When Depression Shows Up

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Even though summer is my favorite time of year by a landslide, it still seems like without fail amongst the warm nights and beach days, I have a depressive episode.

Let me be clear. I'm extremely lucky that I'm able to manage my depression without too much intervention. Mine tends to come and go (sometimes it's situational, sometimes it's completely random), but I know so many others who struggle with it chronically, everyday.

And like I said, even though my disposition in the summer is generally a more positive one, I usually have a period of a few weeks where I wake up and feel so awful and so negative, that it's hard to get out of bed and do basic things. Maybe it's Cancer/Leo season bringing up all my emotions. Maybe it's the expansiveness of the summer season, pulling things to the surface that need to be healed. Maybe it's completely arbitrary (as depression often is).

But every time it does happen, I check in with these four things. I thought you might find them helpful too.

  1. Have I been sleeping? Lack of sleep literally affects every part of my life (if you know me personally, you know I have a strict bedtime for that reason). A few restless nights in a row have me feeling ROUGH, so this is always where I start. If I'm having trouble, I add a little magnesium to my diet with a supplement like Natural Calm, and try to add more magnesium-rich foods to my diet like spinach, avocado, and nuts.
  2. How's my diet? Summer to me is party time, which means I get a little more relaxed about following my general paleo-esque meal plan. But I've realized through food and mood journaling that after doing this for many weeks, I can see old symptoms start to flare up, including anxiety, depression, and hormone imbalances.
  3. Is it time to go back to therapy? I've been very upfront about how much I love therapy, and how helpful it has been in helping me find tools to calm my nervous mind. When a depression flare kicks in, it's a reminder for me to check in to see if I should go back to sessions if it's been a while, or if it's time to maybe use a different therapist. I think finding a therapist is like interviewing people for a job opening. If it's not feeling great, then it might be that this particular therapist is not the best fit for you.
  4. Am I leaving space? Just like, blank open space? With nothing scheduled? I know it's hard to do, but damn having an hour or two with NOTHING on your calendar allows for magic to happen in so many ways.

Have you experienced the summer sads? What do you do to support yourself through it?

Eclipse + Emotional Hangover

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If you're feeling a little rough around the edges, you're not alone. The astrology has been intense this summer, and as we draw to a close of eclipse season (in prideful Leo, nonetheless) we're shifting in not-so-subtle ways. Eclipse season tends to create big changes in our lives, internal and external, which can leave us waking up feeling like we downed a bottle of tequila or got hit by an 18-wheeler the night before. Leo in particular asks us to examine the parts of ourselves we love, and the parts of ourselves we don't love, so we can move more fully into our badass selves. And that shadow work is important, but damn it's hard.

I personally have been experiencing super vivid dreams leaving me confused about my surroundings when I wake up, massive fatigue, big mood swings with lots of old crap coming up to the surface (stuff I thought was long healed) headaches, and lots and lots of brain fog.

I'm also in the middle of some huge changes in my life. In two weeks, I move to a new apartment (one that's walking distance to my day job!). I am feeling a creative resurgence after some major blocks. I'm being called to practice more spell-casting. I'm working on some big projects in my business and at my public service day job. I'm deeply examining the way I show up in my relationships. I am exploring the way I can deconstruct harmful patterns in myself, so I can deconstruct them in the world around me.

And although I'm so happy to be doing this work (I know it all serves my highest good and the good of others), I'm fucking exhausted.

So today I'm here to remind you that this internal and external work we do is vital to our wellbeing, even if it feels shitty in the process. Think of it as an emotional detox. We've been holding onto these negative thoughts and habits and patterns, and as we release them we experience them one more time. Up and out. Up and out. Up and out.

Get the Fuck over your Guilt

I had to call out of work at my part-time job yesterday because of a lingering gross chest cold, and I felt guilty as hell about it.

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I work part-time as a paraprofessional/aide for a student with cognitive impairment at the local high school. It’s a job I REALLY dig, and even on the craziest of days I have a damn good time hanging with these kids and the rest of the staff.

So understandably, I felt a little guilty for not being able to support them yesterday. But really when I think about it, I’ve felt this massive guilt about ANY and ALL jobs I’ve had to call out of, even for a super legitimate reason. Even if I knew they’d be 100% ok without me. Even if it was a crappy high school retail job I really didn’t give a shit about.

This is a topic that has come up in my free support group Radical Self-Care for Badass Babes as well, so I decided to dig a little deeper into my own personal reasons for this uncalled for guilt. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. I am worried I'm letting people down
  2. I care a hell of a lot about what other people think of me
  3. I associate my self-worth with my performance and abilities (at work and otherwise)

And when I can take a step back and look at these statements objectively, I know that they are 100% unfounded, and really, don’t they fucking matter.

You’re not going to be able to help everyone every second of the day.

You’re never going to make everyone happy all the time. Not everyone is going to like you.

Your self worth doesn’t have a damn thing to do with your job, how good you are at it, or any of your abilities.

Next time you’re wondering if you should call out or not, remember that you have to put your needs first in order to serve anyone else. And that it’s totally ok and acceptable to take the time you need to get healthy, whether it’s a physical sick day or a mental health day. And if they’re gonna give you a hard time, they can go fuck themselves - legally, you have to be allowed to take sick days ;)

What to do when you're panicked (3 steps to get through it)

Ever felt your heart race when you get a stressful work email?  Struggle to get a deep breath when a conflict arises at home?  Experience general panic and anxiety for no identifiable reason?

I totally get you, because I’m right there with you.

Sometimes, I just have panic-y days.  Sometimes it’s because of an external reason.  Sometimes not.  This has just been my reality for as long as I can remember.

And that’s ok.

By managing my nutrition, emotional wellness, and incorporating regular radical self-care into my life, these panic/anxiety attacks happen less often than they used to - but they’re still there.

Next time you’re feeling an anxiety attack, panic attack, or just super overwhelming stress, give these techniques a go:

 

4-7-8 Breath

Breathe in for 4 counts.  Hold for 7 counts.  Breathe out for 8 counts.  Continue this for 4 cycles to help reset the parasympathetic nervous system to get you out of fight or flight mode.  If that’s too much, try breathing in for 4, holding for 4, breathing out for 4.  

