Fear is No Match for Mindfulness

I have found that emotions felt by one, are often fuel for another’s judgment.  Pain, sadness, trust, frustration, fear, seem to come with invisible requirements on what is “acceptable” to emote and what needs to be kept within.  What is misunderstood, however, is that emotions cannot be put into  a “one size fits all” category.  Emotions can be considered universal in how they are defined but not universal in how they are felt, shared, or experienced.  

Fear is no exception to this observation.  Fear, by definition, is a feeling caused by belief in a danger that may cause pain or threat. It is something that everyone experiences or at least has experienced in some way or another.  However, it is one of those emotions that seems to come with requirements.  Fear in and of itself can become isolating, but when those around us judge our fears, the isolation can feel debilitating.  

Experiencing obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), I experience fear in a debilitating way.  Having a mental health disorder, the lines between what is a known and immediate threat and what is the disorder leading me to believe there is a threat, become blurred.  I live in a world where my “fears” are all around me and possible at any moment.  The ability to decipher what is real, what is my mind, and what is purely unknown, can be maddening.  

Contamination is something that I am always on alert for.  I am afraid to be “contaminated” and I am afraid to “contaminate” others.   These feelings switch off or sometimes coincide with one another.  Illness and spread of illness between individuals is real, is possible, and does happen.  It is warranted to fear that.  However, with the OCD I experience, contamination is always an imminent threat, turning the real fear into isolating anxiety.    

This past year, I have been learning a lot about this individual experience and a lot about fear.  During the pandemic, my OCD diagnosis became a target for assumptions and judgment.  More so than it already had in the past. OCD became my identity. I was talked to differently, looked at differently, perceived differently, and described as being controlling and irrational.  While living my worst “fear” turned reality, instead of receiving support, I was being exposed as a pessimistic irrational control freak.  I started to really believe this feedback I was getting from others around me, so much so, that hiding and isolating became my main source of comfort.  A comfort filled with so much despair.

I discovered who and where my true support comes from.  I learned to listen to those that were truly looking out for my heart and to know that those who were passing judgment were just experiencing their own fears in a different way.  Pandemic or no pandemic, I experience emotions, I experience fear, and I experience the way my body and mind were made.  It is different than others, but it is not me.  I am not OCD.  I am not what I am afraid of or anxious about.  I am me.  I am enough.  

When I see this photo, I see my most true self radiating.

I experienced ups and downs of judgment for what I am afraid of.  My eyes were opened when I was put on the other side of this experience.  I watched as an individual I know became confronted with a fear I had no idea they had.  It was there, it was real, I saw it with my own eyes.  And even when it went away, I knew that that thing could be anywhere and come at any time.  Just like germs.  Just like illness.  Just like what I fear.  

When they were confronted with this, I had no fear at all.  It was not something that caused me fear.  They were trembling, they were hurting, they were reacting in a way I perceived as unnecessary.  But to them, it was.  And it hit me then, that that is how others view me when I am afraid of germs.  Fear, at that moment, became so little, and I felt so strong.  For at that moment, fear was not something that I was.  Fear was an emotion and a response that we all know and we all express.  It was not mine, it was just what it is.  An emotion.  

My first desire was to respond to this person’s fear with “that does not scare me at all.”  However, I quickly put myself back in my own shoes when so many had reacted a similar way to me.  At that moment, I just listened to them.  I just let them share what they were experiencing.  The judgment that I had been given before and the judgment that was creeping up within me was melted away.  

Fears are real.  Anxiety is real.  Our experiences and perceptions of these are real.  It is a tendency to respond to others experiencing fear and anxiety we don’t understand with misunderstanding that often leads to judgment, isolation, and pain.  Fear and one’s response to it does not always make sense to others. But it does not mean it isn’t happening or should be hidden away.  We need to, instead, view fear in others as a feeling we have felt in ourselves. We do not need to push others away, but instead listen and view it as a moment to try to be the best support to them as we can be. 

When I am feeling afraid, I do not need to be fixed, lectured, instructed, or isolated.  I need to know that I am not alone and that I will have a hand in finding the best support that I can.  Fears will  be there for everyone.  But they should not become everyone.  For a fear, is not an identity.  

It does nothing to judge others’ fears.  It does everything to help them find the ways they can live life NOT as their fear, their disorder, or their experience but as their true self.  

Through this learning journey, I am discovering that I have started to fear feeling anxiety or OCD.  I am currently sitting atop a mountain town in one of my very happiest places.  Prior to this physical journey to this town, I was afraid of all the places and moments I had experienced anxiety before.  Not only were the fears of driving and contamination real, but I was fearing feeling these feelings again, knowing that they were coming.  

Making it here and going through and decontaminating and breaking down into tears about being out in the world more than I have been in 13 months, I was reminded that I am not what anxiety is telling me I am.  This experience does not have to be what anxiety and fear are telling me it has to be.  I decided, day two of my trip, I would try and go forward to experience things that have brought me fear before with my support system behind me.  

My support system was there to remind me that I am Kelsy and I thrive in the mountains.  Although those anxieties were still there, I discussed with my husband what brings me joy when I am here.  I remembered the joy of hiking, meditating, and listening to the mountains.  I determined and learned that I feel most safe, when I am connected to the earth.  Connected to the mountain, I become connected to joy, stillness, spirit, and clarity.  

My meditation spot in the mountains

I sat down and we meditated in the mountain.  Ten minutes we spent in stillness rooted to Mother earth.  I hiked and dug my feet into the snow and climbed up, down, and around.  I became the most mindfully connected to the present moment of living, as my true self, than I have been in months.  

I am learning and will continue to learn.  I am learning to know that fear and anxiety may arise, for me and for others.  But I have learned that it is not me, it is not them, and it does not run our lives.  Having this clarity, I was able to mindfully find what in this world brings me stillness and joy.  

May you know that you are not your fears, your experiences, or your diagnoses.  May you know that you are enough.  May you find your support, your clarity, and your mountain.  

Meditation

Grounding and earth connection are a beautiful way to settle in and experience a moment of mindfulness.  Whether you are on a mountain, on a beach, in a tree, in your yard, in an apartment, or at your desk, grounding mindfulness can be a healing resource for you. 

