A Self Love Prescription For V Day

Here’s to falling in love … with YOU! Tea alchemist and serial optimist Alicia Henry delivers a self love prescription for your V Day. Illustration: Soleil Ignacio

 

Valentine’s Day …  Whether you’re single or in a partnership, this commercial “holiday” can bring on a wave of negative feelings. Some of us become plagued with thoughts of loneliness, heartache, and even begin to question our self-worth. But there is hope for turning this day (and everyday) into a positive, love-filled experience. And you don’t have to search any further than yourself.

Loving yourself is the most vital action you can take towards your overall well-being and vitality in this life. Not only will you come to the realization that you are a divine being, but you’ll begin to draw others into your life who are also aligned with nourishing their souls and evolving into the best version of themselves. A beautiful ripple effect of LOVE. 

Like any new skill, self-love takes practice, determination, flexibility, and patience. It’s a practice we have to cultivate. This V Day is the perfect time to renew (or begin) your own self-love affair and I’ve concocted a self-love prescription to get you started. Here’s to falling in love with YOU!

Photo: Danny Lane

1. Morning Gratitude + Affirmation Ritual: Our mornings can make or break the rest of our day, so upon waking, take a moment to acknowledge 10 things that you are grateful for. This could mean being thankful for your soft pillow that you lay your head upon, or your two healthy feet that work tirelessly to get you around all day long! This is the first step to simply becoming grateful for who you are.

*Pro Tip: I love to cleanse my space before beginning my morning ritual. My favorite way of doing this is to light Palo Santo—the aroma is sweet and soothing, and it opens my space for newness.

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2. Solo Date: When we’re feeling lonely, the first thing we tend to do is run away from the loneliness and fill the void with social engagements. Friends are definitely a major component to our happiness, but if we can’t be happy solo then our social circles become a mere distraction from ourselves. Try turning inwards. You may actually love what you find!

*Pro Tip: A solo date could just mean reading an empowering book, like Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ classic Women Who Run With The Wolves.

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3. Write Yourself a Love Letter: Letter writing is becoming a lost art, but that doesn’t mean romance is dead. Write yourself a love letter that you can open up any day you need it.  The letter can include recognizing your greatest strengths, honoring what you believe makes you unique, and forgiveness for any negative feelings about yourself.

*Pro Tip: Create a romantic letter writing experience by lighting candles, burning incense, and using beautiful stationery. To get your creative juices flowing, check out this beautiful poem by the Romantic poet, William Wordsworth. Wordsworth describes his beloved as “a creature not too bright or good.” Who’s perfect anyway

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4. Meditate: Our minds are constantly buzzing, and meditation is an invaluable and truly intimate practice that brings us closer to ourselves, our intuition, our truth, and what really matters in life (to us). Even if it’s 10 minutes per day, give this peaceful, quiet gift to yourself.  

*Pro Tip: If you’re new to meditation, there are some awesome apps that will help guide you!

5. Practice Forgiveness: It’s all too easy to get caught up in the mistakes we’ve made, things we wish were different, our so-called imperfections, and other stories that we’ve created and hold against ourselves. But if it weren’t for our mishaps and wrong-turns, we would never evolve. Be tender and forgive yourself for anything that you’re holding onto that doesn’t serve your happiness.

*Pro Tip: The raspberry rose colored Rhodochrosite crystal (above) is known to activate the heart chakra, and promote self-worth and forgiveness. 

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6. Dance: Want a ticket to instant joy? Dancing is a way to connect to our essential life force. Don’t worry about what you look like—just let loose and feel the music. Whether you’re dancing with friends, or using your hairbrush as a microphone in your bedroom, never stop dancing!

*Pro Tip: Start the solo party with my three favorite tunes for dancing by myself—Pat Benatar’s  Love is a Battlefield, Banarama’s Cruel Summer and of course, Whitney’s How Will I Know.

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7. Take a Sexy Selfie: And see yourself through the eyes of lust. Sexy selfies don’t need to be sent to a lover, they can also be sent to your friends! A girlfriend of mine recently started a thread with her friends’ sexiest selfie submissions—it’s been such a beautiful, safe, body-positive experience.

