Self Care: What it is and how to do it

Self Care: What it is and how to do it

A few years ago, the concept of self care was foreign to me. Work was all consuming. If I wasn’t working, I felt guilty. If I felt tired, I would simply push myself through the uncomfortableness. The only time I allowed myself to rest was when I passed out. And eventually I crashed, hard, in the form of a nervous breakdown. Some of us are just so stubborn that the Universe intervenes and forces us to listen. That’s me. I’m some of us.

The message was loud and clear: Self care actually keeps your batteries charged. Imagine driving your car without stopping for gas, or bringing it in for an oil change or a tune up. Those time outs for repair are what keep the car running. Without it, you’ll find yourself broken down on the side of the road. Our bodies work the same way. Whether it’s your muscles or your brain, we need time to recoup the energy we’ve exerted out into the world. Self care is how we keep going.

“There is one thing that must be understood: self care is about you, not anyone else.”

It doesn’t surprise me that I’m not the only one who had trouble understanding the concept of self care. Society demands so much from us. School, work, partnership, children, and family are priorities in most people’s lives. Sometimes those priorities become overwhelming and it’s easy to forget about ourselves. These are the times we must stop and think: What good am I if I run myself into the ground?

Self care comes in many forms. But there is one thing that must be understood: self care is about you, not anyone else. Self care is not doing something someone else wants to do. Self care is not putting your needs aside to take care of someone else. Self care is about your needs.

Self care is saying no to someone else when you already have plans for yourself. If you’ve started running a bath, and your partner or child calls for you to do something, you have the right to say no. You have the right to take that hour to just be without interruption. Unless there’s fire, flood or blood, there’s no need for you to stop what you’re doing. It can wait.

Same goes for plans. It’s true that some occasions call for you to suck it up and go, especially if it’s important to a loved one. But there is a line to be drawn. There is no reason to put yourself in a bad predicament for someone else’s enjoyment. Bad predicaments can be financially, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. If you don’t have money, don’t go. If you have work tomorrow and missing it would severely hurt your financial situation, don’t go. There is a measure of guilt, but at the end of the day, you’ll feel good about making the choice that was right for you.

“There is no reason to put yourself in a bad predicament for someone else’s enjoyment.”

Which brings me to my next point. Don’t wait around for someone to do things with. Trust me, I know it’s frustrating to always be alone. But it’s even more aggravating when you sit around wasting precious time you could’ve been using to do the things that you love. Whether that’s hiking, seeing a movie, eating out, or going to a museum or gym, it’s important that you don’t neglect yourself just because no one else in your life is interested in the same activities.

Take time for yourself while making your priorities a priority. This means getting your work done when it’s supposed to be done and not waiting until the last minute which results in a half ass product, or no product at all. Many people love to self sabotage with procrastination. All this does is continue a cycle of shame and guilt that keeps you locked in a cage of self hate.

You might lie to yourself and claim that trip or that date was necessary, but when it detracts from the goals you set for yourself all it becomes is a distraction. Putting in work to reach your goals builds self esteem and confidence. Neglecting responsibilities only drags you into despair.

“We are responsible for the choices we make.”

There are two polar opposites: those who give themselves too much, and those who deny themselves of everything. Neither one of these choices are healthy. An excess of anything is unhealthy. Someone or something is always on the hurt end of the stick. Whether it’s your credit, your parent’s retirement fund, or your goals, excessiveness will catch up eventually. Spending money on trips, clothes, and other experiences are nice and provide us with a sense security and well roundedness. Yet when it’s done to such excess that it negatively affects our day to day lives, the fun and niceties have become a problem.

On the other hand, making yourself a martyr and denying yourself any pleasures is just as bad and is no doubt hurting you. Making yourself a martyr breeds resentment. Eventually, this resentment is directed toward your kids, your spouse, or whoever it is you feel you have to deny yourself for. At the end of the day though, it’s more than likely no one asked you to forgo every little luxury. We are responsible for the choices we make. The key is to find a healthy balance.

Maybe you can’t afford much, but if none of your clothes fit, is it really going to break the bank to spend less than $50 on a pair of pants at Target or a thrift store? Giving ourselves what we need, be it a pair of pants, higher education, or a spa day, it necessary for our ultimate fulfillment so we can be our best selves for the ones we love.

