Go go go. Hurry up. There is so much to see and do. And so little time. Keep up.

I have spent most of my life pushing, rushing, overcommitting, and spreading myself thin. Getting up early and staying up late. Not wanting to miss a thing, and believing in some part of me that if I could just add more accomplishments to my list, I’d feel better, safer, perhaps like I’d arrived.

But that’s not how it works.

Recently, at a Mama Chaos Club gathering (one of my favorite things!) we discussed the idea of slowing down.

Do nothing and everything will be done. – Lao Tzu

It is a scary concept for many of us. And I’ll be honest, I seem to be surrounded by high achievers with busy schedules who have big goals and lots on their plates. I like you! I do. And I think this conversation about slowing down is worth having.

What does it mean about who you are if you slow down? Think about it.

What does slowing down even mean?

  1. Step back. Take a breath.
  2. Say “no” more often.
  3. Be still and present with yourself for a moment (or two).
  4. Do things to feed your soul, not because there is a certificate or grade or accolades at the end. Do these things because they feed you.

Lao Tzu isn’t suggesting that we shut down, that we don’t set goals, that we let life pass us by. But instead, we can discern and go with the natural flow of things. Stop the glorification of busy. Smell the roses. Drink a cup of tea. Chew your food. Maybe even lie on the beach in the sun, drinking a piña colada, giving yourself time to think and write and rest and enjoy and create. Learn to be with still with yourself from time to time. Breathe. And learn to go with the flow.

The push, the rush, the overcommitment and overwhelm take their toll on our bodies, our relationships, and our hearts. This week, think about slowing down, giving your adrenal system a breather, and focus on being present. Report back on what you notice. I’d love to hear.

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Because seriously, who doesn’t want to feel sexy in their own glorious body? Who doesn’t want to radiate?

1. Be your own lover.

Whoa, now. Keep reading. What I’m talking about is genuine, unconditional self-love that requires an open heart. You’ve got to love yourself to let that sexy shine! So look yourself in the mirror and say “Amy, I love you!” Well, you know. Say your own name. Yes, talk to yourself. Do it. It’s good for you. It’s good for sexy. And you don’t need anyone else for this. It’s all you. Gettin’ real.

2. Drink water.

Water is cleansing, you know. It helps to make us shine. It keeps our insides functioning right and it makes our outsides reflect that truth. We need water for clear skin, bright eyes, and good energy. Drink up.

3. Eat your greens.

Do you have any idea how much your body loves greens? Wow. So much. It craves them. Greens are nutrient-dense foods that provide vibrant energy, vitamins and minerals, just the right amount of inner-exfoliation too, so once again our insides are happy and our outsides can reflect it.

4. Move your body.

Walk. Run. Bike. Yoga. Swim. CrossFit. Zumba. Spin. Ski. Dance. Wrestle. Thumb-wrestle if that’s all you can do. Wiggle and turn. Take the stairs. Move your body with joy. Celebrate the ways in which you move. Exercise is good for stress reduction — and that increases sexy right there. It helps with blood sugar regulation (avoiding mood swings which are decidedly unsexy) and decreasing risk of all sorts of unsexy diseases and aches and pains. Move with joy and increase the sexy.

5. Be kind.

Kindness is sexy. This doesn’t mean be a doormat. I once said that I liked a friend who was an asshole in all the right ways. (?!) What I meant was not that I think being a jerk is hot, but that I like chutzpah and guts and the willingness to put it all out there — all backed up by a big heart. You can be kind and driven at the same time. Bullying, posturing, ego-fueled behavior is not attractive in the bigger picture. We need warriors, and we need kindness. Strength and kindness are not mutually exclusive. The underlying kindness is what lends an action virtue when we’re talking about sexy.

Let me recap: Love yourself. Drink water. Eat your greens. Move your body. Be kind.

That there, my friend, is an excellent start. All of them doable today. And if you’re smiling right now… Boom. Bonus points. Well done. This is about you feeling good in your own body. When you feel good, you radiate. You feeling sexy is sexy. And the only opinion that really matters at all right now is yours.

XO

If you’re anything like me, you get messages every day telling you to be positive, find your gratitude, fake it ’til you make it, and use affirmations, affirmations, affirmations. I’ll be honest, I have done all of those things. I’m a big fan of gratitude. I am, by nature, quite positive. And I like affirmations. However, I think that there is something that we’ve often been afraid to face and honestly address.

In all of our efforts to improve, to be happier, healthier, better versions of ourselves, have we neglected the important process of honoring our feelings? Even the ones that we think aren’t so pretty?

