Tag Archives: mental-health

When self-love sucks (and you wanna crawl out of your skin)

People don’t believe me when I say that sometimes practicing self-love sucks.  But have you ever had one of those days when you just want to get the f*ck out?  Your mind might be racing.  And it’s not even that you can’t sit still, it’s that you don’t want to stop moving.  Because if you stop moving, you’ll have to feel all the shit you’ve been trying to run away from.  So you watch episode after episode of some TV series on Netflix.  (There are like 8 seasons of Charmed, FYI.)  Or you turn to food.  Or alcohol.  Shopping.  Sex.  Facebook.  Checking your email 8,000 times.

Recently, I’ve been going through A LOT of soul growth, and as a dear friend once told me, “Transformation is way less fun than I thought it would be.”  Truer words have never been uttered. Transformation is awesome, awful, painful, empowering, and it’ll tear you up and spit you out.  Sometimes (a lot of times) I don’t know what to do with all the emotions that come up around it.  I’m highly sensitive, as I know most of you are, which is a wonderful gift and can also feel like WAY TOO MUCH!

I also come from a long line of addicts, and let’s just say the gene definitely didn’t skip a generation. Sometimes it’s by sheer willpower that I don’t give in to my own addictive patterns and behaviors.  And sometimes I still do.  That’s okay.  Here are some things that work for me on those days when all I want to do is crawl out of my skin, escape, shut down, turn off and I know that I can’t because I’ve come too far.

1. Sit.  Just. Sit. Down. Take a breath. And then another. Feel your magnificent, beating heart. Feel that pain you’re in?  That’s a good sign.  Because that means you’re feeling.  And because pain is THE BEST WAY to heal, transform, shift, and make the changes in your life that you’ve been asking for.

2. Create.  Paint your heart out.  Make it messy.  Write a poem to your darkness.  Make jewelry.  Cook.  The process of creation transforms that manic, “I need to get out of my body” energy and channels it into objects and symbols.  That, my friend, is some serious magic.  (Side story: When I was in treatment one summer I channeled all of my energy into knitting.  Everyone got scarves that Christmas.)

3. Or destroy.  Part of creation is destruction.  So tear, rip, cut, smash.  I have a stack of old magazines reserved for the sole purpose of cutting up.

4.  Cry.  Loudly, quietly, slobbery sobs where you can’t catch your breath, or soft, silent tears that roll down your cheeks.  Whether it’s on your meditation cushion, your yoga mat, a friend’s shoulder, or falling apart on the tiled floor of your shower, that energy’s gotta go somewhere.  What’s that quote about salt water being the cure for everything…?

5.  Call someone.  This one comes with a caveat, though.  I have a lot of friends who are coaches, which is AWESOME!  But when I call them in a “just let me fall apart” moment, I don’t need to be coached.  I just need to be heard.  So either know in advance who can hold your space, or tell them, “Please just listen with compassion and don’t be offended if I use the f* word a lot.  I’m not yelling at you.”  Which brings me to my next point.

6. Ask for what you need.  Sometimes it’s a nap.  Sometimes it’s food.  Sometimes it’s quiet time, to crawl into our little cave and hibernate.  Maybe it’s a walk by yourself, or with your best friend.  When you ask for what you need from the people who love you, it makes us vulnerable, and thus humanizes us.  THAT opens up lots of room for love and compassion.

7. Get outside.  Nature is the most healing, restorative, high vibe place to be.  When I’m all up in my head, there’s a favorite tree I go to sit under, lean back onto, and let all that stuff melt into.  I literally imagine everything that feels too heavy, too much, too dark seeping down into the ground, and giving it up to the earth to be transformed.  Sound too woo-woo for you?  Just try it before you get all judge-y.

