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Filtering by Tag: self-care

10 ways to practice self-care at the holidays

liz lamoreux

Dear beautiful soul,

We're in it aren't we? This beautiful, hard, spirit-full time of year. The Holidays.

Today, I want to reach out and invite you to think about shifting your self-care a bit to support you right now. It still needs to be on your list - your "this is non-negotiable" list - even as you wrap presents and bake cookies and run to the store yet again and how the list goes on and on.

Here are a few ideas to help you think about ways to practice self-care right now. Choose just one from this list to try. Or let these ideas be a springboard for your own.

The important thing: Take time to slow down and notice. Let yourself just breathe within the present moment instead of rushing toward expectations and stuff or whatever else your schedule holds. 

Create space to enjoy the simple things you love about the holidays

Make a quick list of things you love this time of year. Pretend that there isn't a to-do list connected to this and let go of thinking about what your family members love. What do you love? Look over your list and choose one or two and create space to make them happen.

Here's an example: There’s something about the lights of our Christmas tree at night that invite in a sense of stillness for me. I love to simply sit in our family room with just the lights of the tree on while I drink a cup of tea. I just breathe and try to let my thoughts rest as much as I can. When my thoughts are really restless, I’ll stand at the tree and look at the ornaments that represent the childhoods of my husband, myself, and now our daughter. My favorite is the popsicle stick sled from my first grade teacher that I’m holding together with tape after all these years.

Light candles

I've been mentioning this one often lately, and that's because it is such an important practice to me and my family. When it starts to get dark so early in December, I begin to light candles at dusk. Lately, I've been going back to this practice: When I light them, I often whisper a little blessing of gratitude for something that happened during my day. This pushes me to really notice the positives from the day. Then when I blow the candles out before heading to bed, I say blessings of protection and love for my loved ones. 

My current favorites candles are these from Moorea Seal and these amber candles.

Music

I’m one of those people who loves most holiday music, but even if you aren’t a huge fan, there is probably at least one album out there that makes you smile. Maybe it’s Bing singing "White Christmas" or Elvis or Johnny Mathis or Kenny & Dolly. I love just about any version of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," but the one sung by John Denver and Rolfe from The Muppets always brings a wave of nostalgia that feels like home to me. Create a holiday playlist for yourself. 



Creating an altar with photos

Getting out a few photos of the people I miss this time of year helps me to keep them in my mind and heart. It feels good to have them around me instead of letting missing or distant memories get me down. I like to gather a candle and a few small things that remind me of that person, like the shells shown in the example of me walking with my grandpa on the beach, and create a little remembrance altar.

Find stillness

As your mind swirls with all that must get done, you've got to slow down and get recentered honey. Even just taking those five deep breaths several times a day can be supportive first-aid self-care this time of year. Create some reminders for yourself to pause and breathe. This might mean setting a reminder on your phone every few hours. Find a way to just get still. And if you need ideas, check out this post.

Connecting

There are so many parties and gatherings that we can feel we "must" attend, and then in contrast, so many of us can feel lonely at the holidays (whether we have these gatherings or not). As you figure out your schedule over the next few weeks, make the choice to connect with the friends and family who most support you too. This might mean a coffee date, a phone call or getting on Skype, or even texting with a loved one. Make time for those deeper connections. And remember, you don't have to say yes to everything. You really don't dear one.

 

 

A cup of tea

I bring up drinking tea often in my self-care suggestions because I really believe that making and then drinking tea (or coffee or hot cocoa) engages all of our senses. This act of slowing down and noticing the smells and taste and even the feel of the warm mug in our hands helps create space for quietness and calm. You can even turn making and drinking a cup of tea into a ritual that grounds you daily and gives you some time just for you.

And this is the part where I say: You can even make your stop at Starbucks this ritual. Skip the drive through. Go inside and order. Then sit and just breathe and take five minutes for you while you drink your latte. Try not to look at your phone for those five minutes.

Get outside

I know it might be really cold where you live, but get outside anyway. If you don't, you're going to go stir crazy. You need the fresh air. You need the sun. You need to remember that there is a big world out there. You need to remember that the birds will keep singing and the trees will keep reaching up toward the sun no matter what this time of year brings you. Go for a walk even if it's just for a block or down your driveway and back.

