Honoring Yourself

When was the last time you thought about honoring yourself? Maybe you do it often, or maybe you stumbled across this post and are just beginning to ask yourself these questions: How’s your self-care practice? Have you set aside time for yourself lately? What foods are you feeding yourself? Are you incorporating movement into each day? How are you sleeping? What’s one thing you do each day that brings you joy and calm?

I’m the first to admit that I don’t always tend to myself as well as I tend to others. I’ve improved over the years, and it’s a constant practice. I know that I need to, so I often schedule check-ins with myself, and that’s when I hit the reset button. For example, it’s been a pretty busy few months. In January our family was hit with Covid, mildly, but we were all at home, juggling my daughter’s online school since she couldn’t go in person, while my husband and I tried to keep our work going smoothly. Then while resting at home with Covid, I wanted to get out so badly that I scheduled two-weekend trips. Back to back, when my third quarter report cards were due! One trip was for me with girlfriends to celebrate my birthday, and the other trip was for our family. Not bad, but definitely ramped our weekends up to a quicker pace than we have had for almost two years!

So, how do I handle these times? Here I share with you 5 easy ways to honor yourself.

  1. Get Your Sleep I know when I don’t get enough sleep, it’s not pretty. At all. So I try to stick to a regular bedtime and wake up time, with some flexibility on weekends. Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best things we can do for ourselves, yet it sometimes is the last thing we permit ourselves to do. America, it’s OK to sleep!!!!

2. Prepare Your Food

When we prepare fresh, wholesome foods our body says Thank You by giving us energy and keeping us running through our busy days. I love to cook, however with a full-time job and growing child, it’s often challenging to find the time for the fancy recipes of days past. As a family, we decided to try out a meal prep kit twice a week. It’s worked well and definitely given my husband more confidence in the kitchen while getting my daughter a little more involved in the dinner prep process. With so many meal options, we’ve been able to pick the most nutritious meals and even try some new flavors. I also meal plan to help us stay on track and be sure we are eating healthy throughout the day and busy week. It’s nothing fancy, but just having our dinners written down has lightened my mental load so I can focus on calmer evenings.

3. Incorporate movement throughout your day

You may have read in my previous posts, finding the right kind of movement is important to keep you moving. I’ve found yoga and long walks are my favorite forms of movement, but some days a dance party with my daughter or push-ups and some planks are what gets my blood flowing. Since I teach virtually, I start every class by having my students stand, take some deep breaths, stretch, and then take their seats. This is my sneaky way of getting movement in for myself and modeling this healthy habit for my students. When you find movement that you enjoy, you no longer think of it as exercise, you just move.

4. Surround Yourself with Beauty

As the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Our environment is very important and plays a huge part in our mental and physical well-being. The older I get, the more this plays a part in my day-to-day life. I find minimalism and nature beautiful, but beauty is different for everyone. Colors and shapes and textures help us see life from different perspectives. I have several of my daughter’s art pieces hanging throughout our house. I also have plants in almost every room and on our porches. When I look at these things, I immediately smile and am reminded how beautiful our life is.

5. Make Meaningful Connections

It’s been a very challenging 2 years through the pandemic. We’ve all suffered loss, but the one thing that we all have in common is we’ve lived through this experience. Now it’s time to allow ourselves to connect with one another around the experience. We were made to be social. Humans need one another, and not just on a screen. Our bodies need hugs and touch. Our hearts beat healthier when we connect and interact with other humans. Trust me, I’m an ambivert, I love my alone time, but I also love a good, in-person social connection with friends and family. The trip I took with my girlfriends recently was one of the most amazing weekends of connection. We hiked, we did yoga, we ate good food, and drank libations. We shared our struggles as wives, moms, and full-time employees. We shared music and laughter. It was the best birthday present my husband has ever given me. Even if I did all the planning!

While it’s March, we celebrate Women’s History, by honoring those women who have made wonderful contributions to our world. Be sure to stop and honor yourself too. You are one of those women making great contributions to our world in the way you show up each day. Now I’m going to go honor myself with some sleep!

Thank you for stopping by. If you know someone who could benefit from my post, please share it.

Permit Yourself to Pause

This article was originally published on Thrive Global on April30, 2021 after taking a short pause from writing.

“A pause is an opening, it acts as a portal to other options and choices.”- Robert Poyton

Before the Pandemic of 2020,  many of us were conditioned to always “do”, but what if you permitted yourself to pause? What if we could become more productive by taking time to pause and recharge ourselves? Hitting the pause button can be a powerful step to turn inward, and reflect on all that you’ve already accomplished. Permission to have smaller goals, maybe some that nobody else will see. Creating space for yourself to appreciate all the abundance you already have, instead of constantly striving to do more. 

The Harvard Business Review states, “resilience requires working hard, but it also requires one to stop, recover, and then begin the hard work again.” The harder you work, the longer the recovery period you need. Athletes can attest to this. If we think about our pre-pandemic lifestyles, we were going at life pretty hard. It seems natural that pressing pause on that way of life during the pandemic would help us recover. Or at least make us re-evaluate our work and non-work activities and how we’re using our human energy.

