MY TOP TWELVE WELLNESS NON-NEGOTIABLES
I am sharing my self-care regimen with you in the hopes it will inspire you, galvanize you, and compel you to strengthen your commitment to your own well-being. Please remember as you make your way through this list that self-care is only meant to serve as a foundation for an amazing life. Unless you’re really into it, it should not become your life! Also, your list won’t be the same as my list. Everyone has their own unique requirements for thriving. Use my list only as a reference point, as you craft your own wellness protocol and adhere to it ever more devotionally.
here goes: twelve on-going commitments to my self-care…
1. Some sort of rigorous body movement.
Vinyasa yoga, which flows from posture to posture, and hot yoga are my faves. I also throw in some gentler Yin yoga to balance things out. Sometimes I crave a change and hit the gym. Other times I shift gears into an at-home, free-spirited, self-led dance-cardio workout with my favorite tunes blaring. The dancing allows for a letting go process that comes with a ton of benefits. I find it catalyzes a level of fitness, vitality, and life force that goes above and beyond even the yoga practice I love so much. I also walk a whole lot, my go-to form of transportation.
While I am mostly disciplined about maintaining a movement practice of some kind, I do go through phases of stubbornly blowing it off. When it comes down to it, though, I so prefer to feel *good* and that’s always reason enough for me to keep coming back to my commitment to staying fit.
I will also confess that I’m never quite where I want to be in my fitness level or yoga ability. As a yogi, even after decades of practice, I remain decidedly intermediate. When it comes to fitness, I always seem to be doing significantly less sit-ups than I should be (usually 100% less if you want to get technical). Especially after having three kids—one of whom is by now in college—and never quite bothering to get my core fully back in shape. But again, even doing it imperfectly yields game-changing results in our lives. Rigorous movement is major medicine and generates a delightful unification of the body, mind, heart, and soul.
2. I meditate every day without fail.
To keep my tanks filled on the road of life, I commit to a bare minimum of 20 minutes per day, and can easily get in up to 60 minutes per day. For most people, 15-20 minutes per day will more than suffice to yield game-changing benefits. For me, daily meditation adds up to increased intuitive abilities, better decision-making, quality relating with others, expanded bandwidth, and greater clarity in general. It also reduces my stress and generalized anxieties.
Like many—especially us wild women who outrun the wolves—I can have a tendency toward a variety of not-so-productive emotional states ranging from brooding and melancholia, to insecurity and “not-enough-ness,” to feeling snooty and superior. I can also get a tad bit prickly when squeezed, very rarely, of course—hahaha! Meditation really helps to iron out these inner proclivities. It hasn’t brought me close to perfect. (Consider yourself forewarned!) But it has made me a whole lot calmer, kinder, and more measured in my inner landscape and outer behavior.
If you feel called to start or strengthen a meditation practice of your own, I encourage you to explore different meditation styles and see what you’re drawn to. If you don’t know where to begin, I HIGHLY recommend the Vedic Meditation style I am formally trained in. My teacher Light Watkins is an expert guide—the best there is. Check out his books, online trainings, or learn from him live!
3. I eat intuitively.
I allow myself the occasional gourmet food adventure at restaurants, celebrations, or when I'm traveling. I’m also a big fan of fasting and cleansing and detoxing when I feel called. I’ve tried many such protocols—from green juicing, to the Lemonade diet, to straight-up water-fasting. It’s been rewarding—and I find it fun—to experiment and challenge myself and discover what works for me. I’m grateful to have found many exciting ways to retain optimal well-being, even fully five decades into my life. Nothing beats feeling vibrant and I can assure you, I will go out of my way to keep it that way.
Overall, my body tells me how it wishes to eat and I obey it. I have fun with food, AND I don’t let bad habits or temptations run the show. I’m deep enough into my intuitive-eating journey that my body now craves the food that God makes. I have no interest in the packaged, processed, chemical-laden concoctions made in the factory. My inner whispers ask with sweet sincerity for things like steamed or roasted veggies with an exquisite healthy sauce; or a heaping salad featuring every color in the rainbow; or a simple bowl of red lentils with salt, pepper and olive oil; or a succulent, savory green juice; or a fresh nut-milk and raw cacao smoothie; or a lovely mix of ripe, organic fruit.
