Journey

June 30, 2014

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It is my sincere wish that you have gained something meaningful from this journey. I encourage you to continue to be guided by these essential questions:

What is your connection with your body and physical surroundings? Which basic practices are you wanting to cultivate?

What types of support do you want to foster? Which boundaries do you wish to establish?

What is the truth? Who are you becoming? What is ready to emerge?

Who are you? What does the authentic you look and feel like?

How will you celebrate and honor you?

Now, warrior, continue your commitment to yourself. You will sometimes abandon the practices and you will return, again and again. You know what deserves attention. You sense what is truly important. You believe there is a deeper meaning and you have a purpose. Honor it. Cherish it. Practice it. Be it.

Click here to download the e-book version of this challenge.  xo Eloiza

Shadow

June 28, 2014

photo-68 copy 3Anger, envy, despair, fear, rage, defensiveness, hate, pettiness, grief, resentment.

So much a part of life, yet so often difficult to embrace.

Your task:
Negative feelings are important signals that can lead us to further honesty, freedom and aliveness.  Notice when your shadow shows up.  Just notice without pushing away.

Step it up:

Be honest about your not-so-nice feelings.  Write an angry letter.  Scream into a pillow.  Tell someone the truth, someone who won’t judge you for revealing your bitchy, angry, envious self.

Further reading:  When F**k You is Healing

Desire

June 27, 2014

What do you most deeply desire?  What does your soul long for?  Perhaps it’s peace or stability.  Perhaps it’s connection or more fun.

What do you want? purple

Your task:

Sense your desire.  Let go of judgements or obligations and name what it is you really want.  Imagine having it.  Notice what it brings up for you.  Honor your longing.

Step it up: 
Sometimes our desires call out to us when we find ourselves consumed with envy.  What is it that someone else has that you want?  Instead of pushing away envy because it’s ugly, embrace it to learn something about your desires.

Further reading:  How to Stop Hating: 5 steps to transform envy, Living Wide Open

Shimmer

June 26, 2014

Where is that dress you’ve been saving for a special occasion?  Or those earrings you like but you only wear when you go out?  Has it been a while since you wore red lipstick or worn your hair in that cute style?  This is not the time to be humble or austere.IMG_7791

When was the last time you let yourself shine?

Your task:
Go in your closet, jewelry box, or make-up bag and pick out an item that you have perhaps saved for a special occasion.  Make the special occasion today.  Go all out if you want to.  Or not.  It could be something that no one notices but you~ sexy underwear, a little mascara, or lip gloss.
How does it feel to let yourself shine?  Do you let yourself feel good about kicking it up a notch?

Step it up: 
Have you let yourself play dress up lately?  Dress yourself as your alter-ego for the day.  Wear what she would wear.  Act how she would act. Embody your more bold, brazen and shimmery self today.
What are you wearing dah’ling?

Art

June 25, 2014

A painting, a piece of music, literature, architecture.  Art reminds us of the beauty and goodness in the world.  It reflects our human yearning and potential to create.IMG_8561 2

How does spending time with art shift your perspective?  What are you inspired to create?

Your task: 
Let yourself be awe-inspired.  Spend 10 minutes with one of your favorite forms of art today~ a photograph, a song, a drawing, a sculpture, a poem, a garden.
Sense the artist’s inspiration to create.  What do you imagine was her or his muse?  What type of commitment and effort was dedicated to the art you’re admiring?

Step it up: 
Spend a bit more time with the art you choose.  Go to a museum during your lunch break.  Take a book of poems with you on your train ride.  Listen to some Cesaria Evora or Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, or Michael Kiwanuka.
Or, of course, you be the artist.  Create.

Dance

June 24, 2014

Music and movement are nurturing to both our bodies and spirits.  A good song can transport us to another place and time.  Music evokes emotions, memories, dreams, desires…

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What is your favorite song?  How does your body want to move when you hear it?

