Why my self-love looks different than yours, and why that’s ok- By Guest Blogger Megan Reinbold

Enjoy a blog post by Megan Reinbold, Her Art is Heart’s June guest blogger! I spent a lovely afternoon taking photos of Megan, her baby-bump, and her pupper-dups– Ruby– all throughout her ridiculously swanky abode. I felt like an uber guest, getting pampered with Megan’s pinterest-snapshot-worthy cooking. And of course the puppy love is just that…. LOVE!

See her cook, see her play frisbee! But most importantly listen to Megan’s wise words about Self-Love and how it doesn’t look for the same for everyone.

Why my self-love looks different than yours, and why that’s ok.

By Megan Reinbold

Anyone on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, or with any accessibility to magazines knows the basics of what self love should look like, according to these sources: first, the prerequisite that you have long, wavy, mermaid hair, perfect skin, and flowy beach clothes that don’t require a bra. Once you have these, you can set out on your self love journey. It probably involves ridiculously elaborate smoothy bowls, yoga, massages, froyo, iced coffee, pedicures, shopping trips, and stupid-expensive sushi at a trendy restaurant for dinner. After dinner of course is a candlelit bath with your Lush brand (registered and copyrighted) bath bomb, before cozying up in your hygge-approved bedroom with your Goldendoodle before bedtime.

This in theory sounds fantastic, but about 80% of it stresses me out. When I’ve gone for massages, I either get really self-conscious and try to lie still and somehow make my body skinny at the same time, or I feel like I have to talk so it’s not awkward. The feeling of it is relaxing, but I’d much rather make my husband give me a back rub than a stranger. Pedicures are the same way. Whenever I spend frivolous money all I can think about are other, practical things I could be spending the money on instead. Baths make me antsy. So while I’d like to enjoy all of these self-love things, they usually lead to more stress and anxiety than they’re supposed to relieve me of.  If they work for you, fantastic! If you think all day about your nightly bath and it soothes your soul, great. But for the longest time I tried these things over and over trying to force myself to believe that if I tried hard enough, I could feel relaxed (I now know this makes absolutely zero sense). Here’s how I figured out what self-love actually looks like to me.

  1. Whatever it is, it’s not social media. Social media is a huge soul-sucking monster. You can try to rationalize it, but I don’t think it will ever work out. It seems like something that would be a fantastic relaxer- tune out for a while, get lost in streams of pictures of your favorite celebrities, new recipes, and get some proof that your ex absolutely failed in life after you. It really does seem good, but whenever I take time out to browse social media, I end up frantic, frazzled, and stressed out. I have more home projects than I can handle, I have a new idea of what a “perfect” life looks like (and it’s definitely not my current life), and the pretty girl from high school did marry the quarterback and they have an adorable toddler and are not in the least bit fat. They probably ran a 10k then had smoothie bowls this morning. Afterwards I’m very aware of what everything COULD be if I just tried harder and was cooler, and also at the same time am thinking about all the other things I could be doing instead of stalking people and wishing for another life. Even when I do a “cool” thing, the next step of course is to filter it and tag it and share it and hope for all of the likes or retweets or acknowledgement that yes, the thing you did was indeed cool. Social media relaxation is a lie, and it is not my self-love.

  1. Think of things that you notice that you like in the world. Whenever I wash my hands with a pretty soap in a restroom, I can smell it on my hands, and am often that weird person who smells their hands all night. Having little things that smell good makes me more present in the space and time I’m in, and gives everything a little 10% oomph, at least it does for me. So I have fancy dish soap. Not stupid fancy $48 dish soap from Anthropologie, but the $6.99 method soap that smells exactly like the pear Lip Smacker I had in middle school. When I do dishes (usually a chore) I’m not that sad about it, because the kitchen smells like pear and ginger after, and to me that’s good. So while the dishes would get done perfectly well with the $2.99 blue Dawn soap, I mini-splurge on good-smelling dish soap, and also hand soap throughout the house.

  1. Farmers markets. So simple. So hygge. So Goop. Growing up as an only child, I learned to self-monologue a lot. Most of these featured me on some sort of tv show or interview where obviously everyone was really interested in what I had to teach them. Going to a farmers market or farm stand helps me to set the story for these grand adventures so I have a more interesting fake-monologue later. I am insane, true, but it’s one of those little extra things that make simple meals more interesting, and makes me feel like I’m taking part in something just a little bit more special than everyday. It works for me.

