How to Change the World & Still Practice Self-Care

Recently, I have noticed my energy drastically diminish while I read news stories or Instagram posts about the Amazon burning, or the wildfires in Australia, or the invasion of Indigenous lands in Canada, or the murder of Black folx in America. My mental state is scattered & upset. My physical body is in pain & I’m exhausted. If I’m feeling this way, I cannot imagine how BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) feel, and I never will. This is my privilege as a white woman.

While it is important to pay attention to what happens in the world, to participate in anti-racist work (including inner work), and to get involved in political issues that matter to us, it is also important to take care of ourselves while we do so. It’s difficult to stay focused on the cause of our activism, or even our everyday life when we aren’t honouring our energy. 

We’re living in some pretty tumultuous times. And, unless we decide to shut ourselves off completely from the world, we don’t have a choice. Racism & ecoterrorism are everywhere, every day. Yes, even in Canada. We are not immune to white supremacy here in the North.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, helpless, or all of the above; first, meditate on the emotional turmoil BIPOC must be experiencing when they read the same information you do, and then, consider these self-care strategies while you try to navigate the royally f*cked up world we must live in & continue to fight for the rights of the oppressed. 

1. Set Clear Boundaries

It’s easy to become lost in the scroll of social media, to click on every post for updates, and to say ‘yes’ to every cause that we care about. While it’s our job to stay informed & to inform others, we must also keep our precious energy in mind. This is as much a spiritual issue as it is a political one. And we must care for ourselves while we do it.

Some might see this as selfish (Aren’t we talking about helping others?) and yes, it is. By being selfish with our energy, we are saving ourselves from burnout, fatigue, & stress. Supporting a worthy cause & sharing information can be a long battle. Sometimes life-long. We must think about the long-term effects this can have on our minds, our bodies, and our souls.

Take a break from social media. Turn off news notifications. Mute stories & posts for a day or two. Use the time to practice self-care, reset your energy, and create an action plan for how you can help.

When we set clear boundaries, it can mean limiting our contact with those that shut down our ideas & create more harm than good with their comments. Sometimes it’s a family member or friend that doesn’t agree with your point-of-view or beliefs. That can hurt. A lot. Try not to take it personally. You are not responsible for changing their uninformed minds. But, it is your responsibility to start the conversation.

Educating & raising awareness is a tough job. Especially in the online world. We can argue all day long about whose ideas are right, but at the end of the day, it is what we believe & the actions we are taking that matter.

Block unapologetically. Turn off comments. Know when it’s time to step away from the keyboard or the conversation. If there doesn’t seem to have an end in sight, end it yourself. Save your energy to share with humans that you care about, or take an interest in the same actions that you do.

2. Create a Safe Container

With any supportive group, it is crucial to create a safe container or space that you, and others, can work within. Before we open our doors & hearts to those that need our help & support, we must harness the energy of safety, acceptance, & open-mindedness. The purpose of a safe space is to provide healing energy for both those affected by oppression and those supporting the oppressed. This can be your Instagram feed/stories, your blog, or actual physical space in your community.

Create a space where you can safely mobilize, discuss, & protect. These spaces create strong bonds. It is important to stick together and trust that someone has your back, even if they are a complete stranger. Regardless, you know you are on the same side of the struggle.

If you come from a place of privilege, use it to open your heart & your wallet for those directly affected by whatever or whoever is oppressing them. These actions create a container of support & safety. They tell the oppressed that someone is watching, listening, & supporting them.

3. Practice Loving-Kindness

As I said, this is a spiritual issue, too. Honour your emotions. Allow yourself to feel all the emotions you are feeling, whether it be anger, frustration, sadness, heartbreak; let it all out. Everything you feel is valid simply because you feel it. Just because we are talking politics, doesn’t mean we can’t be emotional. In fact, it means we should be emotional. Be pissed! Be radical! All for the greater good. That’s how action takes place; when we are passionate & emotional about what matters to us.

It can be hard to turn away from the ‘bad’ feelings (shame, guilt, grief, to name a few) & push past them. This is not the path to healing ourselves, others, or the Earth. We must recognize & release the emotions of helplessness & frustration. Honour them for what they are & move forward. This will bring clarity & help you on the journey to supporting & acting for others.

Show yourself & the other human beings in the struggle some loving-kindness. Allow yourself to breathe. You are only human. You can only do so much with your time here on Earth. Be kind to yourself through this process so that you may be stronger tomorrow & continue to fight for what you believe is right.

Heal ourselves. Heal the people. Heal the land.

With love,
~ZZ

Unbreaking Your Heart: A Lesson in Doing the Work

I know for most of us summer is far from our consciousness. By now, we are nestled in to our warm homes with no intention of facing the harsh winds of winter. And yet, my mind is still preoccupied with all that happened while the days were long & hot. This past summer was a tough one. Many clients I’ve worked with, friends I’ve caught up with, fellow witches on social media, have all shared their struggles through the past season. It’s fairly comforting to know I’m not alone.

We hold so many expectations for the season of sunlight, promise, and positivity. For some of us, however, summer is a season of distraction; a season of trying our hardest to do the work. It can be a struggle to simply get out of bed to enjoy that sweet, sweet sunshine.

Some days are really, really good! Some days just … suck. There’s no eloquent way of putting it.

Now with summer and sadly, autumn, behind us, I’m returning to my introspective nature.

