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Self Care Toolkit: things to help you love up on your mind, body, and soul.

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Hi babies! I've been thinking alot about self care lately, not only because it is central to my own emotional/physical/spiritual health, or because I recently talked about it on the wonderful Goddess Talks podcast (see how I did that shameless plug there?), but because I'm learning how active we each have to be in this life if we want to get the most out of it.

And I don't mean active in terms of how much we can produce or get done, I mean active in behaving in a loving and caring way towards ourselves, so we can be fully in touch with all this life has to offer. This is by no means a prescription for what self care has to look like for you, but just a collection of things I've picked up along my way that help me care for myself. Many of them are free or low cost, because self care is NOT a luxurious spa day that only a few can afford (I mean it could be, but caring for yourself intentionally is for EVERYBODY). Self care is purposefully choosing how we want to live and making sure that what we take into our lives is raising our energetic vibrations. Take what you need from below, and leave the rest!

 

Love up on your mind:

Be intentional about what you consume.

Podcasts:

Black Girl In Om: Hosted by Lauren Ash and Deun Ivory, this podcast talks all things wellness, self-care, and self-love for women of color.

Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations: I mean, come on, it's Oprah. She picks her favorite interviews with thought-leaders, light workers, and wellness experts.

Hey, girl.: Hosted by author Alex Elle, she interviews women who inspire her. This podcast covers topics ranging from entrepeunership, to heartbreak, to self care, to mental health, and beyond.

Books:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: this fictional story follows a young man's journey across the world as he looks for his purpose. I swear no matter what stage of life you're in, this book will speak to you in some way. A quick and easy read, but it has enough depth that it can be read again and again!

The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes: She's not only the creator of Scandal and Grey's Anatomy, but she also is an incredible author. I found myself laughing out loud while reading this book, and couldn't put it down once I started it. She tells her own story of letting go of self limiting beliefs to fully step into her power.

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hayes: Louise Hayes emphasizes the power of our words and intentions and how they help shape our life. Affirmations for every ailment you could think of are in this book, as well as great journalling prompts.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur: A book filled with poetry separated into the 3 different stages of having trauma be a part of your life experience. As you read through the different sections, you can see Rupi healing from a survivor to a thriver.

Planner:

Passion Planner : I've found that part of my self care is getting all my "to-do's" out of my head and onto paper. Once I can prioritize my tasks and manage my time, I can really invest the time I deserve into taking care of myself. I even write in time blocks for my self care, whether it's taking a bath, putting on a face mask, or sitting with myself and listening to my own breathing. I love this planner because it also includes inspirational quotes, spaces to include what you're grateful for, and coaches you through breaking down big goals to small action steps.

Journal:

Any piece of paper, anywhere. Sometimes emotions get intense, and rather than be reactive it can help to write it out and just explore why you're feeling what you're feeling. It also is a great way to allow yourself space to process any intense ish you've been holding in or dealing with.

 

Love up on your body:

Because, endorphins.

Yoga: (predictable)

Yoga with Adriene: I LOVE her videos. She's down to earth, has videos for all levels (and physical abilities), and even has videos specifically to address depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Even when I'm not in the mood to practice, just by throwing on a 10 minute yoga video with Adriene I can feel my mood shift. She's the shit!

Exercise:

Workout routines: Bodybuilding.com has HUNDREDS of workout tips, plans, and nutrition plans FOR THE FREE. I do well with a plan and structure (Hi, I'm a Virgo), so I always get an extra boost of motivation when I start a new workout plan and it helps me not fall off of my healthy routines.

Self Massage:

Ayurvedic healing encourages daily self massage with oils to release stress, decrease impact of aging, improve sleep, increase circulation, and lubricate your joints. Even if it's just 5-10 minutes after a long day of rubbing your own shoulders with some massage oil, or giving yourself a good foot massage, it really does make a difference.

Essential Oils:

Lavender is one of my favs, but there are several other essential oils that have great emotional and physical health benefits. Whether you put it in an essential oil diffuser in your bedroom, or rub some on your hands to practice some deep breathing with, lavender essential oil sends a signal to your parasympathetic nervous system so your brain will RELAX.

 

Love up on your soul:

It's all within, but sometimes we need a little help getting there.

Meditation:

 I love using the Calm App for daily meditation reminders, quotes, and gold stars when I meditate (I love gold stars). I also recently downloaded the 72 names of god app and the meditation prompts and visuals on there are bomb; anytime I open it up I instantly feel calmer! If you aren't feeling using an app, just stop anytime throughout the day and put one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach. Count 5 in and out breaths, paying special attention to each inhale and exhale. Voila, you are an expert meditator (that's not a thing).

Therapy:

I'm not saying this because I'm a therapist, I swear. Ever since I found the RIGHT therapist (key word, right, because sometimes it does take a few tries), I have noticed so much personal growth. You have a neutral non judgmental person that you can air out any issues you're having, and it can help bring a different perspective on issues and give you tools to practice to handle life's many challenges.

Create:

 Recently for my birthday, I made a vision board using paint and magazine clippings. I threw on some Jill Scott and just zoned out. There was something about creating something with my hands and getting lost in the moment creating that helped me feel like I was getting in touch with my highest self. Whatever it is for you, whether it's music, crocheting, writing lyrics/poetry, whatever, reflecting your own creative light outwards is a way to recharge and renew yourself especially if you're feeling drained or disconnected.

Affirmations:

Words. Are. Powerful. Either to drain your energy or to raise your vibrations. Be intentional about what you think, speak, and write down and know that it can change your life. Post powerful phrases up in spaces that you are in the most. It sounds very "self-help"-y, but it really does change the way you feel when you repeat powerful words out loud. Here are 35 affirmations that I've found to be really helpful.

