“I forgive myself for shrinking to fit into boxes that do not belong to me.” Alex Elle
I woke up a few days ago a bit disillusioned after a quick conversation that I had with a friend. She said that she could see my outlook changing, and that I was previously focused on things that were making me someone who I wasn’t destined to be. The next day, in seemingly perfect alignment, I came cross this poem by Alex Elle. While reading, everything felt like it came to a complete halt. There was such a chill, because I know in so many parts of my life, that I settled, and shrunk so small that my fire turned into a single ember. I stopped painting, writing, creating, and instead poured into things that left my spirit unfulfilled.
Coming to such a realization about myself, and my journey as a woman, and as a creative has been met with not only an increased amount of self-auditing, but some bouts of anger as well. I felt (and sometimes I still feel) upset that I spent so much time molding myself into everything that I am not supposed to be. I took some convenient ways out rather than taking those leaps of faith to bet on myself. For me, this became not only about learning to forgive myself, but also a lesson in self-worth. It hasn’t been about what I deserve and am not receiving from others, but how I have shortchanged myself out of dreams and opportunities by remaining small enough for greatness to pass right through me.
This feeling is also immensely odd in the fact that while it felt like my world was crumbling, it simultaneously felt like the sky has opened up. I’m slowly giving myself the permission to start over without shame. I’m only 24, so this’ll probably be the first of many personal reboots. I’m learning that it’s okay for experiences to run their course. I don’t have to stay in one place, one frame of mind forever. I’m allowed to hold space to blossom.
What’s hardest about reconciling whom I was turning into with who I am meant to be, is forgiving myself for feeling like I’ve wasted time. As my own biggest critic, I find it hard to extend myself grace when needed. Positive self-talk gets reallllllll difficult in these moments, but I remind myself that I’ve gotten through the hardest part – recognizing that I wasn’t walking in my purpose. Those thoughts keep me grounded in knowing that I’m doing the work to forgive myself and explore more things that I love.
What I know to be true though, is that I am self-aware enough now to know what I need, and make room for myself to receive it. Affirmation charting has been really helpful during this period, because it makes it easier to name what I want/need. I also just feel like there’s something special in putting pen to paper and writing it out. Self-forgiveness has been a process, full of twists and turns, but I’m excited to see where I’m going.
“I forgive myself for shrinking to fit into boxes that do not belong to me.” Alex Elle
We may not realize this but sometimes Self-Care is talking about Self-Care.
For me, talking about self-care serves as a personal reminder. Verbally expressing my passion for self-care and overall well-being to another person or group is fulfilling for me. I begin to light up when I talk about my journey to self-care and I notice how I'm gradually learning to appreciate the art of mindfulness.
In a recent post here on JOYDay, I shared the importance of celebrating small joys, because regardless of the size, they still count. This past week, I had the opportunity to share my passion for the topic of self-care and mindfulness with a group of New Professionals in the field of Higher Education. I shared this small joy expressing how this opportunity came about just by me taking a chance on myself and submitting a conference proposal on any topic of my choice for an upcoming workshop; my area of expertise and passion , drum-roll please, SELF-CARE!
Reclaiming My Time: Self-Care, Mindfulness and The Importance of Quality of Life Among New Professionals
I was overwhelmed with JOY when I received the e-mail with the opportunity to present and then the afternoon of when I saw how many New Professionals chose my session to sit it on and be well fed with information about self-care and mindfulness. In a previous post, I shared that I second-guess myself and I can be my biggest critic so my first thought was, "Who would want want to talk about Self-Care?" Or "Don't we already know how to Treat Ourselves?" So the level of positive emotions I had running through my mind were intense!
In the self-care session, I actually addressed the point of how sometimes "Treat yo'self" just isn't enough. Ask yourself, Is it or isn't it. Well, it depends on how you look at it. For me, I know that If I am at the check out counter at Ulta or Sephora and I need an excuse to spend an excessive amount of money, I always gas myself up by saying "you deserve it!" or "treat yo'self!" You can imagine, the conversations and insight on that phrase itself brought up a healthy conversation.
I began to unfold how sometimes, many of us relate self-care to spending money or actively getting up and out of the house to do something but it doesn't always have to be the case. When was the last time you were kind to yourself or kind to someone else? When was the last time you sat and lived in the present moment and you were able to list all the things you were grateful for? It's a gift to ourselves when we can focus on what's going right in our lives, and when we can focus on the people who do continuously show up for us versus the ones that don't.
The main basis of the presentation was developing new ways to incorporate self-care into our personal lives and also developing ways to incorporate into our work as well. I didn't realize it until I was in that moment of mindfulness that I shared with the audience "This right here, talking about self-care with you all, is self-care for me!" In that moment, I was truly grateful to be have had the opportunity to share research, personal stories, helpful tips and resources on the topic of self-care and contribute to a healthy conversation about how others can continue to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Here are some helpful ways that you can contribute to your own self-care that doesn't necessarily involve money or other people:
- Allow yourself Grace.
- Control what you can control
- Practice self-compassion
- Practice mindfulness
- Practice gratitude
- Unplug from technology
Remember, Self-Care doesn't look the same for everyone so when you begin to identify what contributes to your self-care make sure that you are practicing it daily. Your overall well-being and physical health is just as important as your mental health.
Sorry we're closed.
Yes, Me, Myself & I.
You know that dreadful feeling you get when you walk up to a store with hopes that they will be open, even if it's only the last 5 minutes. Your mind is completely set on what it is that you need, if only you could have made it on time before you read: Sorry, we're closed.
