A Lot More Than Coffee

Self care may be one of the biggest buzzwords you're seeing on instagram/facebook/where ever you follow complete strangers but get very invested in their lives.

(Well, that and "community" and "vibes" and "cultivate" - all of which I am very over for very different reasons.)

Anyways, self care needs a bit unpacking, doesn't it?

Because I think a lot of times you'll see posts that say, "oh, I went to 7 AM yoga today, because #selfcare."

Or, "I brought my wine in the bath because #selfcare."

Or, my favorite, "I just had to stop at Starbucks today for a little #selfcare."


Girl. My caffeine problem is not self care. And no way in hell is paying for the overpriced stuff a form of care. It's a form of me having a craving and giving no shits about how small the balance on my gold card is.

But. 

That's exactly what I mean, it's a buzzword.

And I am not saying that I am not down for Starbucks, and baths, and 7 AM yoga. (I mean, scratch the yoga part, but let's say, 7 AM runs.) I am so down for those things.

But I really think that is distorting the image of self care. I mean, honest-to-goodness, caring for yourself.

Because here's the thing - those things are not actually going to train you to care for yourself.


That's the real idea behind self care, by the way. It's creating a learned behavior that brings you health and happiness internally by actions you preform on behalf of that goal.

For instance, running throughout the week is a form of self care when it is something you do to clear your head, maintain physical fitness, breathe fresh air, and engage in your surroundings.

Its not self care, when you're doing it because you feel like you have to. Or if you're doing it without joy and purpose.

Simply put, neither is your trip to Starbucks.

Enjoying a cup of whatever is self care when you are taking time to be present with your thoughts and feelings, while engaging in some form of relaxation with the goal of teaching your mind and your body to take the time to be at ease.

Its not self care when you're doing it for the Instagram, and you suck down that liquid goodness without taking the time to wonder why you felt like you needed some kind of treat.

See, I'm all for self care taking 1000 different forms with 1000 different people.

What I'm not for is diluting the practice down to something like grabbing the bag of peanut butter cups at Trader Joe's and calling it self care.

The purpose after all is care. That's a treat. That's a fun little thing you're giving yourself.

Totally great. Yes, I shout treat yo self all the time.


But that is not how we learn to care for ourselves. To recognize when we need peace, quiet, rest, endorphins, conversation, water, therapy, vegetables, a shower, or sure, an extra cup of coffee.

So my issue with this buzzword, with this insane practice of vainly pretending that we know what it means to care about our wellbeing, is that there is so much value to actually knowing what it means to care for yourself. There is so much to be gained from learning to embrace a time when you need to give your heart and your head some more attention.

I'm sorry, but the reality is, if every treat you give yourself, every good "healthy" deed you do for you, isn't backed by a goal of actual self care, you haven't figured it out yet.

And sure, there are days when I eat Cheez Its because I want some.

The thing is, you don't have to call it self care. Call it, I wanted Starbucks. Call it, I made a salad for lunch. Call it, I work out because I want to look hot.

That doesn't make it any less valid or enjoyable.

But it sure as hell makes the actual self care feel so much more important.

Three Podcasts

Alright, we're gonna try something here, once a month I'm gonna hit you with three things to try.

And we all know I'm a big podcast guy. So, I've got three of my favorites to share. These are three that I listen to all the time - and happen to recommend to just about everyone.


THE GOAL DIGGER PODCAST // with Jenna Kutcher.

Yes, I've definitely recommended this before. And yes, if you have a creative bone in your body, someone has maybe already recommended it to you too. But you have got to give this a try.

Jumping in: pick an episode with a creative entrepreneur you love. Lara Casey? Natalie Franke? Mary Marantz? They are all on there - so get listening!


BRUNCH // with DJ Bean and Pete Blackburn.

Okay, this has got to be the hardest podcast to sell but it's pop culture/movies/TV/music and two Boston sports personalities rolled into one. It's a unique brand of humor, and by no means should you just start with the current episode.