Focus on what’s real

Future-tripping so often accompanies panicked feelings, so something that really helps me is to root down into what’s real in THIS moment.  What are the facts at this moment?  Instead of being concerned about the 75 million ways a situation could play out, I ground down in what is factual about the situation in this minute only.

Remember that what you’re feeling is uncomfortable, but it won’t hurt you.

Part of what makes panic so hard is the feeling that you’re going to die. Like literally, it feels like that panic will actually kill you sometimes.  And that only adds MORE panic to the already shitty situation.  I find it really helpful to constantly acknowledge that yes, this feeling is super uncomfortable, but a panic attack will not hurt me.  It totally takes the edge off for me.

 

And above all, take care of yourself as much as you can when you’re in this state.  Ask for help when you need it.  Cry when you need it.  Do what you need to do to support yourself sister <3

Now it’s your turn.  Comment below and tell me what you do to help get yourself through a panic/anxiety attack.

Why Willpower is Bullshit

I really fucking hate all of those health and wellness professionals/products/companies saying things like:

"You're not losing weight because you don't have the willpower to eat less and workout more."

"You're not healing because you don't have the willpower to give up sugar completely."

"Your skin isn't clearing up because you don't have the willpower to ditch dairy forever."

Fuck. That. Noise.

When it comes to eating a healing diet and getting enough movement, willpower is bullshit.  Large companies will often shift the blame to individuals in this way, just to make sure you feel like shit about yourself so then you'll maybe buy their shake/supplement/program/whatever.

But here's the thing babe.  Our bodies are totally designed this way on purpose!  

We're designed to crave sugar, because in the days of our ancestors, finding a natural form of sugar (berries most likely) was a quick source of energy.  And a quick source of energy could be the difference between life and death that day.

We're designed to eat more than just feeling "satisfied" because there was a 50/50 chance that there would be not food the next day, so we instinctually load up while we can.

We're designed to resist exercise and movement, because unnecessary movement depleted the body and energy levels, making it way harder to do the things we needed to in order to survive.

It's all about survival baby.  And I think it's super important for everyone to know that.

Part of what makes our health and wellness goals so difficult is the constant blame we're putting on ourselves.  We're never good enough.  Never doing enough.  And that negative mindset keeps us even more stuck.

Next time you find yourself resisting going to the gym, or eating more than you planned to, or straying from your healing diet, gently remind yourself of why you have this goal with all of the self-love you can muster.  

Talk to yourself as if you were a 6 year old.  

And remember that you'll NEVER be 100% perfect with any wellness routine.  It's impossible, so stop making yourself crazy about it.

 

P.S. If you're looking for a little accountability and support in a super loving and positive  way, registration is now open for my FREE 5-Day Self-Care Challenge!

It's OK if you're not OK

It’s ok if you’re not ok.

I’ve heard from loads of friends, clients, and random folks I meet that everyone seems to be dealing with a lot right now.

And whatever that “a lot” is for you, it’s ok if you’re having a rough time with it.

Part of what makes the processing of emotions so difficult is that we’re so quick to judge ourselves for them.  We quickly get the sense that we’re over-reacting.  We tell ourselves to ‘get the fuck over it.’  We’re told to man up (which is fucked up in itself) and move on.

But sometimes, the only way out is through. 

Which means we actually have to feel our feelings, acknowledge them, and release them as best we can.

A few years ago I had an awesome tarot reading, and the medium said something that really stuck with me.  I had been dealing with a difficult emotional issue, and he said:

“You’re being too hard on yourself that this isn’t going the way you thought it would.”

And he was totally right.  I was judging the shit out of myself because everything wasn’t going 100% amazingly all the time, and I didn’t even realize I was doing it.  Which was only putting more pressure on myself when I was already in a super emotional state.

Releasing the judgment piece of the equation took a load off, and helped me begin to sift through the rest of the emotions.

Are you having a tough time right now?  This is what I do to begin to heal when I’m struggling:

  • Journal.  Journal.  Journal.  Let it all out on paper.  And then, if necessary, burn that shit, rip it up, whatever you need to do.
  • Cry as much and as often as needed.
  • Keep to a regular sleep schedule as best you can.  Some folks tend to sleep too much when they are upset, and others sleep too little.  Keep to a regular routine, keep the screen time to a minimum the hour before, and relax with some meditation before bed.
  • Go see your friends.  Even if you’re not feeling at all social, sometimes the most healing thing can be getting out a bit, hanging out with your besties, and getting your mind off of things for an hour or two.
  • Find a support group.  Sometimes, we just need a space to vent, share, and know we’re not alone as we navigate our physical, emotional and spiritual health.  Check out my free Facebook support group for women, Radical Self-Care for Badass Babes, where we share tons of helpful resources, recipes, ideas for self-care, and advice and a listening ear when you need it.

What do you do to support yourself during a difficult emotional time?  Let me know in the comments below!

Holistic Holiday Survival Guide

Hey there badass babe,

I know the holidays can be tough.  What’s supposed to be a time of relaxation, celebration and joy often turns into a whirlwind of sleeplessness, anxiety, and burn out as we hustle to get through our massive to-do list while making it all look like a page out of Martha Stewart Magazine.

So with all that, how the hell do we keep up with a healing diet?  How do we continue to incorporate self-care when we’re bouncing between family stuff and work craziness and traveling? How do we stay active when all we want to do is sleep?

This is something I’ve been working on for years, and I have some tried and true tips to keep your self feeling fucking fantastic all the way till new years.

1.     Communicate your needs

Look, I know it can be hard to explain you gluten and soy sensitivity to old aunt betty, but just fucking do it.   So many of us don’t continue with our healing diets during the holidays because we don’t want to “cause a fuss” or “make a big deal out of it.”  (I’ve done this so many times)

Get over it.  It’s not a big deal.  And you deserve to feel good and eat foods that will help that happen.

If you think your host will have a hard time accommodating you, always offer to bring a dish so you know there will be something you can eat.  Or, offer to help with the cooking in advance, so you know exactly what’s in each side.  Or, offer to host the damn thing yourself, and then you can eat it all!

2.     Don’t be weird

I already mentioned that it can be hard to explain your healing diet to folks, but it’s way easier if you just act like it’s 100% completely normal (because it is) and not some weirdo choice you’re making.  If you act like your food/lifestyle is weird, then they sure as hell will act like your food/lifestyle is weird.  But, if you’re confident and just tell it like it is, there’s a good chance they’ll just roll with it.

