Mental Health Toolkit: How To Balance Self-Care and Community Care.

Mental Health Toolkit: How To Balance Self-Care and Community Care.

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I just got home from a trip to LA where I got to see my family — parents, brother, sister-in-law, nephew, grandparents, aunts, uncles….some of whom I hadn’t seen for over two years (which is very out of the ordinary for me).

My grandparents, who are thriving in their 80th decade, were an especially special visit. They’re a part of the WANT community, too. You might even be reading this right now because they sent you a link to sign up. They’re definitely reading this right now (hi, Nana and Papa Ronny!).

As some of WANT’s biggest superfans, they always love asking about not only my work, but about YOU.

They can’t believe how many amazing human beings I’ve been fortunate enough to meet, virtually or IRL, because of WANT. They want to know how we find each other, how we know each other, where you’re from, what it is you love, everything.

It’s pretty incredible that we’re able to talk the ins and outs of a career and community that primarily exist in the digital space without missing a beat. (My grandfather was actually the very first person to introduce me to The Internet back in 1990/91 — any of my ’80s-millennials-and-older remember Prodigy?!) They understand what I do, they understand how we connect…

…and, they understand the immense amount of energy it takes to be your own boss, publicist, creative director, editor, assistant, and team.

(kidding with this one. kinda. while i love and honor my weekends most of the time, i also sometimes get into habits of working too often during them and end up feeling very much like this.)

 

A few months back, I shared with you a post I wrote about creating a Joy Tab — a list of things to help you turn the focus back on your self after being others-focused for so long.

When I shared it, I got so many of you sending emails to me, echoing what I’d expressed in my post: I’d been so caught up in trying to be of service to others over the last few months, that the only “self-care” I was doing was the stuff that would just keep me afloat.

Sleep. Water. Movement. Food.

I, and you, needed to get back in touch with what was needed on a solo level.

Fast forward a few months, and I found myself in the exact opposite position.

I had gotten so self-focused that I felt disconnected from others.

On a personal level, I leaned so heavily into self-care that I began to fear the absence of it (a faint echo of the old disordered tendencies of my 20s, ones I do NOT want to ever go back to).

On the professional level, I felt such intense anxiety (as the one building, navigating, and steering her own ship) that I’d spend my days spiraling about work I was stressed about, spend my nights staying up mega-late finishing the work I spent the day stressing about, and wake up completely wiped the next day.

And the cycle would repeat.

What I realized is that this time around, I didn’t need a Joy Tab to help me focus on myself. I needed a Connection Tab to help me focus back on others.

Because here’s the thing:

As humans, we aren’t meant to be fully self- or others-focused.

You can tell just by practicing a fake conversation with yourself: imagine talking to someone and all you say is “I, me, mine, my”…..or, on the flipside, you deflect any question about yourself and only say “you, yours, they, theirs.”

It feels icky, right?

That’s because when you only focus on ONE, you either create distance between you and others, or between you and your SELF.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and while I believe it’s an important conversation at ALL times, it’s particularly important this month of this year, when we’re actively creating a new normal that’s ACTUALLY new…instead of the old patterns that weren’t working in the first place.

A healthy human, in relationship with herself OR with others, is meant to have balance when it comes to what and who gets our attention. We must practice self-care and community care.

And so, as a Mental Health Awareness Month gift, I created a free SELF-CARE + COMMUNITY CARE (or JOY TAB + CONNECTION TAB) Toolkit just for you. Click here to download it.

One last thing about my time with my grandparents.

During the course of our lunch together last Wednesday, during a trip in which I was so thrilled to put my self-focus on pause for a few days and soak in some community-focused time, my grandfather asked me a question: How do you decide to write the things you write, and speak about the things you speak about? (my Papa Ronny is the master of open-ended questions.)

I laughed as I told him: 

“I wish I had a more exciting answer to give you, but the truth is, it’s just how my chatty, highly sensitive brain works.”

A few days later, upon reflection, I now think that’s just one part of the answer.

Yes, my brain is always going a mile a minute and always has this “Clarissa Explains It All”-style monologue going on (with the volume all the way up).

But the other part of the equation is YOU. 

I don’t believe I am alone.
I don’t believe any of us are.

Maybe I’m the one with this specific platform and this specific voice, but my experiences are NOT unique. 

I know this because of talking to you. Reading YOUR posts on social media. Emailing YOUR inbox and DMing back and forth on YOUR platforms. Learning from YOUR words. What my chatty, highly sensitive brain tells me is so similar in many ways to what your chatty, highly sensitive brain tells you.

