Evolving Self-Care

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” —Eleanor Brownn

Self care Mastery

Over the years I have become a master at self care and what I once thought of as purely selfish or saved for the elite has long since diminished. When I had my great “wakeup” I realized that self-care is actually a necessity to living a whole and complete life. I learned that loving myself meant taking time for certain things that bring me joy and in doing that, I am able to more effectively give to others.

Self-care doesn’t have to be weekly (and often expensive) things like massages, facials or extravagant shopping sprees. Self-care should be simple in nature and definitely doesn’t need to cost a lot. It might be that taking the time to perfectly craft your coffee in the afternoon is your version of self-care–in fact, since I am not out and about as much while I recover from hip replacement, I have found sprinkling a little ground cinnamon on my afternoon coffee to be a fabulous substitute to my usual coffee shop Americano. It may be that your self-care is gardening, or baking bread (YES!), or a solo walk, or organizing your office, or a long shower with special smelling soap, or sitting in the sunshine, or the occasional binge on Netflix.

Self Care Before Surgery:

My self-care before surgery was long, long walks everyday and vigorous strength training sessions. It was also daily coffee(s), Yoga, and weekly massages. My self-care post surgery has changed quite a bit but I am still committed to making sure that I am loving on myself every single day. When I redirect my thoughts away from pain and towards something that brings me joy, I am practicing the best kind of self care there is. I am no longer taking long, long walks or hiking in the mountains. I am not getting on the floor for Yoga, or taking long bubble baths, or splurging on multiple trips to a coffee shop throughout my day. Since I am unable to do some of those things due to limitations in mobility, driving myself and being off work for two months, I have evolved my self-care to fit my current situation.

Self Care After Surgery:

  • Long hot showers instead of bubble baths
  • Daily affirmations (I have used affirmations for years, but being a bit more intentional about them)
  • Making anything and everything sourdough (who knew how fun that could be?)
  • Dabbling more in aromatherapy when I feel my mood changing to a negative one
  • Using and enjoying my crystals in a deliberate way
  • Jigsaw puzzles, digital planning and a lot of iPad goodness
  • Easy stretching and spine work
  • Making soothing DIY skin products
  • Being creative and productive every day

I have come to realize that self-care is a constantly evolving practice. I know for me that being productive and using my creative nature to accomplish something everyday brings me joy. That something might be baking a gorgeous loaf of sourdough, or completing a challenging jigsaw puzzle, working on a new project, or finishing a juicy novel. Or, it might be whipping up a body butter for my skin or enjoying an extra long shower. Whatever it is, I am still loving on me and that is a must for all of us.

How do you self-care and how has it evolved in your changing seasons?

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Stacie believes that it is her life purpose to share the gift of Yoga with anyone who is willing to say yes. In addition to raising a family and being an advocate for those with disabilities, Stacie is founder of Embracing Spirit Yoga which specializes in bringing adaptive Yoga into community centers and rehabilitation clinics. Bringing her depth of compassion to the mat–or the chair–she offers students the opportunity to grow as an individual in all aspects of their life. With over sixteen years experience, Stacie Wyatt is an experienced 500 hour Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance, Certified Brain Injury Specialist, Certified Trauma Informed Coach, Life Wellness Coach, Senior YogaFit Instructor, Mind/Body Personal trainer, Stress Reduction and Meditation Instructor, Pilates Instructor, and Barre Instructor.

Loving Myself

We all think we know what love is and what the definition is, but I resonate the most with how Brené Brown defines love–

We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honour the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.

Love is not something we give or get, it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

For the first 30 years of my life I thought I knew what love was and that I was living as an example of love—dependable, reliable, giving, and selfless. I’ve come to now see that what I was really offering was anything but that. I was clueless, unaware, oblivious and at times, destructive.

Not to others.

To myself.

Back when I was young, married and raising three people I was completely asleep when it came to self love. I have come to realize now however that I simply did not like who I was, so loving me was not even close to being on my radar. It is clear now that when you love yourself, you take actions that care for yourself.

