Sure, coffee is the traditional get-up-and-go, it contains beneficial antioxidants, but, for some, it’s a cup of anxiety. Coffee doesn’t actually provide energy, the caffeine just stimulates your adrenals, causing that jolt everyone seems to crave. But when you get that jump, in conjunction with the potential morning stressors, it can sometimes make you boil over.
You’re reading your email and find that you shoulders are tightening, you’re taking audible breaths, maybe even feeling a tinge of anxiety...this all could be caused by fight-or-flight and/or too much adrenaline, which could eventually result in adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is a tricky one to come back from because it actually causes you to feel exhausted and lethargic and in order to reconcile your tired adrenals, you’re required to stop caffeine altogether! (Reaching this point usually means coffee/ caffeine doesn’t have its usual kick to get you out of your slump anyway.)
This topic is very familiar for me because, typically, I know that coffee is too much for my system. Depending on the day, it can even trigger an anxiety attack and the unfavorable shakes. I love the taste of coffee, particularly fair-trade organic options that are roasted evenly, so that they don’t harvest mold (a popular issue with coffee beans). I also try to find low-acid options, but even all of those upgrades still don’t change what coffee can do to your adrenals. For me, I start to see the effects of it on my face and, unfortunately, I’m the type of person who sometimes requires signs of visible distress in order to finally put a stop to unsupportive behaviors.
So, the alternatives! Weirdly enough, most people respond much differently to the caffeine found in tea. Some of this has to do with the fact that different types of tea contain different volumes of caffeine (some herbal is caffeine free, white tea usually contains the least, green tea lies in the middle, and black tea yields the highest amount of caffeine, along with green matcha). Also, caffeine has a variety of different strains so, some can be more steadily processed by the body. (Bulletproof coffee claims to have that as one of its perks...not causing you to peak and crash.)
Experimenting with different teas can have a variety of perks. Most boast loads of health benefits and you’re able to access your inner medicine woman, seeking certain types for your particular ailments. During my sister’s pregnancy, I found a way to amp her protein intake (my mom says it’s so important because you’re building a baby brain) by making her hemp mylk lattes with an assortment of different herbal teas. It’s super simple and so delicious. Hemp is an amazing source of protein, containing a whopping 10 grams per tablespoon! That’s about as much as a large hard boiled egg. Hemp also contains the oh-so-healing omega-3 fatty acids, along with fiber and other vitamins and minerals.
To make a hemp mylk latte, your first step is to brew a cup of tea...I like to steep mine a little longer since you’ll be dilluting it with the mylk. In a blender, add a tablespoon of hemp seeds to approximately 1/4 cup of hot water. I like to add pure stevia (like Sweet Leaf) or a little bit of raw, organic, local honey. If you have vanilla bean, cinnamon, collagen protein, or any other health boosters, those are great add-ons too! Last, BLEND. (It also works to pour your brewed tea with the desired ingredients and blend, but you just want to make sure all of the little hemp seeds are blended fully to reach the desired smooth/ creamy consistency.) Once it’s complete, this tea even has a nice froth to it so, you’re not missing a thing!
Another great option is a blended, chilled matcha latte shown below! Not only is matcha delicious, it also comes with a barrel of health benefits!
Note: I DO still drink coffee, but never more than 2 cups a day. I am also very careful to take an inventory of how I’m feeling and what I’m taking on that day. If it’s a particularly stressful time, I just avoid it. I also never drink coffee before a flight or speaking engagements because those already make me nervous so, pouring some adrenaline on that would not be supportive!
Check out this stunning Montessori kindergarten. Obviously the aesthetic is so pleasing, but I think a lot of kids would thrive in a tidy environment, free of too much clutter and stimuli. With the way most classrooms are designed in the U.S., one might assume there's solid evidence that all children would excel in an environment with bold, primary colored banners, posters, vibrant educational rugs, etc.
The Montessori page Wikipedia states that "Montessori education involves free activity within a "prepared environment", meaning an educational environment tailored to basic human characteristics, to the specific characteristics of children at different ages, and to the individual personalities of each child. The function of the environment is to help and allow the child to develop independence in all areas according to his or her inner psychological directives." "The environment should exhibit the following characteristics:
Sources: design-milk.com and Wikipedia.com
Honoring yourself with proper self-care and healthy boundaries is the only way to truly grow into your God-given capabilities and potential. Imagine you are a plant. If you feed yourself soft drinks, you may stay alive, but will you really thrive? Sure, pop contains water and it may seem more appealing because it comes in a shiny can, it's sweet, and the carbonation makes it more exciting, but it will stunt your growth. Similar to toxic food, people, and behaviors— while they may be alluring, exciting, and make you feel good in the moment, they will also impair your capabilities to reach your optimum height. Toxins reduce your ability to thrive and flourish. So, when you come to a crossroads and you feel your intuition pulling at you, imagine yourself as a plant and remember: you have a choice to opt out of taking in the toxic! You deserve pure nourishment and nothing less— exercise, true love, spiritual warmth, supportive people, clean foods, and the opportunity to reach the sun!
Life is made up of decision and circumstances. Some of these things are within our control and some of them are served to us. Commonly, when life gets rough, people can get consumed with thinking, "why me?"/ "doesn't God love me?"/ "why does this keep happening?"/ "why doesn't the universe have my back?", etc. While these are all valid questions to entertain, they will never equate to relief. God DOES love you...maybe that's why you're going through this horrific situation-- only to refine your level of capability, aka "awesome", for something different. I wouldn't ever considered myself a troubled person, but let's just say that struggle is most definitely not a foreign concept to me.
There have been times when people have tried to lend their support by suggesting that I was special and God was allowing these things to happen because He had SO much faith in me. Well, as kind as that is, it didn't jive with me. A majority of the time, I thought that if that were the case, I just assumed God love me a little less so that I could receive a little relief. It didn't feel right. I wasn't being singled out by God and knew I wasn't the "special" student because we're all created equal. I also knew and know that everyone has one thing in common: we all have our problems. Maybe the scale is different, but they're there. So, I did what I do best and I ANALYZED different theories until I exhausted loads of options.
At thirty years of age, here is what I've come up with. I could have been born with an internal quest to seek a life of "normalcy". Let's be real, the closest thing to "normal" is if you're participating in a stream of societal expectations, charged generational ideals, and (I hate to say it because I don't ever want to be misinterpreted for hateful, but) functioning similar to a human robot. You can't blame this ever-growing species of human because it looks like it would be pretty uncomplicated to subscribe to a life of siding with the majority, holding beliefs that don't rock the boat, and living out your days as if your actions don't matter or contribute to the ripple effect in the universe...(selfie stick in hand). I can see the appeal because I am a completely different species of person on the total opposite spectrum. Being a highly sensitive person alone makes me a rare minority. But I am a person who realizes how much of a change one person can make. The ripple effect is real. I was able to see this in action when it was brought to my attention during my schooling with IIN. The longer I was on my wellness journey, the more frequently I would realize that my friend's and family's pantries had become VERY similar to mine, stocking a lot of my favorites. This may seem little, but it isn't. What these people eat means the world to me because it adds years to their lives and if they share it, the ripple effect commences! I honestly think some of it is persuasion, but a majority is through osmosis! (Real quick: again, I am not thinking I am superior to anyone. I honestly look at some people and envy that they are entirely content living their way and are totally unaware of this notion altogether! It can get exhausting being on the other side of it!)
