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Living Well

Don’t Forget Yourself

November is well underway at this point. Halloween has come and gone, Thanksgiving is just around the corner with other winter holidays following close behind. It’s a busy time of year, which for many of us will only get busier. While you’re running around gifting and giving this holiday season, don’t forget yourself.

I say this because I’ve noticed that in my own life, the self-care rituals I really enjoy are the first things that drop off when my schedule picks up. We all have responsibilities and must be flexible at times; it’s part of adulting. But we usually sacrifice those little things that bring us joy when we need them the most. Head’s up-I have one way to ensure you get yourself a little TLC before the holidays, (and at 15% off too) but you’ll have to read on for that.

When the tasks pile up, I feel like I don’t have time to take care of myself. How can I possibly go to yoga when I have so much to do? I can’t spend an hour cooking when I’m already behind on this project…Sounds familiar, yah? I think many of us have felt this conundrum. FELT being the key word. 

If only I had more…Subconsciously I believe if I can require less energy/time/food/sleep/whatever I can have more energy to channel elsewhere. While it would be cool, this logic doesn’t say much for common sense. The truth is that we have to take care of our needs if we’re going to be of any use to the world. And speaking of the world, it will continue to turn regardless, so you may as well make yourself a priority.

Simply put, we cannot get something from nothing. I think it was a third grade science lesson that I first learned that matter can neither be created or destroyed. It can be transformed though and embody different states. I like to think about human energy in the same way. Our energy can ebb and flow but it is present at all times.

Self-care is one way we can transform our energy. Spending time generating good feelings can help us feel rejuvenated and refreshed. A few months ago I had an opportunity to recharge my energy at a local yoga retreat hosted by my dear friends Lauren and Cici. It was the perfect way to reconnect with myself and my yoga practice in a playful and friendly atmosphere. Here’s a little recap of my Day Pass experience.

The retreat was located nearby at The Eco-Institute at Pickards Mountain in Chapel Hill which is about 40 minutes outside of Raleigh. I couldn’t go for the whole weekend, but I was able to purchase a Day Pass to attend the Saturday sessions. This was perfect because it allowed me to enjoy a TON of great activities like multiple yoga classes, workshops AND yummy snacks, at a great price.


Photos courtesy of JME PhotographyPhotos courtesy of JME Photography

Photos courtesy of JME Photography

I arrived at the farm and was greeted by the sweetest little goats just in time to gather with the group for a quick cup of tea. We said hellos and headed upstairs for an energetic morning vinyasa lead by Lauren. About 75 ass-kicking minutes later, I was roused from Savasana by the scent of roasted sweet potatoes. Magically, there was a delicious brunch spread waiting for us after class. It thoughtfully included every possible dietary option with labels to help clarify… very nice touch!

After brunch, we had a couple of hours to explore the farm before we resumed our afternoon activities. I took a walk down to the adorable Honeysuckle Tea House to get a cuppa and chat with some of the other retreat goers. To my surprise, everyone had the same story. We chose to attend the retreat because it was perfect for a last-minute Treat YoSelf activity. 

We reconvened in the afternoon for a workshop focused on demystifying the “bandhas” which of course, lead to an upside-down yogi recess. Even with many different levels of experience, Cici was able to get everyone playing with the concept of arm balancing. SO FUN!


Photos courtesy of JME PhotographyPhotos courtesy of JME Photography

Photos courtesy of JME Photography

After this empowering but exhausting hour, Emilee from Healer’s Hemp Co gave us a crash course in all things Cannabis. She offered some insight on dosing and what to look for as you shop. Raleigh Raw came through with a create-your-own poke bar which was a huge highlight for me. I just LOVE Raleigh Raw and I got extra cashew sauce this time. 

Our evening yoga class was inspired by Yin and Thai massage and was a perfect way to conclude such a physical day. We partnered up for some assisted stretches, which contrary to my expectation, was not weird at all. (By that point in the day, we were all very close friends, ha!) The class was gentle and relaxing and it left me feeling restored but still alert…I had to drive home after all. 


Photos courtesy of JME PhotographyPhotos courtesy of JME Photography

Photos courtesy of JME Photography

After a fireside s’more, I hugged everybody–literally everybody at the retreat, goodbye and headed home. I was so blissed out, I don’t even think I turned on the radio.

So, with the Day Pass I got way more than I paid for…multiple yoga classes, knowledge, delicious foods, fellowship with awesome yogis AND I was home before 11pm! It was amazing and I highly encourage you to join Lauren and Cici for a day at their upcoming Winter Immersion Nov 21-24. For 15% off, use the code DAYPASS15 when you check out. Visit the retreat website to sign up; the discount is valid until Saturday 11/16.

As the holidays draw near and you’re giving everything to everyone, don’t forget yourself. You deserve TLC as much as the next guy or gal on your list. When things get crazy double down on the joy mongering. Make time for fun so you can smile your way through these wild times. 

Whether you commit to your weekly fitness class, family dinners or spending a day (or maybe the whole weekend) at an amazing local retreat, DO NOT forget yourself this holiday season.

in love and light,

E

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Doing more of what brings you joy

Halloween is over, so for some that means it is time for all things Christmas . I’ve long been a firm believer that it is far too soon, but I’m not here to be the Grinch (who stole your Christmas joy) or Ebenezer Scrooge. I’d like to take a moment to recommend doing more what brings you joy.