Nature:

Go outside and notice what's around you. If you have access to trees, really look at them and meditate on the fact that they are your external lungs! We are always exchanging energy with our environment, and when you are close to the source of energy itself (nature), there is something so energizing and grounding about that. Even if it's just putting your feet in a patch of grass if that's all you have access to at the time, do that! Feel the earth beneath you, feel supported, and take some deep breaths.

 

 

These are just a few tools that have helped me along the way, but I'd love to hear how you have learned to take care of yourself over time. What is your favorite self care practice?

 

Love, light, stardust, unicorn sparkles, allat, etc.,

Chelle

 

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6 things I've learned about high functioning depression

 

I wanted to make this a generic post about high functioning depression. Because I'm a therapist and I can play it off like it's about my clients (which it easily could be, I see many people who struggle with this as well). But honestly, this is about me. When I experience depression (usually when my self care isn't fully on point), it doesn't look like the stereotype of Major Depressive Disorder you may have in your mind: I'm not stuck in bed for days, I'm not crying all the time. I'm still going to work, hanging out with friends, taking on new projects, sometimes making myself too busy to avoid how I feel. High functioning depression can creep in under the surface, and if it's not acknowledged or treated, can grow to be a larger problem.

Here are 6 things that my experience with depression has taught me, and that I continue to re-learn:

1. Just because someone can eloquently express how they feel, does not mean they are okay. Just because they can smile, respond appropriately in social settings, and look like they have it all together, does not mean they have access to their inner joy. There are so many people who suffer silently because they feel the weight of having it all together all the time. To those people I hope you know: it's okay to not be okay. We all are a mess sometimes. I'm still learning to take off the socially acceptable outer mask when I'm having a moment (with people I trust), and that It's okay to be vulnerable.

2. Some days I can be in touch with how beautiful the world is; I can look up at the sky and feel like I am so lucky to be able to breathe in that very moment. When depression creeps in, I can't access that part of myself. I can't think my way to it, I can't positive affirmation my way to it, I can't breathe my way to it. I can't "cope" my way out of it (I have tried like a hamster running on a coping skills wheel and just ended up frustrated with myself and like I am fighting my own feelings).

2. Over time I have learned to ride my waves. I know that when it comes, it will also leave. I am lucky enough that the depressive moments I've gone through are few and far between, because I know other people where it is a daily/hourly/minute by minute struggle. When those waves come, they feel like they are going to swallow me whole and I will never remember what it's like to be afloat. I have to consciously remind myself of my strength and that it will pass, because it does. And I eventually find my way back to myself. Every time I do this, it's a little easier to remind myself the next time that it will pass and that those thoughts and that feeling is not who I am, it's just a part of my experience in that moment. 

3. Self care is imperative for my survival. My yoga practice isn't a fad, it isn't some cute thing I do to get abs. I don't eat healthy because I want to watch my figure. I don't make sure I get adequate sleep because I am secretly a little old lady. I have learned over time that physical movement to release, doing things that help me access my spirit and highest self, putting good food into my body, and giving my body the rest it needs are the only chance I have at accessing joy and being able to feel and heal my way through my dark moments. I see my therapist regularly even when I'm doing really well, because if I take a preventative stance for my physical health why not do it for my mental health? Mental health issues are a very real thing in my family and I can't play with how I take care of myself, I don't have that luxury.

4. I need people around me that won't flinch when I'm in my darker spaces. I need people to not be afraid when I tell them I feel like I'm sinking. I need those friends that will hold my hand, look me in my eye, and just tell me they're in there with me until I come out of it. That in itself makes the load feel a little lighter.

5. I am learning how to communicate what I need. To let go of the shame in admitting that sometimes I'm a hot mess. That it's okay to feel down even when from the outside everything is going right. I'm learning that I can be both healthy, happy with so many things in my life, and also have shadowy dark moments.

6. I am grateful for my shadows and my darkness. I don't see them as debilitating. They are heavy af sometimes, but I see myself as someone who feels deeply. Everything. All the time. Anyone who knows me well knows I appreciate things out loud, OFTEN. I will annoyingly commentate on everything I enjoy. I soak in the good qualities of people and the world around me. But I'll also feel pain really deeply, and I don't think I could have one side without the other, and it is a reminder of how full and intricate this life is. It also has taught me how to hold space for others that are in deep emotional/psychic pain. I'm grateful to be so in tune with all of it, and for the way it's forced me to learn and know myself, and to heal myself.

 

 I know I am far from alone and there are many people who experience this too, but are afraid of or ashamed to show/acknowledge their darker sides. Who isolate and don't talk about what's really going on for fear of judgment. That is such a painful way to live, denying a whole part of your lived experience. So I'm opening up about my experience in hopes that maybe someone can recognize themselves in this and that may bring some kind of comfort.

And also because, can we remove the stigma already? Experiencing depression, anxiety, or any other experience on the mental health spectrum doesn't make you any less human. It is a part of your human experience and there are ways to work through it, but it can't be worked through if we don't acknowledge it! Sometimes slowing down, acknowledging our WHOLE experience of how we feel, and getting support can save our lives. Healing is messy work, but being able to be fully in touch with life is SO worth it. We don't have to figure it out all by ourselves. If you need help or can relate to this at all, don't be ashamed to reach out to a therapist or even a friend  to have an honest conversation about how you're feeling and what you need.

Sending you love, light, and even shadowy dark healing vibes,

Chelle

 

 

 

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Lessons on grief from a psychic

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Last week I went away to spend time with family and just relax. No social media, completely unplugged, by a body of water, with a few days of meditation, yoga, journaling, and family time. While there, synchronicity led me to an intuition development workshop with...a psychic! It was my first experience meeting with a psychic and I decided to schedule a reading with her. As we met, she gave me messages from people in my life that have since passed on to another dimension, and it was SO eye opening. Here are some things I took away from that meeting that I hope resonate with you as well.

