Jennifer Sterling: Collective Care Interview Series

March 29, 2017

Collective Care is a written interview series with people who are changing the world. Most often, these folks are working at the intersection of creative, healing, and/or activist work.

I’m in love with the idea of amplifying the work (and self-care practices) of people who are building a more compassionate world. In this series, I get to chat with people who inspire me like whoa.

Today we get to meet Jennifer Sterling!

Jennifer Sterling on honoring bodies' wisdom and small steps that add up to big goals. Read the Collective Care interview! -- www.christytending.com

Jennifer, take it away…

How are you changing the world?

(What is your change-making, healing, and/or creative work? This might be paid, unpaid or a combination.)

I’m a Holistic Nutritionist and Chef who teaches women to treat themselves well physically, mentally and emotionally.

What challenges your heart in that journey?

The messages that women hear constantly about their bodies that makes them feel as though they need to diet and make themselves smaller in order to be happy.

What inspires you to keep going?

The joy I feel when women are able to stop dieting and honor their bodies’ wisdom.

How do you support yourself or tend to yourself and your heart in that process?

What nourishes and replenishes you?

I am nourished by good food, movement (mostly dance), daily mediation and a great music.

How do you experience care within community?

How do others support you in your journey and practice?

My friends take impeccable care of themselves which reminds me to treat myself well. We support each other in life and business by making the time to connect and creating the space for conversation and discussion about everything from politics to restaurant openings.

What’s your best piece of advice you have for people who want to make a difference?

Do it! Even if the actions you take to reach your goal are small, all of those small steps will add up to be something big.

Paint us a picture of the more compassionate world and future you imagine.

The more compassionate world and future I imagine is one where everyone is free – free to be who they are authentically and walk down the street without fear. It is a space where people are treated with kindness, love and compassion no matter the color of their skin, sexual preference, gender or abilities.

About Jennifer:

Jennifer Sterling M.S is a Holistic Nutritionist and Chef. As a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, Hawthorn University and the International Culinary Center, Jennifer uses her extensive knowledge of food, nutrition, and psychology to help her clients nourish themselves at the table, and away from it.

How to connect:

Related:

You can find all of the Collective Care interviews right here!

Post: What is Collective Care?

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Dissolving Resistance to Create Awesome Self-Care

March 27, 2017

I hear a lot of self-care myths in my work. I know that sometimes self-care gets a bad rap – or that it seems just out of reach. Luckily for all of us, I know in my heart that not only is self-care possible – but that it can be amazing.

But before we can truly accept self-care as something of which we are deserving (and therefore make a truly nourishing experience), we need to dissolve some of our resistance to caring for ourselves.

There are a million self-care myths and so many narratives that reinforce the idea that self-care is selfish or out of reach. Dissolve your resistance to self-care in order to create truly awesome self-care. Plus, download your free self-care planner inside! >> www.christytending.com

Let’s look at some of the myths about self-care and see if we can move them out of the way, shall we?

“I’m so busy!”

Self-care doesn’t need to be time-consuming. It can be simple and brief, just so long as it’s intentional. Even just a few deep breaths might support you through your day. Taking baby steps is the key to awesome self-care.

In fact, I recommend against diving into a time-consuming complicated self-care practice when you’re first starting out. Go slow. Break it down into bite-sized pieces.

This will keep you out of a state of overwhelm, which will only discourage you from further self-care. And you’ll experience real success. Let this success build on itself slowly.

The fact is, self-care is a life-long practice. You can’t do it all in one day. So, proceed with gentleness and don’t add more to your plate than you can hand.

“I can’t afford it!” or “I need more stuff before I can start!”

Um, no. (I’ll refer you to this blog post. And this one over here.)

It’s a myth that self-care is all bubble baths, overflowing bowls of bon-bons, or a Hawaiian vacation. But you can begin your self-care right here and now. Self-care begins as an interior experience: nothing fancy, just you and your heart.

You don’t even need to get off the couch. You can start with your interior narrative. It’s possible to start practicing self-care without spending a single dime. Because the heart of self-care is self-compassion and mindful presence.

“I don’t know where to start!” or “I don’t know how!”

You don’t need any kind of special training. Why? Because you are already the expert in your own experience. You might need a little inspiration, but no one knows you better than you. Which means you don’t need a guru.