Live into the seasons

I’ve lived my whole life in Virginia, and one of the reasons I love it and stay, is that we have four distinct seasons. Some may say they live for a particular season alone, but I want them all. Yes, I have my favorites of the bunch, but I don’t want to be hemmed into loving only one. Just when one season feels like it is too much, it is time for another. I welcome the change of the seasons, and this leads me into my thoughts on decorating and celebrating them.

It’s time to loosen up..

I am a rules person. There is a way that we are supposed to do things (and NOT do them). I have had rules for many years regarding the various holidays:

  • I will not, and I repeat, will not listen to Christmas music until after I have consumed my Thanksgiving dinner. After this point (regardless of the time of day), I can begin enjoying that joyous music (Mariah Carey Christmas for life!)

  • I will not decorate for Christmas until we are as close to Christmas day as possible. This has caused challenges with obtaining a Christmas tree, so I have had to loosen up on this rule a little bit. (If you see me in person, ask about the pawn shop Christmas tree.)

  • I will enjoy my Christmas decorations for all twelve days of Christmas, and not pack them away  until Epiphany (the actual twelfth day of Christmas…forget this twelve days leading up to Christmas nonsense).

  • I will not decorate for Easter until after Good Friday, as the Easter season does not begin until Sunday.

  • Easter decorations can stay up until Pentecost, BUT they probably won’t because I cannot handle keeping them up that long.

  • My United States of America flag should fly from Memorial Day until at least Independence Day.

  • Halloween decorations should not go up until the week of Halloween

BUT I have come to the realization and conclusion this year, that we need not be overly legalistic. You see, I was called to account this year for being a possible joy thief by my Halloween-loving child, and my rules for Halloween decorations were turned on their head. It is time to loosen up.

 

Decorating early and often causes…

Immense JOY.
This spookey Halloween fanatical child of mind BEGGED me to decorate for DAYS until I caved. so, the decorations went up the first weekend of October against (what I thought was) my better judgement. I had no idea that I could enjoy Halloween decorations as much as I did, and it’s got me singing a different tune.

Maybe I should allow decorations to go up earlier in my house. I’ve now swapped my Halloween decorations for some fall décor, and I’m waiting (mostly patiently) to get the Christmas decorations up. In just a few weeks I’ll get all the Christmas decorations down from the attic and enjoy them for a whole SIX weeks this year.

No matter the season, do what brings you joy!

Whether you’re a “decorate early and often” person, a “wait to decorate” person, or a “please, no decorations at all” person, I encourage you to do you all year long.
Do not feel bound to follow the decorating rules of the rest of the world. Do what will bring you the most joy, and do it with ALL your heart.

xoxo,
C

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Save the planet, BE a HERO!

If you’re a child of the late 80s and early 90s, there is a strong chance you are familiar with Captain Planet. If not, google it, we’ll wait. This amazing (I loved it and still do) cartoon series explored the perils of pollution, mismanagement of natural resources, unconscious business practices, and a host of other environmentally-motivated topics. This franchise put earth lovers and environmentalists on a SUPERHERO pedestal and made conservation cool. Captain Planet and the Planeteers’ message that WE can and should work to make our planet better is an empowering one. Together we can have a positive impact. We can take steps today to fight this…Save the planet, be a HERO! 

There’s another group of environmentalist kids inspiring the world today. But it’s not enough to just “like” quotes from Greta Thundberg, Ridhima Pandey, Alexandria Villaseñor and others on social media. It’s not enough to applaud their outspokenness or appreciate their passion for the environment. We, the very same grown ups that have failed them, MUST act. The good news is that it’s pretty easy.

Here are some ideas for simple steps you can take to GO GREEN:


They are getting into the spirit of conservation at Ocean Isle Beach.They are getting into the spirit of conservation at Ocean Isle Beach.

They are getting into the spirit of conservation at Ocean Isle Beach.

  1. BYO Bottle – Some think of BYOB as a party recommendation (bring your own beverage), but we’re talking about bringing your own water bottle. Bottled water is convenient if you’re concerned about your tap water, which is a legitimate issue in some areas. The fact is that the vast majority of Americans do indeed have access to clean drinking water. Disposable water bottles are terrible for the planet, and costly for your wallet. Save money AND the planet by bringing your own bottle. 

  2. BYO Bag – this is an easy one and a fun one. Reusable grocery bags come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and cute prints. You don’t just have to use them for groceries, you can use them for all kinds of stuff; toting lunch to work, makeshift purse or gym bag, even as gift-bags, etc. And some stores will even give you a discount for using them? That’s kickass! You can get a cute bag whilst practicing green living and saving a few pennies at the same time? Let’s call that a WIN WIN WIN!

  3. Go meatless once a week – it’s also a fact that commercial farms are tough on our planet. Opting out of animal products once a week is a great way to try new foods and lessen our dependence on an unsustainable supply chain. I get it, this is a big ask and not everyone is down for a big bowl of kale and chickpeas. If going meatless isn’t for you, explore options for shopping from organic farmers in your area. Yes it may cost a little more, but you’re funneling money DIRECTLY into your home community and helping a local business owner thrive. Yum! Local lunch, anyone?