Settle into your space.  Close down your eyes if that feels comfortable.

Start to notice the connection of your body to your space.  Start to notice where you are sitting or lying.  Try to bring awareness to where you are in space and what is around you, without looking.

Begin to notice the connection of your body with what is beneath you.  This might be a chair, a bed, a floor, the ground, etc.  Just notice.

Find awareness of the back of the head, the neck, the spine, the arms, the hands, the sits bones, the backs of the legs, and the feet and where each of these points connect with the earth.  

Allow your body to sink deeper into the space while imagining the earth is rising up to meet you.  

Begin to release letting the earth hold you as you feel grounded here.  It may be extra grounding to place palms face down on each knee or over the abdomen.

Deepen the breath drawing in what you would like to receive during this practice.  Exhale releasing anything that does not serve you in this practice.  

Return the breath to its natural rhythm and depth.

Rest here finding stillness with the supportive earth.  Stay here as long as you need, whether it is 30 seconds to 2 hours.  

Fear is no match for mindfulness.  When we allow moments of mindfulness to fill our hearts, minds, and souls, fear becomes an emotion, not our identity.  May you find a grounding place of mindfulness whenever you need.  

“To be fearless isn’t really to overcome fear, it’s to come to know its nature.”  ~Pema Chodron

Thank you for those that always guide me back to my true self~my parents, Matt, my family, Claire, Vanessa, Tori, and Ellie.

Self-Care Series: The Self-Care Balance

**Thank you for reading the self-care series!  The practitioners highlighted in the series are great resources for bringing some self-care practice into your world.  The final post will wrap up the power of self-care on balancing the whole self.**

Self-care is a way to let your light shine within you so that you may shine your light onto others.  When we care for ourselves, we care for all parts of us that need love and nourishment.  Self-care means goodness for the whole self; mind, body, and spirit.  This may look different for everyone, but has the same effect in all of us: balance.

Self-care is something that is difficult to clearly define and describe as it is different for everyone.  What may be self-caring for me might be hard work and despair for someone else.  Even just identifying self-care practices are a way to turn inward to find what your body, mind, and spirit need.  This time spent only on you does not have a time requirement.  It can be a few minutes or maybe even a whole year.  This is the time to find what feels good to you, works for you, and nourishes you.  No pressure, no limitations, no rules.  

The one requirement to self-care is to practice self-care.  We are essentially trained and raised to work for others and for goals and achievements.  It is not taught to us that part of this life is enjoying this life.  When we work so hard to meet personal or outward standards, we lose sight of what really matters.  It is important, no matter how busy or giving we are, that we take time to care for ourselves.  

I like to break up self-care into body, mind, and spirit. 

Body:

Self-care for the body can include so many things.  These are things to promote health, wellness, and nourishment to the body.  This might include exercise, massage, dance, yoga, walking, hiking, lotion, oil, stretching, nutrition, what you drink, what you eat, etc. This does not mean you have to have a restricted diet and exercise routine.  This means eating healthy but treating yourself to things you love in a moderation.  This means exercising and moving the body in ways that feel good to you.  It is a balance of what is good for the body, what feels good on the body, and what strengthens and nourishes the body.  

Mind:

Self-care for the mind might include therapy, meditation, journaling, napping, quiet time, puzzles, reading, laughing, relationships, writing/journaling, gardening, crafting, etc.  The mind is nourished in so many ways.  This involves taking time to find awareness of what is strenuous and stressful to the mind and ways to promote a more calm and clarifying practice.  This might mean setting time for screen breaks, negative relationship breaks, work breaks, and thinking breaks.  This is taking a pause on what gets the mind spinning setting off the fight or flight aspect of our nervous systems.  This is doing what stimulates the calming aspect of our nervous system.  It is a balance.  

Spirit: 

This will definitely look different for everyone.  Spirit is connection and awareness of what is beyond us in this physical world or a faith in something.  This might look more traditional like prayer or spiritual worship and praise.  It might look like meditation and reflection.  Spiritual self-care might be connecting with the earth or the natural world.  Spiritual self-care might even occur or involve connection with another being, another human, plant, or creature.  Whatever it is for you, it is a balance.

The great thing is that often when we practice self-care for one aspect of our whole self, the other aspects are nourished as well.  When we eat a delicious and nutritious meal our mind becomes clear.  When we meditate, our body releases tension.  When we tend to a garden, our spirit comes alive.  They all work together in a beautiful balance.  

Today my self-care practice was going outside in the morning to meditate.  Sometimes I meditate with music or sometimes with the sounds of nature.  This morning, I found some rocks around my patio.  I am sure they are just store bought rocks that you get in bulk at hardware stores.  But for me, these rocks were everything I needed this morning for my time for myself.  I sat with the rocks just holding them, feeling them, noticing them.  Doing nothing more for twenty minutes.  

Yesterday, my self-care practice looked extremely different.  I curled up under some blankets with my cozy socks on and watched a favorite TV show for a few hours.  Although very different than today’s self-care practice, I still took time for me, to do something only for me, and that brought me comfort and calm.

Tomorrow, who knows.  My self-care might be two minutes long and involve something completely different than rocks or TV.  However, it will be only for me and time for me to nourish all of me.  No pressure, no restrictions, all for the self.  

Self-care is what makes your life whole.  It is nourishment. It is balance.  Most importantly, it is OK for you to do.  It is absolutely the best gift we can give to ourselves.  YOU deserve this gift.  It is all for YOU!  

May you find a self-care practice that brings you balance for a nourished body, a loved mind, and a joyous spirit. 

Self-Care Series: Breathe

**Welcome to the self-care series!  This series will discuss self-care practices that have brought me joy and healing.  This series will highlight self-care practitioners that brighten my journey and help me nurture my whole self.  If you plan to try or start any of these practices, please consult with your physical and mental health providers!  Thanks for reading!**

Joy.  Arms wide open.  Glowing smile.  Diving into calm water.  Draping silk.  Release.  Clarity.  Freedom.  Balance.  Confident shoulders.  Strength radiating.  Complete grounded support.  This is all I have experienced from the breath.  This is breathwork with Sarah.  