Let yourself feel all the feelings

This time of year can bring up so much. From expectations to past hurts to hopes that this year your family won't talk about {fill in your own family's story here} to wishing your kids would all smile for the photo to missing loved ones...there's a lot of feelings swirling. Try not to judge the feelings that are coming up for you. Let yourself feel them. Yes, you are allowed to feel sad. And yes, honey, you are allowed to feel happy! And all the other things in between. In fact, you can even feel conflicting things at the same time. You get to choose. (You also get to choose what you do with these feelings. You can dwell. Or you can create your own experience this year. It might be hard to see that, but the choice is there for all of us.)

And remember that those around you have swirling feelings too (even those who might be hurting yours). Tread gently.

Think about how your self-care might have to change this time of year

Maybe you're visiting family or a whole crew is headed your way. Maybe you have to work on Christmas Day. Maybe you're alone for the first time. As you look at what's ahead, think about how your self-care might have to shift. Do you need to get up a little bit earlier because the kids are on break? Do you need to ask your spouse for different kind of support? Do you need to set a boundary around how much you're cooking? Do you need to let go of some pieces of your daily self-care practice due to time and travel?

Think about what pieces of self-care are non-negotiable for you and brainstorm some ways that you can still make them happen.

Then ask yourself this question: What could shift so there could be more ease, more space to really enjoy my loved ones and what I love about this time of year?

I'm cheering you on over here. We really can hold the beauty of the holidays in one hand and the truth that sometimes they are hard in the other.

Give yourself the gift of coming back to center several times a day over these next few weeks.

You deserve to feel the love, and those you love do too.

Blessings,

Liz

PS Feel free to share your own self-care ideas and tips in the comments. I love when we can learn from one another.

photo credits: top photo Lauren Oliver Photography, third photo Vanessa Simpson of Focus in Photography 

Dove Self-Esteem Project

liz lamoreux

I'm so excited to partner with Dove to share about the Dove Self-Esteem Project and their new short film, Change One Thing, that encourages girls to realize that they don't need to change one thing about their appearance. Take a moment to watch the short film above, and I have a feeling you'll be ready to join me in making a difference in a girl's life. 

To date, the Dove Self-Esteem Project has reached 17 million girls with self-esteem programming. However, there is more work to be done. Research shows that 9 out of 10 girls want to change at least one thing about their appearance. Fortunately, Dove believes that everyone has the opportunity to make a difference in a girl’s self-esteem.

Today, the Dove Self-Esteem Project is launching a Pinterest page to provide free resources that address today's biggest barriers to a girl's self-esteem. With this new campaign, Dove's goal is to encourage girls to find confidence in their beauty and inspire women to embrace the power and ease of mentorship to help the girls in their lives reach their full potential. 

The articles and resources shared as part of the Dove Self-Esteem Project are accessible and full of actionable ideas to help you begin to have the sometimes tough conversations about everything from body awareness and respecting yourself to peer pressure, bullying, and navigating social media. There are also activities and starting points to help you begin to weave in more moments that help your daughter or the girls in your life think about body confidence and self-care.

 

My daughter Ellie is just five, but already I'm noticing the way she talks about her body and even how she talks about the ways she's liked or not liked by her peers on any given day. She isn't really saying negative things very often, but I'm observing the awareness she has about herself and her peers. I'm also noticing how she pays attention to the way I talk about myself and my body and features and sometimes mirrors what I say. 

Our daughters are feeling the pressure to look beautiful at as young as 10 years old. When girls feel that they have a positive role model, they are less likely to let anxieties about looks hold them back. (Source: Dove Global Research: The Real Truth About Beauty: Revisited)

When I think about this, I can't help but want to imagine a world where our daughters look in the mirror with kindness. (I want you to imagine a world where you look at yourself with kindness too.) I really do believe we can make this world a reality.

 

Several activities shared as part of the Dove Self-Esteem Project invite moms to think about how they can model positive self-esteem for their daughters and other young women in their lives. One of my favorite ideas encourages moms to get into photos with their daughters. Getting into photographs and even selfies with your daughter is actually a great way to invite them to feel connected and deeply seen while also modeling self-kindness toward yourself as you let yourself be seen as well.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that taking self-portraits is a big part of my creative self-care. I even wrote a book all about self-portraiture. So taking selfies happens a lot around here. Even though I've been working on softening my own inner self-talk for a long time and taking photos of myself is really part of the work I do in the world, sometimes I don't want to be in a photo or take a selfie; sometimes I feel like I look too tired or too stressed or simply not pretty.