  4. DITCH the straws – unless you’re still on sippy cups, straws are really a silly convenience item. We do not need them. If someone hands you one at a restaurant hand it back and watch their confused face It’s funny! If you must have a straw, opt for one that is dishwasher safe and reusable! They come in cool colors and multiple materials. 

  5. Alternative transportation –  it’s not practical for all of us to sell our cars and start biking to work every day, but we can get creative with how we get around. Cutting down on our time in automobiles is not just a green idea, it’s also kind of fun! Instead of driving to the corner lunch spot, take a bike ride. Perhaps you and your coworker take a picnic lunch instead of carpooling to Panera? Maybe you book a vacation rental that has restaurants and shops within walking distance? Uber even has options for sharing rides with people that are going in your direction. And it’s CHEAP, y’all. Seeking out opportunities to carpool, get out on two wheels, or your own two-legs whenever you can will drive down emissions and probably make you feel happy. After all saving money, engaging in movement and spending time outside can all boost your mood.


He’s a hero. Gonna take pollution down to zero…wanna help?He’s a hero. Gonna take pollution down to zero…wanna help?

He’s a hero. Gonna take pollution down to zero…wanna help?

If we all do a little, it adds up to a lot! You just have to start somewhere. Commit to do just one of these things. You will feel better knowing you’re fighting on the planet side. Just like Captain Planet said…The Power is YOURS!

Just in case you are wondering, #CaptainPlanet is still fighting the good fight over at https://captainplanetfoundation.org, so head over to learn more!

In light and love,

E

taking care

On your left: A handy guide to outdoor activity etiquette

It’s still summer for a little while longer, but that hasn’t stopped people from ramping up their outdoor activities. You may notice an increase in the amount of bicycle and foot traffic on the sidewalks and in the parks this time of year. Folks may be training for a fall event, getting back into the school routine, or simply looking to take advantage of those declining temperatures as the days shorten. I’ve got a few ideas for sharing the road (or trails or sidewalks) for motorists and movers as well. HINT: It’s not just shouting “on your left” as you pass! Please review this handy dandy guide to outdoor activity etiquette.


outdoor activities are better with FRIENDS!outdoor activities are better with FRIENDS!

outdoor activities are better with FRIENDS!

Let’s get the formalities out of the way. Here are three rules of the road that can help make your outdoor activity ventures MORE fun and safe.

  1. Bicycles are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk! They are considered a vehicle (at least in NC) and should ride as close to the right side of the street WITH the traffic if there is no bike lane. If there is a bike lane, sweet! Still, stay in your lane. When I see bicycles on the sidewalk I become unhinged. Why should I jump into the street to avoid an oncoming bicycle who is A.) not supposed to be on the sidewalk and B.) who is traveling illegally against traffic? I am risking my life so that this cyclist can break two rules? Yikes.

  2. Runners and walkers should travel on sidewalks, AGAINST the traffic. Opt to use sidewalks whenever you can, but if you must run on the road, slow up and look around. I never cross in front of or behind a car until I have confirmed eye contact with the driver. Once I’m SURE they see me, I will move around them. This may mean slowing down the pace a little at intersections and road crossings, but hey, showing up to the finish line alive and healthy should be the goal of any training plan, right?

  3. Tell people when/where you’re heading out and how long you think you will be gone-especially if you don’t typically carry your cell phone with you. This is not a state or federal law obviouslt, but it is an easy accountability step that can help you feel more secure and confident. Not only that, but it gives you a little support crew that will know when and where to look for you should something happen.

Now, what follows are some things I would really like you (our readers) to think about and strongly consider. You may not get a ticket for violating these guidelines, but they are still important enough to mention. 

Be mindful. 

Pets belong on leashes. PERIODT. Y’all, you KNOW I love animals. I have a dog and a cat and I love other people’s pets and take selfies with them. I follow a lot of pet and animal accounts on instagram and pet videos make me cry on the daily. BUT if I see you and your dog frolicking on the greenway, in the park, or on the sidewalk without a leash, I will stop and ask you to leash your animal for safety purposes. Ask about me. Anyone who runs with me (especially on the greenways in Raleigh) has seen me do this.

I don’t hate dogs. I’m not afraid of them either. It is simply unsafe FOR YOUR PETS to be loosey-goosey in these public outdoor areas. There are many scenarios that could catch even the most perfectly poised pets (and their owners) off-guard and create a hazard. It’s not even the danger to other humans on the greenway as much as it is for the safety of the dog itself. When your animal is physically tethered to you, you have a greater degree of control. Ever tried to chase a dog on a leash? No, of course not, because you don’t have to.


even on the greenway, rules are rules!even on the greenway, rules are rules!

even on the greenway, rules are rules!

Now, I get a lot of flap from indignant dog owners on this one. I do not care how great of a relationship you have with your dog, how well trained it is, or how well it listens to your commands. I can guarantee that your preferred outdoor activity spot has signs that indicate off-leash pets are prohibited. This is not a selectively-enforced policy to punish bad dogs. It is to protect all dogs (or cats or rabbits—which I’ve also seen on leashes on the greenway) from the inherent dangers of a public outdoor space. 

One way to think about the argument that someone’s dog is “too well behaved” to follow leash rules is to think about other moving violations. If you get pulled over for speeding, would you argue that you shouldn’t get a ticket because you’re really good at driving fast? No. This would be ridiculous. The officer who pulled you over does not care how skilled you are at not having a collision while driving over the speed limit. They care that you put yourself and others in danger by breaking the law. Leash rules are the same way. They do not exist to punish dogs who misbehave. They are there to reinforce safety and order in these public spaces. 

Be aware.

Fitness is IN and there are more people than ever before enjoying an active lifestyle outdoors. These folks come in all different shapes, sizes, speeds, etc. Some walk or run, others rollerblade, ride a bicycle or a big wheel. Sometimes there are big groups, sometimes solo adventurers. You never know whom or what you will see out there, but you can be sure you WILL encounter something. This is a big one. If we expect to encounter one another, motorists and movers alike, we can stay safe!

Drivers…

please get on my level. It is easy to let “autopilot” take over as we commute to and from work. It takes a conscious effort to train our awareness to detect non-vehicle sized objects on roadways, but it is worth it. None of us EVER wants to end someone’s workout by putting them in the hospital. This may sound dramatic, but it is true. 

I run every day, mostly on sidewalks and greenways during DAYLIGHT hours, but you would be shocked at the number of people that “don’t see me” because I’m not shaped like an SUV. The other day,  I put my hands (rather forcefully) on the hood of a woman’s car to get her to stop accelerating into a right-hand turn and realize I was still in the road. It’s sort of hilarious to imagine; I know I startled her, but at the same time, this is my life! She did not see me because she wasn’t looking to see me. Even running over me at a slow speed would have resulted in significant injuries. PAY ATTENTION!

Movers:

You can help by keeping your eyes and EARS open. I love running with music blasting through my headphones, but those headphones are affecting my ability to hear the world around me. I bailed off the side of the road the other day because I didn’t hear a bicycle coming behind me and was caught unaware. Luckily there were no oncoming vehicles, but still, it was a sign for me to ditch the tunes and get connected to my environment. Turn music down or try something new and different and leave the headphones at home during peak activity times such as after work and weekend morning hours.

Take it a step further and foster good vibes by saying hello to everyone you encounter. Tell them they are looking strong or to have a good morning. Truly sharing the road is a two-way street, and mindful consideration is our mode of transportation.

As we embark on this new season and the promise of more pleasant outdoor temperatures, stay alert and pay attention. No matter how you use the road, take  the time to notice all that is happening around you. It will help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Get out THERE and SAFELY enjoy the road, the park, or the greenway to the fullest!  Thanks for coming to my TED Talk and Happy Adventures!

E

taking care

Wanna go streaking?

Hey! Do you wanna go streaking with us? No, we’re not talking about stripping off all of your clothes and running, but you’re more than welcome if to do so if you think it’s a good idea. We’re talking about the kind of streaking you may have heard Erica has been doing for over a year, almost 500 days if we want to get technical. When we say streaking, we mean committing to doing something everyday. 

What kind of something?

That’s a personal decision. It’s a commitment to yourself, to do something for you, that challenges you to be your best you, and pushes you to grow. For Erica it’s getting out there running every single day for at least one mile. For Crystal, this is a completely different ballgame. The only thing she’s been streaking of late has been the care of her family, in particular her children, rather than focusing on herself. If we’re going to be completely honest, Crystal has some decisions to make when it comes to streaking. 

What’s Erica going to do?

She’s going to keep doing what she’s been doing…Erica’s streak has been going for quite a while now, but she wants everyone to know it’s about quality (of life) and NOT quantity (of miles). Running every day is simply about finding time to do something that brings joy. Sometimes it’s a majestic journey that takes me to new destinations, sometimes it’s just a mile around the block, sometimes it’s just an excuse to listen to those new Missy Elliott tracks. It’s not about getting faster, losing weight, or being cooler than other runners who don’t streak. It’s simply a fun way to create a little time for self-care.  

What’s Crystal going to do?

She’s going to go basic and make a commitment to her own self-care. Yes, the woman who blogs and talks about self-care, is needing to make her own self a priority. Each day she will do one thing, preferably first thing in the morning, for herself that she needs. Caring for others is great, noble, and needed (particularly when you have tiny humans in your house), but your own needs are just as important. Each day Crystal will take time to exercise, read, or meditate all on her own so that she can recharge for what lays ahead of her. Once again, she’s making herself a priority so that she can be her best self, wife, mom, daughter, friend, you name it. 

How can you streak with us?

  1. Share what you are going to do. 

  2. Hold us accountable. (Ask questions about progress, call us out if we’re silent about what we’re doing,)

  3. Rejoice with us in our progress. (We hope to get incrementally better each day). 

  4. Encourage us when it’s tough (we promise to be vulnerable and share when it’s hard)

  5. Share your progress and struggles with us too

We hope that you’ll join us on this streaking journey and that we can encourage one another.

xoxo,

c+e

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I miss him

Suicide is this dirty little word we never want to talk about. It’s sad and depressing. It’s worse than politics or religion because you shouldn’t bring it up in polite company. But here’s the thing, suicide has affected far more people than you realize. On August 13, 2009 I found out that my cousin Jason had taken his own life. Today and every day since that event, I miss him.