When I decided to make bold moves by going to FIDM and then, going to IIN, there was something stirring inside me. I couldn't accept the status quo and get a job that didn't make me feel like I was REALLY living. Like I was REALLY being of service. My saying this doesn't mean that almost every profession on the planet doesn't have a very necessary place in this world. We need people who are passionate about ALL vocations...otherwise our society would experience imbalance/ lack. For me, personally, this is just quite essential. God placed this specific mission inside of me. Living against the grain isn't easy-- it brings up all sorts of things that make life feel sort of like an uphill climb. It makes "safe" feel unsafe because while I know it's the cozier choice, I still feel the urge to choose the risk. It's sort of like on Disney's Beauty and the Beast when Bell is on horseback, trying to find her father and she comes to a fork in the road. One route looks pleasant and promising and the other looks dark and dangerous. Regardless the appearance, Bell chose the less obvious choice. This decision resulted in her being held captive and at this point, many people (including her), could have sat and asked "Why God? I listened to my gut and I'm just trying to help-- so, why is the universe doing this to me?" Well, her time at the castle wasn't always easy, BUT it resulted in her "happily ever after". I know I really took that fantasy scenario and ran with it, but it's very similar to my point...if I ever get to it!
Again, life is made up of decisions and circumstances. It's all about perspective, following our intuition, and making sure we make the best of situations we find ourselves in. Your story can impact your life in a big way. You can blame the world for your circumstances, or you can sit and see the lesson in it. You can use these pages in your life as the fuel that will drive you to success. If life serves you sad, make sure you embrace happiness that much harder. When life sends you unpleasant people, appreciate gracious people that much more. If you find yourself in a downward spiral, stop and dream up a better outcome for yourself. See yourself in a different life and take the action steps that will lead you towards that direction. Maybe you are someone who feels like you're at a dead-end and don't have the resources to get out-- sit and write out baby steps and focus on the things you DO have control over. Decide to make a shift, own responsibility of your life, and the universe WILL open up doors for you. Again, it's all about perspective. When you're looking for it with positive intent, it will present itself to you.
SO, for those of you who have felt like you've had it rough: if you're someone who lives an alternative lifestyle and feel drained or like you've missed out on what life has to offer, know that you're not alone. You ARE a special breed of human and it's SO great that you're not content with living like the majority or within the confines of common. It's not that God doesn't love you OR that God loves you more, it's just that He has sent you on a mission that takes a certain person with your special traits and life experience. A person with tenacity, with heart, an imagination, and PASSION. Some of these things could be the very characteristics people have judged you for or have told you that you need to be more practical or take it down a notch. B-o-l-o-g-n-a. That's only because those traits aren't relatable to them-- so, it doesn't make sense to them, which can sometimes make people uncomfortable. Why life could seem like it's against you is because this current world isn't really cut out for you. (My mom would say, it's like how lefties feel in a predominant right hand world.) BUT, even though, the world doesn't really accommodate our kind, it desperately NEEDS them. So, when life feels hard and you feel stuck, keep moving forward. See the beauty in your struggle because with struggle comes lovely things like breakthrough, personal evolution, and progress!
So, I have to go ahead out "out" myself. Particularly because of the last few blog posts. Not only were they posted in MAY, they were also on the topic of self-care. While that has continued to be a running theme in my life, I have to confess that I haven't earned many gold stars in this area as of late. I could definitely get gold stars for worrying about not getting enough self-care, but actual implementation: nope.
When I moved from Oklahoma to LA, I felt like I was in a storm/ time warp/ twilight zone/ hell. I was very consciousness that this time of my life would bring inevitable stress, but trying to alleviate it sort of felt like trying to meditate and get in enough exercise while there was literally and figuratively a flood happening. Everything that I knew well-- every routine, familiar face, my grocery store, squeezing my nieces (my self-regulation vices) all of it sort of got swept away. This is by no means me feeling sorry for myself because this was entirely voluntary/ self-inflicted because it was my choice to move, but the multitude of change that I had just brought on was (and still is) extremely uncomfortable.
Before I go into some of the things that have gotten me through this in one piece, I suppose I could give a little insight to the subtext as to why this was/is "uncomfortable". (Please note: I am speaking from my personal point of view and while I am absolutely sure non-HSPs probably feel a very similar way being put in these positions, I am just giving a little insight to my experience in my "special" body.) Being a highly sensitive person, my nervous system is extremely receptive to sensory/ nuance/ energy...meaning, my fight or flight mode/ sympathetic nervous system is a little trigger happy. Change in my environment means a lot of "potential danger". The more you become acclimated to a person, space, etc., you are able to process those "features", deem them safe (or not), and you are then able to come down a little and not feel so uptight and/ or irritable. Which, again, is how most humans function, but, for HSP’s, it’s all intensified.
Within the first few months of being back in LA, I acquired a fast-paced job, moved into a new apartment...after three intense weeks of searching, had someone I've known for a long time show their true (murky) colors, and found myself in a very tight schedule with very little free time. All the while, I am trying to give myself grace as I try to process, self-regulate, and come back into my body more than not. (..And keep a social life, try to maybe date, and not starve my little elderly pup, Eloise, of deserving TLC.)
I felt led to accept an exciting job where I travel half of the month and while I am unclear if this is my premature death sentence or a potentially valuable challenge, it gave me the idea that I can share my journey to staying mentally sound, physically fit, and well-- all while traveling for work (and play)! I will go more into this exiting content later, but today I am going to chat about some of the things I have done that have been extremely instrumental to making a healthy/ stable transition. Yes, I do feel that if I didn't implement these steps, the stress would have been significantly more brutal.
First, some obvious “symptoms” and red flags to look out for that might indicate that you may be living at a pace/ mind space that could be detrimental your spiritual life, personal life, and literal lifespan: when you’re feeling a little out of body, unfulfilled, tense, you have a hard time connecting, OR you find yourself looking back on previous days and can't quite picture the details and the days seem vague. Any of these sound familiar? Here are some significantly useful habits you can implement to make you feel a little more sound, secure, and present.
1. Find Time to Breathe. Like, really breathe. Those great diaphragmatic breaths where you breathe in and your stomach expands and when you breathe out, it goes back down. (Reading this description could sound elementary and instinctual, but until I studied "basic breathing" in school, I didn't realize that my body didn't do those things until I started practicing. I would force my stomach to push out, even though, air wasn't actually filling my lungs and continue until I caught a full, natural breath. To this day, I still have to frequently check in with myself and make sure I'm doing that.) REAL breathing is a great way to signal to your body that you're not in danger. You could be safe on your couch watching Netflix, but if you're taking shallow breaths, chances are, your body is still in fight or flight mode. When you're functioning with your sympathetic nervous system, or "fight or flight", you're in survival mode. Your body doesn't care about secreting regulated hormones, repairing damaged cells, digesting, etc. It's purely functioning to survive, releasing cortisol. This is why when you’re stressed, you’re maybe a snacker or don’t have an appetite at all-- due to your bodies' inability to release the proper amounts of your "full" and "hungry" hormones, leptin and ghrelin. Another popular repercussion is having overly active bowels or your elimination is slowed down (or off altogether). One of my favorites is looking haggard— which is how your friends clairvoyantly ask you if everything is okay because they can see it on your face— your cell turnover rate has lulled. So, this cliche tip to breathe is actually THAT important because you want to trigger your parasympathetic nervous system, “rest and digest” mode, so your body functions like it's supposed to..
2. Find a Not-So-Guilty Pleasure...or two. One of my very favorite scenarios is to cook while listening to uplifting movies or music, accompanied by chilled wine glass of KeVita (fermented coconut water). This originally became a habit because I wanted to "come down" after work by drinking something without alcohol when I quit drinking for a year. I now prefer this ritual because it contributes to my health and is still an extremely effective way to relax. So, I'm not saying go grab yourself a KeVita, but take inventory of the things that really give back to your body and allow you to feel at ease. Whether that's evening strolls, drawing, crossword puzzles, ANYTHING--- so that if you find yourself out of your comfort zone, you're able to come down, without compromising your health.