 

1. Grief is a unique and individual process. Grief can be related to the death of a loved one, a miscarriage, abortion, or stillborn, the absence of a parent that is still alive, the incarceration of a loved one, or even a break up or end of a friendship. If we look at the origin of the word grief, it allows space for all of these different experiences we may have: the latin word gravar means weighty, heavy, burdensome, a "hardship, suffering, pain, bodily affliction". When we think of grief in black and white terms (it can ONLY be experienced when someone dies), or when we think of healing while grieving in black and white terms ("it has been 10 years, I should not still feel this way") we rob ourselves of our personal unique ability to feel and heal our way through loss. I am learning to allow grief to show up when it shows up, and to acknowledge that there are so many different ways to experience and identify loss and that this may change for me depending on what stage of life I am in, or even moment to moment.

2. Grief is not linear: there are losses/events that I felt I had come to terms with. That I had done "the work" about; talk therapy, EMDR trauma work, cries and shares with friends, being able to talk about events without my voice wavering; but when I met with that psychic, BAM! The floodgate of feels was opened. Time doesn't always feel linear. Sometimes a loss can be so powerful that at a certain time of day for whatever reason, it knocks the wind out of you and feels like a freshly opened wound, even years/decades later. And you know what I realized? That's not a bad thing, it just is. Which brings me to #3.

3. Energy and impact doesn't die. However strong that emotional pain is from the loss? That is a reminder of what a strong impact that person has had on your life. And what a gift to have been impacted in that way, to have the ability to love and to maybe have even been loved so much that the absence of that causes pain. If it is indeed a death that is the loss, every time you miss that person you are acknowledging the impact their life has had and still has on yours. Every person you connect to or have had time with leaves an imprint, and that doesn't die.

4. We are all kaleidoscopes. We take in light and reflect out possibilities, beauty, pain, prisms of color, and always have the ability to change and expand. At the end of the psychic reading, she looked at me and said "this spirit wants me to tell you, she's holding a kaleidoscope in her hand, and telling me that this is you; she needs you to understand that". That moment reminded me of the light and expansiveness that is always within me, and that it's not in spite of my losses, but rather because of my many experiences (including grief!) that I have the space to hold and reflect out so much light.

 

Love and light to all you other kaleidoscopes out there,

Chelle

 

For support around grieving and loss, here are some resources:  

The Community Hospice's Grief Services provides free support to anyone who has experienced the death of a friend or family member; they're located in upstate NY and their number is (518) 285-8116 

 

CARES is a Perinatal Bereavement resource for pregnancy and infant loss support for those in upstate NY, their number is  (518) 525-1388

 

 

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The path to self forgiveness

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In my work as a therapist, I've worked with many clients who can't let themselves off of the hook. Sheeeit I myself have a hard time letting myself off the hook sometimes. Carrying a burden of guilt, anxiety, or feeling ashamed can really get in the way of enjoying this life we're here to live. Sometimes we hold ourselves to an unrealistic standard, expecting perfection of ourselves and shaming ourselves when we don't meet unrealistic expectations. Or minimizing all of our magical qualities and magnifying our flaws. We can be so hard on ourselves sometimes!

Don't get me wrong, we shouldn't ignore guilt. All emotions that come up are messages; guilt isn't necessarily bad. If we've made a mistake that doesn't correlate with our personal values, we may feel guilt, and that can be motivation to make amends or to change our behavior in the future. However SHAME, that's where we start to hurt ourselves in ways we don't deserve. Shame is that sneaky voice that tells you that you're bad, you're not good enough, that you are undeserving as a person.

We are all inherently worthy and whole, and healing is about remembering that (sometimes we forget). Healing to remember is a process, it isn't a straight line, and it takes shedding (false) stories that we may have internalized over time. It isn't 1,2,3, I have forgiven myself; it's incredibly hard work. But you know what's even harder? Living life with negative thoughts about yourself swirling around in your beautiful head.

Check Your Narrative:

Your narrative is the way you have storied your life to yourself. Believe it or not, we are actually really inaccurate sometimes and need to "fact check" what our brains tell us about ourselves.

I truly believe we are all doing the best we can. If you're having a hard time forgiving yourself for an action or decision you made, let's operate off of the assumption that what we do is the best option we consciously saw available at the time, and that decision was based on either love or fear. Determine what was driving your decision making, and allow yourself some grace for being a beautifully flawed human that made the choice they felt was best (or the only available to you) at the time.

Conversely, if you are guilting/shaming yourself for something that was done to you, that maybe you felt you "put up with" or "should've stopped" or "should've known better" about, halt that narrative. Give some compassion and understanding for the person you were at the time, for the struggles you may have been going through at the time, and release the burden of being responsible for how another person behaved. If this is in the context of an abusive or toxic relationship, know that the cycle of abuse is complex and that so many intelligent, highly capable people fall into abusive and toxic cycles. Release the narrative that you are bad, stupid, naive, or unworthy by developing a new narrative: one that is understanding of who you were at that time and how things came to be the way they are, and develop this narrative with compassion for the main character: you. Also keep in mind, sometimes we have to repeat interactions until we take a lesson that is needed for our growth. That can take some time. Don't fault yourself for that!

Meditate/Journal on Compassion Towards the Self:

Maybe you write love letters to yourself. Maybe you send loving thoughts to a younger you, where you were around the age of whatever experience you are having a hard time forgiving yourself for. You can even take a picture of yourself at that age and send loving thoughts and energy to that younger you. Whatever way you choose, the point here is to be very kind to yourself and to practice restructuring your thoughts towards yourself away from negative and shameful to loving, compassionate, and accepting. It'll feel weird at first, but over time you'll realize it feels SO much better than the cycling negative thoughts.

Be Vulnerable:

Sometimes, we hold beliefs about ourselves inside for so long they become a part of who we are, how we think, and how we behave towards ourselves. Try saying these thoughts out loud to a close trusted friend. See how they land; you may need a reminder from others that you are deserving and worthy of forgiveness, simply because you are you. Ask close friends to write you the lovable qualities about yourself and put these in a self love notebook whenever you need a reminder.

