Author Archive

Pleasure Reading 07.20.14

YES: How to Make Your Dreams Come True (or, How I Became a Mom)

Pace Smith is a magnificent human being with a new site. I highly recommend checking her out.

I grew up knowing Ilona Royce Smithkin in my little seaside town – and this interview about delight, aging, and celebrating your life to the brink is really powerful.

The $25,000 Hole in My Budget – a must read about getting real with your relationship with money.

I just love this post about learning about and honoring your own creative cycles and needs.

Autonomy is sexy and why we try to change our lovers.

Rachel Cole hits it out of the park: It’s just you and me, them and us—all together.

Sometimes, you’ve gotta fail to succeed.

The admirable Grace Quantock has created an e-guide for to help you prep your kitchen for plant-based wellness and it is gorgeous. 

What everyone gets wrong about the clitoris.

My brilliant and sweet friend (and master guide) Hannah Marcotti has conjured up this free 40-day adventure leading up to her 40th birthday and I promise you that you don’t want to miss it.

This week I’m seeking pleasure by: You guys, this week has been packed with pleasure! I put a nose ring back in after 6 years of a stud, got the tattoo that’s been in my heart, ate the most delicious coconut caramel cake from Petunia Bakery, and danced all night long. I kissed my sweetheart hello after being gone for five days and baked her a flour-less chocolate cake for her birthday party. I took a long weekend off after noticing that exhaustion was creeping in my bones and installed an air conditioner (even though I have some serious judgments about it). And, I made pizza from scratch. Delicious.

Body Love & Radical Self-Responsibility: Holding the Framework

In every sphere of my work, I work with women to delve into deeper and more permissive layers of chasing what lights them up. I stand firm in my belief that we can orient our own personal compass in the direction of desire and trust in it’s guidance.

But… there’s a caveat.

There are moments when we want to hold the framework for ourselves, carrying ourselves through processes that don’t exactly light us up at the moment – in the promise of fireworks later.

And, when we talk about taking supreme care of our bodies this can sometimes be the case.

The moment

Somewhere deep in my heart, I know that it would feel good to get up off this couch right now to walk out into nature, moving my limbs joyfully and taking in the beauty all around me, but… I’m stuck here. Right now, I can’t imagine anything other than the sweet coziness of this couch and the mindless lull of watching a marathon. I tell myself: But it lights me up to sit here! I should just keep doing sitting here and doing nothing. I am just a kind of sedentary person. 

I’m hungry for a(nother) biscuit. I know that it will make me feel sluggish and uncomfortable tomorrow. I know that I’ve been eating biscuits for days and days, but… it just tastes so good! It feels like a celebration! I want to eat it – I’ll deal with making better choices tomorrow.

I’m utterly dehydrated and know that it’s probably a better choice to chug some water rather than have another cup of coffee, but I’ve got work to do. I can’t afford to hydrate right now. I need to drink another cup of coffee to get this project done. I’ll put hydration on the backburner (again). I’ve been doing this for so long, this one day won’t make a difference.

The truth

taking care of your bodySometimes we don’t want to do the things that we need to do to take care of ourselves.

Sometimes, we talk ourselves out of healthy behaviors using the bright and shiny language of wanting to feel good all the time – making our not wanting to do it mean that it’s not right for us.

But, we don’t always want to do the things that we need to do to take care of ourselves.

I like to think about taking care of myself as if I am taking care of a small child. As the mama, it is my job to hold the framework, even when my child only wants to eat cupcakes, breakfast-lunch-and-dinner. As the mama, it is my job to take sweet care of the child entrusted to my care, even when they don’t know that they need to sleep and are screaming and crying, defiantly resisting their nap. As the mama, taking really good care is my responsibility and privilege.

Holding the framework is different than enforcing a strict plan. It is not the same as marrying ourselves to a schedule or regimen – or a(nother) plan to transform the skin that we’re in. Instead, it is the gentle and loving space of holding long term desires in our hands with instant gratification. Holding the framework is about making space for intention and momentary whims. It is about trusting ourselves to take care of our bodies intentionally, without white knuckling the process.

You don’t need someone else to tell you how to take care of your body. Your body will tell you. But, you have to be open to receiving the information – even when it differs from your plans. The more that you listen to the wisdom dwelling in your skin, the more at home you will feel and the louder that voice will become.

I intend to feed my body the food that truly nourishes me.

I will prepare for this moment in advance of the crashing overwhelm of hunger, when I’m willing to grab anything that is closest to me and shove it in my mouth. I will be thoughtful about the kind of food that makes me feel best, opening myself up to experimentation and simple noticing about what doesn’t help me feel like my best self.

