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when you have 15 minutes for self-care

liz lamoreux

selfcare mandy hale quote.png

Self-care is a word that gets said a lot these days. I think it encompasses several things, including rest, connection, community, noticing and asking for what you need, doing things you love, taking a break so you can recharge, and making sure your basic needs are being met before you’re able to help others (that whole put on your oxygen mask first idea).

Today, I want to focus on some pretty simple self-care moves that we can do when we have just a bit of time in our day. These are the ones I turn to when I’m running from role to role and start to feel depleted. They often give me a boost of support as they help me push pause on multi-tasking so I can make the choice to be present. They aren’t an answer to everything, but they can help you feel grounded before you move onto the next thing on your list. Pick one thing from this list and try it today. Or let this list be a springboard for your own ideas. 

Take a Breath (and then another and another...)

Pausing to take a few deep breaths is something you can do just about anywhere, and you don't need anything but you. During my yoga teacher training, one of the first breathing practices we learned was Sama Vritti, which is known as Equal Breathing. The effects are a calming of the mind and body. 

 
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To work with Equal Breathing, sit comfortably with your feet on the floor and close your eyes. (You can also sit on the floor cross-legged or lay down, but you don't want to fall asleep. That said, this is actually a great breathing technique to do to help you quiet your mind before going to sleep.) 

As you sit, begin to notice your body and see if there's any place you're holding tension and release it where you can, relaxing your shoulders, your forehead, your belly. Then, begin to notice your breathing. 

After a few breaths, begin to inhale and count to four and then exhale to the count of four. Continue this for several breath cycles, and if you have time, continue for several minutes. You can increase or decrease the length of your breath so that it feels comfortable for your body. Noticing what you need is really important here. 

Write Yourself a Love Letter

Writing letters to myself is a practice I use often. For real. (If you’ve taken one of my ecourses, I’ve probably shared a few ways to do this with you.) Here’s one way: write yourself a love letter.

Fill it with the words you would write to someone else who might need to feel uplifted. You could begin with "Hello dear one" or "Hello beautiful soul" and just write the words you most need to hear. You can then tuck your note into an envelope and put it somewhere to read later. Think about even choosing a date in a few weeks or months and putting a note in your calendar (or setting a reminder on your phone) to remind yourself to open up your letter again and reread it. When you do, it will probably again feel like the words you most need. 

This practice can seem silly when you first start it, but I really recommend it.

Put Down Your Phone

Sometimes when we have a few minutes to ourselves, we quickly fill it with looking at our phones or other devices. And suddenly what was meant to be a break from it all becomes 15-30 minutes of social media, email, and random articles that we don't actually care about. Try taking a true break and put down technology for 15 minutes. Walk away from your computer. Put your phone in a drawer. Consciously create some space away from that online chatter and take a few moments to just notice the world around you.

 
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Call a Friend or Even Send a Text

On the surface this might seem in conflict with my previous suggestion, but please keep reading. Sometimes the best way to fill up the well inside you is to connect with someone else.  When you have just a few minutes, you really can have good connection through a quick phone call or even a text message. 

When I'm having a tough day and need to be reminded that it's all going to be okay, I have a few friends I will reach out to just to say, ‘So I kind of need a hug’ or “I need someone to catch this story today,” and they'll send over support. Even though my schedule might not have room for time with a friend, this simple act of letting someone know I need to connect helps to ground me.

Give Yourself a Massage

Sometimes what we really need is touch, slowing down, and relaxation. You can give this to yourself by gently massaging your hands, even if you're at work.

Start at the base of your hand (palm up) and give yourself the pressure that feels good moving up toward your little finger, applying pressure all the way to the top of your finger. Then back to the base of your hand and move up to your ring finger, and so on with each finger. Then flip your hand over and do the same thing on the other side of your hand. Repeat on each side and then do both hands again.

You can do this with or without massage oil. I love the oils from my friend Bella of Intentions by Bella.

Bring on the Laughter

Laughter actually does help you release tension, which is something I’m reminded of again and again when I turn to a favorite YouTube video or watch a clip from the late night talk shows. It helps me to just laugh. There’s even an article over on the Mayo Clinic’s website that explains why: laughter can "activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling."

Another idea is to keep a funny book nearby that you can open and read for a few minutes (I love Yes, Please by Amy Poehler and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson). Or phone a friend who always knows how to crack you up. Or even follow a few Instagram accounts that make you laugh.

Eat or Drink Something that Nourishes You

Think about having some go-to foods that really nourish you during the day, and then schedule in your 15-minute break to rejuvenate yourself. You might even want to make a list of nourishing foods, so you can hone in on what makes you feel good.  

 
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My go-to foods that really nourish and nurture me include: fruit and green smoothies, yogurt, a small plate of cheese + almonds + fruit, an apple with peanut butter, and hot tea. Sometimes I also have dark chocolate or a cup of hot cocoa with whipped cream. I don't avoid sweets completely; instead, I listen to my body and what it needs. And having a list of things that feel and taste nourishing helps me remember what to buy when I go to the store so I can keep these things on hand.