And if they don’t roll with it, don’t be alarmed.  Some people act really fucking stupid for some reason when you tell them you’re eating healthier, or trying to avoid alcohol or whatever.  Like they suddenly feel wildly offended or personally accosted because you’ve realized you feel better when you eat less corn and soy, or when you do yoga every morning.  Don’t give into their bullshit.  Just stand your ground, and let them know that you feel better when you eat/live this way and that’s it.  End of story.

3.     Prep that shit

Honestly, the more you can prep and plan your food ahead of time the better.  I know this isn’t always 100% possible, but do the best you can.  Going to a dinner party?  Bring an appetizer that tastes good AND makes you feel good.  Going out to a restaurant with limited options?  Eat a little something before you go so you’re not starving. 

There’s also something to be said about prepping healthy food for before and after the festivities, so you can have a little fun, and then go right back to your healing diet.

You can also totally plan and prep for stuff like movement, getting enough water, getting good sleep, etc.  Schedule that shit in, and don’t budge on it. 

4.     Don’t make yourself fucking crazy

And probably most importantly, just have fucking fun.  If keeping up with all your wellness routines everyday of the holiday season is making you feel even more stressed out, don’t do it all! (unless you have a serious allergy or sensitivity… obviously do what you gotta do girl). 

The point of a healing diet and lifestyle is to make us feel good, and if it makes you feel more anxious or crazy, you’re doing it wrong.  Let loose and have some fun sister.  The kale will be here when you get back <3

 

Feeling ready for a little reset and recharge for 2017?  So totally over the bullshit of 2016? 

Join us for the 21-Day Radical Reset starting January 9th, where we’ll be developing some kickass healthy habits around nutrition, sleep, self-care, and self-love, so you can feel your damn best this year! 

It’s your time girl.  Make it happen.

(P.S. The 21-Day Radical Reset is SUPER discounted right now, so check it out while you can!)

5 Steps to Avoid Burn-Out

How has your fall been so far?

A little (or a lot) hectic? Projects galore? School functions? Halloween parties?

I get it. Once summer is for real over and there's a cool, crisp breeze in the air we get this burst of energy to get some shit done.

Blame it on the "back-to-school" syndrome. Or, the energy of the harvesting season. Whatever floats your boat. But it totally happens.

And that's awesome! It's great to have that push to make some serious moves and make some magic happen.

The problem is that we don't give ourselves a chance to wind down from all that madness. Fall quickly turns into winter, which throws us right into the Holiday Season craziness (if you're in the U.S. that shit starts TODAY, November 1st. Mark my words. Christmas commercials are coming.)

Energetically speaking, winter is the time for us to get quiet, turn inward, and rest. But with Thanksgiving followed quickly by Hanukah/Christmas/NewYears etc, instead of winding down we ramp up even MORE.

It's rough on that beautiful bod of yours.

And no matter what time of year it is, we all have those moments of nearing total and utter exhaustion, fatigue and burn-out.

You know the feeling. Waking up after 8 hours of sleep feeling like you never even shut your damn eyes. Intense cravings for sugar/caffeine. Major irritability. Extreme overwhelm.

It sucks.

So what do you do? Here's my 5 step process when I feel myself getting to that tipping point:

  1. Take a Step Back
    This is maybe the hardest one, but it is easily the most important. Let's be honest. So many of our commitments, deadlines and expectations are put on us by ourselves. We put SO much pressure on ourselves to get everything done in a day. And sometimes, you gotta hustle, I get it. But when you're nearing that burn-out phase, it's time to take a step back, and be ok with knowing that not everything will get done. Focus on what's necessary, and that's it. Give yourself a break on the rest. It'll get done at a later date, and that's 100% ok.

     

  2. Fiercely Protect Your Sleep
    When you're getting burnt-out, your body needs extra rest to recuperate and rebuild. Our best healing happens during deep sleep, but when we're running around trying to get work, xmas shopping, party planning and more all done at once, sometimes we end up staying up later than we should to fit it all in. It seems counter-intuitive, but this is really the time to be getting to bed as early as possible, and sleeping as much as you can. Sleep should be the non-negotiable here. Schedule that shit in if you need to. Get your full 8-9 hours, and ditch the electronics during that time as well (no TV or scrolling your phone till you fall asleep)

     

  3. Up Your Water Intake
    Increasing your water intake is one of the easiest ways to boost your energy levels. Which is great, because then you're less likely to grab an extra Venti-Mocha-Frappachino with a double shot of espresso and whipped cream (i know that's probably not a thing). It also helps your body with that whole healing thing, so win-win.

     

  4. Clean Up Your Diet
    Look, I know this one can be tough when you're stressed to the max. But hear me out. The most you can support your body in a physical way, the better you will feel. You don't have to make yourself crazy about it. Just try to get in some greens, good fats and clean protein. And try to ditch the sugar.

     

  5. Incorporate Some Gentle Movement
    Working out is typically the first thing to go out the window when you're feeling wiped out, and if you're nearing burn-out a high intensity thing may not be your best bet. If you're feeling frazzled, focus on getting some calming, gentle movement in each day. Things like a long walk and restorative yoga go a long way when it comes to nourishing your nervous system and getting you back to feeling your damn best!

     

Looking for a little extra support as we head into the holiday madness? Maybe need some motivation to stay on track? Join the free support group Radical Self-Care For Badass Babes on Facebook for daily inspiration, recipes, and reminders for self-love.

You Be You, Girl

My hometown is actually home to the 2nd largest Halloween Parade according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

It’s so big, in fact, that folks who call Toms River, NJ home actually trick-or-treat the day before Halloween.  Because on the 31st, everyone is at the parade.  There would literally be nobody to answer the door when you tried to get your candy.

2016 marks the 78th annual Toms River Halloween Parade (we’ve only missed one year, due to Hurricane Sandy, and the parade route being literally under water), and I’m excited to be able to get to see it after living in Baltimore for the past 10 Halloweens (and being busy with another big Halloween parade that happened there, ironically). 