3. Get Moving. I can't tell you how often I've blogged about or told clients this somewhat obvious, but under utilized little gem. You might hear it a lot because the stats are right-- working out is one of the most effective stress relievers, a great way to pump your endorphins, and press the reset button. When I travel or find myself in a state of stress, I run. I bring my running shoes because I know the consistency of working out is so healing for me. No matter where you're working out, if you're able to become centered, it will trigger that same state/ mindset, no matter where you are (literally and figuratively).
4. Implement Routine. To some, this could seem very boring. I'm not saying shut down your spontaneous side, but routine can be a great way to bring familiarity to an unfamiliar place or time in your life. While I love supporting local, independent shops, one of my best travel tips is: the second you touch down at the airport, map a Whole Foods. You can find one in most major cities, either near the airport or your hotel. Since most layouts are fairly similar, choosing a grocery like Whole Foods will actually end up saving you time— not to mention the obvious perks of having healthy snacks handy when you’re on the go. I know when most people think of Whole Foods, they don’t exactly think “budgeting”, but this little routine will also end up saving you money! Grabbing some quick $3 breakfasts (like superfood oatmeal cups by Vilgilant Eats and Purely Elizabeth), $1 bottles of spring water, transportable fruits like apples, pears, plums— not only allows you to stay on a healthy path, it also reduces the temptation of grabbing a $4 acidic SmartWater from your mini fridge or a processed snack from a vending machine or convenient store. I also highly suggest grabbing a green drink, low in sugar (4ish grams a serving), to alkalize your system and help combat travel stress.
During my move, I have loved discovering new places, but when I'm feeling a tad overwhelmed, you have no idea how comforting it is to walk into somewhere like a Sprouts-- anywhere I can go to avoid unnecessary stimuli.
In order to master these tips, you must first challenge yourself to devote time to be still. Time to check-in and pay attention to what does and doesn't work for you: activities, foods, etc. By doing this, I was able to find the very things that bring me to a state of homeostasis. (And, also, things that lead me to the brink of spiraling.) This custom “wellness formula” is invaluable when you're entering a time of stress, change, upheaval. Take inventory of the things that help you self-regulate and feel whole and authentic... and do what it takes to make sure that you’re living on that level. It’s the most self-honoring thing you can do!
Do you have any self-regulating routines?! Please share in the comments section below!
I recently dropped one of my tried and true philosophies...and paid for it! Even when (especially when) you're overwhelmed and busy, self-care is imperative. These videos are slightly tricky to follow because they're from my Instagram stories and I usually lose my train of thought because the videos stop after 15 seconds SO, I will fill you in...
I have been desperately been trying to adopt a much more simplified lifestyle when it comes to STUFF. I can't even call it "minimalism" just yet because I attempted it before my move and I failed miserably. I ended up having two garage sales, sold stuff on Craigslist, and Facebook marketplace, gave things away, and donated two trucks full of decor and home goods! YET, somehow, that still didn't get me to the point of reaching "minimalist". Why? 1. Apparently, I'm not cool enough. (Totally kidding, but, really, I'm going to have to redefine the term and make it my own...I'm a stylist. I can't own three pairs of jeans and I'm not sorry.) 2. Because it took me three solid days of moving and three trips in a small U-haul van to clear out my house. This eventful topic will be a blog post on its own because I want to share my tips and lessons learned for those of you who are looking to shed some pounds...not on your body this time, but in you home and consciousness!
During those three days, plus the previous days I prepped for my move after working full days, I didn't really invest the necessary TLC in my honor...and I felt it. Without going into too much detail, it probably took me two full days before I came back into my body. No bueno.
Anyway, I frequently hear people plead their case as to why they haven't tried daily meditation, cleaner eating, or just fit in that warm and delightful "me" time-- and it's usually because work has been crazy, their kids have a lot of activities, they've been traveling, etc. The reality is, the more hectic your life is, the more imperative self-care is! Being mindful of balance and being mindful of just being mindful is HUGE when it comes to health, happiness, and genuine wealth.
Similar to why flight attendants instruct you to put on your oxygen mask BEFORE helping a loved one, you cannot give from an empty cup...or in the context of the airplane, you cannot save someone else's life if you yourself are incapacitated!
As always, I must close by saying that this is a constant evolution. Do I meditate, exercise, oil pull, call my family, spend time with friends, and cook 3 balanced meals each day? Nope. But opening up your consciousness to these truths each day is everything and will allow you to slowly reach a new spectrum of balance and ease!
First of all, I laughed out loud when I wrote this title because even though it's extremely dramatic, it's not too far from the truth! In my quest to get my 30's off to a good start, I decided to go full tilt into my consulting business without much of a doubt. I had a strong strategy in line, I had a keen feeling LA was my future, and I pursued my dreams. Well, as most of us know, "we plan and God laughs". I will not go into a spiral story about how hard my life is because that's just ridiculous, but I also wouldn't say my life has been a bed of roses. For the sake of authenticity, I always speak my truth-- even when it puts me in a slightly vulnerable state...especially considering the social media world we live in where we show the public our "highlight reel" (most of which is staged). Well, that's just not my jam because I don't think that serves anyone. So, my personal preference is to keep it real and the wiser I get, the more I really want to air that all out. (Especially in my line of work-- I feel like our primary goal is to encourage others. SO, I don't think it's very productive to paint a perfect picture of yourself for people, simultaneously saying you're going to help them tap into their true, authentic self!)
So, on to my story, in the attempt to build a bit of a financial cushion, gain more exposure, and do something I love dearly (style), I recently got a job at Saks Fifth Avenue. I first have to say that the inner workings of this corporate company is quite impressive. Second, I have to say that by taking this position, I was able to learn A LOT about myself. Exposing myself to a once extremely familiar environment made me see just how much I've changed over the past few years. Actually, not only that I've changed, but that I've been able to really get to know myself, truly. Just being in that job role for a short period resulted in old anxieties coming up and with them a pile of food cravings (particularly my blast from the past, tried-and-true comfort food: Chinese take-out).
At first, this irrational behavior totally caught me off guard and I almost resented the feeling that I'd lost contact/control with my centered-self, but looking at it now makes me realize that by having this experience, I am able to relate to my clients that much more. There is value in remembering what it was like to feel like I sort of "needed" to eat/ drink __________. I was also watching myself opt out of daily forms of self-care! WTF was going on?!
One thing that didn't waiver was my ability to check-in. I felt off, fuzzy, disoriented, and far from myself so I was able to stop and ask myself what was going on. Apart from the obvious (working in retail and doing my consults meant I was working every single day), I realized that it was my intuition and basic human needs that were crying out. I had lost focus on what really matters and that is being a Lifestyle Consultant. I know that without a doubt helping people optimize their everyday by way of clean living is my calling.
I was so consumed with getting to point B that I had lost sight of the reason why I was wanting to have that cushion-- to be doing what I LOVE doing: helping people...and in order for me to do that, I have to be in my right mind/body/soul. I do still wholeheartedly believe that assisting people with their wardrobes does help them by making them feel a level of confidence, getting the most out of an evening or an event, being able to self-express, but there is a fine line. Absolutely! (Click here for a more in-depth entry on this topic.)
I also realized that to support my highly sensitive self, I really shouldn't overwork and in the process of overworking, I shouldn't decide to skip out on taking care of myself when it is the most opportune time to do so! Another whammy: I should honor my unique traits by opting for a more supportive work environment...one that is a little more controlled. P.S. If you're interested in more on the subject of Highly Sensitive People and finding the right workplace, this book is great!
Going into this situation, I could have told you what would happen, but I thought it could be an exception...maybe. Sort of like when you think drinking that third or fourth drink THIS TIME will be okay.... when is it ever okay?!