“Do you know you hold your breath?”  I have been asked this question multiple times.  In my day to day, I often find (through outside reminders or my own mindfulness), that I hold my breath.  I think holding my breath is a companion to the anxiety I experience or an over-concentration I put on nearly all of my daily tasks.  Taking a deep breath is something I have to think about and focus on; it definitely does not come to me naturally.

Another common breathing pattern, for many, is to breath high in the chest a short rapid inhale and exhale.  This is often the pattern of an anxious or panicked breath.  A good way to notice how you are breathing is to place one hand on the chest and another on the abdomen.  Mindfully notice how the hands are moving in flow with the breath (if they are moving).  This can allow awareness of where the breath is coming from and where it is maintained.  This can then allow the observer to deepen and direct the breath to fill the belly and empty with intention.

The breath is a powerful thing.  Of course we need to breathe to live through the oxygenation of the inhale and release of carbon dioxide on the exhale.  However, a shallow, short, or held breath will not make for a high quality of physical, mental, or spiritual experience.  Through a healthy breath, the body receives nourishment, the mind receives clarity, and the spirit receives balance.  The breath can settle a nervous stomach, slow a panic attack, calm a tired mind, empower a depressed heart, and energize a weary body.  The breath is life.  

As I began to study meditation and yoga, I discovered the power and tangibly began to feel the beauty the breath can bring.  The breath is something that drives us.  It is something that is within us always there to reach out and dance with whenever we need a partner.  The breath is a flowing soul of nourishment constantly being received and given in a rhythmic life force movement.  When we take time to sit with it, feel it, use it, hold it, and be held by it, it is amazing what can happen.

This is how I met Sarah Savino.  Sarah is a gorgeous soul, blessing the community of Leadville, Colorado.  During the pandemic, I was searching for a deeper practice with my own breathing.  I had led others and learned about breathwork before, but had never given myself that gift of breathwork to myself.  Through virtual connection, I began once a month breathwork with Sarah.  

Connecting with my own breath has been personally powerful and healing.  Sarah walks with me through each session, empowering me to bring an intention to mind, stepping with me as I release the silk robe of life stressors that bind me in day to day, inspiring me to open my arms and let go, and validating that it is ok for me to just be, just play, just fully enjoy my world.  Breathwork is my time for me.  It is a time to breathe and fully release.  

I have experienced so much personal healing and growth through my sessions with Sarah.  In times of anxiety or stress in between sessions, I can mentally revisit my breathwork sessions for support.  I revisit the journal we work on to remind myself of all the work I am doing for myself through the guidance of Sarah.  I hold my head higher and let my shoulders relax deeper in my every day.  Sarah is a breath of fresh air.  She allows all she works with to breathe in the fresh air around them to rejuvenate, balance, and spiritually dance in joy.  

When we nourish our mind, body, and soul through the breath, we are providing ourselves self-love and joy like no other.  May you find a moment in each day to breathe full beautiful breath.  

Sarah Savino-Roberts, MSW, Mindset Coach

Integrative Om RYT 200 and Trauma Certified Yoga Teacher + Health and Wellness Coach has been practicing yoga for 17 years.  She came to yoga at first in gyms and local community based practices searching for a balance and community.  She soon found that yoga is much more than a physical practice and that it brings balance, peace, and healing to one’s life.  Sarah is also a trained MSW social worker and therapist and became a yoga teacher to bring more healing modalities to the lives of her clients and community.  Sarah believes yoga is for everyone and the lessons we learn on our mats can be carried with us into our daily lives shaping healthier, happier, stronger communities. 

In addition Sarah devoted her life to holistic health in 2008 and dabbled with many different healing modalities.  Sarah found her love for nutrition and cooking as a means to help herself and others heal from the inside out.  Sarah believes nutrition should be tailored to the individual and is not about deprivation and dieting but simply providing the proper fuel that the body needs for optimal health. In becoming a yoga teacher she was able to combine this love with the sister science of yoga, Ayurveda, to help herself and others tailor their nutrition to their doshas.  Sarah is also a level 2 certified reiki practitioner and breathwork facilitator.

To find out more about Sarah and how you can work with her, please visit: 

healingyourmindset@gmail.com 

https://tinyurl.com/y7qx7wwg

www.facebook.com/sarah.savino 

https://www.instagram.com/the_fit_philanthropist

Love and Light Always

~Sarah 

Self-Care Series: Nourish the Soul

**Welcome to the self-care series!  This series will discuss self-care practices that have brought me joy and healing.  This series will highlight self-care practitioners that brighten my journey and help me nurture my whole self.  If you plan to try or start any of these practices, please consult with your physical and mental health providers!  Thanks for reading!**

Bright crisp textures, soft, flavorful, comforting bursts of flavor, healing herbs and spices, a sweet reminder or mantra, the body filled  with clean and natural ingredients grown with love, meals prepared with compassion, and nourishment delivered with joy.  This is the ultimate nutritional self-care. This is Nettle+Honey.  

My journey with nutritional self-care has involved quite a bit of self-discovery.  I have never been one to take much interest in dieting or strict nutritional monitoring.  I was raised eating meals that had variety, a ton of creativity, and color.  As I grew into adulthood and learning to be a medical provider, I became exposed more to the nutritional ins and outs of a meal.  I began to learn of diets and techniques and developed a deeper understanding of the “science” behind it all.  

Overtime, I realized that the eating practice that worked best for my self-care was eating food that tastes good, is colorful, is clean, and is made in a sustainable and cruelty free way.  These are my musts.  When my meals meet the above guidelines, that is when my mind, body, and soul experience nourishing joy.  I would occasionally get caught up in a diet or a regimen but those felt too routine and rigorous.  I would always just come back to my must haves-yummy, colorful, clean, sustainable, and cruelty free.  Food, to me, became art.  Making it, looking at it, and tasting it is like viewing an artistic masterpiece, reading a prize winning poem, or hearing a symphonic composition.

My very first Underground Supper Club order

As I learned to grow with this perception of food, I learned how much food could heal.  Herbs, spices, fruits, veggies, grains, etc each offer countless benefits beyond their basic nutritional values.   I began to use food to help me in healing and maintaining my own health.  Immunity, inflammation response, mood, sleep, skin health, mental health, heart health, lung health, reproductive health, digestive health, joint/bone health, and countless other areas are affected by what we take into our bodies.  Mother earth shares her bounty with us and we grow with her strength and joy.  