But/and, different.

And THAT is why we should not, cannot, and MUST not ever be 100% self-focused or 100% others-focused, and why we must create systems and strategies for ourselves to regain a unique-to-us balance of the two when we lean too far in one direction or the other.

Because both focuses have important lessons to teach us, questions to ask us, and ways to relate. We will not find every answer we need in others. And, contrary to a lot of pop culture self-helpy advice, we will not find every answer we need in ourselves either.

The key is curiosity.

Sometimes we need to get curious about ourselves; sometimes we need to get curious about others.

But make no mistake: there is gold both inside and outside us all.

Holding Onto Keys.

Holding Onto Keys.

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Two weeks ago, I finally turned in the keys to our old studio apartment. Keys I should have turned in weeks ago. We had a month’s worth of a lease overlap and so I held on because…well, because.

Because I have a tough time letting go.

Because I struggle moving on from things that are great.

Because I thought maybe if I could hold on a little longer I could preserve all the goodness that was brought to life in those minimal square feet. As if that goodness was fleeting.

For those new here: my husband, pup and I spent all of 2020 in a 470 sq ft box in the Manhattan sky (aka studio apartment). And then two years before that. I was so skeptical this would work and thought it would be a relationship disaster. But Jeremy insisted, and he’s got a great track record (he’d found our last two apartments before this, both of which I adored), so I figured I’d humor him and stick it out a year.

But joke’s on me, because not only did it become my favorite apartment I’ve ever lived in, but it was the place our relationship has grown/thrived the most. And that’s mostly because it’s where WE have grown/thrived the most.

And I think that by holding onto the keys, I’ve been harboring some fear that maybe we’ll go backwards.

This has shown up in other aspects of my life, too. Avoiding anywhere that requires a substantial subway trip, out of fear I’ll get back into a routine of over-scheduling myself. Staying

What I’ve learned I need to learn, over and over and over again, is that stories don’t end just because a chapter’s been read.

Stories don't end just because a chapter's been read. Click To Tweet

Every event I’m going to be doing for quite some time will be centered, in some way, around creating YOUR New Normal. A New Normal that isn’t just soul-filling, but actually sustainable. Moving forward into it fearlessly, with your fear less than your faith. Where you’re not clinging desperately to what was out of fear of what could be.

There is no “back to normal” because there is no “back to” anything.

It’s all about creating what’s next, and next, and next. As the saying goes, “Anything that’s meant to be yours cannot be taken away.” And also, as the saying goes, “Don’t look back; you’re not going that way.”

As for our apartment? We’ve got 1 year in this new home of ours, then onto (hopefully) a more long-term place to nest. I’m beginning to embrace the idea that all the transformation that’s transpired for me over the last year-plus is now a part of me. My surroundings might change, my days might look different, but what’s mine is mine for keeps.

And, there’s so much good ahead.

I don’t want to spend this next year so busy longing for a chapter I’ve already read that I miss the one unfolding in front of me right now.

And so. Onward


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Reminder: Create A Normal That’s Actually New.

Reminder: Create A Normal That’s Actually New.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

“Monday morning, indoor group fitness opens back up in NYC!”

I saw the news headlines plastered all over my friends’ social media timelines, celebratory emojis abound. Not soon thereafter, the emails started rolling in.

As a group fitness instructor for the last almost-14 years, I’ve become intimate and familiar with the so-called “hustle.” The early morning, the late nights, the laughable pay (I once taught at a studio where one person showed up, and I got paid per head, so I made a whole $3 for that class), the long commutes. Teaching through sickness, through injury, through life crisis because you can’t find a sub. 

Not to say that’s all it’s been. Far from it. There are many reason why I’ve prioritized it over the years, and why I’ve stuck with it even when I wasn’t making enough to cover a gallon of gas: the community, the people, the way you’re able to make massive shift happen within a span of 45 minutes that lasts long after your heart rate has settled down.

Pre-2021, I probably would have been thrilled by all the emails rolling in talking about reopening. But this time, this year, in 2021, that was not the case. Anxiety hit. Hard.

I knew. And when I finally did get on that bike for my very first class back, my suspicions were confirmed.

I am not the same person as when I last got up on that bike.

~

This isn’t a post about group fitness at all, and it’s not about the safety logistics of “opening up.” This is about going Back To Normal. 

My experience teaching spin classes over the last two weeks since reopening has been great. Supportive managers, grateful class members, intimate classes of no more than 6. 