So, in conclusion, this experience was a wonderful opportunity to really FEEL these life truths:
1. It is never an okay idea to drop self-care. You need TLC in many forms: exercise, being in nature, good magazines, pampering, etc.
2. Cravings for foods that don't contribute to your health, also don't contribute to your goals or self-esteem. They are signs that you are out of balance and that you want a pacifier (a hug, a jog, a different job, a nap). The urges feel SO legitimate because they really, really are. Your serious life upsets that cause silly cravings are as legit as it gets. The key is to focus on the serious life upsets. Until you do this, your wires will get crossed and you'll think that they're "serious" cravings and your solution lies in indulging in that food when, really, it's never the answer.
3. HONOR YOURSELF. When you hear that sweet voice in your head and feel that pitter-patter in your heart, and the flutter in your gut-- that doesn't mean you are doomed! Get quiet, listen, validate, and make a change. (Or make steps towards making a change...do what you can, now.) You are more than worth it. If you feel as if you've lost yourself in the mix of life and stress, do whatever you can to evoke that real you. For me, it's classic cinema, words of inspiration (particularly lectures from IIN), listening to Elvis, meditation, reading about my Myers-Briggs personality traits...anything that you can immediately identify with, that will allow you to breathe, and make you feel validated.
Stay-tuned for more brutal honesty about my exciting life adventure! The goal is to get to LA by spring and I'm not going to assume it's going to be easy or simple, but I know it will be eventful! And that's exactly the desire God has put in my heart! xo
There has been something weighing heavy on my heart the past few days so, I figured I should write it out. If you're like me, you regularly come across inspirational quotes and literature stating that happiness isn't something that can be acquired, but is simply a frame of mind or a decision. One of the more common quotes by Abe Lincoln states just that, "Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be". While I absolutely agree with this, I also feel a bit guilty for being one of those people who posts these things on social media, making it seem like being happy is so simplistic.
When I read these motivational quotes, depending on my mood, it can either help me immediately snap out of a rut or it just pisses me off. Some people require a little more than a change of tune or getting up on the "right" side of the bed. As a highly sensitive person, this is something I've dealt with my whole life. Since I was a small child, if I was experiencing internal hardship, which usually resulted in my acting out or falling into a slump, people would frequently tell me to essentially get over it or, my least favorite, "this too shall pass". This coffee cup advice seemed to work for so many people that I began to think that I was a defected human because I just couldn't shake it that easily.
Sometimes, if we are experiencing an imbalance, it isn't so easy to just snap our fingers and get happy because there is a correction that needs to be made. While this imbalance can inconveniently get in the way, it is wise to shift your perspective and be so grateful for it because it's your body's way of saying, "there is an area of neglect"! If we avoid this area or dumb it with a vice, it can manifest into a lot of mental and physical burdens, ten times its multitude. While it isn't always easy to get to the land of happy, it is SO important to point out that it is possible to get there and rise above!
During my 6-month program, my clients and I focus on goals. One of the most common things discussed is their goal to achieve a state of well-being, peace, and happiness. It's always a difficult subject, only because there are so many components to this weighted issue. Happiness is a product that has to be broken down into the many actions that we identify this feeling/ emotion with. Perspective is absolutely everything because while newlyweds think financial freedom brings "happiness" and think they will acquire joy by way of money, the single entrepreneur who is sitting on a large sum of money and has a comfortable cash flow thinks they could achieve happiness, if only they could get married. The interesting part of all of this is that through many studies, one Deepak Chopra performed, it has been proven that the amount of money someone acquires does not improve long-term happiness. The only time money does affect long-term happiness is when you worry about not having enough of it, which then reduces your state of well-being.
Touching on this point a little deeper, while being goal-oriented is invaluable, there are some people who are constantly focusing on their horizon/ future. "When I reach this level of success, I'll be happy." I think big picture goals are great, but if you don't make note of daily and weekly accomplishments and celebrate the mile-markers, you are selling yourself short. By the time you get to your end goal, or "destination", you won't get to reap the oh-so-nourishing sense of achievement because being a "future seeker" means you will already have your sites set on that new horizon. Being in the present will allow you to see your success and enjoy it. Staring at the horizon means you will keep going and finally stop once you've "arrived"... when you're dead.
I recently listened to an amazing lecture Deepak Chopra gave about something called the Happiness Formula. I found this extremely interesting and probably the soundest self-help I've come across. This formula is: H = S + C + V.
"H"- happiness, "S"- set point in brain that depicts if you're happy or not, stemming from how you received loved and were cared for in the first three years of your life, which can be changed with some mindfulness (50%), "C"- economic conditions of living/ how often you think about money (12%), and "V"- voluntary choices you make every day to receive pleasure (38%). Not only does this formula go much deeper in detail, Mr. Chopra has also developed a "well-being test" that is said to be a very solid predictor of what's going to happen in your future. The results are based on the calculated scores in areas of well-being including: social, career, physical, financial, and community.
So, on to rounding about this jumbled mess I've created. For anyone experiencing days of sadness, depression, fear, or, "analysis paralysis", please know and consider that there are things that you can do to alleviate this pain that doesn't come in a prescription bottle. While I am not a doctor and don't aspire to be, I have seen countless founded studies and have personally experienced the outcome of the many actions humans can take to rise above a rut and diagnosed depression.
So, is achieving happiness as easy to receive as simply subscribing to it? Yes and no. I think making a decision to make the necessary steps to obtain happiness is the golden ticket. What steps am I talking about? The ones Deepak Chopra touched on, the "primary foods" that are emphasized throughout the teachings at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I received my certification. Not only has exercise proven to be hugely effective in fighting depression, diet is the ultimate whammy in the world of rebounding from mental and physical ailments, along with meditation, proper sleep, and spirituality/ religion. Supplementation like omega-3's, L-5-MTHF, and SAMe are gaining a lot of popularity and acceptance, even in the medical field, in assisting to help alleviate depression. There are also a handful of amazing authors, specialists, and doctors who have created some lovely soul food in the form of books! Please know that you aren't defected because bumper sticker "words of wisdom" aren't enough for you.
Probably one of the largest factors that influenced my personal journey was learning about the importance of gut health and the major role it plays in your body's ability to cope and create your "happy" hormone, serotonin. "Gut bacteria creates 95% of the body's serotonin." To read more about gut health, Donna Gates is an amazing source of knowledge. Another enlightening condition that can affect your state of well-being full tilt is adrenal fatigue, which can be caused by something as ordinary as excess caffeine, but can result in depression and/or very similar symptoms to depression.
So, in conclusion, if you're trying to acquire happiness, I am a firm believer that you can achieve it because it is already within you. While state of mind IS everything, sometimes, it isn't as easy for everyone. We are all built differently, we all require different levels of self-care, and supplementation. Lifestyle plays a HUGE part and so does being mindful of the way we listen to and nourish our bodies. Please entertain the many holistic ways you can actively work towards tapping into your internal happy. Again, while it isn't always easy, it is within your power.
Moving to Los Angeles was never really my game plan until my freshman year of college when I found myself at a state school, yearning for a city where I could actually feel creatively inspired to do why I was there-- study fashion. It wasn't until one day when I was driving through Stillwater, Oklahoma and feeling unsettled (and crying hysterically, to be more accurate) when I thought the craziest and scariest thing I could do would be to leave. So unconventional. I had told my parents that I would stick out one full semester to just be sure that it was something that I wanted to do and if I still hated it, I could start entertaining the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.
In high school, my merchandise marketing class was introduced to FIDM through a college recruiter and while I knew it was located in California, it never really struck me until my application was accepted and I was flying there with my family to see the school.
