Photo c/o Tutti del Monte
*Welcome to our new monthly series called The Refined Collective. I’ve gathered some of my favorite boss lady women in the US who are living meaningful lives on purpose to write with me each month on a specific topic. This month’s topic is Self-Care. Be sure + check out the other ladies apart of the collective: Lauren Scruggs Kennedy, Tutti del Monte, Chelsey Korus, Joanne of Go Fit Jo, Danielle Bennet, Nikia Phoenix.
Before every flight takes off stewards say the same thing: put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. For the longest time I thought this was selfish. Shouldn’t we put others before ourselves?
Self-care has a lot of buzz right now — along with mindfulness, emotional intelligence, organic, and journey. My natural instinct is to rebel against fads. But just because something is popular doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. I wonder if the airlines are on to something. Maybe they understand I won’t be much help to anyone if I first don’t have oxygen.
In our fast-paced, instant gratification, FOMO culture we proclaim that we’ll sleep when we’re dead. In addition to climbing the corporate ladder or chasing our dreams we’re supposed to be selfless, generous, and a voice for the oppressed. How are we supposed to do it all?
As a small business owner, paid time off is a luxury. I hustled in my 20s to build my brand, and I began on a destructive path. I was willing to do anything to take my career to the next level. I’d work up to 80 hours a week, fly to Fashion Week and work 20 hours a day for a week straight and skip meals because who has time to eat when there were shows to attend and photos to edit.
In the midst of that craziness I started The Refined Woman with Emily and became passionate to empower women. It all seemed important, and it all needed to be done. Now.
Trying to do it all comes at a high cost. I blinked and my 20s were over. I was exhausted, burnt out and often sick. My pace was unsustainable. It was a wake-up call when a close friend sat me down and said if I didn’t slow down she was afraid she’d see me hospitalized due to exhaustion.
In hopes of building my dream career and investing into the lives of others I was forgetting one very important person: myself.
If I want to love others well for the long haul, I first need to learn to love and take care of myself well. This is not a selfish endeavor; it is wisdom.
As was his custom Jesus offered a counter cultural invitation to the people of His day: love your neighbors as yourself. We get sucked into this lifestyle and obligation to help others at whatever cost, do whatever it takes to fight for the cause, feed the homeless, fight for the oppressed. And fight we must. Our voices matter. We must advocate for those in crisis.
The full statement though is love your neighbors as yourself. I must love myself, and I can’t overlook that part of the statement.
How are we able to love others if we are working 80 hour weeks, without proper nutrition, little balance, and lives filled with stress?
In 1943 Psychologist Abraham Maslow created Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. He argued before we think about anything else our basic human needs must be met: air, water, food, clothing, and shelter. He then moves onto our physical safety: personal and financial security, health and wellbeing, safety against accidents and illnesses. When those needs are met we can turn outward and invest into others. I think he understood this ancient invitation that if we want to be of any help to others we first must take care of ourselves.
Self-care isn’t an extravagance; it’s a necessity. For some it means getting up 15 minutes earlier to have coffee and a silent prayer. Or filling up your gas tank after work while you’re still alert as opposed to 5:00 a.m. when you’re half asleep.
It’s been a process of self-discovery to find rhythms and routines to incorporate into my life. That I even get to practice self-care is a privilege many people in the world do not get to take part in, and I don’t take it lightly.
A few rhythms I value in my life are:
Photo c/o Tutti del Monte
- I am a better, more productive, and creative person when I get 8 hours of sleep a night. Creating a rhythm of rest in my life has been transformative, and has taken a lot of discipline. If my friends are going out late, but I have an early morning, I make the loving decision to leave the party early. Although I’m an extrovert, I’ve realized I need at least two nights a week of unplanned time at home. This means I actually schedule time on my calendar to be at home. On top of that I practice sabaath, or a day of rest each week. I don’t do any work and I stay off social media. It reminds me the world goes on, and my business doesn’t crumble, even if I take a day off. I’m more prepared and focused for work after a day of rest.
- Clean products
- A few years ago Em started using Tata Harper’s clean skincare collection, and fell in love with it. Then a few of my friends got really passionate about toxic free products. The more I researched the more I realized they were right. I had no idea the products I was putting on my face contained carcinogens, toxins, and ingredients that cause allergies. Even some of my most expensive makeup contains toxic ingredients.
- Like most people I can’t afford to throw away everything I own. I have been slowly finishing one product and replacing it with something safe. It is not cheap, but I believe my body is worth having safe and clean products. There are some incredible companies out there putting out safe, clean, toxic free products. One of my favorites is Tata Harper. They are committed to providing effective and non-toxic products, and the head of the company is Tata Harper, a woman who shares our vision for empowering women.
- Creating space to work out five times a week is one of the biggest ways I invest into self-care. I don’t work out to be a certain size, or to lose weight. I work out because it gives me energy, helps me stay creative, and reduces stress. It’s also a time I connect with myself and God; it’s a moving meditation. When I’m 80 I want to be able to pick up my grandkids and take them hiking. If I want that in my future I need to invest into my health now. Working out is a gift of life to me. And I’ve found things that are inspiring to me like yoga, hiking, and soul-cycle classes. (Below photo c/o Melissa Hope).
Self-care matters. If I write and speak about how women are loved and valued, yet don’t take care of myself, I’m not living my message. If I want to love others well, I must first love myself well. And that means creating space and setting rhythms into place in my life to prioritize self-care and loving myself well.
P.S. This article is written in Collaboration with some of my favorite women! Check out their thoughts on Self-Care today too: