Self-Care

Flourishing...is it even possible?

Kitchen window.jpg

Two years ago, I was in an interesting place. Uprooted is the word that comes to mind. Feeling the excitement of a kitchen remodel we had been dreaming about for years and in the throws of starting The Nourish to Flourish Society and launching our first 14-day Spring Reset program.  

 

I was also going through treatment for Chronic Lyme Disease.

 

Lyme is a mysterious, elusive, debilitating disease. I don’t remember the tick bite. What I do remember though is that for years I had been feeling incredible fatigue, depression and brain fog which eventually migrated into chronic pain in my joints and muscles and spine. I would spend hours awake in the middle of the night only to then spend the day in bed, so tired and unable to function. I had a terrible chronic cough. For months, leading up to my diagnosis, I had spent more time in bed than not. I felt like I was going mad.

 

I was both relieved and saddened with my diagnosis. Relieved because I finally found a provider who gave me a diagnosis and a holistic treatment plan that felt promising. Saddened because I had not met anyone who was completely healed and thriving after that diagnosis.

 

It's not something I have talked about openly up to this point because I am not 100% “better” and I’m still trying to understand it all. I continue to quietly work through seasonal ups and downs.

 

Last year I suffered for 4 months with intense stomach pain. I had to stop playing tennis, which had been a huge source of stress relief and a social staple 3-4x every week.

 

While my stomach issues have subsided, I still haven't been able to pick up my racquet again because the stiffness and pain in my right wrist and hand is quite fierce. It makes it difficult to hold a pen, type this blog post or use a chef's knife without pain...all things that are my life's work and my passions.

 

I finally decided a couple months ago to return to tennis.  I was going to wrap my wrist and give it a whirl. The day before I returned to the tennis court, I tore my hamstring....doing yoga. Can you believe it? Yoga. As a once very active vibrant body & spirit, an accomplished athlete, able to do almost anything physically I put my mind to, I have felt the limitations of my body.  And all of this has challenged my spirit as well.

 

My body tires quickly and my mind requires more downtime and space than it used to. I used to multitask with the best of them and crank out work and create things really quickly. But in this season, I simply cannot.

 

If you've read my blog posts over the past year, you’ve seen some themes. Lessons I’m learning and teaching.

 

Slow down.

Surrender.

Breathe.

Let go.

 

I pray daily for full recovery and I'll receive any and all prayers for my healing, because I want to live well. Live fully. Live vibrantly. I want to run around with my kids without getting winded in the first minute. Have energy to play basketball with them. Run the bases and pitch to them. Play a flirtatious competitive game of tennis with my husband again. All without feeling stiffness & pain, fatigued and in bed for a couple days thereafter. I want to carry out creative projects.  Chop vegetables and lift heavy pots and pans safely. Think clearly. Be pain free. 

 

In this season, I've been pondering these words:

 

Jesus has a vision for wholeheartedness. It emerges in the one who comes to the end of herself, mourns the old, is humbled by the process and grows in new longings for a life of grace and mercy. She is a person of character consistency. A person who rings true whenever you tap her. She keeps promises, says one theologian. What you see is what you get. The inside matches the outside. There is no show...God comes to you disguised as your life." (Falling into Goodness by Chuck DeGroat)

 

And here I am today. In many ways at the end of myself. Mourning the old. Humbled by the process. Longing for a life of grace and mercy. What you see is what you get.

 

Do you know why am I writing this today?  

 

It’s obvious, isn’t it?

 

I run a company called The Nourish To Flourish Society.

 

How ironic, right?

 

By all definitions, my life doesn’t look or sound so flourishing.

 

To thrive. To grow luxuriantly. To prosper.

 

In some ways I haven't wanted to share my story because I haven't wanted to taint my brand and give people a false hope that if they don’t see me happy and vibrant and “flourishing” what good is the work I do? Am I giving women false hope? Do I have integrity in the work I’m doing? Does my brand reflect what's possible for women if I can't achieve this myself?

 

Here's the thing.

 

I AM FLOURISHING.

 

Just not the way I originally envisioned a “flourishing” life and not the Webster’s Dictionary definition.

 

The joy, the pain, the ease and the challenges; the highs in my marriage and parenting along with the absolute lows; the moments of abundance and the disheartening financial strain of paying out of pocket medical bills; feeling deeply connected and then feeling the anger of injustice and inequality all around us...there’s an invitation to flourish IN ALL OF IT.

 

We just need to look through a different lens.

 

And that’s why I’m writing you today.

 

I don’t want you to look at The Nourish to Flourish Society and assume that when we say “flourish” we are saying all will be well. Life will be perfect and that you all of a sudden ‘arrive’. I don’t want you to assume our lives are perfect; that somehow our homes are immaculate, our meal plans are 3-course from scratch, our diets are flawless, our workouts happen every day, we’re always patient with our kids and husbands. We don’t want you to assume that we don’t know struggle or hardship or pain or grief or depression. We do.

 

But still, when I’m with women, there’s this assumption that flourishing means you’ve got your shizzle together. Like all the time. Or that you will only flourish when things are going well for you.

 

“When I lose ___ pounds, I’ll flourish.”

“When ___ happens, then I'll flourish.”

“When my kids leave the house and I have more time for myself, then I can flourish.”

“When I’m done taking care of my elderly parent or retire from this stressful job, then I’ll flourish.”

“When I have the perfect diet, then I’m on the road to flourishing.”

 

Flourishing isn’t about arrival.

 

Flourishing isn’t when you have it all together.

 

What if we reframe what flourishing is.  

 

Consider a different version of flourishing that you can take through any season of your life:

 

To nourish IS to flourish.

 

There is no “arrival” point. No destination.