Los Angeles was slightly terrifying. During this time period, the first few episodes of The Hills had just aired on MTV and instead of that being a selling point, it actually had an opposite effect. I thought it was all just really daunting. Although equally reluctant, my parents were on board and my sister said if I was going to do fashion school, I should just go all in and do it in LA.
(I have to insert this fun "sign"....We decided to spend the last day of our trip in Newport. I had really just come to the conclusion that I would probably make the leap and move to LA and we decided to do a little shopping at South Coast Plaza (a massive shopping mall). We were talking about logistics and we ran into my enrollment counselor, who said she never goes to Newport! We had met with her in LA just a few days before, she knew my hesitation, and so we all got to sort of talk it through again and it was there where I was able to tell her in person that I was going to enroll!)
I had never spent much time California. When I was 3-years-old, I went to Disneyland and when I was sixteen, I had bought my car on eBay. Getting my car was a similar situation. I decided on the car, got my parents on board, and it didn't fully occur to me that I had to go to Los Angeles to get it! (Not until writing this am I actually seeing the funny similarity! Also amazing proof that I have extraordinary parents.) Fast-forward to my completion of school and it was probably the biggest gift that I could have given to myself. While it was really scary being alone, I was able to find some solid friends, good jobs, and great opportunities in the years that I lived there. I didn't stay because I felt led to be closer to family.
I now know I felt the nudge to leave so that I could be closer to home while my mom fought cancer...and won, I was able to be a part of the birth of my two beautiful nieces, and my dad decided to start a wellness center in conjunction with his existing practice and I was able to contribute to the process...I also got closure on quite a few relationships from my child/teenhood. If you read one of my posts below about how I found clean eating, I think that all plays a part as well. I got to a point where I didn't want to be defined by fashion and I needed to dig deeper. I think I got sick because I was feeling so out of sorts, which led me down a wonderful path, bringing me to receive my certification through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Tulsa and Dallas were sort of my detour training periods so that I could solidify my authentic-self, to learn what works for me and what doesn't work for me, and to get laser vision for the very purpose why I am on this planet.
NOW, almost 8 years later since leaving California, I am moving back. Each year that has gone by since, I would make regular "maintenance" visits that would go as follows: I would bottle up some creative energy, have a nice cry, and come home with a LA hangover, sort of yearning for that life, but knowing I wasn't supposed to be there. In the past 8 years, I've had people practically put down bets as to when and if I would move back. I would come home 90% of the time saying I wanted to move back, go through the motions of making a half decent attempt in doing so, but it was never that easy.
I see the pros and cons and always have. Not until I found out that I was a Highly Sensitive Person did I understand the underlying reasons for highs and lows. Too much stimulation, traffic, exertion, being too conscientious of stuff/status/silliness, an imbalanced diet, certain intense jobs, and surface relationships can make me feel depleted and anxious, lowering my energy and diluting my sense of self. But a trip to the museum, the ocean, window displays, exercise, street fashion, meditation, some Jesus, a deep conversation can pick me back up again. As elementary as this theory is, I feel so empowered to have this knowledge. Not to mention, studying similar principals that help achieve balance like Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda in school have been hugely instrumental in practicing self-care-- almost as if it is this no-fail formula to keep me planted and steady.
Will the transition be easy? No way. Is it a safe choice? Absolutely not. BUT that's pride, ego, and my head talking. I could seek them out and get one million and one reasons why it's too risky. But I am going to choose to consult my heart and my gut. My intuition has rarely led me astray and even when a decision didn't fit, I learned something extremely valuable and necessary in the process. Just like my move to Dallas and Tulsa. No matter what, I choose that each decision I make will have a positive outcome. A dear friend told me one time, "whatever you choose to do, do it wholeheartedly". Later, I found a similar scripture. I love this message. Even if you find yourself realizing that you need to make another change, maybe even in the opposite direction, if you choose to do it with your whole heart, you are accomplishing something, regardless. There is no loss, only an opportunity for growth...and THAT is what life is all about!
Many of us go through life feeling "good enough" or summarize our lack-of-bounce to the natural wearing down process. Not only is this a sad, but it's so inaccurate! You do have the potential to feel amazing as you age and the simple truth all boils down to nutrients!
Nourishing your body with supplements is sometimes required so that you’re getting sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals in your system. Not only can deficiencies be caused by an imbalanced diet, they can also be the result of poor digestion and your body's inability to assimilate and absorb nutrients properly. Another culprit is that most produce is sourced from farms with soil that is depleted of minerals. With that said, many people are tempted to take a vitamin or green powder and think they’ve accomplished getting their daily dose and go on with their day, eating “food matter”, aka nonsense, aka faux food that contains more lab-made ingredients than actual life-supplying sustenance. This sustenance I speak of is what is responsible for building healthy cells, blood, organs, your body's natural ability to tackle potential illness and disease = HEALTH. This is where most people are missing the boat...and I can say, I was one of these people who assumed I could get my daily dosage of vitamins with a handful of supplements, eat what I wanted, and I was solid. Seems like instahealth, right? False.
Getting natural sources of these vitamins is imperative to your body’s repair system! What many people don’t realize is that most supplements aren’t worthy of even being called “vitamins” because of the particular company's quality standards. My dad, who is an extremely knowledgeable DC, explains it best. He says that with most supplements, the only thing you’re really doing is making expensive pee. Another thing to tack on is the way that you are taking your vitamins. It is believed by many specialists that if you’re taking a handful of supplements at one time (even if they’re high quality), there’s only so much that your body can absorb at once, resulting in, yet again, very expensive urine!
SO, let’s get to the exciting part! I never like to highlight the inconvenient truths without following up with the MORE important proactive truths! Here is a breakdown of some of the most abundant sources of some of the most important vitamins!
Magnesium regulates chemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. It is required for energy production and deficiencies can result in muscle cramps, facial tics, lazy digestion, poor sleep, and chronic pain.
Natural sources: nuts, seeds, avocado, sea vegetables: seaweed, wakame, arame, kombu, coconut milk, dark leafy greens: raw spinach, kale, bok choy, chard. (It’s best to soak all nuts, seeds, and grains to remove phytic acid, which is a naturally occurring enzyme inhibitor that prohibits your body from absorbing the goodness.)
Omega 3’s are required to regulate cardiovascular, immune and inflammatory pathways. Signs of a deficiency include rough or dry/ bumpy skin, dull/ brittle hair and dandruff, soft/ brittle nails, excessive thirst, frequent urination, sleep problems (especially difficulties in settling at night and waking in the morning), attention problems (poor concentration and difficulties in memory), emotional sensitivity (such as depression, excessive mood swings or inexplainable anxiety), pain from inflammation.
Natural sources: fish, spinach, oregano, chia seeds, nuts, butternut squash
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium (one of bone's main building blocks) from food and supplements. People who get too little vitamin D may develop soft, thin, and brittle bones, a condition known as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Other outcomes from deficiency includes metabolic disorders, cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, infections, cognitive disorders, and/or mortality.
Natural sources: fish, egg yolks, liver, and sun helps vitamin production- but be sure to let it soak into your skin before taking a shower! Your body actually needs hours to fully absorb the goodness, to be able to properly receive the benefits.
Vitamin C offers protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling. Some deficiencies include: easy bruising, swollen/ bleeding gums, slow wound healing, dry/ splitting hair, dry skin, nosebleeds, weakened immune system, leaky gut, autoimmune disease, slowed metabolism, swollen/ painful joints.
Natural sources: berries, leafy greens, bell peppers, all citrus, kiwi, broccoli, sea vegetables, coconut milk
Vitamin K plays a key role in normal blood clotting. This is important to prevent excess bleeding, which can lead to anemia, a condition that causes fatigue, weakness and dizziness. Iron-deficiency anemia is the type that is linked to vitamin K. In this common condition, your body does not have enough erythrocytes, red blood cells that contain hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein that carries oxygen. Meaning, if you are suffering from anemia, not only do you probably have an iron deficiency, it is also wise to make sure you're getting enough vitamin K!