I have a dear friend who recently discussed with me the issue of self-pity. Do you know what she decided she would do? Wallow.

Hold on now. Really? Isn’t that terribly self-indulgent? Isn’t that selfish? Isn’t that giving in to negativity and narcissistic, shallow behavior? Isn’t that a waste of time and energy? Isn’t that just attracting more negativity? The short answer is no. And here’s why. (This is the longer answer now.)

Suffering is a natural part of the human experience. We have become afraid of suffering. We don’t like to see it, acknowledge it, or feel it for the most part. But if we are honest, we all have suffering. It’s part of the lived human experience. It means we are alive. It means we are not machines. It means… we are real.

“Whether you like it or not, you are committed to the human endeavor. I cannot ally myself with such a purely negative goal as avoidance of suffering. Suffering is a chance you take by the fact of being alive.” -  William S. Burroughs, Letters to Allen Ginsberg, 1953-1957

So back to wallowing. I am not suggesting that you rant and vent all over social media, that you whine and complain and make your friends want to stab themselves in the ears with pencils to make.it.stop. I am not suggesting the spread of negativity. I am not suggesting that you berate yourself with negative self-talk. In fact, I strongly discourage that! What I am suggesting – and this is not a radical notion – is that you feel your feelings. Feel them! Under the convenient label “self-pity” are emotions with which you can get real. Let them move through you. Let your heart and body process emotions. It doesn’t have to be rational.

You can allow your intellect to inform your emotions but not deny them.

“But a mermaid has no tears, and therefore she suffers so much more.” – Hans Christian Anderson, The Little Mermaid

When you deny yourself the opportunity to feel your feelings, whether it’s because you’re scared of them, afraid of what others will think, concerned about your image, or trying to stay “positive” no matter the cost, you create blocks in your system. The flow has been stopped. It impacts all sorts of physiological functions. Stress increases. Cortisol levels rise. High cortisol levels make blood sugar balance nearly impossible. High cortisol and blood sugar imbalances affect sleep, mood, weight, neurological processes, etc. And these outcomes create their own kind of suffering that we are once again given the opportunity to address – or not. It can be a vicious cycle.

So you think it’s a good idea to feel your feelings. Really feel them. Not stuff them, try to run from them (which is impossible since they’re yours), or berate them for their mere existence. How do you do it without tumbling down the rabbit hole? You start with love and acceptance. It is okay that you feel whatever it is that you feel. Anger, sadness, jealousy, frustration, envy, the pain of loss, regret. I don’t want you to pretend you don’t. I want you to feel it. Get in there. Roll around in that shit. Get filthy. Because sometimes things do feel awfully disgustingly sucky. And just when you think you can’t get any dirtier, you can roll around some more. Look at the muck all over you. Notice. Feel. Be present.

Now here’s the most important part: Love yourself through the process.

Each step you’re taking here, each wiggle and squirm in the muck, every move is an act of self love, honoring the truth of your feelings. No matter how filthy it gets. Don’t worry; if you really own this process, you won’t want to stay dirty forever. If you do this from a place of love, you will find that at some point (often sooner than you’d think) you’re ready to crawl out of the muck, clean yourself off, and let all that darkness be washed away. It’s your choice. It’s always your choice. You’re emotions aren’t taking over. You’re processing them.

As you climb out of the Great Pit of Wallow, don’t feel like you have to make the shift immediately to Super Chipper Chipperton. Unless it’s genuine. Be honest. All you need to do is allow yourself to turn to something that feels a little better. Doesn’t need to be Best. Better will do just fine right now. From there you can choose something that feels a little better again. And again. And little by little, step by step, your positive feelings grow. Not because you denied anything or tried to cover anything up, swept it under the rug, or put on a happy face(mask), but because it’s how you really feel.

I believe that you can have the life you truly want. I do! With every cell of my being I believe it. I don’t believe that you or I can have it by denying, stuffing, or ignoring our emotions. Learn to work with them. Learn to let them flow THROUGH you. Learn from them. Acknowledge and honor them for the teachers that they are. And give yourself permission – as needed – to wallow. Do it with love. Do it with intention. Feel your feelings.

You are not weak because you acknowledge your own suffering. You are wise and strong, courageous and real. [Tweetable] This is life. By processing emotions – light and dark – we learn and grow. We learn about our own strengths and weaknesses, we develop greater compassion, and we deepen our connection to life.

Here’s to feeling our feelings, and to massive, Giganotasaurus Carolina sized self-love.

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