Back then I had no awareness that the fast food I was consuming and the sedentary life I was living was contributing to my very large body. I never connected that the heaviness I was in my body was a direct link to the heaviness in my emotions. And then I realized that being an amazing mom wasn’t enough love. There was someone that love wasn’t shown.

Not to myself.

When I began to what I like to refer to as “wake up” and get healthy, I started to like me. I was finding dark shadows that were lurking in my heart that were asking to be let out. The beginning to many things that were literally weighing me down. I forgave others and accepted my circumstances. I began to care for me.

The logistics in which I lost weight are simple–I changed my habits. Recognizing what wasn’t working and learning to make a very conscious decision to change it was my new way.

Some of my strategies were:

  • Eating meals on small plates
  • Chewing gum while I cooked
  • Teaching others to do their dishes
  • Putting trigger foods out of sight
  • Making sure my walking shoes were always with me
  • Changing routines to avoid mindless eating (taking long baths, going for a walk, learning to garden)

You see these simple changes were to avoid be being unconscious. This influenced snacking, portions, and sedentary lifestyle choices. Many of these changes still remain part of my life.

By swapping out the mindless munching on snacks for bubble baths or a short walk, my mind was beginning to see the value in me. It is extraordinary what happens to a person’s soul when time is spent consistently alone on a walk. The changes that occurred both on the inside and outside were amazing.

I began noticing myself.

I have spent a decade and a half living like these habits; mindful eating and multiple daily walks. I even became a yoga and meditation teacher. Basically transformed myself from an angry obese woman to a healthy and happy woman.

A vibrant life was mine.

Then I got injured.

For the last seven years I have dealt with healing from four orthopedic surgeries and learning to live with chronic pain. This body that I had worked so hard to become healthy began to defile me. It was as if she was rebelling against this lifestyle of health and fitness.

Feelings of deep sadness came.

While I have maintained a healthy weight for over 20 years, I have struggled with trusting my body. The multiple diagnoses felt at times like a betrayal. In truth, I spent a solid 10 adult years living on double cheeseburgers, fries and chicken nuggets without a stitch of pain or health issues.

How did I begin to develop inflammatory issues when I was now living my best life? My body’s ability to climb mountains, race bicycles, practice endless hours of yoga, walk miles and miles each day was endless..

And yet, my body was struggling.

I have since learned to accept what is. Learning to continue on living an extraordinary happy and healthy life despite pain.Making daily choices around movement vs sitting. Or ice cream vs a single bite of dark chocolate. And binging on stupid tv vs a long bubble bath. I’ve been extremely happy with the self love I have discovered by nurturing myself.

Loving myself.

The game changed about six months ago when I stumbled onto a strength training program. I was completely content with my body and it’s strength and flexibility-and my size- but was intrigued by this idea of committing to something new.

Questions of worthiness immediately rose to the surface. The excuses were miles long. (I can’t do that because of my hip, that will hurt my ankle, I don’t need to do burpees, I don’t have enough weights, my body is “good enough”).

Deep down I knew that all of that internal dialogue didn’t sound much like loving myself. And I knew it.

So I began October 1st. A brand new love affair with myself. And like any new love there have bumps along the way—days I doubted myself and had some pretty bad words spoken, days I wanted to give up and go back to the inner narrative that I was “good enough”.

Those challenging days of the early love affair with my 51 year old self are gone. Now, I am in complete awe of what I have been able to do and overcome. I am happily shocked at the human body and it’s ability to transform. No longer held back by the story of age or injury, instead I am madly loving my ability and what I have achieved.

Amazing how much healing can happen when you say yes to YOU.

Whether it is food choices, walking, yoga, mindfulness or even getting down with lifting weights learning to love myself has been a journey I am so grateful for.

I have found trust in myself. And isn’t trust a much needed part of love?

This new love affair is destined to last a long, long time and I couldn’t be happier.

Benefits of Massage

Are you a believer in massage?

I used to think that massages were an added luxury that only divas indulged in.  That was until I developed chronic pain and had a series of orthopedic surgeries.  Now, I know that I could not live without them.  I also used to think that I did not have the money for massages.  Now, I choose to invest in my health instead of in other things.