I created this space just over a year ago in the midst of heartbreak & continued to use it as a distraction from the pain instead of what I meant it for; an expression of myself & a space of solace for others. I’m returning to this space having done the work. I promise. 

The thing is, with aches of the heart, they return. The aches & pains wait until you’re vulnerable again. When you open that big heart of yours to let more love in, the same old aches make their way in too. Sometimes they drag us further down than they did the first time.

I struggled to release that pain. Layer after layer I peeled back the hurt & revealed a stronger woman. A wiser woman.

A woman who doesn’t take shit from the boys that cross her path.

A woman who puts herself first.

This past summer started with such promise. Much like the one before it. With so much light & love. I shared many special moments with those I love dearly & met more wonderful souls in those moments too. 

And then my soulmate-best friend moved across the country.

And then I ran into the man who broke my heart.

And then I received a call from my father that left me disappointed and anxious. 

And then I had my hours cut at the job that I love.

It was a lot.

Any one of these hardships I could have handled with ease & perhaps a smile. But, all together, in the midst of what was supposed to be an uplifting season, they left me defeated.

Defeated & scared. Scared & anxious. Anxious & sad. 

So, what’s a witch to do? She unbreaks her own damn heart.

Unbreak My Heart

Queue: Toni Braxton.

Queue: the sweet catharsis of tears.

And, don’t forget about the restless nights spent avoiding growth & distracting myself from the pain.

Just as growth cannot happen when we stay in our comfort zone, love cannot come into our lives when our hearts remain closed.

However, it’s wildly difficult to see past the heartache & deal with the real-life challenges that require our attention. Like, our student debt, or our rent payments, or the laundry piling up behind the bedroom door. Or, more existentially, what we’re actually doing with our lives. That was (one of the many) lessons that I took from this summer’s hardships.

The first step in any rehabilitation is admitting you have a problem. So, naturally, the first step in unbreaking your own heart is admitting its still broken! This seems simple enough. But, in reality, we play tricks with ourselves and our hearts. We trick ourselves into believing that our hearts are fully mended when they’re really just poorly patched back together. Admitting this to yourself is probably (definitely) the hardest step to take. The first cut is the deepest, as Sheryl Crowe crooned to me this summer at my city’s Folk Festival.

We need to cut deep in order to heal deep. And I cut deep. I sat it my suffering constantly. Whether it was in the park on a sunny afternoon, in my sunroom in meditation, or down by the river at my favourite spot amongst the whispering trees. I did this until I could admit to myself that I still had some shit to let go of, to own up to. I had to be brutally honest with myself. And let me tell you, that shit ain’t easy.

The worst part was thinking to myself, Haven’t I done this already? Didn’t I let go of all this pain a long time ago? Shouldn’t I be on to bigger & better things by know?

I had to remind myself, and I’d like to remind you too: Time is not linear. Healing is not linear. We grow & change & transform at our own pace. Once we can acknowledge that, we can stop ignoring the emotions that come up, all the messy stuff we don’t want to admit to still feeling after all of this time. I’ve written about this before, but it will always be true. The challenge is recognizing those messy emotions, sitting in them, allowing them to wash over you & ultimately, letting them go.

This is the work.

A Short List of What Doing the Work Looks Like

1. Pull all your pieces together. 

Pick them up. Really look at them. Throw those away that no longer serve you.

2. Bring your focus to all that you’ve neglected.

What have you let slide while mourning your heart? Clean your room. Pay your bills. Water your plants. Call your grandma.

3. Be honest. 

Tell them how you feel. Tell yourself how you’re feeling. Tell the world if you need to.

4. Listen to the whisperings of your heart. 

Sit in silence & solitude. Listen to what your heart has to say. Write it down.

5. Forgive yourself. 

Send gratitude. To yourself, to those who hurt you. Continue living. Continue thriving.

Mindfully Moving Forward

Now that we’re collectively moving into a darker season of introspection & transformation, it’s important to remember that doing this “heart work” is necessary in order to get the rest of our shit together. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

It’s also important to remember that the pain doesn’t necessarily stop here.

While we may feel great, on this gratitude-induced high, following our unbroken hearts whether they may lead – be mindful of the journey. Take stock in what happened to you. Own it. Move forward with intention. Whatever that means to you.

Don’t forget what brought you to this place.

For me, that means giving thanks for the ones that taught me what pain feels like. And, it means sending loving-kindness to those who need it, those I truly care about, whenever I’m capable of doing so.

From one unbroken heart to another, I send you love.

Always ~ zz

25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years: Body Love

This is the second-last installment in which I will be focusing on body love, body positivity, self-love, all that juicy feel-good stuff. More specifically, the conversations we have about our bodies & how the practice of loving our bodies is a radical, political act.

I have delayed posting this out of my own self-doubt & consciousness. Not only because this is a sensitive subject, but also as a writer & a woman living in the Age of Instagram. I find myself thinking, “Who is going to read this?” “Who is going to care?” I have been spewing this negative self-talk and as a result finding it hard to share my work. Which is the exact opposite of what I have written below. I want this post (and all of my posts for that matter) to make you feel good. So here I am sharing it regardless of my fears & doubts.

I was inspired earlier this April by the effervescent yoga instructor & teacher, fellow writer, entrepreneur extraordinaire and all-around rad & fierce woman, Ally Maz. Ally led an unreal “vibez & vinyasa” class at the BLOOM Prairie Yogi Pop-up in Winnipeg. She spoke about our yoga practice being political & how showing up for ourselves and our bodies is radical & revolutionary.