The the best way I can honor my cousin’s life today is to tell you about him and to be a voice for those who are struggling right now. I’m grateful for a family that embraced each other then and now. I am grateful for friends that walked with me in my grief. I am also grateful for friends that have shared that they’re on this “survivor” path of grief with me. Only those who have lost someone to suicide know the depths of this pain, and we wish it on no one else. 


Crystal and Jason dancing at their aunt’s weddingCrystal and Jason dancing at their aunt’s wedding

Crystal and Jason dancing at their aunt’s wedding

Let me tell you about Jason

Jason P. Thompson was the cousin closest to my age on my mom’s side of the family. Our birthdays were almost exactly 18 months apart, and growing up, we did EVERYTHING together. Losing him was like losing a part of me. It was and still is hard to lose him; not just for myself but for his dad and two older sisters also. I could try and share why I think he took his life, but that’s something none of us will ever know. I do know that he dealt with much pain and heartbreak in the final years of his short life. I know that he battled a deep and dark depression. I wish HE KNEW how much he was loved and how much the world would hurt without him in it. 

Today and every day, I miss him.

During the second week of August each year, I always feel off. In the first few years following Jason’s suicide, I wasn’t quite sure what was wrong with me. Over time, I have become aware that it’s my grief and longing for my cousin to still be here. I know that there is nothing I can do to bring him back, but I can work to ensure others will not have to go through this. 

Today and every day, we have people we miss.

I’m sure each of us has suffered a loss. We have people we miss and long for in our lives. With that longing comes an opportunity and we can choose to act on those feelings if we want. We can pick up the phone and call. We can send a message. We can mail a note or card. We can visit. And why shouldn’t we let people know when we miss them? I’ve seen first hand that we don’t always get another chance to share our feelings. 

Sometimes what we do won’t be enough.


Cousins (left to right): Kara, Jason, Crystal, and KamiCousins (left to right): Kara, Jason, Crystal, and Kami

Cousins (left to right): Kara, Jason, Crystal, and Kami

I and others in my family talked to Jason a lot about how much we loved him and that he mattered to us. We knew he was going through some difficulties. My uncle worked tirelessly to find Jason something that would help and tried his best to support him as any father would. Despite our combined efforts, Jason still took his life. He left us behind and we will always feel that. Anyone affected by suicide knows this all too well. We can’t change what happened; our love for those we have lost never ends. Unfortunately, neither does the pain. We move forward, but we are never the same. 

If you are in your darkest, saddest, hardest moments…

I hope you know that:

  • you are loved

  • you are important

  • you will be missed

  • you should tell someone you are hurting and need help

If you know or love someone who is in their darkest, saddest, hardest moments…

I hope you will tell them that:

  • they are loved

  • they are important

  • they will be missed

  • that you’re here to help

Today marks ten years since…

I received the news that Jason was gone forever. Each year gets a touch easier in some ways. I want to encourage each of us to be vigilant and stay aware. Suicide is a really terrible thing. We have a tendency to believe it won’t happen to anyone we know, but there’s no guarantee. If we know of people who battle suicidal thoughts, we have an opportunity. We can reach out to those people, we can try to connect them with help, or we can call for help. Sometimes our work won’t stop someone from taking their own life, but if we will never know until we try…  

On this day, please do this one small favor:

If you or someone you love (or like a little or maybe don’t even like at all) may be contemplating, struggling through, or living beyond suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255. 

Put this number in your contact list for that moment of need. Maybe it’s not for you, maybe you will never need it, but wouldn’t it be nice if you were ready to help someone else?

I want to end by saying that I am mostly okay, but I miss Jason today and every day. I want to celebrate him, you, myself, and the gift of life.

xoxo,

C

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8 things to do if you woke up alive today

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock, there’s a chance you’ve heard about the most recent string of mass shootings. No doubt you’ve heard about other countries warning their residents against the dangers of traveling to the US. I’m also confident that you are devastated by what has happened, and likely, a little fearful as well. (I considered calling my mother on my way to Wal-Mart yesterday, just-in-case I didn’t make it back out.)

While Crystal and I are absolutely not, I repeat NOT dismissing or diminishing the seriousness of our current situation (we both believe that as a country, we are past the point of “needing to do something” and having a full-on national crisis) we would like to offer a few suggestions that may help us move forward with love. 

In case you happened to wake up alive this morning, here are some ideas to celebrate the beautiful and precious life you get to live today.

  1. Tell someone you love them. Not your partner, your children, your dog, or other immediate family members that hear it all the time, but someone who won’t expect it. Even if you’re not one to throw the “L-word” around, telling someone you genuinely appreciate something they’ve done will make them feel good. And then you’ll feel good for making them feel good, and then everyone will just feel all happy and warm and fuzzy.  

  2. Eat, drink, and be merry! We don’t get nearly as excited as we should about the abundance of food that is available to most of us. There are places in this world, in this country even, where people do not know if they will have access to food. Those people would be elated to have the leftovers or well-intentioned groceries in your fridge. Challenge yourself to avoid the grocery store and deplete your cabinets. It will be fun and cheap! And make you feel a little more resourceful.

  3. Go outside! It’s summer for many of us, take off your shoes and socks and step outside. Feel the earth under your feet and remember that your mother (earth) is always supporting you. She’s right there, underneath it all, holding us up. We should show her some respect for that.