In high school I was always a part of the Toms River parade, thanks to the yearly mandatory participation of the marching bands/colorguards in the area.  And even though waiting around in a shopping plaza parking lot for hours in the freezing cold waiting for our turn to march was a drag, I always loved actually being a part of it.

Here’s the thing.  The parade has lots of marching bands and performers.  Loads of incredible floats and handmade costumes. And a TON of everyday folks, in their store-bought Party City costumes, marching in the parade. 

And you know what?  They are proud as shit.  They are jazzed out of their fucking minds to be walking down the street with their mass produced dog costume.  Or super hero mask.  Or witch hat.

That’s the thing that I love about it most.

I’m a huge sucker for intricate and detailed handmade costumes/floats/puppets, but I’m an even bigger sucker for having a space where folks feel like they can be a part of the fun stuff, not matter where they fall on the costume-creating spectrum.

Having a space where you can just do you, and folks will cheer you on regardless, is incredible.

I offer up this anecdote as a reminder to just be you.  Even if you feel like you’re not a good enough you yet (spoiler alert: you are good enough right now, period.) just be 100% yourself.

I know sometimes that feels like the most challenging thing in the universe, but just know that there will always be someone to cheer you on.

Need a little help finding your cheer squad? Join us in the free Facebook support group "Radical Self-Care For Badass Babes!"  We’re ready to cheer you on every step of your wellness journey.

 

Are you having a Healing Crisis?

It’s totally a thing. 

Otherwise known as the Herxheimer Reaction, a healing crisis is the temporary worsening of symptoms before they get better. 

Have you ever tried to curb a caffeine or sugar habit, only to have massive bags under your eyes, major irritability, and a migraine for days?  Then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

What happens is this. Our bodies are constantly detoxing, day in and day out.  That’s what the liver’s damn job is.

But when you’re regularly consuming things that don’t always sit so well in the body (this varies person to person, but things like caffeine, sugar, artificial flavors, booze, crappy food, etc), your system has a hard time detoxing all that on a day-to-day basis.  The liver can’t keep up, and toxins get stored in our tissues.

When we stop consuming the thing that was an issue, the liver has a chance to play catch up  along with all other systems of the body, so we can actually flush all that gunk out.  And understandably, they get a little overwhelmed.

This can also be prompted by bodywork of any kind, including massage, energy healing and deep stretching.  These are all just another way of squeezing out the stuff we no longer need.

So when that shit is on it’s way out, we feel it in the form of headaches, skin issues, break-outs, nausea, joint pain, brain fog, depression, fatigue, insomnia, congestion, and intense emotions for anywhere from 2-8ish days.

Not fun.  I know.

But on the other side of the healing crisis is WAY more energy, clearer skin, even moods, and mental clarity.  And less of a dependency on the thing you were detoxing from.  It can feel almost counterintuitive to keep going when you feel so shitty, but sticking out makes a WORLD of a difference in the long run.

I know it's tough, but sometimes we have to power through it to get to the other side.  Most humans spend a lot of time and energy doing their best to not feel unpleasant feelings (understandably) but sometimes, that's where the deepest healing happens.

Most often we talk about this in a physical sense, but I definitely think that we experience healing crisis’ with emotional healing as well. 

Trauma and stress get stored in our tissues (just like environmental toxins), so when we release them through bodywork, detox, stretching, energy work, or just talking it out, we can experience some intense emotional release on it’s way out of the body.

Or, think about the way that sometimes you have to let an issue really come to the surface in order to do anything about it.  Most of us have experienced that pivotal moment where things become so uncomfortable, we're forced to make change - even if we're terrified.  The moment where shit blows up at work and it gives you the push to quit.  The moment where a conflict with a friend lets you know that the relationship is toxic and you can no longer be a part of it.

Sometimes, you have to hit rock bottom.  Because then you can finally move on up.

And just like with environmental toxins, once you get through the healing crisis for emotional healing you’ll feel way better, and be able to actually release that hurt instead of letting it stay bottled up inside.

(Just as an aside, I very much recommend working with a therapist if you are working to release a lot of stress or trauma… or even if you’re not!  Therapy is awesome!)

What I want you to know is that sometimes, when you’re in the thick of it (no matter what “it” is) things are gonna feel terrible.  And then, they will not feel so terrible.  And if they keep feeling really terrible, don’t be afraid to get the help you need.  Healing is a continuous, lifelong journey, and there will always be ups and downs on the road ahead <3

 

Looking for a little support on your healing journey?  Get your daily dose of love, nutrition tips, and sisterhood in the free Facebook support group Radical Self-Care For Badass Babes!

'The Daily Try' by Rachel Beckman

When I quit my day job a few years ago to start working from home as a full time artist I was more than a little terrified, and to say that I was overwhelmed would be an egregious understatement. 

Suddenly, I had twenty four hours a day that were unequivocally my own, and while that is a luxury I appreciate, it wasn't always easy. In high school and college, I thrived on being over-scheduled because it meant that every moment was precious; I was pushed and pushed to squeeze my best into whatever time was available to me. I simply didn't have time to wallow in my perfectionism (a fear that a thing won't turn out 'just so' often keeping me from beginning a project in the first place), or put everything on the back burner in favor of sleeping all day in a mild depression. Needless to say, wallowing and sleeping happened a lot in my first year at home. 

 

All the while two things were happening: I both had too much to do (making it hard to focus and prioritize), and nothing to do (which really meant, I couldn't think of anything I felt like doing). And so I sat down to make a list of what would become my Daily Try. 

 

I have a lot of lists- including one for self care that reminds me to do simple things like brush my hair every day, eat breakfast, get dressed, and meditate. Some of these things, like breakfast, are essential, but I try not to beat myself up if I don't get around to a tarot card reading or I don't have the energy for my usual workout. 

 

The Daily Try is similar, but it focuses on my professional endeavors, serving as a spring board for all of the possibilities in my studio on any given day. It's a list of all of the skills and talents I have honed over the years, which means it has a bonus effect of reminding me in a humble brag sort of way of my accomplishments. It says "These are the things you are capable of doing! These are the things that you love! Do them!" I printed it out on card stock and laminated it with packing tape so you know I mean business, but I can also change it any time I want, because it truly is only about me. No comparisons to any one else, nothing about what other people think I should be doing. 