Know Your Triggers:

Notice when the shame and guilt narrative are set off, and make sure you have something to replace them with. Whether it's positive affirmations of self love, practicing acceptance of you in the here and now, or your compassion meditation/journaling, get intentional about your thoughts.

 

Self forgiveness isn't easy and it's not "one and done". It's an ongoing process. It's noticing when the anxious thoughts or shameful thoughts come up, and redirecting our attention to our core, which is love. If you're working on healing yourself, give yourself credit for doing something incredibly uncomfortable, and know that it will pay off and that you deserve healing and to feel free. Random reminder related to self-forgiveness: none of us have it all together. Sending you a hug.

 

Love and light,

Chelle

 

 

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Toxic Relationships

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I'm sitting across from one of my favorite clients: she's intelligent, funny, self aware, and has such positive energy. We're having another talk about her girlfriend coming home with hickeys on her neck...that aren't from her. Last week we talked about her girlfriend kicking her out of the car far from home and how far she had to walk before her girlfriend turned around. The week before that, it was the verbal abuse rants and people she's had to cut out of her life to avoid her girlfriend's jealous rages. The week before that....well, you get the point.

And she's still there, loving her, hoping she'll change. And I don't judge her; not only because it's my job not to judge, but even on a personal level: I understand her. I understand how toxic relationships don't always start out that way, and how you can get so hooked on who that person was in the beginning that you begin to believe maybe if you stick it out, maybe if you don't make them mad, maybe things will get better. I mean they're under so much pressure right now, right? Or you know about their childhood and you know they don't MEAN it, they just don't know any better. Or, they've told you it's your fault you make them act this way so many times, you actually start to believe it.

So I get it. I get how unhealthy dynamics can become the norm, and when you're in it sometimes it's so hard to see it for yourself. But you know what else I get? How scary it is that you can lose yourself in someone else, and they can drain your vitality. A toxic relationship will have you thinking these dynamics are normal, and that everyone has to "put up with something", and "love conquers all".

Yes, love is powerful. But love shouldn't hurt you physically or emotionally, love isn't control or ownership, love isn't someone projecting their hurt onto you because they haven't healed themselves yet. That isn't love, that is dysfunctional toxic attachment. And who we attach to, who we spend most of our time with, who we choose to love, changes us. It influences our thought patterns, our mood, our energy field, even our physical day to day habits; so we have to be careful about what kind of changes are happening as a result of relationship dynamics. If you are questioning whether or not your relationship is toxic, chances are there's definitely something to take a closer look at.

 

 

Listen to your gut and set your boundaries

A warning sign that a relationship is heading for or is in toxic waters is if your partner makes you feel responsible for their behavior, and/or doesn't respect your personal boundaries. Yes, we all have things to work on and should consider our partner's emotions. But if their actions are setting off warning bells, that "gut feeling" that something isn't right, listen to that. You can trust yourself.

Also, pay attention to if it's always something. If it isn't one thing you're doing to get an explosive reaction from your partner, it's another. Now you're walking on eggshells, always trying to anticipate what your partner's reaction might be. That hypervigilance of feeling emotionally unsafe around your partner for fear/anxiety about their reaction? That isn't healthy for you on an energetic, emotional, or even physical level. Your nervous system is rigged, and your body is pumping stress hormones constantly, which can even lead to eventual health issues!

 You are absolutely allowed to express how these reactions make you feel and set boundaries around what healthy communication is for you (and follow this boundary yourself too; don't tell your partner not to do something as you freely do this behavior yourself). Example: for you, maybe it isn't okay for your partner to call you a crazy b*tch just because they are angry. Your partner is still responsible for their words when they are angry. And if they continue to talk to you this way, even knowing how it makes you feel? They don't respect your boundaries, your emotions, or you. Toxicity alert.

 

Don't save them

I know you're loving, you're caring, and you know what they've been through. You know the saying "hurt people, hurt people". We all have a story for why we are the way we are, but you still don't deserve to be treated like shit, and your job is not to raise another adult. Not only is it not your job, but it doesn't work! We are all responsible for working on ourselves to become better and healthier; you can't do the work for your partner. Many of us get stuck in the trap of trying to fix others, but not only does that leave you in a relationship where you are doing nothing but giving all of your energy and could end up being drained, let me say it again for the people in the back, it doesn't work. That person has to want the change themselves and do the work for them. You can be a support, but you are not responsible for "fixing" them or changing their unhealthy dynamics.

 

 Love yourself

If you're in an unhealthy/toxic relationship, it's not clearcut or easy to decide how to move forward. Maybe you don't pick up and leave. But take a closer look at it. Consider you, separate from the relationship. Consider what this dynamic is doing to your emotional and spiritual health. Sometimes there is even a belief that "I deserve to be treated this way". In the case of my favorite client, being neglected emotionally was a familiar feeling; her parents had done it throughout her whole childhood. But familiar and deserved are NOT the same thing. No matter your past or how others have treated you, you are deserving and worthy of whole, full, reciprocal, healthy love.

 

if this hits home, I'll say to you what I said to my client (and would say to a younger me): You are not being sensitive, you can trust your instincts. You are allowed to speak up and set boundaries for how you want to be treated. You are also allowed to walk away if a relationship is draining you; that's not you giving up on that person, it's saying that you matter and your emotional wellbeing matters. 

 

If you are in a toxic and/or abusive relationship, you are not alone and there are resources for you. Unity House in Troy, NY has a 24/7 DV hotline where you can talk to a counselor at anytime: (518) 272-2370. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has advocates you can talk to at anytime as well: 1-800-799-7233.

 

Light and love,

Chelle

 

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Show up as your whole self: Vulnerability pt. 2

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It's been 2 and a half years since I completed my yoga teacher training. Weekend after weekend I joined my yogi peers as we learned about the practice of yoga. There was something so intimate about meeting with this group of people and moving our bodies to the rhythm of our breath weekend after weekend. After a while, it started to register that this yoga practice is about the bigger journey of life and how to be fully present for ALL OF IT, highs and lows. Those weekends taught me how to love myself fully, even the parts that weren't pretty or put together!

