Fall + Self-Care

You know, I’ve never called this season autumn. It’s always been fall to me. And it’s my favorite season. I love the crispness in the air, the rain in the night, the smell of newly fallen leaves. I love needing a blanket while sitting on the couch, watching a movie. I love drinking more hot beverages because I feel like it. I love all the soups and warm breads and the baking that I seem to need to do during the fall season.

I find that it’s easier to take care of myself in the fall. For some reason, it’s easier for me to relax and let the flow of the earth sort of light my way. It’s a lot easier for me to feel things out and I feel that I have far more clarity in the fall than I do in other months.

I saw this on Instagram earlier this week and it really resonated. In the past, I have spent so much time taking care of others that I don’t do a very good job of taking care of myself. I’m seeking to remedy that by doing a few simple things for myself. Here’s how:

  • Splurge on a few products for my face, body and hair. I bought this, this, this and this. Don’t mind me, just falling in love with argan oil. My face feels smooth as a baby’s butt. #arganlove
  • Learning about Pleasure Principles from Strong Coffey. A friend and I are going through the course together and I thought at first that I wouldn’t need to know about self-sabotage and shame, but boy, was I wrong. I need help…lots of help…in the shame area of my life. I never for a moment thought that my exercising and calorie counting was the result of shame, but it was. I did the right things for the wrong reasons {I thought I would never be good enough unless I was thin} and I want to do the right things for the right reasons. Here’s to self-discovery!
  • Listen to music when I’m getting ready in the mornings. Believe it or not, listening to music for that short 30 minutes while I’m getting dressed, putting my face on and doing my hair really helps set the tone for the day. My music lately? Gungor, Josh Garrels and John Mark McMillan. I went on a music-buying spree and bought the latest albums from Gungor and Josh Garrels and the two most recent of John Mark McMillan.
  • Get my nails done every two or three weeks. I like the way my hands look and how it makes me feel to have a nice manicure. And, it’s time for me to relax and unwind a little.

My latest manicure – love it! Next time, I think I’ll get something inspired by fall!

As time goes by, I want to add more things to my self-care list. I know I’m not able to be the best wife, mom, daughter and friend if I don’t take care of myself first. I have realized that it’s not selfish to put myself at the top of the list in the self-care department. It was a long overdue realization. :-)

Question: How do you take care of yourself? Share in the comments!

Dear Self…from Body.

Today, I’m posting a letter I wrote to my body as part of an exercise with The Fuck It Diet Mini-Course. I lost the first letter I wrote {honestly, that letter wasn’t very honest anyway}, so I’m starting over and posting it here so I don’t lose it again.

Here’s the task:

Write a letter to yourself from your body. What does your body think, want, feel and know? What does your body want your self to know? How has your body been trying to communicate? What wisdom does your body have to share? Write for at least 20 minutes.

So…here goes.

Dear Self,

Hello, it’s your body here. You know, that living, breathing thing you call home? It’s me! I know you don’t want to read this letter because you kept trying to get out of writing it. Trust me, it’ll do you good.

You know, I don’t think you really, truly do trust me. You don’t let me lead the way when I try to tell you what would nourish you or what would make you feel amazing. You go off and do something else that’s mediocre at best {see below for an example}. I know you’ve gotten better at this in the last few weeks, and I thank you for that. I want you to really, truly listen to me. I know you from the top of your messy bun head to the tips of your red toenails.

You don’t listen to me until I get really loud and sometimes even a little violent. Like last weekend when I told you to get rid of everything in your intestinal tract? Yeah, like that. Next time, don’t take that laxative. I know your system isn’t operating well since you did a Whole30 and I know you thought a laxative would help. Clearly, it didn’t. I’m not sure what’s wrong there either, but I’m working on it. For now, just eat what sounds good because that’s me trying to tell you what I need. Have a craving for mango? Or beef? Or ice cream? Or green beans? Or chili verde? Eat them!

Stop thinking so much. You think about what to eat or drink way too often. I’m proud of you, though, because you don’t think about it nearly as much as you did five years ago, a year ago, or even six months ago. You’re making huge leaps of progress! Just trust me. Let it all go and maybe try to be a little more spontaneous in everything in life.

