Wellness

My 5 go-to self-care practices

If there's one thing I know pretty well, it's the struggle to practice self-care. I mean, it's taken some long, hard hours of reflection and brainstorming to even come up with self-care practices for myself, let alone actually regularly practice them. This has been something I've focused a lot on this year as part of my theme of getting back to what's Essential — happiness, health, and a simple but well-lived life...all things that — surprise! — a self-care practice can support.

But it'll only work if it's actually things you want to do. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Then ohmygod why was this so hard for me to do?

I think part of the challenge was that for so long I tried to make other people's self-care practices my own — things I'd read in books, recommendations I'd gotten from courses, or the typical suggestions that often float around the life coaching/coachee world. But the truth is not all self-care practices are a one-size fits all, so they won't feel like self-care practices to you. And guess what? If they don't, that's totally okay. Just move on to the next! Sometimes you can tell right away — usually because the thought of doing it feels about as exciting watching paint dry...there's no feeling of "Yeah, that needs to happen like, yesterday." And then sometimes the self-care suggestions you read about may sound appealing after all, so you give it a try. But for some reason, using it just doesn't feel natural. You don't think of doing it in those moments when you probably need it the most, so they instead become this thing that you're not doing right, that you're failing at, and that must mean the whole self-care thing is a giant bag of crap altogether, right?

Here's the thing: the easiest self-care practice you can create starts by taking the activities you already love, the ones that really refresh + replenish you and don't just feel like more commitments to check off your to-do list (that last one's huge), and building a go-to list around those.

So here's my own list of self-care practices that I use on those days/weeks I'm feeling either a little blah and a whole lotta run down.

1.  A day-time shower

This is probably the one I turn to most often as sort of "self-care maintenance", both because it's super accessible (important!) and it feels like I'm pampering myself. I tend to be an evening showerer, so that's where the idea of a morning or day-time shower as a luxury became a thing. There's just something about stepping out of the shower into a daylight filled room that makes everything feel new and better than whatever it was before.

Now, if this works for you, awesome, and remember that it can be anything you want it to be. But my "day-time showers for self-care" tend not to be just your run-of-the-mill showers-for-cleanliness. Because that doesn't say pampering to me. That just says I'm clean. No, this kind of shower involves:

  • Music: I have a bluetooth shower speaker I bought on Amazon specifically because of this self-care practice. It let's me control volume and tracks, and thankfully means I can now stop reaching out of the shower and dripping water all over my phone every time I wanted to change a song. My music choices often depend on my mood and the season (no joke) — in the summer I listen more to reggae/island music or country; in the fall it's all about folk/americana singer/songwriter.
  • Body wash: If I'm not using either my Alba Midnight Tuberose or Lush's The Olive Branch body washes (both cruelty-free), then it's just a random shower. I incorporate new favorite scents as I stumble upon them, but these are my go-to's in terms of feeling relaxed + rejuvinated all at once. (And if you've ever wondered what a high school graduation in Hawai'i smells like, it's that tuberose body wash.)

About bath's: I'm honestly not the biggest bath fan. I end up feeling overheated and bored. But if and when I do suddenly crave a bath, you'd better believe there's a Lush bath bomb in it. Their Sex Bomb bath bomb is my favorite at the moment.

2.  A day out of the city

Driving into the mountains saved my sanity once up on a time, and it still does to this day. Because it's such a huge part of keeping me from feeling like I'm being pulled in a thousand directions, Nate and I try to take a day-trip out of the city at least once a month. And these are legit day-trips. Like, at least 3 hours in one direction. There's always a point I hit in the drive where I finally feel like we're far enough away from the sheer busy-ness of life that every muscle I have releases.

Not only is this one of my personal self-care practices, but these drives have also become a self-care practice for my marriage. It's a time when there's no one else around (for now, soon there will be a baby boy in the car with us!) and we can check in with each other about how things are going for us individually and as a couple.

The main thing here is to identify something that's tried and true: what has made you feel better in the past? How can you incorporate that into a daily, weekly or monthly practice? Even if I can't get out of the city everyday to clear my head, knowing that it's coming up does help...a bit like a release valve at the end of the month.

