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Every spring and fall semester of my college years, it was the same scene: My friend Valerie and I would meet at Jittery Joe's just steps away from the University of Georgia campus to study for finals. And by "study for finals," I actually mean drink coffee concoctions, talk about her dating life, crack each other up, and color. Yep, that was us in the back booth -- with our voice disorders and phonology text books shoved to the side -- bent with crayons and colored pencils over our Peter Pan and Care Bears coloring books. You know; just blowing off steam like crazy college kids do!
Little did we know then, we were on to something pretty big. Researchers have been giving a lot of attention recently to the benefits of coloring, rediscovering what we've all known since childhood: coloring is calming, and it makes us feel good. It helps us switch off our rational and logical brains, and connect with our deep inner creativity and subconscious inspiration. Whether with mandalas or Mermaid Cove as the palette, coloring is indeed meditation. 
And conveniently for us, publishers have caught on to this trend, and are now thoughtfully offering approximately 200 million different variants on the "adult coloring book" theme! Six of the top 20 best-selling books on Amazon recently were in fact adult coloring books. At this point, there is truly a coloring book for everyone: There are nature-themed books, book-themed books, mandala-themed books, and yes, even swear-word coloring books. (Pretty clever, there, publishers!) I think I still have my Peter Pan coloring book in a box somewhere, but have increased my repertoire to include two of the most beautiful I've seen, The Enchanted Forest and The Secret Garden by Johanna Basford. 
Unlike some self-care activities that can be time- or cost-prohibitive in our daily lives, finding a coloring book for less than $10 and gifting ourselves with a fresh box of colored pencils is so very doable, Sisters. Granting yourself the time can be as simple as choosing to sit and color rather than zone out for 15 minutes on Facebook or Pinterest before bed. 
This week, I invite you to consider choosing a lovely coloring book for yourself -- whether it's one you grab at the grocery store, or whether you decide to splurge on one carefully selected from a local bookstore or from Amazon. Spend a few moments this week with pencil in hand, knowing that this little gift of self-love is nourishing to body and soul! 
Oh, and one last thing: If you have kids, they will of course want to get all up in the pristine pages of your new treasure.... but I highly recommend making your coloring book sacredly YOURS! *No Kids Allowed!* ;)

 
 
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I'm pretty sure I have a very specific version of PTSD: let's call it Pressured Time Stress Disorder. My life feels like a constant cage match: Me versus the relentless draining of sands through the hourglass. "Innnnnnnnn this corner.... it's Amy and her never-ending to do list! And in this cornerrrrrrrrrr, we have the *un.de.feat.ed champion* -- The 24-Hour Day!"
As a Mama who works full-time (and then some!), it is often the case that my days are completely filled by nothing but tasks that are centered around keeping people alive and getting people to particular places at specific times. I wake up in the morning feeling like a sprinter on the starting line, and collapse into bed at night feeling like I've run a 15-hour marathon.
And I'm not really sure that it's good for me. 

I have recently become so consciously aware of the relationship I keep with time. Of the language I use when speaking or thinking about time. More often than not, my whole vibration around time is that there is just never enough of it. 
And this vibration is so palpable to my family, I have no doubt. We live by schedules and timers and stress-filled declarations of WE ARE LEAVING IN FIVE MINUTES! This has become our norm because we actually *do* have to be places at certain times and I've got to be done with X at this time so that I have time to do Y and Z before I pass out at 9:00pm. Ya know?
But it struck me over the winter break just how deeply ingrained this way of life has become... how *constantly stressed* I feel about TIME. While away on a little family vacay in December, I realized how often my mind shifts into TO-DO LIST REVIEW MODE. Every few hours, I would have a moment of sudden panic that I was forgetting to do something. Or that I needed to get on the computer and accomplish something. I couldn't stop myself from multi-tasking, even while floating down the lazy river at Great Wolf Lodge.
I feel like something has happened to my BRAIN; that I have re-wired myself to live in a near-constant state of fight-or-flight, and the foe is the relentless ticking of the clock. 
I remember first feeling this way in grad school...being unable to fully relax and detach during breaks because I had conditioned myself so completely to be ON TASK at all times. And of course that feeling grew exponentially as I became a mother, and then went back to grad school while I had a toddler and a baby, and then took on more and more work and community responsibilities outside of my home. Which brings us to this current moment, wherein I am feeling stressed about the amount of time it's taking me to write a blog post about time. (Seriously!)
But I know that even though it is true that there are many, many things I need and *want* to fit in to each day, I have reached a point where I no longer want to have an adversarial relationship with time. I no longer want to hear myself say to my kids, "We don't have time for ________," nor do I want to model for them that life is nothing but a series of check-marks on our to-do list. 
I want slowness. I want gentle pacing. I want space between one thing and the next. 
I want to cultivate and nurture a vibration of abundance around time. 
Most importantly, I want to re-wire my brain and heal from this specific 21st-century strain of PTSD.
This week as I focus on my practice of Sacred Self-Care, I will be mindful and intentional around my energy and language related to time. I invite you to join me in noticing how we feel and how we speak to ourselves, and how we speak to others about time.
I invite you to join me, Sisters, in creating a gentler vibration for ourselves. 


