The Key Component To Self-Care

The Key Component to Self-Care

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.

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Chronic Strength

Life is such a funny thing. Maybe it’s the interconnections of the social sphere’s maybe divine intervention and purpose, but the world seems so small when we think about how we are brought together. I’ve never met Dominique Stratton, but when she reached out about contributing to Soul Power, and I immediately read her blog, I knew that her story was one of power and relatability. One that only she can share. Little did I know, that she actually is the sister of a woman I went to high school with! I had no idea, until I saw her sister share a totally “bragging rights” post about Dominque’s blog, a mental life. I couldn’t believe it. What a small world. I know that her vulnerability and REAL talk about depression and mental illness is going to have you all shaking your heads in agreement and uttering, “hell yes”. But I’ll let her do the rest of the talking :)

Chronic Strength

6.8% of U.S. women, less than the age of 34, have high blood pressure; a statistic that I never imagined that I would be a part of at the ripe age of 28. Happily married, in the throws of a master’s degree program (nearly finished), and less than a week into basking in the emotional sunshine of newfound motherhood, I knew I was strong, but strength hadn’t reached its full potential in my life. It wasn’t until this year, that I’ve realized what strength truly encompasses. How beautiful it would be to grow as strong as an earthed tree, yet avoid all the tears and turmoil it took to get there; maybe in another life.

 

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The Roots of Grief

Part of why I love having Soul Power as a part of this site is because it provides the opportunity to further connect with one another as a community. I appreciate so much the depth at which people are willing to go with their writing, and personal anecdotes. Carrie Lewman, is a brave woman who writes over on her site carrielewman.com.  I’ve come to know her virtually through her participation in my September Self-Care program a year ago. She took so much away from that experience, and continued to help herself in her journey to healing. It brings me so much joy to share with you her writing as a part of her process in understanding herself in dealing with loss and a deeper connection within.

*If you’re interested in this upcoming September Self-Care program more info –> here. See Carrie’s raving post on her experience here.

Roots of Grief

My thoughts on death and loss have always been that grief is what you experience afterwards. That it is a stage you enter into. Actually grief is not something that happens to you, it is something you do afterwards. It is your reaction to loss or death. We have all heard of, and perhaps walked the many stages of grief; anger, denial, depression, acceptance, etc…, but no one ever speaks of the heartbreak. It is essentially the root of grief and where most people get stuck. Your heart has been broken as the result of loss and this loss does not always directly pertain to physical death. It can be the demise of a relationship, loss of a job, relocating, loss of innocence, and disappointment in life not turning out how you thought it would, just to name a few.

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The Hallway Is Hell

 I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all likely experienced a time (multiples really) in our lives where we had to go through the process of grieving, dredging through discomfort and healing. In that time it can often feel lonely, scary and as though we lack a sense of direction of our true path to know what direction we are headed. This month’s Soul Power contributor goes deep into that space, otherwise known as the “hallway of hell”. This incredibly vulnerable space that we venture into hoping to come out whole again. It’s not only incredibly relatable, but her honesty permeates through her expression and reaches the core of our true selves, where we can find understanding. When I first met Heather Wellman I had no idea that she was a writer, nor did I know of her adventurous spirit and the strength of her inner desire to love people wholeheartedly. I not only admire her way with words (more on her blog and Instagram), but I am drawn to her insatiable desire to live her life despite fear, ambiguity and the time spent in the hallway. I am without proper words to do justice to how honored I am that she is sharing with you all in this space, so I will let her do the rest.

The Hallways is Hell

 

I rolled towards her, my hair falling forward, into my face, a few strands dancing in the space between our mouths. She reached up, sliding them behind my ear, clearing the path from her lips to my own. I moaned quietly as her fingertips swept back and forth over the soft skin of my inner thighs… And then my own hand abruptly met hers, holding it still, near my knee. I pulled back, and looked at her… “I can’t,” I said. “I feel like my dad can see us now, which I know sounds ridiculous but it’s true. It’s just weird for me. I need some more time.” My girlfriend stared back at me blankly for a few seconds, and then dropped her hand from my body back to our mattress…

