Hey there, pretty girl.

It's February and self-love is all over my social media. It's bombarding me with pink accessories of every variety, and 'treat yo-self' memes. And while I love this aggressive pursuit of self-love enlightenment, I find that what is a genuinely important movement, is somehow cheapened by marketing strategies to suck me into being a sales percentage.

Yes, I know I work in marketing, so I might be hyper-aware of the strategies in the biz but I don't think that's any reason to disqualify that self-love should mean more than just adorable bottles of champagne and cute kits for a girl's night in.

This month, we'll be talking about what it means to nourish the different parts of yourself, from top to tail, inside and out.


Our first topic is one of the most obvious: Body love.

I talk about workouts with almost everyone I know. If I had a dollar for every time I talked about a workout, I'd literally be a stupid level of rich. But what's interesting is who I talk to, and how I talk to about my body have changed drastically over the years-- and for the better.

Now I speak with people who motivate me, and give me energy to keep up with my cardio when I can't stand the thought of even looking at my running shoes. I ran a half-marathon a few years ago and I didn't get skinny. And at mile .75 (when it stops being cute and fun and actually starts being work), I realized I'd better get my head out of those glossy magazine pages, or I'd never make it to the end of another 12 miles.

Don’t let them get in your head, baby girl. You’re beautiful.

I finished the half, and my body looked, for the most part, the same. But then it wasn't about looking good. I felt f*ing amazing. I mean, I couldn't walk... I legitimately was as stiff as a mummy and had celebratory chocolate in my teeth because my face was too cold to move or melt it, but I could've conquered the world that day.

What I learned, was that you can run 13.1 miles and not lose a pound, but also think you're body is the miraculous vehicle that deserves your respect. 

I've just turned 29, and I'm incredibly annoyed it took me so long to stop caring about abs or batwings in such an unhealthy way. Do it for the challenge. Do it because your body deserves to be cared for, but don't do it because you want to look like Behati and definitely not because you think anyone else really cares. Anyone who is judging your body sucks. Period. Don't let them get in your head, baby girl. You're beautiful.

Now I feel somewhat inspired to listen to Eye of the Tiger and crush a stint on the elliptical (lol) but it's the weekend and just wearing workout pants will have to count (for today at least).

Jess // @xojco

Presence Over Productivity

Ours is a culture obsessed with portraying life as mega busy, mega complicated, mega Important with a capital "I." I was listening to something on the radio the other day that mentioned that what we value as a society has really shifted a lot over the past few decades. It used to be that what people craved most out of life was fulfillment. Now, it's popularity. The values we associate with having a good character used to be things like kindness and humility, but now have shifted more towards so-called "resume" qualities like being hardworking and efficient. Getting it all done. Having it all. Doing it all. All at the same fucking time.

I have a little post-it I keep at my home office that says "presence over productivity." I am someone that can easily get swept away into hyperactive productivity. If I start sweeping the floors, two hours later I'm cleaning out the fridge. If I start putting in a few extra hours at work on Monday, you can expect the rest of that week I've committed myself to work dawn until dusk. My anxiety starts to kick in and I start fueling my productivity obsession with checklist after checklist. It's like a little light switch that, once it gets flipped on, is hard for me to turn off.

This penchant for occasional hyper-productivity can be incredibly useful. It's served me well in essay writing, task-management, and yeah, sometimes cleaning my fridge. But when I switch into that mode, I start to get a little...twitchy. I may have plenty of completed tasks to brag about that day, but when I check in with myself, how do I really feel? Present? Living in the moment? No, more like on edge. Shaky. Not in tune with my body or soul.

I wish I was someone that could take their time a little better. To drink in each moment, instead of constantly obsessing about the next one. I'm trying to fix this by reading more, to worrying less. Connecting more, zoning out less. I've decided that self-care and is smart, not selfish. That presence is better than productivity. That being fully in the moment is actually more rewarding (and difficult) than flitting from one task to the next.

While I still value my ability to get 'er done (and have a nerdy obsession with checklists), I don't want it to consume me. Care to join me? It might not be easy, but no matter what you're accomplishing or not accomplishing today, just remember that being productive is not what makes your life valuable. It's being fully present, savoring each moment. Being able to drink in your life sip after glorious sip. Forget about that "busier than thou" culture of ours. At some point today, I fully encourage you to ignore whatever notifications your phone beeps at you, put your feet up, and stare up at the ceiling. Breathe in. Breathe out. And see what happens.

What Do You Need From You?

All relationship are about give and take, yin and yang, push and pull. As women, we often spend countless hours analyzing our relationships, scrutinizing details and replaying scenarios over in our mind. But have you ever thought about your own relationship with yourself? Have you sat down to write a list of non-negotiables that you owe yourself, perhaps on a daily basis?

Maintaining one's sanity in life seems to have something to do with striking a balance between your short-term wants and your long-term wants. You want to eat doughnuts for breakfast every day this week, but your long-term self probably chimes in at some point and swaps in some granola. You want to spend your entire paycheck on plaid ponchos and sephora products (just me?) but your long-term self steps in and interferes. So what can your wise, long-term self ask of you each and every day that will up your overall happiness in the long run? What do YOU need from yourself every day?

Maybe this is starting to sound like a Dr. Seuss novel, but that's not my intent. On a run today I had this epiphany (call it runner's high) that I truly need exercise to be happy. It got me thinking about the simple things I can do for myself to make me happy, whole, and calm. I came up with the following list and encourage you to do the same. Ask yourself what you need from yourself every day, and then try to deliver. Relationships, after all, are about give and take, and the one you have with yourself is as worthy of investment as any other. So give yourself the things you need in order to be happy--you won't regret it. 

1) Long runs outside

I could care less about the size of my waistline, but I do care about my mental health. If I go too many days in a row without a nice, long run, I get moody and irritable. Now that the weather is colder, I have to force myself to get outside, but once I do I feel ten times better. The sun on my face, the sweat on my back, it all makes me feel too good not to do on a regular basis.

2) Coffee

I've tried to give up caffeine numerous times, with no avail. When my beloved coffee maker broke last week, it wasn't pretty. Not getting coffee in my system until I can tame the puppy and finally put on clothes to head out the door is a recipe for disaster, especially for everyone around me (apologies!). I love coffee. I love it right away in the morning. I love feeling the cup in my hands and savoring every sip. I decided not to dwell on the fact that I love a good cuppa joe and instead, embrace it. I bought a milk frother (all of $10) and keep full-fat creamers on hand so I can savor a delicious, luxurious cup every morning.

3) Time to do nothing

Some people like and need a full social calendar to feel happy. I have tried to be like this, but it always makes me more on-edge. I am someone that feels no shame in wanting to unwind in front of the TV or sit around and read a book. I love being around a few close friends, but I genuinely have no desire to be in a crowded room that often. With a baby puppy in my life I haven't had a ton of time to chill without having someone bite my foot, but it makes me revel the alone time I do have even more. (And I'm totally obsessed with my dog, so there's that.) After a certain age, I accepted the fact that I'm not someone who wants to be busy all the time. I need a few hours every once and a while to just be. It helps me feel more centered and refreshed than if I never come up for air.

4) Fresh flowers

It sounds simple, but keeping fresh flowers in the house is something that brings me tons of joy for $10 or less. Sometimes it feels superfluous when I know I need to get the fuck out of the grocery store before I go broke, but trimming the stems, arranging the bouquet, and placing them in a clean vase in my home makes me feel comforted and cheerful. Having one more living thing around in the dead of winter seems like money well spent.