In April, I  experimented with hitting the pause button. With spring’s arrival, I wanted to slowly emerge from the hibernation of winter. I love spring because of its warmer days and cooler evenings. The sunlight glows longer while flowers burst with color after the darkness of winter. What a perfect time to pause, take in the beauty of the new season with gratitude and hope. There’s something about spring that highlights possibilities ahead. 

Here’s what happened when I permitted myself to pause. After mostly staying home for a year through the pandemic we decided it was time to safely get a change of scenery, and go out of town for Spring Break. I was ready for a break from teaching virtual school, and the monotony of the same walls. My daughter was ready to see her grandmother and the beach again. My husband and I both were ready to hit the pause button on our daily parenting responsibilities and Grandma was eager to spoil our girl a bit. A road trip to visit my mother-in-law was a win-win for everyone. I packed books and committed to using my phone solely for listening to music and calling to check in on my dad. I committed to setting the out-of-office reply the entire week to stay out of my Inbox. I also chose to take a break from creating content and writing. Normally we find ourselves snapping lots of pictures, but this time, I even paused that! It was a blissful and intentional time that I permitted myself to pause, and be FULLY present.

As an educator, I have breaks naturally built into my calendar every year, but even if you don’t have those attached to a kid’s school schedule, it’s just as important to schedule and take time off.  Pressing pause gives you time to reflect and recharge. When our energy is low, taking in the sights, sounds, smells, and simple pleasures of a new season might be what we need instead of adding to our calendar or to-do list. This is a gift we can give ourselves more often. In our hyper-connected world, it seems impossible sometimes, but we must do it. 

Now that April and my experiment with the pause button are coming to an official end, I don’t intend to go back to constantly being on the go. My head is more clear, my “to do” list is shorter and more intentional. The white space on my calendar doesn’t make me want to plan something else to do. This is a new normal I’m happily embracing.   It’s empowering and refreshing. The pause is a gift you can give yourself.

I hope that as you begin to safely return to some of your “normal” lifestyles, you’re inspired to find ways to hit the pause button more often than you did pre-pandemic. We have this option. We get to make this choice. We are worth it.

Gifts for Yourself or a Girlfriend

Throughout history or herstory, women have been the big givers. We give our time, our energy to everyone else. This current Women’s Movement or Women’s Empowerment is more about giving ourselves what we need, before giving it all away to others. We can no longer feel guilty for putting ourselves first. You must fill your cup to continue giving to others. As the airlines say, Put on your own oxygen mask first. When giving, we must not forget to give to ourselves.  

It’s only been recent that I’ve embraced this notion of giving myself the same nice gifts I might pick out and give to my best girlfriends. My mom and sister taught me this lesson, and here are some AMAZING women-owned products I want to share with you. If you are feeling generous with yourself or others, I encourage you to check them out. They make great gifts.

Auri La Home & Beauty Cashmere Plum candle.

I haven’t bought candles in a while until my sister told me about these from Auri La Home & Beauty. They are 100% soy, hand poured into these beautiful little containers that make you feel more luxurious as you strike a match and set them aflame. My new nightly ritual is to light my candle from Auri La Home & Beauty while I wind down at the end of the day. I’m currently burning Cashmere Plum, however, all of the scents are amazing. Go see them for yourself at aurilahomebeauty.com or on Instagram @Aurilahomebeauty. Act fast though because they sell out often! 

I have never been a big beauty product gal. Do you know the kind that tries and buys the latest beauty trend? I do believe in taking good care of my skin though, and Dzialo Skincare makes it easy. Based in Portland, Oregon Dzialo Skincare offers European facials and pure products that can make you feel like you’re giving yourself a spa experience at home. Her products are natural and make you feel luxurious without making you feel like you’re breaking the bank. Even better is Sharon’s friendly customer service. She is quick to fill and ship your order if you’re not in Portland. Sharon Dzialo offers a great way to try a Sample Set for a nominal shipping cost only. You can check out all of her products at  Dzialo Skincare. These are a gift you can give yourself for beautiful, radiant skin or gift a body lotion to a friend.

When I shop, I really like to touch and feel the clothes before I buy them. I guess I’m a sensory shopper. This past year while I haven’t needed to shop much, I have cleaned out my closet a few times and tried to invest in timeless pieces that I can wear for work or casually. This next women-owned company is my new go-to when I want to splurge on a new piece of clothing. Frank and Eileen Clothing.  Have you heard of them? Have you tried their clothes? Once you do you will be hooked! They are a certified women-owned B corporation, that is making beautiful clothes while giving back and using sustainable business practices. You have to feel the fabrics to really appreciate how beautiful these clothes are. These are definitely a splurge for this educator’s salary, even on sale-priced items, but they are SO worth it. You are SO worthy of clothes that feel like this.

While these are only a few of the amazing women-owned businesses that I’ve found, I believe there are so many more. Comment on this post if you own or know of a woman-owned business. Giving ourselves these gifts is another form of self-care. I believe that as women we are better together and we can change the world into a kinder, more compassionate place.