*Pro Tip: The piece of lingerie I’m loving most at the moment is this black bodysuit by True&Co.

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8. Self-Care Spa: Taking the time to pamper your skin, hair, and nails is a rejuvenating self-care ritual that’ll give you that little extra pep in your step. 

*Pro Tip: In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here’s an easy recipe for a truly decadent body scrub: In a mason jar mix 1 cup coffee grounds (just scoop ‘em off the bottom of your french press—no waste, yay!) with ½ cup coconut oil and ¼ cup raw cane sugar. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and you’re good to scrub! I find that vanilla and/or essential rose oil are great accompaniments to the awakening coffee aroma. Keep your scrub in the refrigerator when you aren’t using it. Enjoy, beauty!

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9. Rest Sweetly: Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. When we skimp on sleep, it directly affects our mental well-being. We wake up feeling groggy, our digestive and immune systems are thrown off, and we’re easily spun into negative thinking. Create a peaceful sleeping experience for yourself with kind bedding, a dark room, and a no-electronics policy.

*Pro Tip: Whenever I have trouble falling asleep, I add some lavender infused essential oil to my third eye and lower palms. I cup my palms over my face and breathe in slowly. When you focus on your breath and begin to slow your breathing, you’ll simultaneously slow your heart rate and bring yourself to a restful place.

Naked Sage Tea’s “I Care Deeply” Blend

Alicia Henry is an Herbal Alchemist  and Founder of Naked Sage Tea, an organic tea company based in Venice, CA. A serial optimist, she is aptly part of the team that achieved The International Day of Happiness, which became a resolution of the United Nations. Follow Alicia and Naked Sage Tea on Instagram for more romance, adventure, and sweet self-love. 

COMFORTABLY NUMB: AN AMNESTY ON COOL

Enough with the hiding your real self behind your artfully composed selfies. It’s time to call an amnesty on cool, says Comfortably Numb columnist Kate Atkinson.

 

I want to declare an amnesty on modern cool – realizing this is one of the most uncool statements I could write, and more than aware that several people will probably be cringing reading this. If you are, call me anti-millennial and grind away. But if you’d have hoped we’d left it behind in high school, it seems like “cool” is an extremely contagious epidemic no thanks to the digital revolution.

What exactly is cool anyway? It’s an intangible phenomena that you can’t really touch, a state of being that defines the way you walk and talk, what you wear, the music you listen to, where you’re eating, and whether something is on trend – that is, worthy of likes on Instagram. It’s visceral. You can just feel it. And when it comes to true self-expression, I have to say, the modern version is a straight-jacket.

I also want to preface this story with the fact that while, yes, I do have tattoos, by no means am I an expert on cool. I was on the debating team at school – enough said. But I have got up close and personal enough with this insidious contagion to know how it works, and the more I examine its motives, it’s beginning to feel like cool is the root of an identity crisis that’s plaguing our generation.

A girlfriend put it perfectly when I asked what it means to be cool: “it’s the desire to be accepted, the need for validation, the urge to seem radical, despite longing to fit in.” And so it goes. Oh, the dichotomy of being human. Our narcissistic tendencies AND our insecurities are fuelled by cool, especially at a time when platforms for inclusion and exclusion are at an all time high.

Are you aspiring to be an “influencer?” This breed is all about being seen and accepted, “liked” on the interweb. For them, Instagram is basically a digi-friendly version of the high school cheerleading team. Things are sold to us now by “seeding” them with cool people. Brands, celebrities, and destinations are made by their manufactured “cool factor.” What I want to know is, what happened to under-the-radar cool of yesteryear?

In his 2013 book “The Cool School”Glenn O’Brien talks about the new tastemakers. But his cool  “squad” were, put simply, incredibly creative weirdos. Homeless Jazz beatniks, bohos and roaming beat poets. Anyone who made people uncomfortable basically. Something tells me that they wouldn’t be invited to Kim and Kanye’s dinner party.

We live in an age of such style over substance that it’s incredibly hard to rage against the machine and do your own thing. In fact, a study commissioned by smartphone maker HTC late last year revealed that 52% of the approximately 1000 Brits surveyed admitted to posting images of possessions and items with an intention of making their “friends” jealous. What the hey?

