Self-Care Toolbox in Action

Watercolor Moon Watercolor by BluePalette on Etsy

BluePalette

The last couple of weeks have been really stressful. I can tell I’m burned out by my heightened anxiety, the symptoms of which include but are not limited to exhaustion, sleeplessness, listlessness, tummy troubles, and headaches. I’m having social anxiety of the “no one likes me, omg why did I say that, I can’t talk to people I will just stay home forever watching New Girl reruns” type, and self-abusive anxiety of the “I will never have a partner because I am so weird and no one will ever be in love with me I am the worst” type. Neither feel great. Both are just thought-streams, spirals of words and feelings that are not based in any actual experiential evidence or reality.

I’m grateful that I can identify that. I am no expert, but I do think I’m at a point where I can observe those thought patterns, recognize them for what they are (non-reality, self-limiting anxiety spirals, fear-based meanness brought on by emotional exhaustion), and take actions to feel better. I don’t always do a great job but I was so relieved last week when shit hit fan that I have these tools in this toolbox of self-care and -compassion that I’ve been storing up for the last decade. They live in a beautiful chest in my brain and body, and I just have to access them–which is in itself not always an easy task.

So here are some of my tools. Maybe you’ll find them useful as well.

  • Sitting in a hospital waiting room, trying to stay calm before a visit: chanting whatever mantras come to mind, using finger counting method, breathing deeply.
  • Be kind to others. My stress does not trump theirs. We are all hurting in some way and compassion is contagious.
  • Seek silence, even when (especially when) the urge to block out thoughts arises.
  • Take a walk with a friend. (Sometimes you are the friend.)
  • Sometimes you are the enemy. Talk gently to yourself, especially when your mind-voice (the anxiety voice, not the “still small voice” of truth and love) is being, frankly, rude. Treat yourself like a sweet baby angel and give yourself some love.
  • Get lots of sleep. Maintain bedtime routine. Take melatonin or another (non-habit-forming) sleep aid to get to sleep when pounding heart threatens to keep you awake all night. If you wake up too early, get up and practice yoga, drink tea, read a book: do something kind for yourself.
  • Play!
  • Listen to your body. Ask it what it needs and try to provide it.
  • Ask for help. When people ask how they can help me, I tend to ask for food because I hate to cook when I’m stressed. I have friends who will walk and talk with me, ask me what I’m going to do for myself, and take me out for distractions when needed. These friends are love. People often want to help but need to be asked. Don’t be afraid to do it!

Love,

Jillian

 

Beach Packing List

Ukulele

Bathing suits

Gouache, brushes, paper, palette. Pencils, notebook

Writing journal, bullet journal

Toothbrush, tooth powder. Hair brush, banana clip, conditioner, henna (?). Face mask, miracle grains, cleansing oil, Beauty Balm.

Leftover wine from birthday party.

Dirty laundry

Phone charger, Kindle and Kindle charger, laptop and cables

Full Bloom: The Art and Life of Georgia O’Keefe

Yoga mat, Thai foot massage stick

A History of God

Sewing machine, projects, notions

Sense of belonging, carried over from the last 2 weeks of happy occasions surrounded by friends, the last 6 months-33 years of self work,  and important planetary influences

Self-compassion, and the book Self-Compassion by Kristen Neff

Sunscreen, big hat

Running shoes, ambition

Various oracular tools (Tarot cards, Druid animal oracle)

Spirit of adventure

4 Ways To Transition Into Fall

It’s here! Finally! Fall is in the air!

Fall is a lovely time of year. It’s a time of resetting, releasing, preparing for winter. One can start to wind down and transition into the restful, fallow months ahead. I like to take this time to reset.

One aspect of my Full Witch resolution is that I’m getting more in touch with nature, including the seasons and their shifting. Here are 4 ways I’m making the transition into Fall this year.