5) A good book

I don't feel right if I don't have a book on my nightstand. Scratch that--if I don't have at least 3 books on my nightstand, waiting for me to devour them. I'm a slow reader but the feeling of getting lost in a story is a feeling unlike any other. When I haven't picked up a book in a few days my mind starts to get fidgety--I feel like I haven't stretched my brain enough or thought about the characters I've been following.

In Defense of A Lady's Right To Raise Hell

How do you deal with those days when nothing seems to go right? When you feel like the demands keep piling up and yet you haven't managed to grow an extra set of arms or make time stop to accomplish everything at once and please all the right people on the way? What place do you go to in your mind when things feel unmanageable?

We all have different ways of dealing with the very human sensation of overwhelm. Some of us hold all our frustration and stress in until it creeps out in the form of nightmares, migraines, or outbursts at the wrong people. (Your starbucks barista was not trying to personally slight you when she spelled your name wrong, k?)  Others mope, cry, or bury themselves in whatever vice makes them feel more in control. Maybe you're like me, and you continuously say "I've got this" until you end up having a meltdown at somewhere inconvenient, like the deli counter of a Whole Foods or the parking lot of a grocery store (what, like Kowolski's has never gotten the best of you?) Or, maybe you're well-adjusted and don't know what the hell I'm talking about. Whatever your method for dealing with a stressful time, I'm not suggesting you have a rage stroke or drink a bottle of bourbon, but I am proposing an alternative solution that I fell back on last week: raising a little bit of hell.

For women, this simply means: saying what you actually think. Firmly stating your boundaries. Not caring if someone doesn't like it. Declaring your need for a mental health day. Not responding to pointless drama. Taking your sweet ass time. Doing what you damn well please. 

Here's the thing: this isn't revolutionary or rebellious, but it often looks like it when it comes from a woman simply because it isn't people pleasing. Raising a little hell is knowing yourself well enough that on those days when you feel like you might break, you speak up or set boundaries so you don't. You tell someone it's not a good time. You ignore an annoying request. You say "no."

I'm not suggesting you purposely take your stress out on other people, but I am saying this: you do not have to be little miss sunshine to every person that demands something of you. As women, when the demands keep piling up as fast as our sink full of dirty dishes, when we feel like we’ve failed because we haven’t made every damn person smile that day, cleaned our entire house, and cheerfully responded to every email that comes our way, maybe, instead of feeling like failures, we need to raise a little hell in the form of basic self-preservation. We need to rebel against our self-imposed shame and feelings of inadequacy or fear that people won't like us because we're not constantly chipper or perfect.

It's OK to be overwhelmed, to be crabby, to not have time for something, or to say "enough." That does not make you a failure, it does not make you a bitch: it makes you human. It's OK to say exactly what you think, to protect your time and peace of mind, and defend your right to self-care and respect without apology, backtracking, or beating around the bush. It may come off as hell-raising, but it will start to feel less controversial by the minute.

Slow Down, You

A body in rest tends to stay in rest. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. As it is with science, so it goes with our socially-enforced belief that we must constantly be striving, moving, and doing. It's easy to get caught up in the notion that we have to keep doing and achieving in order to realize our worth. We walk around following a similar goal-oriented routine most days of the week--which is not inherently bad. After all, there is grace in life's seemingly smallest moments: washing the dishes, walking the dog. But in our day-to-day to-do lists, amidst our need to accomplish tasks, we can start to feel robotic. We can become addicted to going through the motions, thinking that being ambitious and productive is what make us happy.

I don't travel much, but a vacation was in order this year. I could feel the need creep up on me after last winter's arctic fuckery. I also felt the need to stop thinking so damn much. To stop letting myself be pulled in ten thousand different directions a day by my own thoughts. Last year felt emotionally loaded and draining in multiple ways, and I wanted 2015 to mark a change in how I lived in the world. I didn't want to define myself by what I do but by how I feel, and how I make others feel when they are with me. I wanted a break from the pace of life; a way to force myself to slow down and find peace of mind. A beach vacation was in order.

