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reflecting on gentle :: my 2016 word

liz lamoreux

journaling with inspiration deck

 

This card that says "be gentle with yourself" from the love notes deck Lori Portka illustrated for Kris Carr is one of the images I kept seeing last year that invited me to choose the word "gentle" as my 2016 word.

A year ago when I first wrote about this word, I was thinking about things like: softness, tender moments, wholeness, grace, boundaries, and the quiet strength that awaits deep within. I was longing for softness and ease, and I thought gentle would guide me toward more of that. I thought when writing this post reflected on my word, I'd be sharing all the ways my life became softer this year.

But as things go in The And Space that makes up this life of mine, 2016 was one of the hardest years I've had in a while. Probably since the year EJ was born and had open-heart surgery at four months.

There were a lot of good things this year (like #thehouseofmagicalbluesky).

But there was also a lot of stress and internal struggles and hard relationship stuff. The kind of stuff you don't always share in your online spaces. You probably had some stuff like this too. Some years, there's just more of it.

 

 

Gentle pushed me to begin to acknowledge the ways I was hard on myself, ways that were so internalized, I didn't realize how deeply ingrained they actually were. I thought I was past them, and 2016 said, "not so much." Gentle helped me, even when I was raging against it, to find that kinder internal voice again.

Then, of course, externally and in the world around us all, this year was anything but gentle. I had to really push myself to look for any kind of gentleness amidst all the anger and pain.

Today, as I reflect on this past year, I have to admit I loved having this word as my companion, even when it annoyed me that I'd chosen it with hope in mind. It's helped me see that my words, my intentions, will stretch me just as life does. Yes, I want my practices to be safe places to land AND they can challenge me. This is The And Space after all. This is the space where I hold the beauty and the grit. This is the space where I can still choose gentleness if that is what best serves the moment.

 

my 2016 word

 

And I actually did learn more and experience "softness, tender moments, wholeness, grace, boundaries, and the quiet strength that awaits deep within." I just thought I'd experience those in a year that would feel gentle most of the time. It felt like it was time for that in my life. Know what I mean? But in reality, keeping the word "gentle" in front of me every day (or as Ali talks about, "keeping it visible"), taught me more about how to actually embody gentleness and ways to invite it into my daily life more often. 

When it comes to this word of the year thing, there are those who would say, "It's just a word." And I know there are those for whom this practice isn't a good fit. I get that, I really do. 

But for me, the words become symbols and touchstones that can deeply help us through the real, raw, and true journey we're on.

And I can take all the help I can get.

I do plan to create a little ceremony to say good-bye to 2016 (using some of these ideas). And then, I'm going to be so ready for 2017 and the adventures, lessons, and maybe even some gentleness to come.

In early January, I'm going to share more about my word and phrase for the year along with the self-care practices I'm bringing with me into the new year. (Remember, this is always a create your own adventure sort of a thing, sweet soul. So yes, you can choose a word, a phrase, a color, an animal, a quote, an intention, a prayer, a book, a poem, all the above, anything that you feel will guide you into and through 2017.)

How did you experience your word or intention this year? If you chose one, I'd love to know in the comments.

Top photo taken by Lauren Oliver Photography. The Heart Talisman in second photo is from Soul Mantras. Script word in last photo created by Colleen Attara (I get my word from her every year!)

on choosing a word or intention to guide you

liz lamoreux

 

It’s a morning in April, and I’m in that almost awake space when the sound of the shower joins the birds. Slowly my eyes open as I hear my daughter begin to stir in her bed in the room next door. Knowing she will soon be crawling into the space beside me, I close my eyes again and breathe and then say softly to myself, “Let today be full of ease.”

It’s an afternoon in late May. I stand in front of the mirror in my bathroom. I close my eyes. Inhale. Pause. Exhale. Pause. I open my eyes and look at the face in front of me. I watch my forehead soften, my jaw relax. I look into my own eyes and say, “You can let in more love.”

It’s an evening in July. I’m in my studio working, and through the open windows I hear their voices. The five year old getting louder not wanting to go to bed and the dad pushing back with his words. He’s handling things differently then I would. But yet, he’s also creating space for me to be in the studio doing what I need to do. I bring my hand to the necklace that hangs near my solar plexus and rub my fingers over the word “allow.” I breathe. I let go of needing to be in charge of everything.


