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Loving Yourself Alongside Depression

Some days I feel like I have this self-love thing all figured out.

I say kind things to myself.
I smile at my reflection in the mirror.
I am my own personal cheerleader, telling myself, “You’ve got this!”

I rest when I am tired.
I move my body in ways that light me up.
I drink plenty of water and choose foods that make me feel good.

I take myself on dates.
I schedule time with my friends.
I make space for the things that nourish my soul – meditating, writing in my journal, and spending time in nature.

I give myself the care I need and deserve – mind, body, and soul – and it feels easy, like second nature.

Other days, not so much.

You see, I have struggled with depression since I was a young girl.

The truth is I have a beautiful life that I love.

And the truth is I still sometimes struggle with depression, even inside of this beautiful life that I love.

The truth is sometimes I still find myself feeling sad and lonely, even hopeless on the worst days.

The truth is depression doesn’t have a cure; it’s something you have to manage.

The truth is my depression is at least somewhat biologically based and it frequently comes out of nowhere, meaning I feel horrible and sad and lonely even though I can’t specifically pinpoint anything that is wrong.

The truth is I am a very high-functioning person, even when I am feeling deeply depressed. I can go to work, care for my family, and manage my daily tasks inside of depression.

The struggle is loving myself while I am actively inside of depression.

For me, one of the biggest pieces of depression is negative thoughts and feelings about myself. My mind keeps a rolling list of every stupid, awkward, and mean thing I have ever done and replays it on a loop while simultaneously ignoring every positive thing I have ever done. It is a recipe for self-loathing. As the thoughts keep coming, my mood becomes more and more down. It’s easy to get stuck in a spiral of sadness and shame.

The antidote is self-love.

Loving all of me, even the depressed part.
Letting go of resisting her, fighting her, wishing she would just go away.
Instead, offering her compassion, kindness, and acceptance.

To me, self-love means showing up for yourself unconditionally. Giving yourself love and kindness even when you don’t feel like it – especially when you don’t feel like it.

Self-love is forgiving myself, over and over.
Self-love is being kind and gentle with myself.
Self-love is talking to myself like I would talk to a dear friend.
Self-love is never giving up on myself.
Self-love is looking at myself with kind eyes.
Self-love is being honest with myself.
Self-love is pausing to notice what I need and taking the time to respond.
Self-love is surrounding myself with supportive people.

So, what does it look like to love yourself alongside depression?

It looks like reminding yourself to eat something and drink a glass of water.

It looks like being able to discern when self-care means going to yoga and when it means taking a nap.

It looks like being your own best friend and reminding yourself that the sadness will pass.

It means when you can’t summon the energy to reassure yourself with kind words, you remember to reach out to someone who can.

It means opening up to the truth of your experience in the moment and responding with kindness and acceptance.

It means letting go of judgment and expectations and comparing and just being with yourself as you are in the moment.

Because depression wants you to believe you don’t deserve kindness, but the truth is you are worthy of self-love no matter what you are going through.

Mindy Scime, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist, yoga teacher, and radical proponent of Badass Self-Care®. She works with sensitive, emphatic women who are ready to move beyond exhaustion and overwhelm and into the space of self-care and prioritizing their own needs. Mindy’s work is informed by her ten years of experience as a therapist and yoga teacher with specialized training in trauma, as well as her lived experience of navigating self-care in this world as a woman, mother, and healer. Her community of badass women is devoted to doing inner work and creating outer change. Learn more about Mindy and her work at www.mindyscime.com.

Whispering Sweet Words… To Yourself

When we fall in love it is easy to think of positive ways to describe the subject of our affection. We can gush at length about their physical features, personality traits, and accomplishments. Almost as easily, we can find positive things to say about books, foods, or coffee shops. They don’t have to be perfect for us to speak well of them; we easily focus on the positive and often accept the flaws without comment.

Why, then, do we struggle to do the same with ourselves?

When I describe myself I could say that I’m of average height with frizzy brown hair, stretch marks, and a bootie that’s two pants sizes bigger than I want it to be. I could say that I’m stubborn, critical, bossy, and a perfectionist. All of these things are completely true. But none of them sound like I’m talking about someone I love.