Nettle+Honey is the ultimate resource in learning how nutrition can heal and maintain the mind, body, and soul, using the gifts earth brings us.  My sweet friend, Victoria Weber(Tori), is the owner of Nettle+Honey.  She offers several services for moms in the prenatal, pregnancy, and postpartum chapters of their lives.  She offers grounded support for mothers through her warmth, yoga, as a doula, and nutritionally through her knowledge, delicious meals, snacks, teas, and so much more.  Her knowledge of what the earth gives to us, how our bodies benefit from the earth’s treasures, and ways to give back to the earth that nourished us, is a beautiful gift.  I am so grateful she shares this gift with all of us.

When Tori and her husband joined forces last year to create the Underground Supper Club, my nutritional self-care needs were complete.  The Underground Supper Club is a nurturing food service for anyone from baby to grandparents and everyone in between.  Every week, a fresh new menu is sent out along with a beautiful description on where the ingredients are coming from and how they can heal the body.  Treating myself to their meals is not only rejuvenating for my body but comforting for my mental health. Each of their customers feels like they made, packed, and delivered  each dish just with them in mind.

Each meal is three courses made purposefully to align with the season, the world, the earth, and what each deserving Underground Supper Club consumer is needing.  The menu comes alongside nutritional drink offerings, breakfast items, snacks, teas, and other meals (including my personal favorite-enchiladas), and almost always a mantra or self-care reminder included with the delivery.  The Underground Supper Club meals change weekly while many of the extras are available every week.  The meals are available to pick up or delivered right to your door (for KC area residents-both sides of the state line) and many Nettle+Honey items are available to ship (for non-KC friends).  Holidays also bring joyous side and dessert options made with love to order from Nettle+Honey.  

A self-care reminder from Nettle+Honey

“The more you NURTURE yourself the more you can NURTURE others.”  This was the message attached to my very first Underground Supper Club order.  A beautiful message made possible through the joy of the nurturing offerings Nettle+Honey brings.  Nettle+Honey teaches us that what we bring in our body is more than just an ingredient or a daily task.  They allow what we consume to become an artistic joy to be appreciated and celebrated.  Most importantly, they empower their customers to recognize their own worth and the healing beauty of self-care. 

With Nettle+Honey, the body is nourished.  The mind is balanced.  The soul is rejoiced.  

May you find a nutritional self-care practice that works for YOU and your body.  Always consult with your health team to find a practice that is healthy for you.

For more information on Nettle+Honey and the Underground Supper Club please visit:  

http://www.nettleandhoney.com

http://facebook.com/nettleandhoney

instagram.com/nettle.honey

Self-Care Series: Move Your Body

**Welcome to the self-care series!  This series will discuss self-care practices that have brought me joy and healing.  This series will highlight self-care practitioners that brighten my journey and help me nurture my whole self.  If you plan to try or start any of these practices, please consult with your physical and mental health providers!  Thanks for reading!**

Relaxed shoulders.  A calm, balanced mind.  A joyous smile.  Open arms.  Dancing joy.  Strength in mind, body, and soul.  This is movement. 

My self-care journey with movement began years ago in high school.  The fabulous time of emotions, future life-decisions, frustration, confusion, and relationships (or lack thereof).  Many of my friends had an outlet such as music, sports, or art, but I had little that I participated in.  I had done dance, gymnastics, and cheer when I was in elementary school but did not continue into my teen years.  Reality television was beginning to highlight dance in a new way which very much sparked an interest.  I found that the (ballroom) dance studio was where I was called to be.  This became my joy, my release, my outlet, and a place to take care of me. 

Movement became my therapy.  I learned to dance, for exercise, competition, and for fun.  It was where I felt I could just be myself and it was the best self-care a teen such as myself could ever find.  I literally called my dance lessons my therapy because it would be so joyous.  My dance journey was such an incredible one filled with many wonderful memories.  I met so many wonderful people, including my dance instructor and dear friend, Jake Fisher.    

After getting married, helping raise children, working as a nurse, furthering my education, etc., I was unable to dance nearly as much as in my teen years.  In the midst of all the above life changes, I pretty much let go of all self-care measures I had known.  Jump to 2020 and I had begun to find that personal acceptance that it was OK to take care of myself.  I needed time just for me and I had missed the feeling of movement and connection that dance had brought me many years ago.  I found that Jake was teaching Zumba at a nearby studio.  It was time to move my body again.

Fitness and movement activities like dance are an excellent option for physical and mental self-care and wellness.  Moving the body is of course an excellent way to maintain or lose weight but there are many other mind/body benefits.  Fitness is a mood enhancer, balances the mind, aids in immunity, aids in better sleep/improved relaxation, boosts energy, improves body image, is beneficial in prevention and management of some diseases, decreases stress, and it is really fun (in my opinion).  Fitness is a mind-body practice that is good for the mind, healing to the body, and nurturing to the soul.  

Unfortunately, the pandemic meant at home fitness options.  I had hoped to pick up my dancing with Jake but it was not in my comfort level during the pandemic.  But if anyone took lemons and made lemonade, it was Jake.  Jake developed Fitness with Jake providing online fitness classes and private personal training sessions.  Staying safe at home days had meaning. The thought of waking up and going down to the basement to attend a fitness class with Jake and fellow students was what kept me moving each day.  It was refreshing to know that we had a place to go to experience joy, movement, wellness, friendship, and fun just as I had experienced back in my teen days.  

Work related position and lifting requirements, long commutes, and years of online school had caught up to me meaning back pain and soreness every single day.  Until fitness with Jake.  Jake is extremely knowledgeable in the body and fitness.  Any trouble I experience, Jake knows what to do leaving me feeling relaxed and my muscles relieved of pain.  He provides an explanation and things to work on outside of sessions to keep the body safe and relaxed.  He doesn’t look at the person as a client he is working with for a half an hour.  He looks at everyone as a unique individual.  You feel like you are working out with your best friend when you work with Jake.  He takes time to ask and listen to what each and every client or student is needing for their whole self.  Body, mind, and soul.  He asks.  He listens.  He ensures safety.  He guarantees joy.  And he brings healing, mentally and physically, to everyone he works with.

