Saturday, April 30, 2011

Self Care Girl Likes...

“I shall need to sleep three weeks on end to get rested from the rest I've had” - Thomas Mann

Self Care Girl Likes......WEEKENDS!

First,  I was thinking of how much I love sleeping in on the weekend....but then I remembered,  I really like to get up early sometimes on a weekend morning-before everyone else is up- and just enjoy my cup of coffee and quiet morning solitude.

The real truth is that I love my weekends.   Especially the lazy ones...when the sun is shining...and the possibilities of the day are endless.   (Today is going to be one of those days!)

Weekends- those fabulous little breaks from work we get to devote just to resting and having fun- are just good Self Care!

I hope you will take the time to enjoy one soon!

Take Good Care!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Love and Marriage

Love one another and you will be happy.  It's as simple and as difficult as that.  ~Michael Leunig

Watching the Royal Wedding has put me in a romantic mood.    I am a huge fan of happy marriage and completely enamored of the idea of fairy tale love and commitment and happily ever after.   

Love and marriage –as I know it – is both simple and difficult; effortless and exasperating.   The real truth about marriage is that it doesn’t work unless both people are committed to putting in the effort to make it work.    

This requires respect and patience and a willingness to adjust and adapt.    After almost 10 years of marriage, Mr Self Care and I hire out most of our home improvements now; I feign to keep my mouth shut when my Knight in Shining Armor drives 5 below the speed limit and a line of cars are impatiently creeping along behind us; I ask for space and forgiveness during that one day each month when, hormonally, I just cannot be nice.    

Comfortable routines develop too- I cook, he washes dishes…I wash clothes, he irons them…we go grocery shopping together on Sunday mornings…on Friday nights we snuggle on the couch and watch movies…

I have been fortunate to discover that a good marriage is a respite.   No matter how crazy, stressful and unbearable the real world is on the outside- knowing that I can come inside my home and experience peace, encouragement, love and comfort from my own prince charming makes it all bearable.   

When you are in love and happily married, you want others to experience the same.    The realities of the Royal union are much more complex- I know-but, I am really hoping that Wills and Kate do live happily ever after.     

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Self Care Girl Stress Survival Guide

Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.  ~John De Paola

April is Stress Awareness month (and I have been so busy, I almost missed it!)

Here is the Self Care Girl Quick Guide to Stress Identification & Reduction:

5 Signs You Might Be Stressed:

1)      You are short on patience
2)      You are forgetful
3)      You have a headache and/or  your body is tense
4)      You are neglecting basic needs: sleep, eating, companionship,
5)      You keep making mistakes

5 Ways to Combat Stress:

1)      Take a break immediately and regularly- even just a few minutes of deep breathing and stretching (and breathing some more) will help. The best time to take a break is when you least feel you have time for one!)
2)      Ensure your basic needs are being met- eat more healthy, go to bed earlier, surround yourself with supportive and helpful people (Ask for and accept help!)
3)      Walk.   This is the best way I know of to sort things out and regain perspective
4)      Write.   Sometimes keeping too much information in your head can increase your stress level.   Make lists- remove those items that are low priority
5)      Let go of what you cannot control.   Yes, this is easier said than done, but it does get easier with practice.  Ultimately you have to trust in God or the Universe on some things.   Ask yourself “what is the worst that can happen” then ask “in 100 years will anyone care?”

Honestly, some stress can be very motivating and good for us, but if the stress in your life is causing you misery it is probably NOT the good kind!   No matter what circumstances are invading your life, your health and well-being must come first.  

Take Good Care!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Different Is A Good Thing!

One who walks in another's tracks leaves no footprints.  ~Proverb

One secret to success I learned in business school is to look at what is currently offered in the marketplace and then improve upon it.   

We were told to emphasize our product strengths and to focus on what makes our product or service different.     

I was thinking of this concept today from a “personal” perspective.    The same principle holds true for individuals.    What makes us interesting and attractive and successful is not in how we are alike, but in how we are different.   

Keeping up with the images we see on television and the appearances of prosperous lifestyles that we may perceive around us can have a negative impact on our feelings of well-being.     

Ultimately, it is not the attainment of material things that will make us happy in our lives.   What brings us the most fulfillment is the quality of the relationships we have with others and –I believe even more important- the quality of the relationship and acceptance we give to ourselves!

These are some of the ways I am different:

  1. I haven’t paid a cable bill in over 15 years.   (I am okay with this!)
  2. I hate politics  (I am neither democrat, republican, liberal, progressive nor conservative…or maybe I am a little of each…not too sure, but also not too concerned)
  3. I am committed to becoming debt free and retiring at the age of 50.
  4. I love to do NOTHING sometimes.   In fact I can do NOTHING for long periods of time and be okay with it.
  5. I have 1, 5 and 10 year plans- I am very goal oriented. (And patient too!)
  6. I am not afraid to try new things…I am not afraid of change (unless it involves a permanent loss of someone I love- I am afraid of that)
  7. I will try any food once…twice if I like it.   (There aren’t many foods that I don’t like)
  8. I am not a fan of big public events.   I would rather stay home than have to deal with navigating through traffic and big crowds.
  9. I believe in continuous education...never stop learning and becoming.
  10.  I prefer to spend my money on experiences over things.   For this reason, I drive an older car and need new furniture in my home…but I am well-traveled.