 

And each element on my list is multi-faceted. Drawing and painting lean towards business: I can sell prints and zines of my work for money, but there are plenty of drawings I do just for me. I used to run my business primarily as a weaver, selling home woven textiles online and at local craft fairs; now, weaving is purely a personal pleasure. 'Move' is so vague it can mean any number of things, from dancing as stress relief and remembering to take breaks to the movement of my body spinning wool with a drop spindle. 

The best part about The Daily Try? It's only a suggestion. I can literally do every single thing on my list or absolutely nothing and the world will not end and I will still be a good person. It's true. Though it took me a long time to understand that. 

The list moves around with me. Sometimes it's tucked into my day planner; right now it's propped up against my computer monitor as I write. I don't look at it every day, because sometimes my motivation is through the roof and I don't need any help. But it's always there for me when I need it, like an old friend, whispering something like, "Hey, maybe you want to bind a book today. Maybe not. Spin some yarn? It's your choice."

You can never fail if you just remember to try. 

__

Rachel Beckman is a writer and multi-disciplinary artist from Baltimore, MD. She lives and works at home with her graphic designer husband and her fluffy white dog familiar. 

http://rachelbeckman.com/

https://www.etsy.com/shop/ghostxgirls

4 Ways to Hack Your Cold (Save this list!)

I was gonna write about something else today, but I'm nursing this gross headcold that is making things (read: everything) difficult.

So instead of trying to force something else out, I figured I'd share what my go-to's for fall/winter/spring colds are, since it seems that I'm not alone in dealing with a bit of a bug right now.... and it's all that can literally occupy my brain at the moment. 

Here's the thing. I don't take a ton of over the counter drugs for colds and flus, because honestly, I feel like they make whatever sickness I'm dealing with last way LONGER.

Sure, they stop the symptoms long enough for you to struggle through the workday or get your super important shit done for a few hours (I totally keep them on hand for those exact situations). And that's exactly what they were designed for. BUT they won't actually get rid of the cold. They just cover up the symptoms.

And really, those symptoms are there for a reason. Don't get me wrong, they blow in the most serious way. But that fever is there to help heat up your body so the immune system can knock out the bug. That runny nose is trying to expel whatever bacterial or viral infection is looming around. And that tired, achy feeling? It's trying to get you to SLOW THE FUCK DOWN FOR ONCE AND GET SOME REST.

NOTE: if shit gets serious, absolutely take some OTC meds and see your doctor. I'm talking about your run of the mill common colds here. Sometimes you need a damn anti-biotic, and that's ok. I just don't think that it should be your first go-to the second you get the sniffles.

So I do my best to focus on things that will help speed up the healing process as much as I can. The nice thing is, you can do these things immediately if you feel symptoms coming on to fight it off or shorten the duration of the cold.

Ok, so here are the 4 main things I do whenever I start to feel like crap.

  1. Ginger tea with a squeeze of lemon and a TSP of raw honey.
    Specific, I know.
    Ginger is a known immune booster and it helps to heat up the body. Remember what we said about fevers actually being useful? Ginger does the same thing in a way more mild way. The squeeze of lemon give you a nice hit of Vitamin C (plus it tastes fucking good) and the raw honey is an awesome anti-microbial (PLUS IT TASTES FUCKING GOOD). Just don't go overboard with the honey. Sugar tends to feed sickness and make it last much longer.

     

  2. Elderberry Syrup/Lozenges/Tinctures
    Elderberry is a KILLER immune booster. With high doses of Vitamin C and Amino Acids, it helps to support your body to do it's job more effectively and kick your cold way faster.

     

  3. Oil of Oregano
    Not just for pizza, this crazy ass herb is actually what was used before pharmaceutical anti-biotics were invented. I take it in capsule form, one with each meal.

     

  4. SLEEP
    Seriously though. This is the one I resist the most, and I think that's true for most of us. All the extra stuff I take and do is great, but at the end of the day the thing that's going to get rid of your cold the fastest is good old shut eye. Fever making it hard to sleep? Watch some TV, read a book, whatever. Even just lying around is great, as it gives your body a chance to reset and focus on fighting off the offender.

     

 

 

Affirmations: What the hell are they and how do I even use them?

I know I know.  We hear the term "affirmations" thrown around a ton.

And I know, it sounds totally hokey.

And new age-y hippy dippy bullshit, right?

Or that people who use them are "not being realistic" or "pretending everything is ok."

Affirmations are sentences and phrases meant to alter your conscious and subconscious mind to create a more positive headspace.  By repeating affirmations out loud or in your head, you automatically create visuals for those words (whether you realize it or not) which, in turn, help to change behaviors, actions, reactions and habits.  

In a nutshell, affirmations are kickass things you want to be true.

For example, here are a few from the affirmations guru herself, Louise Hay:

"I love and approve of myself."

"I trust the process of life.  I am safe."

"Money flows freely to me, and my income is constantly increasing."

"All is well in my world"

And it doesn't have to be her affirmations.  You can totally make up your own for whatever you want to be true in your life.  Do some googling to find some if you're feeling stuck, or take some time to journal out what you want to attract into your life.

Alright, so once you have your affirmations, what the hell do you even do with them?

The most important thing is that you repeat them daily, or ideally a few times a day.  Set them as alarms on your phone to go off every few hours. Stick them on post-it's around your computer screen.  Write them on the bathroom mirror.  Make it your phone background.  Anything that's going to remind you of that phrase.

And here's where I lose people.  How the hell will repeating a phrase help me get this kickass thing I want?

The biggest thing is that it helps to re-wire your brain.  As kids, we form neurological pathways based on the experiences we have, which then in turn create habits from that experience.  

For example, maybe when you were very young you once got reprimanded by a teacher for being too loud or outspoken.  You were maybe punished, which then tells your young developing brain that when you speak, you get in trouble.  Your brain solidifies that pathway, so now the idea of speaking in front of groups of people makes you anxious as fuck.

When you're able to look at it with some space as an adult, you know that it's an over-reaction, but you still can't help those nerves that pop up, right?  That's because our brain developed that pathway.  It's there now, even though you try to tell yourself to "calm down" the physical reaction is still happens.

But you know what's cool?  You can actually re-wire those pathways in your brain!  Crazy right?  It takes some time, but by repeating affirmations to yourself, you help to change up your reaction to different potentially stressful situations.  

