If this is any indication of how things are going right now, I wrote this whole blog post, hit publish and my site not only logged me out, but didn't save as a draft. So here we go again.
I feel like I'm on the edge of a burnout. A term we hear and relate to much too often. For me burnout doesn't come after working a stint of 60 hour work weeks and endless nights without sleep, sometimes it lurks in the background during a change in seasons, when depression and anxiety are at an all time high, when there is a work/life imbalance and when I have a creative vision that's stunted by reality.
I've started having huge dreams lately, dreams for a business that would be big and beautiful and benefit other small businesses trying to thrive. I suddenly have this urge to be around people and to reach for things I was too scared to even let myself think about before. How can I start bringing such a big dream to life when I'm still struggling financially and emotionally to bring a much smaller dream to it's full potential?
When Maine first shut down in 2020 we were just at the start of the Spring season, the chill of winter started to subside, the earth started to thaw and in the midst of isolation and chaos, the promise of Spring made everything feel a little bit lighter. All across the world, triggered by panic, so many of us began to think in survival mode. How will I support and feed my family when going to the grocery store felt uncertain at best and life-threatening at worst? Regular people became home bakers, makers, gardeners and entrepreneurs and I was no different. With some extra time on my hands I made my first successful loaf of white bread, followed by challah, beignets, muffins and even pasta. We expanded our garden and spent most waking moments out in nature because it was the only place that felt safe.
As the chill of winter 2020 rolled in, we went back to work, back to modified and complicated school schedules and, along with our shortening daylight hours, went my ambition to do absolutely anything. From that point, and right into Spring 2021, we were busy. Everyone was trying to play catch up on all we thought we missed the Summer before. I ended out the year exhausted, depressed and feeling so disconnected from myself that I couldn't seem to find my way back. Everything feels heavy and stressful again and I can't help but wish myself back to April 2020 when things moved slower.
Since the start of 2022 I've been feeling an overwhelming pull to be outdoors again, to move my body with intention and purpose and to live simpler. This isn't an unusual feeling for many of us, during October to December we are sucked into consumerism, rich foods and political season which all take a tole on our mental and physical well-being and leave us depleted. Then we are plopped right into January feeling unprepared but optimistic about what could-be. I chalked up my need for nature to these very normal seasonal feelings.
Then I downloaded a copy of Where the Deer and the Antelope Play by Nick Offerman. I've listened to all of his audio books so I was excited for this one to come out but, truthfully, I didn't even look at what it was about. I had just assumed it was more of his life's ramblings that I've so enjoyed in the past. This book could not have come at a more perfect time, of course one man's opinions don't necessarily make for any kind of 'sign' and I wasn't really looking for one but this book reiterated what I've been feeling this past year - a disconnect from myself and nature. American's have nurtured this culture that 'nature' is something we need to experience or control but it's totally the opposite. Nature doesn't request anything of us, it's going to do it's thing whether we're there or not and it's actually our job to do as little as possible, to utilize what's abundant and only use what's necessary.
After finishing Offerman's book, I started back up with Rachel Brathen's podcast, Conversations from the Heart. I picked up with the most recent episode at the time titled 'It Takes A Village: Living with Nature, Building Community and Starting from Scratch'.
WOW. If the first book wasn't some kind of sign, this podcast was. Rachel discusses her recent move from Aruba to her homeland near Stockholm, Sweden. She touches on how although she's been relatively content, the feeling of not belonging or being displaced has been following her for a long time and only her return to nature and Mother Earth has made her feel safe again. She realized this during the beginning of shut-downs when she began to garden, cook and be in nature more than ever before. This is exactly how I've been feeling. I have always been most content during the summer months, when I spend my 15-20 minutes a day tending to my garden. Rachel asks the question, why can't we live like this always?
I've never been a goal setter, or maybe it's more accurate to say that I've never been a goal achiever. I'm going to be risky and make a goal to exist in nature as I am, to reconnect to the earth every chance that I can and to live simpler with less expectation.
My mantra for 31 is I exist with nature.