Natural sources: leafy greens: spinach, kale, bok choy, chard, romaine, arugula
Vitamin B is a unique case because not all types of vitamin B do the same thing. Additionally, the different types of vitamin B all come from different types of foods. Vitamin B-12, for example, is found primarily in meat and dairy products. B-7 and B-9 (and, to some degree, B-1 and B-2) are found in fruits and vegetables. Click here for a full rundown.
Natural sources: lentils, whole grains, almonds, leafy greens, seafood, coconut milk
Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States. Iron is imperative for producing hemoglobin, a protein that assists red blood cells to deliver oxygen throughout your body. So without it, everything suffers—and can lead to anemia. Some symptoms include low energy, difficulty maintaining body temperature, and decreased immune function.
Natural sources: sea vegetables, coconut milk, clams, liver, beef, lamb, sunflower seeds, nuts, whole grains, dark leafy greens, cacao.
Iodine is required for your thyroid gland to make hormones. If the thyroid doesn't have enough iodine to do its job, feedback systems in the body cause the thyroid to work harder. This can cause an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), which becomes evident as a swollen neck.
Natural sources: sea vegetables, cranberries, organic/ raw yogurt and cheese, potatoes, navy beans, strawberries
Potassium is important for a person's muscles to work effectively, including the heart. Potassium also has a role in regulating blood pressure. Low potassium is associated with a risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, weakness, stroke, arthritis, cancer, digestive disorders, and infertility....and on a lighter note, potassium can help combat a pesky hangover!
Natural sources: beans, dark leafy greens, potatoes, squash, fish, avocados, bananas, coconuts
What's even more exciting about this list is that many of these essential nutrients can be found in the same foods. So, if you're looking for a simple (LEGIT) fix, put more emphasis on the food that you eat and take advantage of nature's medicine! Something I challenge my clients to do before they sit down for a meal is ask, "how much of this plate is going to contribute to the nourishment and healing of my body?" If even half of it is purely for entertainment value, it's time to start reconsidering your food and lifestyle habits. Need a little assistance? Message me today for a complimentary 45 minute Lifestyle Assessment!
Note: For those of you who express symptoms of anemia, it’s important to remember that low iron isn’t the only potential culprit. Vitamin B12 and Magnesium deficiencies can also express similar symptoms and can cause anemia.
Working with my clients is by far one of my favorite things to do. To see these wonderful people get some relief from having the opportunity to sift through their thoughts for an hour every other week is truly such a gift for me. There have been a handful of occasions where it was obvious that I, too, would benefit from the very same attention. (I think everyone on the planet would benefit.) Usually, when I have a problem, I will walk through the steps in my head when I'm trying to resolve something inside of me. I also have a few wonderful women online whose podcasts and articles I seek out, but, sometimes, a quality conversation is the best medicine in the world!
During my recent birthday trip to Los Angeles, while it was truly wonderful, I was having a slightly stressful time. It was a pretty jam packed four days. I drank a little when it's growing clear to me that I shouldn't...which will come later in another blog post, I was visiting an old friend whose vibe I was having a hard time gauging; sometimes, I can't tell if what I'm feeling is actually me or the other person...that's why communication and feedback is EVERYTHING to me. Otherwise, I tend to shut down a little because I get caught up in "analysis paralysis". Another chunk of stress was weighing out the pros and cons of potentially moving back to LA.
On the actual evening of my birthday, my friend and I had experienced a series of unfortunate events, leading to a really late dinner.* While we were getting ready, she asked me what I wanted to manifest-- what celebrity I would want to see or if I wanted a group of gorgeous men to show up. (She knows me quite well and realizes how I do this on the regular to get myself excited.) I thought about it and said that I wanted to run into someone who would totally lock in to me...tell me I'm wonderful and beautiful, and totally hone in on me all night. I said this all laughing, but who wouldn't want some quality, unwavering attention? Hysterically honest, I know. But if you've read any of these blog posts, I clearly put honesty before ego for the sake of an authentic story!
We got to dinner. It was a rocky start, but then a familiar face walked in, Cuba Gooding Jr., (I always enjoy seeing the stars, but wasn't exactly star struck). Only, there was something different about the night and him. I got up from my seat to visit the ladies room to powder my nose and decided: I had no control over the unfavorable circumstances that had led up to that evening, but I did have control over putting myself out there to upgrade my night. (Mr. Gooding had said a few nice things to me from across the bar, so I also figured the odds were in my favor that he wouldn't have anyone escort me away or anything...so, I wasn't being crazy/brave.)
Well, long story short, he ended up making my birthday evening. He bought me a drink, walked me to the patio right on the ocean, gave me his jacket, and gave me some amazing life lessons. One of which was a reason why I wanted to go to LA in the first place. I wanted to shed this internal hesitation I had somehow adopted. Almost an internal dilemma about putting myself out there: posting cooking tutorials, dating, speaking my truth, etc. I know my value and I have a deep-rooted knowledge of who I am and, more recently, acquired the very purpose of why I'm supposed to be on this Earth. So, why the hesitation? Cuba saw that in me. He honed in on me and for about three hours devoted all of his time in rectifying something inside me that needed a little TLC. (He's also an empath, if anyone was wondering.) He actually referred to me as a beautiful bird. I was strong and unwavering on the inside, but it couldn't be detected from the outside because I appeared to be frail. He asked me (paraphrasing, of course) to think of something that I did on a daily basis. Something that I was good at. I said cooking. He asked what was something that I could cook, without really even thinking about it. I said eggs. He said, "okay, so, if I told you if you could cook some eggs to the best of your ability, I would give you one million dollars, what would you be thinking about?" I quickly replied, knowing it was probably the wrong answer, "I would be thinking about the million dollars!" and he said "Wrong. You would think about taking one step at a time to that fridge to get those eggs. Now, once you held those eggs in your hands, what would you be thinking about?" Answering truthfully, I said, "still, the million dollars!" He said, "Wrong. You would just need to do your thing. Make those eggs like you would normally make them and forget about the million dollars." This conversation was quite a bit longer, but it really opened up the skies for me. Instead of fixing my mind on the outcome, I needed to intuitively act, without hesitation. This was all very serendipitous in more ways than one because on the airplane, I began reading a book called "The Power of Serendipity: The Simple Ways to Get Anything You Want..that no one talks about", by Joshua Rosenthal. The book also talks about how "the key to getting where you want to go is not waiting too long to take action". There's thinking of an idea or feeling an urge and, then, there's taking action. Anything in between is where you can get into trouble.
The lesson in all of this is to take one natural step at a time. It's difficult to be a details person, but also a big picture person. You can waste time getting stuck on the details, but you can also lose time getting overwhelmed when considering the big picture. This is why I always tell my clients to not get too crazy with their to-do lists, plan each day at a time, but still keep your big picture in the back of your head, only using it as a reference to make sure that your actions contribute to your big picture ideals. My mom frequently tells me that I need to practice "shoot, aim-- not aim, shoot" because I will miss the plate if I focus too long on aiming just right.
So, I came to some serious conclusions on this trip that I am going to take a leap of faith. I am not going to over analyze it or prematurely plan, I am going to focus on what I can do right now: the things that I know are genuine to my God-given nature and just put one foot in front of the other. By getting in this authentic rhythm, without thinking of the risks, judgments, and varied outcomes, I will inherit that "million dollars" in the form of a life pass-- to just do what feels natural and true, without hesitation. Apparently, this is a lesson I was supposed to REALLY learn because if you read one of my previous blog posts, this is the exact epiphany I came across...which lets me know that I am on to something big-- a new, exciting chapter!
