Taking Care

My Own True North - Taking Care

New Year Resolutions and Goals for 2018

And, just like that, 2018 is here. New Year Resolutions get a bad wrap, and while I have played around with linguistics, in the past, I stand on the sideline for resolutions. Anything that builds motivation and feels fresh is something I like getting into. Some years are more ambitious than others, but I always start the year with an intention and focus.

It occurred to me, when I was journaling about my New Year Resolutions, this is the first year I do not write “finish PhD” as a goal for my new year.

Whatever you want in your mix, major life goals or small focal points, or to take better care of yourself, or boost up some self love, write something down to satisfy your craving! A friend of mine even includes a theme for her year.

My Own True North - New Year Resolutions

Here are some ideas to help you get started (as you may infer, I’m practically the conductor on my own self-love train for 2018).

Be kind to yourself with the thoughts you let yourself think about you.

Commit to a set bed time and routine.

Stock healthy snacks, including slicing up the veggies when bringing home to have ready-to-crunch goodies on hand, at all times.

Clean up after yourself, daily! You’ll feel better when your entire personal spaces are clean, tidy, and shiny. This includes home, car, desk, etc.

Superfoods. Apple cider vinegar, bee pollen, probiotics, and healthful(l) foods.

Gratitude. Create a journal dedicated to expressing your gratitude for that which is good. Last year, I had a fun day planner I used to record my daily thoughts. Two years ago, and this year, I will write on scraps of paper to go into a gratitude box I will read on New Year’s Day 2019.

Community impact. Find a cause you can contribute to, and volunteer a minimum number of hours per month. Your community needs it, and you will feel better for it.

Social media breaks! I’m thinking about taking one day a week away from all social media.

More baths, at home facials, massages, and other pampering activities fir yourself.

Eliminate toxins from your life. This includes any excessive wine down Wednesdays, household cleaners, and toxic friendships.

I firmly believe in you do you, so let me know, what are you doing, now that we’ve passed New Year’s Eve?

XO, Jennifer

My Own True North - New Year Resolutions

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As We Approach Winter Solstice – Taking Time for Yourself

I’ve been fully submerged in teaching, writing, and researching new work opportunities. It is true that I have been looking for a long while. As much as I am ready to return to work, I did not radically dismantle my life last year so I could jump back into a similar situation of overwhelm and undervalue. All too keenly aware of a slower time table than I wanted for my next transition, my intention and specificity will remain. Late December always brings me especially reflective mind wanderings. As I write, I look out the window of my office to the waning, foggy, light. Tonight is the Winter Solstice.

Winter is coming. The long night. No, really. Tonight, the longest night of our year will be here. The northern axis will begin shifting toward the sun when we wake in the morning. Our days will slowly begin to get longer.

As We Approach Winter Solstice - Taking Time for Yourself

Tonight is an especially beautiful time for personal reflection and looking inward.

There’s something about the Winter Solstice that pulls to me. This darkest day and longest night of the year is a personal invitation to look into yourself and see what you want to set right, straight, and out for the days, and year, ahead.

Today has been particularly ponder-filled, for me. Tomorrow marks one week to a milestone birthday. I’ve been taking personal inventory rather heavily this year. In my social solitude, there has been much time for personal thought.

I think of winter as a season of regeneration of energy. Location helps. Situated within a cold state, with a winter storm on the horizon promising sub zero temperatures, I watch birds and squirrels busy themselves among bare branches of trees. I’m witness to activity I don’t see in Spring, Summer, and the better part of Fall. The physical transformation is visible.

A steady reminder of my own opportunity to turn inward, reflect, redraw energy, and prepare for cyclical regeneration.

Tonight, give yourself some quiet space.

Even if you only have a moment or two, give that much to yourself. What calls to you, and what will you call out to? In a season so often aligned with an over abundance of everything, make a slight break in the chaos. This night is about our Earth’s balance. And it is good enough for your balance, too.

Take a cue from nature. Rabbits and bears snuggle in their burrows. Frogs and lizards bury themselves in mud. They slow their metabolism to a crawl. Trees and plants have shed their leaves. For them, there is no one to impress. They receive the shifting season as they need – with rest.