Wasn’t this cool thing supposed to be people going against the grain? Rather than just sticking up photo-shopped images captioned: “I ate, I pooped, I wore Celine!” Now pardon my French, but WTF? If this isn’t numbing what’s going on in our down and dirty daily human reality, I don’t know what is.

Because cool these days is about hiding the “sad” half of your life and projecting the best bits. Ambivalence is also key – pretending not to care, even (especially) if you do. Which is basically saying to your soul that your true hopes and aspirations count for nothing unless they fit with whatever’s trending this month. And yet, as the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character puts it in cult classic Almost Famous: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.”

A moment please to consider this: when the cool castles in the sky come crashing down around you and you’re left with the reality of your life, who out of your carefully curated online “tribe” will actually be there to help cushion the fall? Because what you’re really doing when you shield the real you with a glossy veneer of cool, is construct a bulletproof force field that deflects true intimacy.

So beside a total social media detox and cancelling our memberships to Soho House, how can we wake up from this aspirational bullshit existence that we’re creating for ourselves? By taking the time to get conscious to how we while away our days, and creating meaning in every interaction. By walking our talk, with our roots firmly entrenched in reality.

It sounds so obvious, but social media is the great distractor when it comes to following your own expressive intuition….and it’s there for seeking approval when you do actually create something. The old greats weren’t preoccupied with showcasing their creativity, they just did it.

It’s a mythic delusion and a safety net to communicate and earn accolades in this way – as well as a way to mask what’s actually going on. Surely giving away change on the subway is also worth a few “likes” – so why aren’t we posting on Instagram about that? “Saw a nice guy dish out change today on the subway – what a dude!” Shouldn’t he be the real “influencer?”

These stories DO come up on social media – and when they do it’s meaningful, the positive slant on modern technology. But too often, they’re engulfed in a stream of exclusivity: “I ate this, my bae wears that” – with resulting countless digital high fives and @s to follow.

I know my feed rarely delves beyond the aesthetics. And yes, fashion week happens, and friends stay in epic mansions. There are days at the beach with the clearest water ever. Again, I am not counting myself out of ANY of this malarchy, I am as partial to a well-posed selfie as the rest of us. But the lack of reality is what’s wrong with this whole picture, and it’s beginning to be all I can see.

Can’t somebody invent “Unstagram” for the days you’re feeling a bit off? For when you get dumped, you spent the last two days in tracksuit from Target, or you have an embarrassing medical problem?

Because you know what’s really cool? Being real. Not some projection of me me, me, me, I’m so fabulous, watch me eat, watch me sleep! Watch me break my arm! Look at me tagging historical references to show how tapped in and culturally aware I am.

Are we really this dumb? Is there no end to our ridiculous need for validation? This is the worst kind of cool that there is, and what’s more, this culture of exclusion is not social by any means. It’s actually scientifically proven to be making people chronically depressed.

So in a recent discussion with a friend on a rather significant life choice that involved making a potentially un-cool move, when she advised me to: “Fuck cool” – I decided I whole-heartedly concur.

NOT by Ernest Hemmingway

You are not your age,

Nor the size of clothes you wear,

You are not a weight,

Or the color of your hair.

You are not your name,

Or the dimples in your cheeks,

You are all the books you read,

And all the words you speak,

You are your croaky morning voice,

And the smiles you try to hide,

You’re the sweetness in your laughter,

And every tear you’ve cried,

You’re the songs you sing so loudly,

When you know you’re all alone,

You’re the places that you’ve been to,

And the one that you call home,

You’re the things that you believe in,

And the people that you love,

You’re the photos in your bedroom,

And the future you dream of,

You’re made of so much beauty,

But it seems that you forgot,

When you decided that you were defined,

By all the things you’re not.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: CHATS WITH GURU JAGAT, AND THANK TM FOR THAT

Also the week of 5am wake-up calls (thank TM), a cosmic soup diet, and a message from Mother Mary…

Aries Arise sweatshirt: standard issue book-writing attire

:: MONDAY ::
Skype time with the one and only Guru Jagat, kundalini queen of the Ra Ma Institute in Venice. We were talking all things yoga for some research for MY BOOK (have I mentioned I’m writing a book? Only 2 more chapters to go *wipes sweat from brow*), and her parting piece of advice for anybody getting serious with their spiritual practice is to set your alarm for before sunrise (“any time from 3-5am is great”) to do some kind of meditation. Well…as the cosmos would have it, I’ve been waking at 5am on the dot (no alarm needed) for the past few days. I’m blaming the TM.