8. Trust.  I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason.  Maybe it’s my inner optimist, but I refuse to believe in coincidences, in shitty things happening for no reason, in bad luck.  I believe our outer world is a reflection of our inner reality, and that we are responsible for the way we participate in life.  So trust that if you’re showing up, doing your best, and honoring your truth, things will play out the way they need to.  (Notice I didn’t say they’ll work out the way you ideally want them to.  At least not right away.)

If none of these work, that’s okay too.  It’s a lifelong practice to be able to sit with your feelings and feel them.  There’s no such thing as failure here.  If it doesn’t work out today, you’ll probably get another chance to practice tomorrow.  Keep showing up.

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{Shameless Self-Love} Do you know how AMAZING you are?

Have you seen my Shameless Self-Love video series yet?  It began as a way to work through some of my own visibility issues and evolved into my newest (and soon to be launched) one-on-one coaching program.  30 days + 30 videos dedicated to creating a deeper and more nourishing relationship with your body + soul.  Here’s one of my favorites from day 28 where we dive into Self-Acceptance as part of Self-Love!  Check it out, comment, and share if you so desire…

And now for some serious truth-telling

A lot of people ask how I began my recovery from my eating disorder(s).  What was it that finally broke through the walls I had built up.  What was the thing that finally helped me to WANT to feed myself.  How did I recover?  People want to hear that it was one particular moment, that the light bulb went off, that I finally realized there was more to life than weight and food, blah blah blah…

Here’s the truth, and it may surprise some, anger a few, and make total sense to others.

I didn’t.  There was no light bulb.  There wasn’t a decisive moment when I had had enough.  There were many of those moments, and they would last anywhere from a few days to a couple years.  And then there would be a trigger, an event, a stressful couple months, a major (or minor) shift, and I would be sent spiraling back.  Only each time was a little worse because everyone expected me to be “better”, “recovered”, “over it”.   The shame and guilt over my behaviors, the fact that I was slowly ripping my body apart, was worse than I could bear, and so to alleviate that pain, I’d sink deeper.

story we will never tell

I did a pretty okay job of covering up this intense shame and self-loathing by soaking up all the knowledge I could about health, yoga, meditation, spirituality in general, healing work, bodywork, emotional holding, Ayurveda, herbalism from multiple traditions, Chinese Medicine, how to heal trauma, nutritional theory, shamanism, tarot, anything I could get my hands on.  I learned how to eat really healthy.  I’m now one of the most educated 27 year olds I know, and all that is simply a compensation, a distraction from dealing with the fact that I still had no idea how to nourish my Self.  I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting with myself long enough to hear the answers that my soul had for me.

And then for the greatest cover-up of them all, I decided to coach OTHER women with eating disorders, because if I couldn’t fix myself, maybe I could fix them and then my own struggle would be justified.  And that’s when it all started to crack and crumble.  My soul was speaking to me through the eating disorder, telling me it was time for transformation, for letting go.  My body was beginning to feel the (quite frankly) terrifying effects of years of starving and purging.  Before I could do anything I needed to heal my body and my heart.  To give myself the space, let myself be seen in the most vulnerable way.  Everything about it felt raw, exposed, torn open.  It was time to learn the lesson of asking for what I want and need.

And I did.  And my community has risen up more than I could have ever imagined to offer support, space, guidance, words, and witness.  And no judgment whatsoever.

circle

So here I am now, bearing all my scars, all my shame, my pain, anger, grief, everything I’d been working SO hard to conceal for fear of your judgment.  Now that I have nothing left to hide, I can begin the real work to connect with a deep love for myself not because of my imperfections and battles, but because I Am.  Because all of us have the right to love and be loved simply by being born into this world.  We don’t need to earn love.  We ARE love.  And so begins the heroine’s journey…

heroine's journey

Shedding off one more layer of skin

As a dear friend reminded me the other day, we’re coming to the end of the year of the snake.  It’s been a year of incredible shedding, peeling back the layers of old stories, relationships, labels, beliefs, and assumptions I’ve held onto.  The past few weeks I’ve been in a slow, painful yet beautiful process of crawling out of my skin.  An old skin.  Like snakes do when they’ve outgrown that layer and it’s time to move on.

shedding layers

For a long time I thought I was meant to work with women struggling with eating disorders.  I even wrote a one-on-one coaching program for healing emotional eating.  I thought it was my calling, my mission.  All along there were lots of signs from the Universe telling me that it wasn’t.  That it was just one step along the way.  I realize now that it was a way to heal MYSELF.