You know, sharing a home with your husband and son is good for you. You are now eating whatever is on the table because you aren’t the only one cooking anymore. You aren’t in control of the food anymore, and that, my dear, is wonderful! I know you’ve felt a sense of freedom in the past month and I know you delight in it. You no longer worry about what will be served, if there will be plenty of vegetables {ok ok, sometimes you do worry about that} or if you’ll eat too much.

You’re learning to let other things besides food and how fat you think you are occupy your mind. You’re letting fun and exciting and wonderful things occupy your mind, rather than how many calories are in that bowl of ice cream you just ate. You enjoyed the ice cream to the fullest and you thought about how awesome your day has been, how excited you are to go home and try that new recipe, how excited you are to spend time with your husband and son this evening and how much you’re looking forward to drinking a glass of wine on the back deck while the sun sets.

You’ve had several wins in the last few weeks. Keep trusting me, little by little. I can tell you what you need if you hone in on my voice. You’re learning so well. Just keep on keepin’ on, dearie.

And on that spontaneous note, here are a few more things I want and need you to do:

  • Wear your hair down more. You are the only person who cares if your bun is lopsided or messy or if your braid isn’t perfect. You’re also the only person who cares if each lock isn’t curled under just so when you do wear it down. Lose the perfectionism because it’s not doing you any favors.
  • Wear clothes that make you feel good. Wear dresses just because. Wear clothes you like, even if your husband doesn’t like them.
  • Find a body movement that you love. Right now you don’t have anything, but you want and need yoga. In fact, it’s calling to you, isn’t it? Go, find a class. Do it, even if it’s just once a week after work. I’ll love you even more for it.
  • Keep up with the thinking of other tings besides food. It’s doing you a world of good to think about so many other things!

I love you, I champion you and I know you are absolutely beautiful, just as you are, right at this moment.


Your Body


Food Freedom + The Mental Battle That Goes With It

This is totally me. I eat my feelings almost all the time. Photo pulled from my Instagram feed. Original found here.

This morning, I read this post by Hayley over at Full of Life. I’ve been reading her blog for quite some time and I appreciate how open and honest she is about her life. She’s such an inspiration to me because she truly does live life fully and she doesn’t think too much about food.

I know I’ve written about intuitive eating before {here’s a list of posts in case you’re interested}. Lately, I have been waffling back and forth with counting everything, from calories eaten to steps walked to hours slept to ounces drank, and not counting anything. Here’s how this plays out:

  1. Remove all counting apps from phone. Put step tracker in a drawer somewhere, but don’t get rid of it because I might want it again.
  2. Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedom! Eat and drink with reckless abandon. Try to listen for body cues. Hear them. Sometimes listen to them, but then when I get stressed, anxious, tired or sick, all goes out the window. Eat eat eat, often too much.
  3. Guilt because I ate too much. Panic because I don’t want to regain the 35 pounds I lost and then redownload all apps. Dig step tracker out of drawer and strap it back onto my wrist. Try to figure out how to fit 30 minutes of exercise into my schedule every day.
  4. Track track track every morsel, sip and step until I realize I’m neurotic and I’m really not getting to the root of the issue. Go back to Step 1 and try again.

See, those four steps will happen two or three times a year. It’s a vicious cycle, and I know now that it’s because I’m not getting to the root of the issue. I have the intuitive eating part down: eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full. That’s 10% of the battle. The other 90% of the battle is mental.

For me, this is a mindset issue.

I realized that when I listened to Isabel Foxen Duke on Finding Our Hunger’s podcast this week.* In the podcast, there were several mind-blowing things for me, but the one that really hit home for me was that we can easily create more rules around intuitive eating. In fact, it’s easier to “fix” that 10% of the battle by just giving ourselves permission to eat whatever we want. We still make more food rules for ourselves, even just by doing that. We say, “I’ll just eat what sounds good when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full,” and then what happens when we eat too much? Guilt trip! Rule broken! I’m a bad person! I’ll start over tomorrow! It’s far more difficult to become more self-aware and delve into that remaining 90% of the battle and actually get the bottom of our issues. I won’t lie. That’s scary as hell.

