I am writing this at 10:40pm from a hotel room in Cranberry, PA. We had already planned on making our way to Ann Arbor to see family for Halloween. It being Audrey’s favorite holiday, I desperately wanted her to be able to be with kids her own age. So, we planned on packing up the car after school on Friday and making the ten plus hour trip in two days. However, last night her school called and said someone had tested positive for COVID. It wasn’t anyone she was in contact with and she would have been able to head to school today. However, with the fact that we wanted to so badly see family and keep peace of mind for all, we decided to leave her out of school and instead, make the trip a day early and with much less time constraint.
So here I am writing to you from a hotel room at 10:47pm in the middle of Pennsylvania. And I am doing so because I wanted to share a realization I just had. For the first two years of our life as a family, we traveled much like we did today, often every week or two. We traveled by car mostly, but at times by plane. We stayed in hotels and airbnbs. We explored museums and parks and all that each city had to offer, freely galavanting about.
As we walked into the hotel room tonight, masked up and touching as little as possible, Audrey so excitedly exclaimed “I wish we could live here for a while”. I reminded her that once upon a time, this was a lot like her life. I have always known she wouldn’t really remember it, but I share it often with her. What I didn’t expect at that moment was the gut punch that recalling that time would bring. In today’s 2020 pandemic world, life as it was three years ago feels like another time. A completely different planet really. I had already felt that way a year ago. Memory is the contortion of moments to feel both so very close and far away and when you have kids you become super aware of that. This feels so much different still.
And I felt myself longing for that old time. I felt my mind and my body want to shift into the ache of what was in comparison to what is. Thankfully though, something else kicked in. I heard my own voice say “don’t lose the sweetness of this moment Sara”. I took a breath and immediately listed in my brain all of the things that felt good about the day. Audrey was able to do school work and entertain herself in the backseat. Consequently Justin and I were able to have deep conversations up front. We played games together, listened to music and talked about our favorite things as a family. We minimized our stops, we masked up and touched as little as possible and we won’t be partaking in the hotel pool in the morning as has been our past strategy for tiring her out before another long car ride. But we ate dinner in bed, snuggled and watched a movie, stayed up late and enjoyed being in the same room together. It’s certainly not the same as it was. And it's not so much about what we did, but that total feeling of freedom is somewhat gone. The constraints of an invisible virus are always looming.
But it also wasn't bad.
I share this because the realization I had was that we often forsake the sweetness of the present moment for the pining of the past. We live in what was, or the memories of what was and miss out on the moments in front of us. Not the future moments, but the ones that are literally taking place before our very eyes, often through missing and wishing. I know that I have done this a lot this year. I have missed Audrey going to school all week long, missed our friends and community, wished for playgrounds where kids can run freely and I can stand and talk to adults unobstructed from a mask. I have certainly missed our home and life as it began at the start of this year, certain hopes and dreams that came with it. And I have wished for answers that aren't yet possible. And tonight I felt myself begin to slide down the rabbit hole of missing a time that no longer exists, but sure feels good reminisce about. And while reminiscing about things is fine, I wonder how often we allow ourselves to get tangled up in the web of distraction that comes from our nostalgia and compromise the present experience?
I think that is something I am going to work on for myself. It is certainly something that has improved in the recent weeks of not putting a camera up all the time to capture moments on social media. But I still think there is more that I can do, or rather not do, in my own mind in order to soak in the sweetness of the moment. This moment, right here, right now.
In reality, it’s all there is.
The body aches and longs for someone to notice it. To praise its shape.
The mind silently screams about all the times you did this or that and no one said a thing, not a word. Look what I did for you! Why can’t you see that?
Thoughts are consumed with the fear that if you go a day without showing yourself or your life as perfect, you will fall into the void of people’s minds never to be thought of again. Written off. Irrelevant. Small. Nothing.
This is the hustle to be seen.
We capture our lives in tiny pictures on a screen, a moment in time that has already come and gone and yet here we are in the present, refreshing the past to be validated. To be liked.
It is a natural human need to be seen. Yet so many of us have been fooled into believing that in order to do so, we must hustle. We must prove our worthiness, to be liked in what is seen.
And the irony is that we are so disconnected from each other because in all of this hustle, we have forgotten to see ourselves. The earth upon which we stand in our own seeing, is but mud. We cannot build a foundation on mud. Connection gets lost in this hustle because it has no ground to stand upon.
Only when we begin to see ourselves can this change. Only when we are able to close our eyes and look within and feed our human need to be seen with our own sight, may we open our eyes to see those around us. The answer does not live in a ten second like that exists in a sea of infinite hustles.
