staying hungry

I can’t believe it, but in just a few days now we’ll be heading back to the Bay Area for a bit to see our families and make a little money. This stint in the Las Vegas area has gone by fast and slow at the same time.

We’ve been spending most of our time in Red Rocks. Usually by late April the climbing season in the desert is over, but it just hasn’t been hot enough here to make us pack up and leave. There is a cooling breeze that keeps the air fresh. And on the few days that it does get too warm, we head up to Clark Mountain, which is higher in elevation than Las Vegas.

I tried to go up to Clark without any preconceived ideas or attitudes about the place, but that proved to be difficult. Everyone had something to say about the place, even people that hadn’t been there before. They warned me about the hike, how it’s so long and so steep and that I’ll probably be too tired to climb after hiking all the way to the third tier anyway. They warned me about the climbing, how the routes are so long and so steep and that I’ll probably hate it and wish I was back on the more vertical, deep colored sandstone of Red Rocks.

I also knew that Ethan had a project up there, a route that just so happens to be the hardest climb in North America these days.

More than anything, I just had to keep promising myself that I would hold my injury in the front of my mind and not let the beautiful limestone caves of Clark seduce me into climbing anything too hard. Because from my little experience with the mountain, that is really what that place is all about–hard climbing. Finding your apparent limits and then trying something far, far beyond what your mind assumes is possible.

But I am just not healthy enough to go along with Clark’s theme right now.

Needing to channel my energy in some way, I decided to dedicate myself to one thing–cheerleading. Being annoyingly positive. Belay him until dark. Support the shit out of him. Make it as fun and light as possible for him to do the painful, ego-busting task of having to try very hard. The nice thing is that all of this came naturally to me, it felt good to do, easy to do, because I’m in love with him.

The hike wasn’t half as hard as what people made it out to be. The climbing…well, I can’t really comment on that since I only did the 5.10+ warm-up. But the place is very, very special in the sense that it challenges you, stretches you in a million different ways and makes you really wonder what you’re capable of. It’s a different kind of “hard” than other places–it’s not like the balance and grace-intensive slabs of Tuolumne, it’s not like the fear-inducing highballs of Bishop or the exposed big walls in Yosemite, it’s just physical and mental strength, endurance, and power. And a hell of a lot of gumption.

I loved that mountain, immediately. I didn’t want to tell anyone that, because I didn’t feel like I had the authority to say such a thing since I hadn’t hardly climbed there. But there was something about it that I found so attractive.

We drove back from the star-dense skies of Clark and back into Las Vegas a few days ago. Immediately I fell into a funk. I blamed it on this city–with all of its shiny buildings, shiny cars, shiny people. That must be it, I thought. Surely it’s all of these external issues. It can’t be something like, you know, within myself or anything like that.

I wondered why Clark Mountain had such an impact on me, and I think it’s because it brought me back to a time when I was challenging myself, really finding and testing my limits in all aspects of my life. Watching Ethan try Jumbo Love made me nostalgic for those long, seated meditations when I just wanted to scream or laugh or get up and watch Modern Family instead, but I didn’t, I sat there with my thoughts and my body, just listening to the swirl of it all, knowing full well that I may have to sit here for hours just to get one fleeting second of clarity. But I would still do it, almost every day. I would still unroll my yoga mat and do the primary series or a ten-minute long pigeon pose no matter how busy I was or how many margaritas I had the night before. I would still be conscious of my breath whether I was doing pranayama or the laundry. No matter how badly I wanted to go to happy hour with my friends, I would still go to a cafe with a philosophy book and a pencil for an hour. I would meet meet my friends later.

I have in fact been challenging myself with climbing these days, but not so much in the self-study kind of way. Of course, climbing is a means of self-study, but it’s different than yoga. I need something quieter and more introverted to compliment the social, quirky world of climbing rocks. I just miss it.

I especially miss it when climbing hard isn’t available to me.

I am healing, and I’m sure I’ll be back to flailing around on the hard stuff soon, but in the meantime, and from now on…I need some yoga in my life. Some real, relentless, down to the nitty-gritty, yoga.

