Posts in Self Care
Yawn, Stretch, Creak | My Morning Routine
Mornings, I've both hated them and loved them. I've had to ease myself into a good morning routine. Here's a list of my fails and wins, because wisdom is learning from someone else's mistakes |

Mornings, I’ve both hated them and loved them. Even in this wishy-washy journey, or perhaps because of this wishy-washy state, I’ve grown to see the value of morning routines. While I’ve worked on figuring out my own, it seems there are books upon books about how to start your day. I’ve read some articles, had some great one on one discussions with my network of women. This is what I’ve found.

Back in my teens, mornings were one of my greatest enemies. I could have slept all day. Then, in college, I began to enjoy the peace of the morning. Watching the sunrise from my dorm window or the hood of my car looking over the mountain range was my solace and refuge. Now that I am a small business owner with the flexibility to control my schedule, I’ve flip flopped around in what works best for me. This whole routine thing can be a bit rough but, I think I’m finally figuring it out.

I had to ease my way into this morning routine. I’m used to waking up between 8am and 9am, spending time cuddling my puppies and getting ready for the day. After struggling with some depression that wants to hang around, I knew I needed to do more than just cuddle my pups to start the day off on a good note. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore my puppy cuddles. They just don’t aide my motivation to get out of my comfy bed and start the day.

For now, I’ve found that waking up and starting with breathing exercises and stretches between 5:30am and 6am is a peaceful awakening to the day. After that, I do a small yoga workout - with the small exception on the days of early morning portrait sessions. Then, I make sure to hydrate with water and enjoy a form of lemon water or tea, and on special occasions lavender honey and milk while I journal and cuddle my pups - a great boost for the rest of the day!

In all of this exploration, I’ve learned a fair amount of lessons. My top take aways are :
1. Listen to your body. It was created to tell us when something is working or not working.
2. Activity in the morning boosts your mental capacity to focus and keep motivated.
3. Sticking with a routine is good for your health - mental and physical.
4. Adapting your routine is okay!
5. Do things that fit your lifestyle but don’t let lifestyle be an excuse.

What I’ve tried…

Works For Me
- Journaling
- Yoga (This stays here because I think I can work this into the schedule in a more efficient way)
- Milk & Honey
- Devotions
- Bed Stretches
- Puppy Cuddles
- Goal/Intention Setting

Not My Cup of Tea
- Walks (Not in the Winter… no, nope, negative)
- Apple Cider Vinegar Shot (No…. just… no)
- Meditation (I swear this is just a way to sneak in an extra hour of sleep)
- Hot Tea

Be Authentic
Honesty is good for the soul - and not just to be a good person. If you practice honesty, you establish value in yourself, build your confidence, cultivate valuable relationships, establish healthy boundaries, avoid long term stress and aid your physical health.  | Self Care Quotes | Tips for Self Care | Self Value | Inspirational Quotes for Women | Be Authentic | Authenticity | Living a better life | Honesty | Self Care for Christian Women |  Nature Quotes | Fern | Winston Salem Photographer | Outdoor quotes | Jasper & Fern

Whew, this one…. this self care lesson, it’s direct. I feel like so many times when we’re discussing self care with you all, we’re also discussing life lessons. Truly, it’s because self care - how we treat ourselves and allow others to treat us - is intertwined into our every action. So, let’s talk authenticity and how being in-authentic can cause damage.

Have you ever paid attention to how you feel (body, mind, heart) after interacting with certain people? Do you notice yourself feel energized, motivated and happy sometimes and, at others, ready to sleep, cynical and overall blah? Have you ever examined WHY you walk away like that? Typically, those feelings boil down to one foundation : honest (aka - authenticity)

Honesty is good for the soul - not just to be a good person. If you practice honesty, you establish value in yourself, build your confidence, cultivate valuable relationships, establish healthy boundaries, avoid long term stress and aid your physical health. It’s the Super Pill of self care!

Maybe you feel like I’m giving honesty too much credit. I promise, I’m really not. AND I have several different scenarios to illustrate what I mean! (Remember in all of your authenticity to also practice discernment and tact. These complementary skills will go a long way in the way you care for others and yourself.)

Scenario 1 : Establishing Value in Yourself
Consider a time where someone asked you to participate in something you didn’t agree with and you went along with it. It felt gross, right? It felt gross because you denied your belief system or your core values. When you deny your values to go along with someone else, you’re essentially saying their values are more important that yours. Repeating this behavior can be detrimental! Slowly, the value you had in your beliefs and why you believed them - an ESSENTIAL part of who you are - deteriorates. You’re slowly chipping away at what you think of yourself. (Take it from a people pleaser who has had to fight her way back into valuing herself and valuing her values)

Scenario 2 : Build Your Confidence
This goes hand in hand with scenario 1. When someone asks you what you think or asks you to be involved in something you don’t agree with or want to participate in, saying “no” feels good! Sure, it may feel awkward at the time on occasion but, in the end you’re going to be thankful for your boldness and bravery to stand firm. The more you do this, the more defined who you are becomes - to everyone around you and to YOU, yourself! This is what builds your self confidence!