I don’t want to figure myself out because what if I don’t like what I figure out? What if I end up not liking who I am? What if I’m a horrible person under all those layers? Yikes.

The what ifs aren’t even reasonable. I’m pretty sure I’m a decent human so the chances of my finding out something horrific are pretty slim. I’m sure I’ll find things I need to work on, but they’ll be easier to deal with because I’ll be more self-aware and I’ll be able to take it in stride and get to the bottom of it sooner, rather than burying it under layers of denial and chocolate chip cookies.

So, I’m slowly but surely working on myself and here’s how.

  • The 10-Day Fuck It Diet – it’s a free resource and the homework is wonderful. There’s a lot of introspective digging with this course and it’s fabulous/scary as hell. Day 1 included writing a letter to my body and I may post that here at some point.
  • Isabel Foxen Duke’s Stop Fighting Food video series – also a free resource and it’s brand new!!!!
  • Take the time to sit with myself to figure out whether I’m hungry, thirsty, stressed or sad or whatever. Sit myself down internally and ask myself what it is I really want. Do I want a hug, rather than a bowl of pasta? Do I want to go for a walk or do I want to do some sun salutations in my room? Do I want water or do I want wine or do I want hot tea? What do I want???? I’ve discovered that I operate on autopilot most of the time and I’m not truly aware of what my body wants. I’m learning to take the time to ask it and then honor its desires.
  • Purge my social media {from blogs I read to Facebook pages to Instagram – all of it} of anything or anyone I find that I compare myself to. Also, purge fitness, clean eating, Paleo accounts as well because they tend to make me feel like I’m not enough. Do not feel guilty about it.

And that, so far is what I’ve been doing. It might not seem like a lot, but for someone who’s been on autopilot and has been ignoring her body’s signals for years, it’s kind of a lot. In the past couple weeks, I’ve removed those counting apps from my phone and ditched the tracker {again}. I had already cleaned out my social media feeds some months ago. Right now, I’m focusing on really listening to my body and honoring it when it tells me what it wants or needs. And, I’m taking the time for myself to go through the two courses I mentioned. Because of this:

Image found here.

 …and by that I mean…If you believe that you are a child of the universe, or a product of Love, and/or a global citizen, then it’s common sense that you care well for yourself. In fact, you’re honour bound to love yourself.

And like, self care as a divine responsibility is more than a monthly pedicure or treating yourself to your favourite pint on Fridays (though both are fab’.) But let’s think more highly of our cosmic selves. Self care is taking the time to recover. It’s sabbaticals to clear your head and chart your course. It’s leaving. It’s investing. It’s asking for more. It’s being protective and tender and limitlessly compassionate with yourself.

Treat yourself like the divine creature that you are…
and then get a pedicure and have a pint.

– Danielle La Porte

So…there! I hope you all enjoy your day! Thank you for making through that 1100+ word post! :-)

*Here’s the post from Kaila Prins to go with the podcast. I love every word!

Enjoy the moment + Live the moment

Last weekend was my birthday. It was wonderful! I spent it with my husband and we went to the Winchester Mystery House, which I’d mentioned before. We took the estate tour and the behind the scenes tour. I really appreciated the architecture and the zany creativity that Sarah Winchester had. She has over 100 patents to her name and some of her creations are amazing. While she might have been certifiably insane {we’ll never know}, she created a masterpiece.

After our tours, we drove to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in San Juan Bautista, Jardines de San Juan. Their cheese enchiladas are my favorite, so that’s what I ordered, along with a glass of Malbec. I have discovered that I thoroughly enjoy à la carte menus because I can usually order exactly what I want and have just the right amount of food.