You just need to be present.

Begin by setting an intention. Start with a few deep breaths. Have a glass of water. Whatever the smallest action is that you can think of that would feel good right now, do that.

The fact is, we are all the experts in our own experience. So often, we already know exactly what we need to feel good.

“I feel guilty!”

The truth is, you are inherently deserving of incredible self-care. In fact, self-care can often be the gateway to dissolving guilt.

Self-care isn’t selfish – it’s survival. In a world that supports so many systems of oppression, it can be difficult to remember that you are not as disposable as everything else it manufactures. You are not disposable at all. You are a precious human deserving of love.

(Ahh… does that feel better?)

I created The Real Self-Care Toolkit to dissolve these myths and empower you in your self-care so you can live a more mindful, joyful, and heart-felt life.

Look, I know.

Our culture loves to teach us that we aren’t good enough – that we don’t have enough, do enough, or exist perfectly enough.

But that’s a nasty lie. We are perfect and deserving exactly as we are. Self-care isn’t something you earn, it’s a birthright. We are all worthy of compassionate action on our own behalf.

No matter what the powers that be say, you can claim self-care any time you like.

I believe in that, and I believe in you.

It’s why I created The Real Self-Care Toolkit with you (and your actual life) in mind.

Or, start by downloading your free planner:

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Emily Van Engel: Collective Care Interview Series

March 22, 2017

Collective Care is a written interview series with people who are changing the world. Most often, these folks are working at the intersection of creative, healing, and/or activist work.

I’m in love with the idea of amplifying the work (and self-care practices) of people who are building a more compassionate world. In this series, I get to chat with people who inspire me like whoa.

Today we get to meet Emily van Engel!

Emily Van Engel on art that examines our relationship with our planet, having a plan, and creating a body of work. Read the Collective Care interview! >> www.christytending.com

Emily is a dear, dear friend – and exceptional artist who examines our relationship with our planet is gorgeous and fascinating ways through her art. Her pieces aren’t just depictions, but conversation starters. Her work is layered (literally and figuratively) in ways that honor the complexity of our world – how it is and how it could be.

I’m so excited to share her wisdom with you today!

Emily, take it away…

How are you changing the world?

(What is your change-making, healing, and/or creative work? This might be paid, unpaid or a combination.)

Thanks for inviting me to participate, Christy!

I make art that looks at our relationship with our environment. I see myself as a change-maker because I want everyone on our planet to live in a clean and safe environment, and the art is about getting to that place. The work is unpaid, although I occasionally sell some art.

What challenges your heart in that journey?

Something that weighs on my heart is the knowledge that conducting business as usual in many countries on our planet is on track to change our climate globally, changing how we’ve experienced weather thus far, potentially changing the livability (both physically and politically) of much of the planet for many of us.

I know that there’s action I can take; for me it’s initiating conversations about this topic either in person or through my art. But that presents another challenge because I sometimes feel like I’m not doing enough because the problem is still there.

However, I know that I can’t just pull all-nighters and make art 24/7. Taking care of myself is integral to that process of facing the challenge.

What inspires you to keep going?

Seeing other artists’ bodies of work inspires me. I once googled Picasso and scrolled through pages and pages of artwork, and felt my own drive to create such a prolific body of work. It helped me get into an inspired mindset of creating.

I’m also inspired to see other artists, activists and writers address climate change. There are so many angles to approach the topic and it reminds me that my voice is part of a larger picture.

How do you support yourself or tend to yourself and your heart in that process?

What nourishes and replenishes you?

I recognize that I have several goals; make the art, earn income, take care of my health, just to name a few. And that usually the action that I take to satisfy one goal doesn’t overlap with another… or at least in the present moment, making art while going for a hike is not a paid activity (but I won’t rule it out entirely).

There have been times when I felt like I was falling short in one area while I was in the in the middle of actively pursuing another goal; I was constantly feeling pulled and torn. While pondering your question this week, I happened to tune in to one of my favorite podcasts, Call Your Girlfriend, where the two hosts, Ann Friedman and Aminatou So, addressed this topic of work/life balance in a witty and insightful way.

