(almost) weekly letters from my heart to you
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when first aid self-care isn't enough

from my one move mini inspiration deck 

I'm currently in the Great North Woods of Wisconsin visiting my mom and today began my "official" break from social media, work email, and several other areas of my business. 

Today, I want to share a story that will give you some insight into why I knew the time had come. When I wrote the following note to the beautiful souls on my newsletter list a couple of weeks ago, I didn't realize I was actually going to take a break like this. But writing those words and then having two really honest conversations with a few kindred spirits plus a conversation with my mom helped me to see that this really was the only option to truly help me water my soul in the deep ways I need to right now. I have a little post-script at the bottom of this note, so if you're on my list and you read these words already, I hope you'll scroll down and read it.


I drove up to Seattle and met with my yoga and meditation teacher today, something I've been doing every two weeks or so this summer. And somewhere during our conversation and chanting practice, I shed a layer of skin. I mean I literally shed it and left it behind me to be carried out her front door by the wind.

Driving home, I was listening to Mary Oliver read poetry, and when she read the poem "Yes! No!" I was struck, like I always am, by the line, "To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work." 

As she continued to read, I felt the lightness that had started to grow within me while sitting on the floor across from my teacher begin to shine through my fingertips.

This is it. This is when you need to pay attention, when the deep hum inside you begins to sing. 

After the end of the school year and the June retreat and the visit from my inlaws and the launch of the Inner Excavate-along, which has more than 500 people participating in a read-along of Inner Excavation, I was beginning to feel depleted. I mean to look at me was to see this busy, getting it done, pretty positive woman. But to really see me was to see shadows under my eyes and lots of swirling thoughts and a feeling of letting people down while being pulled in many directions and knowing I just needed to be still.

To be really really still.

So I did my thing. I danced it out. I reached for gratitude. I made lists of things that bring me joy. I took five deep breaths. I used my oils. I connected even more with a new friend who I can go have coffee with and just be me.

And these things helped. A lot. But they weren't enough. 

One night found me looking up my teacher online and booking a private session with her. Well, actually the window to book the session was open for four days before I made my move. And when I say, "my teacher" here, I mean Laura Yon, the magical, wise woman who I did my two-year yoga teacher training with 10 years ago. 

On the day of the first appointment earlier this summer, I chatted and chatted and chatted, hardly taking a breath for the first 10 minutes or so. Bringing her up to date on "all of it." It had been a few years since I'd seen her, so words about my business and marriage and motherhood and so many followers on Pinterest and on and on and on just kept tumbling out.

And then we took a few deep breaths. And chanted. And sat in the quiet. And when we opened our eyes, she looked at me and said, "Oh, there you are."

I sighed deeply knowing I was in the right place.

Her next words were, "What are you doing for self-care?"

And I was flummoxed for a minute. I'm not kidding. I didn't really have an answer. I mean I started saying all these things about coloring with Ellie and taking five deep breaths and dancing it out, but I didn't have an answer to what I knew she was really asking, an answer to "What is your practice? What are you doing alone to be still and quiet your mind?"

And in that moment I felt the deep truth of knowing I had let first aid self-care take over.

As my business has grown so much in the last two years, as so many changes have occurred behind the scenes in the last 9 months or so, and in my zeal to help others find their practices, I had forgotten to notice when it was time to sit in the quiet and notice my own deep needs. Well, I had noticed, but I kept pushing it away and filling the space with something else.

It feels like such a risk to share this because the fear is of course that saying it aloud means no one will want or respect a teacher who admits what real life looks like sometimes.

But the truth is, so often we teach what we need. And we don't always practice what we know even when we know we need it. 

This is why it is called a practice.

What came to the surface today is that it's time to really commit to the practice I've been working with over the last few weeks since beginning to meet with Laura again. To commit. Like big time. To shed the excuses and the other stories that stop me and commit.