It took me a few days to feel my thoughts slow down upon arrival, to begin to not only recognize but listen to my Slowed-Down self that usually has simple, comfort-oriented desires. Lay down, she says. Shut your eyesThere's nothing you need to do. You do not need to get up. Being able to trust these crazy things she says is something I wrestle with most nights no matter where I am, but I finally obliged her and by day 2 of my vacation I found myself in a rare and pacified state: napping.

I don't nap. I can't nap. I never nap, unless I'm ill. I'm not Kelly Ripa or something, constantly doing dishes and having amazing arms and a million jobs and a bubbling friendship with Anderson Cooper. No, I spend a lot of downtime watching tv or reading. It's just... I rarely spend time unwound and disconnected from my own thoughts. When I'm watching TV, I'm usually writing or on my phone or writing another goddamn to-do lists at the same time. Which is why I don't nap.

Luckily, there are no to do lists on the beach. Just coconut drinks. Which are very nap-inducing. 

When I float away from the need to keep thinking and doing and moving, I am myself; or at least the part of myself that doesn't need to justify anything to the outside world. Damn I like her. Have you met Slowed-Down You in a while? Society may say she's lazy, but I think she's kind of the best. You don't need to go anywhere to reacquaint yourself with her. (But sometimes a margarita helps.) Just ask yourself what you feel like doing, and then do it. I don't care if it's irrational or loaded with calories or "unproductive." It's probably lots of fun.

When I breathe slow enough to listen to my Slowed Down Self, between the pull of the ocean waves, she reminds me that naps are good. That candy for breakfast is sometimes acceptable and always enjoyable. That play is sacred. That happiness comes from inside. That there is within each of us infinite love for the universe and its creations. That you'll never see the same sunset twice. That the waves keep coming, one after another, like the steady stream of your breath. And all you have to do is enjoy them.

On Balance and Play

How are we all doing? Good? Better? Best?

It's that time of year when life can venture beyond busy into oh-shit-i-have-one-day-left-to-buy-presents territory, a time when we waver between stuffing our faces with baked goods and trying frantically to get to the gym to look good in that LBD (or LRD, as I've seen lately. Personally I want this hot little number). It's a time when everything happens all at once, and we're trying our damnedest to keep it all together. 

I love the holidays, and with so much to be grateful for this year, I feel like a kid in a candy store of my own life. But I notice there's an underlying pressure bubbling to the surface in our society this time of year that can perpetuate stress and feelings of self-doubt, when what we want to feel is joy and love. 

Planning and attending a month full of outings and events, trying to balance frosted sugar cookies with pounds of green juice, squeezing in a moment to trim our bangs in between trimming the tree--it can seem like we're all supposed to turn into GD Martha Stewart come December 1st, when I feel like what most of us need this month is a hall pass. A note to ourselves, from ourselves, that says it's ok to be tired and worn out and eat a few extra bonbons. A reminder to let ourselves off the hook from our constant search for balance and remember the old adage that says "everything in moderation...including moderation itself."

Why do we drive ourselves crazy with this pursuit of balance? During this time of year, why can't we allow the harried-ness of the holidays to be what it will? I'm a constant planner: I plan my budget (though rarely stick to it), my grocery lists, my schedule, my meals and my workouts. This is all in an effort to make my life easier, more seamless, more well-adjusted. But lately I've noticed my mind has a hard time shutting off and enjoying the moment when all I can think about is how to perfectly plan my day. 

Looking for a little refresher on mindfulness and intuition, I picked up what would become my latest Martha Beck obsession, "Finding Your Way In a Wild New World." In it, Beck discusses the importance of wordlessness and childlike play in getting in-tune with your true nature (and finding more joy.) So far, it's been the best advice I've ever read. I can't think of a better time of year to add more play and less thought into our lives. And play can mean whatever you prefer it to mean, whether it's reading magazines by the fire, doing absolutely nothing, or making up new (more subersive) Christmas carols with the wee ones.