Your task:  
Spend 10 minutes with your favorite song(s).    Let the music move you. Do hip rolls, stretch, leap, shimmy.  Dance steps you know or make them up.  Let yourself experience the joy of dancing to music you identify with, music that moves you.
Notice how your body feels when you let yourself dance.  Don’t think too much about what you’re doing.  Just do what feels right.

Step it up: 
Sound too easy?  Is this something you already do every day?   Have a dance party and invite your friends.  Or go to a local spot that has a dance floor and enjoy.
If you are taking dance classes in a group setting, challenge yourself to really get loose.
Dance as if nobody is watching and enjoy it if they are…

Further reading: Dancing Through Life and Body Love Exercise

Aliveness

June 23, 2014

Maybe you’ve noticed that, once you make the space for it, self care feels good (usually).  The hard part is getting to the mat, the dance floor, the journal, the meditation pillow…IMG_8113

Once we’re finally in that space many of us ask ourselves:  Why don’t I do this more often?

Your task: 

In your journal, write about what makes you feel most alive and commit to doing more of it.  Honor your need to feel alive, present, and free.   Think about times in your life when you shimmer with vitality.

When do you feel excited, connected, creative?  Bring to mind moments when you feel like life is effortless, when you feel like you’re in the flow.

Who are you when you enter that “effortless” space?  What do you know and believe about yourself?

Step it up: 

Ready to take it to another level?  Let that brazen, bold, sensual, playful part of you call the shots for a day.

Wear a color or style that you’d normally be too humble to put on.  Cook something delicious.  Go dancing.  Write a poem.  Let yourself be/come alive.

Video:  Who is You Alter Ego?

Self Care Warrior Weekend Challenge 3

June 21-22, 2014

It’s time to take stock in your journey thus far.  Time to honor this longing to deepen your self care practice.

How will you celebrate you?peony

Your tasks:
Reflect on the self-care exercises thus far.

Which exercise did you skip? That is the one you should spend time with this weekend.   It is okay to have resistance.  And sometimes we resist what we most need.

Spend at least two hours of quality time with someone special, YOU.
Some ideas include:

Take yourself to the movies, or better yet, to a live performance.
Prepare a meal as if you have invited over a special guest and enjoy it yourself.
Go to a concert or dancing.
Get dressed up and go to your favorite restaurant.
Give yourself a pedicure.
Get a massage or spend time at a spa.

Contemplate:

What would it look like to be boldly, brazenly, unapologetically you?

You

June 20, 2014

Who are you?  Are there parts of you that you keep safely tucked away so no one can see or judge?  Part of the warrior journey is claiming more of ourselves so that we can live a more authentic and engaged life.reflection

How have you explored and honored different parts of yourself?  What risks are you willing to take to be more authentic? Continue reading

Gratitude

June 19, 2014

Life can be hard.  People are struggling, suffering, and in pain.  Still, there is joy and beauty in the world.  Still, we experience love, kindness, and compassion.  Still, you have gifts to be shared, enjoyed, and celebrated.

For what are you most grateful in your life?IMG_7707

Your task: 
Set a timer for about 10 minutes.   Take account of all that you cherish and are grateful for in your personal life.  Write a list of all your triumphs, breakthroughs, and victories of the past year or even the past 10 years~ don’t censor yourself.
Pay special attention to the unique gifts you offer the world.  What is it about you that is distinctive, beloved, precious?

Step it up: 
Already in the practice of keeping a gratitude journal? Write a letter to your younger self.  What would you tell her?  What advice would you give?  What would you remind her? What hard earned wisdom would you like to impart?
Further reading:  Letter to Younger Self

Play

June 18, 2014

Two of our universal human needs are creativity and fun.  When was the last time you did something creative just for the fun of it?