 

We Need Practices

As we move through our days, we need practices that anchor us and remind us to think about how we really want to live, practices that help us reflect on what we want to invite into our lives. One practice I turn to is having a word or intention to focus on that gives me a sense of rootedness throughout my day. It connects me to the sacred and to the everyday moments and often becomes part of me, like a trusted companion that walks beside me. I often call this word or phrase a mantra or Soul Mantra. (And yes, this practice is why I named my jewelry business Soul Mantras!)

A Soul Mantra can be a beautiful way to set an intention when you’re in the midst of change or wanting to invite in a specific feeling or hope. They can be visual and internal reminders to help you stay on your path and help you pause and reflect, and they can even become part of the inner dialogue that supports you. 

A Mantra for the New Year

Choosing a mantra is also a beautiful practice to do at the beginning of the new year. This practice creates an intention for you as you invite in what you most need as you think about how you want your next year to unfold. 

When I’m choosing a word to be my guide for the year, I think about all that could happen in a year. I want my word to bring me back to center amidst whatever beauty and uncertainty await. For me, this isn’t about choosing a word that will invite me to have unrealistic expectations for myself or my daily life. Rather, it’s about choosing a word that lifts me up and is a safe space to land even as it challenges me.

 
 

Here's one of my favorite ways to choose a mantra:

Spend some time journaling about what you want to invite into your life for a few minutes. As you're writing, think about the words or phrases that feel most supportive. Write them down. And then over the next few days, keep your heart and ears open for other words and mantras that might be the right companion for you. Jot them down. Sit in the quiet for a few moments each day and just notice what comes up, coming back to this idea of thinking about what would most support you. Then, revisit your journal and write a few more thoughts about what you’ve discovered. Read over your writing to see if your mantra might be waiting for you. You can even fill a page with possible words and phrases.

This is the part where I tell you that what often happens to me is that I'll start to notice a word - in quotes on Pinterest, in conversation, in articles and books, and it won't let me go. It just keeps tapping on me. Sometimes there's a "YES! This is my word!" internal response. More often there is resistance. I sit with it. I check in with myself. I start to tell a couple of trusted people. And then I journal about it and usually admit to myself that it is just what I need.

You can also let yourself try on a word or mantra for a while. This is a “choose your own adventure” kind of practice, which means you can choose to move on from a mantra at any time. You aren’t choosing a tattoo design, at least not yet, but are instead simply playing with words in a powerful way.

As you work with this practice of connecting with a mantra and setting an intention for what comes next in your life, I hope you’ll begin to notice how it gives you an access point to presence in the midst of whatever a day hands you as you slow down and deeply connect with you. 

And if you'd like to wear or hold a Soul Mantra to help you stay even more connected to your practice, I'd love to make one for you. All the new word of the year designs can be found right here on the Soul Mantras site.

A version of this article first appeared in Mabel magazine.

notes from the studio :: november

liz lamoreux

 

The new collection + care packages are here just in time for the holidays! 

First, we have some beautiful new necklaces in the Intentions Collection, here are just a few: The new So I Fly necklace with amethyst, the Seeking Stillness altar locket filled with amethyst and quartz mini gemstones, the Joy & Abundance citrine necklace, and the Clarity quartz point necklace.

 
 
 
 

New customizable options: The Secret Message lockets, the "mend" bracelet, and the My Soul Mantra necklace that invites you to choose the intention you most need and then further customize with two gemstones of your choice. 

 
 
 
 

New gemstone bundles and other goodies for your altar are available right here, including: rainbow fluorite pillars, For the Deep Exhalation gemstone bundle, the customized just for you Intention Gemstone Bundle offering, and these new fair-trade olivewood hearts.

 
 
 
 

And introducing the new Soul Mantra Care Packages!

 

First up, the My Soul Mantra package. It's this season's version of the This Is My Year package we offered for 2016. It invites you to choose an intention, a word, or a practice that you want to invite and put into action in your life that becomes your personal Soul Mantra. The package comes with gifts meant to help you keep your intention close to you each day, shown here with the optional necklace upgrade. Learn more about this offering here

 
 

The For the One Who Is Deeply Loved care package that becomes the perfect gift to send to a sweet soul who you adore. Read all about it here.