(I would like to say just start at the beginning, but the cult following usually says "Hot Guys and Weathermen" is a good jump in point.)


RADIOLAB // WNYC Studio, Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad

A classic for any VPR/NPR die-hard, and hands-down the place where I get my most "driveway moments."

I love telling people all the amazing stories I hear on Radio Lab, so just save yourself the trouble and hear it first hand.


While I'm also a frequent listener to TED Talks, Vermont Edition, The Misses Ambitious Podcast, and Fresh Air - I'd love to hear what you're listening to.

What's the one podcast you are trying to get everyone to listen to?


Keep Calm and Are You Kidding Me?

Do you ever hear someone say, "ugh I had a legit panic attack!" and you kinda want to punch a pillow, or crush a candy necklace with one hand?

Yeah, same.

Because, you know what a panic attack really is, don't you? And you know about anxiety attacks too. And you knew without me having to tell you, that those actually are two different things. 

Or...hello, yes, hi. Do you not know these things? Do you think of yourself as someone who doesn't have anxiety? Please, stick around. I want you to hear this just as much as someone who does have legit panic attacks. Because a. the more you know and b. you know, just spilling my guts here in an effort to help literally just one soul, and you never know, that might actually be you? Convincing? 


A little background on my anxiety: I first was able to put a name to my anxiety in college. That's also when I had my first panic attack. (As an aside, panic attacks are not things I get very often. Bless it. In fact I'd say I get one maybe every 6-7 months. So, if yours happen more often, sister, I am so sorry. And I'm thinkin of you, really.) 

Much like my depression, my anxiety has an ebb and a flow to it. There are periods of my life when my anxiety disorder seems to seep into every part of my day-to-day. And there are periods of my life when my daily anxiety is minimal, and often really unnoticeable. Like anything, this can be triggered by a series of personal anticipated stressors - or, come on like a bat outta hell and smack me in the face when I least expect it. 

In the last few months - let's say three - my anxiety has been at an all-time high. And lucky me, I have pretty much put a pin on why that is.

Here's the kicker, it sucks, and it is downright embarrassing. 

Another perk for you non-anxiety prone folk, you basically just get to hear embarrassing stories about me today. 


So, there's plenty of room for my anxiety to be driven by being in a new scenario professionally, and working into that culture, figuring out those boundaries, and still learning new rules and customs every day. And by far this has been one of the largest stressors for me. 

But the other one? It is former life. I know, that sounds so, weird. 

Well, it comes down to this: I spent a year of my life dedicating my actions, my looks, my goals, my words, and just about every dang thing I had - to pleasing other people. 

Now, as happy as I am that most of those now are all my own, I am very aware that my brain does not always process that easily. 

So, I now find that my brain is asking me - way too often - to accommodate for what other people will think, what other people will want, what other people are saying, what other people are doing. 

The list goes on and on, and is obviously, totally situational.

If you don't really understand how anxiety disorders work, the easiest way to explain it is: it's stupid.


Seriously. Anxiety disorders fight logic, reason, rationale, even honest-to-goodness evidence.

I know that. 

When I am crying in my kitchen, scared to pick out dinner, I know that's illogical. When I am worried about getting dressed, I know that there is no reason behind that. When I want to ride a bike. When I want to see friends. When I want to go for a run. When I want to text someone just to say hi. When I want to go out to get food. When I want to make plans. 

Those things are not big deals. Almost ever.

But when the anxiety disorder comes into play, these things are huge. They are daunting, and scary, and they are things that I could fail at, instantly. They make me cry. They make me stay in bed. They make me sweaty (ew, I know.) They become the manifestation of my anxiety. 

I hear how ridiculous that is too. And when I come down from it, damn, do I feel even more ridiculous. 

And therein lies the embarrassment. 


Can you imagine trying to explain to someone why you ruined your whole night because you had to decide what to do about dinner?

That's crazy right?

