Connection, Growth, Inspiration, and Results—The ModernWell Writing Studio Turns Five!

Connection, Growth, Inspiration, and Results—The ModernWell Writing Studio Turns Five!

Five years ago, Nina Badzin and I launched the Twin Cities Writing Studio out of The Hopkins Center for the Arts through a Facebook post.⁠ Five years later, the renamed ModernWell Writing Studio has its own space and continues to grow in teachers, members, and many, many words. ⁠

Just Go to Work—Set Aside Self-Doubt and Go Chase Your Dreams

Julie Burton.JPG

Big week. My baby sister turned 50, my oldest daughter turned 25 and my youngest son turns 18 today. Oh how I LOVE my Virgos! With all the joy of celebrating these milestones, I am also in a place of nostalgia as I pour through old journals in an attempt to add more depth to my new book about finding joy and power in the 2nd half of life.  How do we get there? It is never a straight line. At 18, I was in recovery; at 25, I was finishing grad school and dating my husband; at 50, The Self-Care Solution was published and I was emerging from a mid-life meltdown (unraveling as Brene’ Brown calls it) and preparing to make one of the boldest moves of my life.


There are kernels of foreshadowing. The “unthought known” as Dani Shapiro calls it. Intuition masked in insecurity and confusion. And fear. So much fear.


Raising four kids is taking me to places I have not known before. Sometimes I feel out of control. Sometimes I feel like I have had to set myself aside and jump into this person called mom who is available to the kids whenever they need me. Sometimes my “self” feels super insecure and compromised. This whole person that I try to be feels fractured. I can feel it when I introduce myself in public to a group of people and I can barely speak. It is so hard for me to define who I am. It seems so simple—a wife, a mother of four, a writer, a fitness instructor, but I feel in some ways that I have let myself down. That I gave up on my dream to write a book; that the demands of taking care of four children keep me from reaching my goal to become an author. I don’t know that I am a great mom of four kids. I don’t know if this is even what I want to be doing, as harsh as that sounds. Every day, my day is structured around taking care of four beings. My hands are full. And sometimes I just want to go on Sabbatical. I want to step out of this role that I am not even so comfortable with and just be. This is not about how much I love my kids. I love each one of them so very much. This is about the pit in my stomach that I feel quite often, which is very unsettling and I don’t know how to make it go away.

If 10 years ago you would have told that 42-year-old confused mom that within seven years, she would publish a book about the very issues she was struggling with, she would not have been able to envision it. If you would have told her that nine years later she would have found a way to carve out a career path and open the doors to a co-working space for people to work, create, connect and renew, she would have flat out told you that you had the wrong person. And speaking in public about self-care, women in business, and entrepreneurship in front of groups of people, on TV, and on the radio? No way! You’ve got the wrong gal!

She couldn’t see it, feel it or believe it then. And between then and now, she would have to dig deeper into herself and reshape her life—her marriage, her friendships, her priorities, and most importantly the relationship she had with herself. She would have to believe in herself in a way that she never did before. And she would have to work at this for the rest of her life.

Like how recently I thought an article I wrote for a publication had been rejected shortly after receiving a rejection from a publisher for my book. And how I am trying to make some impactful decisions about ModernWell while charging myself with doing more writing. “I don’t know what I am doing,” I said to my husband this morning, choking back tears. “I am doing lots of stuff but I don’t think I am doing anything really well. Maybe I am not a good writer any more. Maybe I never was. Maybe I should just hang up that hat.” My husband looked at me quizzically and I could tell he was trying to track my train of thought. “Because of….the article you think was rejected?”

“I just don’t know what to do. About anything. About my writing. About expanding my business. What should I do?”

I knew David understood. I remembered so many times when he was growing his business and would look at me with the same blank, fearful look and say, “I have no idea what I am doing.”

This morning his words to me were clear and strong, “Just go to work. You can do this.”

Immediately upon entering ModernWell, I exhaled as I felt the buzz of positive energy and saw the bright and kind faces of community members who had come to work, create, and connect. I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Opening my computer, I saw an unread message from the editor of the publication that “rejected” my article. “Julie, we are running behind schedule. Your piece will be published within the next week or two.”

Just go to work. You can do this.