I will be sweet to myself when my brain shouts for french fries, and it is so much louder than my body’s quiet plea for something a bit more substantial. I will be compassionate with myself, holding the framework. I will choose one thing, one area or meal to reclaim, and I will start there. I will allow myself the divine permission of knowing that each moment is a moment to change my mind. I will not feel guilty or pressured into eatings something just because I paid for it or someone cooked it just for me.

I will make food choices that honor my beautiful body and allow me to function comfortably.

I endeavor to move my body – often and joyfully.

I will be the spark, the slight push of inertia that propels me off of the couch and onto the path, knowing that once I start I am going to be so grateful that I am there. I endeavor to be kind to myself, speaking to myself in compassionate tones - Yes it IS hard to begin again when you’ve gotten out of practice. Yes it will feel really good, I promise. Start small. There is no need to overwhelm yourself, but, yes lovely, you do need to start somewhere. I will hold the framework. I will let myself choose.

Knowing that it is my intention to move, I will choose the things that make my heart sing. I will dance to Missy Elliot in the kitchen. I will walk to the beach to go swimming. I will bring my favorite audio book to keep me company.

I will make it my own.

I am honoring my body by finding space for self-care.

I will not listen to the voices that tell me that my current task is too important to pause. I will not listen to the creeping exhaustion that attempts to shuttle me into bed without flossing my teeth. I will remember the squeaky clean feeling of being well prepared and I will recall that I actually do like taking showers.

I will hold the framework. I will keep the time. I will make space. I will keep a quiet, internal list of everything that makes me feel really good. I will pay attention.

I will remember that if I don’t take care of myself first – I won’t be able to take care of anyone else for much longer either.

I want to feel at home in my skin.

The prayer, repeated often. The why. The heartbeat that fuels my desire to make good choices – resonant choices. Choices that are truly about me and my relationship with my body. I will not use my body as an act of rebellion. I will not wield it as my shield to hurt those who have hurt me, knowing all the while that I am truly just hurting myself.

I will cultivate safety. I will pay attention. I will make my home here, in this moment and in this skin.

 


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Rewired: Body Love + Radical Self-Care – July 23rd at 7 pm EST

The way that we feel about our bodies and IN our own skin is so often the lens through which we view the rest of the world. During this Rewired workshop we will be jamming about learning how to take spectacular care of ourselves by beginning with overwhelm-free, TANGIBLE action. This lesson is steeped in the knowing that when we take care of our physical selves, we are building self-trust, leaning into self-love, and teaching our sweet selves that we are deserving of consistent, loving care.

This workshop is all about honoring your body as it is – in this moment – and learning to appreciate it for all that it provides you on a daily basis.

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Pleasure Reading 07.13.14

My sweetheart is hosting an AMAZING birthday sale on her unbelievable magnesium foot cream. Do you yearn for sweet dreams? Run on over and scoop up a tub. (It is so good. I am biased. But, it is so good.)

Don’t sit all day. Rise up!

So excited to share this delicious interview that I did for Hannah Braime’s podcast all about how to lean into your sense of self and deserving.

If you knew you were the best in the world at what you do – how would you behave?

Loving this so much: How to make your anger divine.

How to comfort yourself without food.

I will absolutely be making this coffee banana soft serve (often) this summer.

The cure for the still-not-enough disease.

This week I’m seeking pleasure by: letting it be eeeeeeeasy, taking the ferry to the airport instead of driving, traveling to Portland (one of my favorite places on Earth), drinking only the most magnificent coffee, and dressing up, for no reason whatsoever.

On Bravery in Creation

Over the next couple of months I will be sharing the sweet, brave stories of women that I admire who are doing beautiful work in the world. The very first of these posts is written by the powerful and delightful Esmé Weijun Wang - so I totally adore and am really pleased to welcome to my corner of the internet. 

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I once spent a rattling train ride in Taiwan with my mother, during which she sketched a family tree in my notebook. At the end of various branches, she drew Xs to signify those known to have some sort of mental illness.

What surprised me wasn’t the three Xs that did exist: a great-aunt who’d been institutionalized for most of her life, and lived a tragic existence as “the madwoman in the attic”; a cousin who had killed himself; and, of course, there was me, who had been living with schizoaffective disorder for years. Rather, what surprised me was how many unknown entities there were, with branches leading to blank spaces on the page.

No one talks about these things, she said, and no one wants to ask.

