Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Hello friends!!

Lots has happened in the last few months...ranging from job transitions, to speaking at the World Muse Women's Conference in Bend on body image and art, to emergency surgery last week and I"m in desperate need of a fresh start...a change...so I'm moving my blog to: http://love-write-be.blogspot.com/.

Please stop over and visit. I'll be hanging out there often in the weeks to come. :)


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pause because You Care by Charyn Gant

During November and December of 2013 I felt as if my life had drifted into a place between the egos need to do this and that, and the inner need to go within and tend to myself.
I had arrived at a place where I was being given the message to pause and breathe; except I didn’t know it. I resented this unfamiliar space because I really had too much to do… for everyone else. This pausing energy was in conflict to plowing ahead and pushing forward. I’ve never really been the pausing kind of person and the Holiday season had arrived in full swing. I was running out of time for making and buying gifts and participating in seasonal activities. And like many other people at this time of the year, I was running out of energy. But running out of energy didn’t make me pause; it made me move faster.
Then it happened: I hit the wall, crashed and burned. I was forced to step back from almost everything on my massive and seemingly endless "to do" list. The way I was operating was no longer working for me. I couldn’t continue to just do, do, do and go, go, go; it had worn me down and out. Next came the realization that I had totally neglected myself in the process.
Self-neglect is a condition that I believe goes highly unrecognized: an all-too common state of being that drains and sickens when left unacknowledged and unchecked. The best action is, of course, to be proactive and recognize early on when we need to hit the pause button to rest, recover and restore. However, when we fail to hit that pause button, it gets pushed for us, when our bodies and our spirit basically say, “enough is enough; we're going to take a break NOW”.
You know what I mean. When simple tasks become too much, enough is enough. When normal thought processes become challenging and creativity is limited, enough is enough. When nails go unmanicured, dull skin & shadowed eyes become constant companions, and sadness weaves its way through our emotions, enough is enough.
We are the ONLY assigned caretakers of our whole self. So many self-care actions I knew I needed kept finding their way to the backburner: my feet, which have been waiting weeks for a pedicure; the quiet herbal teas that were being pushed aside for blood pumping caffeine; received guidance waiting to be used; the stack of books waiting to be read. There were other telltale signs of my self-neglect like the half-finished craft projects; tight muscles, clenched teeth and a body that was unable to relax at night; forgetfulness, interrupted sleep and body rashes that indicated irritation at my personal desertion. It really was a slap in the face.
Slowly I am adapting to a new mode of being. Very slowly.
There are some deeply grooved programs and habits to overcome; impatience with myself comes easily.
Seriously, sometimes it just sucks.
In spite of this, I invite you to seriously take a look at how you have been treating yourself and note where you may have participated in some personal desertion or “done a bunk”, as those crafty Brits like to say. Where you have run away from yourself? No judgment; most of us have done it. Check how you’ve been sleeping: are you feeling rested in the morning or exhausted? Really look at your face in the mirror and admit if you like what you see. Look at your skin, nails and feet: what condition are they in? Pay attention to your thoughts and how you feel. Notice any twinging, tight muscles screaming for some stretching.
Healing and transformation come when we can finally see it. ‘Cause when you know, you know and there’s no getting away from that. So, in the next few weeks, when writing out your bucket list for 2014, make “increase my level of self-care” #2. Make “slow down, pause and breathe”#1. Pause because you care… and want a happier New Year!

Charyn Gant is the founder of the blog/site When We Listen to Trees: a platform to share information, stories and tolls of how we can improve our quality of life, especially our emotional health as it relates to our physical health. Charyn has been in the alternative healing arena for more than a decade. You can also find her on Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Inspiration for Nesting...

Inspiration for my new home! I move this weekend and I can hardly wait to nest/ decorate/ define my own little space. Give me a few weeks and see if I'm making steps toward something similar in my new apartment. :)

More to come!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Why Hello 2014...(And an invitation to write)


How has it been so long since I've blogged???!!

I jumped head first into a brand new full time job the first part of December in complex care management (essentially health care case work) and I freaking love it! Since then I also signed a lease on my own place (first time in over a year that I've been living solo) and I'm preparing to move in a week! I'm so excited...but because in my last move I sold most of my belongings and massively downsized, that has meant lots of shopping (there will be some DIY and budget decorating posts coming up)!

But in all of this transition, I realized something...The She-Tribe Project is no longer a project, but a way of life, a gathering place for discussion, self-love and acceptance, creativity and community rallies that inspire! It has been a fabulous collaboration of women's stories for over a year now both in ebooks, workshops and poetry events, photo shoots and this blog...as you might have noticed, for 2014, I've adopted a new tag line: gather, create & be.

My hope in the months ahead, is that community will gather, women will create beauty, relationships, networks and art and we will, more than anythings, be our beautiful, authentic selves - full of wounds, light, depth, kindness and brokenness, and yet completely and fully human. Sigh, relax into that, loves. I thank you for going on this journey with me, for sharing your stories, teaching me new things and inspiring me to become a better woman daily - you are the best tribe I could ask for!