My baby sister is 50. My oldest child is 25. My youngest son is 18. I am all of those ages and beyond. I am in a space of reflection and noticing. Aware of the mountains of insecurity and uphill challenges I battled to achieve what I did not think was possible. And there is more—more insecurity and more goals. So, I will take my husband’s advice and keep going to work. And will utilize Jennifer Louden’s advice that she shares in her piece How to Stop the Doubting Yourself / Quitting/ Looking for a Magic Solution Cycle – Today and keep doing the work of challenging my inner critic so I can give myself the chance to look back 10 years from now and see realities that I once thought of as impossibilities. And I challenge you, friends, to do the same. Show up for yourself. Show up for others. Stare down your fears and insecurities. And go chase your goals and dreams. In the comments below, please complete this sentence: If I wasn’t afraid, I would…….

The Big Kids and The Littles-Managing Four Kids That Span a Decade

The Big Kids and The Littles-Managing Four Kids That Span a Decade

Nobody could have prepared me for this. Even when a cousin of my husband’s, upon finding out I was pregnant with my fourth child, commented to my husband and me, “You know, you can have sex without getting pregnant.” But even if Mr. Snarky would have tried to lay it all out for me, I would have been unable to comprehend the trajectory of my life with four kids spanning a decade. It would not have made sense to me, nor would it fit neatly in my brain. Because having four children with a large age span is not tidy. It is messy and complicated, exciting and surreal. It forces my brain to expand like a rubber band threatening to snap at any moment.

If It Is Not Captured on Social Media, Did It Really Happen?

If It Is Not Captured on Social Media, Did It Really Happen?

If you are not wearing your apple watch or carrying your phone and you go for a nice long walk, do your steps even count? If you go with friends to hear live music and don’t take any pictures or videos or post anything about the experience on social media, did it really happen?

Jackson Browne Closes Out our Month-Long Empty Nest AT RED ROCKS

Red Rocks, Colorado

Red Rocks, Colorado

I first saw him in concert with my dad circa 1980. I loved his name. I didn’t know anyone named Jackson. And I loved his voice. It felt comforting and soulful--like the others my dad regularly played on our record player at home in St. Paul, MN--Bruce Springsteen, Bob Segar, Bonnie Raitt, Fleetwood Mac, Tina Turner, Jim Croce, Neil Diamond, James Taylor. And we saw many of them in concert too—my mom, sister, and me piled into our Oldsmobile Delta 88 as my dad excitedly drove us to the Civic Center in St. Paul to witness these legends in the making. We connected to these musical greats as a family, learning the lyrics and swaying to the rhythm in our kitchen, living room and in the car.

Sitting on rock-formed bench carved into a awe-inspiring Colorado mountainside, I am overjoyed to be with my husband and two music-loving dear friends. The crowd begins to cheer as a much older looking version of the Jackson Browne I “knew” and loved, saunters out onto the stage. At first sight, I am a bit taken aback by his somewhat worn and tired appearance. But within moments, this feeling dissipates as his familiar melodic voice floods my ears with the lyrics that have made lasting imprints on my soul.

“Doctor, my eyes have seen the years; And the slow parade of fears without crying; Now I want to understand.” And as if on cue, my eyes fill with tears of nostalgia and a keen awareness of the passage of time. I see myself—fumbling my way through my early 50s and a career change, and peering at the upcoming inevitability of an empty nest and the shifting relationship with my four children and husband.  

“…there is a part of me that wants to go back... Just for a visit. To that time of freedom. That time of youth. I feel a deep yearning to slow it all down. The speed at which we grow up. That our kids grow up. Yes, it seems to go really slowly at first, but then POW! We are off! They are off!  In fact, at this very moment, all four of my kids are in different states; one is actually in a different country—NY, IL, WI, and Israel! And my heart is in all of those places too! Can it be? Yes, it can. It’s hard to make sense of it all; to break life down into separate memories that live together on one continuous spectrum—along with the joy, the worry, the celebrations, the mistakes, and the break-throughs. And all of this dances or clatters through my heart and mind wherever I am. But I must admit, they are all blowing and swirling in full force in the Windy City! And I am grateful,” I wrote in a recent Instagram post while visiting my son in Chicago.