Remember that sharing is caring, so if you know someone who would enjoy this content, pass it along!

-Kristen

We all can use a little extra dose of inspiration and positivity to inspire us. Read on to learn about another amazing woman who has created a business around that mission.

Meet Emily Madill

Emily Madill

Do you ever feel like you could use a little mid-week pep talk? Emily Madill’s Weekly Happiness note is exactly that! If you feel like you could use a dose of happiness and positivity once a week, I encourage you to head over to www.emilymadill.com and sign up to receive her FREE Weekly Happiness Note. You are sure to find more little gems of positivity and tips for living the life you want from Emily. She is an author and certified professional coach. She is also a runner, yogi, and mom of 2 busy boys. And she’s an Editor at Large for Thrive Global. I met Emily after I purchased her book, Fall in Love With Your Life, a Seasonal Planner at the onset of 2021.  It is an undated planner that uses a circular model of the hours in your day, rather than a linear model. It’s a different perspective, and allows you to see how you’re spending all of your time in one day in a way that you can visually see where your time is out of balance. I love how you can be creative and fill in the wheel with colors or whatever you want. If you are a busy woman who feels like the traditional, linear model of time isn’t working for you, you NEED this planner! It truly is a gift to help you overcome the feelings of overwhelm when it comes to balancing your time. I didn’t know how I was packing in my planner each week was causing me to be out of balance until I got this planner and started planning my days with the circular model. GAME CHANGER LADIES! 

Emily also offers a few free e-courses, however I highly recommend her paid course, Fall in Love with your Life Weekly Planning Sessions.  I joined the winter course and it has been a weekly time of inspiration with seven other women. During the weekly planning sessions you will reflect on your week, set your intention for the week ahead, and celebrate big and small wins with each other.  It’s an investment in yourself and women’s empowerment at its best! 

I am currently working with Emily through her coaching as well. (I’m sure there will be a post about that later.)

I encourage you to check out some of the amazing and inspiring work of Emily at www.emilymadill.com or you can find her on Instagram @emilymadill.

Come back next week to learn about some other wonderful women owned businesses and the products they offer.

~Kristen

Women Empowering Women

Meet two women who taught me about yoga, self-care, and empowered me to live my best life.

As women, we’ve come a long way. My hope is that we continue to make progress and lift one another up as we move forward. We are better together and when we share our stories, our dreams, and celebrate our success together, the sky is the limit.

When I recently published my first article on Thrive Global about creating a self care practice, I had a list of women I wanted to call and share my big news with, partly because I knew they’d celebrate with me, but also because they helped me reach this goal. These women I’m highlighting and celebrating this month have been my coaches, my cheerleaders, my friends, and all-around Wonder Women who are empowering other women in the work they do every day.  This week I introduce you to two of my yoga teachers. These women have helped me create and sustain a consistent yoga practice along with many other teachings about self-care. If you are looking to incorporate more body/mind/spirit wellness into your life, I encourage you to check them out!

Meet Renee Gauthier

Renee and I have been friends since the 4th grade. Technically. There were some years after high school and college that our paths went in different directions, but we’ve always been able to pick up where we left off. About 5 years ago we started to connect more regularly. She is one of the bright lights in my life. Renee is one of the most beautiful humans I’ve ever known. She has an infectious smile and a sense of playfulness and fun that reminds you to “lighten up”. 

Renee is a wellness educator, yoga teacher, and girl mom. She offers online classes and workshops for implementing a wellness lifestyle with essential oils. When the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, Renee quickly shifted her yoga classes from studios all over the San Diego area to offering virtual yoga classes via Zoom throughout the week. Her yoga classes include aromatherapy and guided meditations. Don’t just take my word for it, try one of her yoga classes, reach out to her for your essential oil needs, or book her for a private yoga session, virtually. You can learn more about how Renee can help you reach your wellness goals at www.reneegauthier.com, or on Instagram @renee_gauthier.

 Meet Ashli Winter

Ashli Winter

Ashli and I met a few years ago when I began my self-care journey. I stumbled upon yoga classes at her yoga studio, Pure Bliss in Lake Wylie.  Ashli is warm and welcoming immediately upon walking into the studio. She created Pure Bliss, a boutique yoga studio, that welcomes everyone. Whether you are a beginning yogi like I was at the time or an experienced yogi, she offers classes for all levels. It’s evident that Ashli and her small staff of instructors care about people as they go out of their way to connect with yogis before and after class.  At Pure Bliss, instructors honor your time on the mat by placing emphasis on “it’s your practice”. In her yoga classes, meditation, and vision board workshops, Ashli wants to empower women to be their best selves. She creates an encouraging environment while teaching her students about the importance and necessity of creating a self-care practice. If you’re in the Lake Wylie area and ready to get back into a live yoga studio, check out the class schedule and workshop offerings at Pure Bliss or find them on Instagram @pureblisslkw.

Come back next week to meet another amazing woman.

-Kristen