Since I was twenty years old I have been mostly vegetarian and for stretches vegan. As of now I’ve been vegan again for the past couple of years. I drink a coffee every day and never more than two. I haven’t had any interest in drinking alcohol in several years. In fact, if I’m honest, though I did my fair share of drinking, I never really liked alcohol—its taste or its effects—to begin with. I went off any added sugar (including honey, agave, and so on) a few months back. I also don't do well with any grains at all, including the more benign ones like quinoa. Avoiding all grains for the past three years has made a huge difference in my overall well being, especially for the happiness of my tummy.
All in all, my dietary choices are the product of obeying my own body wisdom and paying close attention to my body's physical responses to what I ingest. It’s about a back and forth communication, a call and response, between my inner and outer selves. It’s well worth cultivating our ability to hear our inner whispers and to heed them.
I seriously question or outright ignore what the latest research and news outlets say. It might sound remiss or ignorant or even arrogant at first glance. But there is a deep wisdom to tuning out the white noise. Because the studies, the magazine articles, and the wellness gurus just contradict each other and cause even more confusion. And the advice you hear changes so much over time.
I truly believe we ourselves know better, IF we are tapped into our powerful instincts. IF we are tapped into our intuition and our biorhythms. IF so, then we ourselves are our own best doctor and healer. And we can get any “proof” that we need through personal experience. We can find some things out for ourselves and we can trust our own findings. In sum, when it comes to food, I do what I believe we all should be doing: I eat what my gut (teeheehee—get it?) knows full well is best for me!
4. I’m a big fan of colon-hydrotherapy.
My ideal is to have 3-4 treatments per year. Some swear by one per month, others once per year. If you’re curious, experiment to see what works for you. Hands on experience is the best way to discover important things about yourself! Go for the "Gravity Method" if you do choose to commit to the healing powers of getting a colonic. It's the most gentle, natural, and safe way to do it. Some find colonics to be controversial. I myself am a huge proponent of them. Just, as with ANY service you might seek, make sure you find someone reputable.
In a colonic, you shed food baggage that’s accumulated in your intestinal tract and it’s shocking how much has piled up inside you, unbeknownst to you. In a colonic you also shed emotional baggage that is stored in that food baggage. Hello, do we not "eat" our emotions, reaching for food instead of feeling our feelings? And do we not store our emotions at least partially in our bellies? You can release these residues and feel so much lighter, emotionally and physically!
Note: If getting a colonic is to prove worthwhile for you, your diet should be reasonably pure to begin with. Otherwise, just skip it—it's not for you.
5. I love to soak in a candle-lit tub.
Just gimme some pure, organic essential oils—“food grade” is what they call the best of the best, in aromatherapy-speak. I adore lavender, bergamot, and sandalwood! I’ll take some top shelf bath salts and maybe a dab of an organic oil of some kind, almond, jojoba or the like. And be happy as a clam. I'm going through a lengthy phase (traveling in Asia), during which I more often than not don’t have access to a bathtub. But throughout those periods of my life where a bathtub is readily available and life allows for it, I will make it a priority to decadently lounge in a tub a few evenings per week.
Now I know that must sound like a whole lot of leisure and that is anything but the case. Most people who would find themselves reading these words—even the hardest working moms—will end their day with a glass of wine or a fun snack or a magazine or a television show. In my case, even as a working mom of three, I will find myself choosing a languorous soak over the other options that are available to me after the kids go to bed. Add to that the water has magic powers. I always get profound insights and direct downloads from Spirit when immersed in a relaxing bath.
6. I cultivate harmonious relationships.
I admit it upfront, I am not always successful. Because I am human and because I’m of that global sisterhood of women who make the wolves wanna run with us. We who can only be real, we who cannot be contained. But I do take seriously my commitment to doing the best I can. It's a challenge to not be triggered by people we find off-putting or whose views aren't in the highest. Loved ones and strangers alike.
I do what I can to forge connections. Where that’s not feasible (and sometimes it just isn’t, let’s be real), I do what I can to just accept people for who they are. That means applying the wisdom that people are the way they are because that’s what their life’s blueprint set them up for. People believe what they believe because that’s the particular classroom life assigned them to.