But my daughter doesn't see the circles or the fine lines that I get caught up in noticing. She just sees someone she deeply loves. And she's seen me model self-portraiture so much that she often wants me to take a photo of us together.

 

So I'm getting in the photos with her when she asks, even in the moments when I feel tired or don't have on any make-up. When I look at this photo of the two of us in the evening light earlier this year - a photo I took with my phone and arm extended - I see that love that I know she sees. And I'm trusting that these little moments of love and self-care and connection will deeply support her as she keeps developing.

I also really recommend the body scan mindfulness activity (click through and pin that one so you don't forget). This is something I've been teaching Ellie in the evening after she gets into bed. We bring awareness to the different parts of our bodies and notice how our bodies feel. We even send our bodies love. My hope is that this will continue to be a powerful way for her to stay connected to her body and how she feels physically and emotionally. It is also a really good one to practice yourself to deeply connect with your body.

Head over to the Dove Self-Esteem Project Pinterest page and start exploring! There are so many wonderful resources to help the girls and young women in your life begin to have an awareness of what they say aloud and internally, while also helping you support them to begin to make positive changes and invite in more self-love as they raise their self-esteem. 

You could even create your own #SelfEsteemProject Pinterest board to start saving these resources so you know right where to find them when you need them. I also really like the idea of starting a mom's group where you could begin to support one another in having these conversations with your daughters and with yourself. That's something I hope to do over here in my corner of the world.

May we each take a step toward encouraging the young women in our lives and help them to see that they don't need to change one thing about their appearance.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Note: This post was sponsored by Dove and I'm honored to partner with them to share the #SelfEsteemProject message and spread the word over on Pinterest. I hope you'll join in and spread the word too so these resources can get into the hands of even more people. Thanks for being here and reading!

Photo of Ellie and the photo of Ellie and me in her bedroom were both taken by Tara Whitney.

practicing self-care even in the summer

liz lamoreux

Over here, we're navigating that slide toward the end of the school year. Because Jon's a teacher and Ellie is now in school full-time, our lives revolve around the school schedule, which I'm sure many of you can relate to.

And here's the truth: I'm so used to my schedule as I work from home during the day that I've been known to dread summer a bit.

I mean I love summer. And of course I love my family.

But they are both home. 24-7. Okay not always 24-7 but I've found it very hard to create a schedule for all of us that works.

Maybe because I don't really create one.

(This is turning into true confessions.)

And although there are many beautiful, fun, love-filled moments as a family in the summer, there's also the reality that: Mama needs to work!

As I continue to look for ways to build my own bridge between the everyday stuff and more really really good days, I'm thinking about how this summer can feel different for all of us.

And one huge piece stands out to me: Not only do I need to simply sit down with Jon and look at the calendar and think about how to shift my work schedule, I also have to restructure my own self-care.

This means making a list of self-care moves that will support me (and my family) this summer. For example:

  • Pausing to just notice and seeking beauty in the inbetween spaces.
  • Taking those five deep breaths.
  • Asking for what I need (for real...instead of resenting that someone isn't reading my mind).
  • Scheduling in rest and quiet time in our days.
  • Identifying little things that bring me joy this time of year and making them happen (watercolor picnics! painted toenails! flowers in pots outside! lazy days in the backyard on quilts!).
  • Creating an updated family self-care journal.
  • And taking time to add and subtract things from this list to make self-care really manageable for myself this summer.

If you'd like support in figuring out the self-care practices that you need this summer, come along to Water Your Mama Soul, my ongoing 10-day ecourse for women who are ready to take time for themselves so they can be even more present to their loved ones and their life. 

This can be the summer you remember you even as you experience carpooling to camp and family reunions and weddings and hot hot hot days and siblings together all.the.time. and how the list goes on.

This can be the summer where you look at yourself in the mirror and say, "You got this kid."