I stand on top of Black Velvet canyon. 1700 feet ago we were on the canyon’s floor. It took me a few hundred feet to get to know the sandstone, how to move over it. The color of the rock is what I love the most, its deep reds feel so satisfying under my hands. I want to bite right into it. The desert in the springtime always makes me hungry. I want to cut open the fibrous cacti and yucca, serve it with sides of primrose and desert marigold. Slabs of medium rare sandstone as the main course. I want agave and sage for desert, to wear blooming prickly pear in my hair, to open up like the lilies. It’s windy up here, it keeps everything fresh, everything moving, blows the springtime right into me, right through me, I dissolve into the desert.

Then we went to Chipotle 🙂

Love to you all…keep challenging yourself, and stay hungry.

 

 

 

happy earth day

Seeing as it’s Earth Day, I thought I would write a post about this grand place we get to call home. And show you a few a my pictures. Just a few.

*some pictures are not mine

The natural world is the most beautiful thing I have ever known. It is where I feel most beautiful, too: floating in a salty ocean wave, hiking through canyon floors, climbing the fractured face of a cliff, descending a twisted gully, when I’m among the redwoods, under the moon, wading the rivers, running along the edge of the Aspens, stomping through snow-covered meadows, scrambling scree slopes, hands on glacier-polished granite, soles in the sand, with my eyes and ears wide open, my heart loud. I am tangled in the planet, my roots swirl so deep that I touch its molten core.

The places pictured below are where I play, rest, worship, and most of all–this is where I learn. Of all the things that this earth gives to us, I am most grateful for her teachings–about myself, about taking care of something, on being responsible, honoring cycles, telling the truth. Every time I go outside I learn something new, something of great value. For that, I am forever thankful and will always do my best to take care of this place.

 

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Mt. Tom Bishop, CA

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Orinda, CA

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The Dolomites, Italy

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Sunset over the Sierras in Bishop, CA

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San Juan Mountains, CO

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Moab, UT

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Castle Rock State Park, CA

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Red Rocks, NV

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Mesquite, NV

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Mt. Clark, CA

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Red Rocks, NV Photo Credit: Max Moore

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Bishop, CA Photo Credit: Ethan Pringle

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Somewhere in Belize

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Squaw Valley, CA

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View from my apartment in Montepulciano, Italy

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Cinque Terre, Italy

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The Lost Rocks, CA

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Durango, CO

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The Looking Glass, NC

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Moab, UT

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Rumbling Bald, NC

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The Red River Gorge, KY

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Donner Summit, CA

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Stinson Beach, CA

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Winery on the Russian River, CA

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Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

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Bishop, CA

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Arches National Park, Utah

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Tuolumne Meadows, CA

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Lovers Leap, CA

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Berkeley Hills, CA

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Savannah, GA

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Yosemite, CA

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Moab, UT

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Moraga, CA

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Mammoth, CA

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Lake Tahoe, CA

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Joe’s Valley, UT

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Vail, CO

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Ten Sleep, WY

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Ten Sleep, WY

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Bishop, CA

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Tuolumne Meadows, CA

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Yosemite, CA

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Smith Rocks, OR

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Bishop, CA

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Tuolumne Meadows, CA

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Joshua Tree, CA

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Moraga, CA

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Red Rocks, NV

 

Take care of this place, take care of yourself, and take care of each other. Happy Earth Day!

easter sunday

A fragmented post about Easter. Kind of a jigsaw puzzle way of writng–some of these words are new, some are old, but all of them feel true this morning. Happy Easter to all of you!

 

I don’t know if it was because I could stay up as late as I pleased and swim without having to wear a bathing suit, but the ranch was my favorite place. Things were different out there. I was ten years old and allowed to drive Heath’s F250 so long as he was riding shotgun. I woke up early, I always did there, and I was just tall enough to climb into the truck. I didn’t need Heath’s help. I could ride the horses as deep into the hills as I wanted but I never went too far. I remember how much work it took to get Mouse up to a full gallop, how her canter made me get a side stitch. But one time, she was galloping and we took a sharp turn, and she saw it before I did–a cow’s carcass that had been there for God knows how long. Mouse skidded on her hooves, legs kicking every which way as she tried to slow us down. I imagine we looked like something out of a cartoon. The cow scared her, and it scared me too. We were still for a moment, both of our chests heaving with breath as we examined the decaying cow. It was turned on its side, its skeleton still intact and acting as a framework. The ribs curved around like a barrel, strips of wind-tattered hide hung off the clean bones like prayer flags. Just as my eyes started scanning up toward the skull, I didn’t want to look at it but we always do anyway, Mouse took off running back toward the house. I’d never felt her so afraid. She slowed her pace as we got further from the carcass, but she felt like a different horse. I felt like a different girl. So that’s what happen when something dies, I thought.