It's impossible to avoid the tremendous diversity of this world. It's meant to be there! It's a key part of the larger balance of things, it's a form of interpersonal gravity, a glue that's holding everything together. But isn't it true, few things in our lives throw us more off-kilter than being in an active conflict with someone in our lives or even someone on the news we’re arguing with in our mind.
Yes, there's a whole lot of variety on life's buffet table, and that's never going to change. So I routinely remind myself not to designate myself a judge or a jury. When I find myself looking at anyone through eyes of distaste, I shift to blessing them and sending them love and light. I remember that my own judgments are indicative of my own limitations and lack of full understanding of the reason they are as they are. I remind myself that I have been frowned upon many times for my beliefs and choices, and it really doesn’t feel good. I also remind myself that my biting thoughts just add a little blast of negativity to the world. Knowing this, I am able to course-correct.
7. I nourish my relationship with Mother Nature.
Nature—we truly need it. We need its replenishing, rejuvenating, soul-restoring charge. We need to not just “be in it” but open ourselves wide to it. Immerse in it. Bathe in it. Honor our oneness with it. It’s as a sacred pilgrimage to get out in a vast expanse of grass or trees or flowers or fields or rice terraces or sands or waters. Cascading waterfalls. Winding rivers. Crashing waves. Snow-covered hills. Cragged, towering mountains. Blazing sunlight. The brighter the better.
Noon-day sun? Fantastic. Because how did we ever fall for the idea that our very own star was something to shield ourselves from. A cancer-causing enemy beaming down upon us. Dreaded and feared and avoided like the plague. I simply refuse to believe it… and I suspect the 140-year-old cacti thriving in the Arizona desert don’t believe it either. Fear not the sun but rather the sun beaming upon the toxic chemicals we slather on our skin from birth onward. Including and especially (and ironically) in our sun screens. Or fear the sun baking the pollutants we humans emit so liberally into the atmosphere. I have chosen to befriend the sun and the bond we share feels deeply mutual.
Everything we are and everything we have has been bestowed on us by that potent marriage of the sun and the earth. We humans are so quick to forget that without the bounty below and the bounty above, we are literally nothing. My treks into nature are a thank you for its genius. For the seasons. For the many forms it takes. For its infinite diversity that is all ultimately a harmony, a symphony, an elaborate symbiosis. Every part of nature critical to the whole.
I frolic in the magic of nature, engaged in a call and response that goes in two directions. Her speaking to me, her listening to me. Me speaking to her, her listening to me. This is available to all of us. If you haven’t heard her for yourself just yet, just journey into greater stillness within you and over time, you will activate a heightened ability to “sense” and to “Know” and to “hear” nature’s audible whispers and to hear her pleas.
I immerse in Mother Nature to participate directly in the ways of her wisdom and overwhelming beauty. Such a breathtaking planet we occupy. Always serving us. Fueling our souls. Feeding our bodies. Touching our hearts. Showering us with unconditional generosity and abundance. I’m just beyond grateful.
8. I check in with myself, tapping into my Inner Knowing regularly.
I constantly fine-tune my own relationship to Spirit and to my soul. I also occasionally see powerful energy healers, get life-saving channelings, and very rarely an intuitive reading here or there, from highly trusted souls. Plus I read extensively in the arena of personal development and spirituality, take on-line classes, and regularly attend workshops and retreats.
As I mentioned earlier, I meditate daily. It’s the first thing I do when I get up, even if it means I have to set my alarm 20-minutes early, no matter what I have on my plate that day. Meditation—which enables me to connect with myself and retrieve any cosmic downloads and messages that are waiting for me—is secure in its status as my top priority. In the larger picture, a key aspect of my commitment to “self-care” is my simultaneous (and overlapping) commitment to my journey of self-mastery. And that journey means nurturing and attuning to the workings of the inner self.
9. I write in my journal.
I have been keeping a journal since I was a child and I still do. It doesn’t feel dramatic to say that my daily writing practice has saved my life. With pen to paper, I’ve processed pretty much everything I’ve ever been through. With pen to paper, I’ve been able to think deeply about things and to inevitably land somewhere stronger and clearer than I would have without the writing. With pen to paper, I could feel my feelings and then let them go once I snapped the notepad shut.