As We Approach Winter Solstice - Taking Time for Yourself

Where there is darkness, there is light.

On this darkest night, consider your light.

Turn of the back-lit phone. Light a candle. The warm flicker of that flame has the capacity to help you center and be the center of your attention tonight than anything in your phone, tablet, or computer.

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold,

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn sank down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

~Robert Frost

I hope you have a happy Winter Solstice and coziest start to your new season!

XO, Jennifer

As We Approach Winter Solstice - Taking Time for Yourself
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The Day After Election Day | It’s Time to Start to Heal

I feel so many emotions, so much heaviness, and am overwhelmed with how to put everything I’m processing and experiencing into words. Last night we elected the 45th president of the United States of America. The election fatigue surpassed any remaining stamina within me.

This morning, the day after Election Day, I woke, exhausted. I need sleep. I bet you do, too. I woke up, and I craved a hug from – anyone. More than anything, I felt lonely. Desperate for a loving embrace of consolation and assurance that we will be okay. I invaded my little dog’s space and hugged her, cried onto her, so hardcore (I think she’s still rattled by my unhinging).

This morning, I had breakfast with a long time girl friend. We voted for opposite candidates. And we talked about our fatigue, our fears, and feelings. We lamented the incredible outpouring of fear, shock. Shock and awe. We regarded how much anger and disappointment is being shared.

The shame… and shaming. Shaming from Republican voters who wrote smug admonishments to supporters of Clinton. Blaming and shaming from the other side toward people who voted for Trump.

In quick time today (almost immediately upon viewing brief scrolls through news feeds), I deleted multiple social media apps from my phone. I knew it would not be good and healthy for me to give myself such easy access to such strongly and negatively felt reactions.

Whatever you happen to be feeling about the outcome of last night’s election, your feelings are yours and they are valid. No matter what you feel, have all the feels. Take extra care of yourself if you are particularly discouraged. For me, one step was removing easy access to social media. What it looks like for you, take care of you.

Election fatigue love trumps hate, today is the time for self care, love, and compassion

I write this with devastated acknowledgment my candidate did not win the Electoral College. In fact, the man elected for the greatest position in leadership I observe, represents nearly everything directly opposed to what I believe is needed to be a good person. I have a lot of friends who voted for him. Who are loving and lovely people. I know of people for whom his messages of anger and division were appealing.

I write this while I come to my own terms that the President Elect has been a daily reminder to me of my abuser. He physically resembles, speaks in similar patterns, has familiar rhetoric, the temper… of a man who physically, verbally, and, in every way that he could, abused me – for years. It took me years of healing and hard work to understand my abuser and his effects on me. I know this is uncomfortable information to disclose to you.

I share this not to be shocking or gain sympathy but to share a bit about how hard this is for me and how determined I am to find peace. I’ll offer you my apology if my disclosure causes you discomfort. This may be oversharing.

Watching the campaign was painful. Watching people support him, and minimize the effects of his behaviors and words, was at times unbearable. The election was especially inconceivable for me and I’m still reeling. To me, it was not about “never him” at any cost.

For me, she wasn’t the lesser evil. I had, on one hand, a candidate I loved and admired. I volunteered and canvassed for, and donated to her campaign. On the other hand, though, was a candidate who was my very trigger.

But – I know I will be okay. Not because I am moving to Mexico, which I AM moving to Mexico, but not for any reason connected to the election. Because I accept the internal work I must do to accept profound setbacks in my life.

I believe we will be okay. Because I believe in America. I believe in us. I mean, come on, we survived Nixon.

We need to breathe. Deeply, and exhale fully. Instead of pointing fingers and attacking… and further dividing us among ourselves. We need to love. Love does trump hate.

We need to respect each other. Respect and celebrate how diverse our dreams, our skin, our faith, or heritage, our love, our families, are and not be afraid. It’s not easy for me to write this, but I believe in the power of positive thought and intention.

People are scared. People are in pain. People are angry. Fear, pain, and anger are contributing factors for how we arrived here. Let’s get to work. We have a lot of inside work to do for ourselves and each other. This is our opportunity to step up. United we stand.