Some of us are creative in our jobs or are creative problem solvers.  Do you let yourself be creative without an agenda or goal?IMG_8209

Your task:  
Spend 10 minutes in free play.  Draw, doodle, get a hold of some clay, dance around, improvise on an instrument, fool around with a toy, make up a game, mess around with paint…
If you need to, pretend you’re not an adult with grown up responsibilities.  Let yourself experience the joy kids do when they are engrossed in free play.
Notice how your body feels when you let yourself play.  Try as best you can to be fully present.

Step it up: 
Feeling like you honor this need fully?  Challenge yourself by trying something new.  Take yourself out of your comfort zone.   If you normally like to do puzzles, try painting…
Or spend an hour or two creating a collage or vision board.  Don’t censor yourself.  Let yourself dream.  Have fun with it!

Embrace

June 17, 2014

Part of self-care is being in touch with our own particular needs and desires.  This involves both self-awareness and self-acceptance.  It involves embracing how you are different.  No easy task, I know.ugly flowers

In what ways are you different?  How do you embrace your uniqueness?

Your task: 
Set a timer for about 10 minutes.   Without censoring yourself, answer the following:
What is the one thing about you that is impossible or the most difficult to accept?
What about you makes it difficult to fit in or be at peace with your surroundings?
What trait of yours is both a gift and a curse?

It is vital for you to begin to uncover and accept all the parts of you.  The parts you like and the parts you deny.  The exposed and the hidden.  The beautiful and the ugly.  The mature and the foolish.

Step it up:
Ready to take it to another level?  Reflect on what really irks you about other people.  What gets you fired up?  What is it you can’t stand about others’ behavior?
Now consider that those traits you’ve identified are actually unclaimed parts of your own identity. That what bothers you about them reflects something about you that perhaps deserves some attention.

Further Reading:

Transforming Envy

Truth

June 16, 2014

Our vitality and sense inner peace is directly related to our ability to tell the truth.  This doesn’t only mean being honest with others.  It starts with being honest with ourselves.  It starts with the courage to admit a reality we resist or fear.IMG_9568

What truth is waiting to be expressed?

Your task:
Imagine your heart as a smaller version of yourself.  What is your heart wanting to tell you?  What needs to be said?  Use a journal or even a recording device to freely express your ideas.  Don’t censor.  Just speak or write what is there in that moment.
Truth telling is a practice. Once you start being honest about where you are or who you are in any moment, it changes.

Step it up:
Here are some other ideas to practice truth-telling.

Confess your deepest truth to a journal or piece of paper.  Write from your heart.  What most needs to be expressed in this moment?  No issue is too big, nor too trivial.

Speak your prayers.  Connect with your Higher Power out loud.  Whisper, sing, cry, or yell.  Don’t hold back, ask for what you are needing.

Write a letter to your younger self, your future self, or the Universe.

Further reading:

Awakening to the Ways You’re Lying to Yourself

Truth Telling

Self Care Warrior Weekend Challenge 2

June 14-15 2014

We have spent some time preparing our bodies and cultivating support for our growth and nurturing.

Now it’s time to look inward.

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What’s your experience of your inner landscape?  What yearnings, desires and longings are wanting expression?

Your tasks:

Reflect on which of the previous exercises resonate most with you and your needs.

Ask someone to be your support and accountability partner. Someone you can check in with.  Someone you can depend on to be honest.  Someone who wants the very best for you.

Contemplate:

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it tookto blossom. — Anais Nin

Who are you becoming?

What truth wants to emerge?

 

Give

June 13, 2014

We give all the time.  Perhaps out of obligation.  Perhaps out of guilt.  Perhaps to feel needed.

What would it be like to give without expectations?  To give without giftconditions?  To give just for the sake of generosity and kindness?

Your Task:
Do something kind for another.  Wait an extra minute to hold the door for someone else.  Stop for a pedestrian on the road.  Give a hug.  Give your attention.  Give a smile.  Give a compliment.

Step it up:
Are you conscientious and giving in your everyday comings and goings?  Stop and think about where you could volunteer your time and energy to a worthy cause.  Give money.  GIve your presence.  Give your expertise.