And. I am not the same. I can already tell that I lead differently. I facilitate a different experience. I imagine that when I go back to IRL speaking engagements, I’ll have a similar reaction. How ironic that it took the absence of pressure from weekly “stage time” — whether on a conference stage giving a keynote or a spin podium coaching through a breathless push — to feel as if I’ve finally found my voice all over again.

My experience has been one of a multitude of examples thus far in which I feel as if I’m going back in time and seeing my life through a sliding-doors lens, being given an opportunity to take one path instead of the other.

Maybe you feel it, too. Going places you haven’t been for a year and realizing you’ve changed but they haven’t. Being asked questions you would have answered with an emphatic YES or hard NO before, now bringing you hesitation and pause.

A transition has been brewing over the last year+ and can now FEEL everything starting to bubble to the surface. It’s incredible and terrifying at the same time. Because now, right now, in this moment, we get to choose our true New Normal.

Restrictions are lifting in more areas, vaccines are being rolled out in more places, and for some, life is beginning to look more “normal” than it has in 12 months.

My fear is that people will be so eager to “get back” to how things “once were” that they’ll forget all those moments over the last year that made them realize that “how-things-once-were” was, in a multitude of ways, NOT working.

I do not want to buy into the so-called “hustle.” I want to define my own success.
I do not want to say YES when I mean NO. I want to say YES when it means YES and NO when it means NO.
I do not want to distract myself into perpetuity anymore. I want to always be paying close attention.
I do not want trust without truth. I want truth, then trust.
I do not want an existence made of checked boxes. I want a life lived outside the lines that we’re told give it shape.
I want rest.
I want contemplation.
I want deeper conversations and holding someone to their word.
I want racial and gender equity.

I want evolution.
I want forward motion.

This past year has presented us with so many lessons to learn and unlearn. So many systems to dismantle and truths to face about our world, and about ourselves.

And here’s the kicker: they’re not new.

These aren’t new lessons and systems and truths. The difference is that this time, weren’t “too busy” or “too distracted.” We were sitting down and paying attention.

And I worry about our collective attention span dwindling and going back to the way things were.

Don’t let it happen.

Journal about it all (What’s Your Story? by Rebecca Walker and Lily Diamond is a great place to start. I truly will never ever stop recommending this book). Keep talking about what you’re learning. Keep evaluating and re-evaluating the systems and structures in your life.

Keep reading. Keep getting involved. Keep setting boundaries. Keep speaking up.

Identify the kind of life you want to live and the kind of person you want to be and make it happen.

Do not forget.
Do not stop doing the work.

Don’t go back to normal.
Create an entirely new one.
One that serves us all.

How To Be Fearless. (plus…we’re on CNN!)

How To Be Fearless. (plus…we’re on CNN!)

Body Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration Tips + Tools

FEARLESS = FEAR < FAITH (or, “Fearless” is when the fear is less than the faith) was an equation I stood behind long, long before this past year.

But March 2020-March 2021 made me realize how vital it truly is to maintaining a sense of self-assuredness WITHOUT abandoning your very real responses to very real crises.

That’s why when CNN asked me “What’s a lesson you’ve learned during the pandemic that could help women in the year ahead?” my answer was a no-brainer.

True fearlessness is when the fear you have of a situation is less than the faith you have in YOURSELF.

I’d never advise anyone to write over their fear. That’s not how to be fearless. Whenever I hear people say things like “I choose not to live in fear,” I take a deep breath. Not only is that phrase one of my biggest spiritual bypassing/self-gaslighting pet peeves, it makes me so sad to think that somewhere down the line, whoever is saying that phrase has been made to believe that fear is not only a choice, but a “wrong” choice that must be locked away.

Lowering your fear is super hard for a reason. Fear is like an inner security guard: it just wants to keep you safe.

But upping your faith in yourself? That’s a different story.

Fear and faith can/should coexist. It’s what can help do everything from take the next smallest proactive step forward, to not giving up on yourself, to just getting out of bed in the morning.

I have faith that…

…I can brush my teeth.
…I can cook myself a meal.
…I can write something that means something.
…I can think and feel deeply.
…I can gift myself a good night’s sleep.

These are the types of things that have gotten me through my darkest days over the last year. Seriously.

Every tiny thing you have faith in – notice it. It counts. List out the reasons you already have to have faith in who you are. And slowly, the fear-to-faith scales start to tip from the fear over to the faith. That’s what can actually make a difference in the long run, and make you believe there’s more out there for you than just fear alone.

WATCH IT HERE.