Those habits we developed as kids served a purpose at the time (mostly, to help us feel safe) but they no longer serve us, and it's time to let them go.

So this week, pick one affirmation and post it below.  Then, post that shit everywhere.  And if you post it in your social media, use the hashtag #themagicofmindset so I can find you!

Here's the deal sister.  Affirmations are just one of the many tools available to us in our journey to healing our bodies and having killer energy.  But if it doesn't resonate with you, don't beat yourself up over it.  But also, don't just write it off without giving it solid chance to work some magic.

Self-Care is NOT Self-Indulgence

I hate to break it to you, but the government doesn’t really give a shit about your health or well-being.  

The nutrition guidelines they put out are totally wack and heavily influenced by large food corporations.  Think back to the old food pyramid.  Dairy was in a category all by itself.... which basically meant you HAD to have dairy as part of a healthy diet.  The bottom of the pyramid?  Showed images of pasta and white bread, which they suggested you needed 6-8 servings of to have a balanced diet.

The fuck?

Those same shitty nutrition guidelines dictate the food we feed our kids in school.  It allows pizza to count as a vegetable.  It allows them to feed kid french fries and cookies everyday for lunch.  And then the KID gets blamed if she can't focus or sit still in school.

Yeah. ok.

Crappy junk food is subsidized, which makes it way cheaper to produce and easier to buy.  

And on top of that, our healthcare system is set up to only treat you once you’re already sick, instead of keeping you well in the first place.  

THIS is why self-care is radical y’all.  Stick it to the man and take care of yourself ❤

4 Easy Ways to Create Instant Self-Love by Sarah Steckler

self love guest post.jpg

Time for me? Yeah okay, let me just pencil that in….somewhere… When life gets chaotic, the first thing to go can often be time for self-reflection and care. But there are little things you can do each day to make your day feel eleventy times better and give yourself that extra boost you need.

I often find myself so busy that I forget to eat, forget to make that important phone call, or just forget what I was supposed to remember in general.

Self-Love and care often have the theme of extravagance tied to them. Elaborate bubble baths, day-long mani pedis, hour-long journal sessions. All of those things are amazing but when you’re crunched for time they can feel like an elusive fantasy that’s never going to be a part of your reality.

Fear not, Ms. Busy, there are solutions for you, and they might be more enjoyable than you realize.

1) Remove the Uncertainty of Routine Tasks

Much of our daily frustrations stem from things so small that we often forget they happened hours later. I’m talking about not knowing where that important piece of mail went, losing a sticky note with vital info on it, and so on. There are a slew of things we can all do for ourselves that take moments to set up and lead to endless timesavers and stress-free mornings. Many of these may seem obvious but the reminders can be vital if they’ve been on your to-do list for a while...

  • Designate a place for your keys - they go there when you walk in and you always know where they are

  • Create an inbox/outbox - I don’t know about you, but my counter tops get cluttered with paper piles fast. Creating a place for incoming stuff to handle/sort and outgoing stuff to mail/sign/toss will make you feel more in control and less anxious that you’re forgetting something.

  • Use a notebook for notes, ideas, errands that need to get done, and anything else you’re worried about forgetting. Now everything is in one place, can easily go with you, and you won’t have to worry about loose papers or sticky notes flying around when the A/C comes on.

 

2) Make Your Bed - Improve Your Mindset

Did you know that making your bed each morning can lower your stress? Not only are you doing something for you first thing in the morning but you’re also starting your day with an accomplishment. This sets a positive mindset for the day and can help you set intention and feel good knowing that you’ve adulted and it just feels right.

 

3) Say “Thank you” when you receive a compliment

I get it, being humble is your thing but pausing to say “thank you” when someone says something nice about you allows a few things to happen:

  • You acknowledge the other person (and they appreciate it)

  • You allow yourself to feel good instead of deflecting or saying “you too!” or “please, not as much as…

  • You start accepting and believing the positive traits that others see in you

 

4) Give Yourself Permission to Change your Mind

I mean this in so many ways. How many times have you left the house in the morning thinking “I’m totally going to make xyz for dinner” or “tonight, this entire room is getting a makeover” only to come home, feel exhausted, and then get upset with yourself because you’re not sure you want to do those things anymore? Expectation hangovers are a real thing and I talk more about them in this post here. What’s important to remember is that depending on our mood, our wants, needs, and energy levels can shift. Instead of nagging yourself for not doing something that was an idea earlier, write it down in that handy notebook we talked about and get excited about it for another time. It’s totally fine and acceptable to change your mind and doing so gives your more freedom, too. You’re not bound to any one idea you have, why live in a limiting way?

The big takeaway here is that the moments of each day shape the life you live, the way you feel, and the happiness you’re capable of having. Self-Love is a practice that you can honor daily in ways that help you cultivate more control over the things you really want to be doing.

 

--------------

Sarah Steckler is a Creative Self-Love Coach who helps women identify their goals, pinpoint what’s holding them back, and create meaningful action that allows them to feel how they deserve, get what they want, and create a better relationship with themselves in the process. When she’s not blogging or coaching, you can find her exploring the outdoors, writing snail mail to her friends, or cuddling with her English Bulldog.

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Ditch the Anxiety and Tell Your Inner Critic to Shut It (Plus - a Giveaway!)

Many of my followers know that I myself struggle with anxiety.  It's something I'm constantly mind of, and keep in check with emotional support, nutrition, and self-care.

But some days are harder than others, which is why I'm totally jazzed about this new book by Jodi Aman!

Jodi's way of breaking down every tactic anxiety uses to tighten it's grip on you, while simultaneously making sure there is no judgement against the sufferer, is profound and extremely helpful.

Fo so long I've heard, "If you're anxious, you have to change your mindset" or that "You can only control your thoughts, not the world around you." 

And you guys KNOW I'm all about positivity and mindset.  I love that shit.

But what about when you can't shift to positivity?  Or when it seems extremely difficult?

It creates self-judgement, which leads to more anxiety.  It makes you wonder "if it's that easy, why can't I do it?"

Jodi acknowledges that fact from the very beginning, and makes it very clear that anxiety is NOT your fault.

Fucking game-changer!

I love the action steps she lays out throughout the book to give you some concrete steps to take to find relief.