You don’t need to hustle my love. Neither do I. All the power to be seen is within us, in this very moment. Clear away the bullshit, the stories that have you thinking you need to do anything more or be anything more or show anything more of yourself.
You are worthy of being seen by the most powerful human in your life; yourself.
And if you were to ask me how my time away from social media is going, this would be my answer; I am dismantling my own hustle to be seen. It is liberating, it is painful and it is exactly the medicine that my soul has needed. That my relationships needed.
I know I am not alone in this hustle. I know I am not the only one who has forgotten to see herself in all that is happening around us. Who has thrown her self-worth at the mercy of others attention span.
I know that we all need to be seen. To be heard. To be felt.
You can do this for yourself. I know this for sure. And when this discovery is made, my promise to you is that there is nothing more satiating or filling than that. No other human being in this world can fill the void within ourselves the way we can.
But we have to stop hustling to be seen.
Join me for an eMOTION Class. We put down the hustle and work on seeing ourselves, however we are showing up.
I spent 16 years battling bulimia and in deep self-loathing and doubt. I hid it well, often with a smile on my face and an upbeat and shiny attitude. Anyone who is in recovery of anything will tell you, the thing that you really master when in addictive or self-destructive behavior is hiding. You learn quickly how to hide what you are doing from others, always covering up your tracks and thinking five steps ahead of how you will covertly be able to do what you will need to do later on. Mainly, the person you get really good at hiding from is yourself.
What I can see very clearly now, that I wasn’t able to see when in the depths of my illness is how often I would turn to binging and purging in moments when I would find myself thinking too much about how I felt. And my emotions were not something that I had learned to navigate rationally or healthily. So instead, I was moved into taking some kind of action that would help me numb the feelings and focus the mind for a while, even if the focus was a self-destructive one. I would live for that little hit of oxytocin that would arise right after doing “the thing” so that both my body and my mind could live in joy again, however temporary and false it was.
That’s the thing, as human beings, we are often desperate to find joy or contentment or pleasure. We either run or freeze in the face of anything that is in contradiction with that. Culturally we are also programmed, especially as women, to believe that “being happy” is the ultimate goal of life. We have so much support for obtaining that happiness, often focused on an outside source or physical achievement of appearance. Our minds get so used to the “When (blank) happens, I will be happy” way of thinking. When I make more money, fall in love, lose more weight...the list goes on. All of it in the pursuit of happiness. Even our parents, unknowingly passed this along when telling us to “do what makes you happy”. And while I am clear about the love from which this stems, a problem arises the moment that the “thing” that once made us happy, all of a sudden doesn’t because inevitably it won’t.
This incessant pursuit of happiness causes us so much pain, that we aren’t even aware of. And so instead of learning how to navigate and move through all emotions of the human experience, we look for ways to just cope. We drink, we smoke, we binge watch tv, we eat. We numb out the feelings so that we don’t have to think about them for too long.
But here is the thing: We are emotional beings who sometimes think, not the other way around. We are always in the feeling of something. It's just that our level of awareness varies depending on how often we let ourselves be in those feelings. Emotions themselves are involuntary, neurological responses. We don’t get to choose them and they happen not just in our minds, but in our entire body. Each system responds to what we are feeling from the top of our head down to the bottoms of our feet. Everything is affected. What we do choose is whether or not we ignore that. What we can choose are practices and tools that safely and lovingly guide us through these emotional experiences and various states of being. Or we can choose to continue the practices and tools that keep us in our own hiding. All of them are tools. My bulimia was a tool in and of itself. It's just that certain tools have certain consequences both short and long term for overall well-being.
For 16 years I hid from myself because I didn’t know that I could choose differently. Not what I was feeling but how I took care of myself when feeling the intensity of certain emotions. I didn’t understand that there were tools that could keep my emotional well-being feeling nurtured and attended to, rather than disempowered because it was less than the state of happy I was always striving for.
Here is what I know now: This kind of work requires safe space to explore and to play. It requires regular and consistent practice in order to build the muscles of emotional resilience and listening. And it can be done by using two tools that each one of us actually use all day long: Movement and Stillness. But different from the movement you take to get yourself from point A to B or the movement of a workout to burn calories and shape your body into submission, I am talking about movement for the sake of feeling into your body to feel into your mind. And different from the stillness of sleep and rest that you take each night, I am talking about sitting with what is so that you can get quiet and really listen to yourself. Each of these when done with these intentions behind it have the power to take us out of the habitual hiding and into the healing of our own self knowing. This isn’t mysticism at work, this is science. The chemical and electrical response that our bodies have to our emotions are happening whether you choose to feel them or not. But when we do make the choice to feel what is here and either move with it or sit with it, we create agency within our inner world to have more choice, more care, more potency and more power. We give up the need to hide and the old story that happiness is the only option and learn how to be the emotional human being that we are, with grace, love and in connection with a deep inner wisdom that we otherwise forsake. We give ourselves options to find our way through and out of the exhaustion of always trying to “keep it together”.
