My next blog post was going to be about self care. But each time that I tried to start writing it, I felt a bit weird. I couldn't figure out why. Then it hit me; I haven't been feeling very worthy of the privilege of self care lately, so how can I successfully write an uplifting, enlightening article about it? The answer - I can't. So instead I've decided to write an open and honest piece on how I've been feeling.
The truth is, I've been finding the day-to-day grind of life a bit hard of late.
Every morning I wake up with a smile on my face feeling positive about the day ahead. Our girls greet us bright and early in our bed and I love those cosy cuddles before the sun is up. But then once I'm up and into it, throughout the course of the day I've been experiencing all kinds of negative emotions at different times for different reasons; anger when the kids won't listen, frustration when the house looks like a bomb has gone off (again!), loneliness when I think of my best girlfriends who live hours away etc. etc.
These are all feelings that I know most women and mums experience, but lately the have been getting to me more than usual and I've been upset over the smallest things or snapping at my poor husband for no real reason (bless him -he puts up with a lot at times!)
I think mostly, I've been finding the constant demands of three little girls, on top of my other responsibilities, pretty draining. I love them more than life itself and I wouldn't change the fact that we have them for anything. However, I feel at times that after I give them the love encouragement, support, advice and nurturing they need and deserve, there's not much left in my 'care box' to hand out to anyone else - including myself.
I talk to my mother in law about these challenges a fair bit (I've been blessed with a MIL who is very much the opposite of the stereotypical, painful mother in law often depicted on TV; she's kind, non-judgemental and very understanding. We get along well and I'd be lost without her). As a mother of four and a primary school teacher, I have been the grateful recipient of many a valuable piece of her parenting advice over the years. When discussing with her last week the pressure I'm feeling to give the kids all that they need as they go through their various stages, as well as juggle everything else I need to, she very simply advised to just be there. Give them my time and my love. To maybe stop the dishes for a minute and sit beside them on the couch or put off the computer work for five and have a chat. Basically, she pointed out, our kids just want to feel that they are worthy of our undivided attention and that they are loved. And how right she is! Such oh-so-simple advice but oh-so-easy to forget, confuse and complicate.
Since our chat, I have made a concerted effort to remember this and it's made such a difference to how I am feeling about everything and consequently, to how the kids are behaving and interacting. I think in this day and age it's so easy to get caught up in the 'busyness' of life. We can be so pre-occupied with trying to keep up, we forget that the basics of being present, interacting, communicating and most of all, showing love, can go a long way to solving our problems if we let them.
Being in the moment and trying to approach everything with love and acceptance really modifies the thoughts that enter my mind, the feelings that follow those thoughts and most of all the actions that are the end result of the thought. It's important to let ourselves feel and acknowledge any sad or bad emotions but it's also important to remember we have a choice in what we let guide us and emanate from within. I find that choosing to give in to the love and happiness inside me rather than the negative, I can pull myself through a tough morning with kids or a stressful day a lot more easily. And maybe actually appreciate and enjoy where I am and what I'm doing!
Herein lies the irony of my problem of not being in a place where I could write about self care. For it is during these difficult periods of life when we don't take care of ourselves, that we actually need it most. It's kind of a never-ending cycle; if we are kind to us, take time out and generally look after ourselves, we can much more effectively be there for those who need us with our love, attention and time and if we are there for those who need us with our love , attention and time, we are more likely to feel deserving of our own self-love and care! They really go hand in hand.
So what I have concluded from all of this is that when the road ahead looks bleak or the daily hill climb particularly tough, I need to try to stop and look at each situation from the lightest place possible. See each situation form the most positive angle I can. Definitely acknowledge the crappy feelings but let them pass and always come back to the fundamentals of love and understanding. Give the subject, whether its my beautiful kids, my husband or even a dull chore my presence, time and and love, and what seems quite difficult, becomes easier. Granted, some situations are easier to handle this way than others, but it definitely helps me on some level no matter what I am dealing with.