Inspiration for my Fall Capsule Wardrobe

Inspiration for my Fall Capsule Wardrobe

Changing MY Clothes

I’m doing my second Fall Capsule Wardrobe.  I started transitioning from summer to fall clothes in September and am now totally into my fall wardrobe. There’s something really nice about putting away my hot weather clothes and getting out my cooler weather, nicer clothes. It’s a seasonal costume change! I really like all my shoes, hats, jackets and scarves.  I love that the colors in my wardrobe are in tune with the season, with rust, mustard, whiskey and deep red. Everything gets a little cozier, warmer, richer. I have several items that I’ve made, too, which feel great to wear. (More info on my Capsule coming soon! Here’s my Fall Wardrobe Architect board, where I save ideas about color, shape and vibe.)

MOdifying MY Diet

Capsule wardrobe is a sort of external reset, but there are internal resets I practice as well. This is the second year that I’ve done an Ayurvedic  Fall Cleanse as outlined here. The idea of this cleanse is to reset one’s digestive system as well as detoxifying the body. It is a nice way to demarcate the seasonal change, to “release” toxins and unhealthy habits we may have acquired over the summer, and to prepare the body for shifts in weather and tone that come with each new season. It’s important to undertake this process in the spirit of self-care rather than self-denial. It requires lots of rest and awareness of both the physical and emotional states. I have to say, I felt like garbage for the first few days this time, but am feeling lighter and cleaner as I am finishing up the 7 days.

October is also the month when I revisit Cycle 1 of the Virgin Diet. This is the 21-day period when I have to be really strict about eliminating eggs, soy, dairy, gluten, corn, peanuts and sugar. I’ll admit that I’ve never successfully eliminated sugar, but I have drastically reduced it during this period. After the 21 days, I retest eggs, gluten, soy and dairy to see if I have built more of a tolerance for them. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I can handle some eggs, since I find this the most difficult thing to eliminate. It’s really hard to find gluten free baked goods that don’t use eggs, and I really love a poached egg in ramen or on top of basically anything, every now and then.

Other aspects of the Virgin Diet that I’m happy to reinstitute, as I’ve fallen away from them in the past few months, include when and how to eat. Meals are spaced in a way that maximizes digestion and nutrient absorption: eat a meal every 4-6 hours, don’t eat 3 hours before bed, and eat the proper ratio of healthy fat, lean protein, whole grain, low starch vegetables  and carbs, low glycemic fruits, and nuts. When I follow these guidelines, I truly feel more satiated and have more energy. I’m excited to feel that way again.

These are photos from my recent trip to Iceland!

These are photos from my recent trip to Iceland!

CONNECTING WITH NATURE

Last month I went to Iceland (!) and had my mind blown by how gorgeous the landscape is there. My friends and I drove around looking at the scenery, chasing rainbows and stopping to hike, jump in hot springs (in the wind and rain!) and gaze at waterfalls. I took a ton of pictures which I’m still combing through, but you can see above how beautiful the country is. I felt so intensely the pull to spend more time in nature, so I’m committed to doing more hiking, walking and even sitting outside this fall.

I LOVE being outdoors, but in the summer it is too damn hot. Fall is, of course, the best season for snuggling up to nature. Last weekend I went to Asheville and did some hiking and apple-picking. It was autumnal AF. Witnessing the beauty of the changing seasons, I feel a change in myself. We are connected to the world around us, which is also the world within us. We cannot deny our naturalness. To notice what’s happening to the leaves is to notice what’s happening in the endless cycle of life of which we are a part. (I have “Colors of the Wind” stuck in my head right now.)

USING MY HANDS

I love knitting and working with cold-weather fabrics such as flannel and wool. Working with my hands is very grounding and it feels good to create things I will wear as it cools down. I also start cooking more, or at least I have done so in the past. I’ll break out the crock pot and simmer some stews to eat over a couple of days or freeze for later. These activities remind me of the past, of my predecessors who quilted, crocheted, gardened and pickled. It feels good to have a connection to my grandmothers; it makes me feel rooted.

 

Fall is a time of rooting. We cozy up, settle in. We spend time with family over the holidays and celebrate community with harvest festivals and explore society with elections. We scare ourselves with horror movies and comfort ourselves with snuggles, warm foods and thick blankets. We join with other fans as we all watch the same shows and sports games. There are so many ways we come together as a community in the fall. How do you wind down, reset or root in the Fall?