When we show up with our own well-being, our own bodies, as a priority, we are throwing our fists in the air. We are cursing capitalism, patriarchy, The Man. We are giving a big ol’ middle finger to the powers that control our thinking, that force us to compare ourselves to each other, that tell us over & over again that we are not enough.

On some level we all struggle with self-esteem. We can thank the media-at-large and patriarchal social norms for that. We’re too big, too small, not feminine enough, not masculine enough, too tall, too short, too this and not enough that. Fill in the blank with the flaw of your choice. We are never enough. But as always, I’m here to tell you the opposite.

Ugh, that word alone. Enough. There is no growth found in “enough.” There are no lessons to be learned when we settle for “enough.” We are so much more than just enough.

With that in mind, please enjoy the following lessons! I hope you find the courage to love that beautiful body of yours.

16. Say ‘thank you’ when someone compliments you. (!!!)

Somewhere along the way, growing up, I was made to feel that I wasn’t deserving of compliments. Because I’m fat, I shouldn’t believe people when they say I’m pretty. That’s the way my mind worked, anyway. To this day that thought strikes a pain in my heart. I was bullied by my peers, my “friends,” colleagues, juvenile lovers, and family members into believing I wasn’t good enough to receive compliments because of my size (which in retrospect, was not big at all).

The media told me I wasn’t good enough for compliments either. I needed to change this, that, and the other thing before I would be worthy of someone’s attention, time, and desire. I had to be slimmer and wear certain colours & patterns. I couldn’t wear skinny jeans or form-fitting dresses. I was only worthy of someone’s time or attention when I transformed my body or covered it up to look the “right” way.

Because of that conditioning, I didn’t take people seriously when they gave me a genuine compliment. I was the fat girl. “Beautiful” and “sexy” were not words I accepted. Even if they were coming from someone I trusted or even loved. I cursed them for lying to me!

I had such a deep hatred for my body and subsequently my entire being, that I didn’t allow anyone to truly see me. Whether it was a friend, partner, or lover. I was never naked, in mind or body, for anyone. It took having my heart shattered, stomped on repeatedly, to realize – this is my only home. This is my only body. And at the end of each day, I only had myself to hold those broken pieces & put them back together again.

Yoga sparked that body love journey too. About six years ago I stepped into a yoga studio & the relationship I had with my body changed. I realized what my body could do, how it could move, and how good all of that felt. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t the thinnest or strongest in the room. It just felt so good. I took that good, yummy feeling off of the mat & allowed myself to be seen naked; body & mind. Now, I allow compliments to flood in. And I return them with a big smile & a “thank you.”

17. Only shave when you want to.

This lesson is a bit simpler. When I was growing up, body hair on women was much less socially accepted than it is now. (And there is still a long way to go). For some strange, patriarchal reason, the bodies of women have been policed so harshly that we aren’t allowed to have one stray hair where we aren’t supposed to. Even advertisements for razors show women shaving a bare leg or armpit. While men’s razors are advertised shaving a full beard. Makes sense.

When I first found hair on my body where it hadn’t been before, I felt an inherent need to remove it. I was ashamed. And I didn’t really know why. But, I took it in stride nonetheless.

While visiting my grandparents one summer in my youth, I asked Jodie, my grandma, if she had any shaving cream. I was going to shave my legs just like the many times before! (Keeping in mind I had never once done this). I wanted to feel pretty like the other girls with no leg hair. And somehow I felt cleaner more pure without it. A few nicks & gashes later, I had my clean, hairless legs. 

How “clean” became synonymous with “hairless” is beyond me. Obviously, that rule only applies to women. Do you think a man with armpit hair is questioned for his hygiene? But, armpit hair on a woman; “Go take a shower. Remember to shave!”

I know women that shave, wax, laser, grow it out, dye it. And I know men that have done the same! Do with your body hair what you will. Because it is just that – your body.

And if that dude you had over last night doesn’t appreciate your beautiful hairy body, then he’s not worth another seven seconds of your life, darling!

18. Others will judge you no matter what. Don’t judge yourself.  

As long as you like you, that’s all that matters. Or, it should be, anyway. Getting there, to a place where you like and appreciate yourself, can be more than a struggle. It can seem unreachable. I can definitely vouch for that. But it is not impossible.

If you haven’t caught on yet, I have not always been okay with how I look. I haven’t always loved myself. That’s an absolute truth.

I took everyone’s criticisms to heart; starved myself to be slimmer, grew my hair long because men (much older than me might I add) told me I looked prettier that way, convinced myself that I was a runner so that I would have the body of one, hid beneath layers of clothing & make-up so I would hopefully be invisible. Every waking moment (and sleeping moment, to be quite honest) I thought about what other people would say about me, how they would view me, without even considering my own happiness.

I have been bigger than I am now, and I have been slimmer. Used a lot of make-up & gone out au naturale. Tried to fit into all of these different boxes that others wanted me to be in. Regardless of what box it ended up being, others would still pass their judgement, use cruel words, or straight up disrespect me because of they way I looked. Along with this body love journey, however, came the ability to hold my head above their judgments & criticisms and do whatever the fuck I wanted to.