 

There is no “once I do __, then I’m perfect/enough/got it all together and I’ve arrived and I’ll be flourishing forever!” kind of life.

 

We will ebb and flow out of it. We are human. It’s not all or nothing.

 

So instead of looking at this whole flourishing thing as only happening when you've got it all together, how’s this instead:

 

ANY time you choose nourishment (in thought, word or deed), you are simultaneously choosing to flourish for that moment. Every nourishing act is an opportunity to flourish.

 

And a "nourishing act" is not just about food. 

 

I have found myself nourishing in non-food ways that feed me on the deepest of levels. When I slow down. Breathe. Surrender. Ask for help. Practice vulnerability. Listen well. Pray. Smile. Laugh. Practice connection and compassion. Practice gratitude. Celebrate life. Receive grace. 

 

Maybe together, we can shift our idea of flourishing. Moments of nourishing lead to moments of flourishing. And begin to string more and more of these moments together to create longer, meaningful seasons of flourishing.

 

I invite you to try something.

 

At the end of each day for the next week, simply ask yourself:

 

How did I nourish and flourish TODAY?

 

Start here. And let’s keep the conversation going.

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Dark Chocolate Butter Pecan Smoothie!

Yesterday Angelle found herself in a not so great situation. She wanted some dark chocolate but her week's supply of dark chocolate was gone. (Yes, we know it was only Monday, but some days a girl goes through dark chocolate more than other days!)

Luckily she had the ingredients for our Butter Pecan Dark Chocolate Smoothie from our 14-Day Reset so she was able to satisfy that craving. 

I have done harder things before.

I was on my yoga mat in a Hot Power Flow class on Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. Let me just say that I haven't done any hot yoga or power yoga in quite a while and so the challenge of the class was more than I remembered. It was just plain hard.

 

What I noticed half way through the class though was that while it was hard for me to flow from pose to pose (hard pose to hard pose by the way), what was most hard for me was what was happening in my mind.

 

My Negative Nellie was loud and she was getting louder and louder as the class went on. I caught her saying things like:

  • "You can't do that pose."
  • "You used to be able to do that flow."
  • "This is harder because you're older now."
  • "You might not want to come back to this class next week."
  • "Why did you quit yoga for so long and make this harder on yourself now?!"
  • "Girl, you're weak."

 

She just wouldn't stop.

 

Maybe you can relate? Maybe your Negative Nellie gets loud and relentless about your parenting or your workouts or your diet or your work or your looks or ________________. I know from personal experience and from the women I coach that it can take a lot of mindfulness to quiet this critical voice. 

 

During what I'm sure was about the 97th Down Dog of the class, I realized I was being so 'mindful' of my physical body and how well I was (or was not) doing the flows, that I wasn't being mindful of my own self-talk. Which is when I decided to consciously let Nellie know that I didn't need her on my mat with me. Thanks but no thanks. Sorry but not sorry.

 

Instead I got mindful about my mind. I invited in a more compassionate voice and she had a completely different message and tone. What she mostly said, over and over is: "Angelle, you have done harder things than this. Lots of harder things. This is nourishing for you. There's no perfect way to show up on your mat. Show up like you've done over and over in your life when you've been called to do harder things."

 

Deep breath. Yes, of course. I've had to show up over and over in my life for things way harder than this.  Things like losing my father and my mother-in-law; going through and coming out the other side of intense depression; teaching 30+ kids how to read and write and do math every day; carrying three babies inside of me--two of them at the same time--and then giving birth to each of them; getting my Masters Degree when pregnant with a 1 1/2 year old at home; traveling to NYC 11 times to receive my health coach training when my three kids were 4 and under; having my first grader have an emergency medical procedure under anesthesia; helping my daughter heal from PANDAS/OCD when she was 9; restoring relationships and finances and my own health over the years. And. so. much. more.

 

That compassionate voice also came through to remind me that I don't need to do hard things alone. Most of the 'harder' things I've done in my life have been with the help of my tribe, whether I asked for their help or they offered it. Connection. Community. Support.

 

I've shown up in my life and done way harder things than these Power Flows. And that was enough. Enough to carry me through the 2nd half of that still very hard class. That very hard class with a whole bunch of other people who were also showing up for themselves and each other.

 

I share this with you dear sister of mine, because when you're struggling in your life to take care of yourself; to nourish yourself well; to sit down and eat every day instead of skipping meals or rushing through them; to register for a class you really want to take or to make it through the class after you said yes; to follow through with a program you signed up for (yes, I'm talking to you beautiful 14-Day Resetters here!); to get yourself to bed earlier; to start a business; to quit a job that's life-zapping or to ____________________ AND if your Negative Nellie is non-stop chattering at you about how you're not 'enough', I want you to stop and think about all of the 'harder things you've done' in your life.  Let those feelings of strength and wisdom and, as a sister coach calls it, bad-assery fill you up and fuel you through whatever it is you're going through. Invite in connection, community and support.

 

Let's not sell ourselves short, ladies. You too can get through things that feel hard, especially practicing self-care, because you've done harder things and you are divinely supported.

xo Angelle

xo Angelle

They Say a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

This is me. 20 years old. Profoundly depressed, completely malnourished, unbelievably underweight, and experiencing the most intense battle of my life with food, mind and body. I was riding the downward spiral of guilt, shame, deprivation, obsession and starvation. I put on a "happy" face and protected this corner of my life from everyone. I didn't talk to anyone about it. When people asked how I was doing, my response was always "I am doing fine...how are YOU?" focusing on others while turning a deaf ear to the blaring chaos in my own internal world. Inside, I hardly recognized myself. Starving myself was "eating away" at my truest nature: playful, vibrant, silly, feisty, social, intuitive. I became withdrawn, obsessive, overwhelmed, rigid and reclusive.