And it was the easy way to respond to the much afeared question: “So Katie, what do you do?”  It was simple and sounded good to just say, “I help women struggling with eating disorders to heal their relationship with food.”  People understood that.  I didn’t have to explain myself or justify my place in life.

Each time I’d say that out loud I’d wonder, “Whose voice is it saying those words?  It certainly isn’t mine.”  It was a cop-out.  An easy answer that in no way encompassed my place in life or my truth.  The problem was I didn’t trust that when I was in alignment with myself, sitting still enough to listen, the people I was meant to work with would find me.  So I resisted what my heart kept telling me.  I stood on my soapbox and told everyone to listen to their gut.  That if they asked their Soul what he/she wanted and needed that they’d get their answers.  That their body would tell them what they needed.  That it’d be scary to trust themselves at first and that’s okay because courage was feeling that fear and doing it anyway.

And as one of my mentors says, we’re great at giving the advice and teaching what we ourselves need to learn.  So rather than sit, listen, trust, be gentle, and know that my soul had a plan, I questioned, ignored, blamed and shamed myself into speaking words that weren’t mine.  Into claiming a place in this world that wasn’t for me because it was easier than owning the work that I love to do and claiming my space.  Luckily, my inner guides had other plans and things began to fall apart so that I could let them go and trust that something bigger was coming.  That the work I had done around emotional eating was really for me, to heal my own scars and wounds.

Now comes the hard part.  The scary, messy, and ultimately beautiful part.  When I have to commit to myself, to my tribe, to the souls who have been on this journey with me from the beginning.  Now I commit to doing what I tell everyone else to do: to speak my truth, even and especially when it’s a bit terrifying.

The truth is, I want to go deeper.  I don’t want to tell women who are struggling with how to love themselves and to own their power that they need to eat.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s unbelievable value in that.  There are amazing souls whose work IS to support people to nourish themselves with real food.

And I want to peel back the next layer.  To go to those deeper, darker places of your soul, to read and listen to the story of your spirit.  Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes, “Like the Rosetta stone, for those who know how to read it, the body is a living record of life given, life taken, life hoped for, life healed.  It is valued for its articulate ability to register immediate reaction, to feel profoundly, to sense ahead.” I’m fascinated by the connection between the Soul and the physical body.  By the way our body manifests health and dis-eases of our deeper Self.  The way that our body holds, negotiates, and releases trauma.  And how my education through experience and more formal training have prepared me to hold space for people to explore and go through their process.

I’ve known this to be true for a long time, and it’s taken me until now to own this truth:  I’m here to heal through renegotiating trauma, through the power of myth and stories, through plants and the medicine of the earth.  I’m here to teach women to listen, speak, and feel.  To hold space for ritual and soul retrieval.  To go with you to the deepest self in order that your own spirit can heal your emotional and physical body, the connection between the two.  And to help women find happiness by being in alignment with their soul’s truth and loving themselves enough to ask for that much out of this life.  I work with archetypes, movement, your desires, and dreams.  Through the medicine of heartbreak and recovery.  And through holding sacred space for the Soul to come back home.

P.S.  Extra credit to anyone who can tell me what the title of this post is from…

XO

Winter Wildcrafting

I’ve made a new commitment to my soul.  I’m going to spend one whole day EVERY WEEK outdoors.  Whether it’s hiking, at the beach, riding bikes, gardening, or a combination of many things, my heart is happiest when I spend A LOT of time outside.  When I can breathe in fresh air, bury my hands in the dirt, walk through sand and water with bare feet, feel the wind on my face.

view from ortega

This commitment was inspired by the words of an 11-year old homeschooled boy who I saw interviewed.  When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, answered, “I want to be happy.  What do I want to do?  I don’t know yet.  I need to try a few more things.”