  1. Not magazines. Magazines for me are like social media. In theory they’re great, but what actually happens is that I don’t have time to read any of them, and they gather for months and months on end in my entryway, until I have literally 30 magazines that I’m supposed to read in order to make the investment worthwhile. So what actually happens is that I either speed-read through them, desperately searching for a tidbit or picture to rip out, then throw them out, or just throw them out, guilty over the wasted money. Magazines to me are not self-loving.

  1. A good speaker. I’m a music nerd, for sure. I love reading composer biographies and textbooks, and when I do that, I love to listen to music from that composer, to really immerse myself in the experience. When I do dishes, I like to put on good sing-along music to make a drudge-y task more fun. For this, I’m absolutely in love with my wireless speaker. It’s not a Bose, or an Apple, but it was more than $10 and sounds so immensely better because of it. I very much do believe that if there’s something you use regularly, it’s worth spending the extra money on because every time you use it, your experience will be just better enough to make it a pleasant instead of annoying use. That’s why I don’t buy 79-cent shampoo, my mascara proclaims that it’s better than sex, and my speaker was not from the stocking-stuffer bin. Music can so easily set and change a mood, and hearing it through a good speaker is something that matters to me, so being able to give myself that experience is totally worth it.

  1. If there’s any idea that’s pervaded our recent culture other than hygge, it’s wanderlust. We see it printed on Target t-shirts, across journals that we’re apparently supposed to have time to regularly write in, and all over social media. We see late teens and 20-somethings somehow able to jet to Bali and Coachella and whatever city is trendy right now. I even have a few friends from high school who I stalk on social media (see, bad!) that seriously must have been hit by a really expensive car, because why are they drinking out of a real coconut in places where real coconuts grow? How? My underwear comes in packs, how is that life possible for them? Comparison truly is the thief of joy. BUT, I do really enjoy pure travel experiences, so I’d say that is my big self-love splurge. I had a job for a few years that allowed me to accompany my boss to New York City, which I now absolutely adore and can’t wait to go back to, Chicago which wasn’t my favorite but it was cool to say I was there, and Las Vegas. Each time was as a real adult, so any downtime was for me to do things like go on the subway and visit the Met in the afternoon, then see Holly Golightly’s brownstone and hit up Bleeker St. for dinner. It was fantastic, and something that I’m incredibly proud of actually accomplishing as someone who had never before been on public transportation.

I also recently went to Acadia National Park and got to pig out on lobster rolls and climb an actual, real mountain. I visited Toronto, which looks like a scene from a dystopian young-adult book that got turned into a movie. It really does. But I also had ramen in Toronto, which seems pretty cool. Those not-at-all-unattainable trips and a few fantastic concerts are experiences I know are big things for my budget, and aren’t things that happen every weekend, but they’re experiences that I can gather in my head and heart, and remember. Now that I’m pregnant, I know that solo weekend trips like that aren’t going to be possible for long, and while I’m excited for the baby, there are definitely a few small trips I want to take before it arrives. Thinking back on eating wild blueberries along a mountain trail, putting my hand in a real waterfall, and discussing the merits of Warby Parker glasses with my very favorite band are fun stories to tell, but they make up images in the Instagram of my mind (aka my memory) so that when things are hectic and I’m throwing up because how dare I enthusiastically brush my teeth in the first trimester, I know I’ve had a lot of good adventures.

For a long time I felt pressured to experience self-love in the same way I saw it portrayed to me. Wearing tight clothes, because eff your beauty standards! Read a magazine in the bathtub! Get a massage!

For me, self-love looks a bit different, and that’s fantastically ok.

Taking better care of yourself leads to better self-esteem!

