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Self-Care… and Why It Constantly Eludes the Modern Woman

Self-care is the key to so many things we want in life, yet it’s often one of the things we most struggle with. While juggling careers, relationships, health, family and the other demands of daily life, self-care is the ball most often dropped (or point blank thrown to the floor).

How often do we hear the cliche to “be the best you that you can be” in pop culture – movies, self-help books and yes, even blogs all preach this idea. We can make it an inspirational motto or an ignored platitude. I hope we can choose inspiration more often and embark on journeys to be better partners, family members, employees or bosses; most of all healthier, smarter, more spiritual individuals who take better care of ourselves. The common thread is self-care.

We all know the sayings…put your own oxygen mask on first or you can’t help anyone else, fill your own tank before you fill others or you’ll be running on empty. Yeah, we know them, we quote them and in general ignore them.

There are so many reasons. Some rational, others emotional.

I find rational usually equals excuses. Justifying it in your head? It’s an excuse.  Time? Trust me, we make time for what we really want and we make time for reality TV. A little time management, prioritization and determination kick that excuse to the curb. Money? I’m no believer in the latte effect – if I want to buy my damn coffee out everyday I’m going to. The point is that instead of using this excuse we could be more conscious of our money habits and our attitude towards finances. I’m not naive enough to think there aren’t times when money truly is tight, but for those times the creative and affordable ideas for self-care are abundant. Some of the best ones are free anyways! We all have our own excuses and the moment we start calling ourselves on them is the moment we stop making them and start making a life we actually enjoy living without Xanax and a bottle of wine every night. No judgment by the way; we’ve all been there.

The mental blocks and made up stories from our perceived tragedies and life experiences are harder to tackle. The misconception that self-care actually means selfish. The belief that everyone else is more important to take care of. The lack of self-worth that tells us we don’t deserve it. The feeling that pleasure is a waste of time that we should be spending on productive things. I could go on, and I’m sure you can too.

But where does that get us? It leaves us too drained at the end of the day to get in even a few minutes of physical movement, too exhausted to find a meal comprised of actual food and too engrossed in our iPhones and Instagram selfies to have a legitimate conversation with a human we can reach out and touch. It sends us to the McDonalds drive thru with a mile long Target receipt in our credit card filled wallets from trying to find our joy in electronics, clothes, discounted candles we don’t need and a picture frame that will remain empty (because let’s face it when’s the last time you actually printed a photo?). We crash on our couches amped up on caffeine and answer just a few last work emails from our tablets in bed then wonder why we can’t sleep without Ambien and dread waking up in the morning to another day of the same.

This was my slap in the face and this is yours. Does this sound like your life? I love how Gabrielle Bernstein answers people who tell her they don’t have time to meditate. Her response? “Do you have time to feel like shit?”

Is that how you feel most days? Then take better care of yourself. If you’re tired of feeling that way then make time for even the tiniest baby steps. We’ve all got a certain amount of time; its up to us if we’re gonna spend that time feeling like shit or loving our lives.

This Is Me I’m Working On

You may or may not know that I started the health coaching program at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition back in September. One of the interesting things I’ve learned is that in coaching others, you coach yourself. I understand now the synchronicity of the coaches that I’ve randomly been introduced to and work with. The universe pairs us perfectly.

I understand more and more the importance of working with the right person. For me, that’s someone who knows and understands my demons and someone who will call my bullshit when I won’t call my own.

I’ve translated lessons learned in the financial industry about people being invested or “having skin in the game” to the work we do in coaching. Someone can give me their answers, but I’ll take action when they ask me the questions and let me find the answers.

With that long drawn out explanation, I want to share some of the themes (for lack of a better word) that I’ve been working on over the recent weeks/months.

1. Self Love…and avoidance is not acceptance

2. What’s My Why?

3. Letting My Freak Flag Fly

4. Owning My Choices

5. Walking My Talk

There’s so much to go into on each of these. So much that I want to share in the hopes that it gives just one person that a-ha moment. While I have to admit that lately I’ve struggled with the decision of what to post, what was too open or vulnerable and just how much was too much TMI, I realize after learning the reciprocity in coaching relationships the tremendous opportunities we all have in learning from each other. Although there’s way too much for one post, I promise to get it all out there soon. There are many people I admire who share so much to help others – I know what I write cannot even compare, but I believe there are people that need to hear every story.

“I will be brave with my story so others can be brave with theirs.”

Warning – Don’t Let Life Pass You By

We spend a lot of life waiting…

Waiting for a better body to buy a better wardrobe. Waiting until we have “enough” money to have kids. Waiting until we can afford to change jobs. Waiting until we’re at a goal weight to be open to finding “the one”.

There have been things I didn’t even realize I was waiting to do, let alone question why.

Fear. Thoughts of lack rather than abundance. Feeling undeserving of (fill in the blank) for whatever reason. Punishing ourselves for not being what or where we think we should. When we use these excuses to stay stuck we put off living our lives.

She woke in the morning. She knew that her life has passed her by. She called out a warning. Don’t ever let life pass you by.

~Incubus “Warning”

Life is…life. It’s messy, it’s flawed. It may be easier to just float through.