Most days, I present myself to the world as a radiant woman with a big smile. I wear crop tops & high-waisted jeans even though my stomach is “too big.” I dye my hair every colour you could think of because why not? It brings a smile to my face & joy to the kids I work with. Piercings & tiny tattoos are sprinkled across my body because I treat it like a work of art. I continue to do so in spite of others telling me I won’t get a job or a partner based on my body modifications. Art is subjective. Not everyone is going to love your work!

Once I stopped caring what everyone else had to say and started listening to myself, I stopped hearing what they had to say too. The negative talk ceased to exist. However, there will always be people that don’t like you, that will ridicule you & try to put you down, that will refuse to understand you. When you start to understand yourself & figure out the complexities of all that is you, your world changes once again. You will be able to stand up a bit taller & smile a bit bigger.

Bottom line: You should like you!

19. Fat is not a bad word.

I have been called “fat” most of my life. But I am so much more than just “fat.” I am smart, talented, witty, strong, brave, confident, compassionate, grateful, honest, and the list goes on. Somehow, being “fat” erased all of those qualities.

J.K. Rowling said it wonderfully:

‘Fat’ is usually the first insult a girl throws at another girl when she wants to hurt her.

I mean, is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel?’

The answer is no. There are far worse things I could be than fat. And I refuse to hate myself, or my body, because it’s bigger than the woman next to me.

We are in the midst of a huge body positive movement. My Instagram is full of inspiring women that have reclaimed & redefined what it means to be fat or simply just promote body love on all levels. Because fat does not equal ugly or “less-than.” Because you are not defined by how much you weigh, or whether your thighs touch or not, or if you have a dimpled butt like me.

There are days I wake up and I am utterly dissatisfied with myself & my body. My thick legs feel heavier as I drag them to the bathroom. I look at my exhausted reflection & curse the dark circles that have made a home under my watery eyes. Rubbing my hand across my belly, I pick, poke, and prod. “Why does my body feel this way?” “Why don’t I look like I did last summer?” “Ugh, how many chins do I actually have?”

That’s a bad day. They are few, but they exist. As I’m sure they do for you. When I do have those days, I make sure to take time to appreciate my body & treat it with care. This fat body carries me through life. It holds me when no one else will. And for that I’m so grateful.

**For those who think I’m promoting an unhealthy lifestyle, or even obesity, I encourage you to: 1. Keep your opinion to yourself. It’s not wanted here. Or anywhere, really. 2. Fat does not equal unhealthy. Just as skinny does not equal healthy. We have different bodies. We have fat in different places. What is “unhealthy” is the shame & pity given by you, by the media & the mass market. Check yourself.**

20. Accept your flaws for then they are no longer flaws.

Accepting yourself, your body, for all that it so wonderfully is, is the first step to loving yourself. Accepting your rolls, stretch marks, scars, abnormally large feet (me), while under the pressure of a whole slew of institutions telling you to change all of those things, is so fucking radical. If you are on this type of acceptance journey, allow me to commend you! That is a big deal, my loves, because it is not easy.

Many a yoga teacher has told me that our practice is not perfect. We cannot compare ourselves, our abilities, or our limits, to the one on the mat next to us. No one is perfect! We are all flawed human beings who make mistakes and have unique bodies that belong to us & only us. So, when we accept those “flaws,” no one can use them against us.  We can continue our journeys of self-awareness and self-love. We can look at our lumps & bumps, our hairy bodies, or our weaknesses and say, “This is me. This is my body. I am going to love it & care for it. I may not fit into a perfect box, but I don’t have to.”

During BLOOM, as I sat cross-legged in this extravagant room at the Fort Garry Hotel amongst all of these beautiful & strong women, listening to Ally’s words & watching her connect with everyone, I had an overwhelming sense of peace with myself, with my body and my heart. I surrendered to that feeling. A feeling of peace that was necessary to move forward, on and off the yoga mat.

I also came to the realization of why I have practiced yoga for so many years. It is to create a safe & peaceful space within my body that I can turn to when life gets shitty, when I experience anxiety, when I need a hug. My yoga practice has fostered self-love. It has become political. Because loving ourselves is revolutionary.

With love, from my big heart to yours ~ zz

 

You can find Ally Maz & her inspiring words at http://www.alexmazerolle.com/ or on Instagram: @allymaz

Some other body-pos/yogi/witchy Instragrams to follow: @lizzobeeating @mybodywpg @wildembodiedwomen @glitterinthedirt @effyourbeautystandards

The Sacred Art of Being Twenty-Something & Perpetually Single

Hello again, lovelies! I’m just now realizing how much I have neglected this space the last month. Not because I haven’t been inspired. Perhaps I’ve been too inspired. I have focused a lot of my energy this month on my tarot practice & exploring the many doors it has opened. And, I have been deeply exploring my heart space, manifesting love in my life & meditating on what it means to me to be a single woman.

I’ll be honest; I have struggled to write this. It’s important to me. Being single is a big part of my identity. You would think I would have an easier time writing about something I’m so vocal about. I thought sharing that part of myself with the community I’ve created here would be easy. But, it’s arguably the hardest thing I’ve decided to write about so far.

I’ve been searching for this balance between embracing my singleness & being jaded for not finding a partner in my twenties. Jaded, not by my singleness – I’m really good at being single – but by the people who thought they could love me when they couldn’t.

I go through phases of loving the single life & the freedom I have found and cursing all the dating apps out there & the pity I receive from everyone & their mother. (Self-pity included).

