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Filtering by Tag: because this is self-care

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

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.

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Bottom photo by Lauren Oliver Photography

dance it out (because this is self-care)

liz lamoreux

One evening last year, Jon was getting Ellie ready for bed and I was cleaning the kitchen. Paul Simon's "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" came on and I couldn't resist. I stopped everything to dance all alone in our living room.

The "stuff" of the day began to drip off of me as I twirled, the room whirring by. I brought my arms up above my head as the beat and the words mingled around me. Singing at times and just letting myself move and be in the moment. Not worrying about all that awaits but just letting in space for joy and silliness and even sacredness.

Dancing it out is a practice I turn to often. When I'm in my studio alone, I turn up Dolly Parton or Mumford and Sons or Taylor Swift and just move. It grounds me in my body. It shakes out the cobwebs and the worries and the distractions. It creates space inside me. It brings me back to me.

I also use this practice when I'm frustrated, sad, overwhelmed, and unsure of what to do. The music and movement push me out of my whirling thoughts and give me a break to just be one with the spirit within and around me. I suppose it sometimes can even be a spiritual practice for me.

When it comes to this work of using self-care and creativity to help us build a bridge between daily life and where we want to go, we need practices that keep us connected to what matters to us, practices that bring us back to center and keep us moving forward.

And "dancing it out" really can be a beautiful daily self-care practice. Something you do to fill up the well inside you each day to help you continue to come home to yourself even as you experience all that a day can hold.

Using this practice

Today, I want you to just take a few moments to think about how you could bring music into your current self-care practice. Here are a few ideas:

  • Create a "dance it out" playlist. These might be songs to dance it out to or songs that feel like an old friend. 
  • Try dancing it out (or singing it out) before you spend time journaling or creating or even before doing something that is going to be a challenge. If you don't usually write or create with music on, put some on and see how it affects the way you put your pen to the page.
  • Start your day with music if you don't already. Notice how it shifts your mood.
  • Just start moving your body. Close your eyes. Let yourself just feel the music (and it's okay if that music is in your head).
  • Turn on music and dance as you clean your kitchen.
  • Invite someone to join you and dance it out together. This is exactly what my daughter and I are doing in the photo at the top of this post. She was frustrated for a moment while playing at the beach so I came up with the idea of pretending we could hear music and we just started dancing. 
  • Put aside a specific time each day to dance, just like you might put aside time to read or go for a run. Set aside just a few minutes to dance to a couple of songs. Try this for two weeks, making note of how you feel before and after you dance each day.

What self-care are you using in your corner of the world? I'd love to know in the comments or use the hashtag #becausethisisselfcare on Instagram and I'll find you over there.

five small acts of mindfulness

liz lamoreux


I came across this quote, and I honestly can't stop thinking about it.

Salzberg speaks so deeply to what I've learned, especially in the last year: In order for me to stick with a practice, it has to be manageable for me. I have to be able to actually do it. So I'm going to start sharing more ideas for manageable mindifulness and self-care practices here in this space in the hopes that they'll give you some ideas for the kind of daily practice you can create over in your corner. I believe that through these practices, be keep building that bridge between our daily lives and the lives we deeply imagine for ourselves.

Here are five ideas to help you bring in small but deep moments of mindfulness into your daily life.

1. Stretch and move your body.

Moving your body with awareness can quiet your mind chatter and invite you back into presence. Here's one quick way to do this: 

Stand up with enough space around you that you can sweep your arms out to the side. With your feet about hip distance apart, try to feel your feet beneath you. Bring your hands to your heart or cross your arms at your chest. With your next inhale, open your arms wide feeling the stretch all the way to your fingertips. As you exhale, bring your arms back to center, crossing them over your heart. Repeat 5-10 more times. As you stretch, continue to focus on feeling your feet beneath you while also stretching your upper body.  

When you're done, make any other movements your body needs right now. Just notice. You'll know what to do.

2. Get outside and take five deep breaths.

There's a reason why I often give people the homework of getting outside: It gets you out of your head and back into your body and mind. This happens because you're so often surrounded by so much that is simply present. From the birds singing their song every single day to the trees following the rhythms of mother nature, there's evidence of the way the world outside this screen and even your daily life finds ways to be present.

Get outside for even just three minutes today and pause, taking five deep breaths as you simply notice whatever is around you.

3. Make a list of observations.

Writing a list can invite you away from the distractions and swirling thoughts and get you back into your heart a bit more. It can also connect you to the present moment. Here's what I mean: Write a list of observations about this moment. Move away from feelings and things that need to get done and instead, imagine you are stepping outside of yourself and just notice what you see. I sometimes start lists like these with the word "here."

For example: Here blue sky shines thought the window. Here a dog snores. Here a woman pushes herself through writer's block. Here a kettle of water begins to boil. Here a favorite soft t-shirt. Here artwork dances on the walls...

Sometimes this practice becomes a bit like writing a poem. It's a great idea to try daily; you could even keep an ongoing list of observations in your planner.

4. Practice a simple breathing meditation.

Here's one of my favorite beginning meditations (that I use often). I call it the "Counting Your Breaths" meditation.

Find a comfortable way to sit. You can use a pillow or a meditation cushion or even a rolled up blanket to sit on. (Note though that you can really do this anywhere - in your car, in the shower, during a break at work, at your desk, and so on.)

Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breathing. Notice how your breath moves in your body. After a few moments, begin to count your breaths. One way I like to do this is to literally say internally, “Inhale one. Exhale one. Inhale two. Exhale two.” as I breathe. Count up to 10. If you'd like to practice longer, or after you've tried a few sessions of going up to 10, you can start over and go through this cycle of 10 a few times. When you’re done, notice your mind, body, and heart.

5. Notice your senses.

This is a practice you can truly do anywhere at any time. Pause right where you are and notice all five of your senses. Breathe deeply, and pay attention to what you hear, smell, taste, see, and touch. Depending on where you are, try to close your eyes so you can get even deeper in touch with your other senses. I also like to add in a sixth sense of knowing. I do this by taking a deep breath and literally saying to myself, "What do I know in this moment."

Check out my senses series for a peek into how I use this as a meditative photography and writing practice as well.

To think about: As you consider developing your own mindfulness practice, think about what is really doable for you. What can you create space for in your life? What do you have time for? And pair these questions with thinking about what you really need.

An invitation: If you want to circle with women to talk about self-care and mindfulness practices and how you can really make them a part of your daily life, come along on my fall Be Present Retreat. It's called Water Your Soul and it takes place this November in Manzanita, Oregon. Learn all about it here

(photo of me by Vanessa Simpson of Focus in Photograpy)