In 2014, I'm gearing up for a writing workshop in a few weeks that will kick off the "Bodies Stories: Skin, Boundaries & Beauty" project I received a grant from World Muse to do. It will be one part writing, one part photography and one part art exhibit in collaboration with this year's World Muse Conference in March in Bend, Oregon - and I'm over the moon about it!!

So in gearing up for this I'm looking for bloggers to share a 500-600 word post around the theme: my body is a love story.

Think about what journeys your body has taken in your lifetime, how it has changed, morphed, strengthen and transformed. What has your experience of your body become? Explore the love story that is your body, and if it's not a love story yet, write a love letter to your body and invite that love affair to begin... you know you want to... :)

Write. Create. Be. 2014 is going to be grand!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Is it time to change your MOO? by Charyn Gant

** please excuse the dust...my computer won't let me upload pictures to Blogger right now, but this post from Charyn is too good to wait on! - Sarah **

Everyone has a different M.O.O. I believe it’s a combination of how we survived our childhoods and what we learned growing up. There usually comes a time when we are presented with the opportunity to realize that our current M.O.O. is no longer working for us and something has to change.

What am I talking about? M.O.O.: Mode of Operation. Maybe it has never occurred to you that you have a M.O.O. It’s how you choose to move through life everyday, accomplish goals and tasks, and approach your challenges. It defines how you show up in the world.

Burnout is a debilitating condition and is a reflection of your current M.O.O. Anyone who has experienced burnout knows how sidelining it can be, especially if they ignored the signs and didn’t catch it early.

Burnout is about a half-second behind breakdown; so if you don’t catch burnout early, guess what’s next?  However, if you do catch it early, you can use the opportunity to hit the pause button, take a much-needed break and reflect on how your M.O.O. is affecting your life.

Burnout out first visited me in September and I missed the message even though I wrote about it! I found a sheet of paper where I had written, “Why does it feel like I have too many balls in the air? Should I let a few of them drop down until I’m ready for them?” Yeah, it does seem like a “well duh” moment, but because I was doing a brain dump, I didn’t redirect my attention back to what I had written; I simply moved on to other thoughts.

And I really did have too many balls in the air. By mid-October, I was becoming physically run down. My energy would abruptly run out at odd times of the day, leaving me exhausted and depleted. My thoughts were fuzzy and lacked clarity. My creativity became severely limited. I was oversensitive, emotional and was experiencing an increased sense of overwhelm. Simple decisions became monumental.

After attending a business boot camp the first weekend of November, my body finally gave me the finger and began to breakdown starting with a headache, sore throat and achy body. This time I listened. I called in sick to work and went back to bed for another 5 hours. I did nothing for the rest of the day. And believe me; it wasn’t easy; I could list at least 20 things that I knew needed to be done.

I decided my health was far more valuable.

So, for the next two weeks, everything just sat… and waited.

And during that pause, it hit me: there was something wrong with my M.O.O.

The M.O.O. I’ve used over the years was neither healthy nor supportive. Listening to my own inner wisdom, I discovered that my M.O.O. very energetically masculine and reinforced by13 years of military training. It was very imbalanced. My M.O.O. had been the antithesis to the feminine and with the re-emergence of the Feminine on the plant, will no longer be an acceptable way of me being in the world.

Burnout, when its message is heard, deciphered and understood, can reveal a great deal of information about the structures we are operating in: our M.O.O. When we are unwilling to listen and miss the message of burnout, rest assured it will visit us again.

One of the most self-loving acts you can perform for your health and wellness (and to benefit everyone around you) is to reflect on what your M.O.O. might be and whether or not it’s serving you in fulfilling your goals, visions and keeping you healthy.

If you’re finding that you’re exhausted, uncreative and getting sick way too often, trust and love yourself enough to check your M.O.O.

Choose to begin the New Year by reflecting on and changing your M.O.O. if needed, so that you can avoid burnout, conquer the impossible, shine your brightest, be bad ass & bodacious, and stay healthy!

And when someone asks you what your secret is, smile mysteriously and say, “I changed my M.O.O.” 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Self-Care is Not Selfish by Ana Campos

Photo by Sarah McMurray

Sometimes things crumble. Other times, they completely shatter in an instant. Last month, I missed my deadline for the She Tribe Project - I was so caught up in a series of personal tragedies that I lost track of time and forgot responsibilities. I had poured my heart and soul into a big project, and it was pulled out from under my feet, suddenly and brutally. I felt exposed, betrayed, and discarded. It seemed insult was repeatedly added to injury as other things kept going wrong. But at the bottom of all the anger and hurt, there was the inkling of relief. I was relieved because the loss of this project, even though it meant the world to me, meant that I got to sever a relationship with an extremely toxic and abusive person. I got to walk away from the responsibility of constantly having to shield a group of people from this abuse. Ultimately, I found myself freed from a situation where I constantly had to place the needs of others above my own needs. 