  4. Make up a silly song about something mundane; a musical narration as you get ready for work or an impromptu interlude as you make yourself lunch. You have a voice! You have a brain! You can use them both together to create something! You don’t have to sing out loud, all though it’s more fun. 

  5. Give yourself 60 minutes of free movement. Close the door to your office or bedroom and let yourself go! Whether you’re perfecting your #Narutorun, your dance moves, or riffing on the wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube-man, you can’t go wrong just moving your body organically. It will make you feel free and we bet you can’t do it without laughing. *Bonus points if you combine 5+6*

  6. Help somebody! We are all capable of helping others and the good news is that we can do this in a variety of ways. Maybe you go big and donate to an NPO you love or volunteer regularly at your local animal shelter. Maybe you run an errand for a coworker or water your neighbor’s plants. Seek out opportunities to be of service because service does not discriminate! Everyone can make a difference. Even small gestures can be extremely valuable.

And then there were two…These last suggestions are critical but can be tough to implement. They will require constant vigilance and call upon the most American of ideals –  that we as individuals are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  

  1. LOVE YOURSELF. Trust that no one can be you, no one can know you, no one can love and care for you, the way that you do. You matter, you are important, and you are a beautiful part of this world. If a message makes you feel less than, don’t look at it. If someone says something that makes you feel judged, get curious about what THEIR problem is. No one can make us feel inferior without our consent. Stand up fully for the magical awesomeness that is inside of you and others will be drawn into your light.

  2. If you really want to stick it to the man, LOVE EVERYONE ELSE TOO! Sometimes it is hard to do this, especially when people in high places try to tell you what/how to think. It’s hard to avoid judging others, buying into stereotypes or rejecting what we don’t understand. It’s exponentially harder to apply a critical lens to ourselves to better understand our own behavior and prejudice, but it MUST be done. We owe it to ourselves as Americans to SEEK OUT COMMONALITIES that unite us! Make it your mission to be ANTI-HATE, to find good in every individual. We are all, every one of us, somebody’s child. 

We may not agree with some (or many or ANY) of the policies and strategies being implemented by our leadership, but that doesn’t mean we should give up and call it a loss. Let’s take things back to a local level. Treat others; not some, or a few, or just the ones you know, but ALL OTHERS, how you want to be treated. Celebrate the joy of being alive today and find gratitude for all that you have. 

If you do these things, I can guarantee it will make it a little easier to carry on in this crazy world. 

In love and light,
E

How did you get here

How Did You Get Here: Carrie Cheatham

We are super excited to introduce you to our next guest in the “how did you get here series.” Carrie Cheatham is the co-owner of Snail Mail, LLC in Richmond, Virginia. These cards have a special purpose and can be found in various local businesses. BUT rather than tell you about them, let’s let Carrie have the honors…


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Tell us a little bit about you?

My name is Carrie and I create hand-painted greeting cards. When I say hand-painted, I mean every single one is painted by my hand, and I don’t have any originals. Between my husband (Andrew) and I, we have painted close to 11,000 cards in two years. The motivation behind what we do is that we give back a portion of the proceeds is given to local organizations that support our refugees and immigrant neighbors. We partner with five different organizations, all but one is located in Virginia. We work with two organizations that help our Latino neighbors, one is based in Fredericksburg and the other in Richmond. Then we work with an agency in Harrisonburg, Richmond, and LA. 

How and why did you start your journey?

It started when I was in college. I was a sociology major at Randolph Macon College and had no idea what I wanted to do. During my senior year, I did an internship with ReEstablish Richmond and I worked under Kate Ayers who is now the executive director. I worked alongside her during my internship and fell in love. I had no idea there were so many resettled refugees in Richmond. They are such a special group of people. It taught me a lot about how privileged I am as an American, and just how easy I have it. If I can use what I have learned in my lifetime to say that you are welcome here, you are important, you had a life in Afghanistan, you had a life in the Congo, but now you’re here, and everything is so different. I want to be someone that they can trust and confide in.

After I interned, I volunteered for a while, but then I graduated from college. Suddenly I had to figure life out on my own. (FYI: Adulting is hard!) So I got a job as one does out of college, but in 2017, I knew I wanted to go back to working with refugees and being in community with them again. At the time, I was also getting frustrated with our political environment and how hateful and exclusive it was. I didn’t know at first what I could do or make. I couldn’t just make a product and sell it, because that’s not who we are. It has to have a purpose.  


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Then my husband had a suggestion. “You make everyone birthday cards and Christmas cards… Why not make greeting cards? Now we’re here. It went from frustration, to wanting to take these heavy emotions and transform them into something productive. It took a lot of soul searching and conversations, until my husband pushed me to just do it. Turns out people like greeting cards more than we thought.

What is the most rewarding thing about your venture?

It’s the support. When I first started I thought I was going to get a lot of kickback, because of where the money goes. The community of Richmond has rallied around us, and it feels good to know that this space is welcoming. It feels good to know that it’s not just me or my husband that feel like this. There are so many people in this community that love who we are, but love our mission. Reconnecting with ReEstablish Richmond through this, directly by volunteering again and being in connection with refugees. If we’re going to advocate for them, then we have to have conversations and be good neighbors ourselves. The community of Richmond, Orange (where I’m from), and Charlottesville, basically the central Virginia region has supported us, loved us, and believed in us. Coming from a small town to a city has been hard and intimidating, but through this, I have felt so loved. It drives me to do more, be more and to make more. 