3.  Journaling

There was a time when I journaled on a daily basis. Then there was a time when journaling felt like another nagging thing I had to do before I could just stop doing things for a second. So when I began thinking of self-care practices I could turn to on a regular basis, I knew I needed to find a middle ground somewhere when it came to journaling.

So I started coming up with prompts. One of the toughest parts of journaling for me is always feeling like I have nothing to say. Or (and especially when I'm using this in a more targeted, self-care sort of way), that I have too much to say and isn't that just super exhausting? Prompts help me to focus my writing for a certain period of time. So, for example, if I'm in a slump, am feeling unmotivated and as a result unproductive, then I can commit to journaling for a week (or any time period) and choose 7 prompts I can use to tackle the big issue in bite-sized pieces, just one each day. These prompts can range anywhere from questions like "If I were doing the one thing I wanted to do right now, what would it be and how would doing it make me feel?" to "Why do I feel the need to be productive right now? What happens if I'm not? What real impact does this have on myself/others?" etc.

Prompts help me to articulate my thoughts, as well as keep me from feeling overwhelmed by having to write for 5 hours in one sitting just to get it all out. As a bonus, because I sat down at the start of my 7 days to write up these prompts, I've actually thought pretty deeply about what I feel I need to address in order to help myself feel better. Win!

4.  Coffee + creative work with friends

A few years ago, a group of friends and I started Creative Nights once a week where we'd get together at a cafe and work on purely creative projects — the books we wanted to write, posts for a food blog or articles to submit for publication, a graphic novel. It wasn't very stringent...we've worked on job applications, grad school readings and, when it would have otherwise stressed us out not to, even work for our paid jobs. But the intention was always there, and there was a commitment from all of us that we'd support one another to actually get things done during that set aside time. Plus, because at its core it was just a casual gathering of friends, it made the entire process completely enjoyable.

While things get busy for all of us on occasion, we'll sometimes still meet up on a weekly basis for actual work sessions at cafes, and it always reminds me of what I'm shooting for in life — freedom of time to spend it doing the things I want to do with the people I love. It's a taste of location independence that never fails to re-motivate me.

5.  A personal retreat day

This is the big one. My go-to when I need to pull out all the stops and nothing else seems to be working. It's easier to do right now when it's just me and Nate, and we don't have a child to coordinate care for, so it's not without its own challenges for those who do have very real external commitments.

But if you are able to carve out some time to take a personal retreat day, remember that it doesn't need to be huge. You don't need to rent a house in the woods and book a personal chef or anything (though if that's what you need and can reasonably do, can you invite me?). My personal retreat days are mostly a vacation day I've taken from work or another day when I can arrange to be the only one home for the entire day. I plan everything from start to finish, including:

  • Making sure I have my meals covered, whether it's ordering in from my favorite spot, or making sure I have all the groceries I need to make the exact thing I want to eat.
  • Scheduling time for movement (taking a walk with a friend or going for a swim at the gym first thing in the morning, or going to a restorative yoga class at the end of the day).
  • Actual sessions to tackle specific areas of my life. This usually depends on why I'm feeling the need for a personal retreat day to begin with, and I often write out the prompts for these sessions the day before the retreat starts, or during the morning hours so that I can tackle them in the afternoon.
  • Something fun to do to treat myself in the evening (could be a date night with Nate that I ask him to plan, or a solo night at a spa — especially good if I've been super stressed and tense lately).

The personal retreat day is like a shot of nothing but self-care for 24 hours straight. For me, it's mostly used during times where, for some reason or the other, I haven't been great about regular self-care maintenance for a while and ended up depleting all my reserves. The personal retreat day ideally fills those right back up. But I can see having these quarterly just to be sure I'm not getting to that stage — probably a way healthier option!

Do you have your list of go-to self-care practices that you can turn to on a regular basis?

A Recipe for My Life

This post was inspired by a similar post written by Dee Bordenkircher for Season 4 of Stratejoy's guest bloggers. If you haven't checked out Stratejoy yet, I so encourage you to go and do that like, right now. Go ahead, I'll wait. 

First, gather the ingredients | brown hair, brown eyes, skin that burns before going brown too. A handful of whatever you would typically add to a "mixed plate" in Hawai'i. Big, loving family, fondness for romance novels, self-deprecating humor, and indie folk songs played in minor chords. Extra large portion of introversion and driving need to be in the country. Insatiable lust for travel, deep conversations and Diet Coke. Pinch of stubbornness, to taste.