Have you ever experienced synchronicity or serendipity? Please share below!
*I want to underline that my birthday was phenomenal and these undisclosed events were/are pretty comical because most of them were beyond our control-- so we did a superb job just rolling with the flow. Sometimes, you need these things in order to gain much-needed perspective on life and people!
If you are a client, you have access to a very handy app with a list of my favorite grocery items, BUT I have yet to share some of my tried-and-true miscellaneous loves. Whether I'm working out, getting ready for a night out, or getting some work done, I have grown to rely daily on a few of my favorites...and here they are!
I have purchased a handful of different styles and brands of headphones and never found a good fit that would sustain a turbulent run...until I found these gems! Designed specifically to fit smaller ears, the "FlexSoft and TwistLock technologies guarantee they will never hurt or fall out". I can honestly say they don't come out of your ears, even during a rigorous workout! Yurbuds also make a variety of different styles for men and women, even wireless, but I have the basic Inspire 100 style and they're perfect. The one thing I will say is that the FlexSoft bud attachments do come off kind of easily after a while and if you have an adorable niece who likes to take them off, you might have to be careful you don't lose one!
Not only are these toothbrushes good for the environment, they come in gorgeous recycled (and biodegradable) packaging, AND the charcoal bristles feel great and leave your mouth feeling super clean! Not too soft, not too abrasive.
This face mask is truly amazing-- especially for the price! It contains two magical anti-inflammatory ingredients: turmeric and neem, making any flair ups minimized within just one use. I love this product because it also doubles as a face scrub. Once dried, you simply remove it with a warm moist washcloth and the granules in the mask remove dead skin, clean out your pores, and polish your complexion to perfection, without over-drying or irritating even sensitive skin!
Not only does this product smell AMAZING (gender neutral goodness), it contains skin loving vitamins E and B5. I make sure that any product I use does not contain harmful additives, SO a definite selling point is that it doesn't contain parabens, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates or phthalates, (known to increase your risk of cancer). Sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates are used as a lathering agent in many products so, sometimes, products that don't contain this toxic ingredient fall flat (literally), but this product creates enough suds to double as an effective shaving cream!
I have been known to experience just a few cases of overwhelm (haha) and phenomenal Kava has come to the rescue a handful of times! Kava has been used medicinally and during tribal ceremonies for centuries... and once you try it, you'll know why. It does a wonderful job taking the edge off, without impairing your judgement, leaving you feeling very calm and at peace. While I don't drink this every day, because regular use can reduce the effectiveness over time, I have found it very beneficial when I am in social situations when I don't want to partake in drinking alcohol (to avoid the wrath of a few drinks). Most recently, I enjoyed relying on this tea to zen out before speaking engagements.
When I first tried Kava, it was a very expensive paste that you put a pea-sized amount under your tongue. Although horribly disgusting, it was extremely effective. Later, a very sweet friend brought me a brewed version and an instant powder from a kava shop in Austin. These versions were also pretty gross and since it's a diluted version of the paste, you have to drink approx. 8 oz., (which is a lot when it tastes like it does). I have read various instructions to flavor it with sweeteners or add milk and I can't imagine this doing much help. Again, while these pricey versions don't taste good at all, they do a superb job reducing anxiety because they are pure kava!
I was extremely excited to see that Yogi came out with a tea! Since it's blended with other herbs and flavors, it's not as potent so, I just use two bags. Even though I am most definitely not a fan of licorice, this blend tastes MUCH better than the other versions I have tried-- not to mention, it is much more affordable AND you can find it at Natural Grocers! For more information on the awesome benefits (and potential risks), click here.
More to come!....
I almost started to add my favorite CLEAN cosmetics and because it has been QUITE the journey finding good ones, I will be devoting an entire blog post to this very important/ conclusive research! So, stay tuned!
Do you have any healthy favorites?! Share below!
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!
In society today, it's really hard not to get wrapped up in things and, not just things, but STUFF. I grew up working retail. I wanted to get the experience needed in order to become a fashion stylist.
Working with beautiful merchandise on a daily basis is nothing to complain about. But, soon, you can slip into a repetitive mentality, thinking you need to acquire things that will "successfully represent” your A. status, if you've "made it" (or to portray that you have), B. Your availability to a potential suitor(s), C. Your fashion-savvy in the world of new and established designers, and/or D. Your mood. In that type of environment, you become the best salesperson in the world and, not only to your clients, but, mostly, to yourself. (As an example of how well I refined this art, I sold over one million dollars in clothing in less than a year.) Not to say being the best salesperson would make you dishonest, but practicing justifications becomes an art that you wholeheartedly start to believe.
I would joke with coworkers while holding close a gorgeous expensive bag, asking them if it made me look cooler and if it would make them want to be my friend more. Partially joking, but, also, touching on a deep realization that really, it wasn't so much about appreciating the art of fashion as it was having the power over people and their idea of you. While going to college in LA, I worked at a fabulous boutique on Robertson Blvd. I would scan through the racks, painting scenarios of the perfect place to wear each piece. Only, it wasn't a real opportunity I had coming up that would require the outfit, it was the outfit that would CREATE that ideal scenario. Almost like a scene from an ad, I would see me dressed to a “T", my friends, a lot of attractive guys, all sitting around a bonfire on the beach. As if, if I bought this item, that scenario would inevitably come into existence. Laughable and slightly embarrassing to admit out loud? Of course! But, deep down, don't we all imagine ourselves pulling up to brunch in the perfect car or how that room full of people will perceive your fancy status in that new amazing outfit?
They say you can't make a second first impression. From a very young age, I began to realize what it took to fit in and that your clothing had a huge impact on how "well" you could achieve that. After a period of heavy soul searching, I was able to put the pieces of my life puzzle together. I started understanding that why I had wanted to be a fashion stylist since age twelve had a lot to do with the way a styled outfit made people feel about themselves. I first started styling friends and family and, eventually, got to work with big names in Los Angeles. (You would think working with celebrities would be the ultimate, but it didn't take long for me to realize that the last thing most of those people needed was to feel any better about themselves.) What I didn't understand, until later, was that my love for styling didn't start with how it made other people feel good, it was how it made me feel good, accepted, and confident.
Recently, I hit a bit of a low point financially after taking a 6-month hiatus from working. I wasn't able to acquire the most current looks of the season and I truthfully felt pretty horrible about myself. I spent a lot of time with people who would make mention of certain luxuries and, somehow, I felt like I fell short like I was inadequate and somewhat of a failure because I looked as if I wasn't aware of what was on-point and didn't have the success that would accompany the financial means to "properly" arm myself. Did those people think that of me? I have no idea. Most of it was in my head and, not only did those feelings almost startle me, they forced me to dig deep. I didn't want to be defined by stuff.
I have never ever been a "label whore". I genuinely appreciate designers for their craft, not their names and used to make a point of it, seeking out alternatives to the more exposed labels. After clarifying my motives for wrongly demoting myself from a stylish and respectable twenty-something to a poor, disheveled old maid, I slowly began to fall in love with fashion, again, for the art of it. I also started to rediscover my passion for helping people invent and fine-tune their personal style and amplified self.
Style isn't materialistic and, although I am sure many people would disagree, style isn't even superficial if (and this is a big if) you have things in the right perspective. I have worked with people who have never given clothing much thought as if they didn't want to join the fashion sheep cult, not that I totally blame them these days. Just within the past 10 years, I feel like fashion has become something else. With the rise of bloggers, social media fame, and mega-celebrity, people see fashion in a whole new light which can be very daunting for some and, also, very misleading.
