We hope this little post finds you well. As you'll see, it's a bit different from our usual newsletter. Every now and then, we like to take a step back from the whole selling part of shopkeeping and focus on the reason why we started this at all: to inspire the imagination and sense of femininity that we are all capable for, even if for a moment. We hope you can take such a moment to grab yourself a cup of tea or coffee and settle in for our first edition of the AV Gazette! Oh, and do give our playlist a listen while you read...we made it just for you!
Our focus this week is about inner patience and giving yourself permission to slow down. In a world focused on the hustle and daily grind, please remember to pause here and there and really experience the present moment. Sometimes the notion of even pausing can sound stressful when there's so much on the to-do list. This is our gentle way of saying, "What's the goal all about anyway, if you can't enjoy the journey achieving it?"
Let's begin to enjoy the journey, n'est pas? Start by giving yourself a pat on the back for being here. We are so thankful to have you as part of the AV community and the world at large. You are seen, heard, and loved. Now, indulge in a long, flowing breath. Inhale to the point of dropping your diaphragm so your belly pushes out. Roll your head around on your shoulders and give your spine a good stretch. Make a silly face, no one is watching!
Focus on what you have at present. Are you familiar with the 5-4-3-2-1 mindfulness exercise? It goes like this: count the things around you that enrich your life just by existing. 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you smell, and 1 thing you can taste. Adjust the numbers around to suit your ability and comfort needs. This is a great way to give yourself a break from the constantly running list of tasks that need to get done.
How Do You Slow Down?
The Gals at AV chime In...
Rodellee: Admittedly slowing down is something I struggle with. My mind can get distracted by all the pretty beautiful things in the world and along with that I operate the helm of savadyblog, quieting my thoughts is not easy for me to do and to be quite honest being still for too long makes me a bit antsy. Sometimes I'm burning both ends of the candle and won't even realize it until my health rings out a panic signal. I'm probably mesmerized by the way the flames are flickering or how shadows dance against the walls...see squirrel brain for all the pretty things. The invitation to slow down does make me want to roll my eyes just a little because I'm a busy gal dagnabbit! I gots things to do and stories to tell... so when I SLOW DOWN, when I remember to or when all of a sudden I've realized I'm a wound up stress ball, is to BREATHE. Properly breathe because up until 6 months ago, I was apparently doing it WRONG. My massage therapist told me I didn't know how to breathe properly and it is because as a once-upon-a-time-ballerina, I was taught to hold in my core, so I breathed from my chest and not my stomach. To breathe properly when you draw a deep breath in, your stomach should pooch out. Practicing this for the first few weeks made me feel a bit like a slob to be honest. But oh my goodness, the lungful of air I could draw in and the way my shoulders would naturally draw back and go down because I was breathing properly... an amazing feeling. So when things get a bit too rushed, and when I notice it's going to fast (and my mind can gallop pretty fast!), I remember to breathe. 5 Deep, Slow Breaths. And for the moments after my breaths, things seem to slow to a standstill and the world around me sharpens once again.
Andy: I have always considered myself the master of multi-tasking. Not only am I skilled at always finding another chore to complete, but I also feel a great amount of joy from staying busy. However, sometimes I bite off more than I can chew and I find myself in the regrettable situation of having too much to do in very little time. Yes, I am that friend who agrees to getting together, even though I have four other commitments that day. And yes, I do know it's obnoxious when I end up having to cancel our plans, but I promise I had every intention of spending time with you (sorry). It is in these moments that I find myself longing to pack my suitcase and go on an adventure. For example, today I imagine myself running around on the Cliffs of Moher. The image of me in my lace up boots and wool sweater is so vivid that I can almost smell the lingering scent of sea salt in my hair. Unfortunately, due to prior commitments and lack of financial resources, I will not be traveling to Ireland anytime soon. And by now I have wasted 45 minutes of my precious time searching cheap airline tickets... What these day dreams tell me is that what I truly need is to be in the great outdoors. Did you know that it is scientifically proven that spending at least 20 minutes outside will reduce levels of stress and anxiety? Just 20 minutes! Can you believe that?! That is such a small amount time for how beneficial the outcome is. Recently, I have tried to incorporate walks into my daily routine. Whether I am working at the studio or in the middle of a weekend cleaning spree, I make an effort to step out the front door and breathe in fresh air. I also try and reduce any distractions during this time. I leave my phone at home and walk alone so that I can organize my thoughts. However, sometimes I will bring my dog with me, because to be honest...nothing makes me happier than seeing her stupid smiling face.
