughout our trip I would babble away, question after question after question.
Every other sentence began with why.
I was all “why this?” and “why that?” Even to passing strangers: “Why are you out here to today?” “Why don’t you also have a kid in the stroller?” “Why are you wearing that outfit?”
He tells this story with a tone of endearment, but I know the truth. I’ve babysat my fair share of chronic why-er’s. That initial touch of amusement fades pretty darn fast when you realize no matter how many why’s, how’s, and but’s you answer, they just keep throwing them at you.
I’ll be the first person to tell you to do what you want. Follow your heart and lead from what feels good for you. I help people tap into a deeper understanding about themselves by connecting more with what aligns within them. Before getting there though, and in order to get to this next layer of connection we have to first step into doing what is necessary, and that most likely may not always align with what you “want”. Or what you think you want rather. This is the highest act of self-love.
When I first started exploring a path to healing I began identifying what really mattered to me. I got really clear on what I yearned for, and gained clarity understanding that what I desired most would only be achieved by doing things I may not always want to do.
What I want is a feeling, or feelings. I want experiences and vitality. I want to live in a space where wanting minute inauthentic things are insignificant because these big desires are always constantly filled. I want to be able to move and feel how amazing it is to live inside of my body. I want to share love and be love itself without being taken advantage of.
Getting to this point in my life hasn’t been easy. I’ve talked about it several times before that the healing process is straight misery, it’s going against the tide of your patterns in order to find a new current. Healing brings up old wounds and may in fact arise inside of you ones you never knew existed. We must go through it in order to get over it.
Lately I’ve felt all over the place, out of balance and moving at a pace with no clear direction. I suppose that’s some what a product of moving and trying to establish life in a new city, but I recognize that my body is telling me to slow down. After driving across the country and moving into a permanent place, I finally feel that I am at a place to rest. I think the important thing when trying to regain some balance in life is assessing where your needs are, addressing where you need to pay more attention.
Self-care comes in various formats, different facets and looks different for every individual. It’s an active practice that I believe never stops, it’s no different, or shouldn’t be than brushing your teeth every morning, it’s routine. Yet sometimes there’s a need to dig deeper. To really devote extra time to particularly take care of you whether it’s more sleep, more relaxation, more movement or cleaner eating. Often times I have to take a step back and ask myself, “where do I need to dedicate more time?” In the past few weeks I’ve realized that carving out additional (on top of what I already do) time for myself to nurture my body is essential for me right now. This next month for me is about nesting, if you will. Leaning into my life in Seattle but really working to take extra care of my body, creating sacred spaces in my new home and honoring my expansions as well as boundaries.
There’s a deeply personal practice to attune to self-care making it both private and sometimes difficult. Justifying time for ourselves is often hard in the chaotic lives we lead, but it’s a necessity in order to avoid burnout, adrenal fatigue, autoimmune flares and a host of other disease. I know, I was the worst at practicing self-care. I am a giver. So I give a lot to people, to relationships, to work, but very little to myself. When I realized this was perpetuating my autoimmune disease it shifted my focus. I want to help you do this too.
Because self-care is personal and looks different for everyone, it’s hard to share and more difficult to be held accountable. Its like keeping an appointment with yourself, and let’s face it, we’re all more likely to skip the appointment with ourselves than we are when we’ve committed to another human being, but that’s risky business. The risk is your health, and sanity I might add. So what do you do?
That’s why I have created this program, September Self-Care. September is a great month to dive deeply into rituals and routines as it’s the start of a new-year for many people in respect to school, the changing of the seasons, and well before the Holidays. Over the course of four weeks I will host live video discussions where you have the opportunity to chat, ask questions and work with me to establish what self-care means to you, where you need to work a little deeper and show you how to create a plan that is sustainable in your life.
My goal with this was to create a program that is also affordable and realistic. The videos are once a week, every Tuesday starting September 8th and last forty-five minutes, a marginal time of your day. Consider this your first appointment with yourself, only I am holding you accountable. You deserve this, and it’s time to lean into what you really need. Join me by signing up here. Session START next Tuesday, September 8th and recur every Tuesday until the end of September.
In addition to video conferences, live chats, you also get a free copy of my new ebook Mind & Body Balancing, exclusive weekly emails on new topics each week, and personal access to me through email for all your questions.
Implementing these lifestyle changes has been monumental for me in my healing, I want to help you do that too. Now is your time, join me building the relationship with yourself.
I spent this past weekend camping in the woods along Ginnie Springs, Florida not far from where I currently live. My brother-in-law and I went out on Friday to set up camp, we searched for the perfect spot until we finally found one on the bank of the river. Two trees lined a large opening for us to see out on the river to the other side and a large tree trunk lined the bank that separated a small beach area from our camp site. It was perfection.
This weekend was a friendly reminder to me of how important it is for me to get out, experience nature, be in the moment and unplug from electronics. I tend to spend a lot of time on my computer for various work, whether I am coaching or creating, or writing blog posts or articles. It’s a lot of screen time. I enjoy doing all of those things but it’s not always healthy and certainly not the ideal for long term wellness. Frankly, I’d much rather smell like a bonfire, be barefoot and sitting on a tree trunk.
Sometimes we don’t realize how much we actually spend being “connected” to an outer world rather than connecting in the present world.
This past week I talked with a client about the importance of taking care of our own needs. This can be called radical self-care or self-love, or simply just admitting for a hot second that you deserve to be happy, and to do things that make you feel grateful that you’re alive and get to have fun experiences in your life. Prioritizing our own needs helps us to do the necessary in life. It sounds crazy but it’s true.
When you make a priority to do things that make you happy, the mundane parts of life get a little easier.