Just 15 Minutes a Day

Imagine giving yourself the gift of 15 minutes of self-care a day, maybe even every day for the next five days. Time for you where you can breathe, take care of yourself, reconnect with yourself or someone else, and feel grounded in the midst of whatever life is handing you. If you try any of these ideas or have a few more to add, please feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Photo credits: photo of Liz meditating by Lauren Oliver Photography, third and fourth photos by Vanessa Simpson of Focus In Photography.

where i stand (july 2019)

liz lamoreux

where i stand july 2019

“Why do you always take photos of your feet?”

It makes me happy, it reminds me that I’m here, it’s a slice of a view I see all the time.

It captures a moment, a pause, a place.

It reminds me I’m not disappearing into the roles, the to-do list, the stacked up thoughts.

It helps me tell the story.

And it brings me joy to remember that I made the choice to pay attention.

HERE

liz lamoreux

My newest ecourse HERE has been my favorite part of this summer. The August session just began and there’s still time to come along.

A peek into why I created this course:

The last year has been a tough one for me. Last summer, I experienced deep anxiety for the first time, my family has had some struggles, there’s been the grief of illness and death and uncertainty, and then there’s the news and all that is happening in the world. Yet, there have been beautiful moments of deep joy, laughter, hope, love, and connection. Through it all, my practices have helped me show up and notice the beauty while honoring the truth of each day. And one of these practice is making #alistofhere in my journals and sometimes sharing here on Instagram. Making these lists has become like a written meditation that grounds me and shines a light on where I’ve been and where I am. They tether me to what I know to be true. They help me create space to notice and practice mindfulness but in an active, deeply supportive, and creative way. In the July session we explored from the starting point of Mary Oliver’s step one of “Instructions for living a life” when she tells us to “pay attention.” In the August session, we’re looking at step two: be astonished.

Find out more and sign up right here.

current favorite journaling supplies

liz lamoreux

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Because I get this question a lot on Instagram, here’s a list of my current favorite journaling supplies*.

First up, the main supplies I’m using with the journal I’m creating for my HERE ecourse:

  1. Journal: Travelogue watercolor book

  2. Watercolors: Travel set from 1Canoe2 that I can’t find online. Here’s something close.

  3. Pen: Le Pen permanent fine point

  4. Favorite glue stick for thick photos

  5. Tiny photos: Social Print Studio (Use code 5ZFZDWLWP9 for $5 off and I get $5, too)

Second, here are some other supplies you might have seen me using over on Instagram:

Journals: Along with the one above, I like the drawing books series from Travelogue and the Stillman and Birn softcover sketchbook. And here’s a quick link to a post with few other journals I like.

Pens: My biggest suggestion is to head to your local art store where you can try pens to see which ones you like. Here are a few of my favorites: Staedtler, Flair Pens, thin Sharpies, and Le Pen. I also use the Uni-Ball Signo white pen and metallics.

Washi tape: I like paper tape most of all because it comes up easily and tends NOT to rip the paper. I love this Etsy shop and the brand mt, which you can find here on Amazon.

Photos: I love journaling with my photos and get most of them printed at Social Print Studio, locally at Walgreens, and use Instax printers and a Canon Selphy at home.

Paints:
Watercolors: I have tried a lot of different sets, and honestly, Crayola is awesome for simple projects. I also like a big palette like these from Target or this set. But if you really want to splurge, the Sennelier half pans (that come in a variety of sets or you can order individual colors) are luxurious.
Acrylic: I love the inexpensive craft paints you can get at just about any big box art store. I like the Hand Made Modern line at Target. I also love these colors from Golden that are a splurge: Iridescent Gold, Green Gold, Quinacridone Magenta, and Prussian Blue Hue.

Brushes: I usually just get the inexpensive “all purpose” brush sets at my local art supply store. Online, I would get something like these that come in a great case or these. I also love water brushes (like these and these) and keep them with me for travel.

And here’s a post about my favorite collage journaling supplies that I use in Tell It: Collage (which I’m in the process of updating and will re-release in early fall).

*Several of these links are affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting my business so I can keep creating and sharing with you.

where i stand (june 2019)

liz lamoreux

june peony
 

All day, I kept hearing Lionel sing about how he’s “easy like Sunday morning.” And I guess I want to feel like that more. You know?

More ease.

More cuddled up while the summer sun shines in.

More mugs of coffee on the back porch while the neighborhood wakes up.

More bare toes.

More writing letters to remind you of how beautiful you are to me.

More records playing while we dance in pajamas.

More living in the easy spaces so we can feel the possibility of softness, of freedom, even when (especially when) the tough stuff comes up.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

(Amen.)

42 things I learned in my 42nd year

liz lamoreux

barefoot in cherry blossoms.png
 

It’s my birthday tomorrow, and I’ve always wanted to make one of those lists of things I learned over the previous year. Remember when people used to blog all the time and do that? Well, last night, I found myself making the list in my head and then reaching for pen and paper and then deciding I would post it right here.

  1. Parenting is perhaps more about unlearning than learning.

  2. Reading more books brings me a lot of joy. (I mean I knew this one. I did. Since I was about five I’ve known this. But in the last year, I’ve read more books than I did in the last few years combined, and it has made me so happy. Also, I heart The Book of the Month Club.)