Reach Out

June 12, 2014

None of us is entirely self-sufficient.  Yet, we often act as if we do not depend on each other to survive and thrive.  Sometimes we prefer the relative safety of remaining isolated.  Other times we risk to reach out for the support that we are needing.IMG_6002

What stops you from asking for the help or support you are needing?

Your task:
Reach out to a friend.   Spend time with a friend.  Go to dinner.  Go to the movies.  Sit on a bench together.  Be present.  See your friend.  Receive your friend.

Step it up.  
Practice asking for what you need. Tell someone what you are really needing.  Give them the gift of knowing exactly how they can love and support you.  Be specific.

Ask for what you want. Even when it seems frivolous. Especially when it feels big and too much.  Just ask.  The practice will shift something for you, I promise.

Understand that the other person might not be able to accommodate you in the moment.  Ask anyway.

Further reading:  Asking for What You Want

Boundaries

June 11, 2014

We women often overextend ourselves by saying yes way too often.  Yes, I’ll help out with that.  Yes, I’ll commit to this.  Yes, I’ll bend to accommodate whatever it is… We push ourselves (and are expected to be) flexible, helpful and compliant.  And on occasions when we are not, we are sometimes punished for it.boundaries

What healthy boundaries are you needing to put in place?

Your task: 
Say NO.  Say NO all day long.  Say it as often as and as much as you can.  Say NO to big things and little things.  You can say NO politely and with a smile- just say it.
Pay attention to others’ responses when you set healthy boundaries.  Were they more supportive than you anticipated?  Did the world stop if you said no to something you did not want to do?

** Now, if you happen to be a person (you know who you are) who actually needs to say YES more often, please do!  You might need to   l e t   m o r e   in, not the other way around.  If you are cutting yourself off from important relationships and experiences, then by all means, say YES!

Step it up: 
Are you already pretty good at setting boundaries?  How about befriending your Inner B*tch?   When we deny a part of ourselves– yes, the bitch is a normal, even necessary part of you– she tends to come out in subversive, passive- aggressive and even embarrassing ways.  Embrace the part of you that is maybe more abrasive, straight-forward and confident.  Embrace the part of you that says hell no with ease.

Further reading:  Befriending Your B*tch and  When F*ck You is Healing

Receive

June 10, 2014

How easy is it for you to receive a compliment or praise?  Many of us, in an attempt to be humble,  brush it off when someone says something positive about us.  We are self effacing and often skip over opportunities to receive acknowledgement of our beauty, wisdom, creativity, generosity, intelligence, style, or skills.poppy

What is beautiful about who you are?  What unique gifts do you bring to the world?

Your task: 
When someone gives you a compliment or praise, take it in.  Pause and affirm to yourself how the statement is an acknowledgment of a  f a c t.

Show gratitude to the other person by telling them exactly how it made you feel.  Instead of simply saying thank you, you can say something like:

Thank you.  It feels affirming for you to share that.  I appreciate you pointing that out to me, it makes me feel seen and loved.

What is it like to be acknowledged and affirmed? Are you able to stay present with it and feel the truth and goodness in what the other is saying?

Step it up: 
Practice receiving more acknowledgement, love, and praise by calling a friend and asking her/him to remind you why they love you so much.  Have them serve as a mirror to point out your good, positive, and lovely attributes.  Don’t argue or disagree.  Take it in.

Witness

June 9, 2014

The foundation of life is relationships.  We absolutely need each other to stay alive and thrive.  Of course, not all relationships are supportive, reciprocal or based on loving kindness.  All the more essential that we cherish the relationships that are.IMG_7453

What makes certain relationships so nourishing?  What do you appreciate about your friends?

Your task: 
Show gratitude to a person  in your life who really sees you.  This might be someone you talk to every day or only every so often.  Thank them for being a source of support.

We can’t do it on our own.  No matter how enlightened, reflective, in touch, or mindful we are.  We need each other.