What was the most challenging part?

The cards themselves. It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of creative energy. It also takes a lot from one hand. This one hand (Carried held up left hand) does a LOT of work. 


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Fortunately, my husband helps with the painting. I draw all of the designs in a sharpie pen and he can go through and fill in if he has an example. Here’s the funny thing… I do an okay job painting because I know that I can go back and touch it up. Andrew is not that way. He paints it all perfectly, so his cards are way more effective. They’re just ready to go for stamping. 

By stamping, I mean actually stamping each card. They are all stamped twice with two different branded stamps. An additional unrealized challenge is that the cards require a lot of thought into creating the words to put on them. Inspiration can come at the most random times or not at all. Currently, I have cards with sunflowers on them and no words.

What have you learned? 

So much! So so much! 

Being a maker is not easy. Being a maker of a product is something very special. It’s your own baby, that you coddle, and love on. A prime example is when we launched our website… I called the woman who helped me make it when I hit publish and asked her, “should I be crying?” She told me, “YES, it’s like you’ve birthed a baby. You’ve been working on this for months.”

I’ve also learned that every single moment is special. I’m so thankful to be on this journey and grateful that it began by working with refugees. Now I have so many of their stories to tell and experiences to share with people. Learning to love the little things is something I didn’t notice until I started doing this. Now every little victory is really special. 

What advice would you give someone else on this path?

Have a purpose. It makes it so much more meaningful to have something that you’re making it for. Not everyone needs to give money back, not everyone needs to advocate for somebody, but having some sort of underlying mission and why for what you do it really important. It makes it easier on those hard days when you can’t think of anything, don’t want to paint anything, or don’t want to make anything.  When you think about why you’re here and what you’re doing, it’s easier with a purpose. So, know your why. 

How has it changed you?

Drastically. It has drastically changed me. 


I have always been an empathetic person, somebody who tries to put myself in other people’s shoes. I think of how everything ties together to push me in the direction of being where I’m supposed to be. Right out of college I got a “big kid” job and then I started making these cards on the side. Suddenly I realized something didn’t fit, and realized it was my job. I took a leap of faith, quit my full-time job with benefits. I started working  super part-time somewhere else 15 hours a week, and spent the rest of my time these making cards.I know that I’m in a fortunate situation because I’m married and the second income is a huge help. 

But having that moment when I was sitting in the office realizing that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be at my old job changed me. I realized that I am supposed to be with people and be a voice for people who don’t have a voice right now. It’s changed me in so many ways that I can’t pinpoint just yet. It’s like this puzzle that keeps on adding onto itself. I don’t know where this is going to be in five years, but I’m just trusting it. It’s been built so beautifully, and I’m grateful. The universe is doing something pretty great.

What has surprised you the most?

How many people want to sell our cards and buy our cards!
They’re super simple, and they’re blank inside. You have to write something inside them yourself! 


Also, most of the stores our cards are in, the businesses reached out to us about selling them. Urban Farmhouse, for example, reached out to us, and we found out that they learned about us through a hashtag on Instagram. We didn’t even launch a website until this spring. We sold cards through Facebook and word of mouth at first. Our cards made it into their first store in the fall of 2017, and it was at this point that we created an Instagram account. It’s so surprising how much word of mouth and social media makes a difference. 

Anything else you’d like to share?

It makes it a lot easier having someone who does this with you. My husband has a full-time job, and he still helps me all the time. I think that speaks wonders of the type of person he is. You see my face and hear from me all the time, but he works behind the scenes. He paints, he stamps, he packages, and gets cards where they need to go. He likes to say he’s the shipping and handling guy. The behind the scenes support is so important. He encourages me, he reminds me to take a break, and pushes me to keep going. Andrew doesn’t like having his picture taken, so you don’t see him, but he’s behind the scenes really making a difference. He deserves a lot of credit. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us Carrie!

If you’re looking for a card to send for the next birthday, holiday, or a just-because occasion, we highly recommend checking out Snail Mail. We are big fans, and we hope you will be too! Also, don’t forget to give Snail Mail a follow on Instagram or a like on Facebook.

Uncategorized

Self-Care is NOT selfish

Today, I want to talk about guilt. Not a guilt-trip or a verdict in a courtroom, oh no. I’m talking about the guilt we heap upon our very own selves. That special kind of self-loathing reserved for when we do or feel compelled to do something we shouldn’t. Eating the extra helping of dessert, taking a chill day when our to-do list is miles long, or just generally living with a case of the fuckits… We are adults (mostly) in command of our own lives, yet when we decide to do something for ourselves, we feel terrible about it! Not only that, but the guilt hangs around haunting us. My question is why? Self-care is not selfish.

Humans are hardwired to focus on deficiencies. 