The most powerful moment for me was an exercise we did where we went around in a circle and shared the one thing most people don't know about us. People shared stories of being abused, of their infidelity, of having abortions, of desires they aren't proud of. We bared the parts of ourselves that we have been taught not to accept. I remember when it came closer to being my turn, it felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. I walked to the center of the circle, shared the part of myself I felt was the most "shameful", and actually couldn't finish talking; I burst into tears. One of the other yogis came up and hugged me, telling me to "just breathe", and eventually I got the words out with her holding me the entire time. When I sat back down I was met with unconditional acceptance; hugs, words of encouragement, and a feeling of being fully seen. 

That weekend changed my life. Not only by speaking my whole truth and being met with acceptance, but by seeing others who I assumed had it all together and seeing that not one of us did, and they were even more beautiful because they owned it that day. I learned that we all have "darkness" within us, and it can't be ostracized to the basement in our brains. We can pretend that those parts don't exist, but they actually are a part of who we are.

Ironic, isn't it? That we keep parts of ourselves hidden to be acceptable/loved by ourselves and others. Come to find out, true love and connection relies on us showing up wholly, and sharing parts of ourselves that we may not feel comfortable with. Because essentially, acknowledging all parts of our story is owning that we are enough just as we are. We can present a cool, perfectly filtered instagram highlight reel to others, but if we walk through life with that mask on we are missing out on our opportunity to be fully present and connected in our relatively short time here.

And maybe there is a "shadowy" part of your story that you don't want to own, but those shadows have contributed to your light as well, whether you see it right now or not. You can/will fully appreciate the light because you know how bad things can get, or maybe your shadows and struggles have built an inner strength, an ability to see challenges through to the other side of them. For me, my pain, my shadows, show me that when I'm having days where I feel GOOD, I mean really good, I am so grateful because I know nothing is constant and I have to appreciate that moment; I know that there have been bad days too.

So I challenge you to begin being vulnerable in whatever way you can, even if it's just by being vulnerable with yourself. Put pen to paper and write your truth, WITHOUT JUDGMENT. Journaling is a helluva way to get to know you and practice self care, and it can help you to practice being authentic and honest about you.

Also practice being vulnerable and authentic with others in your life by really opening up and sharing the "imperfect" parts of yourself. Sometimes this is just acknowledging that we sometimes need other people, because we do! I don't know when it became cool to pretend we don't want to be connected to others, but we are wired for connection, and the "I don't need anyone, I have it all together" social shield may protect you from pain and disappointment, but in the end it cheats you of a whole realm of love, connection, and joy (which you do deserve).

Sure, by opening up there is a potential to be hurt; but life includes some pain sometimes. Be fully here for all of it. You have to remove the social shield to let people in and to truly accept yourself as you are. If it's comforting at all, remember we are all here trying to figure it out. No one has it all figured out. Take risks in your relationship with yourself and others, and bring along the messy parts that make up YOU. They are good enough too, I promise.

 

 

Journalling prompts:

What does vulnerability mean to me? What does authenticity mean to me?

What parts of myself do I hide from others, and what is the fear about that holds me back from sharing?

What parts of myself do I wish I could share easily with others?

How can I start to be more vulnerable/open with myself and others?

 

 

Light and love,

 

Chelle

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The power of intention

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This morning I met with a group of motivated positive people (shout out to the Power Breakfast) and was asked the question "what is your goal for this week?". Here I am, someone who plans everything out, I feel I'm pretty clear on what my long term goals are, and I actually didn't know the answer to that question.

It got me thinking about how easy it is for things to get so busy that we forget each moment is an opportunity to be purposeful in what it is that we're doing and why we're doing it. There's the daily grind, and while you're in it, it can be hard to slow down and zoom out to where you want to go. So for me, I have this "big picture" idea of where I'm going, but in reality all the "big picture" is are all these little moments, day to day, week to week. So if your little moments are filled with you monotonously following a cruise control routine with no purpose or intention driving your actions, how do you expect to end up where you want to go?

This is where setting intentions comes in. And it just so happens that tonight is a New Moon, which is the beginning of a lunar cycle for this upcoming month. The New Moon can be looked at as a "blank slate", a great time to set goals and intentions for the coming month. If we get really intentional about what we're doing here, we grow as time goes on, just as the moon becomes more and more visible in the sky throughout it's cycle.

Take the energy of tonight and be clear about what you want to manifest for this week, and this month. Write it down, but write it down as if it has happened already. For example, you don't wish you could have $2,000 in your savings, you have it already. You don't hope that one day you will get that job you really want, you write down that you have it, and you put down as many details about you being successful in this new job as possible. Language is very important; the words we think, the words we say, and the words we write. Where attention goes energy flows so stay away from the negatives. Focus on what you want to attract into your life rather than what you don't want (Example: instead of writing "I don't want to be broke anymore", you could say "I am living in financial abundance and money is not a worry"). 

This exercise of getting specific, writing it down, and visualizing your intention puts your mind and energy in a state that you are ready to receive what it is that you say you want in your life. Because sometimes we just talk shit, right? Like sometimes we say we really want this thing to happen, but we are afraid of success or failure and therefore don't attract it into our lives. So by doing this practice of imagining that you are there already, you're claiming your goal in spite of the fear (fear will be there if you're growing and changing, but it doesn't have to limit you). You're stating with confidence that this path you want is yours already and not only do you deserve it, but you are so capable of having it.

 

Happy New Moon Intention setting, wishing you lots of abundance and good vibes!

 

Love and light,

Chelle

 

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Letting go

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A fear of being hurt. Fear of rejection. Believing in overnight success (avoidance of hard work). The imposter syndrome (fear of being "found out" to be a fraud, or not really competent at what you do). Indecisiveness; fear of making a decision. The unknown, what can't be controlled. "What if's"; the fear that a wrong decision was made.

