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We all have our stories, the things that shape our character and make us resilient, the things that break us down and make us whole again. Like all of you, my story is too long for this time and place, but there’s something I learned along the way that I want to share with you:

Above all else, whatever you do, the most important thing you can do, is take care of yourself.

Okay. Maybe you knew that. But do you really know that? Once I learned the difference, let me tell you, it was a game-changer. I knew all about self-care, about doing things to unwind and cope with the stressors of the world (which to me usually involved red wine, ice cream, and watching Friends on Netflix). But there came a day where I learned that that’s not enough — that I needed to place value on who I am and what I’m contributing by focusing on how I’m being restored. What I also learned was that this was a daily, intentional process; not something that could be fixed by a night of binge-watching TV in my sweat pants (as much as I wished it could). Despite all the head knowledge I had, I still had it ingrained in me that to be truly fulfilled I needed to always say yes, to always give, to put everyone else first and myself last. And while serving and taking care of others is a good and honorable thing, I wish I would have learned sooner that I can’t pour from an empty cup. I can only give water worth drinking if I’ve filled up my cup first.

Although it took far too long for me to learn, I’m hoping you’ve been quicker to this realization than I and have an established routine to take care of yourself. But if you’re feeling discouraged or in need of refreshment, I’m here to greet with you with a hearty “You’re worth it!” and some of my favorite rejuvenating tips.

FIND YOUR RHYTHM

The easiest mistake I make with self-care is planning an activity, doing it that once, and then thinking my work is done. Not that a pre-meditated evening of relaxation is wrong, but we (at least I) need so much more than that. Creating time in my day, even if it’s just five minutes, to nourish myself in some way has made all the difference. I’ve personally found a way to do this through my skin care routine. Each day I try to take my time and stretch out my routine a little, taking five minutes at the beginning and ending of each day to “cleanse” myself. In doing so, I’m not just cleansing my face, I’m also cleansing my mind. Either committing to start a new day fresh or wash away the negative thoughts of before. In making it an intentional ritual, I’ve turned what used to be a boring task that I didn’t look forward to into one of my favorite parts of my day. Plus, my skin is totally thanking me for it! Setting aside this time has been healing for me both mentally and physically. If skin care isn’t your thing, that’s okay. Pick what works for you — I just encourage you to find some form of daily routine to find intentionality and nourishment.

Find what makes you feel good and do it (or in my case, wear it!)

Have you ever had that favorite sweater? That one that you feel good in and know you look even better wearing?

Or those stylish boots that instantly change your mood to something fierce when you put them on? Me too! But above all those, my favorite wearable accessory that’s sure to change my mood is my lipstick. If I could only pick one makeup item to wear for the rest of my life, it would be lipstick (which means a lot coming from this makeup artist who loves all the things). Specifically I tend to reach for a bright and cheery red or pink, but really, any color helps me transform from a blubbering mess behind my steering wheel in the Target parking lot to a sassy boss lady ready to conquer my next meeting, or that pile of laundry waiting for me at home. I’ve always appreciated Elizabeth Taylor’s quote (or shall I say, my inner mantra) where she said “Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.” Short, a little brash, and to the point? Yes. But for me, it works! Lipstick is cheap. I can always carry it with me. Whenever that bad day hits, or sometimes before it even starts, I can pull it out, polish myself up, and give myself the 30 second re-charge to finish my day. If lipstick isn’t your jam, find what is. Lotion? Perfume? Find what makes you feel refreshed and keep a mini-version in your purse so that if ever the need arises, you’re prepared!

FIND YOUR LUXURY

For sake the subtitle perhaps being a little misleading, I’m going to get right to the point here. I don’t mean you need to have all the money to buy weekly massages at the Chrysalis, because even though that’s where I like to live in my own fantasy-world, that’s not just not reality for most of us. What I do mean is to find what re-charges you the most, and make that a priority. For me, it’s working out. Actually, let me rephrase that – for me, it’s having one-hour of uninterrupted time to focus on myself to recharge and the gym is where I can do that. I’m a people person and busy-body, the kind of girl you’ll find gathering everyone for karaoke at a party. Working out is fine and I know I should do it but I don’t love it like some of you crazies out there. But I was shocked to connect the dots and realize that this loud extrovert loved going to work out because it was my one and only hour of the day to myself where I didn’t have to dress up, or answer questions, or be stressed about all the emails I haven’t returned or the chores I still have to do. It was just my time to be me and only me, sans all the hats I wear. Maybe the gym isn’t for you, or isn’t in your budget. That’s okay, because I’m not trying to go tell you go get fit. I just want you to think about when you most feel like yourself, and find a way to make that a habit. That might mean getting up 30 minutes early so you can cozy up on your couch and spend some time reflecting while you drink your cup of coffee while it’s actually hot. Or it could mean going out to the garden and finding rejuvenation in nature or re-kindling an old love like your sewing or craft projects.

The more time you can spend finding, healing, and nurturing yourself, the more of you you’ll have to give. And right now, more than ever, the world needs a whole lot more of you. More of us. So can you do me a favor? However you can, take care of yourself.

"Above all else, whatever you do, the most important thing you can do, is take care of yourself. "