Anxiety, art, Chronic illness, faith, mental health, parenting, rest, slow living, women's health, writing

Dear Stranger, it’s time to rest

This guest post is by my dear friend Kiersten. She’s a nurturer, a soul filler-upper (that’s a word, right?), and hysterical breath of fresh air. She loves deeply and creates art with all of her soul over at all.from.home. Kiersten offers virtual yoga retreats a few times a year where she invites you into a safe slow yoga flow, a meditation on scripture, and a corresponding craft. Follow her on Instagram to stay in the loop and join us in her next retreat. She has been a huge influence in my own journey in true self-care and honoring my body by seeking regular rest.

Photo by Ellieelien on Unsplash

I’m currently sitting in bed eating Ben and Jerry’s as I write this. I think that’s pretty appropriate with this topic.

The relationship between rest and me has always been a murky one. What is laziness, and what is this so called “self-care?” Where is the line? What is “rest,” and am I even allowed to have it?

As far back as I can remember, I’ve worked for rest. I’ve worked myself to the bone so that I could be deserving of a nap. I’ve pushed myself to the point of being sick, so then I could rest guilt-free, because “doctor’s orders!” I’ve spiraled in anxiety and depression over and over, because I didn’t give my body a voice. And why?

Photo by Ellieelien on Unsplash

I grew up as a minister’s kid in a Christian home, and would still say of myself that my faith in Jesus is the biggest part of who I am. While I am so grateful for my upbringing, I think that this has often been my downfall. Growing up in the church, and constantly being involved in ministry has more often than not left me feeling that I am not enough. I don’t bring enough, I could never help enough people, I don’t donate enough money, I don’t give enough hours, I don’t fast enough, I don’t pray enough, I don’t care about the “headed straight to hell” souls enough, etc. etc.

I do want to note that this is MY experience. My experience has been in the area of religion. Maybe yours is in a career path, a relationship, or a family situation. I don’t know. But what I do know is that this seems to be a huge part of the human condition, no matter what or who you believe in. This overall dreadful feeling of “never enough.”

What if the reason we feel this way isn’t because we aren’t enough? Because we are completely drained? Will you do something for me?

Close your eyes, and picture a house plant.

Photo by Ellieelien on Unsplash

Imagine the leaves are brown, dry, and droopy.

Visualize the soil pulling away from the side of the planter due to how dry it is.

Now, see yourself getting a glass, and filling it 1/8th of the way with water.

See yourself walking over to the plant, and trying to water the plant with that amount of water.

Can you see the water barely wetting the soil at all?

Imagine that you are that water glass. Trying to nurture and create life, hoping to make some sort of difference, but totally and completely empty from the start. It was never going to be enough, because you started with a near empty glass.

I believe that God created the world in seven days, and on the seventh day, He rested. Now, he made man on the sixth day, right? Why not on the first day, so that man could help God do all the work? No, the very first day of man being a living creature, he woke up, and God said, “Today, we rest.” He started him off with rest. God knew that to give anything, there has to be something received first.

What if instead of living for rest, we lived from rest?

What would our lives, or marriages, our homes, our communities, and our world look like? The truth is that we’d all be pouring from glasses that are always full, not trying to squeeze out every last drop, and failing miserably.

I know I’ve asked a lot of questions here today, but I think that true rest to me is taking the time to notice. Rest can look like so many things, from naps, to creative time, to movie nights, to journaling.

But “true rest” to me is being present wherever I am, and living from the peace I have on the inside. It is asking myself questions all throughout the day.

Things like:

Mind, how are you today? Is there anything you need to lay down?

Body, how are you feeling? What do you need? If it’s a nap instead of a walk, that’s okay.

Soul, how are you? If you’re overwhelmed, it’s okay. Or if you’re hopeful, you have permission to be excited!

And then not judging myself for anything I feel, but answering myself in kindness, and taking the time to fill up my own cup. Because if I don’t, I am doing the world around me an injustice, because I will have nothing to pour out.

So, take some time today to find true, honest, real rest! Maybe it’s an hour, or maybe it’s 5 minutes. I just want to invite you to take some time to close your eyes, and listen. And hopefully be inspired to take a rest.

So much love, friends!