Ann Friedman said; “‘Having it all’ is a lie from the pit of hell sold to women so we’ll feel bad about ourselves all the time and work harder for capitalism.” (Call Your Girlfriend, Episode 71) I agree with their take on recognizing that there’s more to do than there’s possibly time for, and the solution lies in being okay with the choices that you make. For me, having a plan to be in my studio, go for a walk, or pursue paid work later that day or later that week, and building in the time and space to follow up with it, helps me stay in the present moment and focus on the activity at hand.

Also, taking breaks and having veg-out time replenishes me. Being proactive about these breaks somehow multiplies the effect for me, perhaps because I can look forward to them. I have an hour-plus train commute to my grad school program where I usually plan on doing school-related reading and work, but one day I decided to throw a magazine instead of my school materials into my bag, and I felt light and giddy with the prospect of reading for pleasure. (I also have been known to just stare out the window with the bag unopened, or listen to podcasts).

How do you experience care within community?

How do others support you in your journey and practice?

I receive so much support from my partner and my family to do the art, that I feel that I couldn’t really prioritize it the way that I do without them. (I’m talking encouragement and financial support.) I also have a few friends that double as exercise partners, so twice a week I have regularly scheduled hikes, which is fun and social, and making the plan with someone else helps me be accountable to follow through.

What’s your best piece of advice you have for people who want to make a difference?

There are many ways to show up for and take action on something that you care about, so first I want to stress that there’s not just one way. Some possibilities include learning more about a topic by reading and research, attending a community event, or volunteering time and/or money to groups doing good work.

I’ve been thinking lately about the phrase “take care of yourself so you can take care of others,” so on that note I will say that whatever you do, show up full (well-rested, present, or whatever that means to you individually) so you can be in a place where you can be yourself and truly give.

Paint us a picture of the more compassionate world and future you imagine.

I laughed out loud when I first read this question because this is literally the reason why I’m in grad school now. I yearn to paint what it looks like to live in a world where we have ceased the behaviors that are causing climate change.

But since I don’t know exactly what that looks like, I am slowing down and giving myself time and space to explore it. But in all seriousness, even though I can’t paint this picture, I have a hunch that at the underbelly of a more compassionate world is an economy that is based on generosity.

About …:

Emily Van Engel’s paintings and glass work look at our relationship with the environment. She exhibits her work in the California Bay Area and is a candidate for an MFA in Pictorial Art at San Jose University.

How to connect:

emilyvanengel.com
etsy.com/shop/EmilyVanEngel
redbubble.com/people/emilyvanengel/portfolio?asc=u

Related:

You can find all of the Collective Care interviews right here!

Post: What is Collective Care?

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Creating Self-Care That’s Custom (not cookie-cutter)

March 20, 2017

Excellent self-care is self-care that's truly custom – never cookie-cutter. Learn how to create your own custom self-care plan. Plus grab your free self-care planner inside! >> www.christytending.com

When I work with groups (usually in non-profit settings) to help them develop self-care, there are always a few skeptics in the room. “What if I’m not into ‘woo-woo’ things?” they ask. “What if I like going to the movies or dancing in clubs to unwind?” “What if I [they always get quiet] hate yoga and meditation?”

All good questions. And I will tell you, I’m never, ever offended, even though I’ve been a yoga and meditation practitioner my whole adult life. Why?

Because I know that my self-care won’t look like your self-care.

Self-care is different for everyone. In order to be self-care, it need to be custom, not cookie-cutter.

Different things that feel good and rightful for them.

Each of us has a different schedule, budget, source of inspiration. We have a different set of priorities, interests, and things that bring us joy and healing. We have different bodies and unique personalities that shape what feels nourishing, replenishing, and healing.

Custom self-care honors our unique selves with unique care.

So, when I’m teaching in groups, I never offer a self-care prescription. It’s more like a treasure hunt or a choose your own adventure. It’s not something that anyone can ever create for you.

For self-care do its true restorative work, it needs to be completely customized to you. Like a fingerprint.

Custom self-care honors your sacredness.

Cookie-cutter self-care only squelches your spirit.

Your custom self-care may not even look the same day to day, week to week, or season to season.

This is truly custom self-care: care that adapts itself to your ever-changing life and ever-evolving needs. Once you understand this, and how to create this customized self-care, you have a practice that will last you a lifetime. Because it’s never over. There is always an opportunity for that restorative healing to take place – whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.