On Moving Pt. 2

There are 2 Big Deals in my life this week:

  1. I have a summer flu. 
  2.  My house is a wreck. 

These things are not compatible. I am home from work for the 3rd day this week, surrounded by boxes both half-full and empty, and all I can do is watch TV, read and recover. This is HARD. All I want to do is go to work at my very fun job (I missed field day!), arrange my furniture, organize my shit and hang my art. I am sick, bored and frustrated. Woe is me. I was supposed to go to the beach this weekend but have to stay home. Maybe I can get some stuff done this weekend? Anyway, here’s some stuff about me and my house. 

Problem: I bought a big hulking piece of furniture based on a dream, and in reality found it to be impractical. It’s just too damn big. My house is small. It was an impulse buy. I was coming down with the flu when I bought it. I have regrets. Now I need to get it out of my house ASAP so…Craigslist? Right? We’ll see how that goes. Until I get rid of it, I can’t really arrange my living room. I can’t finish unpacking until everything is arranged.

Success: I got a new couch! This after my old couch, which we hauled here from my former residence, wouldn’t fit in my narrow doorway. Oh we tried. We tried hard. After a half-hour of trying to configure it creatively through the door, we gave up and I trucked it over to the thrift store. It was actually kind of liberating. I wasn’t in love with that couch and it would have been huge in my space. I need small, light furniture in here. So I went back to the thrift store with some friends and found this very comfortable, mustard green couch. It’s not an ideal color but I looked up some palettes incorporating the color and I can definitely worth it. Devo LOVES it. She’s barely dismounted since it was delivered. Bonus: it was only $80. 

mustard green palette

Problem: I have an enormous pile of laundry and no washer/dryer. My plan is to do my laundry at my sisters’ house until I can afford to buy a w/d (there is a hookup here) but I moved in with a pile and haven’t had a chance to get over there so…it grows. It’s taking over. I might disappear under it.

Success: My bathroom looks  great. I decided to go for it and got the microfiber shower curtain. Whoa, I know. The bathroom is one of two rooms that are put together. It was my top priority. The other room that looks great is my front porch. It has a ceiling fan! My plants are very happy out there.

Problem: There’s an ant infestation in my house. I’m using Terro. They’re in my bed. I hate it.

Success: I painted an old cabinet I have with black chalkboard paint and now it looks very cool.

Problem: The blinds in my bedroom broke and it’s seriously impeding my nudity, which is one of my favorite things about living alone. Time to get curtains.

Success: S hooks are very handy. I’m using them in the pantry to hang pots and in the closet to hang bags. There are a lot of wire shelving units in this house.

Problem: My shower. The tub is old fiberglass, not really big enough to comfortably take a bath, chipped and I swear it’s kind of squishy like there’s water damage underneath it. I tried to tell the landlord but he blew off the water damage theory. My dream of dreams is that I am correct and they will replace the tub. It doesn’t drain well so that I am standing in ankle-deep water throughout my shower. The faucet drips, which is not cool for the environment or my water bill. Boos all around.

Success: I replaced the shower head immediately. Nothing like a great shower head.

Problem: I really want some banana pudding, but don’t eat most of the ingredients. Also too sick to go get some.

Success: Can’t think of anything else. Ugh. Oh wait! I could make a banana pudding-ish smoothie?! That would be a success. Nailing it.

