Self-Love isn’t Self-ish.

I’m going deep today. And talking about self love and what it means to me – and how important I think it is for all of us to practice. This isn’t a light topic for most – and I think it’s something we’re all working towards. At different times in our lives we might be extra great at truly being comfortable with where we are and in other times we’re grasping. Myself, I think as most women do spent my late teen’s and early twenties grasping. I absolutely loved certain parts of my life. I loved the people surrounding me. I loved the direction I thought things were moving. But I can honestly say I didn’t love me. I spent too much time being focused on perfection (what IS perfection anyways?) and trying to make everyone like me. I felt like I needed to be friends with everyone – and I didn’t love myself enough to kick the people out of my life that were taking advantage of that. I hate to admit it – but I did and said things that weren’t true to myself – just to go with the flow of others. To keep them happy. I didn’t set boundaries. The lack of self love and self care (PS: self care IS self love, and vice versa), but the lack of affected every single aspect of my life. My marriage. My friendships and relationships with family members. My job. I found myself often comparing myself to others or maybe envious of the shiny new car, big new house, THINGS, or vacations. I did things to keep up, again – things that weren’t true to myself. And forgetting how absolutely fortunate I am. I brushed so much under the rug.

Now let’s talk about the shift. Entering my late twenties – I’d finally had enough. I felt like garbage. I wasn’t taking care of my body or my relationships how I wanted to be. Life how I wanted to be. I was so tired of feeling like I had to keep up. Other than this – I can’t identify where or when the actual shift happened. But I started with me. For what felt like the first time in my life I was thinking most often of myself. Selfish? No. I started spending less time with people who weren’t kind. Who didn’t have my best interest at heart. I stopped responding to phone calls and text messages when I needed a little quiet time. I set boundaries. I made my own little list of rules. Was this easy? Nope. Many tears were shed during this “elimination” part of my life. It’s hard to let go of what your life is in order to create something new. But I promise it’s worth it. I started seeing things change all around me, the people, time spent, my priorities – and so I started working on the physical stuff. I joined a gym, cleaned up my diet *still love sugar friends!, and really started paying attention to what I was putting inside my body. The part about this that I love the most is how the physical stuff is actually the mental stuff. Everything is so connected. And I found my workouts were really more for my head. And that eating real whole foods helped with my anxiety. I made a practice of meditating and journal writing daily. It’s been just over two years now that I started these habits – I’m happy to say I’m still sticking with them. I’m still loving myself. I have days, weeks even that I don’t feel motivated – or that I’m hard on myself or don’t have the most positive self talk. But that general feeling of love, even on the hard days – it’s still there.

About halfway through this – a couple of weeks after my thirtieth birthday I went through something that sent me in a downward spiral. I created this space for connection and openness – and this particular incident is something I’d like to share with you all at some point, but today it’s just for this. This circumstance brought anxiety and its little friend depression. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under neath me and I just couldn’t get back up. My sense of self worth and security were gone – for weeks, even months. Had I not already started taking care of myself – I’m not sure I’d have made it through this. Timing is everything – and I think the outcome would’ve been a different one a few years before. Because now I’m only surrounded by people who I know have my best interest at heart. Remember a few years ago, when that wasn’t the case? They, along with my therapist, family practice doctor, meditation upon meditation and endless amounts of self care, logging hours at the gym and love pulled me back. It’s been a long journey – but a good one. I wouldn’t change it – because it’s changed me.

Is self love and care – even for those who are the very best at the practice permanent, or always going to be easy? Absolutely not. Are each and every one of us going to go through hard things? Yes. Will we have hard days, weeks and even years that we aren’t doing our best taking care of ourselves? We will. But I do believe from experience – if we can do our best, starting small, we can really build a foundation of love. And a habit of self care. I wholeheartedly believe that loving our selves is the most important factor in loving others. In creating a happy and balanced life. It’s not selfish. It’s necessary. And its going to look different for every single person. Look inside yourself. See how valuable you are. I promise you mean the world to somebody – and I know they wish you’d see your self worth. I promise if your willing to put in the hard work you’ll start seeing changes in every single part of your life. Ending here – I wanted to share a little list of my favorite ways to show myself a little bit of LOVE.

Happy Sunday. Xox.