Sunday evening is always a time of reflection for me. I develop new ways of thinking, I often meditate on how I am going to approach the week and I challenge myself to practice patience better than the week before. Sounds nice right? I agree, it does. But one thing I fail at continuously is extending myself a little too much to others without even checking in with myself. I quite frequently find myself drained, drained from all the unhealthy conversations I allow in my personal space, the subscriptions I have to other people's issues and the challenges I face daily personally while still finding time to help others and commit to extra projects.
Well, I am closed; closed for personal care, closed for personal maintenance, closed for self-care.
I've taken my services off the shelf, I am no longer marking my time as a "clearance" item and I am definitely returning all items described as other people's "mess."
What good are we to others if we aren't good to ourselves first? How often do we listen to the lives of others and all of their negativity until it begins to weigh heavy? I sat, reflected and enjoyed a glass of Cabernet and the valid conclusion that I came to was, close for two-weeks for some re-modeling. Better yet, close for as long as you need to.
Remodeling is checking in with self; It's finding new ways to care for yourself and pay attention to your own wants & needs. You don't have to respond to texts right away, you don't need to be at someone's beck & call, you surely don't need to put your own well-being on the back burner. If you're similar to me, you've naturally taken on the role as a healer/giver, listener, resume Queen and someone who can fix everything with just lending an ear. Yes, those attributes are great, I often am flattered to review work, offer advice and pour into others; it was done for me, and for that I am truly grateful. But there comes a time when you will hit burn-out, compassion fatigue and eventually that can turn into bitterness.
I won't even touch on the fact that at times the same love, compassion, genuine helpfulness and frequent check-ins aren't always offered in return but it's furthermore a supporting factor to shut down business. Shut down for self-care for as long as you may need.
My sign will read:
"We're closed. The mind, body and soul of a continuous giver needs this time to check-in with self. We are closed for fertilization and growth in multiple areas that contribute to personal well-being. If you've stopped by to complain, nag, whine and only think about yourself, turn around, drink some water and do a self check-in. See you soon."
I encourage you to check-in with yourself and decide when you need to close and for how long. When you re-open what will be different? What will you discontinue, take off the shelf and not allow to return to your space?
We must first serve ourselves, fall deeply in love with the fact that our own mental well-being and desires come first.
I grew up in a household where I watched my mother reserve our home as place of peace. I watched her prioritize her mental well-being + sense of tranquility as best she could. I'd take heed as she persevered, through her own trials + throughout times of increased stress. There were plenty days throughout the year my mother would send me off to school, however, she called out “sick,” though I’d see nothing was physically wrong with her. It was often that she would strategically take a day or two off from work explicitly stating when I arrived home, "I took a mental health day." As a kid, I thought my mom was lucky when she could pick + choose when she’d go to work. I now laugh aloud, knowing how unlucky adulthood can be.
As I begin to build my own foundations, I thank my mother for providing these examples of taking her mental health as serious + necessary as her physical health. I’ve learned to listen to my body - now more than ever as a twentysomething always on the go. My body makes me aware of how much I can physically and mentally can commit to. Days free from external stress, an overwhelming workload, and most responsibilities - for me, is an ideal day of relaxation. My most recent mental health day was intentionally filled with activities that I made me feel good - got on my mat for some yoga outdoors; took myself to a matinee to see Girls' Trip; + read a book while I treated myself to a pedi. I’ve had days where I've done nothing at all besides nourish my body + rest; and there’s been days I’ve spent getting my life together + handling business. At the end of the day, however, the point is that you feel capable to take on the rest of your week.
It’s important for you to make you a priority. Just as you would call out sick for physical ailments, its' appropriate to have remedies + coping skills for the fog in your mental. You are the expert on what your body and mind needs in order to persevere. I encourage speaking with your employer (+/or professors) + not waiting until the last minute. Understand that you don't have to disclose your personal issues, but through experience - I find that being up front about what I can + cannot handle, keeps me employed + sane. Speaking with your higher ups also can break the stigma regarding employees' mental health and work productivity. It may become a topic on their agenda to begin to take preventative measures in the office.
We all know, you cannot pour from an empty cup. If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, plan ahead by having some self-care activities planned for your day off. Usually this happens over time, but it also depends your line of work and what issues you’re dealing with. If you can’t plan to take the day off, listen to your body + take the necessary steps to refresh + recharge.
Until next time,
A year ago, I was so in love. You could not tell me that I was not marrying this person. Individually, we were great people, but together we were a hot mess. Both of our actions led to heartbreak. This was not the first time my heart had been broken, but it put the icing on the cake. It unleashed skeletons that I did not even know existed. There is always a purpose behind your suffering. A couple of days ago, a friend asked on Facebook, “How do you overcome heartbreak?” This was my response.
1. Vocalizing your heartbreak is very important. Keeping it to yourself will only cause more heartbreak. Talk to somebody!
2. Let the healing process be authentic. Sometimes, we see other people go through heartbreaking experiences and think that their coping mechanisms will work for us. I can be extremely introverted at times, so I don't always talk to others, but there are other ways to get free.
3. Find something that you can commit to. Mine was going to the gym on weekends and writing short stories. It will give you something to look forward to. You will not immediately forget about the situation(s), but it will make the time go by a little faster.
4. Allow yourself to feel the pain. We always try to get over it so soon. You cannot heal if you have not been hurt.The wounds are there, so try your best not to slap a band-aid on it. Let the sore breathe.
Oh, I forgot one thing. Patience. You may heal in 5 weeks, while another person might recover in 5 years. It all depends on the heart. I hope this helps.