Most fashion bloggers aren't just selling a style, they're selling a lifestyle-- A life of leisure, lox, lattes, and Louboutins. Many of these individuals were born into a life of luxury or they've created such a following that they receive a majority of their looks (and lifestyle) for free from designers hoping to get some exposure-- faking it until they make it. I don't know about you, but, if Instagram is considered a modern art form, I want my art to imitate life vs. life imitating art. I am in no way dogging fashion and lifestyle bloggers out there! I have many friends who do it well, but, again, it's all about perspective.
While working for a fashion magazine in LA, I thought I had hit the epitome of where I wanted to be until I went to a fashion PR house to pull some clothes for a shoot. The girls who worked there acted as if they had the most important job in the entire world and had no time for social courtesies (or decencies). That's when I saw the cold side of fashion. This side wasn't bettering anyone, but shuffling them into a folder, categorized by social class which, really, made people feel poorly about themselves and no where near better!
You may have already been asking yourself this question as you read this article, but it's smart to start tapping into where you stand in the world of fashion and ask yourself, "what level of importance does fashion hold in my life?" Does your motivation to shop (on the appropriate amount of occasions) come from a healthy, light-hearted place? Most of us actually don't need much of anything in the way of clothes. Do you agree with this statement or do you struggle putting things that you really shouldn't buy back on the rack? There are the shopaholics and there are the I-will-break-out-in-hives-if-I-step-into-a-clothing-store-ics. Just because you take pride in your appearance, doesn't mean you're a sellout or a conformist or have a problem. We all need to honor ourselves and project ourselves in a way that's aligned with just how great we are and what we step out in each day is a pretty sound vehicle to get there. I have never tried to push someone out of their comfort zone unless it meant 1. they were still being true to themselves and 2. they felt good about the outcome; (and, frequently, I would need to nudge middle-aged women who didn't think they could pull off a look because they clearly had a distorted body image and I wanted to enlighten them).
I am speaking to everyone: introverts, extroverts, males, females, and this especially rings true for Highly Sensitive People. I have come across many articles about the vast array of endless options that can sometimes overwhelm a HSP. But, the truth is, a HSP may be the person who really should consider tapping into this kind of self-care. To all of my Highly Sensitive and/or Introverts: there is nothing wrong with finding yourself in a noisy social setting and being the reserved person in the room vs. the butterfly working the room. Playing "getting to know you" isn't fun for a lot of people and the silver lining is you may not have to say much in a group setting because your clothes say a lot for you! This could be the good news or the bad news, depending on your confidence level with your wardrobe. It's not about drinking the "cool"-aid. It's realizing the reality that making a first impression does have a lot to do with the clothes you wear. It may not be optimum but, statistically, it's the truth. (This little truth is a great example of "knowledge is power" and can be a valuable thing to consider before those important first impressions including a job interview, a big date, loan interview, etc.)
So, all of these jumbled thoughts and points narrowed down: self-expression means "the assertion of one's own personality". Many could get caught up in materialism by way of shopping with negative or unhealthy intention. Maybe it's because of poor body image, lack of confidence, or just feeling down on yourself altogether. Although clothes aren't the solution, they are the medium for one of the most present forms of self-expression.
Empower yourself. Take advantage of that first-impression society tidbit and start asking yourself, “What does my wardrobe say about me?" Do you feel as if your personal style reflects your personality accurately? I know some of you may be thinking, "write me a big enough check and I can correct that pretty quickly!" but the truth is, you can successfully exercise your self-expression on a VERY tight budget. Believe me, I have been there. Once you zero in on your personal style, you can find the right pieces anywhere, from Walmart to the Salvation Army. If zeroing in on your style seems like a large feat, this is when a fashion stylist comes into play.
If you have a family member or friend whose style you admire, ask him or her for some assistance. If you can manage it, professional stylists are very helpful to work with, especially when you're always on the go and you like the perks of coming home with everything already decided for you.
Just imagine waking up and getting dressed without the stress that's involved in figuring out what to wear. If you feel like your closet is pretty solid but you still feel like you have nothing to wear, this would be another opportune time to consider having a stylist take a look at how to revise your closet layout and put together different ensembles with your classic items you don't feel the need to part with.
Fashion can be very beneficial to your wellness or it can be detrimental. If you idolize it too much and put more emphasis on it that it deserves, you could be in an endless state of never having enough, always comparing and constantly striving for more stuff.
Having done all of this, I have come full circle. I have seen what happens when you put an unrealistic inflation on the role that fashion plays in your life. It shouldn't define you or your self-worth. It shouldn't be your idea of the material catalyst, elevating you to the socially acceptable status, because you're not enough on your own. On the flip side, I have also seen what a healthy dose of fashion-savvy can do. It can be a positive bump to your self-esteem, allow you to be creative and make the most of an outing, it can be that added edge you needed to get the sought-after job you've always wanted, and, the most important benefit, it can contribute to that inner confidence that radiates out of your pores!
Need the name of a good stylist? I would love to apply for the job!
Sometimes, when we are experiencing a difficult day or season in our lives, we think we deserve to splurge a little. Maybe start our Monday morning with a few doughnuts, pick up some take-out after a long day of work, or enjoy a bag of chips on the couch, just to unwind. While it's definitely necessary to make sure we are taking care of ourselves daily and become especially nurturing when we're going through hard times, we need to sit and reflect on how we can truly honor ourselves. Those fleeting and temporary moments when we are enjoying the release we experience while eating something that's good, but not good for us, in the long run, you're really only masking the upset. Don't get me wrong. I know eating a treat during a stressful day can sometimes be extremely effective to make the situation subside, bringing you to a “happy place”. I used to have a tea and cookies break at 4 pm almost every day. But, clearly, that wasn’t something that was conducive to living a healthy life and it wasn’t really helping me since the "fix" was so short-lived.
My challenge for you: check in with yourself during one of those moments when you're seeking release with food, (or shopping, alcohol, etc.) and ask,
"What is really going on right now that is making me want to splurge on ______________?"
"How can I really serve myself in this time of need?"
When you think big picture, you will realize that there may be some inner work you need to focus on. If you need to let off steam or you’re feeling depressed, go exercise. If you are stressed and need an escape, try a new delicious clean recipe that will encourage a healthier lifestyle. Or, maybe, read or watch a funny TV show. Any positive replacement or real solution that will help serve that inner urge, not just mask it. Again, bigger picture. 10 minutes of enjoyment while eating a snack that has negative long-term effects on your health? Or, a healthy alternative that will not only quiet that inner voice and craving, but, also, will generate a positive outcome! (Weight loss, increased energy, clear mind, etc!)
If you’re on the go and want to enjoy a little refreshment, grab a water or tea and flavor it with lemon and a few drops of stevia. That may not sound like a treat but the more you train yourself to entertain alternatives and realize that “it” really is a temporary fix, you’ll see that "it" is really not much more than a placebo.
Those of you who are addicted to sugar and have candida overgrowth will realize something similar but it’s no joke that you could be experiencing withdrawals. In that case, remember that it’s not you who “needs” the sugar, it’s the bacteria that is wanting to multiply and wreak havoc in your system.
Taking this a step further, here is another technique that has helped me and continues to help me make good decisions. When I have plans to go to the gym or skip out on that pile of dishes or laundry, I check in with myself asking “Why don’t I want to get that done?” Most of the time, I will find that it has been a taxing week or the weather isn’t ideal and I think, “I want to treat myself to a work-free morning/evening.” And while sometimes it is extremely necessary to not only give yourself a little break but many little breaks or pauses throughout the day, I will realize, to really genuinely serve myself, I will get at least one of those tasks completed. Not only will it give me a sense of accomplishment, but, it will also keep my world of wellness in alignment and that’s a bigger favor that I can do for myself than having an overly restful morning or evening…that’s not even really restful because I’m thinking about what I should be doing.
Give it a try. You may surprise your body, mind, AND soul! : )