If I'm being honest, I was much more optimistic last Monday than I am this week. I suppose a slow progressing political collapse will do that. I knew there would be problems at last weeks' electoral college count, you'd either have to be living in a hole or lying to yourself if you thought that would go smooth. Anyways, political turmoil is not something I'd planned for heading into adulthood and it's certainly not something I think anyone was prepared for by any means. I think it's actually scarier that this isn't just happening here, it's happening in many other predominantly white first world countries as well. Makes alien abduction seem much more glamorous.
Happy to report I at least kept up with my vitamin and water intake, started listening to The Warmth of Other Sons by Isabel Wilkerson and binge watched about 14 episodes of 30 Rock. I did make sure to note times I apologized for things, or stopped myself prior to apologizing to see if there was something more fitting to say and it felt good. So I guess here's to accountability!
I'm all for giving yourself grace going into the new year. We've endured a lot of unforeseen circumstances this past year from political turmoil, to loss, to a raging pandemic. I also think it's really important during a time when many women post their goals for the upcoming year on their stories, walls and blogs, to remember to support each other. If posts about physical fitness goals and dieting bother you, scroll passed them. Calling them out as superficial because their resolutions sound to you like they're fishing for followers, fake or make you feel bad is not serving you in any way. Maybe seek out and follow more individuals who are posting ideas for personal growth like ways to stay active in social justice, politics, charities and practicing gratitude.
I'm not by any means a goal oriented person, I don't wake up in the morning and accomplish anything I said I would at 3pm the day before. I procrastinate to the point that my depression and anxiety make me too ashamed to even try most things! But, I think it's important to set some realistic expectations for myself at the beginning of each month. Let's remember, January 1st is just another day of the year, Monday is the same as Thursday or Saturday, tomorrow is always going to be tomorrow. If today didn't go as planned? Start again the next day and try your best.
So what am I trying to do this January for my mental and physical health? I'm going to take my vitamins for 31 days, I'm going to drink more water, I'm going to continue to unlearn and I'm going to make a mental note of every time I apologize to someone. These might seem so silly to my more goal driven pals but for me, these are big steps in the right direction. Taking vitamins and drinking water are obvious and I've been making a point to read and follow a more diverse group to unlearn some of the things I didn't know I had. Less obvious, though, I didn't realize how often I apologize for things I have no control over. This isn't even a case of me being sympathetic, I'm really just habitually apologizing for things and taking on the mental guilt for things that have nothing to do with me. My husband has a leg cramp? I'm sorry! My mom stubbed her toe on her table? Sorry! A client emailed me the wrong information and now I have to relay it to my boss? I'm sorry.
NO, NO, NO! I don't recall being this sorry for anything ever, but at some point between the ages of 27-29, I started to feel like other peoples mistakes, burdens and unhappiness, were somehow a result of something I'd done. It is not my responsibility to make sure those around me are content and that their needs are met before they ask for them. It is, however, my responsibility to make sure that I am happy and that my needs are being met. I can't possibly do that, while carrying the weight of all those little sorrys. Since I like to set realistic expectations for myself, I'm going to start just by acknowledging when I say sorry and reflecting on why in that moment, I felt that was what I should do.
I think I'm not alone with this feeling, so many women I know apologize on a regular basis for things out of their control. If being a feminist is important to you and you want to change the way women are treated in all areas of their lives (from little girls to working women), then we need to stop apologizing for everything. Are there times when an apology is necessary? Certainly. Is it ok to sympathize with others? Of course! But taking on other people's burdens is not going to lift you up or make you feel joy.
What goals have you set for yourself this January?
Now that Christmas is behind us and New Year's is on the horizon, I want to take this week to slow down and reflect on the events of this year and set my intentions for this coming month. For me, making resolutions for an entire year is too overwhelming. It's easy for me to say, oh well I have a whole year to figure this out, no rush now and then I get to July and realize I didn't do anything at all. So, I'm starting with just January, what do I really want to learn about myself this coming month and what do I want to work on? This simple spread can be used in multiple scenarios and can be used to offer insight into many of life's questions. This time of year, I'm going to use it to set my intentions for January which is a big crossroads for me. We are closing out this weird year and entering into another unknown and on top of that, I'm turning 30. More on that later...