What I really enjoyed about Saturday was that it was flowy, peaceful and relaxed. Having that day made me realize how much happier my days are when I’m not a tight-twisted control freak (I say that to be sarcastically funny, but there are grains of truth in it as well). While some moments in life are not exactly enjoyable, I can still focus on the positive, rather than get wrapped up in my own frustration and impatience. Life is better for myself and for those around me when I just enjoy the moment and live the moment.

In fact, I even made the photo you see above the lock screen on my phone. I need the reminder. :-)

On Sunday, we cleaned the house and I baked chocolate chip cookies.

They are delicious, if I do say so myself. They’re the perfect balance of crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Yum. Would you like the recipe? Of course you would! CLICK HERE. I used one bag of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips and one bag of Hershey’s chunks. Other than that, the recipe is the same. Each one of these bad boys is a quarter cup of dough. A quarter cup. Wrap your head around that. Huge, delicious cookies for everyone!

Do you like crunchy or chewy chocolate chip cookies?

Self-Care…or the Lack Thereof

I have not had a lot of time to myself in these last couple of weeks. I’ve noticed that I haven’t written in my journal since September 1 and even then it was only a whopping 49 words. Forty-nine words doesn’t allow for a lot of introspection. At least, not for me.

What has changed is that I have more of a commute morning and evening, which allows me time to myself. It’s at least 30 minutes each direction. It’s nice to have the time to myself, though I’d rather spend the time writing than thinking to myself because I don’t think my feelings as well as I write them, if that makes sense.

What I do enjoy during my commute is the view. This was the view from earlier this week.

Not bad, right? I absolutely adore that I can watch the sun rise from where I live. I know I wrote about that earlier, but I just wanted to reiterate that again because I love being up with the sun.

I may consider getting up a little earlier, just to have some time to myself. I can make a cup of tea and go out on the deck with my journal and just absorb the morning. It’s a thought, anyway because I know that if I don’t get time to myself, I get cranky. I don’t want to get cranky, so I want to be a little proactive about this and head the cranky off at the pass.

This weekend, we plan to go to Winchester Mystery House and I’m excited! I’ve lived in California for nearly 15 years {my gosh, has it been that long?!} and I’ve never been. Hooray for adventures!

This afternoon, I’m going to get my hair cut. I got a trim last month and it’s just not right. It didn’t really get shaped at all and I feel like it juts out at an odd angle once it hits my shoulder blades. I don’t wear it down at all as a result. So, I’m getting it shaped, but keeping the length. I’m seeing a new stylist too, so I hope it goes well.

And that, dear readers, is pretty much what’s up with me. I know I haven’t done a Fun Friday Five! in a long time and I haven’t done a Think Out Loud either. I think it’s time to get back on those two trains and see what I can cook up! It has been far too long, hasn’t it?

What are you all up do this weekend?

Have you ever been to Winchester Mystery House?

Sunny Smiles

I’m a morning person. I like to get up and start doing things, even if it’s something like reading a book or making tea or something like that so I feel productive. I don’t like to wake up and languish in bed for awhile because it makes me feel lazy.

I just…can’t. Unless I’m sick. Then I can lie there.

Anyway, all that to say this: When I get up early, I can see the sun rise over the mountains and it’s stunning. Here’s one from earlier this week:

“It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

There’s just something about a sunrise. It makes everything seem bright and new and full of possibility.

Are you a morning person? Can you sleep in?

Adventures with Jezebel

This dog has the sweetest personality I think I’ve ever seen in a canine. She’s a sweetheart. She’s fluffy and cute and bouncy and she doesn’t bark all the time, if ever. Her name is Jezebel.

We have no idea what kind of dog she is, but I think she’s an Australian Shepherd mix of some kind.

I’d love to get her to the point where I could take her for a walk with a leash, but sh’es not a fan of a leash. So, perhaps I can teach her to heel so she’ll trot right alongside me while I walk. We’ll see how we do. Right now, I’m afraid that she’d end up getting hit by a car as her street sense game is not strong.

I’m thrilled with having her as part of our lives. She’s a sweetie.

Are you a dog person or a cat person? Share in the comments!