My body felt like new.  My mind felt calm.  Fitness with Jake meant a recharge for the whole body and the whole mind.  After each session, I feel refreshed, physically and mentally.

Fitness with Jake and when the time is right, dancing with Jake, is my go to for physical self-care.  

Physical self-care means taking care of your body.  Resting when it needs to rest.  Moving when it needs to move.  When your body is ready and needing to move, may you find a movement activity that is healing for you.  

Jake Fisher teaches dance lessons, personal training sessions, and several Zumba and fitness classes.  Sign-up is easy right on his website!  

For more information on dancing and Fitness with Jake, please visit: https://jfdance.com/

Self-Care Series: Finding hOMe

**Welcome to the self-care series!  This series will discuss self-care practices that have brought me joy and healing.  This series will highlight self-care practitioners that brighten my journey and help me nurture my whole self.  If you plan to try or start any of these practices, please consult with your physical and mental health providers!  Thanks for reading!**

Dim warm light. Subtle lavender aroma. Nurturing quiet. Gentle music. Deep, dark, supportive floor. Grounded feet. Comforted souls. Women emotionally embraced. Love radiating. Joy dancing. Hearts open. Safety. Security. Connection. Acceptance. Peace.  This is hOMe.  

This is where my self-care journey began.  After learning of the world of holistic practices during my nursing education, I was inspired to find this type of practice for my own personal healing.  At the time, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder were writing a debilitating story within my life.  I needed self-care and I reached a moment of acceptance that I needed to finally give myself some love and joy.  Remembering a pleasurable college yoga class, I decided to try yoga again in hopes of finding a calm group practice.  Little did I know, the journey back onto my mat would be a most beautiful life changing journey.

Yoga is a holistic practice uniting the mind, body, and spirit.  Yoga can be practiced in the form of poses, breath, meditation, ritual, service, and devotion.  Within those branches of yoga are different types of yoga practices including power yoga, prenatal yoga, restorative yoga, or Yoga Nidra to name a few.  Yoga is a practice and each practice is individual to the practitioner.  The mat is your mat and your time there is all yours.  

Yoga has many benefits to the mind, body, and spirit making it a beautiful self-care practice.  When the body is in need, nurturing the mind can bring therapeutic healing.  When the mind is in need, nurturing the body can bring balancing calm.  When the spirit is in need, nurturing the whole self can bring unification.  Yoga brings all these pieces together to promote health and wellness within the practitioner.  Some specific benefits to yoga practice include memory enhancement, stress relief, boosted immunity, sense of connection, positive self-image, anxiety/OCD relief, increased self control, improved balance, aid in infertility, relief in menstruation and menopause symptoms, decreased blood pressure, pain relief/increased pain tolerance, enhanced mood, improved sleep, as well as aid in trauma and grief (**with trained professionals**).  When our minds and bodies are disconnected and our nervous system is in overdrive, yoga practice sets our relaxation responses in motion to bring our nervous system back in balance as well as bring oxygen to our bodies and unification to our spirit.  

My nervous system was in anxiety overdrive when I searched for somewhere nearby that could be a place to connect with others through yoga to help heal the anxiety I experience(d).  That’s when I found hOMe.  hOMe Holistic to be exact.  The self-care I needed at that time was time, for me, on my yoga mat and hOMe holistic had a cozy spot waiting just for me.  

hOMe Holistic is a wellness center for women, by the most beautiful nurturing women, in the KC and surrounding area.  A place for all women, mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, and friends.  It is a place to share, anything you need to share.  A place to cry when you need to cry.  A place to dance in joy when you need to dance in joy.  A place to nurture a family.  A place to get away.  A place to connect with other women.  A place to lift up a friend or be held when you can no longer hold.  A place to sleep.  A place to dream.  A place to wake.  A place to stretch, to move, to release.  A place to be quiet.  A place to laugh.  A place to h e a l.  A place to breathe.  A place to care for you.  

And of course a place to do yoga.  But here, yoga is what yoga is truly meant to be.  Yoga is connection, it is healing, it is holistic.  My first class at hOMe holistic, I knew I was home.  The mat became my sanctuary.  I practiced with women that I had never met, yet I felt like I was with lifelong friends.  It was self-care at its absolute finest and I never turned back.  

Yoga is a powerful self-care practice found at hOMe Holistic and I hope you will find your hOMe there as well.  They also offer the whole self-care package with practitioners for the whole family ranging from acupuncture, massage, counseling, reiki healing, pediatric services, midwife/gynecologic service, a full doula team, postpartum doula, nutritious meal services (stay tuned for an upcoming blog post!), physical therapy, and a lactation specialist.  They offer yoga classes every. single. day.  They have offered workshops in all areas of self-care including yoga, ayurveda, pregnancy, parent support, music therapy, lactation support, yoga for grief, yoga for anxiety, and countless others.  They are currently offering all classes online and they offer an online subscription service with yoga, meditation, and the most nurturing support you will ever find!

A big thank you to Ashley, Tori, Jessica, Renee, Mindy, Claire, Sami, and all of the women I have met and gotten to know through classes at hOMe.  You truly are my hOMe away from home and I love you dearly.

May you find hOMe on your mat and may it be the most beautiful space all for you.  

To learn more about hOMe Holistic, please visit:

http://www.homeholistic.com/

https://www.omamasathome.com/

http://www.instagram.com/homeholistic

http://facebook.com/hOMeholistic

http://twitter.com/homeholistic

*Photos provided by Ashley Walburn

Self-Care Series: Permission to Take Care of You

Almost ten years ago, during my associate degree nursing program, I am sure wellness was discussed, but most of my memory is learning about illness.  My nursing school memories are of reading, taking notes, and studying from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed; if I went to bed.  The off days were spent deep in the process doing clinical rotations or lab practice/simulations.  It was all about memorizing medications, adverse reactions, procedures, medications, disease processes, did I say medications?, and recognizing signs/symptoms of just about everything.  I do not remember much in regards to learning about or practicing wellness.