Now to just keep practicing this simple mindful method and get back to the rosy place where I not only deserve to be everyday, but where I can write that uplifting and enlightening self care blog!
This blog post is a special one – I have had the pleasure of interviewing the beautiful Rachel Favilla, nutritional medicine student and author of the fantastic blog, Real Soup for the Real Soul! I met Rachel last November at the Awaken the Change Within retreat on the Sunshine Coast. The 3 day event was life changing and Rachel was one of the amazing individuals I was privileged to meet there.
I’ll give you my first impression of this gorgeous girl: I walked into a room of around 50 people all bubbling with excitement at finally beginning our conference (we were all ecstatic to be about to meet the amazing Cyndi O’Meara, Kim Morrison and Carren Smith – another story in itself!). Anyway, I see this dainty little redhead breeze into the room oozing with a cheerful confidence (confidence definitely not to be mistaken with cockiness in this case) and I was instantly drawn to her. She oozed happiness and contentment which made me curious as to who she was and what her story was.
I would later learn that she was only 18 years old and had just completed year 12. This amazingly mature teenager had chosen to spend her dollars on attending a health and wellness seminar with a bunch of strangers, instead of attending schoolies on the Gold Coast with her friends! What an inspiration.
It is my absolute honour to have Rach as a guest on my very new blog. You will see for yourself by reading her answers below that she is wise beyond her years and a born leader. She is going to amount big to big things one day and I’ll be very proud to say I knew her way back when it all began! Enjoy the read.
Rachel Favilla Bio ...
I am studying Nutritional Medicine this year at Endeavour College of Natural Health (I received a scholarship and am an ambassador for the college). I graduated year 12 last year (2014). I have always been interested in food and health but it wasn't until I was diagnosed with an Auto Immune Disease called (are you ready for this?) Chronic Active Auto Immune Inflammatory Hepatitis Type 1. My immune system was attacking my liver, thinking it was a pathogen and I only had 2% liver function left. Despite the doctors being very sceptical about natural health, I was determined to supplement my vast array of medications (27 tablets a day in the beginning) with real whole foods, balanced exercise, lots of sleep and as much fun as I could pack into my days.
There have been many misadventures along the way; reactions to medication (awful hives, anxiety, nausea), a misdiagnosis of an eating disorder - I was malnourished from the liver damage and preferred eating fresh fruit over donuts, apparently these days that makes you anorexic (sigh) - and lots of time off school.
But the journey has taught me so much and made me very passionate about changing the way that society views health. Upon graduating from my Nutritional Medicine Degree I want to start practicing right away, whilst also running seminars, writing articles and maybe even a book and taking on further training to become a GAPS practitioner.
Q & A:
Where did your journey of empowerment begin? Was it gradual or was there a significant catalyst for change?
I'd say a bit of both. Being diagnosed with an Auto Immune disease was a pretty significant game changer but back then I just didn't know everything that I needed to know to make the correct lifestyle changes. I definitely became more aware of what I put on and into my body, as well as how well I looked after my psychological and spiritual health, but the changes were gradual. It was a learning journey, had I known then what I know now about mindset, food and sleep (I've always been pretty good at exercising and socializing), I would have changed everything I was doing in a heartbeat.
What motivates you to live your most optimal life?
The joy that comes from dreaming big is the greatest motivation I could have ever imagined. I have built up a lot of faith and trust in myself and my potential to achieve amazing things. I want to change the world's health, I want to bring other people joy and support them on their journeys. When I get out of bed I always have the intention of seizing the day and doing at least one thing that is laying the foundations for a beautiful tomorrow.
What keeps you authentic and grounded?
I would be disappointed in myself if I was inauthentic or had my feet too high off the ground. I value honesty and realness and am attracted to those two qualities in other people so I want to demonstrate those qualities myself - lead by example, so to speak. Plus I really just couldn't be bothered pretending to be anything other than who I really am. Most people seem to love and respect the real me, so I guess that's encouraging too - feeling that I am enough keeps me wanting to be my most authentic self.