:: TUESDAY ::
So I’ve been eating a lot of soup – because basically the Universe said so. As in, a few days ago I overheard 4 different conversations where people were talking about soup and how great it is (seriously – like in the yoga studio, on the subway, in the street), the same day I saw some thing about this book called THE SOUP CLEANSE. Had to be a sign, right? So I had soup that night and it just felt so GOOD! And so nourishing, and so and right for my nutrition needs right now. And so not fancy, I’m getting mine from Amy’s Organic. The Universe delivers her guidance in mysterious ways.

:: WEDNESDAY ::
Got my first Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards! Yep, more book research, and also because I had a mini Goddess reading with lovely Erica Wiederlight of We The Light last week and the cards that came out were SO inspiring I was like, yes I’ll have more of you in my life thanks. Funny thing is, Mother Mary keeps coming up – which is weird for me since I don’t connect with the myth of Christianity on any level. But I do like her message – “Expect a Miracle.” As as for the immaculate conception…well it does feel like I’m currently birthing a #bookbaby (did I mention I’m writing a book?)

Scenes from my desk

:: THURSDAY ::
Got the first peek at samples of the sweatshirt line we’re launching on the site next month! So so good, I literally can’t wait to get share them. Even better than my Aries Arise “Don’t Be Square” shirt (see main pic), which has become my standard book-writing attire (did I mention…?) Also, something strange. I’ve always been majorly selfie-averse (upcoming 40th birthday etc), but for some reason I had no qualms whatsever posting this “make-up free” pic today. It honestly feels like something has shifted in the way I see myself this past week. Again, I think I’ll blame / thank the TM.

:: FRIDAY ::
So this is the year I’m really, fully, embracing sobriety. Not in a total abstinence sense, more of a “this feels like the healthiest choice for me and actually it appears to be making me really happy” kind of way (p.s. I’m also working on a really exciting project to further this conversation – watch this space!) And so today I’m on my way to the left coast for…a sober Las Vegas weekend! I used to have this thing about certain destinations (Vegas, Ibiza) being off-limits if I wasn’t drinking, but how lame is that? I’m excited to see what the bright lights look like through the lens of absolute clarity. Oh and ALSO it means I’ll finally get to visit Vegenation – the downtown Vegas vegan joint I’m totally obsessed with on Instagram… #sobervegas!

Taco time at Vegenation

WHY TOO MUCH SOCIAL MEDIA IS BAD FOR THE SOUL

We know, we know…too much social media can be a recipe for the dreaded “compare & despair”. Life coach Lucy Sheridan shares why it’s so easy to fall for the filter factor, and how we can all fight back.

Supermodel selfies found on Harpers Bazaar

This NU digital age means it’s easy for us to take for granted the power at our fingertips and how technology can make our lives more streamlined, where before there might have been effort and chaos.

Increasingly though, the “power couple” that is technology and social media, presents an interesting and complex counter dynamic to the no-brainer benefits of the digital world.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I think social media is amazing. It’s one of the best ways to keep in the loop with people we know and love (and people we don’t for that matter – ex stalking, anyone?)

It feels like geography and time zones no longer matter. There’s the arrival of a baby in one feed, and a stack of amazing paleo pancakes in another. The significant and the small sit side by side as we consume the constant updates we allow to flood our lives.

We’re also more accessible than ever. I’ll bet you’ve been found by, and searched for, your school buddies from your distant past as well as that cool girl you sat next to at that workshop last weekend. These connections have evolved our networks and with this our feeds fill with more and more “news”.