Enjoy a blog post by Kimmy Casey, Her Art is Heart’s April guest blogger! I spent a lovely sunny day, photographing Kimmy, her daughter Riley and husband Jerry out at their house, with fancy rain-boots in toe! From witnessing stickers on the walls and furniture, and Riley’s 3 trips to the swing (because it’s just too much fun not to!!) it’s clear Kimmy lives a busy life of mommy-dom. And what’s also clear is the amount of love this family has, and the great memories that reside at their home. Kimmy and Riley gave me the full tour of what brings their family joy, and as you can see from the photos, there’s a lot of love going around 🙂

SELF-CARE = SELF-LOVE

by Kimmy Casey
When I was asked to be a guest blogger and the topic could be anything related to Susie’s passion of self-love, I instantly knew what I wanted to write about because…
the only way to show that you love yourself is to take care of yourself.
So let us dive down into the nitty gritty of what self-care truly is, how to choose activities that will bring you personal satisfaction, and how self-care has the power to drastically change your life.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of “self-care”, or doing something to take care of yourself?
For me, it’s a quiet hour of getting my nails done with the faint sound of Vietnamese in the background that I don’t have to pay attention to, because I don’t know what they are saying anyways. The ONLY thing I have to do is pick a color.
All day long I talk to people for a living, and then I go home to a two year old. And if you’ve ever had the pleasure of having a toddler, you know that you have to give them 100% attention, and if you don’t, they find ways to command it. So if I can get away for at least an hour, where I don’t have to talk to someone, where I don’t have to “watch this, mommy”, where I don’t have to yell “stop pulling the dog’s tail”, then I am doing some self-care… or so I thought.
 There are several ways to define what self-care truly is. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) “Self Care in health refers to the activities individuals, families and communities undertake with the intention of enhancing health, preventing disease, limiting illness, and restoring health.” In the mental health world, self-care is your ability to take care of your own activities of daily living, also known as ADL’s (hygiene, sleep, eating, etc.).
I want to offer my own spin on what I have learned about taking care of myself. So, according to Kimmy Casey: “Self-care is the activities we do to cultivate our dominant positive emotions as a reward for ourselves”. (sounds fancy!!)
Okay, okay, so let me break this down. It is our basic human need to seek desire and reward. If you want to get into the scientific nerdy side of things, our body craves the release of the neurotransmitter Dopamine in our brain, and our brain releases Dopamine when we do things that reward our body… for example when we eat, brain says “mmmm… dopamine”. And when we flirt, our brain goes “I like the attention… here’s some dopamine”. And when we feel joy… dopamine. When we feel satisfied… dopamine. You get the point.

 Instead of the scientific word dopamine… I would instead insert my favorite positive emotions here. For me, when I get the chance to feel connection and belonging, my brain produces this feel good chemical. Everybody’s primary emotions are different. To find yours, think about 3 of your most favorite memories that you have, put yourself in those moments, and create a list of all of the emotions you experience in each moment. Compare your lists from each memory, and you should be able to see the common emotions. Is it joy, happiness, peace, relaxation, love, connection, belonging, warmth, pride, excitement? You choose! Use your own words. For me, my body craves connection and belonging, and my brain releases dopamine when I achieve these things.
 Let’s come full circle with this. Self-care, at it’s basic, is taking care of yourself. To take care of yourself is to make yourself feel good. The best self-care activities for yourself are the activities that you do that make you feel your primary positive emotions, whatever they may be. For example, where I thought my “self-care” was getting my nails done, this was an activity where I am disconnected and out of place. It was truly doing nothing to give myself pleasure. Fast forward to a time where I visited out of town family… I felt that sense of belonging, and I felt that connection with other people I loved. Or when I took a vacation with my husband at an all-inclusive resort, of course I belonged there (haha) and grew my connection with my husband. Or on a smaller scale, when I network with other people (like Susie!!) to learn of their dreams and goals and how they can support mine… ding, ding, ding! These are the things that truly make me feel alive, and when I allow myself to feel alive, I am taking care of my whole self.
  To maximize your self-care, figure out your top emotions that you love to experience, and do things that promote yourself feeling those things. So if your primary favorite emotions are to feel relaxed and pampered, maybe getting a mani/pedi is your thing. If you don’t know what to do or need examples, go to Google and type in “self-care activities” and the first link that pops up will give you 134 ideas. You see, when you do things to promote positivity and reward in yourself, your brain will automatically want you to do them again. And of course, the more positive you feel, the more you feel good, the more you reward yourself, the better you feel all of the time. And we all know what happens in our worlds when we truly feel GOOD – Our fear decreases as our confidence takes it’s place. Our procrastination disappears as our motivation grows. Our sadness and worry diminishes as happiness replaces it. The best way to show that you love yourself is to take care of yourself, and the best way to take care of yourself is to make you feel exactly the way your body is desiring to feel!

Medication Reflection- By Guest Blogger Sean Temple

Introducing a blog post by Sean Temple, for His Art is Heart!