One part of it is taming your inner critic.  Feel like yours is being a huge asshole?  Check out Jodi's video to calm that shit down.

From the garden she started when she was 8 years old, to the baby ducks she found a home when she was 10, Jodi Aman has always been passionate about nurturing life. With sharp empathy into the complexities of people's pain–since she has recovered from her own family chaos and panic attacks–and a keen understanding of how and why people get stuck there, Jodi has decided to dedicate her life to helping people feel less lonely and afraid. Find meditations, retreats, and online anxiety recovery programs at http://jodiaman.com. Check out her videos at http://youtube,com/jodiaman. Get inspired on Instagram @JodiAmanLove  Or feel loved on Facebook: http://facebook.com/jodiamanlove.

 

Want more?  You’re in luck.

I loved this book so much I’m giving away a FREE copy!  All you have to do is enter your info below, and you're in!  One winner will be chosen at random on May 10th 2016.

Self-Sabotage - And What the Fuck to do About it

Yesterday, as I was walking the dog, I finally understood what it feels like to self-sabotage.

I’ve heard that term thrown around a ton in books, lectures and in talking with other coaches, but I was always convinced I never did that.   Sure, I stand in my own way sometimes, but self-sabotage?  That definitely wasn’t me.

Nope.  So not.

During my walk last night I was thinking to myself, “Things are actually going pretty well right now.”  I’ve been coaching some amazing women (who are having some killer results), I’ve kept my anxiety on the lower side the past few weeks, the dog seems happier…. Shit, things are looking up!

And then, it hit me.

Literally out of nowhere feelings of dread, anxiety, fear, and an overwhelming sense of ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’ hit me like a ton of bricks.  I went from feeling peaceful and happy to suddenly worrying that everything was going to be terrible, and nothing will work out, and clearly something awful is going to happen.

The fuck?

 

That is some fucked up shit, and I know I’m not alone in this feeling.   And the scary part for me is… I’m sure I’ve been doing this for years, but I didn’t realized till JUST now!

In a way, I’m not allowing myself to feel good.  I don’t believe I deserve to feel good, or I don’t deserve to have good things happen to me.  By fearing the future and convincing myself that things will go to hell, I’m not trusting in myself or the universe to handle things.

And I KNOW that I can handle things, and the universe can handle things.

This happens in all different ways for all different people.  For some, it manifests as “I’ve been eating really well and treating my body right…. But I don’t deserve to feel good so imma down a box of oreos”  or“I’m feeling really good about a situation but my mind is now going to be FULL of all the possible horrible outcomes and oh hey let’s show them on replay for the next 2 days.”

We deserve better than this. 

What to do about it:

Ok, so we know self-sabotage sucks (and is literally the opposite of self-care and self-love), so what do we do about it?

1.     The first step is just noticing.  If you’re anything like me, you may have gone years without realizing you were even doing this!  By first identifying when this is happening, we can start to take action.  Try to catch yourself in the moment, when your brain tells you “Things can’t be this good.”

2.     Once you have that moment, you can kick the self-love up a notch.  My first step is to say to myself “I deserve to feel good” or “I love and approve of myself and I trust the process of life.”  These are my two favorite affirmations, and when I feel anxiety creeping in, I tend to repeat them to myself for at least few minutes.

3.     Then, I practice some deep breathing to take the edge off.  My favorite is the 4-7-8 Breath.  ((Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts, hold for 7, breathe out through your mouth for 8 counts))  I do this 4-6 times to help re-set my parasympathetic nervous system.

4.     If I’m at home and able to, I love to practice some tapping or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) around whatever the issue is.  To use EFT, you use the tips of your fingers to lightly tap on different meridian points on your head, shoulders and chest, while affirming, “Even thought I have this problem (Fill in the blank with your issue), I love and accept myself.”

Want to give it a try?  Watch this quick video by Jessica Ortner for a primer on the points.

 

5.     And then, finally, I journal that shit out.  Sometimes I really resist journaling, but that’s usually when I need it the most.  Getting it out of my head and onto paper helps me process things a little more, so it’s not just swirling around in an anxious jumble in my head.

 

All right you fabulous babes – talk to me.  Do you experience self-sabotage?  Yes? No?  Have you never thought about it before?  What do you do when it creeps in? Leave me a comment below!

"The Struggle is Real. Women & Autoimmune Disease." by Deana Gunn

Autoimmunity. Are you familiar with it? Chances are you probably have heard about it or know someone with an autoimmune disease.  So what is autoimmunity? In its simplest form, your body is attacking itself. What? Yup, that's right. For example, if you have Celiac Disease like me your body is attacking your small intestines and with Rheumatoid Arthritis your body is attacking it's joints. In Hashimoto's, your body is attacking your thyroid.  

Why can it be challenging to figure out if you are suffering from one? As someone who has an autoimmune disease, that typically can take about nine years to pinpoint, I'd love to share some of my thoughts and experience on why so many women are not only suffering, but aren't being diagnosed. 

 

1.) Doctors. Taking time to really listen and understand all the symptoms going on with someone takes time! Unfortunately our current medical system is not set up to accommodate time with patients. Practitioners generally are paid by insurance companies based on the number of patients they see.  Functional doctors take the time to listen, look at the symptoms, and attempt to get to the root of the issue and restore balance in the body.  The patient is treated as a whole, instead of treating symptoms. It's why often functional practitioners can't take insurance. It's just not cost effective. I can't tell you how many doctors and specialists I saw that couldn't find anything wrong with me but I knew something wasn't right. My diagnosis came when I worked with a functional doctor.

 

2.) Our SAD diet! I'd be remiss without mentioning what we put in our body. The Standard American Diet (SAD- how ironic) has contributed to the increase in autoimmunity. Sure, you may have a genetic predisposition to it but what you eat and how you live plays a huge factor. Why? The SAD diet is carb heavy. It contains foods that are highly processed and high in sugar which create inflammation in our bodies. Chronic inflammation can often lead to disease and in many cases an autoimmune disease. Eating a diet closer to the earth, meaning food with no added ingredients. Nutrient dense foods like veggies, fruits, lean protein and nuts increase your odds to not developing one. If you aren't feeling well and not getting answers, looking at your food is a great place to start. There are other foods you can add in and take out to cool inflammation. A health coach can help with this too!