It was not until five years later in which I found my eyes opened to the world of wellness.  During my bachelor degree bridge program, we dove much deeper into the world of medicine to find that wellness is its own medicine and often times can prevent or significantly decrease the need for high risk medications, procedures, and surgeries.  Nutrition, exercise, sleep, breathing, stretching, moving, music, therapeutic touch, etc can physiologically heal and maintain a healthy body, mind, and, subsequently, soul.  This is self-care. From that moment on, I changed the way I looked at my nursing career and the way I lived my own life.

Self-care is nourishment for the mind and body.  When the body is nourished, the mind can heal.  When the mind is nourished, the body can heal.  They go hand in hand.  Self-care is taking care of the self in a holistic way that works for that “self.”  It is balance, it is coziness, it is feeding our body with goodness and love.  Self-care is a warm bath, a snuggle with a pet, a new book, a fun date, a delicious meal, a walk through a garden, a hike up a mountain, a nap on the beach, a new hairdo, a fruit smoothie, a dance in the rain, a coffee as the sun rises, a full night of sleep, sleeping in on weekends, watching a favorite show, planting a seed, watering the seed, a yoga class, a workout, ten minutes of breath work, a morning meditation, a massage, a vacation, a stay-cation, and everything in between.  

The first and probably most important part of self-care is granting ourselves permission to care for ourselves.  A common theme in my blog posts, is the human tendency to go, do, work, and never settle down.  It is important to find a moment, or series of moments, to tell ourselves that it is OK to stop and take time to care for us.  When we don’t take care of ourselves, we are going to be limited in our ability to care for others or our world.  It is the idea that you cannot drink from an empty cup.  Self-care is filling our “cup” with the goodness it needs to then be able to offer others.  This is the principle of self-care

Heart-centered meditation is a meditation practice that allows us to practice this principle.  Heart-centered practice is about awareness and acceptance of ourselves, loving kindness to all of ourselves, and sharing that awareness, acceptance, and kindness with others.  You can read more about this practice in my post about loving kindness:  https://omiswherethecalmis.com/loving-kindness/

When we find that permission for ourselves to take time for us, we can begin to put self-care into practice.  Self-care is not a one size fits all practice, it is what works for you.  It might mean more time for you, it might mean taking more deep breaths, it might mean treating yourself to what brings you joy, it might mean a diet change, it might mean an exercise plan, etc.  It is what brings your body and mind health, happiness, joy, comfort, nourishment, and love, all for you.  It is different for each person, but healing for everyone.  

The next series of blog posts will be highlighting different ways to bring self-care and loving kindness into your own world.  I will discuss ways I have implemented self-care into my world including meditation, breath work, nutrition, exercise, yoga, and me time.  Until then, may you take a deep breath.  Exhale what doesn’t nourish your mind.  Now take another breath in.  Exhale what doesn’t nourish your body.  Now one more deep breath in.  Exhale what does not nourish your soul.  And now say to yourself “it is OK for me to take care of me.”  It is OK to take care of YOU!  You deserve every minute of it.  

***As always, if you are starting a new self-care routine including but not limited to nutrition/diet, exercise, meditation, etc make sure you check with your physical and mental health providers! ***

A Little Simplicity

Wake up at 5:30 AM, do the dishes, fold the laundry, put the laundry away, start some more laundry, put the dishes away, exercise, meditate, make breakfast, clean up breakfast, order groceries, order household items, monitor the budget, check email, write a blog, send an email about the blog, take a yoga class, update the schedule, eat lunch, dust, vacuum, organize, and it goes on and on and on.  This became my typical day off routine during the 2020 pandemic.  All of this mixed in with a walk outside, helping kids with school, catching a moment with my husband, and maybe a rare moment to sit down and watch TV. But only about ten minutes of TV before I would feel the need to get up and keep going.

I have always been this way with the mentality of getting up as early as possible to get as many tasks done as possible.  This would come with the thought that if I got up early to complete all of my tasks, I would surely have hours to just sit and do nothing.  The reality is, I was not able to just sit and do nothing.  I somehow equated success of a day with filling it with tasks.  If I would not accomplish one of the above tasks while off work, I would judge my day.  This is my routine and pattern, specific to me, but it is most likely similar to so many others’ day to day tasks as well.  As humans, we are very task oriented and it is typical to judge our successes and accomplishments on how much we did, how much we earned, and how much we have.                           

As I started to peel away all of the to-do’s and spend a little more time on the meditate portion of that busy schedule above, I began to realize all of these tasks were not helpful in my well-being or happiness level.  I mindfully reached a point where I realized success is not a measure of how much we do, how much we have, and how much we earn.  Success is not really anything we need to feel or have.  I didn’t need success.  I didn’t need a check list filled with checked boxes.  What I needed was to do what was necessary to do and not extend beyond that.  I needed to enjoy the moments in-between the necessary and become aware of the moments within the necessary.  I needed days empty of self-judgment.  Days filled with contentment in doing a lot or doing a little.  Moments noticed of just experiencing a moment noticed.  Simplicity became my new “success.”

It took a moment, several moments, of telling myself it is ok to do things different, to not get every chore done in a morning, to just lay down sometimes and watch holiday movies, to make a dinner from a box instead of from scratch, to have a pile of laundry, to meditate for only five minutes, to do yoga in the evening instead of in the morning, to let go of stuff I no longer needed, to take a few months off from writing blogs, to shut down my social media account, and to tell myself you Kelsy are fantastic just the way you are.  It is OK!  Because simplicity is OK. 

What I discovered was that I became more mindful than ever before.  My heart opened wider than I have ever felt.  I could enjoy each person I came in contact with on a deeper level.  My meditation and yoga sessions felt clear and un-judged.  I found contentment.  Not 100 percent of the time, of course, but I found contentment much more often that I had previously.  As this year draws to a close, I hope to close the long chapter of rigorous routine=personal success that I followed for so long.  I hope to open to a new year of being content with things as they are and as they come.  I hope this same thing for all of you.

