How I Took Steps to Make Self-Care an Active Part of My Life

Looking back at when I first really noticed the term self-care thrown about, I had a pretty flippant response about it. It seemed a concept for rich people and celebrities and flashed visions of expensive resorts and personal massage therapists in my head. It seemed like something you could only achieve after winning the lottery, marrying rich or saving for years for that special vacation. So naturally, with this snarky view, I promptly pushed it from my head and kept living my life. It really wasn’t until I hit thirty that I really started to take a hard look at my life and how I did things. I was stressed out all the time. I made terrible food choices which upped my weight gain and lowered my energy levels. I took on crazy hours to keep my head above water financially and ruined my internal well-being by going through life like a zombie by working 18 hour days 7 days a week and not taking the time I needed to rest so I could stay healthy while doing my job. I didn’t take the time or responsibility to take a real hard look at my credit and finances so I could live better and smarter and end my paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. I really got an ugly and unflinching look at my life when I moved back home to stay with my parents after failing to maintain a stable life and I hated what I saw. I was overweight, had terrible credit, no career, no plan and no purpose.  After getting work a couple of months after I moved back home, I did have money again but I wasn’t really changing my patterns. I still made horrible food choices, I wasn’t planning my spending, I wasn’t developing a plan to be stable doing something I loved and looked forward to doing daily, I worked and went home but didn’t enrich my life with experiences in my free time. Something had to change. I started to utilize the internet to be more than a source of entertainment. I started doing things I hadn’t done consistently in a couple of years, I took back my weekends and started to try more things for enjoyment and not to just get through a day. I started living rather than just existing and by doing so, I started to see a path for a future I could love. How did I accomplish this buffet of action items you ask? I’m glad you asked. I did the following things to improve my life through adding self-care:

 

  • I sat down and went through my bank account and created a budget in Excel to really take a look at what I’m spending and how I could spend more mindfully and more importantly, have savings and improve my credit. I also used the site, Nerdwallet to get my credit report as a tool to help get my credit back on track. Okay, not sexy or fun but necessary if I wanted to HAVE more fun.
  • I started using Pinterest as more than a way to pass time or make boards of wish lists and wish lives. I searched for healthy recipes I could easily meal prep on Sundays so I wouldn’t have the excuse of being too tired to get lunch together when I got home from work. By using at most 2 hours on Sundays, I had a week’s worth of lunches for work that were filling, healthier than fast food and budget friendly since unless I was getting really fancy, I would pretty much spend about $25 for a week’s worth of lunches. This also awakened my love of cooking and baking so I was not only being health and budget conscious, I was also adding a hobby that made this new habit more enjoyable and sustainable.
  • I started to find ways to incorporate fitness into my life without paying over my kidney and have something I could do at home either when I couldn’t make a class or just needed to decompress. I remembered a site I used called Classpass that gave me lists of studios in my city and nearby areas based on types of workouts I might be interested in and the times I would be able to fit classes into my schedule. Through Classpass, I found a yoga studio and instructor I loved and a new fun but challenging activity called Lyra, a type of aerial acrobatics. The yoga classes helped with my stress levels and dealing with old injuries and Lyra helped me to start rediscovering my resilience in looking at failures as just lessons or goals to smash by continuing to keep at it.
  • I started doing small things for enjoyment and discovery. I took random drives to areas I had never been or hadn’t been to in years. Through that, I gifted myself more experiences by just enjoying discovery and letting myself just do things without a plan or destination. I started taking myself out on “dates”. I wanted in my own small way to put an end to the belief that it was wrong or awkward to be a single woman enjoying a meal by herself without judgment. I found that I enjoyed the leisurely time to sit and enjoy my food and a book or people watching without giving off an aura that I’d “given up” or was “undesirable” by having a public meal alone. I felt empowered in claiming myself as a person first and being single second.
  • I claimed Sunday as a day of rest but not necessarily laziness. Sunday was my “do nothing day”. By that, I don’t mean that I literally spent a whole day doing nothing, I use Sundays as my “no car day”. I don’t leave the house on Sundays except for special circumstances and use it as a day to sleep in, meal prep for the week, plan outfits for work and for my weekly face mask to get a handle on skin care and honoring my body by taking the time to rest, rejuvenate and nurture it.
  • On that same vein of nurturing my body, I purchased a monthly massage membership to further deal with the body pain I have due to old injuries, bad habits and having a desk job. It was a doable amount I could easily put into my budget so I would have the money I needed to live but also have fun when I wanted to and save for future plans.
  • I make sure to do what I need to so I could at least get 8 hours of sleep a night. I know I’m getting side-eye over that number, but I’m not a morning person by ANYONE’S stretch of imagination and need to get a good night’s rest to not have people plotting my death. I don’t always succeed but I mostly do and it makes a difference.
  • I meditate. I used to have limiting ideas on meditation as well and thought of it as some random new-agey thing that was a complete crock, but as I actually did some research into it and found some great podcasts that broke it down into everyday subjects to focus on, I was on board. Thank you Chel Hamilton and Josie Ong for easy to follow and easy to absorb meditation podcasts to keep me sane!
  • Speaking of podcasts, I digest podcasts like food. I’m a curious person and love to learn and attempt to stay current on things. Since I have an iPhone, this is easy for me to do with the iPhone podcast app and Spotify. Between these two apps, I can usually find shows I love for entertainment, learning or just to wind down from the day.
  • And lastly, I surrounded myself with inspiration and motivation. Literally. Again, Pinterest to the rescue. I found quotes and memes that would inspire me to action whenever I looked at my walls and was just looking for a rev up at the beginning of my day or when I needed a reminder of what I was trying to build for myself. I gained a bit of the idea from Being Mary Jane season 1 when the title character would put inspirational quotes on post-it notes on her walls. I saw this as a practice I could easily adopt and put in my soul to keep rising.