These are some of the responses I got on a post I put out asking what you all wanted and/or needed to let go of, and I don't know about you, but I see a theme: fear. Evolution gave us this great protective system in our brains that looks for danger around every corner, because back in the day (like really back in the day, when we had to hunt and gather), we needed that system to survive. Nowadays, not so much, but this "alarm system" is alive and well and it is always scanning our environment for danger. It will even go as far as to project hypothetical situations and tell us to be alarmed about some possible future situation that hasn't even happened yet!

Pair that with our tendency to cling to the familiar, and to use past experiences as the blueprint for every moment ahead of us, and we are destined to repeat old patterns even if they are toxic just for the sake of them being known to us; I can't even count how many times someone has told me they are staying in a shitty situation because they truly believe there is nothing better out there for them.

So what do I need to let go of to grow to be my highest self? For me it's the need to be "perfect" (quotations, because, that doesn't even exist). I hold back and second guess myself often, for fear of being wrong or not living up to some ridiculous imaginary standard that I created for myself. I condition my day to day with long lists of "should's", and that sometimes sets me up for some major disappointments, because life doesn't always go by my terms (who knew?!).

I can acknowledge this need to be perfect on a surface level and chalk it up to being a Virgo, but I know there is a deeper reason for that need. The fear underneath the need is that I'm not enough; that I always have to prove my worth and if I don't measure up to my standards I have set for myself well, then I have failed. Which is craziness because I remember when I was much younger I never even doubted that I was enough. But over time, my brain has taken all the negative experiences I've had and amplified them. It's turned them into negative thought patterns that ring off false alarms and prevent me from being able to just "be", and my thoughts tell me there is a way I'm "supposed to be" to be worthy. Dear brain, that is bullshit.

For me letting go of this need for perfection has been a process of embracing my vulnerability. It's showing up just as I am and chancing rejection. It's reminding myself how worthy I am, and how I am enough simply by being me. It's approaching life and myself through a lens of love and compassion rather than one of fear and avoidance. It's noticing when that inner self critic shows up, and telling it to take a seat while I actually enjoy my life.

I challenge you to look behind that habit or thought pattern you need to let go of, and ask yourself where it's coming from. What are you really afraid of? Maybe that fear was something you needed to survive or even thrive at some point in your life, but I have a feeling if it came up as something to let go of it isn't serving you anymore.

Letting go isn't an easy process; but you know when something is limiting your growth. And I think a lot of us don't like the idea of having a void after you let go because it's uncomfortable AF: it's unknown. But I promise you, as you shed things that no longer serve your growth, lean into that discomfort. You're making room for what is going to bring you to the next step of your evolution and your future self will thank you.

Bonus challenge: write down purposefully what you are releasing in your life, like you are writing down a vow to your future self. Commit to a new way of thinking about what you're letting go of that is not based on fear. For example, letting go of your imposter syndrome? Whenever it comes up choose what thoughts to embrace instead: "I am here serving my purpose". Releasing your fear of being hurt? "I will have/am worthy of a loving and healthy relationship". Find your mantra, the one that cuts through fear and resonates with your truth, and write it down. Say it as much as you need to so it becomes your new normal.

Light and Love,

Chelle

 

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Finding your inner bae

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It's a sunny, quiet Saturday morning and I roll over to see my cat's butt in my face and the time on my phone, clear as day, because my phone is dry AF.

This comes as a relief for once, rather than some negative message about myself . That dopamine loop from last blog? I figured out the cheat code to mine. I built new habits centered around how to feel more connected to myself and to keep my own energy vibrating higher. I wanted to share these habits with you guys, in case there is anyone else who has struggled with being content on their own. And don't get me wrong, a healthy partnership can be a beautiful vehicle to self growth in ways that you can't do on your own; but even within a relationship I think it's important to not lose sight of yourself. To remain grounded, and to not rely on someone else to "save you" from the parts of you or life that are hard to deal with. That's a very different kind of connection than one driven by fear or lack, which can sound like the mindset of "I NEED you to feel complete/worthy/validated".

I am learning to transmute my fear of being disappointed in relationships to an attitude of abundance: if I pour love and acceptance into myself, there will always be enough to go around, and it will spill over and touch whoever is close to me in my life. If a romantic partner comes along that connects to that and we can share positive, loving energy together, then great! But until then there is this state of contentment knowing that I have within me all the love that I need.

Now all this sounds good, but I had to get really intentional about how to do this for myself. I had to find my inner bae, appreciate my inner bae, and date the shit out of her because she deserves it.

 

Step 1. Spend time alone! Sacrifice distractions.

This is pretty self explanatory. I knew I needed to work on me to get to the place I wanted to be emotionally and spiritually, so I took a break from spending time with romantic interests. It's amazing how much extra time and energy I had to focus on developing myself, my family and friend relationships, and my purpose in my work.

 

Step 2. Self examination.

Journalled every damn day. Meditated every morning. I needed this to get clear on where I have been and where I want to go; if we are not aware of these things we are vulnerable to repeating old patterns and behaviors that don't serve us and don't match up with what we say we want in our lives!

 

Step 3. Access your love/light.

For me, it's teaching yoga and feeling the energy of the students in the room. It's laughing with a friend until tears run down my face. It's visiting my parents and really taking in how much they mean to me. Seeing the magic in feeling gratitude for all these connections that I have that I sometimes take for granted because they are so much a part of my daily routine. Find what makes you light up and get lost in the moment and do it as often as possible! 

 

Step 4. Treat yoself.

I made a bucket list of things I wanted to do for myself, by myself. I bought myself fresh flowers once a week. I looked at myself in the mirror, in the eyes, and hit on myself (lol, for real though, I told myself how beautiful I am and that I love myself). I made a self care playlist, got out some bath salts, and made a self care evening for myself. I ate healthy food and kept going to the gym as a way to treat my body well. I ordered hot wings and cannollis when my soul craved them. I learned how well I can take care of myself when I'm not waiting for someone else to do it for me.