I am sharing all of this because this is my life’s work. This is my own healing work. And what I did not know at the beginning of this year, among many things, was that it was time to bring them together and share them in my own way, in my own space, under one umbrella.
I am excited to share my new subscription program for Movement & Stillness. This combines my eMOTION Movement Classes with The Meditation Circle in weekly sessions that offer a safe space for you to get moving and get still with yourself. eMOTION Classes are something I designed out of the desire for a class that moves our bodies while having absolutely nothing to do with how that movement will make us look. Even in Yoga I was coming into contact with the harmful narrative that we move a certain way to look a certain way. eMOTION gets us moving in certain ways so that we can feel ANY way.
The Meditation Circle came to be right at the beginning of the pandemic as a response to needing to deal with our collective stress through feeling our stress. This community of women have come together every week, twice a week for 7 months now to get still with ourselves and connect to one another. I am inviting you in with wide open arms and heart.
When you choose to sign up for this subscription you get:
During this time of intense emotional turmoil and unrest, my aim is to provide safe spaces for us to learn about ourselves, together. To not feel that we need to hide from our human experience, but to embrace it with immense love and compassion. May we all find the Radical Self-Love within ourselves so that we can pour it out of our own hearts, words and actions and into the world around us. We so desperately need that. I hope you will join me.
This last week we kept Audrey home from school because of the possibility that we had contracted COVID. On Tuesday we were with someone who was with someone on Monday, who on Wednesday received a positive test. If you followed all of that, you will understand that we did not come into direct contact with the positive tester. In accordance with all guidelines, we technically had no further action to take.
I found out this information on Thursday morning at 6am, one of the two in school mornings for Audrey. I relish these two days. Anyone who knows me knows I love my child deeply. Anyone who is a parent will also understand when I say that I also love being away from her and in fact, require it in order to be a better mom. I have zero shame in admitting this truth. I do have the slightest bit of shame in admitting to you that in the moments following receiving this information, I grappled with what to do. There was a real pull towards the direction of just continuing business as usual because honestly, it would have been the most convenient and self fulfilling choice. Audrey adores going to school so I would have avoided her disappointment and I had a ton to do that day, so I would be completely free to do it.
This thought process lasted the better part of 10 minutes and all the while, I could not ignore this little nagging voice, I would say in the back of my mind, but really it was coming through in the sensations in my body, particularly my gut. It kept asking the question “How will you feel if you are, in fact, carrying the virus and she walks into that school filled with an entire community of people?”. I knew that I wouldn’t have wrongly followed a protocol by doing so, but I also knew that I would not be right.
I must implore each of you to do something. If you are a podcast listener, next on your list MUST be Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us Episode with Emily and Amelia Nagoski. Everything that they talk about in this episode (and their book) is EXACTLY why I created eMOTION, teach the way I do and so strongly advocate for Emotional Well-Being and Self Care. At one point in the episode, they say the following: “Self care requires a bubble of protection of other people who value your well being at least as highly as you do”. Wait, WHAT?! In order for me to get real self care, there must be a circle of people around me who care enough about my well being to understand why it matters!? Which means...that I too must be one of those people who creates a bubble for others and cares about their well-being as much as my own. This is where I would put a mind blown emoji if I could. It’s not that I haven’t always believed or even felt this. It’s that hearing these two women so perfectly say it out loud helped me to understand what the process was that I went through the other day in making the decision to keep Audrey home. It has nailed home even more clearly why it matters that I understand this process.