After all, who enjoys the holidays more than anyone? Little kids. Do little kids think about balance? No. Do they continuously strive to have everything in order before they enjoy themselves? No. They enjoy themselves, period. Maybe we should, too.

So this year, please don't fret if things aren't perfect. Bringing a store-bought cake does not make you inadequate, nor does foregoing the gym for a few weeks or catching up on all five billion seasons of the Real Housewives franchise instead of your extensive reading list. Go easy on yourself, enjoy each moment of this season for what it is: a chance to be spontaneous and carefree. A chance to play, in whatever way feels best for you. 

Is Travel As Good As Therapy?

Five years ago, a couple of months after a friendship had ended badly, I got on a plane and headed to Barcelona, Spain. The trip had been planned for a while, but the timing couldn’t have been better. I was tired and sad, and tired of being sad, and Barcelona (even in February) offered the perfect escape from the monotony of melancholy.

I was traveling with my friend Andrea, and we had few definite items on our sightseeing list: Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona’s beautiful opera house, and the Picasso Museum. The rest of the time we budgeted for wandering, for laughing at street performers painted in gold or silver or standing on stilts, and (of course) for eating and drinking: tapas or seafood paella in beachside bistros; little, sweet coffees or litres of sangria on sunlit terraces.

Barcelona’s weather is mild, by Canadian standards, even in the middle of the winter—a light jacket and scarf were enough for the coolest day. One afternoon we found ourselves on the beach, mostly empty except for a few bundled-up dog-walkers, and Andrea and me, more than delighted by the sunlight and brisk breeze, the brilliant blue waves.

I didn’t have therapy in mind that day—I was too distracted by mopeds and espressos and the dust and noise and color of the city—but when I pulled off my boots and stuck my feet in the Mediterranean it was like the burden I’d been carrying fell off my shoulders and disappeared below the waves.

“Travel as therapy” isn’t a new idea. When I googled the phrase I got 43,000 results, with a Philosopher’s Mail article landing near the top. “When it corrects the imbalances and immaturities of our natures, travel reveals its full potential to function as a form of therapy in our lives,” write the PM editors. This idea--that we can reinvent ourselves, or renew our minds, by packing out bags--is as old as Petrarch and as young as Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s pretty persistent, and it has merit. Travel offers a means of unlocking new versions of ourselves or throwing new angles on old problems. That’s the positive view.

The negative view? “Travel as therapy” could also be seen as “travel as escape,” or “travel as transaction.” I’m just as attracted to Eat Pray Love’s vision of Italian Food Therapy or Balinese Love Therapy as anyone else. But there are a few problems with this picture.

The Philosopher’s Mail article goes on to argue that you can’t expect to simply travel anywhere and get what you need from the experience. You’ve got to choose your location based on what you’re after: “We need always to aim for locations in the outer world that can push us towards where we need to go within,” it reads. In other words: Monument Valley for calm, Colombia for dissatisfaction, and Birmingham (of all places) for boredom.

Here’s what I’d like to know: why should we assume that the outer world exists to offer us the particular kind of therapy we feel we require? India is about more than prayer. Italy is about more than food. If we pick travel destinations based on the imbalances we think they can fix within us—instead of keeping our minds open to the complexity of what they can offer—we are treating travel as pill-popping. Self-medication. Something to buy, after we’ve exhausted the local mall or given up on yoga.

Another problem: what about people who cannot afford to escape—how do they get their two weeks of Boredom Therapy in Birmingham? What if your circumstances mean you can’t journey more than a ten-mile stretch to purchase peace?

Viewed through these lenses, travel as therapy starts to seem like a first-world fix to a pretty universal condition.