I encourage you to take an inventory and celebrate your differences too!

Take Good Care!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Self Care Girl's 5 Rules For Life

“A few strong instincts and a few plain rules suffice us” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

1) Take care of your body. The 3 most important things your body needs are Exercise, Healthy Food and Sleep. Your body was made for moving - so move it. Your body doesn’t know what to do with most of the ingredients that are added to our over-processed food supply- it prefers wholesome, healthy food. Eat organic and unprocessed as much as possible. Get a full night’s sleep – aim for 8 hours.

2) Never stop learning new things. Keep your brain in continuous training. Learn how to do something new, or how to do something old better. Read! Do crossword puzzles. Challenge yourself to see the world from different perspectives.

3) Express Yourself. Communicate what you feel and what you need. Most people do not possess the psychic ability to know when they have hurt you or when they have made your day- be sure to tell them! Most people do possess the desire and the ability to help out if you need them. Ask for help when you need it! Employ the serenity prayer often. (Change what you can, Let go, let God & handle what you can’t change)

4) Love. Romance your spouse. Play with your children. Gather your girlfriends often. Surround yourself with positive, happy, inspiring people and be that positive, happy, inspiring person that others need in their lives.

5) Dream BIG! Imagine the possibilities. Determine the steps to get there. Set Goals and take the first step. Do it YOUR way!  Do not let anyone tell you that something is impossible or silly. Show them they are wrong by making it happen.

Monday, April 25, 2011

That's NOT Food!

Chemicals, n:  Noxious substances from which modern foods are made.  ~Author Unknown

The more I am eating healthy, the more I am aware of  (and oversensitive to) the amount of unhealthy food that people eat in our country. 

Mr Self Care and I were walking around a local park on Saturday evening.   The weather was beautiful.   A couple of little league games were wrapping up and several families were taking advantage of the warmer temperature to picnic in the park.  

The concessions stand was open and all around us kids were dining on sugar and hot dogs.   We saw no less than 3 parents sitting with McDonald's meals.   One family sat at a picnic table with two little kids dining on Dairy Queen.   Another family had 2 Little Cesaer's boxes and several bottles of cola.

I am conscious of the fact that these are busy times.   With both parents working and doing their best to raise healthy, active kids, I know that sometimes the convenience of fast food is appealing.   The problem is that it is not food....and families are not dining on these meals just "sometimes".

I was listening to a lecture recently about sugar toxicity.  The professor stated that our Western Diet is a popular one.   It is appealing because it is portable, has a long shelf life, and - due to the large quantities of fat and sugar- it tastes good too.      Consequently, the Western Diet is proving detrimental to other countries that adopt our toxic diet.   There is a strong correlation between eating the American Way- high fat, high sugar, low nutrient, huge portions- and a the rise of obesity rates, diabetes and heart disease in countries that have traditionally eaten what was available to them culturally and locally.

The purpose of my post is not to instill guilt or to chastise.  I am always happy to see families spending time together in the park!   I just want to raise some awareness about what we put into our bodies.   We need healthy food to be healthy.

Making small dietary changes- instead of huge sweeping ones- can be a step in the right direction.   I encourage you to start today with these important changes:
  1. Love yourself.   This is the first step to doing right by yourself!
  2. Be mindful about what you are eating and feeding your family.   Simple awareness can lead to better choices.
  3. Make just one improvement at a time.   This week (or month) get in the habit of adding a piece of fruit to your diet.   Next week (or month) cut out sugar.  
Since I have started eating healthier, I have lost weight, I have more energy, I sleep better at night, my blood pressure is down and I just feel better overall!   I really want you to experience feeling this good too!  

Take Good Care!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Self Care Girl is Away from Her Computer Today...

...because she had to make a cheesecake for Easter....and hunt for some eggs. 

We are having a quiet day today with a very "lite" but festive Easter meal.   I found this Lemon Verbena Cheese Cake recipe with only 188 kcalories a slice - thought it sounded perfect

I have attached a link to the recipe  (although I wish I could share a slice with you!)

Lemon Verbena Cheesecake

I hope your Easter is filled with lots of fun and family time!

Take Good Care!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Self Care Girl Likes...


“The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one's appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship.”   - Amelia Earhart

Today, Self Care Girl Likes:

Being home....

Drinking coffee from my favorite mug....

On the back deck....

with Mr Self Care....

 To me, this is...HEAVEN!