Self care has become a hot phrase. In truth, I almost hate using it these days because it has been so co-opted and commercialized. The reality is that we live in a country and culture that very much has valued individualism over collectivism. Because of this, the phrase self care has for all intents and purposes really come to mean and look like something that I would describe more as self-ish care. Self-ish care is where we either do something out of the desperation of our own exhaustion. We allow ourselves to get just close enough to the breaking point that we finally take an action to temporarily lift the fatigue. Or we indulge in something for simply the sake of our own indulgence. There is nothing wrong with that by the way, in small doses of course. But often what both of these scenarios lack is the understanding of what real self care is: which is the understanding that my energetic capacities and how I tend to them each day, will have a direct impact on yours should you and I come into contact with one another. In other words, how I care for me IS how I care for you. What I do for me IS what I will do for you AND exactly and only what I can expect and ask to be done for me. For example, should we have sent Audrey to school that day, even if everything turned out fine, and some other day down the line another parent sent their child to school in the exact same scenario but didn’t turn out as fine, I would still completely forfeit my right to be upset because I did not take on real self-care in my sphere of responsibility. Sending her to school would be the self-ish care version. Yes, I would have gotten a lot done that day. I would have had time for my own movement practice, to work, to take a shower and to be alone and quiet. But I would have completely popped any bubble that surrounded me and would surround me in the future. Because the thing about real Self Care is that we often have to practice it in moments when we least want to do it.
I share most of this with you because I want you to first know how deeply ingrained it is to think of ourselves first. I know there are much more altruistic humans out there than myself, perhaps you are one of them and for that I am grateful. But even as someone who wholeheartedly believes in the power of self care, I too can get caught up in my own self-ish desires. If you grew up in America, this was ingrained in us all, after all. The second reason I share this is so that you may really come to see and understand how much we all matter. I believe this is one of the biggest lessons that 2020 is trying to teach us. Entire nations have been taken down for months and months because a single virus that spreads from one human being too another human being, without even having to touch one another, is running rampant. To even consider for a second that the choices we make as individuals doesn’t have a profound and lasting impact on the entirety of human kind is quite frankly, absurd. It’s what will eventually be our downfall should we continue to believe this is so. Believing that you matter, your choices matter and in your impact will not only change the world, but could save the world. Even if that world is a personal bubble of people who care about your well being as much as your own and vice versa, that bubble will most assuredly connect to another and another.
Friends, none of us are immune to only thinking about what’s best for us. None of us are immune to the belief systems that would have us doubting our impact. But we are all capable of reckoning with these beliefs and taking on the action of valuing our self care as not something that only stays within the walls of ourselves, but radiates outward beyond where we can even see. We must start to believe that each one of us matters, not as some flowery idea that looks good on a wall hanging or pillow, but because the collective health of one another, physical and emotional depends on it. Self care is not selfish, self-ish care is.
So here is your Sunday Self-Love Letter today:
Please believe in your own power and presence on this earth. Please value it so highly so that I may value it that highly as well. So that I may see myself in you and you in me. Please see how interconnected you and I are so when the doubt comes in around whether or not you deserve to be taken care of, you see that there is more than just this singular moment in time at stake. You are worthy of deep and immense self love because I am worthy of it too and when we both hold that understanding, we both reap the rewards. You matter because I matter. I matter because you matter. Because our children matter. And each choice that we choose today will last long into the coming tomorrows, even those we cannot yet see. Even those we may never see. May this not come to you in the form of pressure or weight, but may you see this power for exactly what it is: Love - strong, real and impactful, just like you.
With all of that my friends, I want to announce a way to further this work within ourselves, with each other. Gather, A Workshop and Collaboration with my dear friend and sister Audra Malerba where we will lead a discussion on the potency of togetherness within the way we relate to ourselves, our loved ones and our neighbors. We will discuss how the present moment of our lives is offering us the opportunity to redefine the way we connect to all things around us and to ourselves.
Join us on November 14th for this incredible and much needed discussion.
Ever since I had Audrey, I have refused to go back on birth control. We are in no way planning on having another child at this point. I simply wanted to get to know my natural cycle and body rhythm. So every single month I track my ovulation, my menstruation and everything in between. And every month, my energy and moods flow just as naturally as the blood that flows at the beginning of each cycle.
For example, between the last days of my period right up until I ovulate is like an upward rise in momentum. Energy builds and builds until I reach my peak, which is usually right at the moment I feel my egg release. And I can feel it too, every time. Then begins the slowing down and turning inward until about 5 days before I flow, I climb into a deeper sadness. It's funny because you would think that by now I would always know that it's coming, but often it takes me by surprise, even after all these years of self study. A huge part of our human condition is that it is riddled with forgetting. Finally right before my cycle begins again, I rise into a bout of anxiety until finally, my body releases and I breathe deeply and get quiet for 5-6 days and begin again.
Why am I sharing all of this with you? The other day I was in conversation with some girlfriends of mine about this very subject. One of them asked for any suggestions in terms of how to cope with those down and low energy days. My response: Honor it. I got to thinking about how often as women we have been conditioned to think that when we feel low, unmotivated and in the need of rest, we must find a way out of it. We have been taught that there are seven days to a week and within the space of each of those days, we can create a schedule. And while there is a calendar that honors each month, rarely do we honor it as a legitimate cycle, focusing much more heartily on the day to day, often efforting to make one day look like the next.