 

 

How To Ease Money Stress

How to Ease Money Stress | Whisper & Howl

OMG have I been stressing out about money. Some unexpected expenses have come up this month on top of my new car payment. Long story short, always file your state taxes or they will take a major chunk out of your ass in oh, 6 years time. Like a surprise $1000 chunk out of your ass. Like, your entire savings. It might also happen on the day that the security deposit is due on the house you want to rent. I’m just saying, it could turn out that way. That would probably be pretty stressful. If that happened to you, you might find yourself spiraling into anxieties about having no Emergency Fund where mere days ago there was a nice $1000 balance, or how you were definitely going to have enough money saved to not use your credit card for the big trip you have planned for the fall, or how it might take years to pay off your credit debt. Your brain might jump ahead to next year, when the landlord of your new house will probably raise the rent because they “don’t do” 2-year leases, and you’ll have to move again or spend even more money on rent, money that won’t be saved up for a down payment on a house, and you won’t be able to afford to live anywhere you want anyway because gentrification. Also, you might hate all your clothes and want to buy new ones and also be thinking about needing new furniture and why didn’t you include moving expenses in your very optimistic savings plan in the first place?!

If this happens to you, there is one tactic I know of that can calm the financial fear monster. No, it’s not budgeting, because planning in this scenario sometimes leads to severely overthinking, nay, obsessing (although yes, you should be budgeting).

I’m talking about gratitude.

There’s something about making lists of things for which I am grateful that is very soothing. Maybe it’s the list-making. Maybe it’s the realization that I have everything I need at this moment, that I’m safe and comfortable and free and surrounded by good things. Maybe it’s the reassurance of the Law of Abundance, that the universe provides, that all will be well. Maybe it’s just a distraction.

I don’t know. It just works.

My recommendation, should you find yourself in this situation, is to find a quiet moment in a cozy place. Take deep breaths. Light a candle. Make it a ritual. Focus your energy on gratitude. Give thanks to the goddess, the universe, God, light, the source, your own wits and talents and strength–whatever makes you happy. Grab a beautiful journal if you’d like. I write on scraps of paper and stash the lists in my God box (a great idea from Tosha Silver).

Sometimes it’s a stretch. I start with easy things and move on from there. Sometimes they are simple things, sometimes complex. Often, they’re related to things I’m stressed about. I remember all that I have and forget all that I don’t have, or can’t see that I have; the things I think will make me happy, the things for which I’m grasping; the things I’m afraid of losing or am afraid I will never have. I keep listing things until I feel better. That’s it. It’s not a cure, but it helps.

  • I am grateful for my family.
  • I am grateful for Devo!
  • I am grateful that my hair is finally long, even though it was kind of greasy today. High ponytails make a great swish when I jog.
  • I’m grateful for the park where I jog. Or, let’s be honest, speed-walk. I’m grateful I can speed-walk.
  • I’m grateful for kombucha and to the friend who brought me SCOBYs from his restaurant even though he was studying and has a small child. That was extra generous.
  • I’m grateful that I have a job that I LOVE.
  • I’m grateful for my cute little car that doesn’t feel as though it will break down at any minute. Driving is fun again!
  • I’m grateful for the Maximum Fun podcast network, especially Jordan, Jesse, Go, which makes me laugh my ass off.
  • I am grateful that the manager at the GAP let me exchange those jeans with the broken zipper for a new pair, even though I bought them a year ago, and to the customer service person who emailed me back and told me to bring them in. The new ones are better than the old ones.
  • I am grateful for the bugs making sweet music outside my apartment.
  • I’m grateful for my teachers, even the ones who make shit really hard, like Saturn.
  • I’m grateful for this really fun book, The Name of the Wind, that I’m totally enjoying (and for the friends who lent it to me).
  • I am grateful that I am incredibly wealthy in love, friendship, and support.

See? Not so hard. I feel better already.

My Favorite Smoothies

From the Nutribullet cookbook

I’ve really stepped up my smoothie game since I got a NutriBullet for Christmas. Not only is it the best thing since sliced gluten free vegan bread, it comes with a cookbook packed with delicious smoothie recipes. They’re not paying me to write this, I just love it a lot. (If they’re reading this and want to pay me, I’m on board.)

The cookbook is hilarious. It’s full of photos of smiling, active, elderly, white, straight couples enjoying life. It’s divided into sections based on medical or health conditions, with recipes designed to be nutritive and healing. My favorites are the anti-inflammation, digestion and detox sections, since I am plagued by tummy troubles and inflammation (damn you, leaky gut syndrome!).