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Beauty in the Dissonance

We all vibrate on certain gradients of energy. The world is spinning and here we are, buoyant with the currents of electric charge all varying in grades of frequency. Like attracts like and we are pulled to one another by this charged beauty, almost unexplained yet completely understood. This is how I feel when I am reached by someone’s writing. They touch me in a way that’s goes beyond the surface and into much deeper crevices of my heart and soul. It’s not every day when this happens, but it is true that we attract into our lives what we put out. I believe wholeheartedly that my intention in sharing people’s stories has sent this massive shock wave out into the world charging these captivating people with the challenge of sharing themselves with the world. I first came across Mitch Hankins from Instinctual Wellbeing.(@mightymorphinmitch) via Instagram and I was initially drawn to his contagious sense of humor and as I continued following him connected and resonated so much with his life journey. The way he shares his meaning is one of the most beautiful expressions I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. As I read his contribution to Soul Power, I cried. I sat with his words, absorbed their energy and thought, “How lucky am I, to be moved by something so honest it’s nearly tangible.” I know you will feel the same, it’s truly an honor to share his words with you.

Beauty In the Dissonance

 

A Note From the Author:

This piece is about coming to terms with who you are, being happy with the person you see in the mirror, and seeing the beauty in your life no matter how chaotic it may seem at times.

So often (and rightfully so) we look to food and lifestyle to aid us in our healing, but in this, we miss another important piece of the puzzle, which is being able to look inwardly to cultivate a healthy relationship with yourself and your body, and accepting yourself and your story for what it is.

In being a transgender man who also deals with multiple autoimmune conditions, this has been something I have had to deal with first-hand, and in many ways it has been a far greater challenge than changing my diet or modifying my lifestyle ever was. However, although it has been challenging to embrace my own story, the light that it’s brought to my life has been far brighter and far more rewarding than anything I could have ever hoped for.

So this is a piece of that story. I hope that no matter what your circumstances are in life, that you can begin to dig deep and embrace your own story, and start to see your reflection as part of the whole, and as the wonderful mess that it is: beauty in the dissonance.

-Mitch

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Why I Decided to Love Myself

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.

Why I Decided to Love Myself

 

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.

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It Happened to Me

I met Tera Bucasas (terabucasas on Instagram) here in Seattle for the first time and absolutely fell in love with her energy, her laughter and her healing-centered mission. When she first told me about her program, Yoga For Healing, I connected immediately with her purpose. She has worked as a yoga instructor for many years but realized through her own body acceptance journey that her path to help others was more than solely a physical connection. You can find most of her writings on her blog, Real Fit Yoga and I recommend you start with one of my favorite posts, here. I get the privilege of not only calling this beautiful, strong woman my friend, but get to share a piece of her truth through Soul Power as this months featured writer.

It Happened to Me

Exercise is a privilege, not a punishment. That was something I learned the hard way. I never thought my body would turn on me so quickly. I had that smug belief that ‘it won’t happen to me.’ I was healthy, truly healthy, for the first time in my life. Or so I thought.

In my past I looked healthy on the outside, but I ate junk, drank too much, didn’t get good sleep, and although you may not have been able to tell it was affecting my insides. Eventually I turned things around.  I became a nutritional therapy practitioner and a yoga instructor.  I fueled myself with whole foods, I exercised, I got good sleep. I did all the things I was ‘supposed’ to do to be healthy. Then of course, I wanted to show people ‘the way’ to health. I had figured it out. My passion, my joy, my life was health and fitness.

Then, everything changed. Within a couple months, despite my healthy life, I had a body and a life that didn’t feel like my own.  I was fatigued, severely depressed, I had anxiety, my body hurt, my blood sugar was high, my hormones were even more out of balance than before and none of it made sense. Oh and did I mention I started to gain weight?

 

Between the change in my mood, energy and body it felt like I had lost myself.

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Can I Still Have Fries With That?

 

Welcome to the first ever community curated creative column, Soul Power!

When I first came in contact with Kari  Mitchell (@girl.living.life on Instagram), I was in awe of her as a career woman in the media industry and her  eye for color and aesthetics on social platforms.  As I got to know her on a deeper level I realized there was so much more depth to love about her, and what I truly admire most is her strength in honesty. She bares all when it comes to her experiences living with disease and through her writing evokes the reality (yet finds humor) in her current situation. Her writing on many occasions over on her blog, Go Home Cancer, You’re Drunk has brought me to tears. It is an honor to be sharing a piece of her heart with you through Soul Power as this months featured writer.