A couple of years ago, I came across a post on the Etsy blog that really changed how I evaluate priorities: The Oxygen Mask Principle (https://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2011/the-oxygen-mask-principle/). This original post speaks in terms of parenting, and of making sure that you take care of yourself first so you can be a better parent. But this idea easily extends to all interpersonal relationships, whether family, romantic, professional, etc. 

We are taught from a young age that it is not okay to think of yourself first. We are programmed to always be self-deprecating. Our needs are to come last, lest we be thought of as selfish. 

Our accomplishments are to be downplayed, lest we be seen as egotistical and boasting. As adults, we then often find ourselves exhausted, resentful, and confused about these negative feelings. After repeatedly finding myself struggling with these feelings, finding that original article helped me find clarity. I was always taking care of others before taking care of myself, to a fault. I would let both my physical and emotional health deteriorate rather than say no to those around me.

Since then, I’ve made an effort to prioritize my well-being. This has been an ongoing journey, because it’s been accompanied with a constant struggle with guilt. The notion of taking care of others is so ingrained that my first reaction to putting myself first was a rush of guilt. It has taken constant reminders and logical arguments with myself to help shift my mindset. After several months, I started to see the benefits of applying the Oxygen Mask Principle to my life. Being better rested, healthier, and allowing myself time for the things I enjoy, I found myself also being a better partner, friend, teacher.

Earlier this year, I lost track of this personal journey. I got involved in a situation I was very passionate about, and suddenly found myself responsible for the best interest of a group of people. All of a sudden I was working hard to shield these people from the abuse of another, and putting myself in harm’s way in the process. In the moments when I was truly honest with myself, I knew that the best thing for my own well-being was to walk away. But I was so preoccupied with everyone else that I felt unable to put myself first.

The universe ultimately took the choice out of my hands. The situation crumbled, and rather than fight to stay in it, I walked away. While I am speaking in vague terms here, the specifics of the situation don’t matter; the important lesson was the undeniable reminder that I am primarily responsible for my own well-being.

Do you put the needs of others before your own? Are you doing so to your own detriment? I leave you with the challenge to pay closer attention to your needs and making sure that you have room in your life to nurture yourself. Sometimes it’s okay to be selfish.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Dark Months By Charyn Gant

Photo by Sarah McMurray
 During the holiday season, which started with Halloween for many of us, it’s going to be real easy to ignore the needs of our spirit and neglect answering inner messages and prompts. Needless to say, this would be no bueno.

I believe we are more emotionally fragile during the dark months of Fall and Winter than at any other time of the year. We have less light and many people get Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). Less light may also mean less motivation. Because the veil is thin, people are leaving and we are remembering those who have already departed (i.e.: Dia de los Muertos). Unresolved issues bubble up for us to acknowledge, address and transform. The dark months ask us to go within, harvest what we have sown for the year and then visualize next year into creation. Transformation is a must if we want to step into bigger, more bodacious shoes for the coming year. Then there are all the other daily choices, decisions and occasional dramas we have to deal with.

So with all those possibilities swirling around, we’re bound to feel ignored and depleted. Everyone has their own indicators as to when their spirit is low, fragile and in need of care. It is vital for us to pay attention to those indicators so that we tend to our spirits in a timely matter otherwise we may end up sick and dispirited before the holiday season gets into full tilt. It doesn’t take much to listen to your body and what it’s telling you; you just have to stop and listen.

Just recently at work, I started feeling that feeling. I know, so vague. Unfortunately, words are a poor substitute for our emotions and often misrepresent what we really feel. Sometimes descriptive statements are better. My description: I felt like I had been tossed one too many times in a tiny boat and was getting bruised and battered. My body and spirit felt gray and heavy. I was also sensitive and a bit weepy. It would take me another week for me to sort things out. I was bunched and had too much on my plate. I was spinning and discouraged from the feeling of running in place. I had old issues bubbling up to be acknowledged. I could go on but you get the idea.

An “inspired suggestion” came to me that would apparently provide a balm to my overstretched spirit: give myself a foot bath. Eh. Okay. But just thinking of that soothing hot water and lavender had me salivating. And oh yes, it absolutely did the trick. It would have been very easy for me to ignore what my spirit was telling me a just keep plugging along; but I bet you dollars to donuts, I would have paid for it later on.

So it’s time to ask: what care has your spirit been urging you to do that you have yet to pay attention? What are the indicators you receive when your spirit is low and in need of tending? Do you answer or ignore them? There is no such phrase as “I can’t” or “I don’t have time”; the real reason is: “I don’t want to”.

If I had not listened to the call of my own spirit, I would have in fact been telling myself that I’m not important, not worth my own time, not worth my own love. The sad fact is that I do it far too often and I know I’m not alone.

If you have been pulling the same stuff with yourself, it’s really time to change. You are important, worth treating yourself kindly and lovingly. Answering the call of your spirit when you get those indicators IS an act of self-love. It’s time to realize that when we listen and honor the call to care for our spirit FIRST, everything else can fall into place… and we feel good.