As a dear friend of mine pointed out the other day, we’re taught in school how to make a living, not how to live.  And then we wonder why so many adults are on medication for depression, anxiety, and heart conditions.  This isn’t to say that some people don’t have a real medical condition that requires treatment, but how many health conditions are really illnesses of the soul?

 

Motherwort: Heart Medicine
Motherwort: Heart Medicine

 

I also noticed something interesting…

Some chronic back pain (at the back of my heart…big surprise) that has been bothering me for years COMPLETELY DISAPPEARS when I’m outside doing something I love, usually involving romping through forests or tall grass, talking to trees, listening to plants…the usual.

mushrooms on a dead tree

So this Sunday I informed one of my friends and fellow adventurers that we were going hiking and harvesting plants for new potions to be sold here.  Of course we “accidentally” got lost and ended up spending all day climbing up trees, wandering off the trail (which we were specifically told NOT to do), getting covered in mud, and gathering some beautiful plants.  I returned home smelling like sage and pine, covered in dirt, with twigs, thistles, and bits of grass stuck in my hair.  And blissfully exhausted.

inside a tree

Punk Rock Medicine

My life, my business, my greatest joys, and some of my deepest hurts have been shaped by my love for punk rock and music in general.  Don’t get me wrong, I can’t PLAY an instrument to save my life.  But the majority of my middle school, high school, and college years were spent either at shows or with my headphones in, music turned WAY up and being carried away by anyone from Johnny Cash, Bad Religion, Against Me!, and The Clash to local OC bands that no one’s ever heard of (and probably never will).   I wasn’t trying to escape.  It was actually the opposite.  I finally heard something that sounded familiar, that sounded like everything I thought and felt but didn’t have the words to express.  It was my medicine.

This was the first song that I fell HARD for.  I listened to it over and over and over…I grew up in Orange County, CA, the same place Social Distortion is from, and so I definitely felt some geographic solidarity.  But more than that, I loved the rawness of Mike Ness’s words…and voice…and guitar.  And while I realize not everyone appreciates good old fashioned punk rock, the sentiment conveyed by this song in particular rings true for all of us rebel sensitive souls.

It’s the “don’t tell me what to do” combined with the “sometimes it’s all a little (or a lot) too much” attitude.  To me the underlying message of the song is this…Everyone’s got some shit in their past they’d rather had never happened.  We carry the stories of our ancestors with us.  Our families pass on beliefs that we may reject.  AND we all have the ability to see it for what it is, say “thanks but I’m done with that”, and go on to do something great with the incredible souls and powerful (albeit sometimes painful) lessons we’ve learned.

For those of us trying to set ourselves apart, to do something different that the world desperately needs, this song is for you…

There is no such thing as a toxic relationship

ovid

Let’s face it…we’ve all had at least one relationship (and probably a lot more than one) that we’ve labeled as “toxic”, “unhealthy”, “codependent”, “draining”, etc.  It makes us feel better to be able to label it something so that we can push it away, leave it behind, or some how properly deal with it.  We break up with toxic boyfriends/girlfriends, we can move out of codependent family situations, and not hang out with friends that we deem as energetically draining.  But when we simply leave it behind because it doesn’t feel good, we fail to grow.  And when we fail to grow, we repeat the SAME patterns OVER AND OVER AGAIN…

So here’s a little bit of truth that I’ve picked up after spending my entire life judging and labeling my relationships…

No one is sent to me by accident.  I have something to learn from everyone I am in relationship with, whether it’s a partner, friend, family member, student, boss, or coworker.  If we see that people are all lessons, there’s no more need to label good, bad, healthy, unhealthy/toxic, functional, dysfunctional, codependent, etc.  They all serve a purpose.  Our souls call in the people, the teachers, and the lessons we’re ready for.