Ombre Raspberry Lemon Sugar Cookies

I found the most AMAZING Sugar Cookie recipe a couple of years ago – and wanted to share before Valentine’s Day. How gorgeous are these ombre cookies from The Baker Chick? She’s one of my favorites to follow. And who doesn’t need a little sweet treat to share with their loved ones? Link to The Baker Chicks blog here – and recipe posted below. Go follow, you won’t be disappointed!

Ingredients for the Cookies:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks (salted) butter, cold & cut into small chunks
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon

For the Frosting:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 12 tablespoons of butter, softened
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons freeze dried raspberry powder*
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the Cookies:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl stir the flour and baking powder together, set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl add the sugar and lemon zest. Use your hands to work the zest into the sugar, releasing the oils.
  3. Add the butter, and use an electric mixer to cream until fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and lemon juice and mix until creamy and well mixed.
  4. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Dough will be crumbly.
  5. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until the dough comes together.
  6. Roll dough to ¼ inch thickness and cut out using cookie cutters. Place cut out cookies on a lined cookie sheet 1-2 inches apart and freeze for 5 minutes before baking.
  7. Bake each batch 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then move to a cooling rack.

For the Frosting:

  1. Cream together the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add lemon juice and the powdered sugar, one cup at a time until fluffy and creamy.
  2. Add a sprinkle of the raspberry powder and decorate the first few cookies. Add a little more raspberry powder and decorate a few more, gradually adding more powder to each batch, creating a gradual darker pink.
  3. Cookies last up to a week stored in an air tight container in the fridge.

notes *To make the raspberry powder, scoop about ⅔ cup freeze dried raspberries into a ziplock bag. Crush them into a powder using a rolling pin. Sift them using a fine mesh sieve to create a fine powder, or add some of the seeds in for a more textured look. (The darkest color cookies have some seeds added!)

Happy Sunday! Enjoy!

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide: For Her

It’s no secret Valentine’s Day is my MOST favorite holiday. Ever. I love it so much that it called for an extra blog post this week – sharing some LOVE filled gifts that I put together for a Galentine’s girls night this weekend, all for the HER in your life. ❤

I kept things pretty simple – shopping at just three places, Williams Sonoma, Target and Amazon. Because who doesn’t love placing an order online at Williams and Target and picking up in store the next day or sometimes within a few hours- and having your amazon order arrive with free two day shipping. Dream.

Nothing “bundt” the best for your Valentine. I was super excited when sharing this image on Instagram, Williams Sonoma in Santa Monica, CA shared it on their feed too! If you don’t have a set of WS Mini Oven Mitts – you need them. They are perfect, not bulky hot pads. And those red and white stripes have me swooning.

Basket and crinkle paper from Amazon. Nordic Ware Heart Shaped Bundt Pan, Mini Oven Mitts and Bundt Cake Mix from Williams Sonoma.

I wanted to come up with a few smaller in size and price gifts – shown above. Pink Grapefruit *absolutely divine, friends* hand soap, counter top spray, and heart mug from Williams. Fringed love tea towels from Target. I didn’t picture here – but I think simply rolling a tea towel up, tied with some red and white bakers twine and a sweet little Valentine would be a perfect little something too. They are just $2.99!  I also put together a smaller basket with two of the heart mugs, a tea towel and a bag of ground coffee for my coffee loving friend. The possibilities are endless here. Mix and match. Make it yours!

Who doesn’t love a clean, fresh smelling kitchen – with products you can feel good about using? This basket is seriously my favorite. ** husband, if your reading ** wink, wink. Williams Sonoma uses essential oils in their house keeping products, including hand soaps and lotions. They are eco friendly, biodegradable, earth-friendly blends that contain no parabens, ammonia, chlorine or lauramide DEA and are not tested on animals. And this just makes me happy. They are something I like to splurge a little on when it comes to my own kitchen. My favorites by season – Pink Grapefruit for February – Spring, Sunny Orange Citrus during the summer months, Pumpkin Spice during the fall and Winter Berry for the winter months.

I hope this gave you a couple of fun ideas and inspiration. Let’s spread the love. I would love to see anything you put together or hear about any fun ideas and traditions you have for Valentine’s Day — xoxo.