 
 
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Maybe it's because I'm comfortably in my 40s now, but I'm finding that I'm less and less interested in -- or tolerant of -- wearing hurty clothes just for the sake of looking cute. 
I mean I want to look cute; don't get me wrong. It's just that I've kind of gotten to the point where the means don't justify the ends in a lot of cases. My cute clothes repertoire has changed considerably during the past couple of years. 
I used to have a closet-full of skirts and snug jeans that zip up and require sucking it in, to some degree or another. So I'd do that; I'd get dressed in the morning (when, you know, you are at your lithest), and I'd be like, OK, just a little suck and I'm zipped. There we go! 

But then by day's end? Oh my god. It was painful! I remember feeling like I was counting down until I could go home and put my yoga pants back on. 
So then I was like, Self, what are you doing to yourself? This is not really loving to your body! Be comfortable! Wear stretchy pants and skirts with lycra waistbands! 
So that's what I started doing! I clothing-swapped a bunch of my jeans that were hurty, and got rid of anything resembling khaki pants. I kind of stopped wearing shorts altogether in the summer, opting instead for lycra skirts, or cotton skirts with elastic waistbands. I gave away all of my breast-binding button-down shirts, and began refilling my closet with tops that stretched comfortably over my curves. 
And it felt goooood. 
And now, at 42 years old, I've kind of found my cute-yet-comfortable clothing groove: cotton-lycra leggings on the bottom, and tunics on top. In my new socially-acceptable-jammies uniform, I can move, and bend, and sit on the floor (a must, both at my SLP jobs, and at Red Tent), and *breathe*. And at the end of the day? I'm not even thinking about changing into something more comfortable. 

It feels really good, Sisters.
This choice of clothing has definitely become an intentional part of my practice of self-care. To me, it feels like a way to love my physical and emotional self, and it also bolsters my self-worth to know that I am making choices according to my own standards rather than being at the mercy of a fashion industry that is basically misogynistic at heart. 
So this week, I invite you to ponder your wardrobe, Sisters. What minor tweaks or major overhauls would you consider making in the name of Self-Care? Feel free to share your own NOPE pictures on our Facebook page


 
 
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Something magical and unexpected happened to me yesterday when I stepped onto my yoga mat and plugged into my favorite YouTube DIY Yoga guide -- the radiant and adorable Adriene of Yoga With Adriene: She shared our mantra for the day .... 
I accept.
And she invited us to say it with her. 
I accept.
Serendipity was at work yesterday, and Adriene's mantra medicine went straight to my heart. I accept.

Here's something you may not know about me: I am not so much the accepting kind. 
I accept isn't really a well-worn phrase in my vocabulary. For much of my life, I have tended much more toward I control, if I'm being honest with you. And a significant portion of my intense personal work in 2015 was all about releasing control, surrendering in areas where I had previously put up one hell of a constant fight, and, yes... accepting. 
But Adriene's mantra wasn't just about accepting in the Universal sense; more specifically, she was inviting me to accept my Self. And to go even further, by affirming, I accept myself today, and I show up for myself just as I am.

Magic words.

How many of us say -- or even think -- to ourselves, I accept you. I am showing up for you. 
You don't have to do more, or do better, or look better, or *anything* better. I accept you.

I think that for many of us, it feels like uncharted territory; speaking a foreign language. 

So I did it. I thought, I accept myself just as I am today, and I am showing up for myself. 

And you know what? It felt AMAZING. It felt healing and liberating and grounding and calming.
It felt like I had been relieved of a burden that I didn't even know I'd been carrying around with me.

And it wasn't like Adriene *made* me do it, there was no force -- or control. She reminded me that I could grant myself permission to offer myself this act of grace. It was a simple invitation, from her heart to mine ... and I am ever so glad that, in response to her invitation, I said I accept.

This week, Sisters, as you contemplate your Self-Care practice, I invite YOU to weave this magical mantra into your repertoire. How does it feel to think and speak this words to yourself? 
I accept.
I accept myself.
I accept myself just as I am today.
I accept myself just as I am today, and I am showing up for myself.

And beyond accepting ourselves just as we are, what else can we accept... in what other areas can we surrender our control... ?

Wishing you a lovely week of self-acceptance, my beloved Sisters. <3