As we talked today and then as we sat in the quiet together, I began to realize that I want to go even deeper here in this space with you. When I'm here writing the words, "Hello Beautiful Soul," I don't want to be distracted by all the pins on Pinterest telling me what I "should" be doing to grow my audience/use social media/stand out/get you to "click through" and how the list goes on.


Instead, I want to invite you to come along to another layer of a conversation about creative self-care and mindful living and building that bridge between daily life and our longings. In some ways, this won't be new, but it will be a return to making this newsletter space about stories that I share just with you. 

And it feels really important to say this: First aid self-care is a good thing. It is needed. We all need it. I love it and will continue to teach it and share ideas here and in the other spaces you find me online. It's what gets us through "survival mode" and the big stuff and the small stuff too, especially in certain seasons of our lives. We need to use it daily. But we also need something to deeply anchor us each day, something that gives us space to separate from the noise and find stillness and find a place to hear our own deep, true voice within and to connect with whatever we're drawn to that is greater than us. 

If you're reading this and thinking you don't know where to begin, you're in the right place. We'll have these conversations together.



PS Since writing these words a couple of weeks ago, I've received quite a few emails from people with words of kindness (thank you!) and a few wondering about the difference between first aid self-care and the kind of self-care practice I'm talking about. Some people have wondered what my practice is. Others have shed some tears realizing that they've been practicing only first aid self-care as well and don't know what to do next. I want you to know that I hear you. I'm going to be sharing more about my own practice and talking more about this topic in my newsletter and here in this space. 

But I really want you to let go of feeling bad about first aid self-care. Reread the part above where I say it is a good thing. It really truly is. But when it isn't sustaining you anymore, and you know this, it's time to turn inward and look at what you really need. I realized that I needed an almost full stop break from the stacked up life of a woman running a home-based business. And I realize being able to take this break is a privilege. Big time.

After Labor Day, I'll be back here in this space sharing some of what I've noticed during my break along with stories from the last year that I've been wanting to tell you. Getting back to more stories in this space is a priority.

And another priority is sharing an even deeper layer of the stories with the beautiful souls on my newsletter list. When I write to you in that space, I really do feel like I'm sitting in the quiet early morning hours before everyone else is awake writing a letter with pen and paper to a friend who I know will catch my words and listen. It's such a gift to write back and forth in that space. And I do read every reply. I almost always reply back, though from time to time it takes a while, like it will with my last note.

Thanks for reading this long note, for being here, for walking beside me. I'm off to play in Grandma's backyard with Ellie. 


the fall retreat: water your soul


I'm so excited to announce the Fall Be Present Retreat: Water Your Soul. A group of about 20 of us will be gathering in a gorgeous ocean-front home in Manzanita, Oregon where we'll have time to connect, spend time in the quiet, create and laugh and dance, and deeply replenish ourselves. The retreat takes place November 11-15, and I can't wait to bring a group back to my favorite town on the Oregon Coast! You can read all the details over on the retreat site, but here's a glimpse to give you an idea.



What does water your soul really mean?

It's creating space for you in the midst of whatever the day hands you.

It's taking a walk each day and noticing the world outside even on the days the rain drips on your head.

It's saying "Yes" to pieces of your life that invite in more joy and connection and saying "No" to doing it all.

It's blocking out alone time in your planner because you know recharging is non-negotiable.  

It's looking in the mirror and telling the woman looking back at you "I've got you kid."

It's stepping into vulnerability when you look at your partner and say, "I know you're annoyed right now, but I just really need a hug."

It's realizing you're slipping into the old stories about not enoughness and putting on Johnny Cash and singing into your hairbrush to dance it out.

It's sitting on the front step for five minutes just to give yourself some space so you can move forward from a sense of being grounded.

It's holding the beauty of your life in one hand and the grit of the day in the other and letting yourself feel all the feelings.

It's choosing love even when it feels almost impossible.

