Saturday, November 23, 2013

Enchanting Spaces

I just love a blank white page.  It’s Saturday. I am outside enjoying the sunny afternoon. I took Scott’s bike out for a ride and headed to the Carmelite monastery. It is my favorite place to think and be. It makes me want to always live in this neighborhood. I take a street called Hawley until it ends. It becomes more and more quiet the further down you go. Everything is so colorful as you enter the monastery flower garden. Colors of purple, pink, red, yellow, orange and white flowers surround me. Green bushes are manicured to perfection, a little path winds around the garden. There is a bench to sit on in the middle and trees that blow lazily with the breeze. The steps are a dusty red color. It is truly an enchanting little place I discovered. The monastery is white and ornate and has white pillars. The wooden French doors are carved with different pictures of ink, feather and quill, books, moon, stars , the cross, fish, leaves and flowers.

This is a place where there is really nothing to do but be. It’s calm and tranquil. I feel closer to Mary here and I feel closer to God here too. Sometimes I imagine the sister nuns watching me from their windows about the garden and praying for me. That alone fills my heart with solace. Sometimes I imagine Jesus sitting with me or praying for me. Sometimes I imagine what I would say to Mary if she and I could have a chat. There is a life size statue of her inside the monastery. I think I would ask her if Jesus was safe, if I could trust the Divine. I might ask her if females are really included and if we really are important in the Kingdom. I might ask her how she approaches the Divine or the Anointed, how she talks to God. I feel like I can come here and peer at Jesus over Mary’s shoulder where it feels safe and secure.There are yellow butterflies bouncing around me as I sit on my bench overlooking the garden and all it’s mystery.

I am reminded to ask Jesus to help me stay grounded and centered in who I am, that I am enough. That I can let go of striving. That Jesus needs me to be me. I am thankful for the many voices in my life that affirm my healthy decisions and cheer me on.

When I walk around our neighborhood I am reminded of my Grandma Moot’s daily walks and how she noticed all the details. When I was a kid I remember thinking that she walked so slow. I wanted to speed though everything I did to get to the next great thing.  Now I understand her wisdom in a slow walk. She celebrated every little thing. I can heard birds chirping and I can see hummingbirds zooming past me. I want to be a person who lives in color and celebrates all the good little things, the person who keeps knocking to open the mysteries of life; I will keep seeking and finding a way to be at peace with me.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I think that beauty is...

Natalie Wise writes from Darling magazine writes, “My eyes are for seeing, not being seen, that they reflect the gray-green of the ocean tide or a stormy sky. And they can see when you need a hug and a smile... I think that beauty is the depth of a soul rising to the surface., in the upward lift of lips and corners of eyes when we smile, that hair turns gray because we have sent all of our color out into the world, and now, we are reflecting all of them again...” 

What a beautiful word.

My eyes are for seeing, not being seen

How to be beautiful is less about my make-up and hair products and more about just me. 

My nose is for inhaling the fresh scent of rain or the contagious smell of candles burning. My nose does not have to be a duplicate to be perfect. 

I am an original.

 My legs are not apart of me as just sex appeal, they allow me to walk, to bike, to do yoga, they allow me to walk towards you and not away from you.

 My face is not here to avoid wrinkles but to embrace smiles and laughter so that my eyes do squint out of sheer enjoyment.

I am more and more convinced that sexy is how I feel in my own skin. Being gorgeous is how I own and respect myself, being pretty is allowing myself to trust I am. Being beautiful is about influence and boldness and learning to give love so we can receive it well.

Being enough is already what I am. 

Being stunning is about knowing how intricately I was created. 

I am not afraid of me, of growing into a woman for I trust this process that being beautiful is about being dynamic inside and knowing I don’t have to hide on the outside

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Oils are yummy #31days

Let me state the obvious: By October 31st I will not have written for 31 days on self-care. That is okay though. I am learning self-compassion as I lean more into self-care. If I was extremely hard on myself and acted like this was another deadline in my life, that would be a little counterintuitive right?

About a year ago I was in Minnesota for one of my best friend’s weddings as a bridesmaid. As most wedding weeks go, it was crazy, high stress and a bit chaotic. I was starting to come down with a cold and it was then that the maid of honor introduced me to the wonderful world of essential oils Londa is a massage therapist and had brought with her to our hotel suite a huge bag full of essential oils. I took some oil concoction she created for me and within a couple days my cold was gone! At the time I was without health insurance and so I figured this was one way for me to invest in my health that didn’t include a large urgent care bill. Rather I hoped it would be preventative for me. Also if you know me you know that I smell everything I touch. When I go into libraries I sniff books. I sniff the smell of glossy magazines. You all know now my love for the smell of rain. When I was in 5th grade I would pull out my neighbors rubber cement and sniff it (yeah….about that) Anyway I love my candles and I love my essential oils because they smell amazing! If things don’t smell good I can easily lose my appetite. All I can do is perseverate on how to get rid of that awful smell!

Here is a quick list of some of my favorite essential oils I do indeed possess.

Lavender: If you came to my wedding (aka at a lavender farm) you know how passionate I am about lavender. Lavender is the most versatile of all essential oils. Lavender is an adaptogen which means it helps the body adapt to stress or imbalances. It is great before bed in a sleep spray or in a bath. I use it just about every night. It can also be used to cleanse cuts, bruises and skin irritations. I have about 4-5 lavender essential oils running around, a few in the bedroom, a few in the bathroom and one at my office. It is seriously the best.