Whether it’s saying yes to more things, or saying no, it all starts with acknowledging what you need.”

So do yourself a favor, and take a deep breath in and slowly let it out. Know that no one is perfect and we are all spiritual beings having a human experience. We are here to learn, not have it all figured out. There’s a great deal of self control that comes with self care. Wherever you fall on the self-care spectrum, know that you have the power to balance it out and bring stability into your life.

Whether it’s saying yes to more things, or saying no, it all starts with acknowledging what you need. Be honest with yourself about what you really want, then take that first step. Once you do, you’ll be empowered to do it again, and again, and again. Next thing you know, self care becomes second nature.

Listen to your thoughts. Take a moment to feel the sensations in your body. Our minds and body tell us when something doesn’t feel right, when it’s time to relax, and when we must make a decision that is better for us in the long run. Follow your gut feeling; don’t ignore them. The sooner you start taking care of yourself, the quicker you’ll restore yourself to sanity.

Recommended crystals:

Rose Quartz

Blue Kyanite 

Girasol Quartz

The Crystal Craze’s Dark Energy

The Crystal Craze’s Dark Energy

Over the past few years, the market for healing crystals has grown exponentially. It seems you can’t step foot into a flea market or street fair without a slew of tables offering a variety of gemstones in all shapes and sizes. The crystal craze has become mainstream, replacing crucifixes and pictures of Jesus with natural formations found beneath the earth’s crust. Currently, the hashtag “crystals” has over 11 million posts. “Crystalsforsale” has over 500 thousand. With all these retailers online and in person, how do consumers know who to buy from? 

People buy healing crystals to surround themselves with positive vibrations. Unfortunately, the method in which many crystals are mined is so unethical that it’s hard to believe they can carry any healing abilities. Crystals are supposed to magnify intentions. But what kind of karma is carried in gemstones that are unearthed by exploitation? 

Most, if not all, crystal lovers have positive intentions, yet we unintentionally contribute to unethical mining tactics. Internationally, environmental destruction is a key concern. Land degradation and contamination of resources continue to worry environmentalists and must be addressed by regulated mining companies. Deforestation, erosion, soil contamination, groundwater, and air pollution make it so areas can become uninhabitable for animals and humans alike. 

While small scale crystal mines do exist in the United States, many healing crystals are the byproduct of metal mining. Some of the largest copper mines are in the spotlight for damages to water and wildlife. Thankfully, these mines must adhere to regulation and restorative practices. 

For some mines, like the Berkeley Pit in Montana, the area is so decimated there is nothing left but toxicity. Without restorative practices to reduce the carbon footprint left by mining, this particular pit remained a health hazard to all life forms for 37 years. Luckily, the Environmental Protection Agency forced a clean up. That’s more than can be said for the rest of the world. 

Between Thailand and Bangladesh sits an area in Southeast Asia called Myanmar. Formally known as Burma, Myanmar is the number one producer of jade, a highly sought after source in China and in the United States wellness industry. It also fuels a civil war between the Burmese military and Kachin guerrillas. The jade has been attributed to the “blood diamonds” of Africa and is responsible for environmental disaster and social unrest. 

In Myanmar, children as young as 7 years old work in extremely dangerous conditions for pennies on the dollar. They toil next to drug addicts who get narcotics from the swirling cesspool of corruption that ties back to government warfare. People die from disease, avalanches, addiction, and violence daily. The fight for dominion over jade, a resource responsible for almost half of Myanmar’s economy, has left a trail of devastation for the Burmese people. For a healing crystal that is supposed to support harmony and good luck, the jade out of Myanmar only fuels pain and suffering.

Another area under the microscope is Madagascar. Here, child labor accounts for too many of the low-cost crystals on the U.S. market. According to The Guardian, “the US Department of Labor and the International Labour Organization estimate that about 85,000 children work in Madagascar’s mines.” And these areas are a severe health hazard. Some mines are so tight it’s hard to breathe; others are a rockslide waiting to happen. Boys dig for hours, days, weeks, with curved backs and cramped hands to find crystal compensation that equates to a cup of rice. And where do all these back-breaking, lung impaling crystals go? They are exported around the world. Many of which wind up at the Tucson gem show in Arizona. 