Take Good Care!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

Take nothing but pictures.
Leave nothing but footprints.
Kill nothing but time.
~Motto of the Baltimore Grotto, a caving society

It should be no surprise that my primary motivation for putting forth this "environ-mental" post is self care  (that is what we do here, afterall).   My premise is that if we truely take care of ourselves, we are in a better position to do something positive for our planet and we increase our stake in making sure the world is a better place to live.   
So what do I mean when I talk about environ-mental self care?

I am talking about being mindful about the products you use and the food that you eat and the effects that these everyday consumables have on our planet and YOU!

Make a vow to make one change today that will be beneficial for the Earth and your good health.

 A few ideas:
  1. Give up plastic!  Apart from  burdening our landfills, plastics are bad news....Did you know those plastic lids on your Coffee shop to-go cups are toxic!  You can learn more about identifying bad and safer plastics at this site:  Know your Plastics!
  2. Support local farms.  Not only are small farmers a worthy investment,  but you'll get better quality, more flavorful and fresher food, and many CSAs do not cost any more than your local supermarket. 
  3. Walk more, drive less. 
  4. Plant trees...plant shrubs..plant vegetables...plant flowers.  Gardening is good, soulful exercise.  Plants creates oxygen, and flowers will make you happy.
  5. Unplug and get outside!.  How many hours a day are you connected to a cell phone, laptop, television, I-Pod, etc etc etc.   Fresh air and a good walk about are so beneficial to you.   Take a hike,  have a picnic, connect with people you love! 
Take Good Care!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

In the Lap of Luxury

“It is impossible to overdo luxury”  -French Proverb

For some reason most of the quotes that I referenced online for "pampering" and "indulgence" were quite negative.   There seems to be this mindset that treating yourself special can -over long periods of time -make you a heartless person. 

We have all heard it said that we should guard ourselves against excess,"everything in moderation", and "too much of good thing..." can be a bad thing.  Obviously, you won't be able to supply anything useful to the world or anyone else if you spend all your time at the day spa...and what will you appreciate if you get everything you wish for?

I think that I am going to side with the French on this one..."it is impossible to overdo luxury"

Unless you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth and are not a nice person to begin with...(and I would wager neither is true!)... I am absolutely confident you will not find your heart growing icicles if you suddenly start getting regular pedicures, buying yourself flowers and boxes of chocolat tied with a bow, eating at fine restaurants or traveling to tropical locations. 

If you are like most women, indulging yourself is often relegated to last place. You may not think you deserve it.   You many not think that it is necessary.    And, quite frankly, you may not think you have time for it, because...let's face it...your life is occupied and exhausted by other priorities... running your home, meeting the needs of your family and coping with the demands of your work.   Many of us do not practice any moderation when it comes to these priorities.   We don't allow ourselves even the tiniest amount of wiggle room to recharge our batteries and nurture our own souls. 

The goal of Self Care Girl is to encourage you to incorporate luxuries and self-care time into your busy lives in big and small ways. 

If the idea of indulging yourself feels "selfish" and incites guilt within in you, keep in mind  that by adding these little (and big) luxuries to your life -by practicing self -love and self-nurturing - you will become a better, stronger, more compassionate person.  Self care is one way to equip yourself with more patience, more resilience and more love which- in the long run- only serves to benefit the people around you. 

Luxuries and indulgences do not have to be expensive.  Here are a few things you can do that cost nothing or very little:

1) Journal - at the end of each day, take 20 minutes to write down your feelings and thoughts.  Getting stuff out of your head and onto paper or blog spot is therapeutic.

2) Bubble baths - Put a do not disturb sign on the bathroom door and take a soak.  Adding fragrant bubbles, a handful of flower petals, candles and/or music can turn a weekly soak in to a fabulous spa night

3) Practice Yoga - or just spend a few minutes after you wake up, or before retiring for the night doing some gentle stretches and breathing.
4) Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers

5) Keep a hidden chocolate stash

6) Clear a personal space in your home that is just for you.   A corner of your bedroom will do fine.  Hijack a cozy chair and small table and then surround yourself with a few items that comfort you.  Try to incorporate something that engages each of your senses

7) Be mindful and present in whatever you are doing.   Appreciate the beauty around you.

8) Meditate

9) Develop a daily self care routine.  I do mine before going to bed.  This can be 10 minutes of cleansing and moisturizing your face each evening or simply 20 minutes of reading and a cup of tea.

10) Accentuate.   When I was a broke and struggling single mom, one surprising little indulgence I found was pillow cases.   I would treat myself to a new set of pretty pillowcases for my bed.   These often cost me less than $5 at Ross and they added just the right amount of fresh change to my personal space.   A small thing can sometimes make a huge impact.

Take Good Care!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bee Yourself!

“Be what you would seem to be - or, if you'd like it put more simply - never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.” - Lewis Carroll

I really love Lewis Carroll.  While I developed a serious headache trying to decipher that quote, I believe I am correct in my interpretation:  No matter who you are, you cannot help but be yourself.   And quite frankly, you can be whatever you put your mind to!

Being yourself seems like it would be quite easy, but I think everyone has had an experience where we chose not to share who we really were, or we pretended to be someone we weren't, because in the moment we didn't think we could be ourselves.   