I was the oldest of the younger cousins. I remember carrying the one year olds–Sam and Max and Cass–from the house down to the swimming pool and how they’d slowly slip out of my arms; I’d use my knee to bop them back up every few steps, their little hands clasped tight on the ends of my blonde hair. I lugged those kids around on my hip months after they learned to walk, I just liked feeling as though I was taking care of something.

It was Easter morning and it was bright outside. The Easter Bunny had left goodies for us, and Cass was small enough to fit in her basket, so I put her in there and carried her around. We went on a hike down the dirt road and found eggs, the hard boiled kind, brightly colored and sparkling. I gave the best egg to Cass because she kept reaching for it, it was purple with glitter. She immediately bit into it, shell and glitter and all. Her mouth was purple and sparkley as she drooled on to Mom’s shoulder.

Molly and I were a team. All the eggs we found, we shared. If I found a good one, one with Reeces or quarters, I couldn’t wait to go show her. She wasn’t as shy around the older cousins as I was. I remember how one time she got stung by a scorpion and only cried a little. I, on the other hand, cried a lot. I wasn’t even the one that got stung.

Sam and Amy and Jessie were the dogs. They were all the kind of dogs that would let me lay my head on their bellies and hold on to their ears. They all got put down around the same time.

There was a pomegranate tree, and I wondered why the tree wouldn’t give fruit the whole year long. There were strawberries too, but only sometimes. The grasses were green and thick in the spring, everything seemed brighter. Summers out there made me feel wild, in the fall I got quiet, and in winter the air turned still and cold, perfumed with smoke from the fireplace.

I never wanted to take a shower after coming home from the ranch. It seemed like it was gonna wash the magic off.

I’m not a religious girl. But there is something about this day, Easter Sunday, that always feels special to me. It reminds me that we work in cycles, and that it is within those cycles that the magic resides. May you, too, be reminded of that magic today. Happy Easter! ❤

 

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my requirements for healing

I haven’t climbed in a week now.