So how is getting to know and honor your cycle as a woman a rebellion against patriarchy? Well, did you know that males assigned at birth have a hormone cycle too? However, theirs happens every 24 hours. This means that in healthy male bodies, their day in and day out experience in accordance to their hormones is likely very predictable. Of course there are variables and other factors that play into things, but for the most part the male testosterone cycle has an ebb and flow from morning to night and back again. The best way to think about it is like the sun. Just as it rises and sets each day, so does the male cycle. Women assigned at birth are more like the moon. We go through a journey that lasts over the course of 28-30 days and has much longer and more drawn out ebbs and flows.
The problem is that the 24 hour male cycle has more or less been treated as the default, by all human beings. In fact, we rarely even hear about a male cycle because it is simply accepted as what is. But we often hear about solutions to the female cycle as if it is a problem to be fixed or solved. It’s as if we asked the moon to hurry herself along and get back to being bright again like the sun, even though she has an entire process she must go through each month in order to find her fullness.
So Women, I say get to know your cycles and HONOR them. As you learn more about your own personal flow each month, make deliberate decisions on how you schedule and give of your time and energy. If you start to know and remember each month that you will have higher energy at one point over another, purposely schedule the work that requires you to have that energy present during that time. On the flip side, when you know that you will be ready to turn inward and rest a bit more, make sure you make time and space for that too. And here is the key: Make No Apologies for it! You have nothing to apologize for, because THIS IS YOUR CYCLE. You are as natural as the moon. And while the moon and sun must absolutely work together, one does not get to ask the other to be more like them because both are necessary in their offerings.
I know we all have obligations and requirements that have to be fulfilled. I am not saying to completely walk away from those and take a week long nap. But I am saying that it’s ok to ask for what you need and adjust accordingly. It's ok to give yourself the permission to listen to your body and the exact energy that you have to give in the moment. It’s ok to say yes to your own needs and ok to say no someone else’s if you do not have the capacity at that time to give of yourself. You will again because you are cycling through just as you do each month. And when that moment arrives, there you will be, I have no doubt, full and bright, shining and exquisite. And it will be exactly enough. Enough light, enough time, enough energy and enough contribution to last an entire month long until you come around again. And even when you are in your quieter time, you are still there, holding space for all that continues to evolve before you. Your shadow times are a gathering place for what you will show us next. It’s where you collect your beauty and your light. And dare I say, the moon even in her shadow is incredibly powerful. She continues to move the tides no matter what.
So women and female identifiers, I say let’s honor our cycles as an act of rebellion against patriarchal conditioning. No longer do I think to myself during my low times “what’s wrong with me?”. I am as natural as the moon. My inward times are as important as my outward doings and expressions. We do not need to hide or pretend any longer that we are just like the sun because WE are the goddamn Moon. We get to stand just as unapologetically in our shadow as we do our light.
Wanna honor our cycles together? Join me for an eMOTION class this month! We will move our bodies with great respect and honor exactly where we are. We will empower ourselves to show up unapologetically. Take your first class for free using the code: FIRSTFREE
Join me Tomorrow, Thursday at 9:30am ET and/or Sunday at 11am ET
These new Self-Love Letters are inspired by the daily neurotool affirmations I do along with the meditation that I teach. I hope that you turn to this whenever you need this reminder this week:
For more like this, join me in The Meditation Circle. We gather twice a week to meditate and connect with ourselves and each other. And each Wednesday you get recorded meditation in your inbox. Use code: MEDITATE2020 for 20% off this week!
No I haven’t lost it yet, I swear. This was just my title today as Audrey and I played on the beach together. We had a terrible night’s sleep. We all played musical beds and were up several different times. Then at 5:30am it seemed that Audrey and I were both wide awake and going back to sleep wasn’t an option. As I lay in bed I first had the thought, “today is going to be a tough one with so little sleep.” The second thought was, “let’s go to the beach.” So I managed to make some coffee, pack a little breakfast and pile the dog and daughter into the car.
We drove the 10 minute drive to the beach, quietly in the dark with the slightest glimmer of light beginning to shine over the horizon. We walked onto the beach, the cold sand waking us up almost instantly, the heat of the hot summer sand long gone. We sat on the beach, me sipping my coffee and she contentedly eating her banana and peanut butter. As we sat, an orange orb rose right out of the ocean. It is an incredible thing to watch the sun be birthed into the day.