If you’re looking to create custom self-care, I recommend beginning with these three questions:

(Seriously, take out a journal or notebook and answer each of these for yourself.)

What do I know?

You are already an intuitive expert in yourself. In fact: no one will ever know you as well as you already know yourself. Which means that you’re the person best positioned to be an advocate and champion of your self-care.

Write down: What do you already know about yourself? What information is already available to you?

What is my life actually like?

Not the life you wish you had. Not your Pinterest-perfect life. And not even your Instagram-filtered life.

Your real, actual life. No fixing or filtering.

This doesn’t mean you can’t make meaningful life changes. It just means that, for today, your self-care needs to meet your actual reality face-to-face in order to be effective and to feel joyful.

What are the circumstances that lead you to seek self-care? What are the limitations in your way? Finally: what is possible, right here and now? Begin there. Don’t be afraid to evolve, but be even less cautious about beginning.

What feels good?

This is important, and loops us back to those initial questions I get from my skeptics. What feels good for me, won’t necessarily feel good (or even be appropriate) for you. Which is totally okay!

It just means that you need to get really clear on what does feel good. What lights you up? When do you feel most yourself? What kinds of activities are you always glad you did?

Knowing yourself well enough to know what brings you pleasure is a deeply important dimension of self-care. While self-care can lead us to uncomfortable truths or through tough emotions, most of the time, it should be something that brings us comfort, joy, and a sense of well-being.

 

Related:

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Creating a Quiet Life in a Noisy World

March 13, 2017

Sometimes, life can be overwhelming. Learn how to create a quiet life (in the midst of a noisy world). Plus grab your seat for the free self-care mini-course inside! >> www.christytending.com

If you’re a quiet, sensitive person, it can feel like the world is SO LOUD sometimes. Like everyone is shouting, even over the Internet. If you’re drawn to create something big, it can be a challenge to do that in what feels like a maelstrom of input and sound and shouty-ness.

If you’re looking to create more quiet in your everyday life, start here.

Set intention

Why are you looking for more quiet?

What are you hoping to heal? What are you hoping to find?

Defining the purpose of the quieter life can be a huge gift. Suddenly, it doesn’t feel selfish or anti-social. There is intentionality accompanying the dream.

Of course, you never have to justify why you’re seeking more quiet and stillness, but knowing your intention can help you cultivate it with less drama. It can also be a nice guide for friends or family who can’t understand why you’re suddenly shushing them or switching off the TV at random. Know what you’re hoping to create in place of the noise.

Discover and trust your rhythm

When and where are you looking to create more quiet? What times of day make sense for you to be more quiet? Are there times when external stimuli seem to be more upsetting for your nervous system?

Notice and trust your natural rhythm.

For some, creating more quiet in the hour(s) before bedtime makes the most sense. Others prefer to wake slowly and make their way into the day more gently. Notice what works (or doesn’t) for you. Are there particular times or circumstances where you’re drawn to be more quiet, naturally?

Trust that information and allow your rhythms to guide you, rather than forcing your natural flow into an artificial pattern.

Create boundaries

Once you know your intention, and have a handle on your rhythms, you can begin to create a respectful container in which they can thrive.

This is highly personal. But notice: what kinds of boundaries do you need? Are they boundaries with others? Or is it more about internal boundaries and structure?

Offer yourself what you need. Boundaries can be your best friends, if you create them in a way that reflects your needs. Maybe it’s around certain times of day, certain people, or certain types of media. Maybe it’s limiting your exposure to social media, the news, or particular foods. No matter what boundaries you need, you don’t need to apologize.

Life can feel noisy, boundaries can dampen the sound and create a filter for what we’re consuming so that we can feel less overwhelmed.

Dedicate quiet time

I set aside time every week to be silent. This means that I’m also not accepting external input in the form of sound, either, aside from ambient natural sounds and sounds from my neighborhood. It’s a time to turn inward. There is silence, but the silence isn’t just there for me to fill.

It can exist for its own sake.

It can nourish in its own way.

I can accept the present moment, without needing to alter it with my words, with music, or with technology.

This time is sacred and gives my brain the opportunity to integrate all of the input it accepts on a daily (hourly, really) basis. Sometimes, I don’t use the time for anything in particular. Sometimes, I meditate. Other times, I’m struck with inspiration and spend the time journaling, sketching or teasing out the fragile details of my day dreams.