Well, I put up some top ropes for a friend on 5.9s in Owen’s Gorge and climbed Robinson’s Rubber Tester in the Buttermilks, but that’s about it.
Not being able to climb is one of the more heartbreaking things for a climber to deal with. And when you’re sleeping and living out in Buttermilk Country, it’s straight up torturous. Those boulders, more than any other I’ve seen, beg to be climbed. The English language doesn’t have accurate words to describe the beauty of the Buttermilks, I feel like they need to spoken of in French or Italian or some other language with deep history and decadent sounds.
Initially I thought that these days spent injured would be slow and stagnant, stretching on like those summer afternoons in late June when the sun seems like it will never set. I thought I would be lonely. But it hasn’t been like that. Bishop makes for full days, even when you’re not climbing, and I can’t go to the coffee shop without seeing at least three people that I know. As soon as one group of friends leave, another group rolls in. I watch the looks on their faces as they pack up their tent, looking up at Mt. Tom one last time for now. God, that feeling. I know it all too well. I’ve been feeling lucky to be the one that always gets to stay.
My body is absolutely loving the rest. My muscles feel strong, and my hand is healing very quickly. Every day it gets a little better, and now there is just the slightest twinge of soreness, evidence of the trauma. A few more days of rest and I should be back to climbing very easy routes.
The whole process of healing has been extremely interesting. More than anything it’s just reminding me of how miraculous it is that our bodies are capable of mending themselves. Out of all the things in this world where we can see magic in tangible form, healing may be the most enchanting, the most powerful.
Healing, in the physical or emotional realm, will occur regardless of our awareness of it. Although we can alter the speed and quality of the process with things like a calm mind, good sleep, and lots of water, healing does not necessarily require our conscious efforts. It will happen despite our attention to it because this is what living things are made to do. We were designed to thrive.
Maybe it goes like this—when we supplement our healing processes, when we don’t ignore or fight it, our wounds recover into healthy, well-formed scars. Often the area of trauma comes out even stronger than before when we are nurturing. But if we don’t enhance our recovery, or if we deter it in all of the million ways there are to go about doing that, we will still heal, but in a different way. Perhaps the process will take many years, maybe it will even make us sick, maybe the wound will become infected or seep into other areas of our bodies, of our minds. Maybe the incision will finally close, but remains weak and prone to reopening.
Either way, our traumas and the way they heal is what writes our lives. They are our stories, nothing else will ever feel so yours.
Becoming who we are has little to do with yoga teacher trainings and post-college backpacking trips through Europe, and everything to do with our hurts and the way in which we deal with them.
Okayokay, so yoga and backpacking are both things that can help us recover, but those kinds of things are not the meat of who we are, as these living, breathing egos.
So maybe I have had a little bit of time on my hands, if I’m coming to all of this from just a little hand injury. But for some reason, no matter if it’s a pulled tendon or something much, much more serious, injury within my body is deeply unsettling to me. It makes my stomach feel light. I think that when I get injured in even the slightest way, it reminds me of all the other wounded parts of myself as well. Maybe those are the ones I haven’t been doing a good job of tending to. Maybe all of the things within us that are unhealed are infinitely connected, all dependently shifting and tugging on each other.
I keep seeing articles and books and magazine stories about How To Get Over a Breakup and How To Forgive Someone and How to Recover from the Flu. I don’t know how much these lists are helping us. The healing process is so personal, so unique to us individually, that we can’t follow some step-by-step How To guide. I think a few things are universal—water, good food, sleep, movement, creative activities. But any further than that…well, only you know what you need to do.
My mom came down from the Bay Area to visit me in Bishop yesterday. She also brought our pups, so the day was definitely a special one. Showing them a place that I love so much, the Buttermilks, was an experience that I will always cherish. I just keep thinking about how lucky I am to have a mom that would do that for me. Thanks for everything Mama, seeing you and the dogs helped me more than you know.
And now I can’t stop thinking about all of the people in my life, how good they all are to me. I have the best family and the best friends and the best boyfriend. And the best dogs. Chances are you are surrounded by really good people too.
I think I should add one more thing to the list of things crucial to healing—gratitude. Recognition of the good stuff. It’s so easy to get injured, to break your leg or break your heart, and then just let the whole thing drag you into this dark, deep hole of negativity. Suddenly even the things in your life that are actually good seem kinda shitty. All of the imperfections start to feel prickly.
Of course, there is a time and place for feeling really, ridiculously sad and lonely. But something that I’ve learned, especially recently, is to make sure I’m being sad about the things that are in fact sad, and not to just lump everything together–otherwise known as being in a bad mood.
But to be honest, even the things that could be categorized as sad don’t feel like they’ve got their claws in me. I’ve been appreciating the quietness they offer, their ability to crack me open.
It’s funny how you head out on the road for a season of climbing, and instead find yourself injured and not able to climb, but healing quickly and healthily, mending wounds I had forgotten were even there.
Feeling grateful for all of it. Have a good day everyone!

take a rest day

I arrived in Bishop a few days ago, before that I spent a week in Red Rocks. Vegas climbing is fun and accessible, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t ready to be out of the desert and in the Sierras.

To be honest, I would probably be a little bit of a mess if I was anywhere but Bishop right now.

The hate mail about that silly article I wrote a few weeks ago keeps coming in, less frequently now, and I know not to take it personally because the internet is crazy and so are people, but it still stings. I’m glad it stings. Being sensitive is worth it.

It also helps to have an immensely supportive boyfriend who keeps me down to earth and aware of what’s real and what’s just a bunch of bored climbers wanting to stir things up behind the veil of the internet. I’m very thankful for that boy and god, do I miss him.

I was so tired when I arrived in Bishop. I hadn’t taken a proper rest day really since I left home a few weeks ago, and my body and mind were exhausted. I hiked up into the Tablelands anyway, excited to see my friends and climb on rock that I love, rock that’s familiar. The Sierras made all of the internet-hate laughable, light enough to be carried off with just a slight breeze.