I sometimes wonder about those the seem to have no desire to live life better. How? How do you not want more? How are you satisfied to settle? What are we here for if not those things?

I’m realizing nothing is as black and white as we’d like to be. Striving isn’t the opposite of settling, neither is struggling. Appreciating now doesn’t mean never wanting more later.

Even I believe we all do the best we can with what we have at any given point. Its easier to see that in others than in myself. Can our best self not be good today, better tomorrow and even better later – but still be it’s best all the way through?

Something said after today’s Broncos vs. Colts playoff game really struck me. An analyst commented that the great Peyton Manning would always be compared to … himself. The Peyton who won a Super Bowl, the years with Colts, coming back from surgery like a spark of dynamite. Even the one from the beginning of this season as opposed to the end.

In the end, isn’t that what all of us want and need – to be compared only to ourselves? Isn’t that a sign that we’ve actively participated in the game called life rather than letting it pass us by, that we’ve played every down as our best self?

The Perfect Song

One of my life goals is to record a song with a significantly wrong note in it and leave it that way.
~John Mayer

Isn’t that the opposite of what I’ve spent most of life doing? What most of us have been taught, I’m sure.  A flaw, a mistake, even a tiny one would show weakness. A significant one? Certain doom.

There’s no room for wrong notes in perfection, but there’s no room for perfection in the human experience. Many of us, including me, spend years aiming for it. What I now know is that not only is it not attainable, it’s not desirable. When we expect perfection from ourselves, it tends to extend those higher expectations to those around us. Still unattainable, we set them up for failure, as we do ourselves, and the cherry on top is the disappointment their failure to meet our unreasonable expectations causes us.

Our quest for perfection, I imagine, starts with others’ misplaced expectations. We’re not born with it. We don’t have an innate desire to be flawless. How can we instinctively seek perfection when it doesn’t exist? Rather, some crazy series of tiny tragedies and mad ideas lead us away from the path of authenticity and expression and to the road most traveled, the dead end one where we finally crash into the brick wall we’ve built out of our doubts and fears.

That crash hurts. If we’re lucky, we crash through and the pain is worth it. If not, it feels like we’re just throwing the car in reverse to do it all over again. And again. Again, we take our flawed idea of what life is about, and decide this is the way to accomplish it. Essentially, perfection is pain, frustration and a giant ass waste of time, or some concept that we believe to be beyond all of that.

Follow the musical notion. From the (very) little I know about music, I know a song is notes, melodies, lyrics and anything else the composer wants it to be. I can’t tell if a piece is flawed – only my perception of it and what I think it was meant to be.

Picture a perfectionist songwriter. They hear a melody in their head while in the shower, a line or two of lyrics while driving. They keep these in their head, waiting until they can put together everything in just the exact way.  They love those two lines, but won’t share them and ruin the surprise of the amazingness they can create. They hum the melody, but when asked what it is, say its nothing, because if it isn’t perfect it is nothing.

The idea of creating a perfect song crushes every piece of music in us, if we let it. It isn’t simply ignoring the perceived mistakes; avoidance is not the same as acceptance. To really be ok with it, to accept that flawed note and leave it in there we have to actively embrace it. We have to take that note and see in it all that is us. We have to hear the whole song, not just the one mistake. We have to turn it up, jam out and say I love that fucking note!

We are the song, or maybe life is.
We are the “wrong” note, sometimes feeling more wrong than right.
We should release our song anyways.

Weddington Way New Years Bridesmaid Style Challenge

With all of the special occasions this time of the year, there are a ton of dressier looks just begging to be worn – more than I have reasons to wear them to! Given this, when Weddington Way approached me regarding their style challenge to use the glitz and glam of the season to create a look for a New Years Eve wedding, I couldn’t say no.

The challenge is this: you’re the Maid of Honor and the bride has asked you to style the bridesmaid look for her big day. Design the perfect ensemble (using a dress from the Weddington Way collection) for a magical evening!

 

perfect bridesmaid look for a New Years Eve wedding
Edgy Glow Bridesmaid Look using Nora Dress from Weddington Way collection
The base of my bridesmaid look is the Nora Dress in plum lace. This is a dress I could see myself reaching for on many occasions; its a an updated version of the little black dress. The plum is  just a punch of color, the ideal balance between wallflower and overpower. The style sleek and simple; the scalloped neckline draws attention in and down, as do the vertical seams for a slimming fit.
You can visit the collection I created on Polyvore (pictured above) for the details on each item, but I’ll share a bit on my design and some of my favorite pieces.
  • I featured a palette focusing on rose gold and black to allow textures, like the lace, to be the star of the show.
  • Unexpected pieces in black, bold chains, metal and bold jewelry gives edge to the look.
  • Metallics are expected, but a less common rose gold and variety of materials add an element of surprise.
  • Nails are bold in black and platinum with glittery accent nails.
  • Smoky eyes with pink lips are always a favorite of mine.
What do you think of the look (or looks)? Do you have any go to’s for dressing up or special occasions? 
(Participation in the Style Challenge is strictly for a bit of fashion fun. No compensation was received for this post. All ideas expressed are my own honest opinions.)