Kiersten

art, mental health, slow living, small business, writing

Dear Writer,

White coffee mug with the word Begin on it sitting on a wooden table.
Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

This post is dedicated to all of the writers attending the hope*writers conference in Charlotte, NC this week. My hope is that you leave inspired and with an ache to write for the hopeless.

The words within you are just as much a part of you as the blood in your veins and run as deeply as your bone marrow. Perhaps those words flow through you with each beating of your heart.

Fear often tries to put you in your place–reminding you that you should stay silent. Fear tells you there isn’t a soul that would find healing in your words.

You’ve been silent for too long.

A new season is beginning.

Do you hear it?

Can you see it?

It’s a season of audacity and hope–one where your words heal you and then, the world. Push through the soil and bloom with your face toward the sun. If you do not write your words then nobody will–they’ll come to a slow halt with the last beat of your heart.

The time is now.

Write.

Write because you were born to do so.

Write because people need hope.

Write and never stop.

You matter—your words matter.

Nikki xx

Writers, welcome to the Little Hope Notes community! Check out our shop to purchase your own pack of Little Hope Notes (free shipping) and start the kindness initiative in your own community!

Anxiety, caregiver, Chronic illness, mental health, parenting, rest, slow living, women's health

Dear Caregiver…

Black and white photo of the back of a woman. She is dressed in a sweater and has her hair in a low messy bun that touches the back of her neck.
Photo by Ellieelien on Unsplash

I know it’s hard to imagine taking time for yourself. In fact, I imagine it’s like asking the moon to pull itself away from the tide. Where would the moon shine if it wasn’t on the crashing waves? How would the tide know where to go if it wasn’t for the moon’s gravitational guidance?

The Overlooked

There are these unsung heroes wiping their children’s mouths, reading old magazines in psychiatric ward waiting rooms, and sleeping upright in outdated Emergency Room chairs. They resemble the average person in the daily grind of the mundane 9-5, but they’re anything but ordinary.

The caregivers.

They drink their cups of coffee cold, eat their meals two hours late, and wear the same shirt three days in a row without realizing it. They are not forgetful when it comes to their service to their loved one they hold so closely. Medication is administered at the ding of a preset alarm. Necessities are on auto ship with Amazon and meals are planned and prepped in advance. Still, they neglect to take their own multi vitamin days in a row, forget to buy deodorant for themselves during their Target run, and leave their packed lunch on the counter top at home.

Suffering with a chronic and/or mental illness is difficult. Caring for someone that suffers is just as taxing.

Why You Matter

Dear Caregiver,

It’s been a long road. I know that and I don’t even know you personally. You see, there’s only so much that you can take without reaching out for help. You yourself tell people that again and again. You’re the advocate, the believer, the helper, and the friend. Everyone around you comes to you and deems you a saint of sorts. After all, the main question you’re asked is, “How do you do it?”

What do people even mean when they ask that?

Do they mean “How do you handle the stress?”, “How do you manage to keep your sanity when you’ve been up all night with your suicidal loved one?”, “How do you balance work, home, and taking your teenager to his third therapy session this week?”, or do they mean “How have you not given up on yourself yet?”

It’s such a loaded question: “How do you do it?”

What is “it”?

What they don’t see are your own panic attacks in the shower and the obsessive thoughts that race through your head each night. They don’t understand that you’re balancing medical bills in your head as you’re blowing out the birthday candles on your cake. After all, the days turn into months which turn into years. It all seems the same when you’re in survival mode.

Nobody says thank you which isn’t what you’re wishing for, but is also exactly what you need. It all just builds up and you cry in your walk in closet again for the second morning in a row. Your excuse your tears as selfishness and push your worry deep down behind your ribs again.

Sweet stranger, I see you. There have been times when I have been the care giver and times when I have needed someone to care for me. The hardest role of the two was caring so deeply for the loved one that was suffering that my very heart felt like a heavy stone. I know you’re rarely understood, checked on, or appreciated. Sometimes illness doesn’t allow those we are caring for to shower us in gratitude.

I want you to know here and now that you are seen, you are loved, and that you matter–outside of what you do there is you. You are not forgotten and you are not alone. Right here and now let me say, “You matter.”

This is a universal thank you to each and every person that has lost sight of who they are in the act of focusing on others.

You matter.

You matter.

You matter.