Watering your soul is about creating space for you, space for your soul care practice, in the midst of whatever life hands you. It's seeking the space in the in-between moments and nourishing yourself. It's saying "Yes" to filling up your internal well, so you can be more present to your life and your loved ones.



It isn't always easy, which is why we practice it again and again. It isn't always pretty, which is why we circle to tell the true stories to be reminded that we aren’t alone.

But it is a choice. Each day. It's a choice to say: I am ready to deeply connect with me, to be with myself in the quiet, to listen to what I need. It's a choice. And this retreat is going to help you make that choice a little more each day.

Yes. Yes. Yes.



How we'll explore self-care 

  • We'll spend time practicing and learning about creative self-care as we play with words, take some photos, walk on the beach, and explore other forms of creative play and connection.
  • We'll recharge with Mother Ocean as she'll be a teacher for us as we connect with her each day as she's literally steps away from the home where we'll gather. We'll also practice a story releasing ceremony and invite her to hold our stories. 
  • We'll slow down and deeply experience mindfulness practices, create a community altar in the middle of our circle, and look at ways we can create space for the sacred in our daily lives.
  • We'll explore ways to seek stillness and spend time in the quiet. We'll talk about how you can create an individual mindfulness practice when you get home.
  • There will be time to play with your favorite art supplies and other creative goodness so you can remember the ways you want to fill up that creative well within you when you get home. 
  • There will be time to tell your story and listen to the stories of others. Many of the women who attend Be Present Retreats form friendships that last far beyond the retreat.

Before the retreat, I'll connect with you to help you decide what creative self-care practices you'll be bringing with you. For example, you might bring the knitting project you keep meaning to get back to, an art journal to play in, the "big girl" camera you haven't picked up in years, and so on. I'll also be bringing my usual vintage suitcases full of creative supplies for you to have fun with.


This retreat is your opportunity to spend time with the self-care you're longing for in your life. 

This is a place where you can show up as you, and you will be given the gift of time to rest and recharge so you can find your way back to you. 

The Be Present Retreats are an invitation to pause in your life and gather in an intimate, creative community to explore, create, discover, and soak up the world around you. Each retreat includes creative play + adventures combined with stories and "being present" exercises to encourage awareness of this moment. At each retreat, you are also invited to nurture yourself as needed as you keep building the bridge between daily life and the longings you have inside you.



There are 9 spots left at this retreat! This is the retreat many of you have been asking me for, and I can't wait to gather with this circle on the coast. If you feel like this might be the retreat for you, head over to the retreat site and read all the details and sign up to join us. 

(Photos of house courtesy of vacationrentalsmanzanita.com)


a giveaway!

I'm so excited to give a spot away in Galia Alena's class Camera Craft: The Art of Seeing

As I shared a few weeks ago:

Camera Craft is designed to help demystify your camera and the technical side of photography, empowering you to follow your inspiration, and make expressive and beautiful images. It is photography 101 and it is so much more.

I love that the goal of this class is to help you understand the technical side of photography while also inviting you to find (or rediscover) your own creative voice. 

In The Art of Seeing, Galia will cover the basics of camera equipment, help you learn about exposure (which means aperture/shutter/ISO), teach you how to begin to process your photos, and inspire you along the way.

And I'll be sharing a lesson about my experiences with taking self-portraits and how they've helped me feel deeply seen by the one person who knows me best of all: Me.

How to enter the giveaway: Leave a comment sharing why you'd love to take this class. Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you. The giveaway will end Wednesday, August 19 at 11 PM PST. I'll randomly draw a winner on Friday and post the winner here (and email that person too).

This class is full of so much juicy goodness, and I can't wait to take it alongside you. It starts August 31st, and you can sign up right here.

Note: Photos are copyright Galia Alena. Links throughout are affiliate links, which means I receive a commission when you purchase the class through my links.