And now, leaning my head on my husband’s shoulder while Jackson sings of lost love In the Shape of a Heart, I settle in to feelings of gratitude. After 27 years of time together, 25 as husband and wife, I still love him. Do we argue, annoy one another, and disagree on many issues? Do we still have to work really hard on our relationship? Unequivocally yes on all counts. But for the most part, we truly like and respect each other. And I know far too well that this is not to be taken for granted. And I also know that the children, who can serve as very convenient distractions for decades, do grow up. And they leave. And it gets very, very quiet.

Tomorrow we leave Colorado and our four-week stint of empty nesting comes to an end. While I spent so many years yearning for more quiet and less pulls on me, it all feels very different now. I still do cringe at the thought of all the driving, the homework, and the college application stress that lies ahead in the next few years, I am not in a hurry for my next two children to pack up and head out. I haven’t stopped missing my older two who live on opposite sides of the country. I don't think I ever will. But I do know that despite the void that will be left when our last blue-eyed babe takes off, there will be plenty of happiness and love remaining in my heart and home.


The Bitter-Sweetness of Launching My Daughter

Anyone who has been following my writing/life over the past several years knows that I have written a lot about my first born and the difficulties I had in letting her go, especially when she left for college. Well, thankfully after nearly putting Kleenex out of business, I found my groove, and two years later sent her younger brother off to college as well (nope, not easier the second time). Fast forward another lighting-fast two years, and she graduated from college and embarked upon her new "grown up" life, which in her case involved moving to the Big Apple. More Kleenex, please?

Since Sophie and I are both writers, we oftentimes mark our own big life transitions with a piece of writing in the form of a journal entry, a blog post or an article written with the intention of submitting it for publication.

And here’s where the mother-daughter-writer-connection thing gets interesting.

On the evening of July 10th, Sophie sends me an email telling me that she has written a piece about her moving to New York and she wants to submit it for publication. I stare at the email in disbelief as just that morning, I had submitted a post to Grown and Flown about…you guessed it…Sophie leaving for New York.

Okay, now I understand that it is not that ironic that we both chose to write about the the fact that she moved to New York after graduation. But if you have a chance to read both pieces, you will see that even though her decision to move to New York and her actual move was a process that happened over many months, in both of our posts, we each chose to zero in on the the exact same moment within this process.

I won’t give anymore away but as my husband explains: you will be looking at both sides of the coin.

Click here to read my piece on Sophie flying the coop.

Click here to read Sophie's piece on flying the coop.

As always, would love to hear your thoughts!

Finding Meaning in May Madness

Finding Meaning in May Madness

Five years ago I wrote a blog post discussing what I call “May Madness,” which I am fairly certain most parents with school-age kids can relate to right now. Here is how I defined this “magical” month when the school year winds down and spring catapults us toward summer...

Why I Am Grateful For Slime

Slime by Jo

Slime by Jo

Let’s check over here,” I motion to my 12-year-old daughter to follow me to the cosmetics isle. This is our fourth trip to Target in the last few weeks for the sole purpose of buying supplies for the new obsession gripping tweens all over the country—SLIME.

The current desired ingredient is a new one. “Baby powder is supposed to make the slime softer and less sticky,” my daughter, now an expert slime chemist, explains to me.  She also assures me that she will be able to pay back the money we’ve spent on supplies with the money she collects from her fellow classmates (most of whom are also in the slime manufacturing and sales business) in exchange for her magnificently mastered mixture of shaving cream, glue, contact solution, and now baby powder.

Shampoo, body wash, lotions…I am not seeing the baby powder anywhere. My agitation rises as I curse myself for being sweet talked into this inconvenient trek to Target on a night when my son needs help with an assignment, my husband is at a work dinner, and I have to teach my teen writing class in an hour.  I calm myself with the notion that at least this obsession, unlike other bygones like silly bands, does involve a creative process when mixing, measuring, and experimenting to form the germ-collecting balls of goo.

“Hi!” I find myself almost yelling to the young, exhausted-looking woman standing behind the nearby pharmacy counter.  “Can you please tell me where the baby powder is?”

Before I even let the you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-lady look on her face throw me into a shame pit, I grabbed my daughter’s hand and led her briskly out of the pharmacy area murmuring, “Oh my gosh, never mind.”

We both erupted in giggles as we headed over to the “baby” isle for the elusive “baby” powder.

My internal Target compass paused as we pass the girls section, our usual go-to area. “The baby section is over by electronics, I am pretty sure,” I muttered, still smiling at the irony.

And then it hit me.