We then went for a walk, put our toes in the ocean and collected shells. Mostly what we did, was play. We played from 6:30am until 8am. We played while the sun rose over us higher and higher into the sky. Even the old man, Oscar played with other passing dogs and got dubbed “King of Sun” aka “King Lightshine”.
Why am I sharing this?
We forget what an effective tool play is. This morning I knew two things: A. I was going to be tired today. There is simply no way around that. When a good night’s sleep eludes me, my body and brain both feel it the next day. I have often tried to move through the fatigue and keep pushing or pretending that tired doesn’t matter. But denying our natural state never works. The second thing I knew was that I had a choice. We could carry on with our usual morning routine, which is delightful in so many ways. But what we needed if we were going to move through today with some semblance of grounding, was something more nourishing and energizing.
Often Audrey comes up to me wanting to pretend or play a game and I simply feel like I have nothing to offer in that moment. Either I am uninterested, or I am super focused on the task at hand. My brain dubs the work that I have to get done, whether for my business or around the house as much more important and often times more interesting. My heart knows the importance of saying yes in those moments and so while I do, it's more with the idea of satiating and supporting Audrey than myself.
Having slowed down a lot in these last few weeks, I am beginning to come to the realization that perhaps my inability to say yes to play is because my own element of play is out of shape. I have thought this several times while standing back and watching my child in awe of her own ability to create and play in any moment she feels called to. I understand that it is part of her job as a child to use play to learn. But where does that skill go when we become adults? It’s not as if play becomes any less effective a tool, it’s more that our belief in it as adults, gets less. Why have we so compartmentalized the wonderfully nourishing tool that is play as only a thing for children? Why have we put the adult versions in the context of activities that often numb and dull our senses, the very opposite of what happens when we are truly at play in life?
So this morning, in the incredible exhaustion of a night not well slept, I played on the beach, with a scarf turned cape around my neck and became Vayu, Queen of Wind. I was joined by Violet, Queen of Roses and Lightsine, King of Sun. I’m still tired and there will most likely be a crash for us both as the day drags on. But for now, I will continue to be fueled by the practice of my own play for as long as I can today.
Tomorrow I invite you to play with me as well. I am teaching an eMOTION30 class at 9:30am ET. We will dance, we will move, we will flow, we will breathe and we will most definitely PLAY. I would like to invite you to strengthen that muscle so that as we all come into contact with all the ways we are currently fatigued, we remember that playfulness lives in us all. May we remember what a viable and vital tool it is. And most of all, may we remember that while children may be masters at it, it is we adults who likely need it most.
And if you need some inspiration, the Queens of Wind and Roses got your back...
We moved into a house just under a month ago. It has been a big adjustment for this small apartment dwelling family. And when I say big, I definitely mean welcomly spacious. Never in our adult life have my husband and I had the benefit of choosing between multiple rooms to spend time in. I say this not because I want to gloat or tout this new found “bigness”. In fact, we are here only because of the generosity of the neighbors who live next to my Mom and Stepdad. We are fortunate and deeply grateful to be able to spend this time of transition out of New York and into whatever is next for us in such a wonderful space.
In the past few weeks, what has occurred to me the most however is how the intentionality behind how we create our spaces matters. I have always believed in the power of creating atmosphere in our homes and work spaces. Not because we need it to look a certain way for others, because that would be a form of perfectionism that does not need to be perpetuated. But in the spaces that we dwell, there is an inherent energy exchange that gets passed around between the atmosphere and the people who dwell there. It’s more than just creating a visual aesthetic, most especially one that is only for show. It is about creating a feeling that encourages and invites warmth or joy or peace, whatever that is for you. It’s very much along the lines of the Danish word and feeling of Hygge.
For us, the feeling that I have been trying to imbue into our newly found spaciousness is one of “Home”. For both Justin and I that means that in October there is a warmth and a depth that invites a casual and cozy way of being. It means quiet and cold mornings, the structure of school and learning all day long, followed by nights out by the chiminea wrapped up in blankets. So every day, twice a day I find myself turning to the exact same blend of essential oils in my diffuser. I tend to change up the ones upstairs, but for this season of Autumn, I put the following in our downstairs diffusers every day, twice a day:
4 drops of Clove
4 drops of Cassia
4 drops of Bergamot
4 drops of Grapefruit
Now I love the aroma of this blend. It fits perfectly with everything that I described and am aiming to create. But one of the reasons that I love the intelligence of using plants in our home, specifically for aromatherapy and the creation of atmosphere is that there is an even deeper intelligence behind it all. The more I am studying aromatherapy (oh yes, btw, I am slowly working towards my certification!), the more in awe I am about the wisdom that plants offer our emotional bodies. I love using the oils for their more medicinal properties, but it is the emotional aromatherapy that keeps me coming back to them time and time and time again.