Below are recipes for 3 of my favorite smoothies (or “blasts,” as NutriBullet calls them). Just add all the ingredients to your blending machine of choice and pulverize them into delicious health food beverages. I didn’t include amounts of liquid. If you want thicker smoothies, use less liquid, and vice versa. I usually drink mine in the car on the way to work and prefer them to be less viscous, so I add max liquid. Enjoy!

Pink Detox Blast, My Favorite Smoothies | Whisper & HowlPink Detox Blast

Beets and celery are great for a gently detoxing the digestive system, the avocado adds healthy fats and creaminess, and coconut oil is great for your gut. The apple gives you a nice dose of fiber and strawberries are healthy and delicious. This drink’s gorgeous pink color puts a smile on my face, making this my current favorite smoothie. 

1/4 Medium Avocado

1 Stalk Celery

1/2 Strawberries (Cherries are also great)

1/2 Beet

2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

1 teaspoon Coconut Oil

1/2 Apple (Granny Smith is my favorite)

3 Ice Cubes

Coconut Water (I often use water instead)

Belly Bloat Blast, My Favorite Smoothies | Whisper & Howl

Belly Bloat Blast

The bromelain in pineapple and curcumin in turmeric help to fight inflammation, while the celery and ginger aid in digestion. This “blast” is light and bright and wakes me right up. 

1 Handful Kale (or Spinach)

1 Cup Pineapple

1/2 Inch Ginger

1/2 Stalk Celery

1/2 Lemon, juiced

1/2 Inch Turmeric (dried also works but fresh tastes better!)

Coconut Water (again, I almost always use water)

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Blast, My Favorite Smoothies | Whisper & Howl

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries (or Cherries) Blast

This one is delicious and feels like having dessert for breakfast. Instead of the protein blend in the recipe, I use Orgain Chocolate Protein Powder. 

1 Handful Spinach

6 Strawberries (or cherries)

2 teaspoons Raw Cacao Powder (or nibs)

1/4 Beet

1 Tablespoon SuperFood Protein Blend

1 1/2 Cups Unsweetened Almond Milk

 

You can find a ton of recipes on the NutriLiving website…or wait for me to pare it down for you. 😉

 

 

Adventures in Austerity: This is Happening!

Spending Fast Guidelines | Whisper & Howl

Not Spending = Saving, right?

This is happening! I embarked on an Adventure in Austerity (not to be confused with a Spending Fast, which is a trademarked phrase created by the brilliant Anna Newell Jones of And Then We Saved)!

One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to reexamine my spending habits and jump-start my savings. I struggled with the decision to freeze my discretionary spending, because it’s hard. It means spending money only on essentials and exercising a lot of restraint. I realized it would be easier to start if I took a month to prepare by making a list of things I wanted (like new Chelsea boots and a harmonium) and upcoming expenses throughout the year (yoga insurance renewal, contacts). I evaluated the “wants” and chose a few things to purchase, and I planned out the upcoming expenses so I’d remember to budget for them. I think this really helped, and not just because I now have a nice pair of boots that I wear almost every day and a harmonium I play every night. The process of prioritizing and scheduling things out was useful.

Because I’ve been living partially on savings and my (very low interest) credit card for the last 5 months, my bank accounts are basically down to $0. I’m starting from scratch here, but that’s okay. I just got my first paycheck from my new full time job and I am so excited to put a big chunk of it into savings!

It also helped to set goals.

My Savings Goals

  1. Get my Emergency Savings back to $1000. It has pained me to watch this dwindle. I had to dip into it for essentials each month that I was underemployed, and at this point it is down to the minimum account balance requirement: $25. Ouch.
  2. Pay off credit card debt. At the moment, this is at an all-time, scary high of $2100. I didn’t touch the thing in February (another reason my Emergency Savings is gone). In the interest of full disclosure, I might make one final purchase on it before laying it to rest for the next 6 months: $200 plane tickets to Iceland. Which brings me to my next goal…
  3. Save up for birthday trip to Iceland. Yes, my priorities could be better. No, I am not going to reconsider. This, also, is happening.
  4. Build 3-6 months of Emergency Savings. This is 3-6 months of what I would need to live off of if I had absolutely no income. I’m estimating that 3 months would be about $4500.
  5. Build General Savings, or save up for more specific goals (buy a house?! Is that crazy?!).