Once my concerns were laid out on paper, it was easy to see that it was a story as much as anything. Obvious that none of it was particularly real—not in a firm, fixed way. Once on paper, I could see the meanings I was making up and how I would craft and curate my experiences to give them an outright profundity that wasn’t necessarily intrinsic to the situation. I could see myself in the act of manufacturing meaning. Meaning that had tremendous meaning for me, meanings very real to my way of seeing it. But meanings I had written in myself.
Isn’t that pretty much how life is… Life is about our ideas about things, even as we tend to mistake our ideas about things for reality itself. Throughout four decades of devout journaling I have been able to catch a clear glimpse of myself “creating my own reality.” That’s what good story does, and that’s what good journal-writing can do—highlights the ever-present interplay of the fictional and the non-fictional. I always loved how each and every time I wrote a journal entry, once the words were out of me and onto the page, the issues I had written about seemed less urgent. More entertaining. More interesting. Yet less serious.
I have so appreciated how I could truly be myself in the pages of my journal. Total liberty. To think anything I wish to, however unpopular it might have been if shared with someone. To feel the depths and the truths of my feelings and let them spill out the tip of my pen. To make connections and to analyze and to look at things not only through my own eyes but also through the lenses of the other key players in any given situation.
Through journaling, I learned to see from multiple angles. I learned to be more “objective.” I learned to observe myself (not just BE myself) from a distance, as the star of my singular life. I learned to let my daily writing give me a little dose of healing and sanity-saving.
It was also a delight to hone my writing skills on a daily basis. I enjoyed the daily practice of genuine self-expression. I had no intention to impress anyone as no one else was ever going to read it and I would make sure of that. So praise be: full license to be as over-the-top, verbose, melodramatic, and poetic as I wished to be.
10a. I use non-toxic cleaning products only.
I don’t budge on this. There are many great, conscientious brands out there. Just choose carefully as there are also many brands masquerading as non-toxic these days. As a precautionary measure, buy your cleaning products at the health store and avoid the mainstream grocery store or pharmacy.
I was in my youth when my mother was diagnosed with cancer for the first time. The first thing the very mainstream doctor told her was to stop using regular household cleaning products—anything along the lines of tub sprays, dish soaps, glass cleaners, laundry detergent, wood polishers, and so on—as this would exacerbate her condition. Also, for cooking, our family switched to stainless steel, copper, glass, and cast iron pots and pans only.
Young as I was, I couldn't believe that this sort of information would be presented for the first time AFTER one had received such a serious diagnosis. To this day I carry a passionate wish that these things were common knowledge and that people knew what they were messing with and that they really ought to avoid all these products that are in every day use in our lives.
10b. I use non-toxic beauty products only.
That includes soaps, lotions, oils, exfoliants, bath salts, hair products, and the like. There are great ones available at every price point. Generally I feel the fewer ingredients the better, and ideally they are ingredients you recognize, not a long list of elaborate chemicals you've never heard of and can't pronounce. Pure coconut oil is terrific for a face and body lotion, and superb as a makeup remover. I love almond oil or avocado oil as a hair treatment. I used to have lips ever thirsty for lip balm, until I switched to an über-natural toothpaste called "Earthpaste" with food grade clay, baking soda, and mint essential oil as the active ingredients. Parched lips became a thing of the past.
10c. I love a good ultra-pure, organic makeup!
A great option comes to us by way of my dear friend Kirsten. She created a beautiful brand, "Kirsten Kjaer Weis." It's a fairly new company, and she's still working on adding to the foundation shades she has available. Maybe you’ll get lucky, as I did, and find she has on offer a lovely match for your coloring. Because the great news is that her products are actually good for your skin. Pure plant-based ingredients cost way more than chemicals, so the brand is on the pricier side, by any measure. She's currently working on a less expensive version of her line (and a lot more foundation shades!) that in no way compromises on the quality of the ingredients.
The truth is that if you treat your skin like royalty, you will honestly need far less makeup. Plus, I consider it well worth the investment in my longterm health. I will personally sooner cut back in other areas in order to provide this for myself. Most makeup contains a ton of harsh, harmful ingredients and has no business anywhere near your precious skin.