So I looked up the properties of each of the plants in my blend and I thought I would share them with you.
Let’s begin with Clove. According to both Essential Emotions and Gifts of the Essential Oils, Clove is the Oil of Boundaries. In all of the plant kingdom, Clove is the highest in natural antioxidant properties, protecting our bodies from oxidative damage. What is fascinating to me about clove is that it comes from the bud of an evergreen tree that reaches heights of 20-40 feet high. This tiny little bud, in all of the natural plant world has more in it in terms of protection than any other plant. And this bud will eventually become a big and strong tree, but in its smallest form, its power is already immense. The idea behind clove is that it helps you to release anything that will keep from reaching your full potential. It creates strong and healthy boundaries that will help keep you on track for how and where you wish to grow in this life. Using it reminds us that we too have all of the potential to blossom into a beautiful flower one day, a tree standing tall and strong.
On the personal side of things, this oil is exactly in line with how we are choosing to utilize this time in our lives and in this new space. We are letting ourselves breathe a bit while also asking ourselves, where does our potential want to grow and how can we make that happen in this time? Quietly, steadily and with the focused loving boundaries that will allow us to grow into our fullest potential.
The Gifts of the Essential Oils Affirmation for Clove is: I Manifest Greatness
The second oil is Cassia. The Oil of Self-Assurance. According to Essential Emotions: “Cassia brings gladness and courage to the heart and soul.” Cassia bark is the cousin of cinnamon bark. It has a sweet warmth to its aroma. Little known fact, often what you purchase at the supermarket that is labeled cinnamon is actually cassia. This is the oil that brings the warmth in. While clove has more of an unconditional but boundary setting kind of love, Cassia is the one who encourages finding self-assurance through play and creating joyful moments. Cassia reminds us to stay in connection with ourselves and each other because its in each of these connected moments that we remember we are alive and assured in that feeling.
Connection has been the number one driving force for me to get myself off of social media. I have been waking up and asking the question, who can I connect to today instead of placing all of my thoughts and words out into the world for anyone to see, never really honing in on the connection they have the power to create. The affirmation of Cassia is: I invite warm and meaningful connections to me. This oil has truly been going to work as I have had more one on one and warming connections in the last several weeks of my life than much of my adulthood. And each time I am assured in my own warmth, potential and offerings. What a powerful gift to give ourselves.
Bergamot is the Oil of Self-Acceptance. Different from assurance, acceptance is where we take the assurance and put it into the action of accepting. What’s interesting about Bergamot is that it was once only found in the Canary Islands. Columbus then took the fruit to Southern Italy where it adapted perfectly and now that is the only place in the world where Bergamot grows. The perfect example of assurance into acceptance. When Bergamot is cold pressed, it releases a chemical constituent called Linalool. It is the same found in Lavender and Magnolia that give them their relaxing properties. What makes Bergamot unique is that it is a bright and lively citrus fruit that has the power to help us also soften, destress and relax. The Gifts of Essential Oils describes Bergamot as “that beautiful ray of sunshine coming down, touching the heart, penetrating your core and creating a state of bliss”.
This is something I have been feeling a lot of lately. In all the unknown, the upsets and the stress that surrounds us, there have still been many moments of sunlight joy that have crept in. There is a radiance to life that has come from slowing down, expanding a bit more and accepting that life is changing. We are being uprooted as we speak and my self-acceptance is what will allow me to grow again, to be replanted in a new space entirely.
The Affirmation of Bergamot is: I reclaim my birthright to abundance, courage and bliss.
Finally there is Grapefruit. The Oil of Honoring the Body. This is the oil I am the most familiar with. I have turned to this oil time and time and time again in my own healing of body dysmorphia and bulimia. Coming to the recognition and remembering over and over again that this body of mine is sacred and a space to be honored. As we are moving into this new space, both physical and metaphorically, I am in the daily deep desire to love this earthly body more and more each day. It is no coincidence I am sure that in these past few weeks I have really come to understand the importance of the premise behind my eMOTION classes. They too are a space where I can come, anyone can come and honor the movement that their bodies can make without the outcome of any physical goal in mind. The affirmation of Grapefruit is: I Love and Accept Myself as I Am. This is my daily mantra these days and always.