When we call a relationship or a person “toxic”, it creates shame and guilt around seeing that relationship as a “mistake.”  We judge them and ourselves instead of really seeing the truth about experience as it is.  They’re on their path and so are we.  We attract the people for which we need the lesson and the lesson is never “good” or “bad”.  It just is.  And it’s always necessary.  It’s always exactly what we need in that time.  All those lessons, or experiences, whether big or small, fun or not so fun (and let’s be honest, not too many of them feel good or fun at the time) make up our life’s curriculum.  And what we do with that completely depends on us.

Do you see how none of that is about the other person?  How it’s ALL an inside job?  Do you see how we have all the power the moment we decide to stop judging, labeling, and shaming ourselves and others and just start seeing what is?  What’s here for us in this very moment?  That it’s all so perfect, so divine, that it couldn’t possibly be any other way?  Of course this is all a process, it takes practice to not judge and really SEE.  Just be gentle with yourself and watch what happens.

Ritual: Calling back our spirit

Ritual smudging
Ritual smudging

These days ritual in its own right isn’t a high priority in our every day lives.  We have our little things we all do, our morning coffee, afternoon tea (like I wrote about here), our bedtime routine, Saturday morning cartoons (do those still exist?), our usual yoga class, etc.  But the place of ritual in our culture has largely been forgotten.  We treat symptoms of the sufferings of our spirit, i.e. anxiety, depression, addiction, eating disorders, symptoms of trauma, etc. as biochemical, medical issues when in fact they are often crises of the soul.

Joseph Campbell writes, “The function of ritual . . . is to give form to human life, not in the way of a mere surface arrangement, but in depth.”  This form is what allows us to acknowledge, honor, even admire our pain rather than be it, which ultimately allows us to release it.  This is where the importance of ritual comes in.

Ritual itself is aimed at awakening our Younger Self, our unconscious mind that experiences life through the holistic awareness of our right brain.  Younger Self communicates through emotions, visions, dreams, and physical sensations and symptoms.  It is through ritual that we communicate with our Younger Self.  This communion with Younger Self, with our unconscious minds, with our soul is how we begin to heal, to connect with the greater mystery of Spirit, of life.  It’s about awareness, acknowledgment, and honoring our process and our journey.

In other words, ritual is one of the ways we put our lives in perspective.  It calls together all of our shades, our experiences, traumas, the “ghosts” that haunt us.  Ritual sorts it all out and puts it to rest.  So what might it be like if more of us (the greater public) created ritual and sacred space to process our  pain rather than approaching it as something that is biochemically wrong with us?  How might that empower us to HEAL ourselves rather than look to some thing or someone else to fix it for us?  It seems to me that simple step of taking our spiritual and emotional health into our own hands tells our soul that we see the deeper issue and are ready to confront and take care of it.

If you are ready to do this kind of deep and transformational work, heal your body, and nourish your spirit, but don’t know how to create the sacred space and ritual work, come over to my website Wild Grace and see if my services are a good fit for you.

Self-Love: Not Your Mom’s Golden Rule

The Golden Rule.  We’ve all heard it a million times before.  “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”  It’s a nice thought.  Nice.  Another forthcoming post will be all about how much I dislike that word.  (Yes, sometimes I can be a hater, but it’s all in the name of self-love. ) Today I’m keeping my words short and sweet, so let’s get to it…

Here’s my revised and improved version of the Golden Rule: Treat yourself how you want others to treat you.  Be your own best friend.  We’ve all been wired to give, give, give until we’re completely tapped out, and then give some more.  We drain our own energy because we feel obligated to family, friends, bosses, and coworkers to give of ourselves until we have nothing else to give, and then hope that it’s enough.  All the while, we haven’t been trained to nourish and love ourselves so that we can replenish our energy of love.  We think a day at the spa or getting a message every couple months is the same as self-love.  I have BIG NEWS for you: It’s not.  I have so many clients coming to me because, in their words, they want a more “balanced lifestyle.”  Well, working your a$$ off on a regular basis is not balance.