When I let the bright blue Mediterranean sweep over my feet and lifted my face to the sun, I let myself believe for a moment that my broken friendship—and my grief along with it—had melted into the ocean. But it took four long years after that moment before I gained the closure I needed. Barcelona, for all its beauty, didn’t actually heal me. Maybe travel as therapy is actually the best solution to unblocking your arteries, shocking yourself back to life. But maybe, sometimes, staying is a better therapy—staying with the pain to see where it leads you.

For what it’s worth? In that moment, blinded by sunshine, I felt renewed. 

 

Surrender

I recently did something to my foot. The chiropractor I went to see who cupped my foot a la Gwenyth Paltrow diagnosed it as a stress fracture, which seems like an appropriately dramatic yet seemingly innocuous name for something I did to myself in a fit of impatient determination. See, as much as I give the illusion that all I do for fun is watch reality TV and eat carbs (alright, that is mostly true) I'm also a semi-regular runner. I run fast, and hard, but it should not go unmentioned that I never run all that far. Three miles here, two miles there, and every molecule of my being is already brimming with enough endorphins to last me the day. Why bother playing the long-distance game when the short one worked just fine?

One day, on some straight up Invictus-shit, I decided I was the captain of my soul and could try and run 10. What did it matter I lacked the proper footwear or training? I was running this life game and I was capable of growth on my own schedule

Thus, I ended up in a chiropractic office with wallpaper and furnishings vaguely remniscent of the Royal Tenenbaums with a suction cup stuck to my foot, perturbed by my own self-inflicted annoyance.

This small, minute circumstance got me thinking of how we rarely have the patience to listen to our bodies and minds. As a species, we tend to push ourselves through emotional pain or sore muscles because we surmise it might be easier than dealing with the source of our wounds. In fact, believing we are capable of change might be the only thing that keeps many of us from going off the rails. After all, that vital quality of perseverance can make us luminous, light, and inspired. But does it make us adaptable? Why are we always in such a hurry to push through moods or seasons or mileage to Happy and Sunny and Accomplished without first surrendering to What Is? When we push through it, when we "fake it til we make it," are there then sore muscles and tangled pieces of our psyche dragging behind us in our wake, begging to one day be arduously un-knotted by the slow process of acceptance and surrender?

Happiness Now, Damnit! should be the name of just about every self-help book I've read, and I doubt I'm alone in that realization. Consider it an inherent impatience woven into our mortal selves, this deep-seeded ache for control and growth on our own schedule. It's a desire everyone expresses a little differently. Some people buy a new red lipstick or bake an endless amount of muffins. Others, still, get good at facial contouring or organizing their sock drawer or curating a perfectly manicured Instagram feed.

The more we believe we can control change: of our moods, our physical bodies, or the outcome of a situation, the happier we feel. But if we cannot bend to the notion of surrender at all, we become unable to cope with life's transience, making even mildly upsetting occurrences (traffic jams, foot fractures) seem terrorizing. 

I always considered my personal penchant for control part of what kept me running, both mentally and physically. I have my fair share of quirks: office supply shopping anytime a new neuroses creeps in, a desire to color code everything, rewriting lists until the handwriting is up to my standards. But lately I've come to the disappointing realization that I might never have learned how to live gracefully in surrender. I don't always know how to breathe through a traffic jam. I forget that I can laugh through shot nerves. It's not a backbone, it's not a wishbone, it's a surrender-bone I realized might be out of commission. And in life, that won't serve me well. 

Our bodies and minds are powerful things. Yet they're fallible. To small injuries, large illness, crippling depression and tidal waves of self-doubt--and sitting long enough with this thought can make even the calmest person twitch with insecurity. But it's a hard and fast truth of being human that we are not always the captain of the ship. Perhaps the best we can do is train, work hard, and surrender. I'm going to start practicing, at a slow and steady pace.... but you best believe I'll still be baking stress muffins and organizing the shit out of something. Baby steps, after all. 

Healing Old Wounds

Yesterday we touched on the notion of honoring your true nature without giving away too much of your energy to those who don't deserve it. This whole series has been designed to act as a platform for discussing changes that happen within you--independently of other people. Why is this? Because, foxes, we will never be able to change another person. Or heal another person. But we can heal ourselves. 