This spread uses just three cards
Card 1: What will I embrace?
Card 2: What will I need to accept?
Card 3: What will I need to let go of?
Card 1: Two of Wands (upright)
The Two of Wands tells me that I will take my inspiration and form a clear action plan while accounting for potential challenges. Since this card is in the Embrace space, I'm going to work on making a clear goal and plan to set myself up for success.
Card 2: Knight of Wands (upright)
The Knight of Wands stands for energy, passion, motivation and enthusiasm. Since this is my action card, I'm going to use all those things to keep be going while I create my action plan.
Card 3: Ace of Cups (upside down)
The Ace of Cups in reverse can mean that I'm holding back or pushing down emotions and that I'm afraid if I let my emotions show to the world that I won't be able to stop them. Since this is in the let go space, I need to make sure I allow myself to show those emotions and stop holding back.
Overall reading: It's clear to me that I'm holding onto some emotions and feelings that need to be let out but my creative vision will thrive if I make a plan and stick to it. Hellooooo January!
A great time to gain new insight and seek guidance is at the beginning and ending of new seasons, cycles or life events. Below is a recommended spread for the Winter Solstice and a sample reading using this spread.
Intention: What should I know to guide me into this new season?
Card 1: The overall theme of the season.
Card 2: Insight into love and relationships.
Card 3: Insight about money and personal finances.
Card 4: What is holding me back during this season or what am I holding onto?
Card 5: What will flourish during this season or what should I put my energy into?
Card 6: The areas for personal growth or ways I will grow during this season.
Card 1: The Devil (upright)
The devil represents my darker side like negative thoughts that can hold me back from being my best self. Since this is in the theme place, I know that going into this next season, this is something that will consistently come up. This card also means that I could be trapped between short term pleasure and long term pain. I'll need to keep this in mind when decisions arise this winter and take time to reflect on how my negative behavior has impacted me.
Card 2: Page of Pentacles (upside down)
The page of pentacles is a bit foolish and is telling me that in my relationships and love this season I've been dreaming but not putting anything into action. Perhaps there are things I've wanted to improve on in my marriage, this card reminds me to reflect on past mistakes and improve in order to keep my relationship strong.
Card 3: Four of Cups (upright)
Since I'm a small business owner, anytime I'm exploring finances and money, I usually use the guidance here for my business but occasionally I get some insight into my employment as well. In this instance with the Four of Cups, I'm going to use this toward my own business since it doesn't apply in my other situations. Here, the Four of Cups tells me that I'll encounter many business opportunities in the near future and should trust my judgement on whether to accept them or turn them away. This card suggests that my cup will be full and I'll have new opportunities I can pursue.
Card 4: The Magician (upright)
The Magician shows me that I will have all the tools needed to move forward in my life but without a clear vision I'm unable to do that. This card reminds me that I need to form a plan and use all the tools I've been given to take inspired action.
Card 5: Page of Swords (upside down)
The Page of Swords represents self expression but also usually means I've internalized my self expression and need to take action. Since this place in the spread represents what will flourish, I'll be in a place this season to express myself publicly and be receptive of others' ideas.
Card 6: Queen of Cups (upright)
The Queen of Cups is nurturing and compassionate, since this card represents my personal growth for the winter, I learn that I'll benefit and grow by listening and caring for the people in my life in a nurturing way. I'll need to lead with my heart and inner guidance in order to move in the right direction.
My overall takeaway from this reading is that I'll go through some personal obstacles, the Devil tells me that my inner darkness with be a constant battle but the Queen of Cups shows that in the end if I trust myself to make the right decisions I'll come out of this season stronger and more in-tune with what I need and what the people around me need.