There are definately times in my own life where I had to stop and ask myself the question "Who am I?"   Usually these little self exploration sessions followed an episode when I wasn't feeling confident, or felt overconfident, when I hurt someone unintentionally or when someone unintentionally hurt me.   One thing I can attest to about myself:  I am not Perfect!  But I do try my best to do the right thing and to be honest.

The reality is that being your authentic self takes more than just knowing yourself, it also takes courage and heart to stand up for yourself and sometimes simply to be yourself.

I have found journaling very helpful when self soul searching.   I ask a probing question and then spend 15 minutes or so just making a list.  (This is where the joy list provided in a previous post comes from!).   Some of my more creative friends have put together collages this way too.

Here are some good self-exploration questions:
  1. Who are you?  Begin each answer-or your list- with "I am..."
  2. What makes you happy?  (Joy list question)
  3. Where are you going?  Begin each answer -or your list- with "In 1 year, I will..." (choose whatever increment of time you wish)
  4. What do you want to be known for
  5. What makes you mad?
  6. What makes you sad? 
  7. What would you change about yourself?  What can't you change about yourself?
  8. What about you is just right?
  9. What do you want to do before you die?
  10. Who are you NOT?
There are probably a million other questions.   You can apply this exercise to a specific situation:  "At work I am happiest when..."  or "Whenever I am around (Jane Doe) I am..."   or more broadly as demonstrated above.  

The most important part is to take what you learn from the exercises to heart and "be what you would seem to be"

To Thine Own Self Be True!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Post HCG, Round 1: Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

The one way to get thin is to re-establish a purpose in life.  ~Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave


During the first round of the HCG diet I have lost 30lbs and almost 2 dress sizes.  What I gained was a renewed emphasis on portion control, an understanding about what foods my body will not tolerate well (bread and sugar), and the importance of sleep, exercise and my caloric intake. 

As I embark on the maintenance phase of my new healthy lifestyle.   I have a few rules that I will be following.   I think that this strategy will help me to continue to lose weight, become increasingly healthy and moderate my love of fabulous food. 

This is my philosophy.  I think parts of it may differ from what many experts would prescribe.  But it makes sense to me...I think it will work for me...and I happen to know ME better than any expert does.   My philosophy is also not written in stone.   I will monitor how I feel, if I gain weight or if something is just not working well for me and I will make adjustments as needed.

My Current Healthy Philosophy:

1)      I will eat fresh, in season, minimally processed organic foods only.  To me it is about quality and flavor.   Fruits and vegetables taste so much better when freshly picked.   Grass fed lean beef, wild caught salmon, free-range chicken are more likely to NOT contain harmful bacteria and metals than those meats that are processed on commercial farms.   These foods are better for me.    I am not bothered paying extra for these foods.  To me, paying extra for quality food is a good investment. 

2)      I will not be eating starches or sugars very often.   I believe that these foods will inhibit my on-going weight loss.    I will allow myself to indulge (moderately) on special occasions (birthdays, holidays, weddings, parties etc..)

3)      I will drink lots of water

4)      I will not eat “low-fat” anything.  Instead I will eat full-fat dairy products in serious moderation.   I am all about flavor and the processing that some of our low-fat foods go through is much worse for a person than eating something that is full fat.

5)      I will continue to watch my calories – both how much I take in, and how much I burn through exercise.  

6)      I will eat a wide variety of foods- mostly vegetables, at least a serving of fruit per day, and adequate amounts of protein.  I will plan my meals and snacks in advance to ensure that I am prepared and eating a balanced diet.

7)      I will get a good night’s sleep.  Sleep is important for recharging the body and studies show that it is important to health and weight management.   I noticed a huge difference in weight loss while on HCG when I got a good nights sleep versus when I didn't.  
8)      I will practice good dental care.   Flossing, brushing and getting regular check-ups and cleanings.   A recent study shows a correlation between good dental hygiene and weight management.
9)      I will continue to monitor my blood pressure.   One of the best things that I achieved with my recent weight loss is that my blood pressure is down.  My doctor agreed to discontinue my prescription.  I am watching to ensure that it continues to stay down!  Eating healthy, exercise and losing more weight will definitely help this.   Also taking time each day to meditate.

10)   I will exercise each day.  This is not my favorite thing to do, but I will continue to look for ways to move that I find enjoyable.

So what do you think?   Do you have a food philosophy of your own?  I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

Take Good Care!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Spring Cleaning the Brain

“A healthy self-love means we have no compulsion to justify to ourselves or others why we take vacations, why we sleep late, why we buy new shoes, why we spoil ourselves from time to time. We feel comfortable doing things which add quality and beauty to life.” -Andrew Matthews

Many of us have been spring cleaning for weeks now, getting our gardens in order and the clothes in our closets swapped over for warmer weather.    Spring cleaning is a lot of work, but essential for clearing out the old and making room for the new and keeping us somewhat uncluttered and sane.  