 

3.) Women aren't taken seriously. Okay, so if your doctor doesn't have enough time to listen and your symptoms are fatigue, anxiety, feeling depressed, aches and pains...you can feel helpless. These were all the symptoms I had in addition to heart palpations, tremors and balance issues. If you have kids then you are an overworked mom. If you have a career that demands much of your time, well you too are overworked. If you have both, forget it! That's about the time when many doctors open up their scripts for a prescription for Xanax. "You need to relax, you're stressed, take this...." and now you feel CRAZY. This happened to me during my time of trying to figure out what the heck was going on. It's infuriating!

 

4.) Hormones! Hormones like estrogen and progesterone and our thyroid hormones are all pieces of a complex puzzle. Many doctors just look at TSH for thyroid but there are about five other tests that can actually tell how your body is converting your hormones and how they are working together. Proper hormone testing, looking at things like inflammation markers, listening to a patient's symptoms and along with analyzing your diet can really help create a clear picture of what's going on in our bodies. From my experience, many doctors don't look at all of these things together and it's hard to put a puzzle together without all the pieces! One of the things I recommend to my clients if they are having symptoms but aren't able to get to answers, is to download a period tracker and note their symptoms around their cycle. Many times a pattern is found. This arms them with information for speaking with practitioners.

 

Please don't think I’m bashing traditional medicine because I'm not.  If I broke my leg, I'd go right to the hospital and be very thankful for all our medical advancements. I saw five doctors and specialists before I received a proper diagnosis of Celiac Disease from an Integrative Doctor who uses a functional approach. I feel lucky to have received a diagnosis within a year as the average time to diagnosis is approximately nine years! It's why I'm a fan of Functional Medicine. It approaches the patient differently by attempting to get at the root of the issue and identifies preventative measures. It looks at the whole person instead of just one symptom. If you are a woman who is struggling with pain and hasn't been able to figure out what's going on, I've walked in your shoes. You may or may not have an autoimmune disease, but if you aren't getting answers, try seeing a doctor who uses a functional approach. If that's not an option, don't give up! Look at your food and track your cycle for starters. Remember, doctors are only people too. My advice to anyone is to follow your intuition, keep asking questions, advocate for yourself and do what you can to take control of your health! 

 

"When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change!"

 

 

Wishing you health & healing,

Deana

 

Deana Gunn is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach who specializes in helping women with autoimmune disease take their power back and the owner of threekindsofkale.com. She's a gluten free Mom of two, a closeted lover of comic book character movies, and enjoys a nice glass of red wine. 

How To Stay Healthy With The Season

Yesterday, I all of a sudden had a HUGE craving for a big salad. 

I like salad and all, but it’s not typically a staple of mine when it’s cold out, it’s more of a warm weather food for me.  I also noticed that I was feeling a little more antsy than usual, and also SUPER inspired to keep working through most of the day yesterday. 

This feels more like spring energy, but I’m sitting here with a Winter Weather warning in Baltimore.  What gives? 

Then I remembered that the Chinese elemental calendar start seasons on different dates, and when I googled it I realized that yesterday, Chinese New Year/Lunar New Year, marks the start of the Spring season.

To. The. Day.  I called it, because I felt that shift.  Crazy, huh?

In Chinese medicine, the Spring or Wood season marks a sense of renewal and inspiration.  The worst of the winter is (hopefully) over, the days are noticeably longer, and we start to plan ahead for the warmer months. We start to make plans for our gardens, getting ready to plant seeds and eventually we break through the tough soil to allow for movement and growth.

As we get into this season, as lovely as it is, many folks tend to experience some not so fun emotions as well.  Anxiety, depression, and irritability are common as we deal with the build up of energy from winter to spring. 

And oh boy, I’m feeling that too.

With that being the case, this is a great time to refocus your self-care practice, and there are a few things you can specifically do to help ease yourself into this time.

      ·      Begin to incorporate more raw vegetables into your diet.  As it’s still chilly on the east coast         of the US, I’d say don’t rush into it and suddenly eat salad or juice for each meal, but here and         there start to add some in!

      ·      Drink 60 to 80 oz of water per day to help flush out the liver.  The liver is responsible for             detoxifying the blood, so you want to keep that shit moving!

      ·      On a similar note, start incorporating more movement into your days to also get the liver             going.  Take a walk a few times per week.  Join a yoga class.  Or friend me on Couch to 5K               (caitbyrnes) so we can keep each other motivated!

      ·    Re-organize your space!  This is a great time to get rid of all the crap that builds up during           the winter (hello KonMari method!).  Throw out old papers, dust those ceiling fans, and get             your shit in order.  You’ll feel so much better after.

 

How are you feeling right now?  Still feeling the winter blues?  Caught the spring anxiety? 

Leave me a comment below and let me know!

It's Ok To Need Support (we all need it)

It’s ok to need support (we all need it)

Everyone needs support.  Period.  Even if you think you can do it all yourself.

It doesn’t matter what it is:

 

Housework

Homework

A listening ear

A babysitter

Business help

An accountability partner

A reminder to take care of yourself

Or, help packing all of your belongings into a truck and moving a few states away.

 

You’re gonna need some help. 

As Desmond and I get ready to make our move to the Jersey Shore, I’m reflecting on what support really means, and how just existing around other people is support enough sometimes. 

Having a community to belong to is huge, and Baltimore has been an incredible community for both of us.  It’s something I’ll miss deeply, but am also so grateful for the age we live in and that really that community support never has to end.

(That being said, I’m still booking workshops and lectures in Baltimore, and the work I do with clients is 100% online and by phone, so we can keep doing what we’re doing!)

But really, what I’m getting at is it’s ok to ask for help.

Really, it is.

Many of us were brought up to never depend on anyone else, and that if you want something done right you have to do it yourself.  And yet, so many of us are totally burnt out and overwhelmed.

Outsource whatever you can.  There’s no shame in that.

Maybe you have a few extra bucks to hire a cleaner to come once a week to your house.  Or, maybe you can ask a friend to help you lift some heavy shit.  Or maybe you can hire a personal trainer to help you figure out what movement you should do (and to help you stick to it). Or maybe you can use a free service like 7 Cups of Tea to talk things out when they’re feeling heavy.

No. Shame.

Ask yourself today where you could use some support, and then go out and get it.