I hope that sharing a bit more into why I use these oils the way I do, why each oil selection matters is something that is helpful for you. Your journey may be vastly different from my own and the beauty is that there are many plants out there that can support you in what you are working towards. As I have said many times before, essential oils do not do the work for us, but in order for them to work, we must be putting them into action with great intention and dare I say, trust.
I am creating a button for you to purchase this exact foursome of oils, should you want them. I would encourage you to reach out to me as well so that we may further chat about which oils may work for your personal journey right now and why.
**After writing this, I realized that Cassia was not currently available so it has been substituted with Cinnamon in the link**
The Sunday Self-Love Letter has been renewed and up-leveled!
I am so excited to share:
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I've used this title before and it happens to be the title of one of my very favorite Brene Brown Books. But it fits too well to not use it again.
This morning I taught my eMOTION30 class to a group of women I adore. They are my sisters. I was up late last night planning every moment of this class and pouring it out from my heart, perfectly enough in the light of the full moon. I was so prepared and ready and excited. And then, the internet went out in the middle of class. And my music got picked up by another bluetooth speaker next door. And I watched myself unravel a bit inside, all the while keeping it together as best as I could, though I spoke to it and tried to take a dose of my own medicine in the meantime. Afterwards I was so disparaged. I was ready to quit completely or cut live classes all together and just film them moving forward even though that is antithetical to the connection I am seeking.
Thankfully, my girlfriends are amazing and the work that I have been doing all these years kicked in. They held me up in my moment of frustration. I turned to my oils and a very specific practice that I will share below. And here’s what happened: The more I nurtured myself through the discomfort, the more appreciation I had for it. It wasn’t that it went away fully, even now recalling the morning brings a bit of an internal sting. Instead, I had some major epiphanies about my response and how I wanted to move forward.
The first epiphany was that leaning into support both in the best and worst of times does not come easily to me. I had asked each one of the women in that class to show up to help me get this thing off the ground. To be a safe space for me to explore what’s possible. That in and of itself was uncomfortable for me as I am used to coming up with an idea, launching it and throwing it out into the world with very little input or presence from anyone else, by choice. Even in the positivity and excitement of a new idea I am always reluctant to invite people in. I hold fiercely to this idea that my self-sufficiency and independence matters. This leads me to my second epiphany:
My commitment to doing it on my own is harming my potential. I learned at a young age to be fiercely independent and self-sufficient. I also learned that it was ok to be different and in fact, craved to not run with the crowd. These sound like really good qualities in many ways. And they have served me well in certain facets of my life. They also generate a kind of loneliness and cut me off from the possibilities and expansion that comes from collaboration and community. I am just now at 37 years old understanding the power of communal existence and importance. But up until now, I have often shrugged it off because I didn’t want to “be” like everyone else and something about following the norm became a negative thing in my mind. It has taken me this long to invite people into my process, raw and real and imperfect. And so today when my process got real, the old stories of not being enough and failure started to roll because all of a sudden, I wasn't the only one witnessing it, never mind that it wasn't actually anything to do with me personally.
And here is the gift: that I am even able to articulate and type that to you right now. When I say that when I nurtured myself through that old story and gained appreciation and gratitude, this is why. Because we can only know what we are aware of. And now I know that a blindspot for me is not only asking for support and help, but wrapping myself up in the warmth of community, sisterhood, even and especially when things don’t go the way I wish them to. When I can’t “make perfect” happen.
The final epiphany is the simplest of all; asking myself the question “What is the next obvious thing that has to get done?” and doing that. These are the words of my teacher, another sister with whom I also had a call with shortly after this morning's events. Today it was buying an ethernet cable and adapter so I am not reliant upon wifi. I mean super simple and practical right? The fact that my brain wanted to walk down the well-worn pathway of old stories is not all that surprising. This is neuroscience 101, we do what we have always done until we consciously and actively change it. The epiphany of just answering a simple question that led me into the forward momentum of what I CAN do was what allowed me to take a deep breath and find even more gratitude for today’s learning.
I teach these tools of movement and stillness and daily ritual for emotional well-being. I hope to make clear to you through this sharing that what we are looking to do with these practices is give ourselves tools to move through the layers of healing we all carry around. I teach these tools not because I have somehow healed myself fully but because I am always in the active process. And each and every time a moment of seemingly imperfection happens, I see it has a great gift in my unlearning.
I also want to share two small rituals that helped me, in the event that you may need a similar tool:
May this help you and may you understand the gifts of your own imperfection and see the beauty of your Being Human, in all moments.
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is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.