There is a Scandinavian way of living called hygge (pronounced hue ga).  It is basically a practice of enjoying everyday moments and simplicity of life.  It is the ultimate in self-care and well-being.  It is cozy socks, can’t-put-it-down books, favorite music, warm drinks, tasty treats, snuggling with loved ones, petting a furry friend, and mindful presence in all the in-between.  This is simplicity.  A favorite hygge book I have contains a beautiful Scandinavian proverb that sums it all up perfectly:

“Fear less, hope more.  Eat less, chew more.  Whine less, breathe more.  Talk less, say more.  Hate less, love more.  And all good things are yours.” 

May you find simplicity in your world and may all good things be yours.

I thought I would provide a list of ideas on finding some simplicity in your own world.  Feel free to comment and share where you have found simplicity, if even just for a moment! 

Simplify your thoughts-Our days are so often filled with judgment (towards ourselves and sometimes others), to-do’s, past memories, future dreams, worries, money counting, list making, etc.  Start to notice times when your mind and thoughts start to “race” with these distractions.  If there is something that keeps coming up or of importance, schedule a time where you can sit down and focus on that and until that schedule time, redirect your thoughts to the “now.”  You can also utilize the breath in these moments; deepen your breath when your mind starts to interfere with life.  Count your inhale, 1, 2, 3, 4.  Hold 1, 2, 3, 4.  Exhale 1, 2, 3, 4.  Breathe.  Redirect all racing thoughts back to the count, back to the breath.

Simplify your “stuff”-De-cluttering things around you can be therapeutic in simplifying your world.  Take a little time each day or here and there to go through things you do not use or need any longer.  Donate unused items, throw things away, or repurpose items for homemade gifts/craft projects (great holiday money saver or cheap kids project idea!).  For instance, old sheets, clothes, and curtains can become quilts or pillows.  Rediscover your closet or hold a clothes swap (when/if safe-post-pandemic).  I used to have clothes swaps with my sister-in-law and friends and it was so fun to get rid of things and find new treasures.  Also practice releasing attachment to things that do not serve you any longer.  If they are of sentimental value, try to find a new way to use or display them.  For instance, create a gallery wall of kids artwork that is piled up on your dining room table.

Simplify your “to-dos”-identify what is most important to work on each day and prioritize tasks/eliminate unnecessary tasks.  Release the thoughts that you have to accomplish everything in one day or by a certain time.  Reduce goals to include one or two goals and devote your attention to those.  Replace to-do’s with some “me time.”  Make time for you a priority.  Sleep in late sometimes.  Ask for help from family, friends, and neighbors.  It is ok to share tasks and responsibilities and it is ok that your day might include just watching a movie and eating take-out food.  Treat yourself every now and then, you deserve it.

Simplify social media/electronic connection-this is one we have all heard before yet it is often hard to do.  Know it is ok to un-plug for a while, whether that is 5 minutes, an hour, a week, or a year.  Set an intention to reduce social media, email, news following, etc.  and mindfully notice how you feel when you un-plug.  As you practice a little at a time, you may start to increase the time away from the World Wide Web.  Notice this.  We have evolved into an attachment to the wide world of media but we are very capable of being without it.  Explore ways to simplify this in your world.

These are just a few ways you can bring some simplicity into your life.  I hope you can find some things to try.  Whatever you try, make sure you do so without judgment.  It is hard to simply things when we are used to a different way of life.  There will be times when this is hard or feels impossible.  Know that this is normal and to be expected.  Try not to judge.  Redirect self-judgment with positive words.  Tell yourself that you are doing the best you can and with time you will find simplicity that works for you.

Whatever it is that complicates your life and your day-to-day (it is different for everyone) is something that I hope you can mindfully discover and simplify in whatever way works for you.  I hope you can explore what brings you contentment, if even for just a moment of each day.  For that one moment can fill your heart for much longer than days of complication.  May you find simplicity in your journey.  May you have a wonderful new year filled with all the beautiful things.  May you let your light shine in your own heart each and every day.  With my deepest gratitude, Namaste. 

What Can Nature Teach Us?

Nature is our greatest teacher. 

As humans, our birth immediately begins a layering game of personality, desire, and materialistic attachment.  This is not necessarily bad, this is just the way humans tend to begin and carry their journey.  These attachments and desires are prominent driving forces in our journey through life.  When we have something, we fear losing it.  When we need something, we fear the inability to attain it.  We want, need, fear, rush, argue, fight, etc. most often because we either have but don’t want to lose or don’t have but desire.  We do not want these things to matter; but they do.    

This is desire.  This leads to discomfort. 

The natural world is our connection to what is beyond the physical world; whatever that may be for you.  Nature roots our bodies and minds.  Nature reminds us what beauty is.  Nature allows us to find who we are.  Nature heals.  Nature allows us, if even for a moment, to step away from these worldly attachments and find our inner strength, inner beauty, and inner world. 

Nature shows us that a moment is temporary but there will be another.  Nature teaches us that we can find beauty and understanding in losing just as much as in gaining.  When a tree’s leaf falls, the earth becomes colorful and trees become light for snow.  The tree’s loss is temporary.  It does not desire a new leaf but flows through the seasons awaiting a new leaf’s return.    Nature guides us to where we are and pulls us away from our desire of wanting to be somewhere else. 

A tree grows from a seedling.  Nurtured by the soil of Mother Earth and drenched in the nourishment from the clouds a seedling blossoms.  As it grows, this future tree does not layer itself in attachment.  It grows; with a moving stillness; moment to moment subtly growing but staying where it began.  A tree roots into its earth and spreads out to its world with beauty and joy.  A tree takes on wind, storm, snow, rain, creatures, and even young children exploring its beauty.  Sometimes trees fall; sometimes they break; sometimes they get cut down.  Its roots remain; its stories live on; its journey changes but continues with continuous beauty.  A tree has no money.  No things.  No worries.  No deadlines.  No to-do’s. 

This is nature. 

Of course we are not trees.  We are not grass.  We are not a mountain or an ocean.  We have roles and tangible things and desires and fears.  You do not have to get rid of them.  But when we find natural connections we can learn the lessons they have to teach us.  When we experience nature, we can practice grounding.  Watching.  Experiencing storms and growing from our losses.  We can practice experiencing life without attachment to things that do not really matter.  We can practice rooting to where we came from and extending out, with beauty, into the world around us.  When we step into nature, we can step back into our human world with more clarity and peace.