You may be surprised to learn that your brain requires regular "spring cleaning" sessions too.   Scientists have been studying the effects of sleep on the brains of fruit flies and have determined that the brain uses our sleep time to get a much needed break from producing synapses all day long.  When you sleep, the brain is effectively clearing out all the non-essential data it collected during your previous waking hours.

First I am amazed that they chose fruit fly brains for these studies - I was unaware that fruit flies had brains that are similar to humans.  (scary, sci-fi movie plot if you ask me), and second I am fascinated by the idea that this very important work that helps improve memory and increase capacity for learning happens with little effort on our part.  

My self care goal for this week is to adhere to my 9:30pm bedtime each night.   I will keep you posted on how that goes.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Self Care Girl Is Site Seeing

It is not down in any map; true places never are.  ~Herman Melville

Sorry I missed your visit...but it is Sunday- and I have chosen this as my one "unplugged" day for the week.

Mr Self Care and I are taking advantage of my last weekend in S. Carolina (I am here for work).  We still have so much to see and do here.

The weather in Charleston is absolutely beautiful.  It feels like summertime.  While at home in Seattle, it is pretty miserable and doesn't quite feel like spring yet.  So, it would be a complete shame to spend the day in front of a computer.

Not sure what we are going to do with our day yet...but Mr S.C. wants to try some she-crab soup and we both want to find a good beach.  Yesterday we went to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.   It was absolutely gorgeous.  The picture above is of us at the garden.   (BTW:  Mr SC is 6'6"- so I am really not as short as I appear there - I am just a full foot shorter than him!)

Hope you get to spend some quality time with someone you love today too!

Take Good Care!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Self Care Girl Loves....Mr Self Care!

To find someone who will love you for no reason, and to shower that person with reasons, that is the ultimate happiness.  ~Robert Brault

Today is National Husband Appreciation Day!    Because this day coincides with my weekly Self Care Girl Likes post...I could not miss the opportunity to highlight the man of my dreams, my personal barista, my knight in shining armor, my prince charming, soul mate, and best friend.   (It sounds like I have a complete husband harem here, but truthfully my ONE husband is all these things to me)

Self Care Girl Likes  Loves....Mr Self Care.

My gorgeous husband in Maui

Pretty darn sexy, don't ya think?

I met Mr Self Care in 1997 at work.   He left his home in England to work as a contract engineer in the U.S.   His plan was to work for a year and save enough money to go back home and buy a house.   He walked into my office one day and we struck up a conversation.  The rest is pretty much history.  All of his home-buying plans were suddenly thrown out the window.

I was a divorced, single mom.  My son was seven.   I wasn't particularly interested in meeting anyone...well, maybe that isn't completely true.   I had a list of requirements...a very specific and impossible list of traits that I would not compromise on.   Quite frankly, I didn't think that my ideal existed.   Mr Self Care proved me wrong. 

He is a complete gentleman, he encourages me to pursue my dreams, he loves the same things I do- wine, good food, travel. He's romantic.  He picks up after himself. He is hardworking, and most important he really committed himself to caring for my son.

We married in July of 2001 and Mr S.C. became "half" American in 2009.  (He still retains his English citizenship). 

Perhaps the most unique trait my Prince Charming possesses is that he makes a mean cup of coffee.  He worked a short stint as a barista at Starbucks when his contract at my company ended.  And let me tell you... No one makes my favorite latte like he does!

Mr. S.C.  is an important part of my self care exploration. While the goal of self care is to take very good care of yourself, sometimes it is good to have someone around to regularly show you what that means.

Everyone should have someone in their life who loves them unconditionally - someone who cares for you when you aren't doing a very good job of caring for yourself.    Mr Self Care is that someone for me.   I consider myself among the lucky women  in the world.   I really do appreciate having him in my life!

Take Good Care!  (and show that special man in your life some extra love today!)

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Little Method To This Madness...

"The thing about those basic needs, is that it feels so good when they get met." paraphrased from my best friend's ex-boyfriend (he was good at saying the right things at least...)

Just wanted to throw this chart out there. I think it is the key model for our self care exploration- sort of lays everything out nice and neat. And I am a stickler for having some order to things.

This pyramid lays out Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs. Maslow theorized that people are motivated by these needs. The ones on the bottom - the physiological- are our most basic needs. Without a sound foundation here, people will sacrifice their higher needs (toward the top of the pyramid) until those lower, more basic needs are met.

I plan to explore these a bit over the next few weeks- starting from the bottom and working my way up to the top.

Already, I can see the areas that I am good at and other areas that could use some attention.

Self Care Assignment: Study the pyramid. Which of these do you excel at? Which do you think you could use more work on?

Take Good Care.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Family Night

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family” -Anthony Brandt

Before starting this HCG diet, Friday night was pizza night at our home.   The tradition started years ago when my son was little, but Mr Self Care and I continued to celebrate Fridays with pizza and a movie,or a game, even after the nest was empty.  The evening has just gone from fun family night, to a more intimate romantic date night.  