In that quiet space, I don’t get sidetracked, and my ideas have the space to germinate and grow.

Switch off everything that doesn’t need to be on

The lights.

The phone notifications.

The ready-alert instinct in your brain.

If you’re seeking more quiet, walk through your house (or your own mind) and look at what you can switch to off. When I disabled all of the notifications on my phone, life suddenly became so much more still and easeful. My attention could finally rest in the present, where I wanted it to be.

Not only was it literally less noisy, but I could also drop the vigilance that had become my default setting. I wasn’t constantly waiting for the next interruption. I could simply be in the moment.

Similarly, bright screens and overhead lights go off at 9pm in my house. I switch my phone to airplane mode. I am off-duty at that point. My time and energy and attention is truly my own.

 

Related:

What is your Sacred Focus?

Edit Your Schedule

On Devotion

 

Organized under Everyday Sacred, Sacred Focus, Self-Care. none

Tiny actions to bring more ritual into your life

March 6, 2017

The idea of ritual is incredibly appealing to me. I crave routine and habit. I source comfort and connection from these. Ritual nourishes me and keeps me grounded. But if ritual intimidates you? If you think it needs to be complicated or overly woo?

There are tiny actions you can take to infuse your life with more ritual – without breaking the bank or turning breakfast into a séance (unless that’s your thing, in which case, please invite me over).

Rituals don't need to be complicated. You can start creating more sacred in your life today. Here are some tiny actions to bring more ritual into your life. Plus, sign up for the free self-care mini-course inside! >> www.christytending.com

Because these actions should fit into your everyday life, I’ve broken them down into three categories: morning, evening and mealtime. I mean, we all have these times in our lives. Also, because they usually mark a transition (sleep to waking, for instance), they are natural times to mark with ritual.

Caveat: do what works for you. If one of these works better for you at a different time, do that. These are suggestions. Take them with a grain of salt, and feel free to make them a custom expression of your life, flow, and needs.

Morning Rituals:

  • Quiet until a certain hour
  • A special morning beverage or meal
  • Prayer or meditation
  • Gratitude journaling or morning pages
  • Greeting the sun
  • Drawing a tarot card for the day
  • Setting an intention
  • Sun salutations or other mindful movement

Evening Rituals:

  • Self-massage (especially your feet or scalp)
  • A cup of tea
  • Screens off by a certain time
  • Inspirational reading
  • Journaling or creative writing
  • Lighting a candle
  • Tracking the moon and acknowledging where it is in its cycle
  • A restorative pose or other therapeutic pose

Mealtime Rituals:

  • Expressing gratitude
  • Eating one meal per day in silence
  • Turning your phone off while eating
  • A short walk after a meal
  • Breathing practice before or after the meal
  • Have one piece of (super-high-quality) chocolate afterwards
  • Bow to signify the end of a meal

Organized under Everyday Sacred, Sacred Focus. none

Sacred Circle (March): self-care resources for spring

March 2, 2017

Welcome to March and this month’s Sacred Circle.

In these posts, I share the most potent (and favorite) self-care practices and resources from my practice and around the web.

Do you have a favorite self-care resource? Zip me a tweet! (and use the hashtag #SacredCircle to tell me about it.)

Sacred Circle: a free self-care resource guide with books, podcasts, movies, recipes, and gifts! Plus, sign up for the free self-care course inside! >> www.christytending.com

New from Me:

This month I’m hosting a free mini-course + free workshop!

Blogs:

Collective Care Series:

 

What I’m reading:

My favorite words to see in an email

This gorgeousness on Instagram

Re-reading this brilliant article on burnout and writing

Compassion training to avoid burnout in physicians

 

What I’m listening to:

Jump Start Your Joy: Journaling Your Way Through Life with guest Deb Cooperman

Best advice podcast ever: Dear Sugar Radio

The Hamilton Mixtape | Fun Home: the musical Soundtrack

 

What I’m watching:

One of my favorite movies of all time.

 

What I’m doing in my practice:

Drinking loads of ginger kombucha

Treating myself to Justin’s peanut butter cups

Using these buckwheat warming cushions

Compression socks for my upcoming long-haul flight

 

Gift Ideas:

These would look so pretty in my office!