BIG BIG gratitude to CNN for including me in this campaign alongside some of my role models, like Padma Lahkshmi, Malala Yousafzai, Lori Gottlieb, and more. 

Also grateful for what’s an important thought-starter for us all:

What are some lessons you’ve learned over the last year that could help others – or future YOU – navigate the year ahead?

 

The Joy Tab.

The Joy Tab.

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You:
How Are You, Really?

Me:
Last Saturday I hit a breaking point. Or whatever you want to call those moments these days where it just all feels like too much and not enough simultaneously. A vortex of feeling. A black hole of numbness. No tears though. Vortexes suck up tears and numbness doesn’t cry.

I confided to Jeremy that I felt as if the only times I’m truly happy lately are when I’m 1- singing, 2- running, or 3- all doing something together as a family unit (walking, drinking coffee on the couch, watching a movie). All the other times felt…anesthetized. This, I said, made me so sad. Not the feelings themselves (or lack thereof), but the ratios.

And he said: well that makes sense. You’ve spent almost an entire year just focused on how you can help everyone else. It makes sense that the things that fill you up are when you’re totally and completely self-focused.

Oh.

It’s true. Since March 2020, I’ve been switched onto Helper Mode. Personally and professionally. This is not a complaint. Rather, a recognition. My work is completely focused on helping other people through their tough stuff. Always has been. My personal motto (or one of them, along with such phrases as “don’t not give a fuck, just give selective fucks”) is one passed down to me by my high school theater teacher; that whenever you walk into a room the first thing you do is ask “what can I do to help?” Heck, it’s even in my astrological chart and Human Design and enneagram and all that stuff. Being of service is in me on a cellular level. And as entrepreneur Gloria Atamno says, it’s not always an easy task to separate the change you wish to make and what you actually carry the responsibility for – especially for those who feel like it’s their life’s assignment and calling to make that change.

All this focus on others honestly wouldn’t be as much of an issue if I was doing more than the bare minimum to keep mySELF afloat – which is exactly what I’ve been doing. I’m usually someone whose energetic balance is worked into her daily life. It’s not just happenstance – I’ve spent almost two decades carefully crafting my days when and where I can to make sure I get solo time amidst the cacophony that is life. I thought ‘d figured out my formula.

But without commutes, social plans, small talk with the barista at the coffee shop, random trips to the drugstore (because I’m sure I need something, I’ll think of it later), and the predictable everydayness that was life before March, I’ve been way off balance for far too long. My scales (Libra here!) have been askew for almost a year.

~

A healthy human, in relationship with herself OR with others, is meant to have balance when it comes to what and who gets our attention. We’re not MEANT to be 100% self-focused or 100% other-focused constantly – we need to be both.

And yet the last year has held many of us in one lane or the other:

Maybe you’ve been SELF-focused: doing things to keep yourself decent, hopeful, and well – tipping the scales toward the Self not because you’re arrogant or believe others don’t deserve these things too, but because you feel the most primary and urgent needs are your own. If you don’t take care of yourself, there’s no way you can take care of others. A beautiful sentiment besides the fact that, while feeling decent, hopeful, and well, you also end up feeling lonely and disconnected from others.

Or maybe you’re like me and you’ve been OTHER-focused: doing things to keep others decent, hopeful, and well – tipping the scales toward the Other not because you believe you’re undeserving of these things yourself, but because you feel the most primary and urgent needs are out there in the community and world. We create the world we want to live in. A beautiful sentiment besides the fact that, while feeling decent, hopeful, and well about others, you also end up feeling burnt out and disconnected from yourself.

I do NOT want to tip the scales so far in one direction that I lose sight of the other, nor do I want to dim or blur my focus on others just to give myself some TLC. Again, keeping my Others-focus sharp is important to my DNA. I just need to sharpen my focus on myself in the meantime.

So what’s helping me (or at least what I HOPE will help me this month, I’m still working on this) is keeping a JOY TAB.

A list of 10 blank boxes and fill-in-the-blank spaces, to-do list style, to check off per week with things that bring ME joy. A list of suggestions and Common Joy-Bringers at the top, then space for me to fill in the blanks.

Maybe you’re the opposite, though. You feel like you’ve spent so much time and energy isolated and trying to keep yourself satisfied/decent/hopeful/well that you rarely do anything that truly connects you to others in a way that feels meaningful to you that helps you focus on others AS you continue to focus on yourself.