Instead, what if I describe my hair as having volume or being fluffy, and my body as being curvy and cuddly? What if I say that I’m determined, persistent, and tenacious, good at solving problems and making things better, a leader, and careful in my work? All of these things are equally true, but will make you–and me–think so much better of me.

Therein lies the challenge.

If I am to fall in love with myself, I must take into consideration the way that I talk to others–and to myself–about me.

So my challenge to you is to write a list of things that describe you.

The good, the bad, the ugly. The words you tell yourself, the words that you hear others say. All of them.

Now go down that list, and for every word that doesn’t make you feel loved, draw a line through it and write a new word; something that describes the same trait or feature but that puts it in a positive light.

Yes, I can hear your argument now. “Some things are only negative. There’s no way to put a positive spin on that one; I’d be lying to myself.” I am going to be stubborn, bossy, and critical with you about that argument: I believe you can find a positive side to every thing on that list. Go back and try again. If it’s hard, find someone else who loves you and ask them to help. (If you have young children, ask them: little ones are wonderfully good at seeing the best and most magical parts of a person. It was my son who snuggled up to my squishy, stripey belly and said “Mommy, your tummy is so soft, it is great for cuddles.”)

Once you have your list, make sure you remember it. Tape it to your fridge. Put it on the wallpaper of your phone. Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself the words. Lay in the dark and whisper them over and over. Tell others those words when you talk about yourself.

And one time, when you say them, you’ll realize that you believe them. Because when you fall in love with someone, it is easy to think of positive ways to describe them.

J Brighton is a teacher, counselor, sister, mother, and friend with big hair, a bigger attitude, and a weird and sarcastic sense of humor. Her go-to self-care is knitting, dancing, drinking tea, kneading bread, or getting her hands in the garden dirt. She lives in Alaska with her husband, three sons, and an indeterminate number of chickens. She reads a lot, talks more, overthinks most things, and sometimes writes about it at Mindful Serenity.

There’s still time today to sign up for the Be Your Own Valentine 3 mini-challenge.

Be Your Own Valentine

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day!

It’s is the day for lovers and what can be more important than learning how to love yourself, learning how to be your truest love?

Regardless of your relationship status, you are the most important love you’ll ever have – your also the only love that will be with you for the entirety of this amazingly magical and beautifully mundane life of yours.

Yes, having a sweetheart that adores you is fabulous.

Yes, being disappointed at being single (again?) can be a normal and healthy response to a day focusing on romantic love.

And, yes, you can be madly in-love with the partner of your dreams and still be lacking in loving the most important person in your life – you!

Why?

Better life is better when you love yourself.

So this Valentine Day join us for the 3 day Be Your Own Valentine mini-challenge
and begin (again) the journey of falling in-love with yourself this February!

You can sign up here.

Before Valentine’s Day

When young(er), I wished and prayed that I would have a Valentine by the time the day arrived. I was almost always disappointed. Much, much later, when I married at 31, I chose Valentine’s Day for the wedding itself. That changed my position and perspective. Every year, as our anniversary rolled around, I was (mostly) able to see the day in a positive and heart-warming way. After 14 of annual celebrations, we separated then divorced, the former occurring just weeks before the marking of our 15th year. That Valentine’s Day was significant – not a celebration, but certainly a marker not about relationship with another, but with myself; not about another’s love, but my own – for me. And now, 10+ years later, I admittedly vacillate between the wishing/praying of my younger years and an almost complete disconnect from the day itself.

Would I like to have this day marked with roses, chocolate, a sweet card, a romantic dinner? Of course. And is any/all of that predicated on someone else? Uh, no.

So, before Valentine’s Day arrives, I’m asking myself some questions. Maybe you could as well.