UPDATED: The Giveaway in now closed. Michelle, who wrote, "This looks wonderful. I have a degree in regular film photography and still have trouble with my digital camera." won a spot! Thanks so much for entering. 


because books. always books. {i heart makers} 

"I like to party" print by Bookworkboutique

I've been gathering a few of my favorite book-related goodies to share with you as the next installment of the {i heart makers} series. Books have always been among my dearest friends. I've gone through times in my life where I honestly felt like authors and characters in books got me and helped me feel seen in ways I couldn't ask others to do in my life. Books take me on adventures, get me to think about life in new ways, and give me a sense of place. If you're someone who loves books like me or you need the perfect gift for a book lover in your life, here are some awesome made/designed by makers creations:

The "I read past my bedtime" pillow by Bookwormboutique makes me smile and has me nodding yes yes yes. The 10-year-old me would have loved seeing this on her bed every day (it goes without saying the 39-year-old me feels the same way). And because this is over on Society6 it comes in other designs too. (And I'm a bit obsessed with all the designs by Bookworkboutique. Like this phone case and this t-shirt and this mug.)

When I signed the contract for my book, my friend Jen gave me one of these gorgeous tiny book journal necklaces from Peg and Awl. It remains one of my favorite most thoughtful gifts of all time. (And Peg and Awl has become one of my favorite maker made businesses to support. I have several of their items in my studio and home. They probably deserve their own blog post soon.)

I've started spotting really unique book planters more and more on Pinterest. I recognize that they might be blasphemous for some book lovers because a book has to be altered but in my mind I love that books that might just be sitting on shelves unread in thrift stores are getting a new life. Over on Scoutmob, Paperdame has some awesome ones.

If you know me well, you know I'm not so much into humor that plays off of body parts. It just isn't my thing. At all. But this tote from She Sells Fairhope and other Etsy items out there with this quote make me crack up every single time I see them. I start singing and grooving and can't stop smiling. The. Best.

When I started my retreats years ago, I couldn't find book plates that I liked to put inside the books I'd be taking with me to retreats (and loaning to friends). Back in 2009, Etsy rescued me and I fell in love with the shop boygirlparty. We've been customers ever since. These whale book plates are my favorite but Susie has several others. You'll be seeing boygirlparty appear in future "I heart makers" posts. I'm a fan.

Love this "Reading is my super power" mug from LennyMud. There are other styles too.

And the Bookworm phone case from Cassia Beck makes me smile. I want to step into that photo and read all those books!

An invitation: Are you a maker? Share a little about you and your shop with a link to your site in the comments so I can visit. Would love to possibly feature you in a future post.

Note that some of these links are affiliates, which means I receive a small commission if you purchase through the link.


i want to remember

I want to remember the way you started calling me "Honey" this summer. It equal parts cracks me up and delights me.

I want to remember the sound of your laughter when you say something that you think is so funny.

I want to remember the way you reach for my hand on the evenings I chant to you just before you fall asleep. 

I want to remember the sound of you sounding out words and the look on your face when you figure it out.

I want to remember the way you're growing up as you pause and notice the way your words and actions affect others. It's a huge piece to understand, and I'm so proud of you.

I want to remember when your counselor at camp said, "Has Eleanor told you that she's become one of our best sharers?" and your face beemed when we told Daddy all about it later.

I want to remember the conversations we're having about just playing when it comes to creativity instead of worrying about "being good." I hope you always remember that playing with paint and paper and pens and color and glue is at its core fun.

I want to remember the joy surrounding you when you ran into the studio and said, "Mama, I taught myself how to swing today!" and explained how you are climbing onto the swing yourself and pumping your legs.

I want to remember the way you so often want to do what I'm doing. If I open my journal and start doodling, you want to play in your journal. If I go into the studio, you are close behind me ready to "help make things for your shop mama. I want to help you make things for the ladies." If I'm looking through a magazine, you want your own. I know it won't always be like this, but it's special to connect with you about the little things that bring me joy.

I want to remember that moment when I looked at you and realized you are a big kid now. And I want to remember the moment right before that one too. 

photo by Tara Whitney