Nikki xx

Side profile of a woman dressed in a sweater and low messy bun. Her face is not shown.
Photo by Ellieelien on Unsplash

ethical fashion, human trafficking, humanitarian efforts, mental health, rest, slow living, small business, subscription box, Uncategorized, women's health

Deeper Self Care

We need to remind each other to let ourselves rest so we can change the world with our whole selves.

wildflowers in a large field
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

The Problem With Busyness

You have dreams of your own to make the world around you a better place. So once you entered the workforce, you got to hustling. A few times, you’d regretfully climb into bed feeling guilty about all the things on your to-do list you didn’t check off.

Then your email inbox started giving you anxiety, even if you’re not looking at it. When friends and family asked “how have you been” your reply was “busy.”

Then you got less excited about new ideas. You used to love being creative but now it seems like too much work.

Finally you googled “signs of burnout” and admitted to yourself that you needed a break. Then you look at your to do list again, realized how much you needed to get done and started knocking things off that list. Once you’re done, you can rest.

In a culture that tells us to hustle and grind, we glorify busyness. How full our calendar is directly relates to how important we feel.

But since when was busyness our goal? 

M. K. Ghandi said “There has to be more to life than speed.” And I’m inclined to believe him.

We’ve tricked ourselves into believing that busyness will get us to a place where we can finally relax. Yet we never seem to arrive at that place. We just keep going. Sometimes until our bodies literally force us to stop.

The Reason for Rest

In Bec Heinrich’s Ted Talk on rest, she states productivity requires rest. She uses Michael Jordan as an example. He spent an average of 20% of each game resting on the bench because he realized his body and mind needed a break so he could go back out and give his all. Jordan played 1,072 games in his career. I wonder if he hadn’t taken a break, if he wouldn’t have been able to play as many games? I wonder if we don’t take a break, if we run the risk of shortening our own future success and joy? 

I’ll be honest, I don’t know how to stop feeling guilty when I can’t point to something I accomplished. I feel the urge to pack my to-do list with lots of things that will prove I’m not lazy. But maybe the key to being truly productive is rest.

What I’m Learning

Woman standing in a field of wildflowers. A windmill made of stone stands behind her.
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Here are some things I’m learning about rest… 


What if we learned to advocate for ourselves in our own minds – Stop considering ourselves either Wonder Woman or a failure. So often we trap ourselves in either/or thought patterns that don’t actually exist. We can be strong AND need rest. We can be driven AND take time to do something fun and utterly pointless. 

Maybe we have to understand that rest is personal. What makes you feel revitalized and ready to go might make me feel utterly exhausted. Self-care doesn’t have to look like a bath and candles unless that is actually how you ENJOY resting.

There are multiple types of energy and rest. We all have social, spiritual, physical, mental and emotional energy. Each is a little different from the other. Doesn’t it naturally follow that there are different types of rest as well? Instead of assuming rest always looks like a facemask and long bath (which might be great if you’ve had a physically demanding day), maybe we need to replenish the type of energy we’ve lost throughout the day. This requires us to ask ourselves questions about our tiredness and it opens up all kinds of new possibilities for rest. 

Reframing how we think of rest can change everything. Rest is a way for us to replenish energy. It gives us the chance to say how/when we want to spend or save our energy. Productivity without rest will slowly get less and less meaningful until we’ve burnt out completely. Rest works best when we make it a habit – before we’re burnt out. Not as a last-ditch solution to feeling overworked and stressed. Once we’re in burn-out, we’re fighting an uphill battle to get back to ourselves. Yes, there are seasons of life that will beat us down and leave us burnt-out and stressed. But shouldn’t those be seasons of life and not the way we live our whole life? 

A stone windmill in a field of wildflowers. Poppies, daisies, and other flowers are at the bottom of the small hill.
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

If you’re someone like me who wants to change the world or maybe just our little corner of it, you need to learn how to rest. Spending all your energy does the world no good. Pushing through and living life as a well-meaning zombie means we all lose out on your spirit, your creativity, your heart because you’re too tired to share it with us. We need to remind each other to let ourselves rest so we can change the world with our whole selves.

