Romance Your Self-Care: Why Your Relationship with Yourself is the Most Important of Your Life (The Perpetual You, 2018)
Remarkable You: When We Pay Attention to Our Rare Qualities We Grow Inspired (The Perpetual You, 2018)
Small Town, Big Love: How Adopting an Optimistic Attitude Can Connect You to Your Community (The Perpetual You, 2018)
Own Your Story: A Conversation About Forgiveness, Healing, Growth & Strength with Bernadette Slowey (The Perpetual You, 2018)
Doorway to Wonder: How Indulging Your Inner Child Breeds Curiosity & Brings Healing (The Perpetual You, 2018)
Imperfectly You: Embrace Your Quirks + Deepen Your Relationships (The Perpetual You, 2018)
Coming Home to Your Body: Settling Into Being Can Boost Your Energy and Your Emotions (The Perpetual You, 2018)
Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe: On the Importance of Cultivating Sisterhood (The Perpetual You, 2018)
This Year, Choose You: Discover Your Worthiness by Reflecting on Your Triumphs (The Perpetual You, 2018)
The Real You: How Reflecting on Your Story can Deepen Your Relationships (The Perpetual You, 2018)
Comfort + Connection: Tending to Relationships with Gratitude (The Perpetual You, 2017)
Blaze (Bella Grace, 2017)
Solo Act: The Search for the Independent Female in Literature (pamphlet, 2013)
The Art of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ (pamphlet, 2013)
In her 2016 book of essays, Upstream, Mary Oliver wrote about her Great Ones - writers of the past whose philosophies and ideas guided her own experience of the world. “With them I live my life,” she wrote; “with them I enter the event, mold the meditation, keep if I can some essence of the hour, even as it slips away.” Oliver’s Great Ones included Wordsworth, Shelley, Emerson, and Thoreau, to name a few. “My great ones will be different from your great ones,” she advised. I smile as I recognize that of all my Great Ones, Mary herself tops the list.
There is an extraordinary journey being offered to you, an invitation down a quieter, less-traveled, yet all the more scenic path. It's the journey into your own authenticity, but to get there requires the courage to cross through more treacherous terrain: the crags of fear and the bogs of doubt. At points along the way you'll reach clearings that will stop your breath with their beauty, their aliveness. You may not believe it to be a real place, but after time you'll realize that it's true and it's there, a place inside yourself where a distant voice whispers to you that you are enough.
Sometimes, I write love letters to myself.
They're healing, they're powerful; they're necessary. I'll scribble them from time to time into my journal and fold down the page in dog-eared fashion so I can quickly go back to find a compassionate pep talk when I feel like I need one. I don't remember how I got started on this practice or what motivated me to stick with it through the initial awkwardness. (Because it was awkward; and how!)
Like first beginning a journaling practice, writing letters to yourself can seem positively painstaking - even when you have no intention of sharing this writing with an audience, you still feel ever so much like a fool. Maybe this is because self-compassion is still a radical idea for many of us. But the more you do it, the more powerful the practice becomes, and the more in touch you become with your own capacity for kindness, patience, and love.
Somewhere on the journey of learning to live fully as someone with social anxiety, there's a new hurdle: learning to keep up emotionally with the newly active social part of yourself. As you grow more comfortable in the situations that previously provoked fear or avoidance a surprising thing can happen: you can find yourself becoming more social, more outgoing than your emotional self is prepared for. This is especially true of socially anxious folks who lean toward the introverted end of the spectrum. Suddenly there's a new, rather bombastic voice in the mix that wants to go on all those fabulous adventures the fearful self had been so good at talking you out of. And before you know it, you're burned out with trying to keep up with this newly-freed sense of creative living.
In my work with my therapist and my personal self-care practice I most often refer to my anxious self as my “inner child.” The reasoning stems from my experiences growing up and the moments when I felt scared and powerless, which ultimately shaped the way anxiety would manifest within me as an adult. In an Instagram post earlier in the year I elaborated on my fearful younger self and the compassion I’ve developed for her.
A favorite piece of wisdom I’ve gathered from American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron is the idea of, as she says it, learning to “stay with the raw feelings.” It sounds scary, and at some levels it is, but at the easiest level for me to get to this practice of staying with the raw feelings is natural, human, basic.
’m learning that we are vastly layered beings, complex in our imperfections, which we are so quick to scorn and which we so quickly try to hide, avoid, or fix. But every imperfection is just as much a method of communicating with ourselves. Fear, I’ve learned, may seem like a basic inconvenience, but underneath it – as with so many things – there is a part of ourselves that is just trying to be seen, that just wants to communicate our struggle. Listening, I’ve learned, is most certainly not a weakness. Listening does not mean giving in. Listening means bearing witness.
The search for validation, as I’ve come to know it, is the offspring of insecurity. But it’s not just about the need to be accepted: it’s the belief that we are unable to validate ourselves. When the weight of that realization fully hit me I thought: You, self, need to give yourself permission. You need to give yourself permission to see, to discover, to hold, to understand, to be okay. You need to give yourself permission to be your own validation. You also need to give yourself permission to make mistakes, to fail and to look foolish.
It seems silly that such a simple activity can hold so much sway on a person, but it really rings true for me. The only way I can think to explain it is simply that I am, at the heart of it all, a writer. I have no other word to put in front of it – I’m not any one type of writer. My only thoughts when I realized how much better I felt after starting again was, It must really be deep down in my bones.
The holidays have always been special to me in part because they offer a bit of wisdom in dealing with the things that can weigh our shoulders down; rather than avoiding, escaping, ignoring, they teach us to shine a light. The holidays don’t symbolize turning away from what’s difficult, but rather turning towards it, letting the unsightly dark spots of life be seen; witnessing them, accepting them, and most importantly, sending love and peace where it’s needed. What the holidays symbolize, as it turns out, is remarkable instruction on how to live.
Their interconnectedness was what I found most remarkable. It takes the openness of creativity and the diligence of courage to be compassionate. And it takes both gentle compassion and creative expression (for tapping into authenticity) to be truly, effectively courageous. And without the sensitivity of compassion or the daring of courage we cannot reach the apex of our creativity.
I know fear all too well because it’s loud. It flails its arms helplessly and pleads against the outlandish creativity and its little offspring dreams to stay quiet, stay where it’s safe. It pleads with courage to stay there, too, because as far as fear is concerned you just never can tell when courage will do something foolish and get you into a situation that will cause you untold embarrassment. And once that happens, courage will leave you there, and fear will be the only one to keep you company. Oh, except shame. And regret. And anguish. Its kin.
But courage doesn’t really leave. It just does what fear, in its blind panic, has trained it so well to do: it gets quiet.