The irony is that these increased connections can create a feeling of acute and uncomfortable separation. There’s a sense that there’s lots going on “over there”, and yet when we look at our own lives it’s crickets and tumbleweed.

Cue the “compare & despair” phenomenon that’s so aggressively on the rise.

We can’t all be Beyonce getting a private tour of the Louvre…

If you’re like me, you may have looked at your feeds and thought everyone is basically:

• Having loads of amazing sex
• Building businesses overnight
• Living more spiritually than Gabby B
• Raising beautiful, perfectly behaved vegan children
• Moving into a home from MTV Cribs (Google it kidz)
• Eating only the most delicious food in exclusive VIP restaurants
• Enjoying luxury as standard when it comes to going on vacay

I fell deep into a pit of compare & despair after a high school reunion a couple of years ago, when my online habits and perceived place in my digital world began to have serious effects on my offline life.

More and more I felt disconnected from other people and, more worryingly, from myself. And I was supposed to be the Zen “life coachy” one in my gang? Uh-oh #Fail and #FML.

In short, my ego had been having a field day fixating and obsessing over all the areas I appeared to be falling short.

According to my feeds I wasn’t thin enough, clever enough, entrepreneurial enough, interesting enough – basically, just not “enough”. How that ego magpie pecked away at my confidence.

But waking up to what I call the “filter factor” snapped me out of my downward spiral.

Miranda Kerr posts a selfie with her new diamond encrusted watch…

After sitting uncomfortably with my negative feelings, I realized I was as much a perpetrator as I was a victim. After all, if I was over-thinking the angle, tone and words to use in my posts, then surely others were too?

Starting to notice, hone in on and stare my insecurities in the face was a difficult but necessary process to free me from my distracted ego state and make friends with myself again.

For me, this meant tuning back into the things I’d found it all too easy to tune out – i.e. my spiritual practice, spoken conversations and daily non-events that actually kept me grounded and in tune with myself.

Real connection happens in the spaces between our online and offline lives. The moments with #nofilter, where the failures, the poor choices, and the average, regular days are. Where nothing that interesting happens, and yet you still smile at someone in the street, laugh at a joke you heard or move your bag to let someone sit down on the subway.

I may still apply ‘Amaro’ to all my Instagram pics to make my skin look awesome but, when I do, I know I’m consciously tinkering with what people will see on the surface…just like everyone else is.

Supermodel selfie found on Harpers Bazaar

Here are six things to think about when fighting the filter factor:

Life is not a zero sum game. That is, just because you see someone else winning or succeeding does not mean you’re missing out or failing. Trust that you’ll get back what you’re putting in, whether that’s your parenting style, yoga practice or the new blog you’ve started. Stay focused on your own goals and remember there’s more than enough success to go round!

You never know the full story. What we see posted on Facebook and other channels is a snapshot of a result and does not show the hard toil and ugly tears that are part of the process of success.

Fine is fine: Most of the time life is fine. Only fine – and that’s okay! I can’t remember the last time my Wednesday afternoons were particularly epic, amazing or unforgettable. They’re usually just…fine.

Reality can have bite. Sometimes I make a point of posting stuff about the little things that make a day extra fine. A chalk drawing on the pavement in a not-very-cool-part-of town, a feather landing at my feet or finding the EXACT change for the parking meter in my pocket. Those little wins are the ones the prove the Universe has your back, boo! You don’t need to dress them up – they’re beautiful in any light and happen much more regularly than you realize. Be brave and post those every day miracles on your social media.

The power of an actual digital detox. This doesn’t mean deleting your Facebook STAT. How about just turning down your exposure to what’s distracting you, and reframing how you use your time. For example, if you’re rocking up to a job you hate day after day, instead of just scrolling Twitter on your way, perhaps use your commute to search job sites or tweak your CV. Or even stare out the window and be present, giving yourself the gift of a peaceful moment to help you decide what you really want.

Go back to basics. A “like” here and a retweet there can make us feel present and included in the lives of those we love. In fact it’s easy to forget that feelings of real connection are created and nurtured face to face. Taking the time out to really connect with those you love – whether it’s a meet up planned nine months in advance or a Skype call at the weekend – you’ll not only get the big news first hand and in detail, but you’ll feel the love of supporting your friends on their journey and vice versa.