  • In relationship, can I remain clear and committed to all the places my passion lies – and for whom, all the ways it is expressed within and through me? Will express it – in articulate, even lavish ways?
  • Out of relationship (and frankly, even in), will I refrain from bitterness or caustic cynicism; instead, smiling generously and genuinely at those who are captivated by this day, grateful that love still holds sway, still conquers all, still survives and thrives?
  • Will I treat myself to the gift I most want to receive? A leather-bound journal. A beautiful ring. A good bottle of wine. A weekend away. An exercise routine. An Instant Pot. A quiet day of writing.
  • Will I courageously ask for what I most want? An honest conversation. A conflict resolved. A decision made.
  • Can I, will I, wholeheartedly declare-and-believe that I am whole, complete, and worthy of love – first and foremost my own?
  • Will I recall, recite, and recommit to these two truths: I am not too much and I am more than enough?

It’s estimated that more than 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, And, not surprisingly, women purchase approximately 85 percent of them. Given such, let’s buy and send them to our girlfriends, our sisters, our daughters, our mothers, ourselves. Not because we feel the need to mark such an arbitrary date and contrived “holiday,” but because we deserve to make it our own.

Toward that end – making the day our own – let’s boldly declare our love (to others and self) whether roses are delivered or not. Not because it’s Valentine’s Day, but because it’s who and how we are: strong, glorious, expressive women who do not shy from telling our truth, from giving our heart, from risking everything on behalf of what matters most.

So before Valentine’s Day – and in preparation, know this: you are worth the greeting, every sentiment held within, and all the love (and then some) that you can possibly bear.

Ronna ​Detrick reconnects us with our sacred matrilineage and calls forth the divine we carry within.

 ​She is a writer and speaker who has been blogging for over ten years, offering online products and courses for the past eight, and having rich, sacred, and sometimes controversial conversations longer than both of these combined. She has done a TEDx talk on Eve , creates ​and offers free ​weekly Blessings, has an App called Sacred Muse, and offers SacredReadings, sort-of like Tarot, but with the sacred stories she loves. In the midst of all this, she drinks too much coffee, toasts “being enough” with champagne on Fridays, and is beyond proud to be the mom of the two most amazing daughters in the entire world.

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Buddha

This year, make sure you spend a little time romancing yourself!
Join the 3 day Be Your Own Valentine mini-challenge.

My Sacred Rebellion

Somewhere around my 37th birthday my anxiety found it’s way into a space I lovingly refer to as ‘remission’. And shortly there after my body realized it didn’t have to be on guard all.the.time. It could finally rest. Which actually looked like complete and utter exhuastion, bed ridden for days on end.

A couple months into this head scratching and frustrating immobility, my naturopath looked and me and said “your adrenal curve is the worst I have ever seen…” Severe adrenal fatigue.

Something needed to change.

After years of healing my intense anxiety and depression, boundaries had slowly found their way into my world. Shifting it one step at a time. The day I got my diagnosis, I sat with a pen and paper writing what my life needed to look like in order to heal.

This is what I can do going forward, and this is what I can no longer do. To own it and bring it to my partner without fear was rebellious in and of itself. To not back down and make everything better for everyone else…that was a big step forward. It wasn’t well received, but I knew my body needed to be seen and honored. And I stood my ground.

I love meeting new people, hearing their stories and learning new ways to be in the world. As 2017 began I booked a call with a coach I had followed on Instagram for awhile, fascinated by her way of showing up. As we chatted I shared my story and asked to hear hers. Back and forth, similarities emerged. “You’ve always been the good girl, haven’t you?” she asked. Yep…nailed it. Oldest of 5 kids in a very Catholic family. The next words that she spoke forever altered my life.

“It looks like you’re going through your rebellion now, but a sacred rebellion.”

My breath caught in my chest and the world paused for a moment.

What would that look like, how would that rebellion express itself? It had already began with my list, my boundaries, owning what I needed to heal. Where would it take me next?

Piece by piece, I made choices that weren’t always the easiest but felt the truest to me. Committing to 3 months of Understanding Men with Alison Armstrong before I made a decision about my marriage. Signing up for a new women’s circle called “Reclaiming the Seven Sins“…which felt like the perfect rebellious choice. When it got uncomfortable, I took a deep breath. Is this fear or is this the scary next right step?

Slowly learning to trust myself, which felt like the most rebellious act of all, I made each choice a sacred one.