But what IS balance?  Honestly, most of the time I have no idea.  Maybe it’s best so save that exploration for another forthcoming post too.  But I will say this…You can’t love others until you love yourself.  In the words of my girl Christine Arylo, author of Madly in Love with ME:

The more love you generate for yourself, the more love you have to give…love always creates more love.

Does the idea of self-love scare you?  Confuse you?  Do you equate self-love with narcissism, vanity, conceit, or self-centeredness?  If so, in the next coming weeks I have some MAJORLY TRANSFORMATIVE information for you!!  So if you haven’t already, bookmark my website: www.wildgrace.me and make sure you’re signed up for my newsletter (It’s where you put your email in and click “Subscribe”) so that you’ll receive the videos, meditations, activities, and exercises I’ve made for you…

So here’s my takeaway of the day: When you love, respect, nurture, and feed yourself, others will do the same, both for you and for themselves.  Start setting an example of self-love and watch what happens around you.  “If enough of us embrace love, the world will eventually be saturated with love. The love in the world begins with the love within ourselves.” ~Deepak Chopra (who is, incidentally, on instagram as @deepster2)

xo

I don't know where this photo came from, but it's a sweet tattoo + reminder
I don’t know where this photo came from, but it’s a sweet tattoo + reminder

My War of Art

colorsWhen I was young, aside from wanting to be an herbalist and “good witch”, I also wanted to be an artist.  My 4th grade class took a field trip one day to an artist’s studio and from that day forward I decided that when I grew up I needed to have my own creative “workshop” where I could make art AND potions.

As I got older, my ego voice showed up in my head to tell me there was no way I could make a living as an artist.  There were only a select few who could support themselves making art of any kind and I’d probably have to go to art school if I wanted to be any good.  Who was I to think I could spend time and money on something like that??  I should just go to college and major in something useful (BTW, I majored in medieval history).

Fast forward to present day…

In a moment of clarity a couple weeks ago, I had a vision of what I want my life to look like and it dawned on me that I need to be making art.  I feel most grounded, at peace, and in my flow when I’m in my right brain, watching as colors and lines take shape on paper, writing poetry, or even fumbling through chords on a guitar.  My ego wants me to be good at everything before even trying it.  That voice doesn’t give me the space to play, experiment, try and fail and try again.  It doesn’t allow me to be a beginner, to mess up.

So I’ve created a new practice for myself.  Every other day I schedule time in my calendar for creating.  I give myself permission to play.  It can be music, painting, poetry, drawing, writing, making vision boards, etc., fully acknowledging that it may not look or sound good at first and that’s part of my process.  I’m allowing myself the space to fail.  During this time I can set aside my ego and give myself over to my inner guide, listening to what my HEART wants to be doing right now in this moment.

It’s just been a few days but here’s what I’ve noticed so far:

  • I feel more grounded in the moment AND in my body
  • My self-critical ego voice has quieted down
  • In other aspects of my life I’m gentler with myself
  • I approach other tasks with more creativity and mindfulness
  • I actually get more done!!

SO – here is my call to action for you…

Schedule creativity time for yourself.  Write it in your calendar and commit to this practice.  Start with just an hour a week and then gradually give yourself more time.  Give yourself space to mess up.  Notice what starts to shift in other areas of your life.  I hear so many people say they’re not creative, but it’s because we don’t generally give ourselves the time and space to tap into our inner creativity, our own intuitive, artistic brain.  Stop thinking and start doing.  Give your heart a chance to speak to you and really listen to what he or she needs from you today.  Let this be an experiment to just play with your time and let yourself have fun doing it!  I’d love to hear your feedback, ideas, and experiences with this, so please leave comments below or visit my FB page!

So much love to you all!
~ Katie