 

Step 5. Let go of what doesn't serve you.

By taking more time for myself I allowed myself to gain closure about things in the past (which continues to be a work in progress). It's interesting once you start really taking care of yourself emotionally and physically, you can feel when situations or people don't serve your growth. Learning to say no, learning to set limits, learning to love from a distance, are all parts of loving yourself.

 

Step 6. Surrender.

I structured this time to myself, but also learned in the process that I can't plan it all. I can't plan how this journey is going to look. I can do these things I've learned work for me to love myself, but ultimately part of this whole thing is letting go and trusting that if I am putting out good energy than whatever is meant for me will come my way.

 

Growth is never linear, alot of times we take a couple steps foward and life throws us something that seemingly makes us go backwards. I don't have control over what life throws at me (part of surrendering, right?), but I'm figuring out how to make sure inner bae is feeling loved so that the steps are a little easier for her.

What is holding you back from dating your inner bae? And what can you do to take better care of you?

 

 

 Love and light,

Chelle

 

 

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The Dopamine Loop and Self Love

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As I publish this blog, I'll probably keep checking to see who likes it, who shares it, who comments, etc. etc.. and who am I kidding, it's not probably, it's a definite. I will check. Just like I check my instagram, my Facebook, and my snapchat. The same way I check to see who texted me in the morning while I was sleeping. I'm not even expecting anything specific or looking forward to anything, I've simply gotten into the habit of checking for the sake of checking.

Checking, checking, checking, seeking, seeking, seeking. So much attention that is externally focused, it makes it hard to imagine how we ever get to really truly focus on ourselves! I thought more and more about this external seeking especially after listening to the Friend Zone podcast Dopamine Loop episode (I highly recommend, they talk about real issues and are so relatable and informative). It was fascinating to me; I always thought dopamine was only associated with pleasure, a chemical released in your brain if you have an enjoyable experience. Turns out it's a little different than that: dopamine is a chemical released in our brains when we are SEEKING or WAITING for something. So the rush a gambler feels after they've made their bet, BEFORE they see if they won or not; an addict that is on their way to get their fix; a compulsive shopper's high when they're in the store looking at all the clothes; this positive feeling that comes just from the act of looking for the desired experience, without even getting it yet!

 We all have this Dopamine system, and the nature of our relationship with our social media makes us particularly more vulnerable to getting caught in a "dopamine loop"; where the act of seeking itself becomes addictive and we actually become addicted to the act of "checking", as we wait for "likes".

Dopamine is actually a GOOD thing. It gives us motivation to go out there and get stuff done in hopes of results. The not so great thing is when the dopamine loop continues to get activated without any real substantial results (because when's the last time you could pay your bills with "likes" and "comments"), and it gets stuck in this repetitive loop where we are always seeking, and not gaining anything tangible towards our own growth and happiness.

The dopamine response can be even stronger if the results are inconsistent; like not knowing when that "like" or "comment" will arrive. This extends to relationships with others as well: that inconsistent guy/girl that was sometimes so attentive, and other times would be dismissive. Sometimes seeking attention from someone that inconsistently provides it to us can actually be an addictive process because it releases dopamine in our brains.

I'm the type of person that really likes the idea of being content with myself. And I say "like the idea of", because I'm not there yet. I'm working on unhacking my dopamine loop. Delaying the urge to "check". And for me social media isn't so much of an issue; it's more so how dopamine gets activated in my love life.

Dating is hacking my dopamine loop: spending energy and time focused on how and when another person meets my needs/expectations. The rush of anticipating this person's response and affection. So much energy and attention focused outwards, but not with any real substantive results towards something meaningful for my personal growth and happiness.

I'm not saying that it's bad to look externally for comfort and pleasure, because we are creatures of connection and connection is a beautiful thing. I just know for me, personally, the idea of being dependent on or craving external responses in order to feel okay is NOT okay for me. So I am de-railing this dopamine loop. When I crave external validation, or that "I miss you"/"good morning beautiful"/"happy Thursday"/"insert random statement here" text, or whatever, I'm writing my own self a love letter. When I find myself wanting to seek comfort externally, I'm asking myself what I need each moment, and seeing if I can provide it for ME. For so long I have been in the habit of looking to another person to meet that need for me I hadn't stopped to learn more about myself and figure out how to truly take care of me. I've been working on this for a little while now, and it's actually surprising to me how much more time and energy I have to put into the things that make me a better overall human. My dopamine has been getting activated by seeking knowledge to better the work I do with my clients, improving my friendships, and finding new ways to improve my overall fitness and wellness. Call me a cat lady if you want, because I absolutely am that, but it's starting to feel pretty damn good.

Learning about the dopamine loop gave me some insight into how much I need to embody my own definition of self love by feeling content on my own, so that another person in my life is a complement; not needed, but wanted and enjoyed. And because the seeking, the checking, is reactive and habitual. I want to act and connect from a purposeful place of listening to my intuition and doing what feels right, rather than what feels comfortable/familiar and going back to old habits that no longer serve me.

Let me know what your thoughts are on this; is there anything hacking your dopamine loop that you want to detox out of your system? If so, what is it and how do you plan on doing it?

 

***SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT****

If you can relate with the need to be content with yourself and really practice self love, we'll be talking about that, practicing some yoga and meditation, and sharing some good vibes during my next workshop on February 10th. Hope to see your lovely face there.

If you can relate with the need to be content with yourself and really practice self love, we'll be talking about that, practicing some yoga and meditation, and sharing some good vibes during my next workshop on February 10th. Hope to see your lovely face there.