This can be the summer where you create space for more joy and more ease.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Sign up right here.

sloughing it off {because this is self-care}

liz lamoreux

I get in the shower and let the hot water rush onto my body. I stand there for a minute or so. Just being. Then I shampoo and wash my hair, sometimes pretending I'm standing under a waterfall like I used to pretend when I was a kid. My body begins to relax as my shoulders move away from my ears, my forehead relaxes, eyebrows un-tense, spine settles.

Here.

Then my big moment of self-care arrives: I open a jar of sugar scrub and scoop some into both hands. I move my hands across my chest, shoulders, elbows. I sometimes gently scrub my c-section scar.

I imagine that I'm sloughing off the pieces of the day. The stuff that doesn't serve me anymore. I imagine that I'm clearing the way for whatever is to come, for the shiny newness underneath the old.

Sometimes I even purposefully take a shower to slough off a particularly hard day or conversation that didn't go as planned. I imagine that I am pulling out the energy that's settled inside me from the experience. Gently rubbing in circles across my heart, down my arms, sometimes even ever so gently across my face.

Scrubbing. Sloughing. Gently clearing away.

A simple act of self-care that reminds me that I get to choose what I hold onto. I get to choose how I react to my day. And it simply makes me feel good too.

I really love my time in the shower. The quiet space of water and warmth brings me back to center. I am one of those people who has a lot of really good ideas in the shower, so I keep dry erase markers in the bathroom so I can write the ideas onto the mirror when I get out so I don't forget them. I can focus in while also relaxing enough so that ideas can rise up to the surface. I also find myself feeling all the feelings in the shower, and it cocoons me so I can feel a sense of space just for me.

But with a little one around, sometimes shower time becomes a time when she wants to talk with me while sitting on the stool in front of this sink or look at a book while just being in the bathroom with me or just peek in to see what I'm up to. This practice of sloughing is off is one I can turn to even when my time alone has become time to chat with Mama. I can still choose to inhale the lavender and be right here even when my daughter is chattering away about what playground we're going to go to when I get out of the shower.

Self-care doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to look like what someone else is doing. It just needs to fill you up. Yes. Yes. Yes.

A few of my favorite scrubs: 

because this is self care | the imperfect bath adventure

liz lamoreux

 

Begin to run the bath. Ignore the rust spots and soap scum, quickly wipe the sides with last night's washcloth and grab the rock you keep on the shelf above the toilet - the rock unearthed from your grandparents' backyard on that day in March six years ago when you knew you'd never see that home of your heart again. Let the rock cover the tiny bits of mildew that won't leave you alone in this house you never thought you'd live in for more than ten years.

Take down the journal filled with five or six pages of dreams you had three years ago. Take down the journal and gather the book of poems and simple black pen. You don't need to find that perfect pen that is lost in the pile of other pens and journals and magazines on the floor beside your bed.

Pour your coffee into your favorite orange mug and scoop the yogurt from the carton into a simple jar. Top with frozen blueberries because you have a handful left you noticed underneath the frozen steaks yesterday.

Reach for the gorgeously named Dandelion Milk bath powder and breathe through the moment you realize the cork is stuck, and you will only get to look longingly at the promise to "soak your worries away," but will instead have to rely on hot water and oatmeal soap.

Slip into the water and marvel at your oversight as it sloshes over the side and wish for just half of a second that your daughter was with you because she'd laugh at the waves your almost forty-year-old body makes as you quickly use your foot to flip the drain to let the gurgling two inches of too much water swirl away.

Sip your coffee as you settle into the warmth and the exhalation of having this sliver of time you've created. Spoon yogurt into your mouth watching the purple blueberry juices dance against the white spoon you decided to buy last week because it felt like such a simple way to say "Yes, I can live this life I imagine for myself."

Open Mary Oliver's The Leaf and the Cloud and find yourself beginning a deep, open stretch into noticing and truth as you find your mind, your heart, your hand pulling you toward your own page to write your own words to collect your own evidence of seeing the beauty standing next to, inside, the realness that makes up this moment, this life you've chosen.

Be present to that inevitable inner promise insisting that you will do this again: Eat. Drink. Find yourself reflected in someone else's words. Write your own words in a bathtub each Tuesday morning before diving into work. Write this promise all while knowing you will break it as living fills the space you've created by giving yourself this time just for you.