Honoring my boundaries and my body. Another call, this time with the seven sins coach from our girl gang. And she sent my head spinning in a way I never thought possible.

As I rambled on explaining my life to her, she heard a common theme as I spoke. And she called me out. “What does ‘for all intents and purposes I have a great life‘ mean to you? Because you said it three times in the last three minutes.” My jaw fell open. Stunned. Had I really said that?? And what did that mean?

Over the next couple days, pen and paper in hand, I realized what the end of that statement was. “For all intents and purposes I have a great life…for someone else.” Tears streamed down my cheeks as the truth of that sank in. Guilt for not being grateful and wanting something else being washed away with each tear drop.

I wanted freedom. And laughter. I wanted safety and respect. I wanted simplicity and drama-free. I wanted joy and ease and love. I wanted play and fun and all of the sex.

I had a great life.

But it wasn’t the life for me.

What happens next is messy and hard and heart wrenching. A marriage ending. Hearts broken and triggers flying. It was also powerful and courageous and life altering. A strength I’ve never know flooded through me. Support from women I’ve never laid eyes on held me so tight and walked beside me. The next step in my sacred rebellion was to walk away from my entire life, walking towards the promise of a red door and my new life. Trusting that I wasn’t alone and this was the next right step.

Waking up in my new home that first morning, my eyes opened and blinked as I looked around. ‘It was all just a bad dream.’ The thought flooded every cell. It was as though the last decade had been nothing but a bad dream that I was finally waking up from.

I know that I consciously and willingly made every single choice that lead me down that original path. It was the path I was expected to take, and I took it. My anxiety tried to warn me. And then my body finally stopped in it’s tracks so I would finally shut up and listen.

Rebellion : the action or process of resisting authority, control, or convention.

I took the conventional path. Twice. Determined that I was going to make it work no matter what. And somewhere inside of it I almost died. Body mind and soul. And then my sacred rebellion began. Instead of doing what I was supposed to do, I resisted and learned to hear what my body was trying desperately to tell me. Glennon Doyle’s voice in my head reminding me that I just needed to take the next right step. That was it. And trust in myself.

I write this snuggled up in the same space I woke up in that first morning almost 7 months ago. With tears in my eyes remembering the moment I woke up from that bad dream. I look around in awe of where I am now, still pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Living a life that only existed somewhere in my fantasy world. Yet I get to live it every single day. Grateful for the women who supported me in each and every step. And grateful that I never gave up on myself. My sacred rebellion taking me one step closer each day to becoming truly me.

growing up, I was always able to express myself most through the written word. I have journaled since I was able to spell, written a million letters and sent many very in depth text messages. my insatiable curiosity in this life has me constantly striving to learn and grow, understand and evolve. writing has allowed me to find my voice and go deeper inside, exploring my truths along the way. evolving and healing is my passion. here you will find my words, my inner thoughts, messy and raw as they might be…while i follow truth down the rabbit hole.

You can connect with Angela at her website The Shadow Side, or on Instagram.

Learning To Love Yourself

Self-love.

A concept I see mentioned everywhere.

It’s great that we talk about it a lot more nowadays.

But I know it can also feel intimidating.

Especially when our voice of self-judgment is loud, or things aren’t going exactly as we wished for.

Here’s the thing:

Self-love is a term that easily can become glorified into something unrecognizable just like love has been made to look by Hollywood’s countless portrayals in romantic comedies.

In my experience self-love is not about sweet-talking yourself into a life full of positive thinking and rosy glasses.

No, it’s kind of the opposite.

It’s about seeing yourself as a whole human being with all that it entails and caring for yourself like you would care for a child.

Patiently, generously, and with compassion.

Even when you’re not acting as you ideally would.

Self-love is not about being completely self-absorbed either. It’s caring for yourself, so you can also care for others.

I find the more I appreciate myself, the more I can appreciate other people.

But to most of us, self-love isn’t necessarily a natural mode of operation once we’re adults.

Self-love is actually something we need to consciously practice.

It’s like a muscle we need to build up and keep exercising.

To practice and build up our self-love muscle I find these elements to be useful:

  • Engage in regular self-care (this includes enough sleep, regular movement, healthy nutrition, activities that we like and that nourish us).