Sadly, with our new eating plan, "pizza" night will become "salad" night at our home!  You can make this night taco night, or spaghetti night, or choose any food that is easily prepared that your family finds comforting.

The benefits of having this scheduled each week are many, but the highlights for us are time spent together, the reliability and stability that the routine of it brings to our lives and the fact that I didn't have to stress over what to have for dinner on Friday nights.   Make the night as simple as possible so you can focus on the people you are sharing it with!

We are all at different stages of our lives.   Some of us have little ones and some of us live alone.   Whatever the state of your current life I encourage you to add a little bit of routine social self care.   Spend some time with the people you love. 

If you are single, this can be a weekly evening out to dinner with the girls, or a weekly pot luck with your friends, or a visit to your parents home.   Sure you could (and should) also have time alone each week with a spa kit, but the focus of this blog post is on social self care! 

If you have a hubby and no kids in the house, make it a night to use up all the leftovers in the house as finger food and play scrabble or monopoly.

If you have teens at home, you might encourage them to invite a friend or two- but don't let them disappear into their rooms- encourage their interaction with the whole family too.  A Wii tournament might be one way to keep them engaged.

Fostering our family relationships is good self care!

Have fun!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What did you want to be when you were little?

"Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.” - William Somerset Maugham

I have a theory that -for many of us- the time when we truly knew what we wanted to be in life was when we were young.  

As children, we imagined being teachers, rock stars, police officers, secretaries, moms and doctors- the world was completely ours for the making. 

We were mostly untainted by the influences that told us what we can or can't become, or what we should or shouldn't do.  And we hadn't developed those annoying voices within that started doubting our capabilities.   The probing question: "what would you do if you had an endless supply of money?"   is not too far afield from the question "what do you want to be when you grow up?"   In both cases we ask the same question - if you had no responsibilities (because you can afford it, or don't realize you are going to need to afford it)  what would you do with your life?

If you are - like many people - still wondering what you want to be when you grow up....and feeling a sense of urgency because you realize every day that you might actually already be grown up, and you still don't have a clue...

I recommend that you take some time to explore what things you imagined when you were a child.   What was your favorite game?  How did you like to spend your time?   Did you have a natural talent in music, or art, writing or sports?

We spend so much of our lives at work.  It is essential that we have careers that are aligned with our talents and passions...It is very good self care to love what you do each day!

Take Good Care!

***Artwork is IMAGINATION by ArchanN- check it out:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Symphony of Life

My Symphony of Life

To live content with small means;
to seek elegance rather than luxury, and
refinement rather than fashion.
To be worthy, not respectable, and
wealthy, not rich; to study hard,
think quietly, talk gently, act frankly;
to listen to stars and birds,
to babes and sages, with open heart;
to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely,
await occasions, hurry never.
In a word, to let the spiritual,
unbidden and unconscious, grow up
through the common.
This will be my Symphony.
-William Henry Channing

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Eat your (Local) Veggies!

To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.
- La Rochefoucauld 

Today, it occurred to me that there is one self care step we can all make that would have widespread impacts on ourselves, our families, our communities and the universe (well, Earth anyway).

Eat your fruit and veggies.

Most people had this message drilled into them from an early age.   We all know by now that fruit and veggies are extremely good for you.  5 servings a day is the mantra. 

Ensuring that you are including veggies and fruit in your diet is the first step.   Produce provides important vitamins, nutrients and fiber that will help you be healthy on the inside.  Healthy on the inside = Beautiful on the outside!

Fresh is better than frozen and frozen is better than canned.

Farmer's markets are opening in virtually ever town this spring and this is a great opportunity for you to invest in the fresh local produce that is going to make you radiant...AND support local small farmers.    Small farms may not all be able to afford the organic certification- please keep this in mind as you shop-but you will find that most of these growers are committed to organic practices and good land stewardship.   If you aren't sure, ASK!  

CSAs are another option for getting fresh local produce delivered straight from the farm.   I have gone this route previously and have found this to be an optimal arrangement.   The food is fresher than you will find in most grocery stores AND the prices in many cases are less or comparable!

Buying vegetables and fruit in season is another way to ensure you get the best quality.   I was raised on an apple orchard and I can attest to the fact that the apple you pick off the tree is always crisp...a season in cold storage destroys that.

I encourage you to get to know where your food is coming from.  When you buy from your local chain grocery store, there are no guarantees about how far your produce has traveled, nor how fresh it is.  When you buy local you support the local economy and you get better quality food.    I think the choice here is a pretty easy one.

Take Good Care!

Self Care Girl Is Sleeping In Today

The amount of sleep required by the average person is five minutes more.  ~Wilson Mizener

Sorry I missed you...I decided to take advantage of a very quiet hotel room to spend the day in my pajamas...with my Kindle...and a cup of tea...

I will be back tomorrow refreshed and ready to face another Monday...I promise!

Take Good Care!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Self Care Likes......