For those of you who follow me on instagram, you probably have seen me promoting my new tarot deck sets. I used to roll my eyes at palm reading and tarot cards because I thought it was, well, a bunch of crap. I became curious about tarot cards after my sister received a reading from a friend last year. I ordered a set of classic Roger Waite cards and did a simple reading for myself at home using some internet resources and then they say in a box for a year.
When we returned from Mexico late last winter to discover that all hell had broken loose at home, everything changed. It did for everyone and it affected us all in different ways. I lost my job (temporarily) and we had no business coming in, the kids were no longer in school and overall I felt like I was losing purpose. In a search for inexpensive ways to calm myself and re-center, I found myself pulling out the tarot deck again. I did just a simple reading, I set my intention; to re-center and find purpose, shuffled the deck, took a deep breath and laid out three cards.
What are tarot cards?
Tarot cards are a deck of cards, each with a different picture that tells a different story. I've only used the Roger Waite cards and definitions so that's what I'll use in my posts and what my cards are themed after. There are 78 cards in total.
There are 22 Major Arcana cards, these cards are overall themes and life lessons. Major Arcana cards that show up in a reading often guide the meaning of the other cards.
There are four suits of Minor Arcana cards, each containing 14 cards. Cups are associated with emotions and relationships, Swords with intellect and attitude, Pentacles with physical situations and well-being and Wands with spirituality and intuition.
How are tarot cards used?
The use of tarot cards isn't definitive and many people use them in many different ways. Speaking from experience, I get the most out of them when I'm at a crossroads, having difficulty making a decision or feel like I'm lacking perspective in a certain area.
Just like there are many ways to use the cards, there are many ways to interpret them and it will depend on what you're feeling, if you have someone doing the reading for you and what's going on in your life currently.
How do I do a reading?
Personally, I like to research different spreads (pinterest is fun when you're learning). I find a quiet, sacred space, usually this is my bedroom with the door closed. If you feel like it you can light some candles or play music. For me, sitting on a clean, made bed and taking some deep breaths to quiet my mind is all I need to make my space sacred.
Before you begin, you'll want to set an intention. Ask yourself what you are hoping to learn or gain insight on from this reading. Ask your heart and mind to be open and receptive to a new perspective. For example, when I did the reading back in March, I was looking for guidance on how to use the time I had at home so that was my intention.
When you're ready, shuffle and split your deck, then lay out cards in the spread you've picked. I'm still a bit shaky and don't know many of the meanings by heart so I use the Biddy Tarot website to help me interpret the cards I'm unsure of.
I find it important not to take the cards literally, say I am looking for guidance on my business and I draw an upright 8 of Swords which usually means negative thoughts, restriction and victim mentality. Perhaps, for me and my intention, this card means that I'm holding myself back from opportunities and harboring some negative thoughts that are keeping me from moving the business forward. From here I can ask myself what those thoughts are and dig deeper on how to move beyond that. Perhaps the next card will offer insight on how to do that or from here I can set another intention more specific to these feelings and go again.
How do I know what spread to use?
I'll be posting a series of beginner spreads. Since I'm also a beginner, we can learn together! Check back every Monday for a new spread. I'll be kicking off this week with a Winter Solstice Spread to guide you into the winter months and some example intentions with each. If you'd like a set of my tarot cards, please reach out to me at pluspeace.me on instagram or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I've been reading my way through Lara Briden, ND's Period Repair Manual and it's given me so much insight into the foods I eat and how it directly affects my hormones and cycle. My recommendation is that if you bleed, you should read. She recommends women eat during a specific window of time rather than spreading meals out and snacking at 10 pm (I feel targeted). She also says we should focus on foods that make us feel full and nourished and there's tons of information about foods that are known to cause inflammation which is a big problem for many of us. But this isn't a blog post about a book so I'll get back to it and you can get your own copy on Kindle.
I am very guilty of skipping lunch and just eating some nuts or seedy crackers, those things are good but should be balanced out with a healthy dose of fruit, veggies and protein. It's period week for me so naturally I'm craving crap; crunchy, greasy, sweet, salty, you name it, I want it! Monday for lunch I had french fries and onions rings for lunch and a chocolate frappe on the side. The next day I was so bloated my pants wouldn't button and I was in a bad mood. Coincidence? No.