You do not have to be an outdoor lover to reap the benefits of natural connection.  Looking at imagery of nature or even having a plant (even a cactus) can have the same mind body effect as being immersed in a natural place.  Exposure to nature, in any form available to you, will allow you to practice eliminating attachment and finding calm in your world.   

Let’s practice:

Find a place of nature that you enjoy.  This may be an outdoor space.  This might be a seat near a potted plant.  This might be in your mind imagining a favorite natural place.  This could even be a picture online, in a magazine, or from a vacation. 

Begin by noticing your connection to the earth.  Feel where your feet touch the floor.  Imagine where the floor touches the earth.  Imagine your feet rooting down into the ground.  Take time to experience this connection.  Notice the air around you; notice the season, temperature, moisture, etc.  If you are looking at an image of nature imagine what this would feel like if you were sitting in the image. 

Do this for all of your senses.

Notice the sounds around you. 

Notice the colors.  Notice the shapes/lines.  Notice the textures/layers of nature.  Notice the light or absence of light. 

Notice how you feel.  Notice how you feel mentally, emotionally, and any physical sensations. 

Notice what you smell.  You might pick up some leaves or flowers and smell them.  You may wish to smell a fresh stream or even notice the smell of a tree or rock. 

Do you taste anything here?  Think about how your tongue and mouth feel. Notice if your mouth is dry or if it feels nourished.  Note if you can taste rain or snow or imagine drinking in sunshine. 

Practice whenever you need.  If your natural place does not bring you the same healing in changing seasons, try to notice that or use a picture or other imagery.  For instance, I enjoy spending time on my back deck spring-fall.  Winter does not offer this same experience with bitter cold, ice, and snow.  I can still connect with nature by looking at a picture or connecting with an indoor plant.

Nature calms a distracted mind.  Nature grounds an anxious body. Nature comforts a saddened heart.  Nature reminds us.  Nature teaches us.  May you find a beautiful natural place to just be. 

Finding Your Happy Place

“I need to go to my happy place.”  This is a phrase many people lightheartedly, or even jokingly, say when they wish to escape the stressors of life.  It is said in sometimes a silly way letting others know you are at your limit in where you are and what you are doing. It often seems that this phrase is a wish, a “what-if,” or a “wouldn’t that be nice” that is out of our tangible reach.  What visualization meditation practice can bring is a way to actually visit your happy place whenever you need.   

One thing that meditation does is brings our mind, heart, and body to the here and now.  When we practice, we are practicing noticing and accepting our experience as it is in the moment. We are learning about ourselves and how we react or feel and applying that practice to our everyday life.  It is a practice of redirecting our mind to our present, not letting past judgments or future worries guide our current experiences.

When we go to our happy place we are using visualization in our meditation practice.  The visualization is not to take us to a past vacation or a future trip, it is about visualizing that we are in that place in the here and now, experiencing it how it is.  We allow our mind and our inner wisdom to take us to a place of happiness and safety.  We then can use all of our senses to fully experience that place of serenity. 

When I go to my happy place, I find I can truly just be.  I can not only just be where I physically sit, but I can just be in a place that brings me joy.  My happy place is deep in nature where spirit and earth are one.  This does not have to be the case for you.  Your happy place, is all yours, fully accessible whenever you want to visit.  It may be somewhere you have been, somewhere you hope to go, or somewhere you have never been.  It might be a real place or it might be imagined.  It might be a room or spot inside a structure or it may be a wide open place of nature.  It is always open and always safe for you to be in. 

When you visit your happy place, there are a few guidelines.  This place is just for you.  You can visit and leave whenever you need.  This place must always be safe.  If it does not feel safe, kindly exit and allow another place to appear before you.  Your happy place has no “to-do” lists.  It is not anywhere you have to work for to maintain.  Your happy place does not require a ticket for admission or a cost.  Your happy place is all yours.  May your happy place bring you joy and safety and a place to just be. 

Are you ready to go?   May you give yourself permission to visit your happy place.  It is such a beautiful place to be.

Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down.

Invite your body and mind to relax.  If only for this time right here…right now.

Deepen your breath.  Fill your belly with cleansing air.  The air around your happy place is fresh and clear, begin to breathe it in.  Exhale releasing any to-do’s, worries, tension, thoughts. 

Allow your safe happy place to appear before you now.  Do not force it in your mind, just allow the image to appear.  If you struggle to find one, just notice that.  Maybe visualize a place you have found comfort in in that past and listen to your mind and body to know if this is your happy place.  If not, keep wandering with ease and openness to find your happy place.  Don’t force or struggle this process; it is there, you will find it. 

**Remember, if this place does not feel safe it is ok to leave and allow a safe place to come to you.  If this meditation does not feel safe, leave your eyes open and just notice your breath; let this be a happy place for you.  Imagery may not be for everyone.  If it is not for you, it is ok to just breathe and find calm there with your breath. **

When you are ready, step inside.  Just notice.  Fill your heart with gratitude that you are here. 

Experience your happy place through all of your senses.  Just noticing. 

What do you see in your happy place?  Notice texture, color, objects, light, shadows, and surroundings.  Just notice.  Just experience. 

What do you hear in your happy place?  Is there sound?  Are there sounds of nature?  Sounds of objects?  Just notice.  Just experience. 

What do you feel in your happy place?  What is the temperature?  What is the season?  How do you feel emotionally when here?  What are the textures?  Just notice.  Just experience.

What do you smell in your happy place?  Morning dew?  Fresh baked bread?  Clean air?  Is there a smell?  Just notice.  Just experience.

What do you taste in your happy place?  Raindrops?  Cookies?  Tropical smoothies?  Just notice.  Just experience.

Spend all the time you need here.  Redirect wandering thoughts back to your senses in your happy place.  This place is all yours whenever you need. 

When you are ready, deepen your breath.  Step out of your happy place knowing that it will be there waiting for you, just as it is, when you come back.  Begin to wiggle fingers and toes.  Stretch your body.  Breathe deeper.  Release and notice how your mind and body feel. 

Finish this practice again with gratitude of your happy place. 

You can formally practice this meditation whenever you would like.  With practice, you will be able to step into your happy place during your day to day, if even for just a few moments at a time. 

May this practice bring a beautiful place for you to visit in your here and now.