I have found that the hardest wounds to heal from are not those inflicted upon us by others; they’re the arrows we sling at ourselves. The ancient stories we carry on our person like a physical weight baring us down further into the depths of our own self-pity. “I’m not good enough.” See: 6th grade gym class, a first love turned sour, family abandonment issues. “I’m too sensitive.” Read: the words of some insensitive prick, failed relationships, that time you showed them how you really felt.

Most of the time, we can be unconscious of these past hurts that have manifested within our psyche. They pop up whenever we have a moment where we think "why did I snap at so-and-so?" or "why did this situation make me particularly angry?" To answer those questions, you only need to look deep within you to the old wounds you've been holding on to for years.

Oh, only that, you say. That sounds like a barrel of monkeys. But if we don't do the work of examining our current relationship to past hurts, we will only continue to feel their pain. Our day-to-day aches; those bruises that do not seem to heal, stem less from the things that happen to us and more for the shame we carry because of them. The amazing life coach Martha Beck distinguishes this as clean pain versus dirty pain. Clean pain is the pain you feel because something happens to you like losing your job or breaking up with your boo. Dirty pain is represented by the shame-related thoughts you think about what happened. "I wasn't good enough for them," or "I'm worthless without the title of Big Important Job Person." Reflecting on our choices is essential for self-growth, but continuously beating ourselves up for things causes serious damage.

Here is what I have learned. Nobody’s past is perfect. We will all make mistakes, and when it comes to certain things, we all have our part in them. But you can accept your past with grace by learning from your less-than-stellar moments instead of letting them consume you. Show your wounds the open air instead of letting them fester. The next time you start to tell yourself that old story--you start picking at that old wound that’s trying so desperately to scab over--remind yourself of this process, taken from Martha Beck’s Steering By Starlight. (Have I raved about this enough?) The next time you have a painful thought, remember that it is stemming from an old wound. Then, try the BARD process: Believe, Articulate, Recognize, and Detach.

1) Believe (but notice what you believe)

Become aware of unhappiness in any form. Rather than avoiding it, notice it and allow it to come into consciousness so you can address it.

2) Articulate (spot the thoughts behind the pain)

Pay attention to the thoughts that fuel the unhappiness—anything you say in your mind that stimulates feelings of helplessness, despair, futile rage, or abstract terror with no action implications. Articulate these thoughts if they’re vague.

3) Recognize (why the thought is not absolutely true)

Examine the belief to see if there are any flaws in its logic, using these prompts if necessary:

-Is your imprisoning thought always true, or are there times when it could be false?

-Can you think of a hypothetical situation, no matter how silly, in which the thought might be obviously untrue?

-Can you think of any time you acted as if the thought weren’t true and yet the world didn’t end?

-Can you think of a historical figure who “broke the rules” defined by your painful thought and achieved a positive result?

-Would you force the thought on any other person you cared for?

4) Detach (from the thought by recognizing possible alternatives.

Allow the thought to “wiggle” like a loose tooth as your brain follows the unfamiliar neuron tracks created by logically DISPROVING it. Repeat the proves until the thought disappears—in other words, when the suffering it causes is no longer present. (Often you wont even notice this happening). 

The road to healing is long, hard, and messy. I have no definitive answers for you, specifically, on how long it will take or what that process will look like for you. But I do know that the above tactic is a great way to start. By deconstructing the stories you tell yourself, you can finally let your old wounds heal.

How to Honor Your True Nature

Over the last 2-3 years I have gotten so close to something that once seemed impossible: finding my fearless voice. And over this last year, particularly, I have never met so many people who have tested that inner confidence. A confidence that did not exist in the teenager who felt she only existed for boys or the young adult who lost everything she thought she needed and nearly let it get the best of her. A confidence I have cultivated; a confidence that has taken years but has finally arrived in the form of a you-can't-destroy me assurance. That the person I am is worthy of love and of truth and of speaking her voice. That this voice will be used for good--that I can leverage past challenges and hurt to HELP other people. And that confidence, foxes, is relatively new. And it has been so tested this year.