Instead of giving in to my cravings yesterday, I head to the local grocer to see what I could buy to make at least 4 lunches for the rest of the week for $25 or less. Here is what my stomach lead me to...
Fresh, Local Strawberries - vitamin C, B9 and Potassium, fiber, antioxidants
Raw, shelled pumpkin seeds - omega 3, omega 6, antioxidants, fiber, protein, along with copper, zinc, folate, iron and a host of other good stuff.
Mixed Baby Greens w/ Spinach - vitamins A, C, K, Magnesium and iron, fiber, etc
Carrots - beta carotene, fiber, K1, potassium and antioxidants
Brianna's Poppy Seed Dressing - I picked this one because I really like the flavor and it was the cheapest dressing they had on the shelf (it's a small grocery store with few options). Poppy seeds have many known health benefits and when I looked at the label, I could pronounce all the ingredients and knew what they were (canola oil, sugar, water, white onions, white vinegar, salt, ACV, poppy seeds, mustard flour, xantham gum (thickener) and mixed tocopherols (vitamin e)).
I had some money left in my budget for the week so I also grabbed a couple granny smith apples and a bar of Tony's Chocolonely Chocolate Pecan Coconut. Tony's is a chocolate brand working to make all chocolate trade slave free. Did you know children in West Africa are enslaved to work on chocolate farms? I didn't either, look it up and be against it.
Now that I have all this good food, I can leave it in the mini fridge at work (the seeds and apples live in my desk) but this could really easily be made into to-go lunches at home. I'd keep the strawberries and dressing on the side so they wont wilt your greens but you could also go the jar method with the nuts, carrots and berries on the bottom with the dressing and greens safely on top. I use a reusable takeout container so I can shake it all to coat with dressing. Remember when McDonalds came out with the shake-able lettuce cups? Kinda like that.
I totally understand that not everyone has access to these ingredients, so I want to share another favorite made from mostly shelf stable or frozen ingredients that is also wholesome, simple and period friendly. You will need precooked rice (brown is better but some leftover white is totally fine or even a 90 second rice packet), frozen spinach, canned or frozen corn, canned black beans, cooked chicken breast, diced tomatoes or salsa and cheddar is optional but tasty.
Combine as much as you want of everything, squeeze a lime over the top, add salt and pepper to taste, and toss. This is another really easy one to make ahead and bring to work. I like it cold but could be heated if that's your style. This meal is also protein packed with chicken and beans, has a good amount of fiber from the beans, corn and rice and a host of vitamins, iron and antioxidants from tomatoes and spinach. Some modifications are to use cotija cheese, add lettuce, diced onions, leftover cooked veggies, more bean variety, etc.
What are you eating for a better period?
This morning my daughter and I cleaned our kitchen, she's a great helper by the way, and afterward I wanted to light a candle. Since we've been home and not visiting Target, turns out I have none. Years ago my husband got me a bunch of those Yankee Candle wax cakes that go with those little tealight warmers so I pulled them out but the smell was way too artificial and overpowering.
I thought about pulling out one of the diffusers but I'm limited to putting one where I have available outlets and really wanted something more central like the dining table. On the fly I decided to clean out the warmer and try it out with oils instead. I had coconut oil on hand and figured since it would solidify it would make cleanup easier and less likely to spill.
A few tips, I got this warmer for $1 at the local Dollar Tree, you can definitely get more expensive versions elsewhere but really, they all work the same.
Buy tea lights in bulk but not from the $1 store. We have bought $1 store tea lights in the past and I don't know what was in them, I'm pretty sure they were soap and not wax.
I used coconut oil because I wanted it to solidify but it will add a coconut aroma to your blend. For a scent free option try grape seed oil instead which has a low odor.
I tested this out with Lemon and Wild Orange but any of your favorites oils or blends will work great!
I am a Maine maker and mother of two. I dabble in graphic design and co-own a screen printing business with my husband of 7 years. Everyone has a story to tell, and this is mine!