  “How many times has someone told you to take a pill to fix something wrong with your body? It starts out small. We have experienced headaches requiring aspirin or ibuprofen to alleviate the pain. We have used salves to cure cuts quickly, remove tooth pain, or relieve sore backs and joints. Substances have greatly impacted our present reality, having us believe anything can be dealt with if only you find the proper dosage of a given remedy. Our physical forms have benefited greatly from medical discoveries and procedures…

but what about the mind?

For a great length of my life, I have fought and experienced mental illness. Often, many people cope with something mentally affecting them, and I knew I wasn’t a special circumstance to the vast dilemma of staying sane. However, we can never disregard that every person’s life is separate, and that they experience struggles differently. It took me a great while to understand this concept. I thought I was weak for not dealing with it properly on my own, and believed that everyone else shunned those who couldn’t cope. I receded into myself and repressed every depressing, sad, hurtful situation that occurred throughout my life.

Pills were always the first or final solution suggested to me by psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists. The truth is these pills remove the sadness and hopelessness, but they do not make you happy. Joy and excitement come from a personal standpoint I believe to be deeply rooted within our conscious mind. We may feel the affects of our brain giving us the right chemicals to feel happy and experience pleasure, but the underlying ability to initiate it comes from an emotional level. As such, conscious behavior does hold power.

Our will is a tool and asset;

If we harness it, we can change a great deal in our lives.

            Obtaining the strength of will I now have has not been easy. It has taken years of perseverance and tribulations that have tested me time and time again. It’s an ongoing process that I am challenged with on a daily basis. Some days are worse than others, and some days I hardly think about it at all. I feel every single emotion, every tide of anger, and every sad thought. I allow myself to accept what I am feeling as it is. I have learned to not simply repress it with apathy and try to forget about it.

By doing this, every situation has become a debate that I win.

Every negative self-perception is challenged by my consciousness. No matter what happens, I do not accept that I am worthless or that I must feel guilty.

“You don’t deserve happiness.” I am sure we could all list a handful of reasons why many of us might think this is true, but in all honesty, we as humans are not entitled to anything other than the essentials; I believe these to be food, shelter, water, and love. The world is not responsible for our happiness– we are. Once we learn not to rely on certain outside factors to make us happy, and instead find a silver lining regardless of the situation, we become more observant of the gain rather than the loss.

“No one cares.” As humans, we adapt. Most of us learn to cope with a situation and move on. I believed that family, friends, and those I loved would be sad temporarily and forget about me. As logical as it was in my head, I forgot to think it through completely. Many of us do feel pain and recover in time. When you get a cut or burn, the pain remains for a time, and then it dissipates; You heal. However, a scar tends to remain and always reminds people of why it is there. What about the process? Who or what put the cut or burn there? The idea is the same for attempting or committing suicide. People may recover, but they didn’t need to feel that pain in the first place. Loved one’s should not have to suffer because of someone else’s sadness and actions.

“Nothing has gone right. Why would it get better?” This was by far the hardest thought process I, personally, had to conquer. I was so used to everything going wrong that I couldn’t perceive anything going right. I assumed anything remotely good that happened was eventually going to end badly. Why bother, right? I forced myself to challenge that thought over time. I tell myself, “Life is a constant flow of ups and downs. It’s not supposed to stay up, and it’s not supposed to stay down the entire time. Be patient, and take each step, one at a time.” I learned to become more grateful for the small things. I enjoyed even just having ice cream for the day. I took a shower– wonderful! I ate today! I got up for work! Once we begin to appreciate everything that we do for ourselves, we can start moving on to bigger goals. We can change our lives around, whether it immediately or slowly. There is no set way in life to do things, as much as others may tell us otherwise.

Pills help our physical bodies, and I do not deny that they also help those who have chosen to take them for their mental health. We do have the option of willpower to aid us. It is not for everyone, but it is a possibility we should never ignore or dismiss. I believe the human mind is capable of many great things, and we can control our life without a substance controlling it for us. I am happy to know I struggled and came out stronger without pills. If you are in a situation where you have to decide to take pills for depression, anxiety, or etc, I recommend opening up to the possibility of trying a safe medication that can help you, but never feel pressured into believing you can’t cope without taking meds. If you can trust yourself, you can access that willpower. I believe in me, and so I believe in you.