All of that being said, I hope to get my point across, or find my point along the way.

Embracing the Single Life

I am the woman that never brings a date to family dinners. The woman that invites her best friend to accompany her to holiday parties. The one that lives on her own. And takes herself out on brunch dates. And buys herself flowers.

I am even the woman that flew across the ocean by herself to explore unknown cities. And will definitely be doing that again. 

I wake up in the middle of the bed with no one beside me. That’s a true treat. I take bubble baths for as long as I want to. And enjoy books, sometimes cover-to-cover, without feeling obligated to talk to someone else. I can sit in complete silence for hours. (And when you work at a school, that is a cherished gift).

Those are little freedoms, however.

I get to explore all of my dreams too. Travel dreams. Career dreams. Creative dreams. This dream right here! I have given myself the freedom to explore whatever my heart is craving. And, I have never had to apologize for that. (Not that I would anyway).

But, all of that certainly does not make me special. I know a lot of women, and am friends with a lot of those women, who love to travel & live alone.

I also know a lot of women who are scared to explore what it means to be single & ultimately alone. Women who would never dream of riding solo through life. And guess what? That’s okay too!

Freedom is not an exclusive experience for the singletons. I believe we are all worthy of the same freedoms regardless of our status. A healthy relationship allows both parties to grow, explore themselves, find their truth.

Allowing space promotes growth. I have allowed myself that space for many years. My wish for those reading is that you find that space whether you’re in a relationship or not. If, and when, you have found that space, revel in it. Send gratitude out; to yourself & to your partner. And, if you are your own partner right now – even better.

Real Relationship Goals

So, what happens when you choose to be single for the greater part of your twenties?

You figure out what you want. Exactly what you want.

When you spend enough time alone, you have the opportunity to explore the depths of yourself. You get to sit in your alone-ness (which is not the same as loneliness).

Raw emotions can & will come up. The ones only you know exist. And at some point, I can’t tell you when, you figure out how to let others in on those raw emotions. And suddenly you are telling a stranger your heart-breaking story of love & loss over tequila in a small cocktail bar.

When you spend enough time alone, and a relationship isn’t your endgame, the way you interact with people changes. You connect with your friends & even strangers on a deeper level. You give more of yourself, more of your raw emotions, to the other person.

When you take romantic love out of the equation, you find connections that last so much longer.

I can’t even begin to count the genuine souls that I have connected with in my travels & in my own city. I carry these souls & their love with me wherever I go. And when we do get the chance to reconnect, it’s as if no time has passed & I find myself in such a state of gratitude for their presence. Now, that is a relationship goal.

There is one connection that really makes my heart soar. I met him while volunteering in the mountains of Italy where our paths so serendipitously crossed. We were almost instantly connected by our crass humour & deep love of music. But our connection ended up being so much more than that. More than a romantic relationship has ever given me. We still find the time (two & a half years later) to connect & check-in with each other. We support each other in whatever wild dreams run through our heads. And we listen. We listen to each other’s stories, musings & grand plans. Even though we live so far apart, we are so very aligned. That is a relationship goal.

To grow alongside someone while supporting each other’s dreams & aspirations, regardless of the platonic or romantic status of your relationship, is the relationship goal.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, I don’t know if there are any final thoughts on this subject. The conversation is continuing.

While putting this piece together, I found myself peeling back more & more layers of what being single means and of what being in a relationship means. Which just brings up more questions to ask, more answers to find. It’s a journey I believe a lot of people to be on. Especially in this time of online dating & endless “situationships.” But, that’s a whole other post, isn’t it?

Whether single or in a relationship, finding your space and the courage to grow can seem impossibly tough. I can vouch for that. But, I can also vouch for the gratifying feeling you receive when you do find that space & courage to grow in all the ways you are meant to.

If there are any final thoughts, allow them to be this; Be alone. Explore what that means. Learn about yourself.

So, when the right person comes along, there is no question as to whether they’re meant for you or not.

Your heart will know.

With the most love ~ zz

 

 

25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years: Curing the Holiday Hangover

Back to our regular scheduled programming! Raise your hand if you feel like a big ol’ pile of mush after the past few weeks of binge-eating chocolate & baked goods, attending one too many family dinners, and taking in all of the drama that comes with the holidays. You are not alone, my lovelies. The holidays are tough. Overwhelming. Draining. Especially for someone who celebrates the Winter Solstice, Christmas, New Year’s AND her birthday all in a two-week span. (Hi, that’s me). I am physically, emotionally, mentally, exhausted. The good news; I have returned to my practice, my writing, my self-care-ing, and am coming out of the holidays more inspired than ever!

I have rounded up another five lessons to share with you under the theme of “Curing the Holiday Hangover.” I have no doubt that many of you are feeling sluggish and a bit hazy (or perhaps literally hungover) as we move into a new year (Hello, 2018!). For some, the first week back to work and/or school is over. Didn’t that feel like the longest week ever?

Please know that I am sending you all luck & love during this transition. I hope the following lessons inspire ease into “regular” life.

11. Food is not the enemy!

I get it. I also feel like I gained about fifty pounds over the last month. But, hey, even if you did, you are still (and will always be!) absolutely beautiful. And yes, perhaps the several trays of baked goods didn’t help me feel any better about myself. But, food is seriously not the enemy. It took me a long time to truly understand that.