Cassidy xx

Photo provided by ‘The Arise Box’


This guest post was written by Cassidy Perry, founder of The Arise Box. The Arise Box gives you a simple, easy way to fight human trafficking in your every-day life. We curate products you can feel good about (ethically made, sustainable, give back, really world-changing stuff) while using part of the profits to build care packages for human trafficking survivors. You are worthy and capable of making a real difference in the world. We’re here to help you get started. Subscribe to The Arise Box at TheAriseBox.com to start empowering survivors, you world-changer you.

Anxiety, art, mental health, parenting, slow living, women's health

Art and Mental Health

But I spend as much time as I can being creative, because it’s healing.

Dear Stranger, my name’s Caitlin and I have a mood disorder.

First things first…

I didn’t always have anxiety and depression. In fact, I used to be considered a class clown in my younger days. I remember being shy sometimes, but I was a pretty confident kid. As a girl I would love to make my friends laugh. I would draw funny pictures for them too, and make up characters. I’ve always been told I was creative.

greenery and a notebook laying on a white surface.

But things changed once I got a little older. I was sitting in a classroom in 8th grade, and suddenly I felt a fear I had never felt before. I felt trapped. I couldn’t breathe. I needed to get out of there. I didn’t know it then, but I had experienced my first panic attack. They say something traumatic must happen to a person for them to have an anxiety disorder, but that’s not always true.

Dear Depression,

As a teenager, I started getting depressed and anxious. I was too afraid to take pills or seek therapy at the time. But when I was feeling low, I always had my sketchbook. I drew fairies and elves and hobbits, mainly. And when I wasn’t drawing, my friends and I filmed brilliant (to us) videos. If Youtube existed back then, let me tell you we would’ve had our own channel. Just like in my younger years, I would play countless characters for the video camera, trying to make people laugh. When I did that, I forgot about my anxiety and depression. I felt like myself again.

Postpartum Depression

Fast forward to my years as a young mother. I had postpartum depression every time I had a new baby (and I had three kids in 5 years). I went through a period where I forgot how to be creative. I wasn’t drawing or writing anymore. But as the kids grew, I found that we could do crafts together. Making beeswax candles, making salt dough hand prints, …it was very fun creating things again, this time with my little ones.

The Spark of Creativity

I was still a lonely mom, but one day I had an idea. I decided to start hosting an annual tea party for my friends. It was called a Cupid’s Tea. We would craft Valentine’s together. Sitting there at my first of many tea parties, simply using a glue stick….it sparked something in me. From then on I never stopped trying to be creative.

Antique spoons on a white surface.

I started being more crafty. My kids and I made fairy gardens outside, and painted birdhouses. I started scrap booking. I even got more creative with my hair. I may have had depression, but dying my hair pink, purple, blue and teal cheered me up. I may have had anxiety, but I could rock a mohawk!

Healing Projects

When we moved from Virginia to Alabama, it wasn’t easy.

It was at this time I got really into painting wooden signs and making dream catchers. I made so many crafts that I was encouraged to start an Etsy shop, so I did. Knowing that people will pay money for the things I make is really encouraging. It helps me with my loneliness and my mood disorder.

Keep in mind, I still have a mood disorder. I have bad days. I manage it with medication and seeing a psychiatrist. But I spend as much time as I can being creative, because it’s healing.

Be Encouraged

I just want to encourage you, stranger, to try something just for you. Sketch, paint, blog, scrapbook, write, craft, or dye your hair red. There is something about creativity that has always helped me, and no matter what you’re going through, I believe it will help you too.

I will leave you with this quote by one of my heroes, which I love.

“You’re only given a little spark of madness; You mustn’t lose it” – Robin Williams

Pastel paint swatches, pencils, and botanical pieces on a white surface.

As David Horsey of the LA Times said: ” I very much doubt the “madness” of which he spoke had anything to do with mental illness. Rather, it is the spark of impulse, insight, enthusiasm and inspiration that is essential to creativity.”

Don’t lose that spark.

Caitlin xx

BIO:
Caitlin Moore is a wife and a stay at home mother to three boys. She’s a Virginia native living in Alabama. She also has two cats, Wendy and Tiger Lily. She spends her days cooking,cleaning and care taking, but she always fits in time for herself. (This is easier now that all three boys are in school).
Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/DixiePixieShop
Tzargazing blog https://tzargazing.wordpress.com/
15 moments blog https://15moments.home.blog/

***All of the beautiful photos in this post are compliments of  Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash