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Self-Care Move: Creating Space for Connection

liz lamoreux

just connect pocket talisman available at Soul Mantras

Self-Care Idea of the Week: Creating space for connection (and how opening our hearts to others helps support us as we hope to be more present in our lives).

For a few years now, I've been really blessed to have a circle of kindred spirits in my life. Women who value honesty and kindness. Who create space to listen and ask that I hold space for them in return. Who love me even when I don't show up as my best self, and who remind me who that best self is. 

But it hasn't always been this way. In the past, I tried to convince myself that this deep connection was supposed to look like something really specific, such as a group of women who all know each other and meet up a few times a year or even once a month. I tried to imagine a "ya-ya sisterhood" of sorts and wondered why I didn't have one or wasn't invited to be part of one. And I wondered why I wasn't finding this core group within my own community even though the reality is I spend most of my time with my family and I work from home.

But what I've learned is that connection is more about keeping my heart open and noticing when I feel deeply seen by another person. It is less about thinking I need a group of women who all know each other to become my go-to people for the rest of my life. And it is more about realizing that friendships ebb and flow and that I only feel connection when I actually try to connect with an open heart, even when this feels like a risk, perhaps especially when it does.

In my case, even though I'd been thinking about, talking about, wishing for more connection (with new friends, with people in my community, with entrepreneurs with similar experiences to me), I believe that I began to find it only when my heart opened to all the vulnerability that connection might mean. This means tending to the incredible friends I already have and letting them know how important their friendships are to me. This means holding space for all the past hurts and deciding to stay open anyway. This means making the choice to show up as me and set aside the person I think someone wants me to be. And this means continually recognizing all the gremlins that come up, especially when reaching out for new connection. Gremlins like:

  • I might be rejected.
  • I might say something silly when trying to actually say, "Want to get coffee sometime?"
  • I might seem too eager.
  • I might not be cool enough.
  • I might not have the right clothes.
  • I might over share.
  • And how the list goes on and on. 

When we open our hearts to this connection, we realize we don't have to go it alone. We let love in. And letting love in might just be the most important thing we say YES to.

This week: What one brave move could you make toward connection today? Take a few moments to really think about this one. Is there someone in your life who you've been meaning to reach out to with gratitude? Someone who you know is having a hard time who might need someone to say, "How's it going over there?" and then really listen? Do you need to ask for support? Imagine letting someone know that you just need her to listen to you today. Let yourself move toward connection. 

Mantra: As you work with this practice of opening up to connection, here are some mantra ideas for you:

  • I choose to keep my heart open.
  • I can be brave and afraid.
  • Listen with your heart open.
  • Trust that yes inside you.

Other resources and tools: John O'Donohue's book Anam Cara, rose quartz, just about all the Piggie and Gerald books, and this guided compassion meditation.

And a few other self-care ideas for you.

 
creating space for connection

13 Things for the Plant Lover

liz lamoreux

13 THINGS FOR THE PLANT LOVER
 

I'm pushing myself to get back to blogging and am going old-school with a schedule, including this new series of posts I'm calling "13 Things Thursday." I'm going to make lists each week that will include everything from mindfulness ideas to finds on the web to resources to things in my curvy girl closet (yes! I'm bringing it back!) to favorite things and so on. 

Today, I'm diving in with 13 Things for the Plant Lover because I have become quite the plant lady over here. Plant-y things are pretty on trend these days, and here are a few fun things I've spotted.

 

1. This Adopt a Plant t-shirt is so cute! It's by MagnoliaRootsCo and comes in a variety of sizes. (Also partial to this succulent t-shirt and this Let It Grow t-shirt that makes me start singing a plant version of Elsa's song.)

 
 

3. Bring on all the monstera leaves! I really want one of these plants in my home soon. Until then, this mug is on my wish list. We have the mama and papa bear mugs from Nokk Valley and I use mine daily. Hoping for this one for my birthday.

 
 

5. I love the DIY terrarium kits that are popular right now. They make great gifts and a fun activity with kids. This one is from Bliss Gardens Boutique on Etsy. Most terrariums like these have succulents and/or air plants as their main focus. I have one my brother made me when Ellie was born.  

 
 

7. Love this look from Target. The planters are on my wish list. I love the idea of having them out on my back patio in the summer and inside in our rainy seasons. 

 
 

9. This eeBoo 1008-piece puzzle is where the cat lady and plant lady come together. Eleanor and I love puzzles, and this on was by far our favorite of 2016. We have several eeBoo puzzles (and other good things) and I highly recommend this awesome company.

 
 

11. Eleanor and I LOVE this cactus umbrella. It is THE perfect size to actually keep you dry and it easily fits two people. We found ours at one of our local favorite stores, Stocklist Goods. You can find it online at Nordstrom.

 
 

2. Kangaroo pocket + wide neck + comfy sweatshirt + cacti. Yep. Sign me up. Love the not so needy cactus sweatshirt from Nicola and the Newfoundlander. Their whole shop is pretty darn cute.

 
 

4. I'm a bit obsessed with thinking about putting this heart-shaped monstera patch on my new favorite denim jacket (that I have yet to find - the search is underway!). There really are so many awesome patches over on Etsy. I've begun a collection and when I finally find that jacket, it will be rad. 

 
 

6. Last summer I met Sam of Hemleva at a craft show in Seattle and fell in love with her "plant lady is the new cat lady" pin. She's expanded to all these pins and they are adorbs. Also, she makes gorgeous himmeli, which are air plant holders that are really like artwork for your home. 

 
 

8. That adorable Target pillow to the left is out of stock, but you can get this one from Society6 in several sizes and in indoor and outdoor varieties (imagine all the incredible outdoor pillows!).  

 
 

10. If you are looking to decorate with plants in your home, The New Bohemians by Justina Blakeney is full of ideas to help you add green goodness to every single room in your home. It has been a huge inspiration to me as is her blog

 
 

12. This cactus phone case from Sonix is pretty darn cute. Love the flowers and the stars. I have one similar to this one with peonies, and it's been awesome, protecting my phone after many a fall.

 
 

13. This cactus necklace from Splendor and Stone on Etsy might just be my favorite item on this list. Gretchen is a local Tacoma artist who I've had the pleasure of meeting. She creates so many fun pieces that you can wear every day or for special occasions. Head over to her shop and explore! (If you've seen the reveal for this month's Talisman of the Month Club box, you know why I have my eye on this one.)

I hope you've enjoyed this first post in my new Thursday series! Note that some of these links are affiliates, which means I receive a small commission if you purchase through the link. All photos are copyright to the businesses and makers mentioned.

Check out more of my favorite things posts here.

Self-Care Move: Try a Candle Meditation

liz lamoreux

candle meditation
 

Lighting a candle with intention is something that is done in many religions. Candles are often used to represent a higher power or the four elements. Lighting a candle can be used to begin meditation; then the candle is extinguished when the meditation draws to a close.

The act of extinguishing the candle should be part of the ritual. My teacher once gently told me this has two reasons: The first being that it signifies the end to the practice and the second to remember to extinguish the candle as to avoid burning down the house. 

Bringing a candle into your meditation practice invites in ritual, but it can also provide something for you to focus your attention on. Here's one way to practice what I simply call a candle meditation:

With this meditation, you want a clear space where you can place your candle. It should be free from clutter and distractions. You don't want to worry about anything catching on fire or a pet or child knocking over the candle.

This meditation is best done seated. It's a good idea to have the candle pretty close to eye level so that you don’t find yourself bending forward to look at it. Also, let it be at least a foot away from you so that it isn’t too bright. 

When you’re ready, light your candle, and as you do, create an intention for yourself for this moment. It might be something like, "I connect to the light within and around me." or "Let these breaths center and support me." or "Just be right here. Noticing. Letting the day go for these moments." You could also use just one or two words as your intention, like breathe, notice, be here.

After you light the candle, bring your gaze to it. Watch it as you breathe. Inhaling, being right here. Exhaling, watching the candle. You might want to imagine that you’re inhaling the light inside you and then exhaling it over you.  

Do this for 3-5 minutes the first time you try it. Letting your gaze just soften on the candle as you breathe. 

If looking at the candle is too bright, let yourself just look over it or below it. Your gaze should be soft. You can also do this with your eyes closed, imagining the candle in your mind or just keeping an awareness that it is near you.

Explore other meditations here.

 
candle meditation
 

Candle pictured above is from one of my favorite candle companies, P. F. Candle Co, which you can find at one of my favorite shops: Moorea Seal.

For more self-care ideas, sign up for my (almost weekly) newsletter.

Bottom photo by Lauren Oliver Photography

studio news :: january

liz lamoreux

Last week, when I was making a list of the ways my business can most support people right now, an idea that has been tapping on me for over two years basically stood up and said: THE TIME HAS ARRIVED.

So here we go! Today, I'm so excited to share the very first Soul Mantras subscription box: The Talisman of the Month Club

 

 

A SELF-CARE BOX DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR EACH MONTH

Because we need words to remind of us what we know. Because holding something in our hand connects us to our own hearts and the hearts of others. Because, sweet soul, self-care is a deep breath, an act of resilience, and even an act of courage that you can make time for.

The Talisman of the Month Club is a monthly subscription that includes a delightful little box of inspiration and support delivered to your door. Each month presents a new theme that provides you with self-care ideas and practices connected to the talisman you’ll be able to hold in your hands.

 

 

The intention behind this box is to give you tangible practices and reminders to see and hold to help you create space to practice self-care each day.

Your monthly subscription includes (bolded items arrive in your box):

  • A handmade pewter pocket talisman hand stamped with a phrase to support you, infused with love and blessings, and packaged in a bag to hold close
  • A tiny print (all 12 months will create an inspiration deck for you)
  • Note from my heart to yours talking about the Soul Mantra phrase and monthly practice
  • A surprise additional gift
  • Monthly email newsletter where I dive deeper into the practice and share ideas
  • Invitation to a private Facebook group where we will talk about ways to connect with the month’s practice, share supportive stories, and so on
 

 

THIS BOX IS ALSO PART MAGIC!

Each month’s theme plus the talisman shape and size and your additional gift will be a surprise. This means your box will include all the goodies listed above but you will not know the exact details. Instead, you’ll be stepping into the magic of connection and intuition with me. 

Here’s what I mean: As each new month approaches, I’ll be listening for the phrase, word, or quote that we most need. While I may show peeks on social media, the full contents of the box won’t be revealed until we start shipping them out to the beautiful souls in this circle. 

There are several subscription options to choose from:

  • 1 month = $25 (for those who just want to try it out or pay monthly)
  • 3 months = $66 ($22 a month/save $9)
  • 6 months = $120 ($20 a month/save $30)
  • 12 months = $216 ($18 a month/save $84) plus receive a free soapstone heart bowl to hold your talismans 

Special Free Gift: 
If you sign up for a 3, 6, or 12-month subscription this week (through January 29), you'll also receive a free lotus necklace with your first box.

You can read more about the monthly box and subscribe right here on the Soul Mantras site. And yes, we are shipping internationally!

What I love most about this box is that it bridges the self-care and mindfulness practices I teach at my retreats and in my ecourses with the Soul Mantras I've been making since 2008. I love that I'll be sharing self-care ideas, we'll come together on Facebook to connect about them, and you'll be able to hold real, tangible handmade reminders in your hand in your corner of the world.

Enrollment for the February box has begun, and it's so exciting to see the names of the beautiful souls who are feeling the call to come along. 

courage, dear heart

liz lamoreux

 

Earlier this month, I shared some words about why I've chosen "attention" as my word of the year. Today, here's a little more about the phrase I'm also carrying with me: Courage, dear heart.

“But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, "Courage, dear heart," and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan's, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face.”
- C.S. Lewis, Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Chronicles of Narnia books have some of my favorite stories of all time. I'm a huge fan of C.S. Lewis and his writings, fiction and non-fiction. I appreciate his honesty and doubt and even cynicism about love until he fell in love later in life. He writes about grief in raw, intense ways in his book A Grief Observed, which is about his reaction to his wife's death. The writing was so truthful and full of questions about his faith that he published it under a pseudonym. I find this all so fascinating.

Lewis has said that Aslan represents Jesus in his Narnia books; I think of him as God. 

So to me, this quote is about faith and reaching out for what is greater than you when you are afraid and being reminded that you must look deep within for courage while also trusting that you aren't alone in whatever is coming your way.

Big stuff.