Peppermint: This is another of my favorites. It is one of the oldest and most highly regarded herbs for soothing digestion. I use this if I feel nausea or if I feel a migraine coming on. A combination of peppermint, lavender and eucalyptus is especially helpful in reducing headache pain. Peppermint has been known to improve concentration and mental sharpness so it's not something I take before I sleep but definitely if I feel a migraine sneaking up on me mid-afternoon it's a winner. 

Lemon: This can be used for a lot of different things. It can be added to water to enhance flavor or added to food (however make sure it’s an edible essential oil, some aren’t) Lemon can be paired with other essential oils to help with colds and sinues. You can make a facemask and include lemon as it’ s known to be beneficial to the skin. I like to pair it with Clove. 

Clove: This essential oil has immune enhancing properties. When I start to feel a cold coming on or a sore throat I’ll combine the Clove and Lemon, dilute them with some oil and swallow them in a pill or put them on my neck and massage it into my skin.

Orange: Supposedly this essential oil brings peace and happiness to the mind. I don’t know how true this is but I’ll take it. Besides it smells great! It is rich in the powerful antioxidant d-limonene and aids in maintaining normal cellular regeneration.

The great thing about essential oils is once you have a few and know a little you can start combining them. I combined my lavender and orange into a spray for a fun aroma. I also have lavender and rosemary which is really great for joint pain relief. I use Peppermint and Wintergreen for muscle soreness as well.

So there you have it, my self-care practice for the day. Hope you consider giving it a try too :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Celebrating is a priority #31days

Recently I have been on a Darling kick. This magazine is good. And by good I mean absolutely awesome. Since I’ve also been on a Kinfolk kick I headed to Anthropologie the other night to buy the latest issue only to find they didn’t have it but they did have the latest issue of Darling. I am so proud there is a magazine out there that encourages women to celebrate being women without the objectification, degradation. Beauty apart from vanity and influence apart from manipulation, style apart from materialism. We can be full of wit and wisdom. We can create beauty and embody love...

I am just SO excited for a magazine that is not about losing pounds, the latest diet and how to look perfect without “trying” at all. While it is quite a bit more expensive than a celebrity gossip magazine I assure you it’s worth it (my brain tells me so)

Anyway tonight I am celebrating. I am celebrating that it is Thursday night and that the weekend is almost here. I am celebrating my cider candles. I am celebrating that Scott made a breaded parmesan chicken dinner for me. I am celebrating that we are sharing space as we read books and magazines (and blog!) I am celebrating that the moon looked HUGE tonight. I am celebrating that my hair stylist is a block from my apartment and that I can walk to her and visit my friends while they get their hair done. I am celebrating the orange and yellow flowers Scott brought me the other day when I had a headache. I am celebrating having bold conversations this week, sitting through hours of grueling training, passing and not failing, and emailing people I think are cooler than me. I am celebrating my new soft shirt that has an Owl wearing glasses that I got at Target today for 6 bucks on my lunch break.

I don’t need a birthday or a holiday to celebrate. Today is enough. This moment is enough.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

When candles don't work #31days

I have some days where I really love practicing self-care. I have other days where it doesn’t feel like I have time. I have days where I feel so discouraged and defeated I feel that nothing will help me. I had a gray day this week. It seemed that my usual things that helped lift my spirit weren’t working. Usually buying candles, or drinking some strong coffee can do the trick. When that doesn’t work, I go to journaling or doing some art. Painting brings color and life to my soul. It feels like my insides are being released when I do art.

Somedays however no matter what I do, it’s just not turning my world cheery.  I had a strong desire to color the other day so I bought a box of crayons and Scott printed out some fall coloring sheets for me (complete with pumpkins and scarecrows) And yes, I used to be a nanny (once a nanny, always a nanny in heart) Scott and I walked to get ice-cream this afternoon too and I had a double scoop with my favorite, chocolate chip cookie dough in a homemade waffle cone. Even though these things are great and take the edge off of my mood it is what it is today.

So I decided to pray.  Praying is a form of self-care that doesn’t always produce immediate results as I would want or hope. It doesn’t suddenly make me feel better. It doesn’t make me healthy inside instantly. It doesn’t change a lot of things in fact. At least from what I can see.

The thing is though for years and years people have prayed. I somehow trust this tradition. Something in my gut tells me that all my prayers are heard. My grandma was a woman who prayed all the time.  She would call my family and I and take our prayer requests. This time of year reminds me of her because she would always send me an obnoxiously orange and adorable Halloween card in the mail with cash to buy myself some candy. She did this no matter how old I got. She loved fall and she loved Halloween. She was the first to decorate her house and the first to buy way too much candy for all trick-or-treaters in her neighborhood and to put on a pointy black hat. 

I miss her.

But I just have this feeling that she is up celebrating fall with Jesus and experiencing all of her prayers answered that she wrote down on all her crinkly papers scattered all over her house here on earth.

My grandma was a bit of a worrier. I know people say you can't worry and pray simultaneously but I would just like to say I am a really good multi-tasker and I think my grandma was too. I would also like to note that we are human and sometimes I am just really anxious. But damn it, I am still going to pray.

Tonight I am praying through Ephesians 3:17-19. I am praying that the Anointed One would reside in my heart, that my love might be rich soil where my life can truly take root. I am praying that love will be the bedrock where my life is founded. I am praying that I will understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, deep, surpassing everything. This love sets me free and keeps me safe. I am praying this love gives me hope and faith.