 
 

And finally, the Inhale Love. Exhale Peace. care package that honors one of my favorite simple but profound meditations that I wrote on a day when I needed to remember that we can make a difference in the world, that we are not alone as we find our way:

inhale compassion
exhale love
inhale love
exhale peace
inhale peace
exhale compassion

repeat. repeat. repeat.

This package is full of lovely gifts to help you (or a loved one) keep this intention of love, peace, and compassion within and around you close. It invites you to practice this meditation, and when it feels right, send that goodness into the world. 

 

Every year, I donate a portion of the profits from the Heart.Full Collection to Mary Bridge Children's Hospital here in Tacoma. This is the hospital that saved my daughter Eleanor's life when she was five weeks old (before she had open heart surgery a few months later).

This year, I'm making the giving back more official. I'll be splitting 5% of the total Soul Mantra profits from 2016 between two different organizations: Mary Bridge - specifically to their Treehouse Program, which gives families a place to stay and other resources when their children are hospitalized and Oasis - a local organization that gives LGBTQ youth a safe space to learn, connect, and thrive. 

Thank you for supporting my shop. I'm honored and deeply grateful to create these offerings (with the help of my amazing assistant Bonnie) and send them to you in the hope that they will be companions for you and your loved ones on your journeys.

With love and deep gratitude,

Liz

pause.

liz lamoreux

Sweet soul, remember to pause for what fills you up.

For me, this has meant connection, laughter, truth telling, cuddling on the couch, favorite clothes, and laying on the floor in child's pose (sometimes while listening to Christmas music). Life feels even more fractured when I don't take time for these simple moments that support me.

When we're centered, we can better know what next step to take. We can stand on more solid ground even as the world around us is vastly unpredictable.

My hope for you is that you have moments of ease and connection in your corner even as you make decisions about how you will move through uncertainty.

::

It's hard to know what to say right now, and I worry my words about self-care might seem trite. But I'm trusting you're finding your way and deciding what you know to be true and feeling your own edges as you take in how our world has changed in the last few days. That intensity is real and hard, and if I can't wrap you in a hug, I hope I can at least invite you to listen to what you most need and remind you to take care of you so that you can take care of others. 

Big, big love,
Liz

PS I wrote an article for eBay about ways to strengthen your everyday relationships. It's full of the ideas I'm trying to implement over here as I focus on daily connection as a way to be more open and aware of what is happening in my own community.

checking in

liz lamoreux

Hello sweet soul,

This is me checking in to say that since I posted my previous post, I've been thinking about what "not on my watch" really means to me. The intentions, actions, and prayers that stand tall, rest, and even roar inside those words. I've been thinking about what standing up really means. It feels important to peek in here and say that. 

I'll be sharing more, but didn't want another day to go by without letting you know.

Blessings and love,

Liz

not on my watch

liz lamoreux

So this is that moment when I come back to this space and start writing. And writing. And sharing the rawness and realness along with ideas and practices and community. I'm working on lists - lists of self-care and lists of organizations I want to donate to, support, and learn more about and lists of voices I want in my daily life so that I stay informed without being consumed and lists of ways I'm going to serve. This is the day when I starting coming to this place more often to make sense of things like I have again and again over the years.

But first, here's a snapshot of thoughts from this morning, the day after the day after we did the unthinkable as a country.

 

 

Seeking the everyday rhythm as deep self-care. This simple ritual of breakfast and talking while I make her lunch. The sound of her chatter and laughter and decision that "today is all about Kitty Power!" The smells of coffee and cream cheese and a bagel toasting. The negotiation of: "If I put this piece of Halloween candy in your lunch, you also have to eat all your chicken." Audible sigh. "Fine." Finding coloring books and colored pencils for Jon to take to school for the mindfulness class he's teaching today. Brainstorming that maybe he should have a coloring station for kids. (Imagine your high school physics classroom with a coloring station?) Bringing my hand to my heart every time I remember who our next president will be. Breathing in that space that still feels a bit hallow inside me. Finding her coat and shoes and zipping up her backpack and off they go.

Today, I'll be home alone. Might stay in pjs. Will try to stay hydrated because I'm feeling brittle and dry. I'm going to write today. And write. And listen to music. And let the swirling grief and anger and disbelief sit beside me here on the couch. This is The And Space. The place where I get to feel it all. The place where I decide what's next.