The baby aisle had completely fallen off of my radar.

I could not recall the last time I had even gone near the avenue of pacifiers, diaper genies, bottles and diapers. As I walked toward baby land with my baby, disguised as a 12-year-old, I realized that I no longer knew the layout of this section that for decades I was able to navigate with my eyes closed. I didn’t even recognize some of the items on the shelf.

How could this be? This was MY territory! And now, I had forgotten it even existed!

“Mom, here, I found it,” my daughter’s sweet voice lulled me out of my trance. “Let’s go! You’ve got to get to your class,” she reminded me.

I stood motionless, my eyes scanning the baby items stacked neatly on the shelves. “I miss this, “ I said. She tracked my gaze to the shelf full of diapers.

“You miss changing my diapers,” she said coyly with a playful smile on her face.

“No I miss my babies,” I told her with sincerity, ignoring her sarcasm. I miss holding you in my arms, your baby smell, and hugging you and kissing you as much as I want to.”

“Well, I don’t,” she quipped again, her smile growing even bigger. “Ugh!” I groaned and grabbed my belly in reaction to her verbal gut-punch.

Walking to the check out lane, I leaned in to the nostalgia where I saw the baby faces of my four children--their beaming smiles as well as their looks of terror and disappointment. I could hear their shrieks of laughter and their blood curdling cries. I remembered my feelings of joy, agony, exhaustion, uncertainly, and fear that consumed me as a young mom trying to figure out what I was doing. And I remember yearning for the days when I would no longer need anything from the baby isle.

“Beep,” the self-checkout scanner hit the barcode on the bottom of the baby powder cuing me back to the present. My daughter placed the powder in the white plastic bag and started toward the exit.

“Jo, hold up,” I said as I quickly caught up to her and enveloped her in a hug. “You’ve grown up so fast, girl,” I said in earnest. “I love you so much.”

As I prepared for her to immediately shake me off, per usual, instead I felt her body sinking into my hug. “I love you too, mom,” she said softly. “And thanks for taking me to get the baby powder,” she added.

Scurrying through the Minnesota cold toward our car, I felt grateful that our slime mission led me back to the baby isle and for all the memories that I found there. I realized that just like slime, the passage of time often slips through our hands when we are not looking. And without notice, we open our eyes and find ourselves in the next isle at Target.

Driving home, I take in that my youngest child is on the cusp of becoming a teenager but in this moment, she thinks of nothing other than how much baby powder she will add to her slime mixture.

And I am grateful.

Grateful for all of the memories of my children's baby years, and grateful for the fact that there is nowhere I would rather be than right here right now.

Slime and all.




Facing the discomfort of 2017 with Self-care and Resilience


Here we are in the third week and of January and under “normal” circumstances, this would be the time when I would put on my self-care hat and throw out the question, “Hey, how are your 2017 resolutions coming along? Do you need a little pep talk? Some suggestions for tweaking your resolutions to turn them into something that you could actually feel good about and experience success with?”

I tried writing the "Don't give up on your 2017 resolutions just yet!" post a few times, a few different way. But none of them felt quite right. Because asking people about their new year’s resolutions while so many  of us are focused on much “bigger” issues right now felt trite,  maybe even offensive.

Our country presently is in a bit of a cluster-**** (excuse my French) and I don't know anyone who is unscathed.  Whether you are outraged, frustrated, scared, devastated, annoyed, or possibly even validated, I think it is safe to say that we all feel pretty darn uncomfortable.

For me, the most devastating aspect in all of this is the resurgent of hate. Hate has gone viral. It is the new normal. And it is not just hate between known adversaries. It is hate between friends, couples, neighbors, classmates, co-workers—hate where there was once love, acceptance, and understanding.

Maybe you recently returned from the women’s march in DC or maybe you are an overt or convert supporter of the new administration, but, my friends, there is a thread that unites us all. Something each one of us desperately needs right now. And that something—you guessed it—is self-care.

I must be honest with you. My body hurts. My neck is impinged and sometimes I have numbness in my hand when I wake up. I know this stems from spending too much time working on my laptop ( I just ordered a stand-up desk converter=self-care) but there is more underneath my bodily pain and discomfort.

For as long as I can remember, I have operated like a human barometric pressure reader, picking up the feelings of those around me  and storing them in my body.

Too much tension in the house, I would get sick.