Devon: I've always been an ardent fan of relaxation, but have found myself spinning more plates than I'm used to in this past year. Because I pursue several artistic projects at once in addition to work, I've had to learn (the hard way) that my brain can only focus on so many things at once before I burnout and retreat to general malaise that can be difficult to shake off. I want to give 100% to every endeavor I take on, but I've had to accept that it's an ongoing compromise, I can't give all of myself to everything. I've learned it's OK to ask for help, and thus help others by communicating my feelings when the going gets rough or even when everything's peachy, just so there's no wondering on anyone's part. Usually, communicating my needs translates to "I just need to be alone", but not in an unhealthy, self-isolating way. I think it can be too easy for myself to show up for others to the point of neglecting myself, so taking time to sit alone and reflect on recent events, dreams, questions left unanswered has become an important moment to claim a few times a week. I turn the kettle on, slip into some 1930s silky bits like a pajama set or nightgown, light candles, and journal while the water boils. I select my favorite antique cup and saucer of the day and practice the ritual of enjoying a perfect cup of tea. The steam rises and warms my cheek as I smell the brewing mixture of rose petals and black tea one day, chamomile and lavender the next. Oh, and 8 hours of sleep, 50+ oz of water throughout the day, taking my vitamins and putting in a couple stretches or sit-ups here and there never hurts either.
Nora: When I was younger my mom used to pick me up from kindergarten and ask the teachers how my day was. If the teachers said I was a little withdrawn or quieter and not as bubbly and happy as I usually was, then my mother knew exactly how the rest of the day was going to go. We would return home, and I would rush upstairs to immediately organize my stuffed animals and other toys that I had strewn around my room. I do not have any memory of this, and was only told this years later when my mom and I were discussing healthy coping mechanisms and go-to self care routines when life gets stressful. However, to this day, I still clean and organize my home when I am feeling down or stressed out. To me, these tasks not only allow me to get out of my head and do something else for a moment. But I also believe it helps cut back on general stress because I don't have to worry about a messy home when I come home from a long day. Over the years I have also added in some routines to help me from getting to the point of stress cleaning. Precautions, if you will. When I recognize that I need a moment to slow down, my biggest priority is to journal. I find a quiet space in nature, or a comfy chair inside to pour all my thoughts out of my head and onto paper. The whole ritual is therapeutic to me- I practice deep self awareness, unedited honesty with myself, and slow breathing. Even if I only spend 10 minutes journaling I can always notice a significant change in my mood. I can once again allow myself to show up for all of life's twists, turns, and grand surprises.
How to Breathe Properly
It may seem simple, but hear us out...
1. Use Your Nose. The nostrils filter, warm, and humidify air in a way that the mouth can not.
2. And Your Belly. The major muscle that sits above your stomach, the diaphragm will contract, you lungs will fill, and your belly will push out. If this is difficult, place your hand on your belly and practice breathing until your hand moves forward and back with your breath.
3. Don't Overthink It. The body is made to do this! Allow yourself a minute of intentional breathing at least once a day.
Put It Into Practice: Thoughtfulness Basket
It's one thing to tell yourself "I need to slow down and just relax" and another to actually do it. Where do you even start? How about with a simple collection of a few treasured items that bring you peace? It could be your favorite scented candle, a lucky penny, or that rock you found on the shores of a distant country during travels long ago. It's a basket (or box, cookie tin, tupperware, what have you) that is your go-to kit for sinking into a more restful, contemplative state of being. Keep it close by, wherever you feel most comfortable in your home. The purpose behind this little project is to create an assembly of things that hold special meaning for you and can instantly inspire a peaceful and imaginative moment.
What you need
- Find a basket. We love thrifting baskets from local resale shops, especially since the older ones are woven to be sturdy and everlasting, and can surprise you with the most charming and unique designs. Make sure it's big enough to hold a few books and small objects, while not too deep to lose things in.
- Fill your basket with your favorite book or two, a journal for keeping your thoughts, a couple of pens and colored pencils, a candle with a fresh scent that inspires the senses, essential oil of lavender to relax our eucalyptus to wake up, and a piece of nature like dried flowers or seashells to touch for a connection to nature.
- Keep your basket close to your bedside, by your favorite arm chair, near the window with a fresh breeze and soft light. Wherever in your home that you feel most yourself and at peace, practice thoughtfulness there.
We hoped you liked this bit of reading, different from our usual new arrivals posts. At AV, it's not always about pushing out products to sell. We like to practice what we preach, which is living the life you always imagined. And if you're an AV girl, that probably includes dancing through swaying fields of tall grass, pressing flowers, and enjoying the company of those you love in beautiful settings. However, life isn't always roses and it's important to be patient with yourself and remember that chasing one's dreams is the experience, the journey, and not just the result. Take a deep breath, and hold value in the little moments you can create for yourself.
How do you practice self-care and slowing down?
Do respond to this post by leaving a comment and let us know if you found this Gazette valuable. Perhaps even include other topics you would like for us to discuss or maybe you just want to let us know you took time, even 5 mins, for yourself to breathe and slow down.
Les Femmes AV