The Tucson gem show is a well-known event in the crystal community. Unfortunately, it does not discriminate or ask questions, so many sellers don’t realize this is a breeding ground for international corruption. Since healing crystals have become a billion dollar industry, traders from all over the world fly into Arizona to sell their crystals to unsuspecting retailers across the United States. Middle-men from China where jade is smuggled in from Myanmar sell the beautiful green crystals tainted with corruption; traders from the mines of Madagascar carry in quartz energy smeared with slave labor. And since many mines overseas are unregulated, there is no way to track who or where the crystals originated. Even the regulated metal mines where crystals become a byproduct, a happy accident stumbled upon while they pump pollution into the earth, are sold here at rock bottom prices to please the masses. 

In this way, we contribute to the very actions we are against. That is why it’s so important to know the origin of the crystals you purchase. The point is clean, clear energy. The vibration a crystal emits is only as good as its source.  

High vibration is at the forefront of my mind when purchasing crystals for the shop. If I want customers to benefit from the magic of healing crystals, then the quality and energy must be present, not just the best price point. Sure, I could find cheaper, duller colored crystals, but at whose expense? Crystal sales shouldn’t be about the money. It should be about healing. 

That is why all of the fouram’s healing crystals are ethically sourced out of Brazil where the government upholds very strict mining regulations. Mines must be registered. They are inspected throughout the year to ensure safe working conditions and are required to pass a comprehensive environmental plan to maintain legal status. The environmental plan also includes a extensive land restoration arrangement after the mine becomes obsolete. These practices vastly reduce the carbon footprint left from mining the land, eliminating the chances of toxic pollution like we’ve seen in Montana’s Berkeley Pit. 

The miners are paid the government salary amount at minimum. In addition, they have health benefits! Employee health and safety come first, which ensures high standards and high vibratory energy in the earth’s gift of healing crystals.  

Furthermore, crystals for sale in Brazil and exported out of the country must have complete documentation. This includes the certificate of origin for the specific mine, and a fiscal paper trail showing each time the material was purchased and subsequently resold. These standard practices greatly reduce the amount of black market crystals sold within and outside of the country. 

While there will always be black market smugglers finding ways around laws (if there are any), it is imperative that retailers and consumers ask questions about the origin of the crystals they purchase. The Guardian’s Tess McClure laments, “While the crystal business is booming, and largely among consumers who tend to be concerned with environmental impact, fair trade and good intentions, there is little sign of the kind of regulation that might improve conditions for those who mine them.” There may not be signs of streamlined international regulation, but we as light workers and good-intentioned people can be more mindful about the crystals we possess and sell. We owe that to the earth and to humanity. After all, can we tout love and light while turning a blind eye to the atrocities of unregulated mining?

Check out some of these energy scrubbing crystals available in the fouram shop!

Clear Quartz

Black Tourmaline

More Money, More Problems

More Money, More Problems

People are too quick to believe that money solves all problems. The sentiment is that if more money would come in, then everything would be fine. Everything. There would be no more fighting, the bills would be paid, worries would cease to exist and life would be grand. This dogma has often backfired, leaving people railing against the current of life wondering why fortune (and sometimes fame) isn’t enough. Money is power, and with power comes great responsibility. How you choose to use money reveals if your ego is in charge, or you are.

More money, more problems— it’s no lie. The more you make, the more people enter your life in ways that could bear fruit, or end with a knife in your back. The sad truth is that naiveté will often leave you bleeding on the ground. Money has the ability to throw all the rules of civility out the window. It creates an egocentric landscape where everyone is out for themselves, where comradery only counts when life in on an upswing, and many people you called friends are now frenemies. Whether there was “team” or not doesn’t matter. Any successful business person has a story or two about horrible partnerships. Money is food for the ego. And if you’re not careful, it can land you in a trap of your own nightmare, or someone else’s.