Too much tension in society, I can hardly move my neck.

I don’t claim to have the answer as to how we are going to get unstuck from our predicament. But I do know that the hated I feel around me is something I have never experienced in my life. And it is overwhelmingly sad. 

As I take note of how people around me are fairing, whether it is my friends, family members, members of the Twin Cities Writing Studio, or my high school creative writing students I teach at the Minneapolis Jewish Community Center, where the building was evacuated and evening classes were were cancelled (mine included) last Wednesday because of a bomb threat, I know that I am not the only one experiencing pain in one form or another.

So what do we do about this pain? What do we do with these negative emotions that have so many of us reeling with fear and anger? How 

Now, more than ever, we need extra large doses of self-care.

So, while most of us feel that we have bigger fish to fry than worrying about (or even trying to remember) our 2017 New Year’s resolutions, this would be a good time to think about  how you are going to take care of yourself this year, given that the barometric pressure is  highly elevated in our country, and within many of us right now.

This week, the third week of my "Seventeen Weeks of Sustainable Self-Care "series,  will  focus on resilience, which could not be more appropriate for what we need right now. Individually and collectively, we need to find a way to work through this time period and move forward without causing any more unnecessary pain to ourselves or each other.  

As you move through this week, remind yourself of everything you have been through in your life to get to this point—all of your difficulties and failures, times of outrage and defeat, as well as your victories and successes. Trust yourself that you have the power to keep moving forward, and show compassion toward yourself and your neighbor who, like you, is fighting her own fight (the details and origins of which you may not be able to understand). 

Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving; we get stronger and more resilient.
— Dr. Steve Maraboli

Are We in a Self-Care Crisis? Sustainable Self-Care Solutions for 2017


“I fall into an immediate shame pit when I hear the phrase ‘self-care.’”  

“Self-care is just one more area in my life where I am falling short.”

“Self-care is just not in the cards for me right now. I have too many other things on my plate.”

Most of you can probably relate to one or more of these statements, or have felt this way at some point in your life. I certainly have!

My goal for 2017 is to share the most effective self-care strategies that will help you reframe the way you even think about the notion of caring for yourself.

My hope is that you will get to a point where you cannot imagine going through a day without doing at least something that is good for you physically, mentally, relationally, or spiritually, even if it is just for 10 minutes. You will not feel complete without it.

Sounds far-fetched? You with me? 

We are going to do this together, guys. Because we can and because we have to.

Why do we have to?

Well, because, as Brene’ Brown reveals, “We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history.”

I would say that we are in a bit of a self-care crisis.

And it is not because we are stupid. We know what is good for us. We know about healthy eating and exercise and the importance of sleep. We see it on the cover of health magazines and on Oprah.

But this strategy is not working (even Oprah struggles with self-care).

Why? Because society is giving us way too many mixed messages! We are pushed and somewhat dooped into thinking that we can have it all, should have it all, and that we should be able to do it all too!

You should be a great mom, wife, and employee/employer. Your friendships should be like Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Amanda’s of Sex and the City. You should have money (and if you don’t you still can…just open another credit card), a clean house, a cute figure, a fabulous wardrobe, and a great job (but not too great because that may impact your ability to be a great mom…so maybe you should stay home—you’ll have a better chance at doing it all perfectly). Oh and did I mention that your kids should be perfect? Yep, that too!

So, is anyone still unclear as to why so many head for the bottle, the shopping mall, the pills, the food, or the other woman or man?

It’s just too much! Society is setting us up to fail! And it is too damn painful and shameful to fail!

So pass me the Chardonnay please!

In order to make lasting self-care changes from a personal to a societal level, we need to flip-flop the self-care paradigm and move the focus from outside-in to inside-out.

Because self-care lies far beneath the surface.

Self-care is not fad diets and the new fitness trend (I heard Pound is a new one).

Self-care is:

  • Devoting extra time and energy to your partner (possibly with the guidance of a professional) when your marriage gets really, really difficult.

  • Saying no to a person who is dragging you into his sea of despair and not willing to help himself.

  • Saying yes to your mother-in-law’s offer to help with the kids even though she doesn’t do everything exactly the way you like, and allowing yourself to take a nap or do something that you really need during that time.

  • Taking a moment of gratitude every morning when you wake up.