Caveat: makeup is one area of self-care that I will (once in a great while) cut a corner on. I can be a sucker for an exquisite eye-shadow color or a special mascara that gives you unbelievable lashes, even if it's made by a highly toxic brand. But I save these products for very rare occasions, like a handful of times per year.
Let me add here the fabulous story of how I met Kirsten Kjaer Weis. I had just had my makeup professionally done for a speaking gig. The makeup artist had used Kirsten Kjaer Weis products on me and I'd fallen in love with them. Later that same day when I sat down for lunch next to a smiling stranger, she said to me, "you look amazing! Radiant!" And of all the things I could have replied with, I said, "well, to be honest, it's this amazing makeup I'm wearing, a brilliant, all-natural line I just discovered called, Kirsten Kjaer Weis." She paused for a moment, looked deep into my eyes, and replied, "are you serious?? I am Kirsten Kjaer Weis!!" We've been friends ever since.
11. Self-expressing through style.
I love glamour and beauty and thoughtful festooning of the self. I remember being two years old and adamant about what I would allow my mom to put on me in the way of an outfit. I love so many things about the world of style and decorative enhancement. Note though, I’m talking purely about showcasing outwardly the beauty that lies within us. I’m talking about having our inner beauty reflect outward into the world. That means retaining our authenticity and cultivating a love of the raw materials God gave us to work with as a basic foundation in terms of what we look like.
I try to keep my commitments to style and beauty prowess soulful and meaningful. It’s a matter of creativity and a thoughtful, authentic projection of who I am outward into the world around me. It is not about compulsive shopping or commercialism or being on top of the latest trend. Nor is it about cow-towing to the narrow, oppressive beauty standards we see in magazines, on television, and in our streets. I keep beauty and style to the periphery of my life, and I try not to make it matter more than it does. But nor do I believe in the oft-touted idea that “these things don’t matter” for I believe they actually do; they absolutely have their rightful place. It’s up to us to discover what that balance is for we ourselves, personally.
I consider it a form of self-care to be put together and elegantly appointed when an occasion calls for it. That includes hair, makeup, accessories, and clothing. Even fitness and the like, for the sake of added radiance and vitality. There is a "prowess"—an added personal power—that issues forth when we are meticulously assembled and have attended to ourselves from head to toe. It is also an act of self-care in equal measure when the very second I get home from anyplace, I wash off my makeup and switch into my much loved, and still moderately chic, loungewear.
12. I Keep a mindful eye on the thoughts I think.
To put it another way, I try to "be the light." It's not always easy with the challenges life presents and with the roiling waves that churn within us (and as women who make the wolves look tame). That means that I am imperfect at keeping my thoughts in alignment, to say the least. But I do work on it constantly and endeavor to "catch myself in the act" of being anxious, reactive, retracted, critical, judgmental, negative, biased, superior, victimological, or fear-based. Then I course-correct, as best I can, into a more savory, more empowered inner state of being.
Our thoughts, beliefs, and interpretive lenses create our reality. So I put a lot of processes in place to ensure that my higher self is doing my thinking, and drawing any conclusions I draw, rather than my "ego." Again, it's a process I am engaged in constantly, and a more bumpy ride than might be ideal. But it's a deeply rewarding process, and I am constantly "righting my wrongs" in terms of switching to a new, higher frequency.
It’s just so helpful for my quality of life and for the quality of my relating to others that I am mindful and observant of my thought process. It’s important to me to catch myself in the act of being anything but “accepting” or “forbearing” and then turning that around, switching into seeing from a higher, more loving perspective.
Now it’s your turn!
Go ahead and take out your journal or a special sheet of paper and write out your own top twelve list of your own self-care ingredients. This can include things you already do for yourself AND ways you aspire to take better care of yourself. Borrow from my list all you want and let it inspire you to create your own! Your self-care is your magnetism. It's your rocket fuel on your life path. It’s your foundation for a life well-lived. It's your deep radiance and your sparkle. It's your golden ticket to true well-being. It’s your passcode to better fortune. Well-being is our greatest currency in life.