 

  • Have the courage to look inside, listen, and really get to know ourselves.

 

  • Start appreciating ourselves as whole beings (with both the parts of ourselves that we like a lot and the ones we like less). This entails letting go of perfectionism and false ideals.

 

  • Be true to ourselves – paying attention and listening to our own inner voice. This requires that we get to know the different voices inside ourselves.

 

  • Learn to set boundaries. Saying no to things that don’t feel right or don’t serve us.

 

  • Take responsibility for our own needs and for getting them met. When we know what we need in the moment, we can ask for it.

 

  • Stop seeking permission or approval to be ourselves. Recognizing that we, like everyone else, deserve to take up space on this planet just as we are right now.

 

  • Know that our sense of self is not determined by other’s reaction to us. Get less fixated on earning approval, and know that everyone has their own perspective and view.

 

  • Let go of self-judgment. This doesn’t mean that the voice of self-judgment won’t show up, but we can start seeing it for what it is: one of the voices of the mind.

 

  • Learn from mistakes, without clinging to them. We can do this by taking responsibility for what happened, forgive ourselves and move on.

 

  • Treat ourselves with patience, respect, and compassion … and ultimately with love.

I’d like to invite you to choose one action that you can practice today that takes you a step closer to loving yourself.

And know that you’re not alone.

We’re all in this together.

Luise Jørgensen is a mindfulness coach who supports men & women to embody their personal power so they can live a fully expressed, wholehearted and meaningful life. She recently returned to Europe after having lived five years in Thailand, spending more than 4,000 hours immersed in mind and body practices. You can connect with her on her website, on Facebook, and on Instagram where she explores her passion for mindful photography.

Welcome February

Fall In-Love w/ Yourself February 2018 is here.

wow.

I’m both shocked it got here so soon, and wondering why the hell it took so long to pull into the driveway…

For me December was laborious, a month of getting pretty much nothing done except the important work of feeling/crying/seeing/healing. My triggered PTSD took my brain into some deep well of darkness and my low-level depression bloomed there. I was in such distress. I couldn’t focus at work or here in my studio.

I didn’t get the new scarf crocheted for my husband’s Christmas gift, nor the embroidered gifts I’d planned for his mom and sister. I didn’t get the Christmas cards I’d bought mailed out. The night of the Winter Solstice came and went without a ritual or even a candle and a prayer said. I woke up Christmas morning and just did not know how to find joy at all. It was all I could do to write a grocery list each week, much less move forward on creating and planning for 2018.

January began much as December had ended. I either didn’t feel like eating, or ate too much, putting on another 5 pounds my knee and back didn’t need. I think I’ve shaved my legs twice since Thanksgiving. I couldn’t concentrate to read and found Facebook took too much energy to engage in – even with the groups and folks I really get a lift from connecting with. I missed sending one of my weekly Love Notes, which felt particularly defeating as those are as much a commitment to myself as my subscribers. And, to top it off, I was unable to finish the Self-Care Guide for Winter – having published the guides for Spring, Summer & Fall this would have completed the circle. I was, and still am, deeply disappointed this didn’t get finished (and, yes, I do plan to eventually finish it).

It wasn’t pretty.

It also wasn’t outwardly dramatic.

I just quietly struggled in my darkness.

But still I labored on in my healing work. Worry was building about February looming closer and closer without my having sought out the submissions I’d hoped for or even having really announced submissions were open – I think I posted about it one, maybe two times total, and the challenge – yeah, I couldn’t even wrap my head around that one. I knew I had to find my way to a place where I could at least host a few guest pieces if nothing else – this series is the bedrock of everything my work is about here at Grace & Magic – I could not let it die, and yet for 6 weeks I couldn’t gather the energy and focus to work on it.

I felt a shift happening as the second week of January passed the halfway park, a pathway back into the light if you will. Quickly, before it could evaporate and leave me wordless again, I sent out submission requests and began jotting down ideas for my own posts and for a 2nd annual Fall In-Love w/ Yourself Challenge. I even managed a blog post. I wouldn’t say I was on fire, but I had an ember gaining strength and it was warming and nurturing and encouraging me to continue, to begin again.