  • Asking the grocery store clerk how her day is going, looking her in the eyes, and actually listening to her response.

Self-care is not the easy path. But it is the real path. And life is going to kick us in the teeth every now and then no matter what so we are better off doing what we can to feel good within ourselves and within our relationships so that we can add true happiness and joy into the life experiences mixture.

We know we deserve better. We know we deserve to be happy. And yet we run around like chickens with our heads cut off, looking for something or hiding from something or someone (often ourselves), neglecting our true needs and our important relationships, deepening our shame pit.

Self-care is your permission slip to stop running.

To stand still.

To breathe.

To celebrate your internal beauty and the beauty in your life.

To love with your whole heart.

To smile about being alive.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are people who take self-care to a level that I am not talking about. Self-care is not about going to the gym and working out so you can boost your ego by showing off your chiseled body to anyone who will look. Self-care is going to the gym so you can clear your mind from a tough morning you had with your toddler, or so you can give yourself an energy boost that will help you feel happy and positive throughout the day, and that you can share with others.

Okay, so you pretty much get the self-care gist, right? Great! So now it’s time to put these words into action!

Over the next 17 weeks, I will be sharing 17 specific self-care strategies for 2017! I truly look forward to hearing your thoughts on them!

You can also look forward to a seeing few other self-care related items that I am working on this year—two gift books, a self-care workbook, and am noodling on another non-fiction book.

I can hardly wait to share them all with you and will keep you posted on their progress! I start working with my editor on the gift books and workbook next week!

And finally, as a new year’s gift and token of my appreciation to my subscribers, I would like to send you the first chapter of The Self-Care Solution absolutely free! Just email me at with “SEND 1st Chapter” in the subject line, and I will send you the PDF! If you’ve already read the book, thank you! More giveaways coming very soon!

Cheers to all of you and to #selfcare2017!

Staying Calm this Holiday Season With Gratitude, Connection, and Nostalgia

Staying Calm this Holiday Season With Gratitude, Connection, and Nostalgia

Yes, I am feeling it. The intensity of the holiday season is in the air and it is nearly impossible to escape the droplets of frenetic energy that invisibly dissolve into our pores this time of year.

For me, I notice that my thinking gets more scattered, I have a hard time writing, and a slight heaviness sets in as early darkness shortens our days, and it is so damn cold outside.

But the blessings…oh the blessings. So many of them.  It is the deep gratitude I feel for these blessings that help me embrace the intense beauty and fragility of life and the increasing awareness of the passage of time. This week, I enter a new decade of life...

To My Husband on our 22nd Wedding Anniversary

To My Husband on our 22nd Wedding Anniversary

I stared intently at my husband last night as he read a story to our 10-year-old daughter. Something hit me hard. I was unexpectedly filled with intense emotions—joy, love and gratitude flowed freely through my mind and my heart. I realized at that moment, as I looked deeply into his ocean blue eyes that were fixed on a page of the book, why I married him 22 years ago.

Check Out My Latest Post On The Huffington Post About Why Marriage is So Damn Hard!

Check Out My Latest Post On The Huffington Post About Why Marriage is So Damn Hard!

Hands down, this is the best piece of marriage advice I have ever received:

Every single day is a choice to stay married.

On any given day, either partner can walk out the door and choose not to come back.

Half of us walk.

Half of us stay.

Pretty daunting, right?

So, why is it that between you and me, statistically speaking, one of us, or our spouses will walk, and we will get divorced (or we already have)?

Will You Please "Like" & "Follow" Me? My Love/Hate Relationship With Social Media

Will You Please "Like" & "Follow" Me? My Love/Hate Relationship With Social Media

Truth: I feel really uncomfortable asking for your social media support because I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it myself. I go from feeling like it is the most incredible thing in the world and wonder how I ever lived without it, to being quite certain that it is the biggest, most obscene popularity contest that ever existed. 

Old Habits Are Hard to Break! Why We Sabotage our Self-Care


Upon my return from visiting my daughter two weeks ago, I came down with a case of “the crud,” which started with the swallowing razor blades feeling in my throat, then moved into my head with a pounding, ferocious headache, then moved into a seemingly never-ending flow of that grossness that clogged my sinuses and rattled in my chest.

Okay, I will stop there and promise you that the purpose of this post is not to complain about my nasty sinus infection. Not at all. In fact, I have absolutely nothing to complain about right now as I sit poolside looking at the Sea of Cortez with six girlfriends for a special birthday celebration. I am all good.