I chose to reveal my psychiatric diagnosis on my website years ago, before that website became the hub for a business. And even though I wasn’t ashamed, and began to give anti-stigma talks in San Francisco, I continued to think of mental health advocacy as something that rode alongside my work as an editor for visionary entrepreneurs. Being an advocate, after all, isn’t a profitable enterprise; more significantly, I worried that to speak of it too frequently might alienate potential clients. I pictured these clients as searching their Twitter feeds for productivity hacks and insights on work/life balance, and not essays about the choice of whether or not I, as a person living with what’s been called “severe mental illness,” will try to have children.

Be useful, the dominant wisdom said; I saw this again and again in books and blogs. But what “usefulness” actually looks like — lists of tips? How-to guides and templates? — remained vague.

I spent most of April living in a cottage on Whidbey Island, alone. I’d been awarded a writing residency to work on a book of essays, and was using that time to research, doodle, outline, draft, and dream. The seven cottages that belonged to the residency were deliberately not equipped with any sort of Internet connection. Without the noise of constant input, my days became quiet.

The silence, as it turns out, enabled a clown-carful of previously unattended concerns to tumble forth. I snapped awake one night to the thought that I wanted to publish a book myself, to be sold on my website. It would be a book about living well with mental illness — hopeful, but not sugarcoated; realistic, but without the gory details. This was not the book that I’d essentially been paid to work on while on Whidbey Island, but it was another kind of book, and it was a book that wanted to be birthed quickly.

I spent the next few weeks doing two things: sketching out essays for the initial project, and assembling a book — which would become Light Gets In — composed of both new writing and the best bits from three years of online writing.

And I was scared shitless.

My fears about writing Light Gets In were completely unlike my fears about the essay collection. The essay collection was something that I spoke to my literary agent about over the phone; it was something that the other writers at the residency were interested in, and understood as a Serious Project that would take years to complete. Light Gets In, on the other hand, was a book that no one had asked for. It was storytelling that revealed themes of living well with mental illness, but was still far from the sort of “useful” business move that, say, a workbook for tracking medications and symptoms might be, and this worried me.

After I returned home, and was again inundated with business advice from e-letters that I’d voluntarily signed up for, and after I finished Light Gets In, and initiated the process of hiring Allie Rice to design the 52-paged book for me, I finally understood something essential.

If I was going to push this book out into the world, I was also going to have to step into a certain kind of bravery — because I already believed that storytelling is as valuable as, and sometimes more valuable than, a 1-2-3 Guide to Infinite Happiness; but I also needed to bring that into the way I spoke about the book when it was released. I needed to have faith that its value would come through without a list of concrete deliverables.

Light Gets In came out on June 2. It isn’t a handbook, but it is a flashlight in the dark. It’s a story for everyone who is, knows, loves, might know, might love, or might interact with someone with mental illness.

My mother owns a copy of the book. She told me that she’s reading it slowly, making sure that she doesn’t miss anything. “I want to translate it into Chinese,” she says, “and have it published in Taiwan.”

About Esmé

esme wangEsmé Weijun Wang is a writer and editor-for-hire. Her site, esmewang.com, is where mental health advocacy meets meaningful work. As seen in The New York Times, Jezebel, and Clementine Daily, her site is the home of the Chronicles, a series of mini-essays that records her life with schizoaffective disorder, thoughts on compassionate business, and explorations of the writing life. Find more about her new e-book, Light Gets In, as well as a downloadable chapter, here.

What To Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

the feeling

You don’t know what to do. You feel completely paralyzed here, your energy diffuse as it travels far away from your body into a million different directions. Like hundreds of energetic threads reaching out from your body, you check your decision against the multitude of variables.

How will this impact me in a year? Five years? Ten years? At the end of my life?

What will my mother think? My partner think? What will they whisper about me in the corridors or at the grocery store?

What if, no matter how hard I try, I’m still not good enough? 

Days pass, as you run over each individual situation and thread in your mind, mulling over the pros and cons, and waiting until you have a definitive answer.

All the while you cannot deny the restlessness building in your body, the itching hunger to just DO SOMETHING ALREADY, but you feel undeniably caught between these two world – the worlds of comfortable life as you know it and the brilliant whisper of something more.

the truth

bestdecisionIf you are a person that has been blessed with the well-crafted ability to thoughtfully navigate your life, considering each next step from every angle before leaping, it can be very difficult to proceed forward. The thoughtfulness, which on one hand allows you the brilliance of self-awareness and the empathy to traverse difficult territory in relationship with others, holds you in the place of inaction – tethering you to the multitude of possibilities that every circumstance and situation provides.