 

Light and Love,

Chelle

 

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2016: The year I learned to trust myself

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Just a few days left of 2016, and I have to be honest I don't believe in the "new year, new me" rhetoric; that you can shift your whole life and perspective from 11:59pm in 2016 to 12:05am in 2017. What I do believe is that a new year, like a birthday, can be a marker for growth (or staying stagnant). It's such an opportune time to look back and take stock of what has shifted in your life, what has been working, and maybe a lack of movement in your life or what hasn't been serving you.

 

For me, looking back at 2016, I have had SO MANY CHANGES. Some were heart wrenching, gut punching, and scary as shit. I left my first career level job that I had been with for 4 years; the benefits were dope, financial stability was there (as much as it can be in NYC as a social worker), but I was crazy stressed and unhappy. I moved out of my first ever itty bitty solo apartment in the Bronx where my neighbors had a Dominican BBQ every sunday night at like 12am to a Troy apartment with SPACE where my neighbors tell me to turn the music down after 11pm. I ended a really serious and meaningful romantic relationship and am JUST NOW after years of being attached romantically figuring out what it means to really focus on me. I shed all these layers that had defined who I was for the early part of my 20's, and I got to see what was left when it was all stripped away and I had to start new.

 

What inspired me to make all these changes is the work I've done on myself. I've worked so hard to clear out the noise and to build up my intuition's voice so I can hear it clearly. I feel like I've strengthened a magnet; so that if something isn't right and isn't matching my frequency or goals in life I can feel an urge to repel it, and if something matches my frequency and matches where I want to be in life I am attracted to it. Although I've been listening to this voice, I've definitely doubted myself along the way and have been super scared to make these changes; I've been figuring out that fear is a natural part of the process  but I should do it anyway; if I avoid change I avoid growth.

 

Change has been something that shows me my core; the essence of who I am. And I'm really starting to love that part of me; the part that's not attached to circumstance and is always just there. I don't look at these changes as losses; I've gained so much from my previous job, my previous relationship, and learning to survive in NYC. This past year and all these transitions have taught me that I can trust myself; I don't have to be afraid that I'm going to fuck "it" up. No job, partner, friend, or anyone else holds the key to my happiness and what's best for me; I don't need to look outside to validate what my journey should look like. So 2016 was definitely tough. There were moments of feeling sorry for myself, of freaking out, not knowing if I've made the right decisions, but I am learning that as long as I listen to what is right for me I can trust that the rest will work itself out.

 

This was the theme of my year and what I've taken away from it, but everyone is different! What have you learned about yourself within this past year? And what lessons are you taking with you in the new year to build on and improve yourself?

 

***SHAMELESS PLUG***

If you like this topic and is something you want to dive in further, I juuuust so happen to be having a workshop on releasing barriers and manifesting intentions for the new year and new moon cycle, TOMORROW, Friday 12/30 from 7-9 at Yoga Bliss on the Blvd. in Schenectady. 20$ for 2 hours of yoga, meditation, discussion, and journaling around making ourselves better in a purposeful way. Hope to see your lovely selves there :) 

 

Love and Light,

Chelle

 

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Protect your energy

Today I had a session with a woman whose main role has been to be a mother to her son who is addicted to drugs. Over the past few months I've seen her mental health deteriorate as a result of his addiction, and today we talked about if she will ever be able to take care of herself while she is still being there as his safety net every single time he comes to her door; we pretty much agreed that she can't do both.

Earlier this week I also had a long conversation with a close friend about this desire to be close to a family member who often projects their own emotional baggage onto him, and how this urge to maintain this relationship and fulfill this role as "nurturer" for the family member was dragging down his energy, and making it hard for him to feel good about himself while being treated this way.

These recent talks have brought to the forefront the importance of boundaries: HEALTHY ones. And how difficult that is for alot of people! In both of the above situations, and with other friends and clients, I hear a similar theme. There is this expectation to be a good ________ (friend, mother, girlfriend, daughter, brother, etc.), you have to behave a certain way; you have to meet expectations. These expectations are often a result of this role that you have either built through habitual interactions, or a role that you were given just based on your family norms. When the person doesn't feel they are fulfilling that role of being "good", "available", "helping in anyway they can", the guilt comes in; either from the outside (other people guilt tripping them), or internally (not giving yourself permission to say no, because then you must be a "bad" friend/son/girlfriend/etc).

For the people who can't relate and have been taught healthy boundaries from an early age, lucky you! I don't know if that's the norm, but I know there are a hell of alot of people that struggle with this. So for those that have a hard time with it, I want to remind you that you are HUMAN! You have limits, and you have the absolute right to respect your own limits.

Sometimes, our focus is so external (on taking care of/pleasing others), we don't listen to ourselves. First step is, begin to notice what your limits are. When you say yes to something, how do you feel about it? Do you resent it or feel uncomfortable? Do you feel overextended? This may be such a familiar feeling that you believe you "just have to do it", but you don't actually have to! Begin to tune into what patterns you allow to repeat in your relationships, and how these patterns make you feel.

When you begin to push back against the norms of a relationship if those norms aren't serving you, you'll probably meet some resistance. If you don't keep doing what you "usually do" for that other person, they may not like it too much. And that's when assertiveness comes in. Noone else gets to dictate what is healthy for you, or what you deserve. You absolutely have a right to assertively set limits with those you love, and it doesn't mean you don't love them! It actually just means you love yourself.

These people that can sometimes drain you aren't "bad" people. And you probably care about them, alot. But we have a short time here on earth and do you want to live your life pleasing others? Or begin to learn what makes you happy, what lights you up, what raises your energy level? Sometimes to take those steps we have to set limits within our relationships so we don't become drained.

So, to my client, to my close friend, you loving, nurturing, big hearted humans, you will always be worthy, even when you say no to people you care about. You are allowed to say no, you are allowed to take time to yourself, to create some distance in your relationships for self care. Begin to do what you need to do to be your healthiest self, and that may mean shedding old habits, old relationships, and letting go of attempts to fulfill some "role" you were given when you were younger. Allow yourself to evolve into your best you, because you're the only one that can really give yourself permission to do that.

 

Light and love,

Chelle

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