Putting My Oxygen Mask on First

Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Snow in April, Suffering is Optional

After some gorgeous sunny days with birds and butterflies, I had settled into spring. I struggled with the wind and hail on Wednesday and now SNOW accumulation today. This weather is a teacher – and since global warming is real and I live in Chicago – it is time for me to pull up a chair and learn my lesson. I continue to struggle with causing myself suffering by resisting what is – when my resistance is futile.

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Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Don’t Should Yourself

After some conversations with clients, I noticed that usually when we use the word “should” it’s not very empowering. “I should” or “you should” seems to be negative. We are typically using it to berate or shame ourselves (or someone else) for not living up to a standard – it implies we are not OK as we are. Or we are using it to limit ourselves or others – it seems to imply there is just one right way or right answer. As a parent, I want to start questioning my motives anytime I say something to my kids that starts with “You should” – what is my intention? Am I imposing my own limiting beliefs on them? Am I trying to shame them? Am I trying to get them to be something I want them to be instead of the wonderful beings they are?

Last week when I was hiking in Indiana, I felt a strong need for grounding. It was warm out, so I took off my hiking boots. It felt so good that I wanted to hike barefoot – and immediately I thought “I shouldn’t”.  But when I questioned that assumption, I realized my only reason was because that’s not what people do – everyone else was wearing boots or shoes and I didn’t want to get muddy/dirty. So I hiked barefoot through the paths – mud and all, and it was glorious. Yes, my feet and socks got muddy, but guess what? The mud washed off! I had to go through the same mental exercise when I wanted to lay down on the ground without a blanket.

One of my clients shared that she would always feel badly after the weekend because there was a list of things she “should” have done. Instead of beating herself up for not getting her “shoulds” done over the weekends, she created a new framework for herself. She had goals about being more creative, active and fun – so she set goals to do one creative thing, one physical activity and something fun. She focuses on accomplishing that goal instead of a lot of “shoulds” and reports she is much happier.

The next time you hear the word “should” come out of your mouth, take a minute to reflect. Are you about to limit or shame yourself or others?  If so, it’s a great opportunity to treat yourself with more compassion or to examine your limiting beliefs.


Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Rituals

I’ve been obsessed with rituals lately. I view them as rituals vs routines because of the intent I associate with them. To me, routines are habits we perform mindlessly. Routines can be tedious. Rituals are performed with awareness and meaning. Consistent rituals provide rhythm to our daily life and give us stability when things get rough. They anchor us to our true selves.

Morning rituals

My obsession started with my morning ritual. I want to start my day intentionally, in a way that supports my goals. Previously I had been grabbing my phone to check Facebook when I first woke up, which meant that more often than not, my day was hijacked by whatever inanity Trump had tweeted overnight. To take back my mornings, I instituted my morning ritual – thinking of 2-3 things for which I’m grateful, meditating, reading for 5 minutes, drinking a glass of water with apple cider vinegar, making my bed, and practicing Lisa Nichols’ mirror exercise(see minutes 2:45). I’ve modified it over time – I’m no longer doing Lisa’s mirror exercise or making my bed, but I’ve added morning pages. It sets the tone for my day, clears my mind, and keeps me focused on my priorities.

Family rituals

We have family rituals for how we connect and celebrate together…like the first person to see a spring flower winning a “cake”, beignets and burpees on the beach birthday bash, making homemade pasta and pesto on Christmas Eve, volunteering at the Misericordia bakery during the holiday season, winter jigsaw puzzles, summer morning sunrise adventures in pajamas, singing Sana, Sana Colita de Rana song when sick and when schedules allow, electronic free family dinners.

Other rituals

I’ve also established rituals in other areas of my life. I have a ritual for starting my day at work – I meditate, pray and review the intentions I’ve written for the type of experience I’d like every client to have. I have a ritual for therapy as well – starting therapy with a cup of tea, ending it with a meditation, going for a walk in the woods to integrate, process and crystallize, and then journaling about anything that came up during therapy and/or my walk. I also have made it a regular practice to go for a walk in the forest daily – I vary my route but always check in at the bridge and with one specific, special tree – which allows me to closely observe the changes in season. These rituals help me live more mindfully.

Bedtime rituals

Fortunately for me, I have an easy time falling asleep, so my bedtime ritual is pretty simple. I turn off electronics, tell the kids goodnight (occasionally beg them to tuck me in), read for a little while, and think about 2-3 things that happened that day for which I’m grateful.