Feeding the ego can become an addiction. Whether it’s shopping, gambling, alcohol, or drugs, there’s always another hit to be had. The endless spending is a physical manifestation of filling a void. What void depends on the individual. But there’s a void present nonetheless. The fleeting moment of happiness when buying something new, or having another drink, or taking another hit wears off fast. The emptiness expands quicker than your wallet empties. And when you have more money, it flies out faster to get something else to distract you from what’s really going on. It’s futile.

This is how the seemingly rich lose everything, even their lives. I’ve often heard people flabbergasted at how so and so lost their ass when they had “so much money!” Money isn’t infinite. And if you’re constantly spending it feeding your ego, the ego grows strong. Doesn’t matter how many hours you put in, the ego will outrun you. You’ll be left choking on dust, trudging along with heavier baggage on your shoulders.

Money has the ability to create an insatiable ego. No matter how much there is, it’s never enough. Another pair of shoes, another bag, more decor, a newer car, another bump, another round, a  bigger party, a bigger house: the list is endless. It seems the more you have, the less satisfied you become. There’s so much unhappiness permeating the homes of the rich. This is why you can find the best drugs in the biggest mansions.

The money makes them feel they have nothing left to learn. They hide behind the ego. What else is there if you can buy anything you want, even the judge and the jury.

No amount of money, or drugs, or material possessions will heal trauma. The more you try, the more pain you perpetuate into your current life. Families break apart. Relationships that could’ve been lifelong, whether love, platonic, or business, get destroyed by feeding the ego. The debt becomes overwhelming, and some people end up with nothing and no one.

Money won’t fix trauma. Doesn’t matter if you were born into money, or acquired it on your own, it won’t mend a single thing. Problems are just exacerbated with an influx of cash. The only way to heal is to do the inner work. To face to demons from your past, grieve the losses, and start building the solid foundation of your true identity is the only way to find stability in who you are, with or without money. Otherwise, you remain corruptible. And if there’s one sure thing about money, it’s that it will corrupt the corruptible.

Everyone has some amount of trauma. Whether you decide to live with it and the involuntary actions that stem from the pain is a personal choice. But know this— money won’t fix it, it will just make it worse. We see it everyday on television, in the homes of our friends, even in our own. You are no exception. We can choose to live in the light of truth, to face our past with courage and honesty, and heal the wounds that would otherwise overcome us. Then nothing could stand in the way of our growth. Standing strong in our identity makes it harder for the ego to rule. This space is where we are free to focus on creating the dreams for our future. Prosperity flourishes there.

Healing crystal recommendations:

Gold Pyrite (Fool’s Gold): Aids in overcoming feelings of inadequacy and boosts confidence; helps to see the truth behind the facade.

Mahogany Obsidian: A stone of growth and soul healing; brings flaws and negative energies to the surface in order to dispel them.

Cinnabar (Dragon’s Blood): The super abundance stone; aids in selling, aligns energy center, and releases blockages to prosperity. 

To the Troubled Some

To the Troubled Some

 troub“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven,” says Satan in Paradise Lost as he tries to make the best of his banishment. And that’s the devil for you. Doesn’t matter what you believe in, evil is human nature’s fundamental flaw. Most people are able to keep it at bay, mostly because they’ve been exposed to more good than bad. Life blesses some people that way. Others know nothing but pain and struggle. Fear and anxiety. It becomes so common it’s a normal way of life. The only way, so it seems. For the troubled and tormented, there was never a paradise to lose. 

It’s basic psychology that how you grow to perceive the world lies solely in the environment you’re born into. It’s luck of the draw really. Some call is fate. Others call it karma. Why we come into this world with the reality we’re faced with has been a topic of research since the dawn of conscious thought. Some people are perfectly happy with next to nothing while others are drowning in the misery of their own materialism and lack of self love. The less fortunate seem to have endless suffering. Being planted in a garden of manure with little to no sunshine leaves a small chance for growth. 

One of my students said it best when she told me “these kids have nothing to live for.” Unfortunately for troubled some, this statement is true. Living in poverty, violence, disappointment, anxiety, and hardened sadness has the ability to turn anyone, no matter how good their intentions may be. There is no self care. It’s hard to find the light when you’re buried under the burning barrel of a gun. It seems like the only option is to play in the fire. 