Express gratitude for the small and not so small ways a friend enhances your life.

Show your love by writing a card or a letter.  Give that person a small gift like a fruit, flower, or piece of candy.

Step it up:
Stop denying yourself help and support.  Reach out to someone who can serve as your witness.  Share your heart’s desire.  Confess your deepest fear.  Risk vulnerability.  Tell the truth.

Further reading:  Can I Get a Witness?

Self Care Warrior Weekend Challenge

June 6-8, 2014

The weekend challenges are designed to take a little more time and effort on your part.  To really sink into the practice and discipline of self-care.  We’ve begun to prepare the ground.   Now it is time to think about relationships that will nurture our seeds to grow.bleeding heart

What are your needs for

connection, community, friendship, support?

Recall times when you’ve felt seen, understood, acknowledged.

Think about the occasions you provide that for others.

None of us is entirely self-sufficient.  Yet, we often act as if we do not depend on each other to survive and thrive.  Sometimes we prefer the relative safety of remaining isolated.  Other times we risk to reach out for the support that we are needing.

What stops you from asking for the help or support you are needing?

Your challenge:
Reach out to a friend.   Spend time with someone.  Go to dinner.  Go to the movies.  Sit on a bench together.  Be present.  See this individual.  Receive this person.

Ask someone to be your support & accountability partner.  Someone you can check in with.  Someone you depend on to be honest.  Someone you know wants the very best for you.

Step it up.  
Practice asking for what you need. Tell someone what you are really needing.  Give them the gift of knowing exactly how they can love and support you.  Be specific.

Ask for what you want. Even when it seems frivolous. Especially when it feels big and too much.  Just ask.  The practice will shift something for you, I promise.

Understand that the other person might not be able to accommodate you in the moment.  Ask anyway.

Further reading:  Asking for What You Want

Silence

June 5, 2014

We sometimes become so busy attending to daily responsibilities and others’ needs that we neglect our own need for stillness.

How do you honor your need for quiet?  Will you commit to carving out more time for blank space?

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Your task:  
Spend 5- 10 minutes in silence.  Sit in a place free of distractions. In comfortable and relaxed position in your seat, place your gentle attention on your breath. When you become aware of any thoughts just let them drift.

Meditate on the breath, allowing thoughts to come and go as they will.  As you breathe in, allow the air to descend to the deepest part of your abdomen.  As you breathe out sense your body relaxing.  Notice your muscles and be aware of any tension in your head and body and relax…

Pay gentle attention to what might come up for you.  Gratitude, anxiety, peace, grief, sadness– let whatever comes up  just be there.

Step it up: 
Already have a regular meditative practice?  Spend some extra minutes in silence.

Or

Take an extended break from television or social media.  Use the time instead to sit in silence.

Related post:  Meditation vs. Mob Wives.

Nourish

June 4, 2013

This exercise is borrowed from my friend and mentor, Sharon Rosen, over at the Heart of Self Care.

Nourishment is a very basic physical need.  In our busy lives we often eat on the run.  How often do you fully experience every nuance of what you are eating as you are eating it?

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Your task:
While you can bring mindful awareness to any meal, for this exercise you’re going to do it with a single piece of fruit.

First, take the fruit you have chosen and hold it in your hand. Feel the weight of it, the texture of the skin, the shape of its contours.

Then look at this piece of fruit; really see the gradations of color and size, examining the stem end that was once connected to a tree or vine.

Next bring it to your nose and inhale its fragrance.
Is it a fruit you can simply bite into or does it need to be peeled? When you take that first bite, bring all of your awareness to the activity and stop at one.

Feel the texture of what has just come into your mouth — let the juiciness and flavor play on your tongue and palate. Chew slowly and thoroughly, until the texture becomes something different. Wait until you have gotten all you can from that one bite before swallowing and moving on to the next.