But in looking back on these the past two weeks, one of which my husband was working in London and India, I noticed a few revealing aspects about myself that clearly illustrate how self-care is a value that is developed early on, and the patterns of behavior that we form around these values are very tough to break.

Here's what these "old" patterns looked like for me: During the time I was battling a nasty cold and my husband I did the following: I said no to offers of help when I actually needed to say yes. I said yes to meetings and other commitments that could have waited. I did things for my children that they could have done for themselves. I stayed up late at night to work instead of going to sleep early. I told people I felt fine when I didn’t. And all these actions most likely doubled the amount of time I was sick.

Why did I do this? Why do we push through our self-care needs when we know better? Because I did not want to stop, or even slow down. I didn’t want to listen to my body’s signals that it needed a rest; that maybe the stress of Soph’s accident, and the sleepless nights I spent worrying about her, and the impromptu trip to see her had weakened my immune system.

I didn’t want to admit to anyone or myself that I couldn’t do it all; that I was "weak.". I didn’t want to let anyone down.

Except that I did. I let myself down. And spent two weeks feeling crappy, which led to this: I snapped at my kids, and my husband when he arrived back home. My mind was foggy, which caused me to move at a much slower pace. I was late to my son’s doctor’s appointment that had been scheduled for three months. I banged on the steering wheel and maybe dropped a few f-bombs after being caught  in rush hour traffic for 45 minutes because I didn't leave on time and upon finally arriving at the clinic, we were told that the doctor could not see us for another hour, which was the exact time I had to pick up my daughter’s soccer carpool. I looked at the nurse flabbergasted and started to cry, my son watching me in dismay, still recovering from my meltdown in the car, as the nurse tried to apologize. What she didn’t realize is that my tears were not because I was upset with her.

I was upset with myself that my not taking care of myself was causing a negative ripple effect on those I love.

And it does. And yet, we still tell ourselves that we “don’t have time” to time to heal from or even deal with illnesses—physical or mental. We don’t have time to deal with dysfunction in our relationships our partners, our kids, our friends, or ourselves.  We don't have time to exercise or to eat well, or to get enough sleep. There is too much to be done. We gotta keep plowing through. We gotta be "strong" and just keep it together.

But the real work of self-care is to challenge those thoughts, which most of us battle periodically throughout our lives. Those internal (and sometimes external) messages that pull us away from our innate need to care for ourselves are not based in kindness or love.  In fact, those messages actually steals pieces of our joy, health, happiness, self-worth, and self-esteem. They need to be overpowered with the following messages:

We are born to be happy and to feel good. Everyone has a right to want that and to strive for that. When we do honor ourselves and are honest about how we really feel and what we really need, we give ourselves a fighting chance! We increase our level of happiness and the quality of our lives, our relationships, and our overall well-being and the well-being of those around us.

Which brings me to the present moment where I am incredibly grateful to be feeling good again, and for the fact that for the next three days, I get to focus on friends, fun, and decompressing. And while I am well aware that this kind of get-away does wonders for my physical and emotional well-being, we all need to be mindful of how we take care of ourselves amidst the stress and pressures of our every day lives.

So, I will make you a deal: I promise to send you some relaxing Mexican vibes this weekend if you promise that you will do something for yourself that you know you need but you just "don't have time for."

Deal? I would love to hear what you decide to do to honor yourself!  

Self-Care Doesn't Get Old—A Letter of Gratitude

Self-Care Doesn't Get Old—A Letter of Gratitude

Dear Julie,

I just finished reading your book The Self-Care Solution generously given to me by your mother-in-law.

You shared with the world the challenges you experienced not just as a mom but as a person trying to be the best you can be in an imperfect world.

Your suggestions for “self care” are reminders of how we can all be better advocates for ourselves and those we love.

Needing Mom—Then and Now

Needing Mom—Then and Now

To be a mom is to continually manage the fierce mama bear feelings that make us want to sprint to our child’s rescue, kiss away their tears, and band-aid away their pain. How do we know when to act on this instinct? And when to push our internal pause button in order to and give them the space they need to pick themselves back up when they fall and as they get older, lean into other support systems they’ve developed.

We don’t always know. But our hearts will guide us if we really listen.