This sweet turquoise necklace

I love these bags (I have the backpack and use it for everything)

 

Don’t forget to grab your seat for the free course!

Organized under Sacred Circle. none

6 Benefits of Simplifying Your Life

February 22, 2017

What actually happens when you simplify your life?

Simplifying, minimalism, Essentialism. Choosing a simpler, maybe even smaller life, seems to be all the rage right now. It feels like the backlash to the gospel of hustle and the pressure to live up to an aspirational lifestyle.

But maybe you like a little hustle now and then. Maybe you do want to make a big impact.

If that’s the case, why would you actually choose a simpler life?

In my experience, there are some real benefits to choosing a simpler life.

It’s not about trading one form of perfectionism for another. And it isn’t about making your life dull and hyper-regimented. A simpler life, believe it or not, can actually lead to some pretty incredible benefits. You don’t have to give up your day job (or surrender half your stuff, either). Instead, by choosing less – and choosing better, you can find new forms of freedom, impact, and connection.

 

6 Benefits of Simplifying Your Life

More time

When I don’t pack my days and weeks chock full with way too many things, there is white space that can exist. I have the time to integrate. I have the time to do the unspoken things that don’t make their way onto my to-do list. There is space for wonder and the kind of spontaneous self-care that really nourishes me.

Listening to music. Taking an extra long, hot shower. Meeting a friend for lunch at the last-minute. Wandering slowly through the cheese section at the grocery store (is that just me?).

I have the time to call people back, to have deeper conversations. I have the space to plan things well, instead of rushing headlong into the next activity.

More energy

This is perhaps the most stark benefit I’ve experienced, since taking myself through the Sacred Focus program and committing to a simpler life.

It used to be that my energy would yo-yo. I would be all in and firing on all burners one week. The next would find me sacked out on the couch, unable to move from burnout. I would work toward healing and then throw myself back into overwhelm once more. This happened again and again, with healing after each burnout phase, but no real plan to break that cycle.

Instead, with my life pared down the way it is, I have not only more capacity to offer myself healing, but I need healing less. I stay more even-keeled and experience the yo-yo of energy less. Which means less flaking and way less burnout.

Freedom, which really means flexibility and ease

When you choose simpler, you gain freedom.

With:

Less stuff to chase around, maintain, clean, organize or throw away.

Less pressure to maintain your regimented schedule.

Fewer confines in which you live life.

You’ll have:

More white space, to fill with what’s meaningful or what’s been missing in your life – and to get creative, to dream, and to integrate.

More ease to move through life according to your intuition’s wisdom.

Greater flexibility to choose well and adapt to shifts in life.

 

Spiritual connection

When I first began my journey to simplify my life, it wasn’t really about simplifying. It was more about how I wanted my everyday to *feel*. It was how I wanted my daily activities, relationships, work, and passions to live in my body.

What I wanted was to feel a sense of the sacredness, even in everyday tasks, That’s how I feel now. Not because laundry became an exalted experience overnight, but simply because I can slow down enough to be mindful of each of my tasks and experiences, as they’re happening.

I’m not rushing through my days, from one chaotic experience to the next. Instead, I can be slow and deliberate and bring my full, sweet attention to what I do and how I interact.

More money and capacity for generosity

A few things happened in my life, rather organically, when I started downshifting my life to make it simpler:

I stopped paying extra for convenience/waiting until the last minute/self-soothing. I no longer needed so many meals delivered in, because I had the energy to cook. Ditto for paying for a bunch of things or services in order to self-soothe. It simply wasn’t as necessary. And because I was more organized, I stopped paying inflated prices for buying things at the last minute or paying extra because I was in a pinch.

I’ve also gotten much more intentional about my generosity. And because I’m not paying extra delivery fees, spending money on stuff I don’t need, or over-paying for things, I actually have a greater capacity for generosity.

Greater impact

Here’s a secret: having a simpler life doesn’t mean that you’re just kicking it all day watching soap operas and eating bon-bons. (Although, if that’s your life, more power to you.) It’s not that, by simplifying, you suddenly have nothing to do or that life is totally boring.

On the contrary, life becomes really rich.