The first day of climbing was fine, I spent my time climbing easier classics and taking pictures. The second day, I woke up after a night of deep, amazing sleep, but feeling sore in my back, my outer hips, my core. As I started moving, I noticed fatigue in other places as well–the arches of my feet, my forearms, my neck. Packing up the car felt tiresome. Every step of the short, uphill hike to the Happy boulders was painful in some way. I was fully aware and consciously experiencing all of this, so I told myself I would just watch my friends climb and take pictures. But when I got up to the Heavenly Path boulder, I found myself looking up at the beautiful golden slab with wide eyes, tingling fingers, and a craving for air under my feet. Just a few easy climbs will be fine, I thought. I’ll rest tomorrow. 

A few easy climbs turned into a few more easy climbs, and then I found myself standing under Solarium. I have a special relationship with that climb, I think we all do. I see more people angry at that boulder problem than any other. I climb it every time I’m in the Happys and it always takes me about three, sometimes ten tries to actually send it. It’s frustrating in that way, because it’s not hard necessarily, it just makes you work. It never gives itself up too easily.

I’m gonna do it first go, I thought. Just try really hard and it’s yours, I told myself.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, buried below many layers of attachments and desires and my ego, a small voice warned me to be careful on that tweaky two finger pocket you have to make a big move of off. You aren’t warmed up enough for this, I heard faintly. But I didn’t listen.

Of course I got hurt on the climb. We all know that that’s how this story always goes. Right as I threw for the lip of the boulder, I felt a sharp pain in my palm. It ran down my forearm.

I truly believe that injuries always signify something more than just a physiological problem. In this case, hurting my tendon was my body’s way of telling me to slow down, to rest, to quit letting my ego and my addiction to climbing rocks control me. My intuition was in fact speaking to me, cautioning me, but my attachment to sending (even on a climb that I have done many times in the past) muffled its warnings.

Before I left the Bay Area, I was cleaning out bunch of belongings from my room and the garage. I found my old journals, some of which were from when I was as young as eight years old. When I was young, almost every word I wrote was a direct translation of my intuition. Like the messages that my instincts were sending me would flow right from my gut, into my arm and out through the tip of my pen. I was constantly writing about dreams I had, feelings I got, coincidences, moments of serendipity or unexplainable twinges in my core. Of course, I also wrote a lot about how much I loved my dog Jessie and the boys at school who I thought were cute, I was just like any other girl after all.

I don’t know why when we get older that our intuition stops being our main guide. Instead we let things like ego, fear, and desires lead us through this world. We just let those things get so damn loud. They scream, and our intuition dies down to a mere whisper. Sometimes it flickers out all together.

Yesterday I took my first real rest day in weeks. The other “rest days” so far have consisted of long hikes, easy climbing, or five hour drives. But yesterday, I soaked in the hot springs, wrote, read, drank a lot of water, yoga-ed, napped. My body felt better than it has in months. My mind had that mellow, clear feeling that only comes from treating yourself really, really well.

I submerge my body in the warm spring water. All the way up to my chin. My arms float away from my sides, my fingers release their grip. My hair, longer now, fans out on the water’s surface. My lower belly releases, pooching away from my spine, so many weeks of engagement. The space between my shoulder blades turns malleable, my tongue turns soft. It has been so long. So long it makes my lower eyelids hold salty tears. The steam blurs my vision, turns the Eastern Sierra landscape into a watercolor painting. I feel my organs warming, my pores dilate, and the spring water, heated by the earth, pulls the toxins right out of me. They stream from my body like a tributary. I feel spacious, expanded, less saline. The silts that line the pool slowly stop swirling, they settle and come to rest. I take the first breath in months, fill my lungs to the brim, and then exhale. It’s all gone. It’s all out. I just leave it there in the spring, in the crust of the earth.

I think our intuition is very hard to hear when we aren’t taking good care of ourselves. It’s hard to do much of anything really, anything that isn’t ruled by our ego.

This post is for you. Yes, you. Use this as a reminder to take extreme care, to be gentle, to let yourself rest. Please rest. Rest often and deep. Do something for yourself today that is supportive and nurturing. Drink a lot of water, stretch, nap. Let your body release. Listen to all of those messages coming from the deepest part of your belly.

Take a rest day 🙂

 

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