I have consistently had the struggle to keep it all together. Not that keeping it all together is even really possible. There's this wonderful quote I recently heard saying something like "even the person who has all of their shit together is still standing in it". Nonetheless, keeping it together has always been something I strived for. This term, in short, pretty much means keeping up appearances, consistently. It also means having more days when you, your home, your car, habits, and routine look polished, well-oiled, and productive and less days when you look and live like a slob kabob. It's not so much for vanity's sake but I truly believe that once you routinely incorporate the steps it takes to "keep it together", (the same steps that also just so happen to result in a visibly pleasing outcome), you show up in life with your best foot forward...boldly and enthusiastically. That type of energy attracts all sorts of wonderful and then, the domino effect commences! Once you master one thing, you're more likely to be mindful of another, and since that feels so good, why not add a few other feel-good accomplishments to the pile?!
I am lucky enough to have a handful of fabulous friends. This group of people, like me, regularly discusses how they need to get back into their gym routine, or they need to get some color on their skin, or they need to make a habit of a spiritual practice: church, meditation, etc! We all have some pretty hectic schedules...especially compared to what it was like in high school. Living in the grown up world of consistent jobs, errands, bills, and priorities that keep the lights on and a roof over our heads takes up a majority of our adult day. While we can't walk away from those necessary priorities, or "adulting", we can make sure we still give ourselves the attention we deserve. Yes, life gets hectic but in the grand scheme of things, if you're too busy working your ass off, it's not that you can't afford to master self-care, but, really, you can't afford to not to master self-care. A chance to recoup and honor yourself with some daily love is as valuable as it gets. What is all of that hard work really for if you don't enjoy your everday? Time is precious, yes, but I think serving yourself a nice, hot slice of "you" time on the daily will not only have an impact on your happiness, but, also, your income! Those daily treats, in the long run, can make you even more productive because of that wonderful sense of clarity that comes with regulated cortisol (the stress hormone).
So, my idea. This year, I am going to debut a new blog series called 365 Days of Self-Care: How to Make 2016 Your Bitch. (I apologize if profanity offends anyone but the title made me laugh too hard not to use it.) This series will focus on the many forms of self-care that you can treat yourself with on the daily. I have gathered the consensus that many people have massive reservations about making resolutions because they don't want to set themselves up for failure. I get it. You've set these goals before and end up feeling defeated before the end of January. I've been there too. With this series, you're not setting yourself up for any realm of failure because you can incorporate one form of daily TLC that will take you very little time and will contribute to your bigger picture...you becoming even more awesome!
To be honest, I am looking forward to this as a form of accountability. I have mastered clean eating & listening to my body, I am in the ever-evolving process of honoring myself, and now, I would like to treat myself like I deserve to be treated via pampering, love, and FUN! So, please join me in this pursuit! Expect a lot of embarrassing videos, exciting tutorials, hopefully some pounds shed, stress melted, healthy habits adopted, and delicious recipes tasted! Can't wait!
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*photo cred TTFMag
To love yourself means to look forward. Not to only think in the future tense but to continue to look at your bigger picture. To really wait, check in with yourself, your day, your thoughts and make sure they're in line with your core values, loves, and life purpose. Ask: "Does my day contribute to my bigger picture?", "Do the things I do throughout my day support me in making those decisions?" To really succeed in life is to live a life honoring yourself. You won't stand a fighting chance unless you LISTEN.
If you're lucky enough to have intuition, or the natural ability to hear your inner guide, don't take it for granted. If this is a foreign concept to you, you too can be "in touch". You just need to practice yielding. Obtaining and maintaining balance is only an arms length away. As easily as you can push it away, you can pull it back in. One of the primary ways to reach balance is by eating for nourishment. (By the way, eating purely for nourishment doesn't mean you've abandoned eating for enjoyment. The two can actually coexist!)
If you wholeheartedly strive to avoid unfavorable habits and consuming hindrances that limit your chances to thrive, you're 12 steps ahead. When you consistently interrupt that inner guide with the "yeah, but" excuses and allowances, you know good and well that that rebellious behavior can keep you imbalanced, keeping you from a life of ease and flow. The beautiful rhythm that God offers down to us.
Can you imagine what your life could look like if you stayed in God's rhythm, or took cues from your inner guide? If every time you got slightly distracted from your symphony or felt temped to stop and stray down that path of resistance, you kept looking forward with blind faith? When really, it isn't blind faith at all because you are built with the intuitive knowledge to know that food, music, people, art, television all can generate either positive or negative energy within our lives. Imagine all of the things in the world as one of the two color categories of energy: dark and light. The more dark energy you surround yourself with, feed yourself, and create, the lower your light fades. Now think of yourself as a battery. That same energy, dark and light, represent the dark energy that drains you and the light energy that feeds and sustains you. Each time you participate in dim, draining activities: eating foods that require your body to detox on overdrive, throwing off your hormones, energy level, and your system's wellbeing, watching too much TV, spending beyond your means, keeping friends who display toxic behavior or conversation, staying in a job that makes you dread waking up each morning...all of those contribute to draining your battery.
Then, you have the things that make life lovely: balanced foods, exercise, nature, drinking plenty of water, playing with animals, reading good literature, spending time with supportive and uplifting friends and family, your favorite coffee shop, travel...all of those activities, big and small, that contribute to breathing life back into you.