If you have any difficulty falling asleep, a robust bedtime ritual can be a lifesaver. If you have kids (or were a kid), you know that parents establish a bedtime ritual to ease kids into falling asleep. It may include changing into comfy pajamas, dimming the lights, taking a bath, reading a book, singing a lullaby, listening to music, saying prayers, and/or rocking. We don’t sit kids in front of screens and fill them with caffeine and sugar and then expect they’ll fall asleep. But at some point, we seem to expect that we no longer need a bedtime ritual to prepare us for sleep. Consider establishing a bedtime routine to help you fall asleep more quickly and soundly – drink an herbal tea, take an Epsom salt bath, do some gentle stretching or yoga poses, meditate, read a paper book (not on electronics), listen to soft music, and/or diffuse lavender. Try different things and figure out what works best for you.

I have asked health gurus from my amazing network to share their bedtime rituals and best sleep tips. I will be sharing them on Facebook and Instagram throughout April. Check the posts to get ideas for what might work best for you.





Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Perfectionism

My perfectionism (and my ego) is impacting my relationships. It prevents me from just BEING THERE and CREATING SPACE FOR MY PEEPS TO BE. It makes things about ME instead of them. Shouldn’t I have grown past the “world revolves around me” stage by now?

My son was recently in a program to address how his perfectionist tendencies have created anxiety that at times is crippling for him. continue reading »


Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Easy Buttons vs Reset Buttons

My daughter and I saw Glennon Doyle speak at the People’s Church of Chicago on Friday night. She dropped many gems, but one in particular stuck with me. She talked about knowing your easy buttons vs your reset buttons – so that you make better choices.  Glennon defines easy buttons as those things you do to avoid your hot loneliness that take you away from yourself. Reset buttons are the things that bring you back to yourself. continue reading »


Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Listening to Wisdom of my Body

Our own physical body possesses a wisdom which we who inhabit the body lack. We give it orders which make no sense. Henry Miller

We’ve all heard the saying “gut feeling”, “makes my heart sing”, “got cold feet”, ‘feel it in my bones”, “leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth”. These are all ways our language reflect the wisdom that comes from our body.

The first time I remember someone specifically coaching me on listening to my body was my life coach Alexis Robin (check her out at pLink Leadership). She told me to pay attention to how my body responds to a situation – do my upper back and neck muscles tighten up or am I relaxed? That tip has been life changing for me…it’s even part of my story about how I came to be an acupuncturist. continue reading »


Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Attachment to Outcomes

 “He who stands on tiptoe

doesn’t stand firm.

He who rushes ahead

doesn’t go far.

He who tries to shine

dims his own light.

He who defines himself

can’t know who he really is.

He who has power over others

can’t empower himself.

He who clings to his work

will create nothing that endures.

If you want to accord with the Tao,

just do your job, then let go. “ Lao Tzu

I’ve been focusing on letting go of my attachment to outcomes (and pushing my own agendas). It’s hard. I love to take credit when things go well – it helps silence that little girl in me who feels like she isn’t enough. And when things don’t go well, I am always quick to blame myself and look at what I could have done to get a different outcome. I don’t have a choice though – my kids are both finishing their senior year of high school. According to numerology, I am also in Year 7 – the year of surrender. continue reading »


Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Morning Pages

I have been “journaling” consistently for over a month – and I LOVE IT. I’ve always been VERY RESISTANT to journaling. One reason I’ve been consistent is probably because it is never referred to as journaling. I’ve been doing an exercise from The Artist’s Way called Morning Pages. (Does the Bill Cosby Picture Pages song pop into anyone else’s head when you hear Morning Pages?) continue reading »


Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Enjoy Life Daily

I’ve been spending at least 10 minutes a day doing something that makes my heart sing. For a while, I got caught up in the responsibilities of being a entrepreneur of a newer business and mom of two kids and an active community member…and I wasn’t spending any time at all having fun by myself. While I really enjoy my work, kids and community, I still need to time to replenish myself and just have fun on my own. continue reading »


Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Showing Up

“Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.” Anonymous

I’ve recently been reminded a lesson that I’ve already learned from doing CrossFit for years – the value of showing up consistently – including the days when you don’t even feel like getting out of bed or know you won’t hit any PRs. It is the consistency and discipline of a regular practice that helps make the gains – not just those PR setting work outs. continue reading »