Radical Self-Care


My mother would flood the house with the smell of minestrone soup and mulled apple cider while lighting candles after cleaning all day. She had a brilliant way of making any place we lived in feel cozy and home-y. She still does. I try to replicate it as I've moved around myself, and it's true that one of my favorite things to do is to cook for others and have a comfortable home.

We moved around a bit as my parents divorced when I was 15. It was no bother to me though because they were both happier without each other and co-parented well as I finished high-school and even through college. I was brought up to do whatever I wanted to do. My dreams were nurtured and my parents didn't throw a fit when I wanted to major in Creative Writing.

I tried really hard to attend college in Alabama. My father was in the Navy and is from there, so one of his perks was that any of his children could attend a state school for free. I think I applied to 5 schools in Alabama and only 3 in New England. In the end, though, my carefree 17-year-old self felt like student loans didn't matter to me, I just wanted to be happy. (ha-ha).

And I was, although I struggle a bit now I loved my education in New Hampshire. Because I loved this school so much, I settled for minoring in Creative Writing and majoring in Journalism. I loved it. As we all know, even before 2011, the economy was going down and going down fast. I was searching relentlessly for a job after college as I missed my independence and freedom from home.

My family dynamic shifted more over the years, however. I think my father was hoping I would be on my own succeeding immediately after school, but it just wasn't the case. After 3 months of looking for a job, he kicked me out and our relationship suffered. I went to stay with my mother who kept up a cozy, welcoming home and bed for me to sleep in. A few days later I got a job at the Hartford Courant. Communication and patience, everyone, leads to longevity in relationships.

It was during this time I began to think more about my diet. I had already been a vegetarian for 4.5 years at this point, but coming out of college I had definitely indulged in my fair share of 2 a.m. pizza slices, jalapeno poppers and nachos. I came across a fitness duo (Tone It Up!) and they were my first education to eating more mindfully. I began to take care of myself.

After a few months of working with the newspaper, I found myself struggling to be happy. I wasn't really ready for a career. I wanted to volunteer, travel, help people. My mother encouraged me to apply for AmeriCorps NCCC. Next thing I knew, I quit my job and went to serve 10-months in the mid-west. Iowa was my home base and I was working on prescribed burns, building projects, chainsawing, and as a camp counselor!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... It was during this year that what had happened between my father and I was eating away at me without me even realizing it. Anytime something bad happened to me, I would push it down or shove it aside because I never considered my problems to be problems. I was thankful to have my limbs, thankful to have food on the table, thankful my parents were alive, etc... Don't get me wrong, it's good to have a wide perspective, but our problems are still our problems, and mine were wanting to be acknowledged.

Now, I would drink alcohol now and again, but I never felt like it had a control over me. I didn't "need" a drink. But, when I did drink, I would black-out. That only happened a couple times in college, so I was surprised it was happening in my adult life. When I returned home from AmeriCorps, I fell into a deep depression. I took a year to serve, and when I came home I saw my friends and peers already successful in their careers, able to afford an apartment, etc... Here I was, 23, living with my mom working at a coffee shop and trying to write when I could. I was terrified my mother would do the same thing as my father, and no matter how many times she assured me, I couldn't shake my anxiety.

I would wake up and go to work because I had to. Then I would come home, exhausted, lay on the couch and watch TV. I wouldn't shower. I would alternate between binge eating and not eating. It took all my effort just to get up and use the bathroom. During this time, I was already practicing yoga for over a year. When my mom tried to tell me that she thought I was depressed, I laughed. I do yoga! I'm not depressed.

One day I really tried to do it on my own. I didn't want to be put on medication. I tried to go for a run, take yoga, make a smoothie. When I made my smoothie, I dropped the glass blender and made a huge mess as it shattered everywhere. I couldn't muster the strength to clean it up, so I went to sit outside and close my eyes. My mother came home, frightened. This, among many other instances, was part of my wake up call.

I went to an out-patient care center. I confronted my feelings internally and with counselors about my dad. I learned the importance of expressing anger. I quit drinking. I wanted to get better. I was able to take time off of work to go to these appointments and intensive care days. I made an effort to go to yoga daily and to take a shower daily. I got on medication.

Medication was what I needed to give me the first UMPH to get out of bed and in the shower. I'm grateful to that.

During this time, I even went to complete my 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training at Kripalu. I had already applied a while ago, and as my episodes happened I was fearful I wouldn't be well enough to go. I was determined, so I did. That training was where my deeper healing happened. My intention the entire time was healing. I even put a rock that said 'heal' on it on our class altar.

It was through my time in out-patient care and my teacher training that I started to understand the importance of self-care. I wasn't taking care of myself or acknowledging myself, and I could have gone a very different route. I truly believe my mom and yoga saved me.

During this training, I was introduced to Ayurveda, the sister-science to yoga. The wisdom of life. I learned lifestyle practices that all come around to self-care for better sleep, mood, digestion, and immunity.

It was radical to me, to take care of myself like this. To put myself as a priority and to acknowledge my feelings, to work through them, to know its okay to feel sadness and anger, to breathe and move and cry and punch and stomp and lay down and FEEL.

To cook my food and put oil on my body and use more spices. In time, this was how I was able to get off of my medication and heal with the rhythm of nature.

It was like I froze, paused, and I could see the rest of the world around me, going, rushing, sick, tired. I had a new pair of eyes. With the amount of pressure we as a society put on ourselves, it is RADICAL to pause, to take care.

In a world that is looking for the next thing and the next thing, it is RADICAL to look at what you have, what's around you, what the air feels like, what colors you see, what you smell.

It's a radical thing, to stop. It's my mission to show you how simple and life-changing it can be.

Let's have a session together and co-create something that fits in your lifestyle. There's power in pausing.

Let's look around together.

In health and harmony,

Justine

#Ayurveda #Yoga #Selfcare #Pause #Radical #Healing

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