I’ve always been a bigger girl. Overweight. Fat. Whatever. Growing up, I hated the way I looked. I was ridiculed by other kids (and adults). And constantly made aware of my size. I blamed my “weight problem” on everyone and everything. I starved myself of the necessary fuel my body needed; fuel that was helping me grow as a young woman. It got to the point where I hated eating. I would see the pizza my family was having for dinner & dread putting it in my mouth. I would drink Red Bulls through school so I wouldn’t feel the hunger pains. (Don’t ask for the logic behind that one). Bottom line, my hate for food, and eating in general, ran deep. But, it wasn’t food’s fault. Food had done nothing to me but prepare my body for growth & provide energy for focus & exercise.

So, who was to blame for the hatred I held for my body & for food?

I’ll tell you who; thirteen-year-old boys who were clueless (and probably still are) about the female body, adults who had no business passing comments on a young girl’s body, all media outlets telling me my body was wrong, the recognition my thin friends would receive from teachers, parents, and those same clueless boys. All of this combined made for a terribly self-conscious adolescent girl.

It also made for an exceedingly confident woman. Like I said, it took a long time, but I know that I am beautiful. Regardless of what size my jeans are this year, or how much I ate over the holidays.

Regardless of all of that, you are beautiful too. Don’t be so hard on yourself, darling. And eat the damn piece of cake.

12. Your mental health does not define you.

I had a difficult time coming up with the right words to say here.

If you are suffering from mental health issues, you are stronger than you know. You continually face battles within your mind & you continue to live and even thrive!

Without getting too deep into my own mental health, I just want to extend some words of encouragement, understanding and love. I think we all need a bit of that after the busy rush of the holidays.

You are so much more than any disorder you may be suffering from. You are more than the self-deprecating words running back & forth through your head. More than trembling hands and a racing heartbeat. There is more to you than your eating disorder, or your compulsive/impulsive behaviour. You are you. With all of your wants and needs. Dreams, desires and fears. Dislikes and loves. Habits; good and bad.

You are worthy of help. And you are not alone. If any of you ever feel helpless, please reach out. I know firsthand how hard that can be. But, I promise, with all of my heart, that you will benefit. And if you don’t know where to start, my inbox is always open. Sometimes a stranger is the best kind of therapist.

13. “No.” is a complete sentence.

And it does not need an explanation.

Fun fact: it was also my first word! Imagine that. Me. A Capricorn. Unheard of.

Zodiac jokes aside, I really believe this is an important lesson. You are allowed to say “No.” You are allowed to deny an invite to a party. You can say “No” to your family. Or your friends. Or your boss. And that weird dude that keeps messaging you on Facebook … and Instagram? Please, say “No” to him too.

You may feel guilty. Like, really guilty. Especially if whoever you are saying “No” to is important to you. But, it won’t last long. You will soon realize how utterly freeing the word “No” can be. During the holidays especially, we often feel a pressure to be with our families and to give more than we have. Not everyone gets along with or is accepted by their families. “Home” can be far less than a safe space to be. To those dear souls, I hope you are now in a safer space & that you remember you are allowed to say “No” too.

I’ve heard the saying, “You don’t need to be everywhere for everyone,” a lot lately and even though I don’t know who originally said those words, I could not agree more. I believe in only saying “Yes” to the things my mind, body & soul can handle. I hope you can work that lesson into your life as well.

And a quick word about consent: If someone is saying “No” to you, stop asking. No matter what the situation is. But, especially if you are asking about sex. Don’t try to change their mind. Don’t blow up their DM’s. Just stop.

14. Try everything once.

One of the best ways to get over a hangover (holiday-induced or otherwise) or out of a slump, is to do something! Why not try something new? Have you ever tried yoga? (Your back will thank you for that choice). Hiking? Biking? What about picking up a guitar? Or a sketchbook & pencil?
It was only in my wildest dreams that I would run a blog & connect with so many wonderful people through it. Returning to this space continues to pick me up out of my literal and figurative hangovers.
I encourage you to think about all the things you have never tried up until this moment. What has been holding you back? Maybe it’s simply a fear of the unknown. Hey, we all can relate. Or, maybe a friend told you that thing sucks even though you were kinda sorta interested in trying it. So, you never bothered. This is me telling you, dear reader, to try it! Try it all! And let me know how it works out.

“You never know if you never try. If you never try, then you never know.” – Val, Broad City.

15. Remove anything in your life that only serves to hurt you.

I know I say that all of these lessons are important. And they are. But this one, while also close to my heart, is perhaps the most important. Have I said that already? Oh well. This one wins. And again, this isn’t a lesson you learn in school. This is another that you must learn and fully realize on your own. In your own time.

There is one specific relationship I was involved in that taught me this lesson. A toxic pseudo-relationship that was always on the cusp of something but never turned into more than heartache. It took many sleepless nights, late drunken phone calls, intense arguments & failed resolutions, thousands of kilometres of separation, and too many tears to make me realize how the entire relationship, from start to finish, only served to hurt me, again and again.

My friends told me what a wreck this person made me. How they brought me down instead of lifting me up. They asked how I could love someone who hurt me so much. I didn’t have an answer for them. When I finally (after three years) realized for myself all the things my friends had told me, saw the person for who they truly were, and told them they would never be in my life again, I felt the biggest weight lift from my shoulders. I didn’t know how heavy someone else’s energy could be until then. And my only regret was not letting them go sooner.