Soul Power, Can I Still Have Fries With That?

 

 

 

I am 40. I’m married, have two cats, and a collection of countless notebooks. My days appeal to the extrovert in me, working as a digital marketing executive; by nightfall the introvert in me takes over and I spend quiet evenings with my husband, curled up with a glass of wine and Netflix.

 

I also have stage IV triple negative, metastatic breast cancer, my second time diagnosed with cancer in two years.

 

When I found out the first time, I wondered (with a sense of irony) how I should update my Facebook status.

 

It didn’t feel real, rather something random deserving of a quippy status update. Everyone around me, myself included, reacted as though this was just a blip of bad luck, something to power through and eventually get over. For a short period of time, life became a blur, a series of tests & treatments, couple of pep talks and cute head wraps. Stage II cancer felt like a string of very bad dates & practical jokes. A total pain in the ass sure, but survivable. At least that is how I remember it.

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SOUL POWER

Soul Power

 

It’s a season of change, of growth and opportunity. Over time, what started as a blog to share my experiences with chronic illnesses has developed into something far greater. I love having this space to share what I know from my experiences, research and creations. As Whole Life, Full Soul has grown, so has my desire to share more, to invite the opportunity for everyone to feel heard, create access to open conversations around emotional experiences and the topics that are more challenging to talk about.

My main goal in creating this site was to foster a community. In so many ways I have seen this happen with people connecting on Instagram, and those of you who continue to read my articles daily. There aren’t words that do justice to the gratitude I feel to be able to foster a space that offers perspective, inquisitive thought and the reminder that you are not alone on your journey. In fact, the opposite, you are welcomed, loved and encouraged by so many people that have been there before, maybe are struggling along side you and celebrating joys simultaneously. We are a part of a network connected on a spiritual level and because of this, we seek community. We desire to find something to relate to, to identify with, to make us feel, rather, to softly remind us that we are not alone.

At 15 how I would have loved to connect with someone who had experienced the pain that was then consuming my life. Someone who knew what joint pain was really like, how dealing with a diagnosis is all consuming and confusing, how tumultuous relationships can destroy your self-perspective and to give perspective through the course of dealing with life as a person with a then debilitating disease.

Shortly after receiving a diagnosis my doctor asked if I would speak in front of the hospital residents about my particular symptoms and disease progression. I couldn’t fathom it. I was still barely able to talk about it with my mom without breaking down let alone a hundred-plus hospital residents. I told her no. There’s no way she would get me to do it.

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Creating Connections & Community

Last weekend I took a long trip out to the Olympic Peninsula. I had a women’s weekend planned by two of my favorite people I’ve met through the work I do online, Holly from The Common Woman and Gigi, who I met through Instagram!

I approached the weekend with excitement and gratitude that I actually get to be in the same space with other women who truly get what it’s like to live authentically, but I was also navigating a ton of emotions and feelings of my own.

For a while I’d been feeling like I needed some breathing room, and knowing myself (key part here) I knew what I needed most was a few days to relish in my own exploring before the weekend officially commenced. In a way, I took my own self-care sabbatical, and the time to remove myself from obligations, commitments, responsibilities and social media and just be. I needed this space for me, in order to be able to be fully present for everyone else during the weekend. It’s only through my personal self-care and really understanding my own needs that I am able to acknowledge these messages. I took a hike on the Dungeness Spit along the ocean and decided that seals a really just the dogs of the ocean, so playful as they pop in and out of the water! I spent time relaxing in Gigi’s garden, enjoying meals with her, and connecting on a spiritual level. I was filling up my cup, so I could over-flow with abundance to give everyone else.

For me, this has been key in understanding how to navigate autoimmunity. Giving back to myself so I have enough reserves to give to others is the number one game-changer in my lifestyle and maintaining fluidity in my relationships with others and myself.

This weekend was about sharing, caring, giving and connecting. I couldn’t have been committed to this space if I wasn’t first committed to my own needs.

 

Creating Connections & Community

 

 

 

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