Clean Break

Photography by Sarah Elliott

In Partnership with Coyuchi + Naturepedic

Self-care has been dialed up what feels like a thousand percent in recent months. But, prior to August when I made the definitive choice to shift my lifestyle and proudly commit to a newfound healthy regime I felt like a hamster on a wheel, stuck in a 24-7 cycle that revolved around work. I rarely stopped to make a plan for myself. I was so focused on deadlines, goals, achievements, and meeting unrealistic expectations I had of myself that I forgot about ME. I wrote a book, photographed a book, released a book, and toured and promoted that book while gut-renovating a massive townhouse, and then designed this entire home on my own. Which, by the way, I knew was to be photographed for a major shelter publication. Soooooo…that didn’t add any pressure, nope. All of this was compounded by an insane amount of financial stress. I was taking on more work that I had no business accepting because I was already a pressure cooker about to burst.

I had developed this insane tolerance for pressure. I adapted to juggling ten thousand balls I had in the air at once—all at the expense of my happiness. Because what was happening was all AH-MAZE-ING. Things I had dreamt up in my wildest dreams were coming to fruition but I was so emotionally wrought that I barely felt human and thus couldn’t experience the joy in what was unfolding. Instead, I was unraveling. I could not find a way out. I was making poor decision after poor decision and I was not liking who I was becoming because all of my choices were coming from a place of depletion and desperation.

Oh, and then came the deadline for a second book to shoot, write, and deliver. It was all just too much at once—which would have been okay if I were carving out time to take care of myself, umm…how? Or had a larger team to delegate to—ahem, I could barely pay my monthly bills as it was. So, things just remained as they were. What’s crazy is that being “on”—on my phone, my computer, or social media, from 7 a.m. until midnight—was beginning to feel normal. I wasn’t eating well, I wasn’t spending time in nature, I wasn’t cooking, I wasn’t laughing enough, I wasn’t taking care of my body or my mind, and I never found stillness, even when I wasn’t moving. I was exhausted and cloudy at all times. As much as I yearned to find an end to the madness, excuses prevailed and it never arrived.

In August, something shifted. It was a variety of things. We were finally approved for a loan we had previously been denied, so that alleviated some of our financial pressure. I decided to ask my publisher if I could push back the release and thus deadline for my second book, so that relinquished some time I had blocked off. And, I had finally finished the design of our Brooklyn townhouse and completed the photoshoot for Architectural Digest, which was without doubt the most insane amount of pressure I have ever placed on myself. This trifecta of incidents allowed me a certain breadth of space. I quickly grasped hold of it because I knew I could easily fill it with the minutiae of busies I had become so accustomed to for four-plus years. This was the beginning of a shift I so desperately needed—the window that forced me to reevaluate my life and reclaim a bit of lightheartedness I knew was still alive within me, somewhere.

So, August 10, 2018 became the day I would change. I aimed to heal my life, to find my joy, to set intentions and priorities and commitments to myself. I actually didn’t work at all the last three weeks of August. I stopped drinking, I began taking the supplements my body was craving, I cut out sugar and gluten from my diet, I began working out daily, I began taking long and luxurious baths, and I put myself and my family first, above work.

This sanctuary, the master bathroom in my Brooklyn townhouse, was in part the catalyst for change. It was where I began to schedule alone time. “Me” time. People always ask me what my favorite room is in my home and while the kitchen is where I am most creative, it is within my bathroom walls that I find calm. This is where I restore my body and mind. Where rituals have replaced mayhem. Here I surround myself with beauty. I meditate every morning in my pink marble-clad shower as the steam envelopes me.

I take pride in slowing down enough to set up the little things that bring me joy, like a beautifully monochromatic stack of Coyuchi Catalina towels made from a blend of organic cotton and linen that’s loomed in a herringbone weave, perched on the daintiest chair of the same color just outside my shower. I fill my bathroom with fresh blooms or branches, palo santo wood burns regularly, and scented candles consume the room every time I take a bath. I create dedicated playlists for my self-care ceremony, (this is huge because I wasn’t even listening to music anymore!), and I wrap myself in an organic linen robe or the loftiest, fluffiest Cloud Loom towels from Coyuchi, made of luxuriously long, 100-percent organic Turkish cotton. It all takes place in a room so dreamy and serene, with its feminine hue and soft plaster walls reminiscent of a century-old chateau.

Look, the pressures of work and bills, and commitments, and deadlines, just aren’t going to go away. But, for 30 to 40 minutes each day I can create a moment that allows me to carry a bit of calm and composure into “real life” and be ready to tackle anything with clarity. I am beginning to know my priorities begin with me.  Balance is a nasty word because often it is impossible to create balance. Really, we just need to make choices each day, each moment, to feel sane and centered. Choices to cleanse our mind, our body, and our environment of toxins.

No one knows better than me how hard it is to make a significant change in your life. I felt trapped for four-plus years and talked about making a shift so often that I was annoyed by myself and my lack of motivation to actually put some practices into place. But I promise you this—engaging with the smallest commitments will reward you in the grandest ways, making you feel ALIVE again. While I have eased up on myself and the rigid guidelines I so desperately needed to institute in August in order to make this monumental shift, I can proudly report that I have retained much of my self-care routine and honestly feel like I have been reborn. Yes, I still have the daily pressures of work and writing and completing this new book, but somehow, I have relinquished the white-knuckle clenching that I became so accustomed to. It is pretty astounding how every thought, feeling, emotion, commitment, action is within our control. We do not need to grind and run on empty to find success. Let’s vow to give ourselves a little love. Don’t forget about you, k?

Share this Swoon   –  

Necessary Objects

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