The thing about stress…

Did that make you sit up and go, “What?!?” I did, when I heard it on Madelyn Moon‘s podcast with Brian Musial. There I was, walking along and listening to the podcast, totally relating to Brian while he told his story of his divorce {I’ve totally been there, man. Fist pump.} and then somewhere along the way, he threw that out that.

Huh? Stress is totally voluntary? What? And then it was like a light bulb went off in my head and I thought to myself:

Well, duh! Of course it is! I have a choice about how I react to stress, just like I have a choice about how I react to anything. My attitude towards the stress  is EVERYTHINGI can let the stress get to me, or I can find better, more positive ways of handling it. Whether a stressor is a person or a situation. stressors will always be around. That won’t change, but how I react to them can definitely change. Huh.

Folks, I kid you not, it was like the weight lifted from my shoulders and I went from tight-twisted, woman on a mission walker to a quickly-walking, relaxed woman walker. I know I can get really bent out of shape about something and totally stressed out in the space of about a minute. From that point, I worry, agonize and analyze and “what if” until the situation is no longer an issue. By that time, no one really wants to be around me because I’m a world class, grade A grouch.

Self, how is that helpful?

It’s not.

I hope to catch myself in that space of a minute where I want to get all tight-twisted and stop myself, take a step back, and have a look at the situation. Perhaps, that will give me the time to not react to the stress the same way I usually do. Perhaps, I’ll be able to just let it roll and not get all worked up.

What do you think? Do you think stress is voluntary? Share in the comments!

On Knowing My Self and Myself

Lately, I’ve just felt off somehow. It seems like nothing is static. We got married {yay!}, the boy started school {also another yay!} and we’re looking for place to call home {not so much yay! here} as my apartment is way too small for three people and two dogs {though this does get a yay! because I’m looking forward to moving out of that apartment and into a place to call home with Cowboy and the boy. And we hav dogs!!!!!!! Complicated, much?}. It’s just…a lot. And it makes me tired and more prone to staying home with a good book and a glass of wine or a cup of hot tea. When life gets like this, a socialite I am not.

Here’s something I discovered the other day, and please do forgive the forest for the trees idiom usage, but it just worked: Sometimes, there is such a thing as being too objective about things, seeing too much of the forest, so to speak, especially when there’s a rotten, disease-infested tree that really needs to be chopped down standing right in front of you. Don’t ignore the tree because you know ripping it out by the roots is going to be dirty, ugly and probably painful. Get it out of your life, because it doesn’t belong there. Have those hard conversations, clear the air, listen really hard to your soul and make room for healthy trees.

That was my very own pep talk for myself and it all came about because of this post on Instagram {follow here here} from Jamie Mendell:

Here’s what Jamie said about the above:

I’ve gotten a lot of questions today about “connecting to yourself” and how to actually do that. Here’s one of my favorite ways: in the morning and / or evening, put one hand on your heart and the other on your belly and just ask yourself…”how are ya?” “whats going on?” “what do I need to know?” or ask a specific question about your life. It doesn’t always need to be a long meditation, just taking a few minutes a day to give yourself this one-on-one undivided attention can forge a really strong bond with yourself. You’ll be able to process your feelings and gain wisdom about a variety of things. // happy connecting!

I’ve never consciously stopped to take my pulse or to check in with my self or any of that. I go from waking up, getting up and going about my day to thinking about plenty of other things besides my soul and how I am doing to the dinner/homework/extracurricular activities routine to bed. I do try to journal, and that is so helpful for me, but I think checking in with myself occasionally throughout the day would be a great idea.

For instance, if I asked myself right now how I am doing and what’s going on, I would tell myself:

  • You’re hungry and those grapes just aren’t going to cut it. Go get some protein.
  • Your head hurts because you didn’t sleep well and you’re dehydrated too. The coffee you just made to keep your headache at bay doesn’t taste good. Drink water instead and maybe take a couple of ibuprofen. Consider going to bed early tonight.
  • You will want to write your thoughts and feelings down in your journal. Preferably, do this sooner rather than later, because if you don’t, you’ll want to eat a half gallon of ice cream by yourself.
  • Do go for a walk this afternoon. Your soul needs it as much as your body does. Screw it, go for a walk now. Right now. Put your shoes on, plug your earbuds in and go. Everything else can wait.