Then, on January 11th, my beloved friend Brighid, now too weak from cancer to care for herself, was admitted to the hospital. She’d only learned she had stage IV colon cancer on November 4, 2017 – a mere 76 days before.

Everything stopped.

Those of us in a private Facebook group set up to facilitate care for her began scrambling:

How long would she be there? Who would care for her young sons? What about the dog? The outdoor cats? Were visitors allowed? Who could stay with her when her primary caregivers needed to go home and tend to their own families? How could we all best help?

Derek, my husband, says he wants to play cello or guitar for her if she wants, when asked she clearly says, yes, she wants this.

Sunday, Jan. 14th, we got everything ready to go visit her only to receive word she wasn’t able to have visitors that day.

Monday, Jan. 15th, it was a go and we spend the afternoon into evening in her room – him alternating between cello and guitar (he eventually ends up singing Beatles songs to her), me just sitting, praying, loving her. She doesn’t regain consciousness our entire visit.

Tuesday, Jan 16th, at noon I drive back up to Seattle to take a turn being her caregiver.

Wednesday, Jan 17th, I tell her “I love you” and head back home.

Sunday, Jan 24th, we pack up and drive back up to Seattle. She’s able to speak a little, whispers really. When I ask her if she’d like Derek to play for her there’s a horse but clear “yes”, and so he plays, on-and-off, for 7 hours for her, switching between guitar and cello. In the evening, as another friend and I rub her tender swollen ankles to ease her discomfort he sings her Beatles love songs again. When it was time to head home I leaned in, putting my forehead against hers and whisper, “I love you Brighid, safe travels.”

That was the last time I saw Brighid.

On that drive home I find myself so exhausted and sad that I’m going numb or something, staring straight ahead feeling so many things, holding so many unanswerable questions about justice and fairness and miracles so very needed. This should not be happening.

Monday, Jan 25th, Derek comes home from looking pale and ragged. He slumps down into a chair at the kitchen table, “I feel like crap.” At my insistence, because “I can’t lose you too right now!”, he calls in sick for the next day and agrees to a trip to urgent care the next day. My night owl is in bed well before 8:00.

Tuesday, Jan 26th, at 7:25am, my beautiful and beloved friend Brighid dies, passing over into whatever-is-next. I find out while at work that morning, tears flow down onto my keyboard. My first thought is to text Derek, then I remember that he’s home sleeping and so ill. So instead, I hold this to myself.

When I get home that morning I want to rush into his arms for comfort, but I fear it’ll be too much to let out only to then have to tuck back inside for our trip to urgent care. So I continue to hold it to myself. He’s so out of it that he doesn’t think to ask after her – that helps.

That afternoon I take him into urgent care. It’s the flu. He’s sent home with instructions to stay home from work and rest for the remainder of the week. We head straight home from the pharmacy my bag now full of cough syrup with codeine, an inhaler, and Tamiflu.

Once home I’m trying to figure out dinner and I turn around to find him standing there in the living room looking at me.

I can’t hold this inside any longer and go into his embrace, telling him about Brighid’s passing.

“How is she gone? How could this happen? This isn’t fair!” I cry into his shoulder.

That was a little over a week ago. Since then we’ve all battled the flu, I’m still fighting it. I’ve slept and slept, and I’ve laid awake at night feeling awful and cruddy and sick at heart that she’s gone from us.

And I’ve made no progress on my planned post for Fall In-Love w/ Yourself February. I missed sending another weekly Love Note to subscribers. The laundry pile has grown to frightful heights. I’ve missed two days of work during the busiest week of the month there. And the Fall In-Love w/ Yourself Challenge just could not come to being as hoped for.

Why am I telling you all of this in the opening post for ta series called Fall In-Love w/ Yourself February?

Because in the midst of all of all these distressing and stressing things, amidst all the triggered tears, disappointments and heartbreak, I held true to myself.
What do I mean by holding true?

I mean that I stayed strong in my commitment to love myself and offer myself the utmost of compassion and acceptance.