Now, think about your battery. Do you spend most of your time doing things that drain you or that feed you? Are you feeling like you're currently on empty or in the negative? Write down a list of the things that make you thrive. Even though some of us aren't living in the means of worldly riches, we can still live in abundance. Most of us have responsibilities like work, errands, house work, etc. but if we look for ways to infuse our day with the energizing activities that feed us, we won't feel depleted. This will also show the oh-so-wonderful y.o.u. that you're worth setting aside 10 minutes of each lunch break to enjoy the outdoors, or implementing a daily tea time, or admitting to yourself that by limiting the amount of TV you watch, you can nurture yourself by doing something a little more productive. Most of us watch television to vacate. Maybe sitting with yourself in silence and getting something accomplished will eventually make you want to stay in your body more, so that you don't feel the need to vacate.
It is so valuable to push yourself to carve out the time to do things that may not naturally be activities we enjoy, but that contribute to our core values and goals. Cooking my not be your favorite thing in the world. You may even detest it, but making sure you plan out your meals each week not only contributes to your appearance, but, also, your daily stamina, productivity, etc. To go even deeper, it will contribute to the longevity and quality of your lifeline so it's not just a gift to yourself, but your family. Those are the things that will give us that added energy to make another positive decision, moving us in the right direction, to that beautiful, one of a kind, God-given rhythm.
The general struggle that comes up for most people is the generated by the belief that they are not in control of their body. They were never able to fully subscribe to this way of living because they've had a lifelong battle with their cravings and their cravings have always won. Well, I have some great news for you. Cravings aren't actually the opposing force keeping you away from creating balance. Cravings are actually our bodies way of telling us that a shift needs to be made in order to maintain/ reach balance. Before you start thinking, "oh, so if I crave dessert, that's my body telling me I need cookies in order to feel balanced?", you need to sit with the truth that many of us look to food to satiate the general craving for pleasure or relaxation. The cool part about this is that once you're honed in on honoring your primary needs in life: relationships, exercise, quiet time, etc., you magically quit feeling plagued or controlled by crazy cravings because you're able to decipher if your body is saying you have a nutrient deficiency (which is the primary purpose for cravings) or because you have a fun/ love/ touch/ exercise/ self-care/ spirituality deficiency. (i.e. low battery)
Not only will you soon experience the light and airy feeling you get from adopting a cleaner lifestyle, but, also, a freeing notion that you're actually doing everything within your control to feel good and be the best version of yourself-- which is the utmost rewarding sense of accomplishment. When things don't go your way and are beyond your control, you can rest assured that all you CAN do is let it go because you've covered the bases.
When my life was in disarray and I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong to have attached myself to this dim reality, I refused to accept that dead-end feeling. I decided I would take control of every area of my life that I could control-- the areas of my life that God wouldn't dispute was the right or wrong move. Exercise, eating well, getting sleep, limit my drinking, etc. I figured those were the things I would invest my energy on and doing so would HAVE to have a positive impact on my present reality. Everything else, all of the negative things you can't control take a backseat and become secondary because you are purely focused on that positive rhythm. Regardless of your religious beliefs, I don't think anyone could dispute this mindset for a little soul makeover. In my experience, this is when my life started to take a complete shift in a positive direction. When I began to quit resisting and take direction from my inner voice/ intuition/ God/ subconscious/ "self"/ Universe, whatever you want to refer to it as.
So, now is your time to decide and ask yourself: "are the activities and thoughts I participate in each day conducive to my big picture?" Are you giving yourself daily doses of the most important supplement of all, vitamin L? (LOVE.) Taking steps in the right direction may not feel what's most natural in the beginning, just like learning to waltz, but I assure you, that when you listen to your inner instructor and keep practicing, you will slowly begin to feel ease and fluency with each beautiful move you make. When you're in balance, the steps you make in life will become set in motion to that sweet, symphonic rhythm.
Happy New Year!
In the comments below, share what feeds your battery and will contribute to bettering your new year!
A few years ago, I was feeling rather festive, which quickly resulted in my having a massive craving for pumpkin pie. I do have an incredible gluten free, refined sugar free, soy free, dairy free, etc., etc. pumpkin pie that I will for sure eventually share, BUT I was sort of wanting more immediate gratification! Update: click here for my pumpkin pie recipe!
So, I crossed my fingers and whipped up (literally) a fantastic raw, vegan, treat that more than sufficed for a quick pumpkin pie-like treat! Since almonds are used to make a delicious milk alternative, it makes a lot of sense that this would create a sweet, milky/ creamy flavor. Added bonus: it took 2 minutes to make! This treat does taste better after being chilled in the fridge.
What you will need:
- One 15 oz. can of pumpkin. (I use organic Farmer's Market brand because the can has a BPA free liner. Available at Whole Foods.)
- 1/3 cup almonds, chopped. (It's best if you soak them in water overnight to remove enzyme inhibitors and to soften them so that you reach a creamier consistency.)
- 2 1/2-3 tablespoons brown Lakanto (other options are xylitol or organic brown coconut sugar)
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie seasoning blend. (I love, love this pre-mixed spice of cinnamon, ginger, lemon peel, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, star anise, fennel, and black pepper. You can find this with the spices at almost any grocery. It also tastes wonderful in quinoa, paired with a natural sweetener.)
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract, preferably alcohol free.
- 1 tablespoon water
What to do!
- Add drained almonds and 1 T of water to a food processor (I used my Vitamix for this).
- After the almonds are blended into a paste, add pumpkin, sweetener, vanilla, and seasoning.
- Blend until smooth.
- Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or almonds for garnish.
ENJOY! I really enjoyed it with a hot cup of chai tea. Although, I love tea with almost everything.
Good news: this is one of those sweet treats you can enjoy for breakfast and not feel the least bit guilty! This dish is packed with potassium, vitamins A and C, protein, and if you were as happy as I was after eating, it also has a mood boosting effect! *I actually just read that pumpkin boosts serotonin, which is said to give you a more positive outlook.