And even as you know you can't pinky swear that this "moment of exquisite self-care" will happen again next Tuesday or even next month, breathe in the knowing that perhaps this is enough. Perhaps you can simply trust the next moment of mothering yourself will sprout in this space nurtured by the compost created by a moment later today and tomorrow and the day after that. Perhaps today's small act of mothering will help you keep your face toward the sun.

Perhaps reading this aloud to yourself is the only promise you need in this moment on a Tuesday on a day in February as your hand slides across the page.

*****

Self-care doesn't have to be perfect. It can be soap scum and water spilling over the sides and a gorgeous bottle of bath milk that you can't even open. 

When you give yourself the gift of even just a few minutes of self-care, of mothering yourself, of listening to your own wisdom, you tend to the you inside who needs to be seen. Each moment of taking care of you becomes the nurturing your soul needs, your soul longs for, so you can show up as you in your daily life. So you can choose love more.

If learning some accessible, simple, and effective self-care moves is calling to you, I hope you'll join me for Water Your Mama Soul. The class is just 10 days long and you need just 10 minutes a day to join us. We start Monday. Learn more and register here.

And here's the part where I say that if you're reading this and you aren't a mama, your kids are grown, the little ones in your life are nieces, nephews, grandkids, or the animals you love and yet the course calls to you, you are invited to come along. For real. Head over to the class page and read the FAQ for more info about why I believe this class is a good fit for any woman feeling called to water her soul, to mother herself. Yes.

take a quick mama break

liz lamoreux

As part of my collaboration with eBay, I'm sharing a few quick ideas for taking a short "mama break" in the midst of whatever might be happening in your day. These are all things you can do in just 1 to 5 minutes, and my hope is you can use them in the carpool line, when you're moving from being on the floor playing with Legos to the kitchen to make lunch, and even when you're on the bus on the way to work.

I'm having so much fun sharing different guides over on eBay, and I hope you'll take a moment to read this one along with the others over there. And a shout out to Vaness Simpson of Focus in Photography for taking so many of the photos in several of the guides I'm sharing over there.

And here's one quick way to take a mama break right now: close your eyes and take five deep breaths (or even just one) and focus on the space you create inside you each time your chest opens as you inhale.

*****

If you're a mom want to dive even deeper into ways to practice self-care, check out Water Your Mama Soul. It's a 10-day class that invites you to come home to yourself through photography, writing, and self-care prompts.

a new collaboration

liz lamoreux

I'm excited to announce that I'm collaborating with eBay for the next few weeks, and this post is part of that collaboration.

So often, we think of eBay as a place to buy things we might not be able to get anywhere else. For me, this has meant searching for and scooping up a vintage Strawberry Shortcake lunch box like the one my mom gave away that I now use for sewing supplies, discontinued favorite Dansko shoes, vintage pink buttons that look like flowers, a stuffed animal for Ellie to replace one we couldn't get anymore, and even some jewelry tools I use in my studio.

You might not know that eBay is also a great place for information, and I've begun sharing some guides about a few of my favorite topics over in their guides section. I've also started putting together a few collections of things that are catching my eye as I explore eBay.

Today, I want to share one of my guides that is all about self-care. It has some great ideas for you to tuck away as we get ready to move into the holidays. And these ideas are about self-care moves you can do when you only have five minutes. Read it right here.

Over the next few weeks, from time to time I'll be sharing other guides you here. The topics will vary from curvy girl fashion to other self-care moves to DIY and craft ideas for you to do with your little ones. I'm so excited about this collaboration and so grateful to you for coming along!

The photo above was taken by Vanessa Simpson of Focus in Photography. Earlier this month, we had a fun day taking photos and sharing stories as we styled some photos for these guides and blog posts and tried to dodge the Pacific Northwest rain. So grateful for this blossoming friendship and how it's becoming a creative collaboration kind of friendship too. She has two little ones, so it is also fun to be able to swap mama stories + have playdates with the kids. 

::home::

liz lamoreux

 

still have sand between my toes #yourstoryretreat

 

So many giggles on the drive home as we sang with Johnny Cash and talked about what might come next.

Tomorrow, she heads back to "middle earth" and the true re-entry begins.

Self-care prescription for the week: Rest, nourishing food, walks along Puget Sound with my family, and remembering to connect with my kindreds when I feel lonely or a bit lost.

And what about you? How are you practicing self-care this week?