Regardless of the circumstance, everyone is given a choice of which road to take. We either go down the road of the same pain we grew up with because it’s familiar, or we take our chances on the unknown in hopes of a better life. This sounds like an easy enough choice, but it’s harder than it sounds. The latter is scarier because it’s more work, less familiar, and the outcome is unknown. We prefer to stick to what we know, even if what we know we know isn’t right, or even what we really want. 

For some people living for themselves apparently isn’t enough. Somewhere down the line, the troubled were taught that they weren’t good enough, smart enough, strong enough. Somewhere down the line the troubled were taught there was only one way, this path of pain, and that paradise was exiled for them from the very beginning. It’s too hard to believe, then, when someone tries to lead you to light. Learning isn’t very difficult, but unlearning is a task only the strong will take on. 

And if they refuse, then that is their path to take and choice to make. Unfortunately the ones who need the most love are the same people you should stay away from. This is where the word “toxic” comes in. People will play their pain onto everyone, and if you’re not careful, you’ll get sucked into the vortex and dragged down to their personal hell. How deep this goes depends on the person. How far you’re willing to stray from your own truth and value is tested. We’re all on a journey of choice and consequence. Do your best to stay on your own path. 

It’s true that you can’t change anyone, you can only change yourself. There are some real angels in the world who will try and lead the inflicted to light, but ultimately the acceptance of guidance can only be granted by the person to whom it’s offered. If a person wants to suffer, then suffering it is. As time goes by, the offers and chances dwindle like a candle burns through wax. And then only darkness ensues. 

So choose the path of the light, no matter how dim it may seem. Dark tunnels lead to a brighter endings. We may not know what’s outside, but we definitely know what is in— darkness. And is that really something you want to live with forever? The choice is yours. 

Recommended Crystals: 

 Clear Quartz

Smoky Quartz

Pyrite

Want to read more like this? Check out To the Broken Being. 

 

Only Child Syndrome

Only Child Syndrome

“Are you an only child?” Every time I’m asked this question there’s always a feeling of dread that I’ve exposed some negative trait about myself. In my early years, I probably did do something that was selfish or bratty. I was oblivious to how I was perceived, but thinking only of my comfort and convenience was all I ever knew. Through no fault of my own, I am an only child.

As I got older I learned how to interact in close relationships through my friends who looked passed the “only child syndrome” straight into the heart of who I was. These friends became the siblings I never had, my truest, most loyal confidants. We fought, we cried, we got over it, and moved on. I grew as a person because of these friendships. 

It bothers me when people perceive only child-dom as a bad thing. Sure, we’re not used to sharing, and most of us are accustomed to getting what we want. But does our initial brattiness make us bad people? Absolutely not. In fact, there are some very positive traits of only children that are harder to find in people with siblings. 

1. We are fiercely independent.

Why? Because we have to be. Outside of our parents spoiling us, we’ve had to figure out how to navigate through life with our own brains. We didn’t have older siblings to watch and mimic, we didn’t have any sibling to help us do anything. It’s just me, myself, and I. This made us into adults who can figure things out alone. It made us incredibly resourceful, which leads us to:

2. We tend to be more creative.

Being an only child may have been lonely growing up, but it made us much more creative in the long run. We learned to entertain ourselves with our imagination. We learned how to problem solve alone. And our likes and dislikes? There was no copying a brother or sister because that person didn’t exist. So the things we like and do are really all about our secure sense of self. 

3. We are loyal friends. 

What happens when an only child finds a person to develop a strong bond with? That friend has the ability to grow into a pseudo- sister or brother. Since we don’t have siblings, our friends become our family. We cherish these relationships, especially because they don’t exist at home. 

4. Only children are more successful

Studies have repeatedly shown that only children spend more time around adults, developing faster cognitively and emotionally, since their sense of self is clearly defined and not in competition with siblings. Only children don’t have to “fit” into any family dynamic, and are therefore able to develop themselves more fully. We set the bar of achievement, no one else. What can be more empowering than that? 

I can tell you, there are some people I know who grew up with siblings who are far worse for wear than I ever was. They become frantic when something goes wrong, they vie for attention to the point of desperation, and can’t seem to stand on their own two feet to save their life. From an only child’s point of view, that behavior is weird. 