By simplifying my commitments and by choosing to take on fewer projects, I’m actually able to make a bigger impact than ever before. In the last three years, I’ve created a massive amount of content and a boatload of actionable resources. I’m now reaching many thousands of people with my work. I’ve been able to build deep relationships in my political organizing, which in turn builds trust and the level of impact that my group is able to make.

Simple doesn’t mean stagnant. It means that by choosing less, I’m able to choose better and more wisely. And that I can fully, deeply, wholeheartedly commit to doing well in those areas, instead of doing a mediocre job at a bunch of things.

 

Related:

 

Organized under Featured, Sacred Focus. One comment.

How to Simplify Your Life

February 20, 2017

Maybe you read a couple of Marie Kondo books. Maybe you went on a spending diet. But you still crave a life that doesn’t seem quite so hectic or scattered. You’re tired of feeling pulled in a million directions. You feel like you’d be able to get the juicy bits of life more often if you could just simplify your life a little. Let’s dive in – I’ll show you how.

 

How to simplify your life (without throwing away half your shit.) Plus, get a free self-care mini-course inside! >> www.christytending.com

 

 

I believe in simple. In baby steps and in making slow, sacred ritual out of your entire life. I’m dedicated to cutting the crap and boiling things down to the essentials. To what is potent and necessary and beloved. I am dedicated to letting the rest go.

I still have a full life, it’s just not overwhelming the way it used to be. I’m not chasing my tail or letting things drop because I’m not juggling way more than I can handle.

There’s a lot out there about simplifying these days. And there’s a lot of useful information. But the question remains:

How do you simplify your life without throwing away half your sh*t?

(Especially if what you’re looking for isn’t a Pinterest-perfect Scandinavian-eque home, but a more potent, sacred everyday life.)

Write everything down.

The first step to simplify your life is to build awareness around what that means in your very personal situation. What does chaos look like for you? What would simple look like? Since it’s different for everyone, it’s impossible to set a standard or a definite finish line of “simpler.”

Begin by writing everything down. What are all of your commitments? What are all of the elements in your life that require your attention on a regular basis? And finally, what are all of the things you’re not getting to, but are metaphorically hanging over your head?

Build mindfulness around what it is you’re actually doing. Notice what you say yes to. Sleuth around your schedule, your home, your relationships, and your work. To simplify your life, you first need to fully understand all the elements that make up your life.

Why am I really doing this?

Ask yourself this question any time you feel any of the following: resentful, overwhelmed, jealous, frustrated, exhausted, or overburdened.

In a now (semi-)famous story, I once turned to my now-husband and cried out, “Why do I keep doing this to myself?!” (Referring to over-scheduling myself, once again, and feeling exhausted.) Why, indeed.

It wasn’t until I really dug into why I was overcommitting myself that I was able to stop. Knowing your “why” is a big piece of the puzzle, if you want to de-overwhelm your life. Because each person’s motivations are different, there is a different path out of the maze of overwhelm for each of us.

To simplify your life, you need to understand the underlying motivations for over-committing, over-compensating, and over-complicating.

What do I really want from this?

This is really the inverse of the last question, but another juicy thing to ponder. What outcome are you seeking from whatever it is that you’re doing? What’s the ideal result of what you’re pursuing? In your wildest dreams, what would your hard work/time/energy/money yield?

Hint: that’s what you’re really looking for. The thing you’re doing to get there is actually a means to an end, most of the time.

Understanding your motivation for saying yes is one thing. What you think the result will be is something else. We often don’t make commitments or sacrifices (or even purchases) if we don’t think we’re getting something in return. What is that something for you?

When you know what you’re really looking for – the outcome, result or experience you’re really seeking – that knowledge is a source of power. Armed with that understanding, you can start to make other choices. You can decide that perhaps there are other (simpler?) ways of achieving that same result.

 

 

Where am I making things harder than they need to be?

Now that you know why you say yes and what you’re really looking for, it’s time to go back to that original braindump you did. Look at everything on your plate. Examine your motivations and desires. And then dish out some truth (to yourself).

Where have you overcomplicated what could be simple? Where could you simply decide to simplify your life right now?

Maybe it’s outsourcing something or asking for help. Perhaps, it’s cutting something out altogether. Other times, it just means reframing or restructuring how you’re approaching something. Regardless, you may start to see patterns where you’ve been unintentionally making life tougher than it needed to be.