Joy is the best makeup.- Anne Lamotte

Over the past few years, I have gradually incorporated more gentle and organic products into my beauty regimen. 

It started with my hair care products.  I was introduced to John Masters Organics a few years ago and I have used them ever since.

John Masters products are a little more expensive than popular brands you would find at the grocery store.  If you already buy hair products from your local salon, you won't see much difference in price- but these really are better for you and your hair.

When I started using John Masters shampoo, I realized very quickly that I don't have to use conditioner. I think that the only reason we may need conditioner anyway is to counteract the unnecessary drying chemicals they put in regular shampoo.  (It is a conspiracy!)

I really love the scent of the zinc and sage shampoo.  I buy it in the big economy size.

John Masters also has a wonderful orange vanilla lotion and shower gel that I use everyday.   Delicious stuff!

My local organic hair salon carries the John Masters line.  I found out recently that you can buy John Masters Organics at Whole Foods as well.

My transition to healthier beauty products is a work in progress.   I have found some very good products that work well for me, but I still hold on to a few maybe not so healthy cosmetics.   Eventually I hope to be 100% natural and organic.   I truly believe that we are most beautiful when we are healthy inside and out.   Unfortunately many everyday beauty products that are marketed to women contain harmful chemicals that may be counterproductive to our health.

Have you found a healthy beauty product that works well for you?

Take Good Care!

Important Disclaimer:   I am not paid for any reviews provided here.  I blog as a hobby and am not particularly interested in monetizing my self care blog at this time...all items and ideas provided here are purely my "likes", influenced only by my impeccable high standards and my mission in encouraging busy women-like you- to think (and do) more to take good care yourself!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Practice Kindness.

“I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” - Stephan Grellet

A little Self Care Challenge for today:   Perform a random act of kindness. 

Guess what?   Self care is NOT all about YOU!   (Well, actually it is...but...)

The theory is:  When you do something nice for another human being you sow a little seed of goodness in the world.  That seed, planted with care in the right person, under the right conditions, will start to grow and bear fruit which will potentially feed another person who will plant another seed and so on and so on and so on....and as a result, the world will become a brighter, happier, friendlier place to live.   Living in a place where kindness surrounds you is very good for your SELF CARE!

The alternative, of course, is to do nothing -which is preferable to doing evil, but not likely to make a difference to the world in the long run.   It won't benefit you or anyone to do nothing.

So go out today and do some good!    Please share what goodness you planted in the comments.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Morning People

If people were meant to pop out of bed, we'd all sleep in toasters.  ~Author unknown, attributed to Jim Davis

I have decided today that I am a Morning Person.

Am I the type of person who jumps up- all bright eyed, bushy tailed and ready to face the day- when the alarm goes off at 5am?  

Absolutely NOT!

My alarm goes off and I hit snooze...I pull the covers around me a little tighter and snuggle up to Mr Self Care for a few more minutes of warmth and comfort.   He always gets up before I do.

When I smell coffee, that is when I get up...

I sleep walk into the kitchen and grab the cup that my personal barista has lovingly prepared for me...then I head to the office and sit down at my computer to write, read and see what is going on in the world.   And I savor my coffee.

My routine allows me to ease into my day.  And when I was thinking about this today, I couldn't help but notice all of the little comforts that I have unconsciously (pun intended) established for myself each and every morning.   I am not "avoiding" the inevitable new day....I am really "savoring" it, and powering up for all the wonderful adventures that the gift of a new day has in store for me!

What a life altering change in perspective this is!     I really do love my mornings, they are quiet and comforting to me.  

It would be dishonest to say I am not a Morning Person, when it appears I have this time of the day completely mastered! 

How are mornings for you?   What one thing can you change or add to make starting your day pleasurable?

Recognize your needs and honor them!

Take Good Care!  (and Have a Nice Day too!)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Looking On The Bright Side

“What a wee little part of a person's life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself” - Mark Twain

Years ago, I was at a workshop and the speaker told a story about how she was running late, but stopped on her way out of her hotel room to quickly apply mascara to her eyes. Her hand slipped and she poked herself in the eye with the wand. Her immediate reaction was to bring her hand to her wounded eye, stomp her feet and call her reflection in the mirror, “Stupid!”

She stopped herself, realizing what she had just said. It would not have been acceptable for someone else to reprimand her in that way over something as trivial as slipping while applying mascara. So why was it okay for her to beat herself up for the same mistake?

Our minds never stop working- we are in constant communication with ourselves; always thinking, reviewing, analyzing, guessing, processing and drawing conclusions about everything that our senses gather. We may not be able to control everything that happens in our world, or what other people do and think, but we can control our perspective, how we act, and what WE think.

Perspective has a huge impact on the person you are, and -ultimately- all that you are able to accomplish in your life.  Fortunately, what we choose to think is totally within our control and postive attitudes can be easily adopted and an optimistic outlook- through practice- can become second nature.