For that I’d suggest the same convention, but with a twist. A CONNECTION (or COMMUNITY or SERVICE TAB (pick the word that feels right to you). 10 blank boxes and fill-in-the-blank spaces, to-do list style, to check off per week with things that serve someone else or connect you with others.

I picked 10 per week because I like the idea of more than one thing a day. I personally need a lot more Self-oriented joy in my life. Also, I didn’t assign a specific number per DAY because I slip. Some days I don’t do anything that brings me joy that’s all my own — but days are long, so if I skip a day, I can surely find something to do to double up on another day. This ALSO makes me feel less guilty for spending “time on myself” when the guilt bug starts to bite (again – for you the feeling might be different).

Want your own Joy and Connection Tab templates? Click below to download:

To be honest with you, I stopped asking people “How Are You” long ago. Because I noticed that the default answer is usually “fine.” Even when people aren’t. We’re so pre-programmed to hear THAT question and give THAT answer that when people actually want to know how we are, we end up dismissing a chance for real connection, real emotion, and just real REALness beyond the perfunctory response. “Fine,” to me, is an answer you give when you give when you don’t want to talk about something. Or when you’ve had so many people in your past try to fix you that you just don’t want to get into it. Or, more commonly, an answer you give as a courtesy to someone else you figure is just asking you How You Are because it’s the polite thing to do. Nice, not kind.

And that, to me, is a shame. That we’re so used to equating the question “How Are You” with something either negative or obligatory that we just give the easiest answer that’ll stop the conversation soonest.

So, yeah, I’m not fine. And no, you don’t need to try and fix it. Because since I’m able to identify why exactly it is that I’m not fine — because I know your heart, and I trust that when you asked me How Are You, Really you actually wanted to dive into the deep end with me — I feel confident in being able to move through it. I’ve been here before, I’ll be here again. What’s going to make this time different?

 


WANT YOUR SELF:
What are some things that bring you JOY? What are some things that make you feel more CONNECTED TO others?
Can you make these suggestions for your future-self to take advantage of, for those times you’re looking to balance your scales?

Introducing THE WANT COMMUNITY: A Membership To Make Shift Happen

Introducing THE WANT COMMUNITY: A Membership To Make Shift Happen

Community Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools

Big announcement…

WE HAVE A FREAKIN’ OFFICIAL COMMUNITY!!!!!!!!

(Please excuse the all-caps shout. This has been so very long in the making, and I reserve the right to shout with glee from the internet-rooftops.)

THE WANT COMMUNITY is exactly what I envisioned for WANT when I dreamed it up back in 2007: it’s a place to shift your self talk, build a positive mindset, and make a lasting impact by being the you you know you’re meant to be.

WHAT IS THE WANT COMMUNITY?

We’re a members-only club by women, for women that gives you empowerment, encouragement, resources + support to shift your self-talk – not just from negative to positive, but from reactive to proactive.

WHY SHOULD I JOIN THE WANT COMMUNITY?

Well, I believe that you deserve to be the You you know you’re meant to be…and you deserve to be surrounded by the kind of support + encouragement that makes you believe it’s possible to THRIVE being that person. TWC is where you go to build positive habits, self-confidence, and self-worth for the long run – and where you connect with fellow community members to put all that confidence to good use out in the world.

WHAT WILL I GET BY JOINING THE WANT COMMUNITY?

⚡️ WANT Your Self Today deliveries: Bite-sized pep-talks, prompts, and pieces of inspiration “From Your Self” (😊) in your inbox M-F

⚡️ Weekly WANT Challenges + Prompts: community prompts in the private clubhouse to make shift happen in both your world and the world

⚡️ Monthly Virtual Meetups: including Q+A sessions, mini-workshops, panels, workouts, guest speakers, community happy hours, office hours, and more

⚡️ WANT Your Self Quarterly: A digital mini ‘zine delivered to your internet door 4xs a year containing community updates, member spotlights, notable TWC Wins, and more

⚡️ Our Private Community Board: This is my favorite part. Connect, cheer on, and bond with other TWC members. Download the app (WE’RE ON AN APP, and it’s not owned by Facebook! 🤯) to stay connected wherever you go!

…and more.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO JOIN THE WANT COMMUNITY?

Because “doable” looks different for everyone, we’ve got 3 pricing options to choose from, starting at $4.99/month. All plans are identical, and you can change at any time

Interested? Click below:

 

I cannot WAIT to get to know you better in The WANT Community — and, maybe even moreso, I cannot wait for you to meet EACH OTHER. You’re gonna love each other.

LET’S MAKE SHIFT HAPPEN.

Meet you in TWC!