We’ve spent time talking about loving others well and pouring into them to show them that you appreciate your favorites for all that they are and all that they do. But here’s the thing that we often times forget: to love others well, to really be able to pour into them, we have to start with ourselves. We have to tend to ourselves, we have to love ourselves and we have to pour into ourselves so that we actually have something to give to someone else.

You Can’t Pour From an Empty Cup! 

You might have a significant other, kiddos, parents, siblings, friends, coworkers, four legged family members, etc. that need you and rely on you. But if you put yourself on the back burner and if all you do is give, give, give…what does that leave you? At some point, if you never take even a moment to pause and do something that caters just to you, your cup will become empty and despite any desire to help, you won’t truly be there the way you want to be. You won’t be able to love others well if you don’t love yourself well first.

You might read that and automatically start thinking that it is easier said than done, while you replay your mile long todo list in your head. By no means am I saying that it’s easy, but after reading Chasing Slow (by Erin Loechner) it was like someone pushed the curtain aside, lifted a weight I was carrying and then gave me permission to just be present in the moment and grateful for the now. In her book, Erin beautifully describes her own journey of defining what slow looks like for her and her family and every single page is filled with something that you just want to highlight, underline, star, tag, etc.! When I was trying to decide on a few quotes to share, I literally found myself unable to pick just one or two and then spent 30 minutes re-reading different passages because it just sucked me right back in again. She says the words that you need to hear but sometimes won’t let your heart listen to because guilt and pressure makes you feel like you must always be doing, going, stretching and reaching.

But you don’t have to be! Erin reminds you that chasing slow is a process and one that is constantly evolving with the different seasons we enter. I’m starting to open my eyes (and my heart!) to the idea that slow isn’t just allowed, it is absolutely necessary. Necessary to fill you up, to recharge you, and recenter you. Necessary to be present and be intentional to the people that matter and in the moments that fuel your soul and remind you what life is about.

In the back of the book, Erin provides all sorts of fun resources and one of my favorites was an A to Z list of how to slow down your life. While I literally could share each one, I wanted to share with you the ones that I’ve started to adopt in my day to day and week to week routines in an effort to be present, to be slow and to invest in my own self care (minus the usual guilt in doing so).

  • Ethical Shopping: It might seem silly to start this list of “self love” off with shopping, but 1) we’re going in alphabetical order and 2) Have you read what’s in the beauty and skin care products you use on the daily?! I am starting to make this switch first with my skin care products after reading about the chemicals (un-tested and unregulated, I might add) that are often used in the products I use on my face and body on the daily.I take great care in preparing the food that we eat and put in our body but had given little thought to what I was putting on it. So in my pursuit of being more purposeful and intentional, I started with my body and started to treat it with natural products and just the simple switch felt like I was giving my skin a gift.
  • Exercise: If we are being technical here, Erin lists yoga specifically but for me exercise in general is often what fills my “me time” in my Happy Balance Planner. This is the time that allows me to completely check out of my day and check completely in with myself, especially on those days that feel chaotic. This time is what grounds me and helps remind me of my strength and my ability to put one foot in front in front of the other, one breath at a time.
  • Quiet Break: My form of a quiet break has been mindful meditation in the evening and it has been a total game changer. It’s intentional time that I literally just sit in quiet without anything in my hand to drown out my thoughts and instead I actually listen to those thoughts. The simple act of breathing with purpose has become my greatest tool to move through a stressful moment or point and has reminded me that stepping away is OK…and often times essential. I used to equate a break as weakness, but I’m quickly learning that it’s in the break that you can build resiliency and strength to only come back stronger.
  • Read: I have a goal this year to read a book a month or at least 12 books throughout the year. I had this desire to carve out guilt-free time curled up on our couch and losing myself in the stories that transported me to a new culture and a new adventure. But, most importantly, I had a desire to be inspired by words, images and the feelings that these evoked. When truly immersed in a good book, there is nothing quite like it that can make time feel like it is standing still. If that’s not slow, I don’t know what is!
  • X: Click the X on the tabs you have taking up space here on your screen (and in your mind); click the X on your computer, your phone and all your electronics; click the metaphorical X on the tasks and the things that aren’t serving your true intentions that fuel you or fill you up. Click X on everything that isn’t essential to letting you live a life that is measured by joy! This might be the hardest practice for me but I’m taking baby steps: trying not to bring the phone with me when I go to bed and turning the computer and work off early on Friday afternoons to find some quiet, reading time to finish my week. (That’s three slow practices in one!)

We included a “me time” section in our Happy Balance Planners with the idea of carving out time on paper to help you carve out the time for yourself in real life. Even if it is five minutes of quiet time or a simple walk around the block, give yourself permission to slow down. Give yourself permission to sit. Give yourself permission to give to yourself. It’s not selfish…it’s self-sustaining so that you can be all that you want to be for yourself AND for the ones you love most.

How are you chasing slow? How are you finding the quiet and the grace within the chaos of everyday life? Share below!