See what a little pause for reflection can bring to the surface? Apparently, a bit more self-awareness than I normally see on a daily basis. :-)

And on that note, I’m going to listen to what I say and I’m going to go for that walk. Enjoy your day, lovelies!

Liebster Award!! Yay!

I was nominated for a Liebster Award by FireMoonRage! Thank you thank you thank you! I love her blog and i think it’s great that there’s an award out there for the small fry bloggers out there! Here’s how it works:

The Liebster Award is a peer award aimed at connecting bloggers and readers for blogs that have fewer than 200 followers {like me!}. It helps us all get to know one another and perhaps gain a few more regular readers. Also, it’s always fun to know that someone likes to read what I’ve written!

Here’s how the Liebster Award works:

  • Link back to the person who nominated you
  • Answer the 11 questions given to you by the nominator
  • Display the Liebster Award logo in your post
  • Nominate up to 11 other bloggers with fewer than 200 followers
  • Create 11 questions for the nominees
  • Notify all nominees via social media/blogs

Here are the questions FireMoonRage posed to me:

  1. How did you get started blogging and which post makes you most proud? I started blogging about 10 years ago as a way to keep in touch with my family. It turned into a fun creative outlet for me that has been so therapeutic over the years.
  2. What is your favorite way to pass time? Spending time outside {hiking, walking on the beach, doing yard work, whatever!}, reading a good book, talking with friends and/or family over a delicious meal, enjoying a glass of red wine…the list goes on!
  3. Where is your dream vacation? I’ve never been one who wanted to go to a tropical destination for a vacation. I’m going to have to go with pretty much anywhere in Europe. Switzerland, Ireland, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Greece, Austria…and then Canada and Australia. Ideally, I’d like to spend the vacation somewhere where I can go for walks or hikes daily, somewhere where the sun shines in the summer and somewhere where the food and drink are worthy of exploration.
  4. What do you consider to be your best quality? Oh, wow. Let’s see. I think my best qualities are my honesty and loyalty. 
  5. If you were to give advice to a new blogger, what would it be? Write your heart. Share the good and bad bits and bobs of your life. Leave comments on other blogs and develop relationships.
  6. What most inspires you? The hope that I have that there is something good that will come from nothing…or that something good will come out of a catastrophe. I am ever the optimist!
  7. Do you have hobbies? I do! I crochet, read and I love to try new recipes.
  8. What was your favorite or most special meal before today? Hmmmm, what a great question. My favorite thing to eat when we go out for BBQ is brisket, so I’m going to go with that. Unfortunately, not many BBQ restaurants here in California make brisket, but we do have one local place and I go there any time I can!
  9. Finish the sentence: I am happiest when… I’m at home with my husband and son and we’re playing a game or watching a movie or talking about our days together and there’s a lot of love and laughter. It’s the best.
  10. What gives you a thrill? Creating something or learning something new or just making something fun.
  11. Finish the sentence: It wasn’t funny at the time, but now I can laugh when I think about …. the time I ran over the milk cow with the feed truck when I was five. I was steering while Dad threw feed out for the cows out of the back of the truck and I had been instructed to stay on the road. I also didn’t know where the brakes were. So…the poor milk cow got lightly tapped with the feed truck bumper. It’s funny now, but it certainly was not then!

I have quite a few bloggers I enjoy reading, and I pulled these from Feedly which tells me how many subscribers they have. Today I nominate:

And here are your questions:

  1. Who or what inspires you most?
  2. What would you say is your best quality? And your worst?
  3. What is your favorite quote or saying?
  4. What’s your favorite thing to cook or bake?
  5. Why did you start blogging?
  6. If you could do anything in the world, what would you do and why?
  7. What’s your favorite thing to do when you have some downtime?
  8. What relaxes you most?
  9. What’s your favorite snack?
  10. What’s your favorite memory?
  11. Are you a dog or cat person? Or a some other kind of animal person?