Am I still disappointed about what I didn’t get done?

Yes.

But here’s the thing about engaging in regular and committed self-care and compassion practices – you can be disappointed in yourself for not meeting a goal without tearing yourself apart over it.

Because, let’s face it, from time to time we’re all gonna have goals we fail to reach, sometimes that we even fail to take the first step towards.

And while, yes, it’s disappointing and even at times annoying – having a strong foundation of self-love and compassion allows you to be disappointed and annoyed with yourself without being cruel to yourself.

That is the difference between loving yourself and just tolerating yourself: the ability to be honest about your disappointments without tearing yourself down for them.

Another thing this foundation of self-love and compassion have offered me these past two months was the absolute faith that resting and healing were what I needed, and that giving myself what I needed was the truest, wisest thing I could do. I mean, sure, I probably could have stuffed my feelings deep into a box or a bottle of wine and finished the Self-Care Guide for Winter, but really?!? That goes against everything I stand for and would have tainted the guide through my own energetic self-harming.

And so I rested, I cried, I stared at the walls and held fast to my faith that loving myself with honest compassion for where I was right then was, truly, the most sacred thing I could be doing.

This is the gift of authentic self-love.

This is why I host Fall In-Love w/ Yourself February each year.

Because life is better when you love yourself.

….If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss a post this month, you can subscribe to weekly Love Notes here for links to all of them.

Chronic Illness And Exhaustion

I’ve been thinking about a question my friend Emily Mitchel, the Ritual Coach, posed the other day:

Friends with chronic illness, how do you handle the exhaustion that comes with losing so much?

I thought I’d share my response here in case it can be helpful to anyone else seeking to live a joy and magic-filled life while living with chronic illness.

First and foremost, you’ve got to allow yourself to grieve for what you’ve lost.

I believe that a large amount of exhaustion comes from the emotional aspect of having to learn how to live in a new although not better/stronger/healthier body. There’s so much toxic crap in our culture telling us we have to ‘be positive’ to have a good and happy life – this is a simple lie. Humans are built to experience a wide range of emotions – all of them valid and healthy at different times.

It’s normal to grieve losing the vitality you once had (or even the vitality you dreamed of and are realizing you’ll never have).

Remember that grieving is a spiral process.

That means that you’ll feel like you’re doing great mentally/emotionally/spiritually with your new normal and then something will happen and BAM, the grief comes back. For me it’s often when I have to say no to something I really, really want to do.

These returning to grief times are also normal, try not to fear or ignore them. Try instead to simply allow them to be, offering yourself complete compassion and trusting you are strong enough to feel these feelings.

Another thing that helps with exhaustion is building up your levels of resilience.

You have two choices when your health becomes chronically challenged: moan and be a victim forever OR grieve and adapt. I vote for grieving and adapting.

Adapting will mean different things depending on how chronic illness has changed your life.

The key with adaption is continually staying open to new ways of living.

You may find yourself altering your schedule or workload as needed. You may need to learn a deeper level of discernment about what your values and purpose are — and how to say no when a request doesn’t align with those. And for those requests which are in alignment with your values and purpose? You may need to learn a still deeper level of discernment to enable you to recognize which requests will take too much out of you and how to say no to those things you really want to do.

A lot of the exhaustion that comes with living in a chronically ill body is from our resistance to what our reality currently is.

Fighting against reality is utterly exhausting.

Fighting can present itself in different ways. Here are some ways we fight against our chronic illnesses:

• Resenting and harboring ill will against yourself and your illness for having to say no.

• Saying yes when you need (or want) to say no and then pushing yourself too far and paying for it later.

• Also, the resentment and disappointment/anger you can experience when you say yes at those moments no needs to be your answer – especially if we aren’t connecting and accepting our feelings about it.

• Times when you discern a need to say no, and then find yourselff getting caught up in fighting or second guessing that decision.

• Letting other people’s wants come before your actual needs.

• Resenting people for wanting things (time/attention/help) that are too much for you – say no and move on, you can only be accountable for your own actions and beliefs.