  3. It’s okay to admit you love a good romance novel. Because I do. I really really do. (Five favorites from the last year: The Light We Lost, The Kiss Quotient, Ghosted, One Day in December, and Love and Other Words.)

  4. Shingles are really that bad.

  5. The world will break your heart. Sometimes daily.

  6. So you’ll have to remind yourself, “Don’t let the muggles get you down.” Because they will. But then you will look up and see kindness and beauty and openness and you will remember that people are amazing.

  7. The song “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison makes me think of many imagined moments from my high school days.

  8. I still miss mix tapes.

  9. The truth is that in some ways I’ve been looking for friendships like I had at boarding school, but 25 years later I realize that I could also really, deeply nurture those friendships I’ve had for almost 30 years along with the other ones I’ve made along the way. (I’m so damn lucky.)

  10. I have a crush on Keanu Reeves. (And I’ll be rewatching A Walk in the Clouds asap.)

  11. Puzzles help me even out my anxiety.

  12. Oh, and I have anxiety.

  13. I’ll be forever grateful for a weekend in Eugene, Oregon with my friends Alli and Hannah. A weekend that would be our last time together. A weekend that would involve a lunch of pizza and wine where we got just a little drunk and laughed so much and were a little late for the next workshop we were attending but it didn’t matter at all because that laughter, that honest conversation, that love was everything. (I miss you, Alli.)

  14. The gift of ice cream never fails.

  15. Celebrating people in the smallest of ways makes the biggest difference. Alli taught me that one. (And the other magical Ali in my life reminds me of this one all the time.)

  16. Teaching EJ about poetry and watching her fall in love with reading and writing poems is stitching me up inside.

  17. Discovering your family history can unlock something inside you - maybe it’s the old stories that are in your cells, maybe it’s a healing of those old stories, a healing of the people who came before you.

  18. If I could go back in time and meet my ancestors that I’ve seen in photos, I would give the women two things: bras and birth control.

  19. Working with Kelly Barton again lights up my life.

  20. Yellow shoes delight me.

  21. I can attend my 25th high school reunion and feel beautiful showing up as me (someone tell that to my 17-year-old self or maybe even my 40-year-old self).

  22. Ellen Bass’s poem “Relax” is holy shit so good.

  23. After Mary Oliver died, I read her poem “I Worried” for the first time or perhaps I’d read it before but I read it in the midst of a deeply challenging time. And that last stanza might just shape the rest of my life:
    Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
    And gave it up. And took my old body
    and went out into the morning,
    and sang.

  24. Watching your child’s heart break will turn you inside out in ways you could never imagine.

  25. It’s okay to go after your secret dreams. Just take one step toward them today, even if the season you’re in causes you to think that they are impossible to achieve.

  26. Always stop when you see gorgeous cherry trees in bloom and stand barefoot in the piles of petals beneath your feet even as people drive by. (This is even better if you have a child with you who throws the petals in the air like snow.)

  27. You will find people who you can tell the whole truth to, and they will not judge you. They will just sit beside you. (Thank you.)

  28. Therapy can help you become even more of who you want to be in the world.

  29. Boundaries and asking for what you need can change everything (see #27).

  30. You can (I can) survive being profoundly let down by someone.

  31. I can’t fix certain things (or people or help them make better choices) (especially when no one asked me to), but I can love.

  32. There is a really good goat cheese in the world that will make you profoundly happy to be alive. (It’s the marinated chevre. You will thank me later. In fact, invite me over please so we can eat it together.)

  33. Longer bangs make me even happier than the short bangs I had for ten years. Who knew?

  34. You don’t have to be grateful for everything that got you to this moment, even if you’re grateful to be right here in this moment.

  35. Some days I realize that all the things I tell her, that I hope to teach her, really are filling her up. Like this day.

  36. A little white dog will soften sharp edges every single day and convince me to work from my bed in the afternoons (by standing at my bedroom door and snorting until I pay attention as I work in my studio), so that he can curl up against me and nap.

  37. Sometimes old friendships shift in unexpected ways and you will feel like you are rediscovering that favorite faded blue sweatshirt you had in seventh grade that you knew you’d given away but somehow find in a box of things at your mom’s house and it fits even better than it did so many years ago.

  38. Watching EJ read all the Harry Potter books and then talking about each of them with her was completely and totally awesome. (And helped a lot with #6.)

  39. Telling people thank you for helping you become who you are is a gift for both of you (and something you should do now before it is too late, dear one).

  40. You can have one of the hardest years of your life and still feel profound joy.

  41. Being able to have completely serious conversations about time travel with my husband makes my day every single time. (Kind of like when my friend Heather and I used to talk about Grey’s Anatomy or Kevin and I used to talk about Ross and Rachel like the characters were real friends in our lives…but with more science.)

  42. You will never fail to love your birthday cake if you order it yourself.

Five Deep Breaths

liz lamoreux

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Five deep breaths.

Right here.

Letting whatever is pulling on you roll off of you like raindrops with each breath.

Inhale.

Notice.

Exhale.

Let it roll away.

Repeat as needed throughout the day.