You'll need a solid — though misaligned — dish, and then a secondary, more free-form way to hold everything together once the first dish breaks. Always be prepared.

Start by building a delicious foundation | A small, rural community on an island in the middle of the sea. Add family trips to the mountains, sunny days at the beach, trade winds, country music and reggae. Find hidden streams and waterfalls with your cousins in the summer, and go fishing with your dad as a kid. Play with your sisters, get loved on by your parents and grandparents.

Mix until somewhat smooth. When it's mixed thoroughly, throw in boarding school at age 12. Be careful here — your mixture is going to get tough at first, but will combine completely the more you work it.

Call your mom nightly for the first six months you're away at school, telling her that you love her and hate her in the same breath. Know only that you miss her, you miss your dad and your sisters and your grandparents. You miss your bedroom and your island, and you don't fit in here. You don't want to fit in here. Stick it out, because you have no choice. Grow up quickly, because you have to. Realize how incredibly lucky you are, and how much of a sacrifice your family made sending you away.

Make friends, lose friends, and fall into a deep depression. Get help, struggle through it, and meet your best friends. Think about college and traveling for the first time. Feel grateful as opportunities are laid at your feet.

Your ingredients are looking good at this point. You're about to make it better.

Next, add college | Leave Hawai'i for Washington state and put a label on the bowl that simply states, ADVENTURE. Navigate this new world with wide eyes and a passion for everything. Fall in love with Seattle and seasons and especially the fall because it feels like you feel — crisp and cozy and full of joy and community. Get drunk with your friends at football games and house parties, take courses in Philosophy and Human Rights (regret taking that Intro to Logic class sophomore year). Kiss boys (and regret some of them too). Find out who God is to you, rather than who He is to your dad or grandmother. Find a major no one understands and declare it because questions of identity speak to something deep inside you.

Apply to study abroad in Northern Ireland without telling anyone. Get accepted and have your life changed. Apply to study abroad again, this time in New Zealand. Go, meet the guy of your dreams, and really have your life changed.

Now that everything's really come together, decide to go to law school | Add a heaping dose of what has up to this point been a fairly quiet voice inside you: Fear. Then add a little more. Taste your mixture. Does it taste a little off? A little overwhelmed by all that fear? Then you're right on track. Tell yourself you chose law school because it's your passion while ignoring the truth: it's a secure career, it'll make your family proud, it feels like the adult thing to do, it delayed having to figure out what else was out there, and getting in made you feel like you were good enough. Spend everyday of the next three years wondering why don't feel anything but not good enough.

Find that sturdy dish you set aside earlier and begin pouring your mixture into it. It'll overflow — that's to be expected — but stuff it in there anyway. If you need to (and you'll need to), dump half of your mixture out into a side dish to figure out what to do with later.

Crank up the heat and be careful not to touch what your mixture has become — the soft center and fragile crust could collapse at any second.

Survive each day by enveloping yourself in the guy who loves you despite how sad you are, who reminds you of who you were before you let fear unbalance the entire dish. Save your sanity by heading to the mountains as much as possible. Lose yourself, and don't even realize it until it's almost over.

Graduate, blow off the Bar, get a job that says nothing to your soul because now your confidence is shot and you no longer know what you want or who you are, but you've got rent to pay and you're up to your eyeballs in student loans. Find yourself in the midst of a quarterlife crisis and a depression that leaves you feeling small and shaky every morning.

Hear something shatter | That sturdy dish you worked so hard to fit your mixture into has broken, and everything seems to be spilling out everywhere. But don't worry, you set some of your mixture aside a little earlier.

Grab the old mixture and find a new bowl to put it in. A free-form bowl. One that may not be quite as sturdy, quite as traditional, but you kinda maybe like that about it. Pour your mixture in and start fresh by trying to water down that overwhelming taste of fear.