So the next time you come across an only child, don’t assume the worst. We learn how to share, we learn how to admit wrongdoings, we grow, and we cherish your friendship. 

Recommended crystals:

Rose Quartz

Pink Opal

Girasol Quartz

 

 

How I Conquered Anxiety

How I Conquered Anxiety

A simple google search for the definition anxiety explains it as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” Those of us who experience it to catastrophic levels understand that it goes beyond just feelings of worry or unease. Anxiety roots itself in our minds and stomachs, it elicits fear that shapes our entire way of thinking, chokes our entire being, and can manifest into major panic disorders that cripple us from any semblance of a normal life. 

This is drastically different from the day to day normative levels of anxiety. Just to be clear, anyone can have anxiety for any reason. Like if you really want to go to some party and your ride is running late and you start feeling anxious because you just want to get there. Or if you know a big test is coming up and you want to do well. Or if you’re getting married soon. Anxious feelings are normal. It’s only when it starts to affect your life, the decisions you make, and the way you care for yourself (or don’t) that anxiety become dangerous. 

I did not realize that I was living with high-functioning anxiety until after I had a complete meltdown. On the outside, I was a power house of achievement. I pushed through a master’s program, teacher credentialing program, I owned my own house, managed my own business, and kept my grades high despite stretching myself so thin any snag could snap me in half. And eventually, that’s exactly what happened.  

During these phases, I would smoke weed to achieve the level of concentration I needed to get things done. Without it, I was completely and utterly stunted. At the time I saw nothing wrong with it. If it helped me concentrate, then that’s what needed to happen. I didn’t realize I was using it as a crutch. I was becoming dependent. And that, my friends, was not who I wanted to be. 

When I began therapy I was given tools to be the master of my own mind and body again. Where I was once unable to identify anxious feelings, now I was able to physically feel the difference between calm and anxious. That tight feeling in my chest wasn’t supposed to be there. The fogginess of my brain wasn’t normal. Inability to eat and nausea weren’t supposed to be part of my daily routine.

One integral piece of reclaiming my mind and body is practicing meditation. So many people are reluctant to meditation because they think you need to be zen before you even start. Your thoughts will always to be there. Practicing meditation is just that— practice. Start with a few minutes every day, and increase from there. My routine is every morning and every night. But when I felt like I was going crazy, I meditated whenever I felt panicky, which was pretty much multiple times throughout the day. Take as much time as you need to take care of you. These simple moments to call your own, to get back into your own space, your own mind, makes all the difference in your day and your overall well being. 

If you’re very new to meditation, I suggest downloading the Headspace app.Headspace explains meditation in an easy to understand way and guides you through the experience piece by piece.

If you’re intermediate level, using the free meditations on YouTube are great too. There are guided or unguided. All free. You don’t have to pay to learn how to get back in touch with yourself.

Another method that worked for me is called name it to tame it. Each time I would feel anxious I would name, out loud, all the different emotions I was feeling. It works. Now it’s so ingrained in my head I name it to tame it each time I’m upset, whether I’m angry, anxious, sad—doesn’t matter. If I’m worked up, just naming my feelings sends me a warm blanket of relief so my nerves don’t get out of control.

The most helpful technique was learning how to tap. Tapping targets the pressure points in your body to slow the fight or flight response we get when our minds are triggered. In just ten minutes you can feel relief— seriously. All it takes is you wanting to feel better and following through on making it happen. In the audio I listen to the woman says, “you’re teaching your body to feel calm.” At first, I was skeptical. When you’re in the throws of anxiety, waking up with teeth chattering, or nauseous, heart beating so fast it feels like it’ll rip right through your chest, it’s hard to imagine anxiety can be controlled. After a few months, I noticed that certain things that used to trigger me simply didn’t anymore. And now, a year later, I can proudly say I am in control of my mind and body.

That’s not to say the struggle is over. Each time anxiety tries to take over, I do the work to regain control. It gets easier. All you have to do is do the work. 

Recommended crystals:

Amethyst 

Aquamarine

Amazonite