::

One thing I do know is that I will be using my privilege, my wisdom, my love to say:

If you're going to try to hurt people who are different from you -people in the LGBTQ community, people in Muslim, Jewish, and other religious communities, people of color, people who are disabled, people who are more vulnerable than you. If you're going to try to harm my daughter who believes that love is love is love. If you're going to try to hurt anyone at all, you're going to have to get through me. You're going to have to get through so many of us holding hands and saying: Not on my watch.

::

I'm seeking the simple, everyday rhythms and writing and working so I can keep paying the bills, while I let all my feelings sit on the couch beside me. I'm letting this be my practice today because I know there is so much work to be done. Take care of you over there. And if you need a place to land, there's room over here in The And Space. I've got cookies.

it's always okay.

liz lamoreux

After our Toys R Us adventure on Saturday (which one of us was super excited about and the other was more in the "why didn't I have another cup of coffee" camp), we were hungry, and she spotted Jamba Juice. I drove over and immediately remembered that it's in this corner of the mall with impossible parking. Right away, we were in a crazy parking lot traffic jam at a standstill.

And I started ranting a bit - half preparing her that we would be leaving and half complaining like an annoyed tired mama.

When we didn't start moving when the car two ahead of us finally pulled into a parking spot, I realized the car in front of us must be waiting too. Insert dramatic sigh here.

Then, suddenly two more cars pulled out and the car in front of me waved as she pulled into the closest spot and I was able to pull into the next one.

"I cannot believe this, but there's totally a spot for us."

"Mama, I told you it was all going to be okay. It's always okay."

Yes. Yes it is kid.

::

There are those moments when I'm really not my best self. When I yell. When I get super exasperated. When I say the worst thing. But then there are moments when she reminds me that I'm doing things right, too.

And we just keep finding our way.

(Remember to notice the moments when things are going right, honey.)


I'm sharing more and more stories like this one over on Instagram. It's my favorite social media hang out, and I'd love to connect with you over there.

notes from the studio :: october

liz lamoreux

I have a confession: We've started listening to Christmas music in the Soul Mantras studio. Bonnie wanted to turn it on last week, and it felt perfect because we're planning out our holiday and word of the year offerings that I'll be sharing with you in the coming weeks. Not that I'm ready for Christmas time. I mean, I have to first figure out how to style Ellie's hair like Rey's by Friday's after-school Halloween parade. But I have to tell you, there is something deeply grounding about listening to Bing and Rosemary sing about walking in a winter wonderland. 

I hope you're noticing what's grounding you these days. It's a good idea to keep an ongoing list of grounding self-care moves to turn to. Just the act of making the list invites in mindfulness and self-care. One practice that's always on mine is using a mantra.

My Current Mantras

A few mantras that have been getting me through lately:

You have this day: I've been carrying around a talisman stamped with these words, and I shared the story behind it over on the Soul Mantras blog.

We go high: Michelle Obama's beautiful quote, "When they go low, we go high" comes up for me daily. I keep thinking about stamping it in my own "Secret Message" bracelet to wear when I need to remember how I want to move through the world.

I am with you: After I shared this story here and on Facebook about how my skin has been feeling like it's on inside out lately, a sweet soul posted "I am with you," and suddenly I felt like I could breathe deeper. I am with you. Yes. Yes. Yes. I'm holding those words so close to me.

Enough: From "I am enough" to "enough is enough is enough" to "you have done enough, sweet soul," this word has so many layers of meaning, and it's the one word I've stamped in metal more than any other since starting Soul Mantras back in 2008. It is a mantra I often repeat while using a mala while meditating.

What mantras, words, prayers are you holding close lately? If you feel moved to, please leave a comment and let me know. Hearing your stories is such a gift to me. (Thank you.)

With the idea of helping us all keep our mantras, intentions, and prayers close to us, I'm having a 15% off sale over at Soul Mantras through the end of the month. When you check out, just use coupon code YOUAREAMAZING (in all caps) to take 15% off your order. The coupon works over on Etsy too.

We're customizing all of our hand stamped items these days, so if you love one of the mantra designs and want to customize it, that's totally possible (like the Secret Message bracelets above). I also love helping you find the mantras, gemstones, and intentions that support you, so if you have any questions, just reply and let me know. You can also explore Five Ways to Use a Mantra over on the Soul Mantras blog.

Big love,

Liz