Lucy Sheridan is a Life Coach hell bent on helping Gen Y girls overcome the comparison caused by social media and get what they want OFF-line.  Find out more at www.proofcoaching.com

Facebook.com/ProofCoaching

Twitter & Insta: @lucysheridan

HOW DO I LOOK? BEFORE YOU GET BOTOX, READ THIS

This is the transcript of a conversation with magical energetic aesthetician Maureen Dodd that talked Ruby Warrington down from the Botox ledge. Literally. Until a few weeks later that is…but enlightenment is a work in progress, right?

“Botox is cheating yourself, not anybody else. There’s a way of seeing ourselves where we don’t even notice the little lines that’s completely different to what we’ve been taught. That’s what energy is. That’s what this new wave of consciousness that’s coming in is all about.

Beauty is different now. It’s not about how porcelain your skin is, it’s about seeing beyond the obvious to the true depths of beauty. We really are mystical creatures, and yet we keep defining ourselves by a three-dimensional image.

Do you ever meet people who are completely free of that, and who are just shockingly beautiful? Because in their presence you feel free of any external expectations. We all want our mother, husband or boyfriend to tell us we’re beautiful, and if you can see the divine beauty in everything, then everybody IS beautiful.

People who’ve had work look distorted – and it becomes addictive. It’s like drinking a cocktail to make you feel better, but what is the drinking fixing? Before you get Botox consider this – the fix has to come from within. If somebody feels beautiful, I guarantee they’ll look beautiful. That’s when it becomes a spiritual thing.

We limit our thinking about healing all the time, by not considering how it works on the grander, infinite scale. Do we really believe in our full potentiality? And it’s the same with beauty. Why would you judge yourself, or deflate yourself at any age? Where does that come from? The biggest evil in the world is how we belittle ourselves.

I think this hyper visual world we’re in is a phase, at some point we will all be asked to forget about these petty concerns and think about how we can come in with our full essence. Like what does it really mean to embody LOVE? It won’t be about how good you look in a selfie.

That’s all I’m interested in, the idea that we all realize we are all as valuable and beautiful as each other. Soon somebody will take it to the next level and end that conversation. In the meantime, it’s a total test. And glamour is also huge business. But it’s not reality, and a very small facet of humanity.

Fear of ageing is because mostly people are afraid of getting unhealthy and dying, because we all know that beauty comes from how you see yourself and not caring any more about what men, or other women, think. But embodying that really is a precarious little platform.

But just like you create any other success in life, you create it on the inside. I think the soul shines through regardless of what procedures you’ve had – it’s the soul that’s luminous and larger than the physical body, and somebody’s who’s really radiating light, body and soul, they’re ridiculously beautiful.

If you’re truly in love with yourself and your life, and God or whatever, you couldn’t possibly think you were anything less than beautiful. I’ve never once looked at my daughter and thought; “yuk!” – so why are we so hard on ourselves?

Sure it’s about eating right every day, relaxing, being purgative of all toxins. But essentially it’s about the relationship with yourself – there’s no escaping your face. Natural healing is always about a belief in something that’s untangible, surrendering to the idea that your body knows what to do if you can just get out of the way.

Our bodies can heal from open heart surgery, yet we don’t we believe we can get rid of a few little lines organically and deeply from inside…what’s wrong with us?

Botox is a little poisonous Band-Aid. It’s like being bitten by a snake. Beauty beyond Botox is about a complete shift, and lifting your consciousness to where everybody is beautiful. It’s about dropping narcissism, the self-obsession that goes beyond ordinary awareness and becomes distortion. Can’t you do something better with that energy?

Stop thinking about the way you look all the time and just actualize yourself beautiful. It’s like dressing up for Hallowe’en – just do it, just be it.

The whole Botox question become so silly when you think about just how magnificent we are – like, who cares about some lines on our face? Honest to God, what is wrong with us? What is that? Maybe it’s a calling to a higher level of consciousness. After all, life is full of initiations.”

Maureen Dodd is Director at Spiritual Wellness and Energy Therapies at The Ash Center.