So, there you have it, my steps for incorporating self-care in a practical, doable way to take back your life and being at peace with your whole self.

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Chocolate Covered Cherry Power Smoothie

I have to admit, I was very skeptical about the green smoothies. I love smoothies and used to haunt Jamba Juice like I had stock in the company; but I always thought once you started throwing greens in the blender and called it a smoothie, it was bound to be gross. It was only a matter of the flavor of grossness. I’ve been addicted to Pinterest for quite some time as well as food blogs. I finally found a good base for a green smoothie and made some tweaks; and voila, the chocolate covered cherry power smoothie. Here’s my recipe. Enjoy!

2 cups of spinach
1 cup chocolate soy milk
2 cups Wallaby’s lowfat vanilla yogurt
1 single serve packet of Justin’s chocolate covered hazelnut almond butter
1/4 cup of tart cherries (bulk bin at Whole Foods)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix the spinach and soy milk in the blender until well mixed. Then add the yogurt, almond butter, cherries and cinnamon until it’s all well blended. Pour into your container of choice and freeze until ready to drink!

Empowering Days of May 2012

I hope yesterday’s Shuistrology teasers post whet your appetite for a wonderful May! Want to know what days to expect the best and brightest bursts of power? Read this post by shuistrologist Ellen Whitehurstlisting May’s empowering days! 

This month combines ideas, ideals and the need to understand how to go beyond manifesting material rewards for the individual only – so that we can embrace the clear guidance and scrumptious good news that comes calling alongside a bunch of days dedicated to nurturance and nourishment.  But these gifts can only come into our present if we can ally with and learn from more experienced, informed and more highly educated people/places/things.  Period.  We must seek guidance in May.  Detailed discussions about needs and priorities are planned for each one of us.  But only if you can move past old habits and let the new times roll.  Then – and then only – will we all rock.  Oh, and if we get good guidance we’ll rock and we’ll roll too – hey, didn’t I just say that?STOP clinging to old habits.

STOP holding on to ingrained attitudes.

START the conscious creating by looking for NEW pathways.

What you’ll find then is the proverbial yellow brick road.  Possibilities (sans partnering flying monkeys) will peek out from everywhere.  The planets promise success if you promise to improvise.  You must, as well, think locally but dream globally.  Coincidence, synergy, heightened synchronicity all fill the middle of the month and they clear away the chaos so you can see the possibility and potential lying underneath.

Potential, possibility and positive synchronicity are what lie both under and ahead this month.  In fact, they are the lights at the end of the metaphorical May tunnel!  Can you dig it?  I hope so.

What I don’t hold out a lot of hope for and certainly don’t even pretend to understand anymore is the stock market.  Spain’s credit gets downgraded – again- and our stock and treasuries rally?  There is so much other information abounding that should see this market moving lower, and, yet, irrational and illogical moves to challenge current day highs seems to be the sentiment in control.  For now though and because I can, I will guess that the markets are stable to sideways until Venus goes into hiding on May 15. In the case of the DJIA all that glitters is not gold.  But if I wanted to own some of the real deal, I’d be a buyer now.  There’s the only silver lining I can find.  Obviously I’m in the minority.

May 3   ………   Mercury the Messenger whispering sweet (and savory!) somethings into the ears of a more than willing Venus.  Calls for a Magically Delicious amorous appetizer methinks.  I’m also thinking you should be cookin’ up same for some friends of yours as well.  Or at least get out and about and enjoying a high time with them.  Tonight would be THAT night.  For the adventurous among you – remember to burn a red candle in the kitchen as you cook so you can be as hot as fire your own self tonight and, then, end the meal with some hot, hot, hot (wink, wink, wink) Café OHHHH LAY!  You’ll need a teaspoon of shelled cardamom seeds, a half cup of cold water and some freshly brewed double strength coffee.  While holding the seeds, strongly visualize your intentions and desires.  Place the cold water and the cardamom seeds in a small saucepan and bring to a full boil.  Boil for two minutes.  Strain the liquid through a standard coffee filter and pour into fresh HOT coffee.  Stir it UP and serve!

May 5   ………   Full Moon in intense and passionate Scorpio eliciting emotional responses on traditionally rowdy Cinco de Mayo.  Maybe a little less tequila and a little more TLC in efforts at quelling and calming the emotional overload?  I call this sacred self-care and today’s tool to do just that is magnesium.  Aside from regulating normal body functions and helping to build bones, magnesium is also an all natural calming agent providing relief for a whole host of potentially upsetting conditions.  As always, before adding any supplement to your diet consult your health care professionals. Keep it cool today and you’ll find the rest of the month only gets a heckuva lot hotter – in a sizzling good way!

May 10   ………   Mercury the Messenger sextiles foggy bottom Neptune making today a cosmically creative kind of day.  Turn your energies towards the arts and drink up all the inspiration in the air.  If you do, you’ll feel like Van GOOOOOOO!!!!!

May 13   ………   TODAY IS SUPER STELLAR DAY and possibly the LUCKIEST DAY OF THE WHOLE YEAR!  Want to know why and how to use these energies to your best and biggest advantage?  Well, you’ll have to be a subscriber to my free monthly newsletter and you can do that at www.ellenwhitehurst.com.  Sign up now and you’ll get really lucky!  REALLY LUCKY!

May 15   ………   Venus goes retrograde until June 27.  Read much more about this Venus transit on today’s blog post at http://ellenwhitehurst.tumblr.com/

May 16   ………   Aggressive warrior planet Mars is trine personally powerful Pluto.  That means that action meets and mates with power in a beautifully blended way today.  Be sure to keep your inside AND outside entryway lights on for at least three consecutive hours today in order to illuminate and invite exciting, action-oriented and power-FULL opportunities right to your door!

May 20   ………   New Moon Solar Eclipse on the same day that the Sun enters Gemini.  Initiate.  Innovate.  Let the new times roll.  Keep confidence in your ideas and your plans and then take them to the next level.  But not before putting NINE RED CANDLES in your FAME area and lighting them for a few minutes today.  Do this for the next two too and ratchet up the heat on your dreams and desires!

May 21   ………   Mercury the Messenger is joining (positively positive) forces with jazzy Jupiter!  If you can dream it (and, then, GROUND IT!) you can live it.  The sky’s the limit – wait – I take that back.  There are NO limits to what you can achieve today.  See yesterday’s candle cure and deja do it all over again.  GO YOU GO!!!

May 23   ………   Uh oh.  Well, you knew it had to happen sooner or later.  The other shoe dropping of course.  Sun squares off against Neptune and it’s hard to make heads or tails of anything, especially reality.  Rather than get all caught up trying to push the water back up the river or trying put the paste back into the tube, why not just take a personal day.  Massage.  Mani-pedi.  Read a book.  Just don’t expect to see the real in any situation today.  Mental health day!  For mentally healthy – and now happy – you!  OR you can change the lightbulb in the main light source in your bedroom.  This could help clear things up too, but, I still lean towards a lazy day.  How about you?

May 25   ………   Now it’s Mercury’s turn to square off against Neptune.  If it sounds to good to be true it DEFINITELY is.  Don’t deal today.  Don’t agree to anything and don’t sign anything either.  Better days and happier endings to come.  I ain’t got no cures for anyone who MUST sign something today.  Not a one.  Sorry.  Just wait.  I promise brighter times to come.  In TWO DAYS.  Just wait.

May 27   ………   Mercury is sextile Uranus and brilliant ideas pour in by the bucket load.  Keep a pad and pen handy or keep your tablet tuned to WORD, because, well, WORD!  Today is chock full of them and some will even earn you additional income.  Or you can write the following Florence Scovel Shinn affirmation nine times today:  three times upon awaking, three more at the mid-day and three more times before you go to bed.  As always remember your intention and the red pen too.  “Let me NOW express the Divine Idea in my mind, body and affairs.”  The ultimate ‘expressway’ so put your pedal to that mettle and start your engines!

May 28   ………   Happy Memorial Day!  With the Sun sextile Uranus nobody should rain on your parade.  It’s an enthusiastic day and you should find family and friends ready to rally!  Wear red.  You can add the white and the blue to balance and be in the flow, but, just be sure you don the daring and wear red.  You’ll be on fire if you do!  FUEGO!  Buenas dias!

May 30   ………   Mercury the Messenger squaring off against an irritated, annoyed and aggressive Mars.  Don’t say a word.  Unless you back a few days to May 27 and say that Scovel Shinn affirmation all the day long.  Otherwise, keep it zipped.  OR don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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