Find a therapist and begin learning how to deal with your shit, to manage your depression, to recognize your ebbs and flows. To find strength in what you thought were broken places. Find a life coaching course and dive headfirst and arms wide open into personal development. Really think about where things went wrong, what your values are, why everything comes back to your skewed ideas of self-worth. Re-learn your passions. Journal. Create vision boards for every season of life and a playlist for every mood. Admit what your dream life looks like, then admit that the way you're currently living is not it.

That taste is starting to balance out, but it's still missing something.

Add a touch a risk — just a little zest of defiance in the face of your fear — and quit your job.

Incorporate thoroughly.

Fill your new life with more people who are still trying to figure it out too. Who have dreams they're trying to realize, and who encourage you to go after your own. Who are passionate about food, family, politics, culture, social justice, Creative Nights, feminism, sex, sunny summer days spent poolside, travel, Friday night backyard dinners, and each other. Pay more attention to your relationship. Fix what got damaged there when things got messy. Fall in love with him — that boy you met on a trip to New Zealand nearly a decade ago — all over again, even deeper than before. Marry him.

Start to understand that life is not one way or the other — it's not all carefree joy, not all worry and sadness. It's shades of blues and grays and reds and yellows. Learn to stop letting fear (of failure, of feeling) make your decisions, to experience every emotion in its entirety as it comes, and to process them in healthy ways. Recognize every dream as it comes too, and be brave enough to name them, to declare them. Start a blog to help you express all of it — the beauty, the rawness, your journey to live simply, but fully.

Blend, blend, blend.

Take a step back. Look at what you've made and realize that it is in no way finished. There's still so much more to add, so many ways it could go awry and turn out perfectly imperfect.

Smile, because that's sort of the point, right?

Grab your free-form bowl and keep mixing.

Hawaiian Products I'm loving | Go Native! May Box

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When I was back home in April, my sisters and I ventured out to the Merrie Monarch Arts + Craft Fairs — multi-day fairs of local Hawaiian vendors from across the state that accompany the annual hula festival. There are hundreds of incredible artists at the various fair locations throughout Hilo, and it seems like the entire population of the island turns out to see if their favorite Hawaiian brands have booths, or if the newest upcoming Hawaiian designer has a pop-up where you can get their new designs. It can be crowded and intimidating, which definitely usually isn't my scene. But because I'm so rarely home during the festival, I couldn't resist and I'm so glad I went — it's totally worth it to brave the traffic, crush and the Hilo rain to get your hands on some of the best of the best Hawaiian-made arts, crafts, fashions and products.

My favorite part of the craft fair this year was the fact that I bumped into one amazing vendor in particular that — because I'd gone to high school with her! — I'd been following on Instagram for a while.

Mamalani | Handmade by Hawaiians

One of the reasons I'd been dying to try some Mamalani products — which range from deodorants and body powders to oil blends, sunburn sprays, wellness tinctures and more — is because they're handmade, all natural, and organic. In the past few months (and obviously ever since I found out we're expecting), I've been making a concerted effort to clear out the environmentally harmful, often unhealthy if not downright dangerous, products in my medicine cabinet and self-care regimen, especially those that aren't cruelty-free. Plus, I love that when I use these products in particular it feels like I'm incorporating a little bit of home into my everyday life here in California.

So I was beyond excited when Mamalani owner, maker (and fellow Kamehameha Schools alumni) Mele Kalama-Kingma told me that she was offering a monthly health and beauty subscription box she curates not only with her own products, but with amazing products from other Hawaiian makers. Each month's box features a new theme that highlights a native practice or plant that is essential to overall health, along with a recipe.

It's called Go Native! and it's my new favorite thing.

Here's the most recent Go Native! box for May, centering all around 'olena (tumeric)...

This months box featured:

  • Hemo, an oil that's great for congestion, sinus and earache relief, and is infused over 6 weeks with Hawaii grown ʻolena and hydroponic basil. By Mamalani + The Lotus Blossom in You.
  • Anti-inflammatory Hawaii 'Olena Hydrosol Facial Mist, made using organically distilled 'olena for hydration and healthy skin.
  • A custom sachet to tuck away in your drawer, hang in your car or just to place in spaces in need of some extra love. The bags are made by local favorite brand, Kealopiko Three Piko, and are filled with Moloka'i pōhinahina and ʻuhaloa (both plants found locally), and are scented with 'olena, black pepper and ʻiliahi (sandalwood).
  • Hawaii Island Powdered 'Olena Cooking Spice
  • Honua Skincare 'Olena Oil Sampler, to counter inflammation for a healthy, ageless and glowing face.
  • Waiahole Farm Raw 'Olena Root to use for tea.

