Self-care

I’ve struggled to get a post out because I haven’t felt on top of my game the past several days, but I want this to be an open space because perhaps it can be an encouragement to some of you.

Blake and I have a big transition coming up, and while it is good, it is challenging for me. I love new things, but I’m also a creature of comfort and familiarity. This weekend was filled with big decisions and future conversations, and my emotions and anxiety were all over the place.

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Normally, when I’m feeling off emotionally or physically, I push through and just do what I need to do. However, in the past year I’ve started honoring my need to slow down and take care of myself. Self-care is a buzzword now, but for good reason. Our culture tells us we need to push ourselves farther, constantly be busy, and always say ‘yes’. I felt that pressure for years –  and I finally hit a breaking point. I was constantly tired and unhappy, and I didn’t have the time or energy to do life-giving things like spend time with my husband, read books, bake, or go on walks.

Perhaps I won’t get as ‘far’ as others, get as much done, make as much money, or know as many people, but I don’t care. I’d rather be present for the moments and people I have right now.

Practicing self-care and slowing down is not easy. Sometimes I worry I’m missing out, or that I’m not doing ‘enough.’ However, what is the measure of ‘enough’? I believe this comes from knowing and trusting ourselves. I know, that is hard, but you are the only judge of your capacity.

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If you are feeling burnt out and exhausted, or like you never have a spare moment in your calendar, then maybe you need to make room for slowing down and practicing self-care. One way I have done this is by taking a Sunday sabbath. After church and lunch, I spend the day doing life-giving things – no work or big plans. Recently I’ve spent that time reading, baking, watching a show, getting coffee with Blake or a friend, or spending time with family. During an emotionally or physically challenging time, perhaps self-care involves taking a break from exercise, taking a nap, or making sure you get a good night’s rest.

What keeps you from slowing down?

How do you practice self-care?

Embracing my body in pictures

This past weekend, Blake and I attended the wedding of one of his dear high school friends. The setting couldn’t have been more picturesque – a bright, open church, surrounded by trees in the middle of the Wisconsin countryside. After the ceremony, I wanted to take some pictures. I am terrible about documenting life events and people, and am trying to be better at it. However, I knew the personal struggle that would ensue…

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I don’t like having picture taken of me. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Even in a group photo, my eye immediately hones in on myself, and I base the “quality” of the picture off of how I feel about my body in the photo. In individual and group photos, I pick apart my body, criticize my “trouble spots”, and completely degrade myself. Sadly, this one photo can affect my mood the rest of the day – bringing me down, isolating me from people, being afraid to eat too much, blaming my habits for why I look “so bad,” etc.

Despite knowing this would happen as we took pictures, I tried to be confident in my body and my individual beauty. I took pictures of Blake first – such a stud – but then he wanted to take pictures of me. I was awkward. I didn’t know how to pose in a way that hid my “flaws” and made me look natural and elegant. I looked off to the side because I hate my face straight on. I told him to make me laugh because I think my smile looks funny. I tried to have fun, but nothing felt natural.

After our photo shoot, we piled into the car and I proceeded to look at all the photos he took. I cringed. Not because he’s a terrible photographer, but because my insecurities about my body were confirmed and my confidence in my beauty dissipated. However, there was one photo that made me feel beautiful. He had caught the right moment and added depth, which elevated the whole look.

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I was deflated and insecure after seeing the photos, but what struck me was how I felt so different about my body from photo to photo. It was the same hour, and I was wearing the same dress, my hair and make-up were all the same, and it was me the whole time.

Photography is able to capture the beauty all around us. Like make-up or a cute outfit, it can enhance the beautiful aspects of a person, place, or object. And I’m not just talking about appearance, but also personality, emotions, and relationships. However, a photo can skew an image. Lighting, angle, camera quality, editing, and composition all play a role how “good” a photo is. I love my wedding pictures, but that’s because they were done by a professional photographer who edited them beautifully.

When I was in eating disorder treatment, I participated in a body image group. I remember talking about how we see ourselves in photos. We do exactly what I just described – pick ourselves apart. I know many women who do this, even those without an eating disorder. We do the same thing with mirrors. How many times do you look in the mirror and actually feel better about yourself? How often do you hone in on that one part you don’t like? I never feel better about myself when I look in the mirror, and I still focus on my arms and tummy – they will never be good enough.

As I build my presence on social media and the blog, I don’t want to just be the photographer. I want you all to know who I am. I want to be able to look back 50 years from now and have pictures of my 20s. As I ponder all this, I realize that I fear pictures, because I worry they will confirm how awful I already feel about myself.

I firmly believe that every woman is beautiful…so why should I think differently of myself? Every woman (and man) is beautiful! We all have unique talents, personalities, strengths, passions, abilities, experiences, and bodies. The world tells women they can only feel beautiful if they have the “idealized” body at the time (which, by the way, is constantly changing).