You're telling me. 

So, what do you do?

Well, get a doctor, for one. Seriously. Talk to your doctor, figure out what works for you. 

And then, I have a couple things, things I have been working on in the last few months that I just want to share with you.

1. Take away as many stressors as you can. 

For me, that meant I had to stop teaching Pure Barre. Seriously. And I want to say it was a hard decision to make - but truthfully, a switch just flipped. I saw how stressed, and scared, and tired, and worried the job was making me, and I knew. As much as I love the clients and the community, it was making me unhealthy. So it had to go. It was too much to add to my schedule. It was too much studying to add to my week. It was too much pressure.

2. Be honest with yourself when you're not okay. 

Look, it's really easy to brush off a few bad days as just that. But when your anxiety disorder is...well, for lack of better word, flaring up, you need to be honest about that. You're not going to fix anything by not talking about it. It's not going to get better if you burrow in bed and hope for the best.

Believe you me, I wish that were true. But it's brain chemistry. Sister, it's that "easy," it is not you, it is your brain.


3. Use your empathy.

One of the blessings that has come from all of this mental health hoopla is the severe and bountiful amount of empathy that I am able to give to others. Nothing prepares you to understand the pain and trouble of others like a hidden illness. (I hate that term, FYI.)

Your ability to empathize with those around you, those you meet, and those who just get a few seconds of your time will become one of your greatest strengths. 

4. Say it out loud, when you can.

Now, I have been on this road of talking about mental health for a while - and talking about The Big D is much easier now than it was years ago. Anxiety though, that's still a struggle for me. It is still something I don't have the words for. It's still something that I don't always know how to share.

But when I can say something about it. When I can find some way to describe why I can't text my friends back, or skipped three days at the gym...that's when I start to feel a little better about the fact that I can't seem to control those things.

When I can take the time to say, I'm sorry, I tried, here's why I couldn't - this whole disorder feels a hint less stupid, and a hair more relatable. 


And that's it. That's what I'm dealing with right now. I'm just out here, every day, trying to beat back irrational fears.

Sometimes that feels like I have a single stick against a whole army of the dead. Sometimes it feels like I should just sit in the shower and keep waiting for it to pass. 

Look, we all have bad days. We all have those moments of anxiety. 

But what I am trying to tell you here, is sometimes, it is worse than that. And I can promise you you know someone who has felt like their brain is working against them. And I can promise you that they are doing what they can to be a functional person. And it's hard for them too, and disappointing for them too, and scary for them too. 

And if this sounds a lot like what you're going through, please know, there is a way through. Because damn, as hard as it can be - there has never not been a way through. Find what works for you, but make it count. 

I hear you, this shit is scary. 

But as all-encompassing as it can feel, it is not everything. It really isn't. Your life still exists outside of the struggle. And you might cry while you get back to it, but shit, if that's the worst thing you are doing - you are doing okay. 

Big Dreams are Heavy

I started this post a hundred different times. While I have toyed with dropping all my feelings in a seven inch long Instagram post, that seemed kinda rude. And it just may be that this is the reason all my other thoughts for this writing gig seemed to stall out.

...They just got stuck behind this post.

What I need to talk about is why it is so damn terrifying to pursue the big dreams. The really big ones, the ones that light your soul up, make your eyes glaze over, make your smile split your face, and give you that sweet little jump in the pit of your belly.

I mean, big dreams.

I mean, the ones that kinda freak you out.


So - pause - I do truly believe that you have got to put that stuff into the world. Trust in the dream. Trust in your ability to make it happen. And, goodness, trust in the world's power to help you make it happen. But damn, that's so scary, right?

The notion of spitting out the things you want most in this world...that is stupid scary.

But.

I have a couple sitting on my heart. And I think, as scary as it is to look at the long roads attached to each of them, that's a road map that I need. I mean, sure, it's a map that's going to change, maybe thousands of times. Sometimes I might be trying to read the thing upside down. Sometimes I might try to throw the whole thing out. But it's my map, and I need it.