Scenario 3 : Cultivate Valuable Relationships
Thinking back at scenarios 1 and 2, if you focus on establishing your values and building your confidence you’re naturally going to weed the detrimental people out of your life. People gravitate to what’s similar to them. By being honest about who you are and what you believe, people who don’t align with you will eventually fall away.

Scenario 4 : Establish Healthy Boundaries
Boundaries aren’t just meant to keep negative people and experiences away from you. Boundaries also help the good people in your life know how to treat you. We show people how we want to be treated. Acting inauthentically will cause confusion when people interact with you. For instance, say that you believe in not gossiping and tearing other people down. If you’re in a group of people and they’re ripping someone apart and you either a) don’t say anything or b) go against your nature and go along with them, that group is going to think you’re right in it with them - that you share this similar love for gossip. As such, they’ll continue to gossip and tear people down in front of you, constantly confronting you with a draining and stressful experience. If you’re upfront with them, though, they’ll either realize they don’t want to be around you and fall away or, they’ll respect you and refrain from doing those activities around you.

Scenario 5 : Avoid Long Term Stress
I’m sure you’ve probably been picturing exact situations as we’ve walked through each of these scenarios. Do you remember how uncomfortable, draining and stressful those situations are or have been?? Yeah, it’s no bueno. By being honest and up front, you can eliminate that stress. Now, I’m not promising it isn’t going to be uncomfortable in the moment and that some people aren’t going to try to make your life difficult but, I am saying that being honest will help eliminate that long term stress. The further you get from that immediate awkwardness, you’ll be able to sit confidently in your decision and you won’t be stressed about ways you could have done things different.

Scenario 6 : Aid Your Physical Health
It goes without saying that minimizing stress and anxiety has a profound affect on your mind as well as your physical body. When you’re stressed, you FEEL it. Your chest is heavy and tight; it’s hard to breathe; there’s pressure in your head and nausea in your stomach; your energy runs low and your limbs get heavy. Medical research even proves how stress has a measurable effect on your physical body affecting your blood pressure and your heart, even showing up in the form of diabetes. (Check out this Mayo Clinic article to learn more)

I know I jokingly called authenticity a super pill and, really, it’s a great way to be healthy yourself and overall be a better person. Being authentic is incredibly important to our health. The better boundaries we establish, the more confidence and self value we build, the healthier our relationships become, and the healthier our bodies get when we practice honesty.

Um, no thank you.
" 'Um, no thank you. I done and I’m going to go home now. Thank you for your time' I said. I remember hearing the shake and irritation in my voice. " | Self Care Tips | Self Value | Confidence | Inspiring Quotes for Women | Set Healthy Boundaries | quotes on nature | Encouraging quotes | Winston Salem Photographer | Jasper & Fern

A few years ago I decided to do something that would help me grow as a photographer. I wanted to thoroughly understand what someone might be going through in front of my camera. That way, I could balance helping them feel comfortable and confident while also being “in my zone.” The best way to do that, I determined, was to be in front of the as many different photographers as I could be. It was there in my vulnerability I learned not only how to be a better photographer but about the importance of healthy boundaries.

When I first began my project, I started out with photographers I knew - keeping in my comfort zone. Then, as I grew in my confidence, I started venturing out and working with photographers I didn’t know. It was here in the realm of the unknown photographers that I met a man we’ll call Blake.

Blake was a quiet man with a gentle demeanor who happened to have a love for the horror genre. When we first talked about working together (because I ALWAYS recommend meeting with someone and talking ideas over before you officially decide to work together) I was specific about the fact that I had a few dresses I wanted to wear and was open to some more creative ideas as well but did not want to do any or much horror-esque photographs. We came to a set plan and scheduled the session.

The day of the session, I met him on location, rotated through a few outfits and then we looked through the RAW images. Once we’d selected our favorites, he asked if I wanted to do some more “horror-esque” photographs with fake blood and wearing some torn up clothing he had. I commented that it wasn’t really my cup of tea, like we discussed, but would be okay if we could brainstorm an idea we could both get behind. Ultimately, we found an idea that he was still excited about and I was feeling okay about doing. (Do you see my wavering boundaries?? Eeek - I should have acknowledged those flags going off in my brain)

As we photographed the last segment of our session - the horror-esque portion - Blake began to try and push my boundaries with the horror aspect. While I’d previously stated I didn’t want blood or anything too dark, he started to ask again if I was sure and then make slight passive aggressive remarks like “this would look MUCH better if we could do blood” and “too bad you don’t want to have more fun.” (Throw up more of those flags!!!) I began to grow uneasy and uncomfortable. I kept politely declining his asks and, finally, after he made the comment about not wanting to have more fun, I finally put my foot all the way down.

”Um, no thank you. I'm done and I’m going to go home now. Thank you for your time” I said. I remember hearing the shake and irritation in my voice. I’m not a confrontational person but I felt disregarded and like I was being manipulated. I was done being pushed to do something I was uncomfortable with and I needed to course correct and honor my original boundaries.

This experience sticks out in my mind because it happened at the stage of my life where I started to be more assertive on my own behalf. I remember how uncomfortable it was to be asked to do things I didn’t want, how small I started to feel when he disregarded my simple boundaries and how icky I felt after the whole situation. I walked away with stress bearing on my chest and guilt riding on my brain.

This experience helped me learn that I need to be assertive with my boundaries up front. I need to be kind but firm in what I say and I need to walk away more swiftly from situations where I’m not being respected - even if it’s as simple of a situation as my time with Blake. If I would have set my boundary more firmly upfront, it would have been more difficult for him to try and push me and manipulate me. I also wouldn’t have walked away feeling gross that I had been disrespected because I would have had confidence in knowing I did my part.

To this day, I still see those images on occasion and I wish I’d set my foot down earlier. Hind-sight is always 20/20 and, while the images aren’t trashy, they still pick at my brain a little. They just remind me of a time I was uncomfortable because I valued keeping someone else happy over truly sticking to who I was. In the grand scheme of it all, I’m thankful for the reminders that pop up and show me how much I’ve grown, encourage me to keep growing and reinforce how important it is to care for myself and respect myself always.

Peace, Gratitude (and maybe fluffy cupcakes)
"I never used to be one for journaling - hah, just kidding.  When that lead hits the paper, a doorway opens that" ... Self Care tips for Women | Gratitude Journal | Journaling | Self Value | Positive Mindset | Restoration | Rest | Love of books | All things journal | Gratitude Lists | Joy | Self Care Practice | Self Care Quotes | Nature Quotes | Fern Picture Quotes | Winston Salem Photographer | Jasper & Fern

I never used to be one for journaling - hah, just kidding. I've always had a pencil in a book scribbling away my thoughts and feelings. When that lead hits the paper, a doorway opens that helps me process. It's rather wonderful. My mind gets to be cleared and all that tension inside my head and chest dissipates as I work through my thoughts. While journaling was never a foreign concept, the first time I heard about Gratitude Journaling, I was a bit puzzled. My initial thought was that it must be just listing out everything you're grateful for in a book and, honestly, that sounded kind of disengaging. I've since learned that it's nothing like that and, now, gratitude journaling has become one of my favorite self care practices.

Karen Perry, a vibrant woman with a curious gaze and warm heart that overflows into her joy-filled nature, was the wonderful woman who introduced me to the concept of gratitude journaling. I had the opportunity to get to know her through a monthly meeting she hosted for women where we met to speak joy into eachothers’ lives. This is where she shared her concept of gratitude journaling with me and I got hooked. Through her time as a life coach, she crafted a simple gratitude journal that provided the opportunity for you to allow yourself to go as deep or as uncomplicated as you needed while also helping you grow and appreciate your life. She calls it the Peace Pages. 

Now, you may be wondering why we're talking about something that doesn't seem like a "self care" practice. Our take on self care is slightly different. We fully believe that self care goes beyond your standard "refreshing" practices. We believe that self care also helps you be restored. A grateful mindset spreads joy, relieves stress and helps you build stronger, healthier relationships.

Whenever I stop practicing my Peace Pages, I inevitably notice a drop in my mood and motivation after a few days. And, because I'm true to pattern, my brain always asks "What changed?" Many times, I can link the slow decline to my neglect of gratitude - because, transparently, I'm not a grateful person by nature. This is exactly why I love adding the Peace Pages to my self care though. They help me keep my perspective where it needs to be - aiding in the restoration of my heart and mindset. 

Now, remember that self care is personal. What works for me, might not work for you. If journaling isn't your cup of tea, that's okay. Find another way more suitable to you to fit more gratitude into your life, something that can get your heart and head in the right place. Find your equivalent to lead hitting the paper.

Now, go LOVE HARD!

P.S. If you come up with an awesome idea of how to do incorporate gratitude in your life, we'd love for you to share that with us!!