The root of my struggle is not whether the picture is good or bad, but how I already view myself and how much I base my worth on my appearance. What would happen if I accepted my body and was confident in its beauty? Would I view a picture of myself differently?

I make it sound like an easy equation, but it’s not. Accepting your body for all it is and all that it can do for you takes time. I am still a work in progress.

As women, let’s encourage each other to cherish the bodies we have and celebrate the woman we see in the photo.

 

Introductions

I am passionate about people, and one of my favorite things to do is hear peoples’ stories. I joke that if I could make a living meeting people for coffee, I would totally do that! I believe building a true relationship with someone requires getting to know them on the inside – their upbringing, their passions and dreams, and what brought them to where they are now. So, before I go into the depths of my thoughts and experiences, I feel it is only fitting to introduce myself to you!

I had quite an exciting upbringing! Both my parents are Americans, but worked oversees when I was growing up. I was born in Germany, and when I was 1 1/2, we moved to Moscow, Russia, where I lived for 17 years. Many people ask me what it was like to live in Moscow, and honestly that’s hard to answer because it was all I knew. Looking back on it now, I loved living in a big, bustling city! I love history and culture, and there was never a lack of either. I remember going to ballets and museums regularly, listening to classical music, and being surrounded by so many cultures. I loved the food (especially the bread), taking the Metro, and being able to travel to other countries easily.

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After graduating from high school in Moscow, I moved to the US with my parents (my 3 older siblings were already there for college). While adjusting to living in the US was a challenge, there was a bigger beast I was dealing with at this time. I will go into much more detail in a later post, however after 5th grade I developed an eating disordered which largely went unaddressed until my senior year of high school. I finally agreed to get help after graduation, so moving back to the U.S. was also combined with finding a treatment program. At this time, I also deferred my acceptance to college so I could focus on treatment.

Fast forward a year, and I started at St. Olaf College. I had no idea what I was going to major in, and was still incredibly shy. I can’t say those 4 years of college were the best years of my life, but I can say I grew immensely and am so thankful for the experiences I had and people I met. I graduated in 2014 with a bachelors degree in Social Work, with no intention of practicing social work or going back to school. After a summer of working at a coffee shop and searching for my first “real job,” I moved to the Twin Cities for a job as an admission counselor at private university. I loved my team, but was completely burnt out with the job. After 1 1/2 years in admissions, I had a short stint at corporate job, but hated the corporate environment, and I found myself back at the university, but this time I was a data manager. After a year as a data manager, I was ready for a change of pace. I was not happy with my job and felt burnt out. I had little time or energy to do what I was really passionate about, which is to invest in people, my home and family, and beautiful things. All this led to me joining Beautycounter, and I can honestly say I could not be happier with my decision. Much more on that later 🙂

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During all of this, I met my now husband, Blake. We were set up by a mutual friend during my first year after college. He was studying abroad, so our first interactions were on Facebook and Skype! We met for the first time in December of 2014 and started dating a couple weeks later. A year and a half after that, we got married! Blake was my first real boyfriend, and the first man I ever loved. We have learned so much together and grown a lot in the 2 1/2 years we have known each other. He has brought the little girl out in me, and has been my biggest support through these years.

Currently, we live in St. Paul with our little kitty, Rosie. Blake and I are both cat-lovers to the core! Blake is an aspiring lawyer and plans to take the LSAT in September! We both LOVE exploring coffee shops – thank goodness the Twin Cities has a lot to choose from – watching documentaries and Grey’s Anatomy, going for walks, hosting people in our home, and spending time with family.

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If you ever want to grab coffee sometime, I’d love to hear your story!

 

Welcome!

Hi there! Thanks for stopping over at my blog. As an avid blog-reader, I have toyed around with the idea of starting a blog for years, but didn’t know what exactly to write about. But I’ve decided to bite the bullet and give it a try because I have things on my heart that I want to share with others. My dream is that through my sharing, you will be encouraged and inspired.

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What brings me here is my passion finding balance in life. For years I struggled with anxiety, worry, and perfectionism, and trying to fit into a “perfect” body, be the perfect student/daughter/sister/friend, and do everything the right way. I was so worried about being myself, because I didn’t trust myself and I worried so much what people thought. Over the past couple years, I have come to know myself better, and the true Katherine has started coming out. I am by no means perfect at embracing who I am or finding the right balance in life, but I am learning. I see so many people, especially women, striving to fit a perfect image of appearance, success, abilities, and personality, and it only leads to burn out and missing out on life’s true beauty.

So, here on this blog, I want to share my journey to embrace my true self, find balance in all its forms, and present a holistic approach to health. I am by no means a professional writer or an expert in life, mental health, or nutrition, so bear with me as I fumble through thoughts and putting those on paper. I am beyond excited to share with you all. Here’s to something new!

~Katherine