Part of my trouble with that though, y'all, it's the length. I don't know about you, but I feel like now, more than ever, I am finding that these things I want for my life, are taking...longer?

That sounds impatient, I know.


Think of it this way, all these other big things I have done, and wanted, have had hard and fast end dates. College, has a deadline. Four years, great. Pageants, an age limit. If I can make it by 24, great. Even races, there's a finish line. Just gotta hit that mile marker, great.

These things are quantifiable. They are measurable. There is something, some hard line in the sand that says, you made it. Steps completed.

But, it's not working like that any more.

Getting my dream job. Building a life for myself. Finding a home. Creating things that matter. Whole-heartedly serving others in my business.

There's no end dates there. There are no step-by-step processes to those.

And that...makes it, harder.

Harder to measure. Harder to quantify. Harder to follow on the map.

Well, and then, that is what makes it so damn terrifying, isn't it?

Not only can you not always see where you're going - but often, maybe most often - you can't even see if you're making the right kind of progress. So that's one, or maybe six, gigantic dreams on your heart - that you hope, and you pray you are are working towards - that still feel like really mysterious beasts in your sometimes very distant future.

How scary to think that things that you want to work for most, in your whole life, are things that you can't even really make a map to?


That's what gets me. Because these things that light up my soul, and make me want to share all these big heart songs with the world - they are still things that I have never done before. I have never figured out the right steps to them before, and as far as I can tell, no one else has either.

You hear it all the time, right?

No one else has it all figured out either.

Mostly true, I hope.

Which is nice, when you remember that everyone else has big ol' smile-splitting-dreams too.

And so this notion, that we get some fear when we think about our big dreams, and how wholly and surely we want them...man, I wish when that happened someone would just turn around and say, "girl, me too."

Girl, I don't know where this map leads either.

Girl, I'm pretty sure I also took a wrong turn.

Girl, let's build this bridge together cause I gotta get out of this swamp of bad ideas too.


It's scary, because we're alone. We're alone with these big heavy dreams.

Which is crazy. Because y'all, have you ever heard of someone reaching their biggest craziest best dreams by themselves? 

Nope.

So all this fear we have about saying them out loud, because we don't know where we are going, or what we are doing, or how we plan on getting there...and we're likely surrounded by people who feel the same. Who need, and want, just as much help.

Wild.

Well, this is me, spilling my guts.

Baring my big ol' fire-in-the-pit-of-my-belly dreams, saying, girl me too.

Annnnd We're Back

So I had to take a break again.

I left a job. I got a new job. I gave up my title. I started to really live in Burlington. I got a new roommate. I struggled through parts of the summer that I didn't expect to.

And if you don't know (you probably do) I do most of my "gut spilling," on Instagram these days.

But I think I'm ready again.

Let's do it.


Run Like Everyone is Watching

The running community is really weird.

Really supportive. Really engaging. Really big. And really weird.

I think, in part, I feel that way because it is a community in which I don't always feel like I belong. You know the story, I was not a runner. To some degree I still don't think I'm a runner.


But I run half marathons. And 10ks, and 5ks, and maybe some day, a marathon.

I've run two half marathons.

I'm signed up for two more.

So why, why do I do it?

Because the feeling of accomplishment that you get from running a race - whether that the race is 3.1 miles or 26.2 miles - is unlike anything I had felt before my first 5k. Because it literally is mind over body. Because the community of runners when they are right there beside you is stronger than a lot of other - bigger things - that I have been part of.

And also because I have been eating a lot of carbs recently.


I think more often than not people expect that you either love or hate running. And that if you run races, especially long ones, that you must love running.

I don't though...I think. I mean to say, I don't think I love it.

Running is not something that I always enjoy. In fact, during my runs I still struggle, every single time. I still have to push myself to my milage goals. I still work for it, always.