Since then, I have adopted the habit of removing anything (friends, lovers, jobs, world views, belief systems, even social media platforms) that does not serve my higher self, my most authentic self.

Moving into this new year full of promise, growth, and challenges, it is an opportune time to let go of all that hurt you in the past year(s). Let the heavy energy roll off your back and into the past. And I will be right there with you.

With love & light ~ zz

Self-Care Sunday: A Lesson in Self-Care Culture

Cleanse yourself & your space with sage or Palo Santo.

Play your favourite album on repeat. (Willow’s “1st” is on deck today).

Light about fifteen candles of various scents & sizes. Set the mood.

Yoga flow in the warm light. Mostly stay in extended child’s pose for an extended amount of time.

Run a hot bath & pour in eco-friendly bubble bath & essential oils. Yum.

Spark up something special & slip gently into the water.

Pull a few tarot cards. Check in with the unconscious.

Read some sad poetry & remind yourself of how far you’ve come.

Dry yourself off, wash your face & cover yourself in coconut oil.

Wrap yourself up in warm, knit clothing & a fluffy blanket.

Play music from personalized playlists. (Spotify knows me better than I know myself).

Eat an entire Milka chocolate bar because you’re an adult & we can do things like that.

Write down three things you are grateful for. Let that chocolate bar be one of them.

Write down the reason you chose to take care of yourself today.

Write, write, write. And write some more.

more “Self-Care Sunday: A Lesson in Self-Care Culture”

25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years: Part II

Now, where were we?

Ah yes, life lessons from the twenty-something that’s got it all figured out.

Wait, is that me?

Don’t let the mature words & philosophical questions fool you. I do not have it all figured out. I know what makes sense to me. I’ve seen some stuff & had life kick my ass. I’ve got some good ol’ life experience to back up the advice I provide. But, I don’t have all the answers!

So, with that in mind. Here are the next five lessons that my twenty-five years on the Earth have taught me:

more “25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years: Part II”

25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years: Part I

Life lessons. Woo! Quite literally my favourite topic of conversation. I may sound like I have it all figured out. But, don’t be fooled, friends.

Why listen to me? I’m not really sure. I’m considered a millennial even though I don’t feel like one. Yes, I have a minor addiction to the blue light of my iPhone & I do love a good selfie. But, I would hope I’m a little less entitled & a little more self-reliant than the stereotypical 20-something in 2017. So, take this series of lessons, and subsequently this blog, with whatever grain of salt you like. This is the lens through which I see the world. These are the lessons I’ve learned that have made all the difference. Enjoy, lovelies!

1. Love yourself first. 

Easily the most important lesson I have taught myself. Five years ago, if you asked me what I loved about myself, I would have answered with a list of things I hated. Now, at twenty-five, I can tell you I love my sense of humour & quick wit. I love my strong desire for human connection. Plus, I love my big hips, big hair, big thighs, big laugh, and big smile. And I am so proud of how far I’ve come. Of course there are still things I wish to work on, like my indecisive nature, but I know that will come in time. There is no guide to self-love. They don’t teach this in school. It is a lesson you have to teach yourself.

2. Hug your mom as much as you can.mama

Like, right now. Go.

Your mama literally gave you life. You didn’t spend nine months in her womb to be an ungrateful little shit. Hug her. Because, she isn’t always going to be there. Because, maybe you’ll live half way across the world, have a really shit day, and not be able to feel the comfort of her love. Maybe your relationship with your mother isn’t the greatest. Maybe she isn’t around. For those souls, I hope there is another nurturing woman in your life that you can hug in her absence.

I love you, mama!

3. A few good friends is better than a lot of crappy friends.

It’s a matter of quality over quantity. I used to believe that I needed a million friends to be happy. Especially in a world where Facebook has us collecting friends like trading cards. I am now only interested in friendships that are of benefit. I have met so many amazingly genuine people in my travels & have kept in touch with them over the years because we truly care about each other.  The same cannot be said about people I spent years working beside or going to school with. Perhaps I sound like a real asshole. But, I want to surround myself with good people who make me laugh, who teach me things, who lift me up instead of bring me down, who ask how I’m doing, who actually CARE. And I want to be that kind of person, that kind of friend, for others too.

4. Express gratitude every day. 

This is one of my more recent lessons learned. I have since adapted it into my every day life. And I am a much better person for it. There are so many things in this life to be thankful for. Just waking up in the morning is a fucking gift! Be grateful that you have air in your lungs, a bed to sleep on, a creaky floor to walk across, a window to see the marvelous sun rise. I encourage you to take a mindful moment at the end of your day (Heck, do it right now!) & think of three things that you’re grateful for. It can be small things, like “I am grateful for hot coffee on the commute to work.” Or it can be the big things, like “I am grateful for my home, my cozy & safe space, and having enough money to pay for it.” Just three things. Right before you turn on that Netflix series to fall asleep to. This practice forces you to recognize the good things that have happened to you in your day-to-day. I promise (PROMISE) that you will be a better, happier, human being.

5. Be honest with yourself. 

Let’s get real deep for a second. We hear the saying all the time, “Honesty is the best policy.” Usually we hear it in response to white lies we tell our parents or our partners. What about when we are dealing with our ‘selves’ & matters of the heart? Nobody told me how important it would be to be real with myself and admit to the emotions I would feel.