My PLan

  1. Don’t increase spending just because income has increased. In order to save money, I have to stick only to planned purchases. This means budgeting based on my anticipated needs rather than leaving in extra “just in case” cushioning. Living on less these last few months has helped me to trim some fat from my budget. For instance, I’ve reduced my food budget by nearly half since this time last year. I’ve also cut way back on miscellaneous personal items like toiletries, and I rarely buy clothes or home-goods. Now I have a better idea of what I need to budget for based on my needs, not my desires, and on m
  2. Set saving priorities–and get excited about them! See above for goals.
  3. Set spending priorities. Determine needs v. wants. I use the word “needs” loosely to define things I am not willing to part with, such as sewing club, acupuncture, and Netflix.
  4. Shop with intention. Have a plan! Make lists! Stay on task!
  5. Think before purchasing. Take a moment. Count to 10. Breathe deeply.
  6. Don’t shop when hungry or stressed
  7. Make do and mend, reuse creatively, make things, use what you already have, borrow from friends, and find free things to do!
  8. Think of this as an ADVENTURE!

THIS IS HAPPENING! I started March 1st. I have paid for gas and my sewing classes (needs) but have refrained from buying some fantastic rayon-cotton blend jersey fabric that is on sale and would look gorgeous as a tee shirt dress, but that is categorically not a need. I have plenty of sewing projects lined up to keep me busy for months, and I already own the fabric! It’s the little victories, you guys.

How do you feel about saving? Is it easy or difficult, or have you never considered the fact that you’re 31 and have $40 in your Simple IRA account?!?!

 

 

 

 

 

Years

Goodbye, 2015. You were a great nasty beast of a Teacher. Thank you for all of your lessons.

Hi, 2016. I am so happy to meet you! If you could take it easy on the real heavy shit, that would be nice.

Love to you both!

A Week in Witchiness (or, One Witchy Week): 9/9-9/15

I’ve been a good little witch this last week.  With the New Moon in Virgo on Sunday night, my earth-loving, purifying, refining nature has been out in full force. Here are some of the things I’ve done:

5 ways I’ve been witchy since wednesday

Handpainted eyeball gel manicure | Whisper & Howl

Number 1

 I painted eyeballs on my fingernails.  I am obsessed.  When the paint inevitably peels off, I will be so, so sad.

Number 2

I undertook an Ayurvedic cleanse.  I’ve been taking herbs for a while and they seem to be helping, so I decided to do a Fall Cleanse right as the weather decided to drop 20 degrees!  Unexpected bonus: I’ve lost 3 lbs.

NUMBER 3

Because of the cleanse and its morning practices, I’ve been getting up much earlier than usual and am loving it!  I do some cleansing practices, make breakfast, shower and do yoga all before work.  It’s giving me more time in the evening, since my sadhana is already done, and has jolted me straight into a beautiful morning routine.  I’m getting a little closer to becoming a morning person every day.

Eclipse Healer by Mystic Mamma

Number 4

I taught 4 yoga classes last week, including the New Moon and Solar Eclipse in Virgo class on Sunday.  I love teaching the moon classes.  I get to learn all about what’s going on astrologically and impart it to others along with lots of my favorite poses (chandra namaskar or moon salutations is my favorite sequence).

Number 5

I got a book on Shakti mantras and am excited to dive in!  I’m headed to the beach tomorrow afternoon and expect to be reading lots of yoga texts and doing lots of chanting–along with playing cards and board games and watching horror movies with my Mom and sisters.  I’ll be sure and collect some nice shells for my altar while I’m there.

Bonus

This one isn’t witch-related, but I did get my Autumn Capsule Wardrobe figured out and have started transitioning some pieces in.  More info on my process and results will be coming soon.

What have you done to feel like a wild, weird, witchy goddess this week?