These three products above are probably what I've been looking forward to trying most. One of the [weird?] side effects of pregnancy for me has been nasal congestion, particularly in the mornings. I haven't wanted to take anything over the counter for it, both because that can be tricky and because it usually clears up by the early afternoon. But it's no party while I'm all stuffed up. So the Hemo oil will definitely be something that I keep on hand.

I'm also always looking for ways to improve the health of my typically problematic skin. In April's Go Native! box, I had a chance to try out Honua Skincare's Pa'akai Cleansing Cream and it has made an incredible difference in my overall complexion — haven't really had any breakouts recently, and a lot of the blemishes I thought were just permanent fixtures in my skin have cleared up. So I'm game for trying both the Hydrosol Facial Mist for an extra boost of hydration, and Honua's 'Olena Oil Sampler if and when problem areas crop up.

I've already incorporated all the rest of the amazing products that came in April's Go Native! box — as well as a little extra oil I picked up from Mamalani to help ease the pregnancy headaches I've been getting lately too — into my everyday routine, and can't wait to do the same with these 'olena products!

What are some of your favorite natural, handmade and cruelty-free products? I'd love to check them out!

Hello! I'm so Glad You're Here

It finally feels like spring has officially arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area, and with everything so warm and new, let me just say: welcome to my new online home! I've written several other blogs over the years past, like many things do, have outgrown those spaces and eventually moved on from them. I've been throwing around the idea for this new site for more than a year now (I know, it takes me such a long time to commit to something!), and with the complete 180° that 2017 has shaped up to be from 2016, it just felt that this was the perfect time. So this is where you'll find me from here on out — sharing the often beautiful, but always real, experiences that keep me chasing dreams, simplicity, and a well-lived life.

Here's a taste of what you can count on finding here:

So much change is coming this year, and it's only May! And I'm not going to lie, some of these upcoming changes aren't going to be easy, because that's life, you know? But that's what the whole point of this space is — to share everything honestly, even the hard stuff, because we're all going through things and the best way to connect with someone else and make us all feel not so alone is to share. I will promise to always try to find the beauty in things, even in the breakdown (kuddos if you know the song that's from!), because that's life too. Each moment is important — not perfect, but important.

There would be no telling my story without talking about travel. Ever since I could remember, I've been a travel bug, inspired by a deep wanderlust to see the world outside of my own backyard. Some of the most untethering and soul-enriching experiences I've had have been finding myself lost in a night market in Hong Kong, or falling in love on a beach in New Zealand, or learning how to drink a proper Guinness in Ireland, or being awestruck by a fjord in Norway. Travel, for me, has always answered questions I didn't even know I had, and it is one of the great loves of my life.

We're all trying to live a well-lived life, amiright? I am obsessed with this idea. As someone who has struggled over the years — and still struggles, to be honest — with caring for my body, mind and spirit as well as I'd like, wellness is something I am deeply committed to immersing myself in, and sharing all the tools I learn along the way. Whether that's self-care practices, goal setting and meeting, natural products I'm loving, finding that hard-to-strike work/life balance, or simply making time to relax and enjoy being alone or with my loved ones. It's all fair game, and you'll hear all about it.

There's a part of me my husband says is like a bottomless pit: my lust for the new. I'm always seeking chances to get out and do or see something BIG: bungee jump, sky dive, off-road in the mountains, road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway. But adventures come in all sizes — from the everyday backyard adventure of trying a new food truck...to big, adrenaline-fueled adventures like hiking, Wild-style. This site will be a celebration of them all.

If any of this resonates or sounds at all interesting to you, I hope you pull up a chair and stay for a while! Storytelling — even when it's of your own life — is never as enriching and empowering as it can be unless it's in relationship with others. I created this space as a way to share, to build community, and to keep myself moving forward as I build the life I've always dreamed of (while remembering to celebrate all the special moments along the way). My hope is that it inspires you to do the same.

Thanks for coming along with me, and I can't wait to get to know you!