After Election Day

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Awaken and Uplift Your Mind

“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.”~ Henry Miller

One of my yoga teachers, Dave, spoke about awakening and uplifting the mind from the body. Or something very similar. It’s hard for me to listen to every single word when I’m wrapping, binding, and then positioning myself to stand in the bird of paradise posture all without toppling or crying. But I’m not supposed to listen and stay up in my head space. Inversions, well, I need to uplift my mind from my body, for sure, because the head trip that is flipping my feet over my head…. Yikes! The very purpose of my yoga practice is to help me find that state where I can awaken and uplift my mind, my heart, and my body, and connect them.

Matthew Kane photographing yoga session on the beach : Shirshasana

What this means to me is a reminder to get out of our heads. To dial in, turn in, and develop awareness of the extraordinary wonders in completely ordinary moments. How many times have you driven yourself to work and not remembered the drive? How many times have you paused during an that early morning commute, or the late drive home, and took a silent moment to quietly remark on the orange hue of that sunrise or sunset? Finding something beautiful and extraordinary in a routine motion.

We can live numbly and in a semi-conscious state concerning ourselves over ironing, IRA and 401K growth, shrinking the AMEX bill, or what stupid thing said in front of 100 coworkers in a meeting weeks ago. Ok, those may be some of my obsessions, but I know I’m not the only one.

We can stop the distraction of guilt for having all of that dessert or the extra pint of beer had during laugh out loud happy hours with friends. Or the nagging interrupted attentiveness of wondering about the creep who didn’t call. Or of the one who won’t stop calling, et cetera et cetera, blah-da-da-blah-da-da-blah.

The possibilities of berating and bemoaning the things that are not right are unending, if we let them. And when we let them, we become distracted and lose presence.

By being present in each day of life, I’m probably going to – you’re probably going to – come out a winner on top anyway. So, Dave gave the reminder, that I’m passing on to you, to stop hitting the figurative snooze button on our wake up alarms and be awaken, every day.

Vivo — “alive”
Sveglio — “awake”

Awaken to moments of merriment, delight, and discovery. To be awake = breaking down indifference that leads to taking life for granted and missing chances to realize and savor life’s best moments.

Matthew Kane photographing yoga session on the beach : Hanumasana

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE: moments of elation, a fulfilling happiness, the ability to appreciate our reality and acknowledge the gifts we have in our very own lives.  Sight lines to see small miracles and wonders everywhere. YOU SHOULD NOT CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN IF: happiness sustains for hours, days, or even longer periods at a time.

Let’s hear from you! What are the ordinaries you fret  about that you want to put away to make space for extraordinary moments? Comment below and let us know?

 
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The Attack in Charleston is NOT Unthinkable and Yes Black Lives Matter
I’ve been unable to find to express my deep sadness at the horrific attack on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and the disgraceful responses from our leaders and countrymen. In a time when I hear people question the necessity of movements and calls to action such as Black Lives Matter.
 
Unthinkable, unbelievable, unspeakable… is what I’ve heard and read to describe the (latest) mass slaying.
 
Bullshit. 
 
Those are NOT adjectives anyone should apply toward describing this terrorist attack. 
 
This is one more attack of terrorism in our country (I love America and consider myself a patriot) and against our country. 
 
We the People. 
 
It IS thinkable, believable, and speakable, because violent atrocities have been committed against black men, women, babies, children, communities, and churches for hundreds of years. 
 
Don’t ask how are we back at this place, for we, as a country and a people, never made “America” a place where black lives matter as much as white lives. If you don’t believe me, then go travel, around the country and outside this country, and see how our racial divide is observed and judged by other nationalities. 
 
WE THE PEOPLE need stop our own busy-ness and our personally-centric scope of our lives and our “worlds” to speak up and demand a change in how our elected and appointed leadership protect all our people, provide to all our people, support all our people, and for every one of We, The People, speak out and hold each other accountable to demanding and working, ourselves, to break the pervasive paradigm of belief that speakable, thinkable, believable violence against Black Americans happens for the reason of, no matter how much we delude ourselves, we never brought America to be the place where skin color doesn’t determine the worth of life. 
 
Black Lives Matter
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