Some Tips for Becoming an Optimist:

1) Become aware of your thoughts- especially your negative ones. You may take a day and write down every negative thought you have. Take some time to review and analyze your negativity. What situation were you in when you had a negative thought? Was your assessment realistic? What other thoughts could you have had in that moment that would have shown more gentleness and kindness toward yourself? What would you say to someone else if they were you in those moments where you were negative?

2) Replace every negative thought with 2 positive ones.

3) Look for the silver lining – you can find something good in even the worst situations. Sometimes the good part is how YOU decide to respond.

4) Allow yourself to be human and make mistakes! It is okay that you are not perfect (Nobody is!)

5) Find joy in small things. Engage those senses!. Feeling the warmth of the sun on your face, the sound of children’s laughter, the taste of ice cream, a beautiful painting, a hug!

6) If you are feeling insecure about how something will transpire or end, take a moment and visualize yourself in a positive, successful outcome.

7) If you are feeling insecure about your ability to do or cope with something, take some time to think about your strengths and remind yourself that you only have to manage moment by moment.

8) Do something nice for yourself regularly. By treating yourself to a bouquet of flowers, a manicure, a new purse or even 15 minutes of meditation, you are sending yourself a beautiful message about your self-worth.

9) Speak and think kindly about others. We are all in this life-thing together. We all have our crosses to bear and our insecurities. Gossip and negativity toward other people, reinforces an ugly way of thinking- practice positive thoughts about yourself and others and these will come natural to you over time.

10) Encourage others to speak positively about themselves and help them to visualize positive outcomes.  Surround yourself with positive, happy people.   Optimism is contagious!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Welcome to My Self Care Blog! (This is a repost of my first blog from one year ago)

"To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life" -Robert Louis Stevenson

 This year I am making a commitment to take better care of myself. This blog is where I intend to document my self care journey.

Self care is about self awareness, honesty, acceptance and self improvement. It includes looking deeply at oneself, honoring one's strengths, recognizing one's weaknesses and doing whatever it takes to evolve those pieces into a better, more healthy person.

By making this commitment to self care, I hope to live life more fully and also to become a stronger and more positive influence in the lives of those I love.

You are very welcome to join me on this journey.   I look forward to reading your comments, hearing your wisdom and getting to know you!  

Take good care!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Today, Self Care Girl Turns One!

A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun.  Enjoy the trip.  ~Author Unknown

One year ago today Self Care Girl was launched!  

The Self Care Girl Project stemmed from my own exploration of practicing better self care.    I had decided to take a year and devote it to getting myself healthier and wiser, and I wanted to find other like-minded women (and men!) to share this journey.

Honestly, I am not the same person that I was a year ago.   Serious growth has taken place in my career, and serious shrinkage has taken place in my body!  (It is all good!)  Most important though, my heart and happiness has expanded.   I have met so many new friends through this venture.   I am truly blessed. 

To those of you who have been loyal followers this past year, I really do appreciate you!  Your comments and support are what keep me enthusiastic about posting and continuing this exploration.   Thank you!

I had thought about declaring a National Self Care Day, but I am pretty sure that is going to require more  bureaucratic red tape than I am willing to endure...   So, because we are in the virtual realm, I think it is perfectly acceptable to declare a "virtual holiday" instead.   

So, let today be the first annual (virtual) Commitment to Better Self Care Day!   

How to Celebrate:
  1. Think about what taking better care means to you.   Let today be the day you begin it!  
  2. Tell your friends about Self Care Girl!
  3. Have a piece of decadent chocolate (or fruit!...I personally will be eating an apple today!)
  4. Say three nice things to yourself right now!
  5. Encourage others to take good care!

Take Good Care!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Self Care Girl Is On A Business Trip

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.  ~Seneca

I will be away from my computer today as I just arrived in the Charleston, South Carolina and need to get myself situated.  
I will be here for three weeks leading a project that has nothing to do with promoting Self Care...but I do love my job (the one that pays the bills) and THAT ,my friends, IS very good self care.

I will continue my posts this week...until then, be sure to spend some time OFF-LINE this week too!

Take Good Care!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Self Care Girl Likes....

I discovered I always have choices and sometimes it's only a choice of attitude.  - Unknown

This Week  Self  Care Girl Likes....

Goat Milk Soap From Udder Sense

I purchased chocolate Easter Bunny soaps from Udder Sense this year.  This way I can stick to my diet and still indulge my desire to have chocolate Easter Bunnies around for Easter.  

These smell just  fabulous and they look so real that I decided I better label the one I sent to my grandmother  so she wouldn't eat it!

All of Udder Sense soaps are made from goat's milk and natural ingredients- so they are good for you!   My favorite scents are the blackberry vanilla and the coconut lime verbena.   Scented soaps are a great idea if you are looking for a small and affordable way to treat yourself!

Udder Sense has a website where you can purchase their soaps, and a blog where you can learn about the current goings-on down on the farm! 

Check 'em out!

Take Good Care!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Happy April Fool's Day!

We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.  ~Japanese Proverb