While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found massage may also be helpful for:

  • Anxiety
  • Digestive disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia related to stress
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Soft tissue strains or injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Temporomandibular joint pain

Beyond the benefits for specific conditions or diseases, some people enjoy massage because it often produces feelings of caring, comfort and connection. Did you know there are so many other benefits of massage?

These are the 10 most common benefits reported from massage therapy:

1. Reduce Stress

A relaxing day at the spa is a great way to unwind and de-stress. However, clients are sure to notice themselves feeling relaxed and at ease for days and even weeks after their appointments!

2. Improve Circulation

Loosening muscles and tendons allows increased blood flow throughout the body. Improving your circulation can have a number of positive effects on the rest of your body, including reduced fatigue and pain management!

3. Reduce Pain

Massage therapy is great for working out problem areas like lower back pain and chronic stiffness. A professional therapist will be able to accurately target the source of your pain and help achieve the perfect massage regimen.

4. Eliminate Toxins

Stimulating the soft tissues of your body will help to release toxins through your blood and lymphatic systems.

5. Improve Flexibility

Massage therapy will loosen and relax your muscles, helping your body to achieve its full range of movement potential.

6. Improve Sleep

A massage will encourage relaxation and boost your mood.  Going to bed with relaxed and loosened muscles promotes more restful sleep, and you’ll feel less tired in the morning!

7. Enhance Immunity

Stimulation of the lymph nodes re-charges the body’s natural defense system.

8. Reduce Fatigue

Massage therapy is known to boost mood and promote better quality sleep, thus making you feel more rested and less worn-out at the end of the day

9. Alleviate Depression and Anxiety

Massage therapy can help to release endorphins in your body, helping you to feel happy, energized, and at ease.

10. Reduce post-surgery and post-injury swelling

A professional massage is a great way to safely deal with a sports injury or post-surgery rehabilitation.

It is also important to me that my massage therapist uses pure essential oils on my body during massage. The aromatic as well as the physical benefits create an all around amazing experience for the mind, body and soul.

Some of my favorite essential oils are:

  • Lavender. Safe for all ages, massage into the skin to promote calmness.
  • Ylang Ylang. Reduces effects of daily stress and leaves a soothing floral aroma.
  • Cypress. Soothing when applied on its own, use with a citrus oil for an invigorating massage.
  • Eucalyptus. Helps to create feelings of open airways.
  • Lemongrass. The perfect massage oil to use after an especially intense workout.
  • Marjoram. Used to target specific tired or stressed muscles.
  • Deep Blue® Soothing Blend. A blend that is both cooling and comforting, it also comes as Deep Blue® Rub for a lotion-like application.

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New Growth

We know that sign of a healthy plant is new growth.  The bright green and tender new leaves that form are indication that the plant is thriving.

And so it is with us as well.  The sweet and innocent, and often incredibly vulnerable, new challenges we face are indications we are not just growing but on our way to thriving.  It seems that with each new season of growth we are often faced with a burst of freshness that makes us feel invigorated and ready to take shape into an amazing blossom.

This week in my yoga classes we are exploring the concept of new growth.  Whether that is a revitalized wellness plan, a new job, a fresh relationship, or perhaps a commitment to self-love, it is a time to discover the joy in sprouting new growth.

In order to grow, we must create. When we cease to find our creative expression, a little bit of us dies either emotionally or physically. We wither under the pressure of being mundanely human.

Yet, at any moment we can refocus our power towards transformation. There are two ways that we can tap into our creative process: 1. Revealing glorious physical creations, such as colorful works of art, beautiful products, time in nature’s process and even how we decorate our homes, and 2. Bringing about a positive attitude and outlook that fuels one to transform and lift others. Basically being of service.

I find that connecting with the earth element is such a vital tap into the biggest creative process. To me, it is like taking a drink of water that immediately squelches any thirst I might have and gives me just what I need for my next push in life. Just like a plant with new growth needing fresh water. I also find that when I lean towards the warmth of things that make me feel good, I am more likely to be positive and upbeat in my outlook on life.  This alone can make a world of difference in how we either wither or bloom.

I am so looking forward to exploring these concepts on the mat (or in a chair this week).  As a wise mentor once told me, “the teacher teaches what the teachers needs to learn”.

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