Take each bite as if it is the first…breathe and enjoy engaging fully with this ripe, delicious, life-giving piece of fruit. Experience it as it goes from your mouth down your esophagus and into your stomach. Envision it sending vitality and nourishment to all of your cells. Enjoy every delicious nuance!

Step it up:  
Bring mindful awareness to other meals throughout the day.

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Movement

June 3, 2014

Time to shake things up.  Fully engage by being more present in your body.  Walk, run, dance, stretch, bounce, cycle, row…
moving train
What is your favorite form of physical exercise?

Your task:
Spend at least 30 minutes engaged in rigorous physical movement.  Do whatever helps you feel more present and alive in your body.

Notice how your body feels as you move.  Keep moving until you enter a zone and you feel fully integrated in your body.

Step it up: 
Feeling like you honor this need fully?  Challenge yourself by trying something new.  Take yourself out of your comfort zone.  If you normally go to yoga, try kick boxing.  If you normally like to dance, try strength training.

Clearing

June 2, 2014

When we stop paying attention, we all do now and again, debris tends to build up.

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What are you needing to clear out, clean up, or get rid of?

Your task:

Decide what needs cleaning up in your life.  This could be the clearing of clutter on your desk.  It could be getting to the laundry that has been piling up. Or it could perhaps be reducing the consumption of a food that is not so healthy.

Notice what is getting in the way of you feeling at peace.  What needs clearing?  What needs weeding?  What needs slashing and burning?

Step it up: 

Already pretty organized and on top of things?  Try a bigger project like cleaning out old files, organizing a closet, scrubbing the bathroom floor…

Or tackle clearing mental clutter by taking a break from Facebook, internet games, or reality TV.  Put an auto-responder on your email settings to let folks know you’re taking a break.  Post on your Facebook wall that while you love connecting with folks, you’re going to disconnect for a while.  Don’t watch television for a week and notice what else you might do.  What peaceful or rejuvenating act you might do with that time instead?



Water

June 1, 2014

One of the best and easiest ways to tend to your body is water.  Drinking water and staying hydrated will help flush your system of toxins and impurities.

What does water represent for you?IMG_6993

Your task: 
Drink at least three extra glasses of water than you normally drink in a day.  Take your time and enjoy it.  Evoke your sense of gratitude for having access to clean running water.

Pay attention to what you’d like to flush out or wash away– both literally and metaphorically.

Step it up: 
Already happy with your daily intake of water?  Take a hot shower or bath using a salt scrub (a bath with epsom salts does the trick too).  The scrub helps exfoliate the skin and the sulfates help flush out toxins.

Or go to the nearest body of water and spend some contemplative time there.



Let’s Dance into Summer on a Good Note

10309033_10203957219517392_5420923593131977170_nI’ve been hosting the Women Warrior’s Self Care Challenge twice a year for three years now.  I was thinking this summer I would take a break.  After all, the exercises are offered in the free e-book. Many of the women I know are aware what self care is and have some idea how to do it…

Yet clients are reaching out.  Friends are mentioning wanting to make a shift or change. Many of us are grappling with the same questions:

How do I generously care for loved ones while taking into account my personal needs?

How do I honor my own passions while fulfilling obligations to the outside world?

How do I take care of myself? When do I push to do more? Or do I need to do less?

I know the power in offering this self-care curriculum in a community of like minded women.  And I know no matter how awakened we are, the journey of loving ourselves is a life-long practice.  So let’s dance into summer on a good note, together.

As you prepare for our first exercise starting tomorrow morning think about what it means to deepen your self care practice.

Contemplate being a Self Care Warrior:

A warrior must use her discernment, skill and prowess to make decisions in the battle of life.  And in her everyday routines she cultivates practices that develop her skills and ability to engage in it fully.  She strives to be aligned mentally, physically and spiritually.  She is a peaceful warrior, motivated by love.  Forging ahead when she needs to and choosing compassion and mercy as her guide.

Check back regularly for Daily Self Care Exercises!