In those places, bring some compassionate awareness. You may have been suffering needlessly. There’s no need to beat yourself up over it. Just take that knowledge and start to (slowly) apply it.

You don’t need to berate yourself – or throw away half your stuff – you can simply start to take some baby steps to simplify your life, even just a tiny bit.

 

 

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Alexandra Franzen: Collective Care Interview Series

February 15, 2017

Collective Care is a written interview series with people who are changing the world. Most often, these folks are working at the intersection of creative, healing, and/or activist work.

I’m in love with the idea of amplifying the work (and self-care practices) of people who are building a more compassionate world. In this series, I get to chat with people who inspire me like whoa.

Today we get to meet Alexandra Franzen!

Alexandra Franzen on the beauty of discipline and her motto- -Today is not over.- Read the Collective Care interview! >> www.christytending.com

Alexandra, take it away!

How are you changing the world?

(What is your change-making, healing, and/or creative work? This might be paid, unpaid or a combination.)

I’ve been a professional writer for about 10 years. I write about lots of topics – creativity, motivation, personal growth, relationships, and love, for starters. I write novels, personal stories, and essays – plus lots of articles, speeches, and educational materials that various clients/companies hire me to do.

As a writer, one of the messages that echoes continually through my work is: “TODAY IS NOT OVER YET.” It’s a message that I want to share, and share, and share, in a thousand different ways, with as many people as possible. It’s a message that I often need to hear, and re-hear, myself.

No matter what time it is, and no matter how badly your day has gone so far, it is NEVER too late to do something kind, creative, and beautiful for yourself, or for someone else. It’s never too late to turn things around. It’s never too late to create a positive ripple effect in the world. It’s never too late to write one “thank you” note, or drink a glass of water, or exercise for 5 minutes, or call your mom for a long-overdue chat. Things can change right now… if you say so.

I try to model the “TINOY” message through my writing, but also through my daily actions. It’s a mantra that I say to myself, almost every single day!

What challenges your heart in that journey?

Feeling overscheduled and overwhelmed. If I feel like I’m drowning in too many projects, I start to wither inside.

What inspires you to keep going?

That feeling I get when an email pops into my inbox and someone says, “You don’t know me, but I love your writing, and that one thing you said really made my day better…” I love those moments. Knowing that I’m “helping” someone, even just one person, feels so incredible. That’s my fuel to keep going.

How do you support yourself or tend to yourself and your heart in that process?

What nourishes and replenishes you?

I’m a simple gal! I love the basics: sleep, sex, water, good food, a long sweaty run or weight lifting session, or a walk through the woods. If I’ve got the basics handled, I typically feel pretty terrific.

How do you experience care within community?

How do others support you in your journey and practice?

I invest in services that make my life awesomer. For example, I hire a housekeeper to “deep clean” my bathroom and kitchen every other month or so. I pay (happily) for yoga and fitness classes at beautiful studios. I hired a professional accountant this year (finally!) and that has cleared a lot of stress out of my life. Everyone needs a “village,” you know?

Also, I’m blessed with a small, tight-knit group of friends who support me 100% and genuinely want me to succeed with all of my goals, and vice versa. I have about 5 peeps that I can email any day, any time, and I know that whatever I say, they’re going to respond with, “We believe in you and we love you.” I’m so grateful for those relationships. I couldn’t make it without ’em.

What’s your best piece of advice you have for people who want to make a difference?

Be focused and disciplined. If your goal is to write one “thank you” note per week, schedule the time and really do it. If your goal is to launch an after-school mentoring program for kids, schedule the time and really do it.

The word “discipline” sometimes gets a bad reputation, but I think it’s a beautiful word. It’s like devotion. It’s like meditation. Apply yourself seriously and wholeheartedly to whatever task you’ve chosen. Focus and do it. You’ll feel so proud of yourself for keeping the promises that you’ve made to yourself and to the world.

Paint us a picture of the more compassionate world and future you imagine.

I want to live in a world where… emails are short, love letters are long, and people stare into each others’ eyes instead of just smartphones screens. Heaven, right?

About Alexandra:

Alexandra Franzen is a writer based in Portland, Oregon. She lives with her partner Brandon and a very pretty fish named RuPaul.

How to connect:

AlexandraFranzen.com

Related:

You can find all of the Collective Care interviews right here!

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