I am someone who feels a lot of emotions. I blame that on being a writer. As such, it is necessary for me to feel emotions fully in order to move on. I wasn’t always a heart-on-my-sleeve type of woman. I would push negative emotions and feelings of vulnerability way down. Way, way down. However, I have since grown into a woman who acknowledges what she’s feeling whether it’s anger, depression or happiness. I let it flow in whichever way it decides to. Most importantly, I acknowledge the love I feel; for family, friends, lovers, you name it. Bottom line: allow yourself the courtesy of being honest in your emotions. Your heart will thank you.

Stay tuned for the next five lessons in this series.

With love ~ zz

Who is the Wanderess?

Who is the Wanderess? A question much like; “what can you tell us about yourself?” One of my least favourite questions to answer, yet the most honest & telling.

I hope the following sheds a light on who I am, where I’ve been & what makes my heart happy. Enjoy, my lovelies!

The Writer

Above & before all, I am a writer. I started this blog as a way of getting my words, wild thoughts & witchy intentions out into the world. My words are trapped in the many notebooks scattering my apartment floor. The wild thoughts have been bouncing around in my brain for too long. My intentions are waiting impatiently to have the world read, hear and understand them.

I’ve been writing pretty much since I learned the skill in the first grade. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I’ve filled countless journals (a practice my darling mother introduced me to) but I have never shared my writing with anyone outside my circle. So, consider yourself lucky.

For a long time, I was under the impression that everyone kept a journal, wrote their feelings down, reflected on what happened in a day. I soon realized, while not alone in my writing practice, journal-keeping & creative writing wasn’t a popular pastime. I was a quiet kid growing up (if you know me, you might find that hard to believe) & I had a difficult time talking about what was going on in my head. As an experienced adult, I know that same struggle with communication I once had is very common. But, once I learned how to express myself (and I mean really express myself, my authentic self) I was so much happier. Not only happy, but relieved. I was so relieved to have an outlet that allowed honesty with myself, those around me, & the world.

The Wanderess

I have lived on the beaches in Spain, worked in the mountains of northern Italy, and hung off the edge of the world in Ireland. My heart is always yearning for new scenery & a new adventure. But, right now, my heart is yearning for something else – to be heard. So, thank you for listening.

It was travel that truly inspired me to write this blog. I’ve written pages upon pages about the experiences I have had & shared amongst my closest & dearest friends in places all over the world. Whether it was good, bad or down right ugly, it made it on the page & will one day make it here! I have written in the middle of lush forests, on white, sandy beaches, on the top of seven-hundred foot cliffs, and in train stations, parks, bars, & cafes all over Europe. The constant change of scenery that travel allows will always inspire me. There is nothing quite like waking up in an unknown city & venturing out to see what it has to offer you.

Travel is humbling, gratifying, frightening, and always inspiring. I owe it to my wandering heart & supportive friends & family for pushing me out into the world. For, if not for them, I would still be caught up in who I used to be, not living an authentic life, never having crossed an ocean, and kicking myself for it every chance I got.

This summer, a man behind a hostel desk told me, “With a name like yours, you must be destined for something great. Something that’s going to change the world.” Wow. How does one respond to that? Obviously flattered, I took his words & thought hard about what I could do to change the world around me, even just a little bit. I still don’t have a concrete answer. But, maybe this is the start of that journey. Maybe this will be nothing but a diary. Either way, this blog, this space, was created to share the stories trying so desperately to get out there. Wherever “there” is.

I invite you all on this journey of discovery with me!

The Witch

Let’s set the records straight. I didn’t just decide one day that I was a witch. There was no “Ah-ha” Oprah moment where I told myself, “Girl, you’re a witch now.” It was more of a gradual realization that I already was one & that the beliefs I had were shared amongst other women around me. It also helped that the universe started inserting witchy, intuitive experiences into my life. The universe will do that to you.

I consider myself a spiritual person. I believe that everything happens to us for a reason. Sometimes that reason is a blessing, sometimes a lesson, sometimes both! I believe we are all connected to each other & Mama Nature. I believe that the energy we put out into the world comes back to us; good & bad. I believe there are tools like tarot, crystals, and astrology to aid in the realization of the energy we all share. I use these tools intuitively & intentionally for guidance, self-reflection, and growth. They help me focus on what is important & true in my life as well as to understand the world around me. My practice has not only aided in my personal growth but the growth of the ones I love as well. And that makes my witchy heart very happy.

Now, these are not ideas that everyone understands. Frankly, you don’t need to understand them. My practice is ultimately just that. My practiceIt is ultimately for myself, my growth, and my happiness. As with my writing, the witch had to come out. She was begging to. Sharing this part of my identity was beyond necessary for so many reasons. But, mostly, it was to continue the journey of my heart’s happiness.

In the last week leading up to this blog launch, I have become increasingly confident in who I am, what I stand for, and what I practice. I have never been witchier either. And I have loved every minute of it.

It is no coincidence that I launched this blog on October 31st. Samhain (SOW-en), Halloween, or even Witches’ New Year, is a time of great transformation. The veil is at its thinnest between this world & the next. There is a sense of darkness, truth, and rebirth in the air. This sensation allows us to catch a glimpse of our truest selves. It is up to us (with the help of our chosen tools & support groups) to harness this energy around us & reveal our authentic selves.

This is me – my authentic self. This is the Wanderess Within.