I know though, that I don't hate it. Sometimes, I think once you start running to race, you can't hate it. There are just too many parts to being "a runner" that are so so good. Beyond of course having a place to blow off all that competitive steam.

First of all, runner's highs are real. And amazing. Really, there's no downside to crushing a 6 mile run and feeling on top of the world. Well, maybe the occasional blisters, but still.

Second of all, running is something that I can consistently accomplish. Running is something you can just go do. Assuming you know your limits/injuries/pacing abilities etc., you can always just go for a run. Consistently, I can finish a run. I can set the milage goal, get out there, and crush it. I can tell myself I'm going to just go for 30 minutes, get out there, and crush it.

That's always possible. Barring you know, general motivational issues.


And the best part is, there is this community of people in Vermont, on Instagram, and on the bike path that support that. Always. They support that drive, that need, that insane idea that running is something to be enjoyed.

That is still so weird to me, but I love it.

24 Things I Learned in My 24th Year

1. Saying no is okay. You get to say no to people, to jobs, to opportunities, and the negative shit that people may say about you. You get to decide what works for you, and what really does not.

2. Winning is not the end. Winning is great. And it may mean you've achieved something amazing. But it is not your whole story - it is not your whole life. Never, has someone won anything, and had it last their whole lives. Even Presidents must retire and move on.


3. I can actually throw a first pitch.

4. You cannot possibly own too many pairs of false eyelashes. And don't let anyone dispute that.

5. Sometimes, going to bed before 9 PM is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Resting keeps you going. And no matter if you are working one job, or three jobs, or you plan on being Super Woman, you're going to need to sleep.

6. Standing steadfast in your beliefs of justice, and equality is always worth it. No matter what.

7. Some friends will go, but in their place, you might just get sisters. Like, a lot of sisters.

8. In the end, the people that have always supported your dreams, your goals, your zest for life are the people you want to be around. They are the people that you'll always want close. Even when the dreams, the goals, and the zest changes.


9. Removing most carbs from your diet isn't really worth the tiny waist. I mean, not for long anyways. Bagels and booties forever.

10. Chris Harrison is shorter than you think.

11. Even the hardest season of your life will pass. Some days you'll cry because every single task is just too much, but you'll always get through it. As hard as it has been - the worst moments - I've never not made it through to the other side.

12. You can probably run any distance, even if your foot kind of breaks.

13. Meeting new people can be terrifying, or absolutely amazing. And yeah, it is usually just an either/or situation.

14. Watching someone else achieve a dream you share is heartbreaking and one of the most uplighting experiences you might ever have. I think the only time I have ever felt 100% selfless is when I felt myself turn over a dream and say, yes, this is for you. Just let me sit here and watch it unfold. (And can we talk about how only a true Miss America could illicit that in someone? Dang. Girl.)


15. You can actually own too many gowns.

16. Discrimination is a lifestyle choice, and you owe absolutely no one your compliance with their idiocy.

17. My parents religiously watch The Bachelor/Bachelorette together. Yes, this is actually something I learned.

18. Gratefulness is literally the only way through life sometimes. Being grateful costs you nothing. Literally. In fact, it usually means you gain some sort of appreciation or...I don't know other intrinsic mushy gushy feeling.

19. Food poisoning is something I definitely could have done without.

20. Self-care takes work, and takes a lot of different forms. It takes a lot more energy than I thought. It takes a lot more effort than I planned on. It takes a lot of tuning out your own little voices of self-doubt. It's work, and it's worth it.

21. I still don't care about chokers. And I'm not sure why we're still doing that.

22. The good guys are absolutely totally and completely out there, it will happen.

23. You do not have to prove your mental illness to anyone.

24. "That, after all, is why we serve - to make people's lives better, not worse." Your service shapes your life. When you choose to give selflessly, to give regardless of anything, to give time, to give effort, to give your heart - to anything - you are truly giving yourself purpose. I am forever grateful that I was able to give literally a year of my life exclusively to other people.