The truth is: You may never feel fully ready.

You may not ever be entirely resolved about quitting your job or going back to school or leaving your relationship. You might not be entirely comfortable with your yearning, even when you cannot deny it’s existence. And, in thoughtfully probing your discomfort, it is possible – likely even – that you are making your indecision mean that there are holes in your desire or that you should wait until you feel absolutely certain before moving onto the next step.

I have never felt fully ready to do anything that I’ve done in my life. 

I was not ready to go back to school to get my masters in social work. I was not ready when I decided to marry Cookie. I was definitely not ready to start my business.

My path is riddled with distinct not-readiness, and yet, it is also filled with many moment of moving forward and taking action even when I was terrified that I might regret my decision five years down the line.

The truth is: We can only make the best decision possible for us, with the tools we have on hand.

We do not know where our lives are taking us. We do not know who we’ll be five years down the line. We have no ability to spin ourselves far out into the future, like a spider traveling those threads of energy far away from our bodies, and return with certainty or concrete knowing.

What we are left with is our desire – our capacity for trusting that, no matter what happens, we will be able to take care of ourselves. We are left with our divine knowing, that chasing the path of the things that light us up is moving us in a direction that is deeply healing and nurturing for us.

Walking that path, making one small choice to honor our spirit and then the next, is the way that we cultivate lives that honor us, that are distinctly and irrevocably ours.

the next step

In this moment, you cannot know how your next choice will impact the trajectory of your life, but you can know whether or not it is the right choice for you. You can pull at those threads, calling your energy back to your heart, back to your intuition.

But it requires the chutzpah to take responsibility for your daily reality and a desire to live a life that is divinely yours.

This is your path. Your parent’s opinions do not matter here. The shock and horror of your nameless, faceless Facebook audience or the gossiping old ladies in the line at the pharmacy in your hometown do not matter here. The confusion of your partner does not matter here.

What matters here is your voice – and standing in your own power when you actively choose to participate in the creation of your own life.

Do this: Call your energy back to you and promise yourself that you are going to focus JUST on the next best decision. 

Do not allow yourself to worry about how this decision will impact the vast, wily path of your life. Make the next best decision for yourself based on everything you know to be true about yourself in context in this moment. Trust in your ability to know yourself. Trust that your joy – the joy that comes from building a life that reflects you – will feel really good.

And I promise, it will feel much better than a life lived for everyone else – even if it doesn’t feel that way right now. 

Allow yourself to practice this. Start with small choices – small moments of decision – and work your way up to bigger choices. Reclaim pieces of yourself and pour it into every action, building your self-trust with every step.

Ask yourself: What feels best for ME here? What do I want to do? What might I choose if no one had ever told me what was “right” or “good” or “best”?

Do this: Start with the phrase “Just for today..”

Borrowed from Alcoholics Anonymous, this phrase has skipped into my heart, taking up cozy residency there, bolstering me with each utterance. Use this phrase whenever you feel the urge to spin out on those million threads or find yourself spinning around and around as you wonder whether or not you’ll be able to keep it up for the long haul.

Just for today, I will speak kindly to my body. 

Just for today, I will move joyfully for 30 minutes. 

Just for today, I will stand in my power. 

Just for today, I will make choices that honor my spirit and light me up at the core. 

There is no need to promise that you will be able to keep something up forever or wait for the epiphany that changes EVERYTHING, suddenly allowing to to dig into a new way of being with permanent ease. We are all practice here. We are all humans here. We are all experimenting with finding new ways to come into energetic alignment and standing in our personal truths.

Just for today, trust in your ability to make decisions that allow you to feel really good. 

Do this: Allow yourself the freedom of one inspired action. 

An inspired action is a small step forward. Instead of sitting with the enormity of your big dream in your hands, telling yourself that in order to be successful you must do it all at once, start small. Put your feet on the ground, put your hand on your heart, and ask yourself: What is one thing that I can do today to get me a little bit closer?

Don’t judge this small step. After all, one step is decidedly better than no steps. Take that one step and then, when you’re ready, take another. Allow the inertia of empowered action to push you just a little bit further down your path. These small steps stack up quickly, allowing yourself the fortitude of forward momentum where you might otherwise stay stagnant and overwhelmed for months or years.

You do not have to do it all at once. Start where you are. Choose your next step.

Write two pages. 

Do the dishes. 

Walk around the block. 

Write to one person. 

Finish that one project. 

And, execute.