• Spending too much time searching for a cure long after you’ve done all the research, seen all the doctors – this is a form of denial and is utterly exhausting.

Living with chronic illness begs of us to take exquisite care of ourselves because we have less ability to rebound and recover. Our emotional and mental resilience muscles must be built up to compensate for our weaker physical resilience. This is a key component to living well while living chronically ill.

At least, this is what I’ve come to understand to be true.

You may have found a different truth.

This, also, is normal.

However, if your truth requires you to come last, or to feel ‘less than’ because of your illness, or to continually find yourself stuck in anger/resentment/fear, I ask you to consider adopting kinder, gentler, more grace-filled beliefs that nurture instead of harm you.

If you have chronic illness, I’m curious to hear other ways you have developed to manage the exhaustion that comes along with living in a perpetually unwell body. Please share in the comments below.

Blessings,
Kate

On December 4th I started a new part-time job.

I took it on because I love my day job and this was an opportunity to do much of the same thing for another organization – while having flexibility in my schedule to work from home some of the time and go to appointments and such.

I was very, very excited.

To prepare for my work hours more than doubling, I did some adjusting of my schedule and shelved plans to make a printed planner for 2018. I also decided it was best to not run the Grateful Hearts Circle while transitioning through such a major change. I refunded enrollments and tucked all the info/plans away for the future. I also did some batch cooking to ensure we’d still be eating whole food dinners during the transition.

I was ready.

Then I began…

…and immediately (as in the very first day) things got weird and uncomfortable and, frankly, a little bit creepy.

As I drove home that first day I hoped like hell I was misreading things.

Sadly, I wasn’t.

On December 18th, after completing only my fourth full regular working day there, I drove home shaking and collapsed into tears which turned into sobs.

Went my husband got home and asked how my day went I dissolved back into tears as all the moments that shouldn’t have happened came cascading out of my mouth. He said all the right things and recognized the different ways this was affecting me and assured me I didn’t have to ever go back there.

All I knew at that moment was that I was scared and shaken – I didn’t know how to find my equilibrium or inner peace to make a decision from. I decided not to go in the next day and, instead, spent the afternoon in prayer and meditation about it. I wrote out everything that had happened and read it over. I decided not to return.

Now here I sit, nearly three weeks later, typing this up and I still have no words to really explain what happened.

Hell, I’ve been struggling with a lack of words in every respect for weeks now. I still haven’t completed the Self-Care Guide for Winter – it was in late draft form when I began the job and I’ve made only minuscule progress since then. My texting and email, Facebook messaging and posting have all become very strained. Even speaking is challenging at times right now – my words… where have they gone?

This brush with promised trauma, this experience of boundary violation and being (again) treated like an object instead of a subject, has wounded me deeply.

Living with PTSD often presents me with little moments of triggered memory, of sensations I didn’t want to feel the first time, of fears that are truly irrational and yet still haunting.

Living with my PTSD so sharply triggered has silenced me – I am on high alert, not sleeping correctly, either not eating or eating too much in a mostly unconscious drive to stuff down the feelings.

I find myself, after years of doing better, feeling afraid nearly every minute of every day. I wish I had words to make this better, I wish had words to make it heal.

I haven’t even written poetry … so lost are my words I cannot release them in prose.

And so this weekend I’ve begun trying to call my words back – I posted about accepting submissions for Fall In-Love w/ Yourself, I’ve typed up the draft of the guide, I even wrote in my journal a bit last night.

Writing this post in an attempt to call my words out of hiding.

I want to finish the Self-Care Guide for Winter.

I want to get at least two posts for this year’s Fall In-Love w/ Yourself February drafted out.

I want to be able to explain what is going on for me to my husband who has been kept outside and in the dark over the depth of discomfort and triggered terror I’ve found myself living inside of.

Tomorrow I plan to sit in a coffee shop with my notebook and pen instead of keyboard and screen… Maybe my words need a gentler touch to feel safe enough to return.

I know I sure feel a need for gentler, softer, quieter touches right now.

If you have PTSD or trauma wounds, can you please share in the comments below ways that you nurture yourself when triggered this strongly… I’m needing all the suggestions I can get right now.

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