You see, there are all these wonderful motivational posters that tell us to "just be ourselves" and "always speak our minds" and, as Mr. Mayer would say "say what you need to saaaaaaay." And I have no problem doing this on this here blog, or around my family and friends. But you know what the Soul of the World has decided would be a fun challenge for me to face, perhaps, optimistically, before I can realize that fearless voice? A whole lot of people popping up to try and ruffle my fox fur. People who try to tear me down. You know: h8ers. (not to be confused with sk8ers). 

I believe everyone's true nature is luminous. But sometimes life gets the best of us, and muddles us and confuses us and sometimes even produces some really evil shit. So when someone shows up in my life that can't be genuine with me; that can only come from a negative, competitive place, I know that this person is SO uncomfortable with their own vulnerability that they are now wearing the mask of a Really Shitty Person. (RSP for fun!) Their life experiences have altered them so drastically from the luminous beybey they once were that they now only know the mask; to go inside their own psyche and fix this would be terrifying for them. So what does that mean for us, foxes? How do we honor our true nature around people who are unwilling to show us their own? How can we be genuine around someone who's wearing a mask?

My only answer is this: you can't. I'm sorry to burst that beautiful bubble, but I don't believe you can be your authentic self 100% of the time. Because in life, you will meet people who haven't quite gotten comfortable with their own Self. People that want to tear you down, talk behind your back, make snide comments and in general just be awful because they're so unhappy with themselves. Do they deserve your wit and charm and self deprecation and embarrassing stories and humor and generosity--your 100% authentic self? No.

They deserve your pity. They deserve your politeness and your decency; two things I believe this world seriously needs to keep a' spinning. And it's okay to put your guard up after that. To say: I will be a decent human being to you, and that's all. It's okay to refuse to share your vulnerability with people who aren't comfortable with their own.

The wonderful author and vulnerability researcher (and one of my personal heroes) Brene Brown has said this of sharing your vulnerability: "you share with people who have earned the right to hear your story." The best thing you can do to honor your true nature? Step 1: Know that your true nature is light. Step 2: Choose wisely who you allow to be bathed in that beautiful glow.

Something Special

By Megan McDougall

I’m a nail gal. There’s no denying it. I subscribe to the belief that when my nails are looking right, nothing can go wrong. That may seem dramatic- but I am absolutely NOT kidding you. Ever since I was a little girl, I was obsessed with all things nails. Instead of spending my cash on tokens at Skateland- you could find me in the nail section of Target, deciding which paintbrush of my mother’s would work best with the acrylic powder that was on sale (I’ve always been a strong supporter of balling on a budget). And when K-Mart was going out of business (RIP), you bet your ass my 12-year-old self got an advance and bought out the whole damn aisle.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel. Buy it, love it. S&TF Guarantee. 

Now I’m going somewhere with this, I promise. As I mentioned earlier this week on our Mind, Body, Soul journey, I was a quite a large youngin’. The beautiful thing about nails, is that they don’t really reflect you waistline. My whole life, I’ve been able to count on these babies to stop the show. So why am I telling y’all this? Because I believe your outward appearance plays a big role in how one perceives themselves and others. It’s certainly not always the case, but when you feel good about even just one thing, it can make your day that much brighter and it translates across your whole aura. I believe that we can’t look perfect, but we have assets that can. Every single one of you has that thing that just makes them shine. Maybe it’s your smile, maybe it’s your hair, but there is something about you that is extraordinary. Whatever it is, we urge you to celebrate it today. Baby, there ain’t nothing wrong with a little indulgent self-love, and here at Scotch & The Fox- we aren’t afraid to partake.