We are analytical, detail-oriented beings who are very good at noticing when things don’t add up. As a species, this has served as well and made us very good at keeping ourselves alive (in a primitive sense) and seeking out and exploiting opportunities. Along the way, we’ve developed a practice of shortcutting by way of binary thinking. In trying to make decisions quickly and efficiently, we label things as good or bad, wrong or right, love or hate. We want more good and less bad, we want to be right and we don’t want any negativity. I mean positive vibes only, yah? It all seems very simple, maybe too simple.

For a great many of us, this mindset shapes our view of self-care. 

More good stuff, less bad stuff. Spend more time doing more things, not just things —productive and important things. As if taking care of ourselves is some irresponsible act, we view time spent on ourselves as something that could/should have been spent doing something more valuable. Like taking care of ourselves is at the direct expense of the rest of the world. No wonder it makes us feel shitty.

If we ask ourselves whose responsibility it is to take care of us, to ensure our happiness and safety, we know the answer. Yet, we trivialize any effort undertaken to deepen our relationship with ourselves. This simply makes no sense. Self-care is NOT selfish. If we are aware of the important role wellness plays in our day-to-day lives, we should feel empowered to seek self-care and wellness. We should not feel bad or guilty when we practice self-care. 


join Erica for a flow class on July 27!join Erica for a flow class on July 27!

join Erica for a flow class on July 27!

By gosh we should feel PROUD of ourselves!

The last time you woke up and didn’t feel good, you probably went to work anyway. Maybe you just had a tough day, but maybe you found yourself feeling worse and eventually at the doctor sometime later. By that point, you earned a note from a physician that says you’re officially sick and authorized to begin caring for yourself…now, armed with prescriptions and a guilt-free pass, it is now time to focus on your recovery and nothing else. Just a quick show of hands, who has ever received an accolade or financial incentive for coming into work sick or not using all of their sick days? Even if you did, you would still be sick! 

I bring this up because I have noticed that in many ways we all seek approval and validation to engage in caring ourselves. We’re looking for that guilt-free pass so we can focus on us without that swirling icky feeling. When we are children, validation comes from a parent or loved one that advises we are too sick for school/activities today. Later on, it’s a medical professional’s diagnosis or expert recommendations that get us off the hook. Sometimes medical help is vital, but it shouldn’t be the sole factor in determining whether or not we need a little self-guided TLC.

It’s easy to see how we are conditioned to look to others to validate our feelings and action plan for handling them, but we don’t have to stay in this place forever. 

I’m here to tell you that we do not actually need ANYONE ELSE to authorize our self-care.

We are smart and we are capable of appraising and executing our own self-care rituals. Whether they involve skipping a workout, taking a day off, or spending a little extra on the nice shampoo. We get to call our own shots! Outsourcing self-care is silly. When you’re hungry, do you make an appointment with someone to decide what you should eat? No! You just eat! When you’re low on gas do you stop driving your car and just take an Uber? No! You go get gas. We are empowered independent amazing humans. When you need a minute, honey, TAKE A MINUTE! It’s just a minute after all. 


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Just as happiness is an inside job, so is self-care. It’s not about excuses or inventing reasons to blow off our responsibility, it’s about loving ourselves enough to say “Hey, I love ME enough to prioritize MYSELF.” We are the creators, the approvers, and the managers of our own guilt-free passes y’all, so get your best, most fanciest ink pen and do some autographing! (And if you’re free on July 27, join me for a celebration of self-care and friendship!)

In love and light,

E

pause + rewind + try again

You are enough

I am of the belief that we are in need of a retraining of our internal monologue. I’ve talked about this before, but it’s a recurring issue. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard others beating themselves up and putting themselves down over something in their lives. The internal negativity can begin to spiral out of control. Rather than stopping it to say what they are doing right, the negativity begins to take deep root.
I am here to tell you today, that you are enough.

How do we retrain our internal monologue?

I liken this to assimilating to a new culture. We are surrounded by images, videos, and various reminders that who we are is not enough. We need more to make us whole. We need to buy more to make us better. We need to be more for others to like/need/want us. We need more, more, more. But I have something else to tell you…

it’s all a lie.

We are enough There are is nothing we need to buy to complete us. We don’t need to do something else to be liked/needed/wanted. We don’t need anything else, because..

Who we are is enough.

Who we are has always been enough.

Who we are will always be enough.

We need to silence the negative voice inside and outside trying to tell us otherwise.

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We have a choice…

We can choose whether or not we want to listen.

We can choose to internalize the negativity, or we can reject it.

Let’s commit to doing one thing today to make this better.

Let’s stop what we are doing, and say this together, “I am enough.” Repeat this as many times as you need. If this isn’t doing the trick, you can try another tactic. Find a mirror, look yourself in the eyes and say to yourself, “you are enough.” You can repeat this process over and over until you believe it. This may need to be done over the course of many days and weeks, but there’s good news…

You are not alone in this.

There is a whole community over here at The91Rewind to support you in flipping the script. Together we can press pause on the negative self talk, hit rewind, and try again. Added bonus, if you’re really struggling with this, you can reach out to myself and Erica. We want to support you on this journey of self-care and being kind to yourself. You can send us a message through our contact link, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. We will gladly encourage you and send you something to help you. We are so committed to this, that we will even send you some old fashioned snail mail encouragement if you’d like it. All you have to do is let us know in the message you send us.

How powerful will we all feel when we reject what the negativity wants us to believe and rise above it?!

xoxo,
C