What is your favourite way to move your body?
My morning exercise routine. I jog to this very long, windy, steep ramp about 15 minutes away from my house. I jog up and down the ramp 3 times and then jog over to a flight of steps and do 10 reps up and down on them. Then I take a walk down this windy trail that overlooks the sea and then jog back home. All up it takes about 70 minutes and leaves me buzzing and ready to conquer my day. In addition I love functional and incidental exercise that doesn't 'feel' like exercise, such as beach walks or taking a dip in the ocean (when it's NOT Jellyfish season that is).
What is your philosophy around nourishment?
In the past year I have learned a lot about the gut, and the significant role that it plays in our overall health. Our gut ecology is soooooo important and so when it comes to food and nutrition I'm always focusing on what is best for my gut health. I believe that we all have slightly different gut bacteria, and have unique nutritional needs and cravings. Personally I do well on lots of healthy animal fats, bone broths, avocados and non-starchy vegetables. Getting back to a home base of real food is the best place to start and from there you can work out which foods agree with you, and which ones don't. There are no rules other than eat real food prepared the way it was traditionally prepared. No calculator, magazine article or radio talk-show host can tell you how to nourish your body, you have to listen to yourself and go with your intuition*.
*Please note that if your intuition is craving a McDonald's hamburger that this is not a true craving - it is gut dysbiosis talking. Once you are on a whole food diet your cravings will be for real, nourishing foods, like fresh coconut water or a crisp, sweet apple.
How do you overcome limiting thoughts and rationalize negativity?
A bad situation was never made any better by dwelling in sorrow and self-pity. It is a cliché if there ever was one, but seriously, life is too short to let limiting thoughts prevent you from following your heart and too exciting to be held back by a bad day. I'll go for a run, smell a rose or do some journaling if I need to take a moment to re-centre myself but usually, just taking the 'Pollyanna' approach of looking for the good and expecting the best works just fine.
If you could offer one piece of advice to the world, what would that one piece be?
Take care of yourself and make yourself a priority before it's too late. It isn't selfish to put yourself first. The more time you spend honouring yourself, the more vitality and energy you will have to give to the world.
What are five parts of your life that you are grateful for in this moment?
1. I really have the most beautiful group of friends. They are all really unique and light me up in so many different ways. My heart swells with gratitude when I think of how much I love and respect their beautiful souls.
2. My gorgeous mum. She has the best of intentions, has always worked hard and tried her very best to be a good role model for me. She is hilarious and generous and her hugs can fix anything.
3. That I know what I want in life at such a young age. I have so many goals and am already achieving some of them. I am a focused and driven soul and am grateful for those qualities that always give me the extra energy to take the leaps of faith that I need to.
4. That I have access to healing, nourishing foods. I have years of healing to do and a big part of that healing process is broths, veggies and beneficial fats. I am grateful for having access to quality nourishment and the funds to afford it.
5. My goofy dad. He really has the very best of intentions and genuinely just wants the best for me. He is a massive support for me and my ambitions and I am very grateful for his level of care and interest me and my endeavours.
Care to share a recipe, workout or affirmation?
Creamy Cauliflower Soup
This recipe is divine but so simple. I whip it up for either breakfast, lunch or dinner most days. It may look 'too simple', but trust me, you're going to want to try this one:
1/4 head organic cauliflower, roughly chopped
½ an onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup broth (preferably beef bone marrow bone broth)
Boil cauliflower, onion and garlic in broth until very soft. Transfer it all to a blender (I use my Vitamix) and whiz until thick, creamy and smooth.
That's it ... have a taste, it's really, really creamy. And velvety ... so velvety. I'll often stir a few spoonfuls of homemade whey into it for some tang
Hope you enjoy, thanks for reading, infinite x's and o's.