Last week, while Joni Mitchell sang, I wrote down all that came to mind when thinking about this phrase. Focusing mostly on feelings and words that capture where I am in this moment. I pushed myself to let go of censoring (even if it felt like I was writing cliches) and just write, using a kind of mind map.

 

courage dear heart journaling

 

I want to try to do this same practice every month - journaling with "courage, dear heart" as my prompt. There will probably be repetition but it feels powerful to push aside swirling thoughts and hone in on the feelings under the feelings with this phrase as a prompt.

Courage and attention, two words that feel important as we march forward into whatever is to come. I look forward to bringing them with me and using them to keep myself focused and supported as I find my way.

What words are you holding close these days? I'd love to know. 

(print above from Cheerful Ink)

making the bed.

liz lamoreux

At around 12:30 AM on January 1st, I made Jon help me put clean sheets and a different duvet cover on our bed because I just couldn't sleep in 2016 sheets. Silly, perhaps. But sometimes we just need to feel like we have some control.

The next morning, I made the bed. Later that day when our daughter was in our room, she said, "Who made your bed?" This should reveal a lot to you my friends. 

We've been making it every day since.

It feels like such a simple but profound act of attention. A way of saying to myself (and Jon) that I care enough about us to set this one thing back upright again before diving into the day.

Here's the truth: I've never really made my bed. I'm not a neat person. (I feel like) I have too much to do or say or write or experience to stop and upright things all the time. 

And I've had an internal battle hanging out inside me about that "truth" at different moments throughout my adult life. It came in like a lion last year when we were moving. Which resulted in me releasing some of the layers of shame of not living a life that is as organized or "neat" or ready for a magazine shoot like my mother's home or the homes I see on Pinterest or Instagram or in my head.

It's an ongoing releasing adventure as I continue to be honest with myself about this: There are stories that aren't our stories that we carry. And then there are our stories that we need to own and be truthful about how they're keeping us stuck.

Maybe you relate to pieces of this.

My point? Somehow this little act of making the bed, for 12 days now, has become a symbol of how I can turn the page on all those old stories. Perhaps even rewrite them.

I smile every single time I see that bed with those pillows stacked up and cozy wool blanket tossed across it. Even when it is a bit messily made. Even when clean laundry and two boxes I still haven't unpacked (since last summer) and Jon's pile of who knows what on his side hang out all around the room.

Because I'm making at least one move each day toward the life I imagine with this little gesture of attention.

Today though, instead of making any profound statements about how I've changed or how I expect to be making it for the rest of my life, I'm just noticing and gathering evidence and holding myself a little more accountable by telling you about it, too. 

This Is My Year Mini Bundle

liz lamoreux

 

DEAR BEAUTIFUL SOUL,

The “This Is My Year” mini bundle is a gathering of a few of my Soul Mantra favorites to help you keep your Word, Phrase, or Intention of the year close to you. Because I deeply believe in this practice of wearing your word and carrying it with you, I've priced it at more than 20% off

This special bundle includes the following:

A customized pewter bar necklace (or brass if you prefer) hand stamped with your word or short phrase. These pewter pendants are quite thick (thicker than we've had in the past) and will hold up well to daily wearing. 

A hand stamped pocket talisman with your word or short phrase. There are three talisman options: Heart, Thick Small Circle, Large Circle, so you can choose the one that best works with your word or phrase.

 
 

This is My Year manifesto 5x7 print written and designed by me. It is part declaration and part prayer, and I hope you will find yourself within its words. It is printed on thick card stock and comes packaged in a sleeve with backing to keep it safe. You can frame it, tape it right onto a wall in your home, put it on your inspiration board, or use it in your journaling projects. 

A This Is My Year sticker to use for journaling, scrapbooking, and so on.

A 2017 blessing postcard that you can fill out with your word (see below).

A reusable cloth bag stamped with This Is My Year that fits all of your goodies inside!

 
 

You can find all this goodness in the Soul Mantras shop right here

And if you need some ideas about choosing a word or intention of the year, check out this post.

attention :: my 2017 word

liz lamoreux

 

The word "attention" started tapping on me about a week after the 2016 election.

Literally "attention" was saying "pay attention to me." 

It started with noticing how I kept using the word, saying that I didn't want to become complacent, that I was so hopeful those of us feeling such grief and a fire within us after the election would continue to "pay attention" and not lean back into our privileged complacency.

And then I saw a quote from Mary Oliver:

Attention is the beginning of devotion.

When I started thinking about it as my word, I was pushing back because it didn't hold a warmth for me. Not that it is a cold word, but after this year, I feel such a deep longing for warmth. 

But as the events of 2016 continued to unfold and as I reflected on my own growth and stuckness, it began to feel like it was indeed the word I just might need alongside me. 

These other words from Mary Oliver, found in Our World and quoted here, speak to another layer of this word that feels so deeply important:

It has frequently been remarked, about my own writings, that I emphasize the notion of attention. This began simply enough: to see that the way the flicker flies is greatly different from the way the swallow plays in the golden air of summer. It was my pleasure to notice such things, it was a good first step. But later, watching M. when she was taking photographs, and watching her in the darkroom, and no less watching the intensity and openness with which she dealt with friends, and strangers too, taught me what real attention is about. Attention without feeling, I began to learn, is only a report. An openness — an empathy — was necessary if the attention was to matter. Such openness and empathy M. had in abundance, and gave away freely… I was in my late twenties and early thirties, and well filled with a sense of my own thoughts, my own presence.

::

My favorite movie is Lincoln. This drives my six year old crazy because 1) she isn't old enough to see it and 2) she really wants me to have the same favorite movie as her or at the very least choose a Disney movie because they are obviously the best.

Recently, I was explaining why I love the movie so much. First, it is simply a fantastic movie. The acting, the editing, the story itself. All of it. Second, Abraham Lincoln becomes more of a hero to me every single time I learn more about him. Such a complex man serving our country at such an intense time while holding his own internal and external grief plus depression. Just wow. Third, Daniel Day Lewis. 

This needs its own paragraph: At some point in between the first and second time I saw Lincoln in the theatre, I read an article where Daniel Day Lewis said something like, "I just miss him" when talking about how he felt about the movie. He meant he literally missed Lincoln because he was no longer submerged in playing him daily.

That kind of commitment, that kind of all in, well, it makes me weak at the knees.

I was telling someone about this and said something like, "We reward Daniel Day Lewis with an Oscar and critical acclaim when he submerges himself in the world of Lincoln and literally pretends to be him for months. If I suddenly said, 'This is the year I will pretend to be Mary Oliver each day and will walk every morning and then come home and write a poem.' And I will ask those around me to call me Mary; well, people would think I was crazy."

I suppose it would make for a very cool blog and Instagram persona. Though perhaps a bit more than a little odd because Ms. Oliver is still alive. 

But wouldn't it be something to infuse yourself with the wisdom and daily practices of someone you admire?

::

This idea of attention being a combination of openness and empathy alongside deeply noticing the world around you (and within) stirs something deep in me. 

I might not take a walk every single morning, but I want to keep this idea of attention as a way of devotion, as a way of making sense of things, and as a way of staying open and connected to empathy - as a way of learning about others and finding connection - close to me. I want to live a life of attention.

In many ways, I already do. But I'm ready to go deeper. I'm ready to embody more of what I teach and write about. And I'm ready to be a student and listen and listen some more.

I'm taking a companion with me on this journey, courage. Specifically, the phrase "courage, dear heart" from CS Lewis' book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. More on that in another post soon. 

As I always do, I've started a Pinterest board with inspiration for my word, and you can find it here. This can be a great way to stay connected to your word while also continuing to unpack the layers of meaning it holds for you.

I'm also going to take Ali's class and work with my word in a few other ways. Again, more on that soon.

I guess I should say this: I'm officially going to start blogging several times a week again. This blog is where I first started unpacking the idea of being present (hence the blog name "be present, be here") and before the world of social media, I would capture my photos and words here. This space became evidence of the ways I was paying attention in my life. Well, I'm ready for that to begin again. So here we go...

You can find the pocket talisman I've been carrying with my word stamped on it in my shop over here

(To come along with me, you can subscribe to my RSS feed here, get blog posts only by email, or subscribe to my newsletter and check the blog box to get my posts in your inbox. If you're already a newsletter subscriber, open up a recent newsletter and click "preferences" at the bottom and then check the blog box and you'll start receiving them.)