5 Useful Self-Care Tips to Help you Thrive this Holiday Season

Ah. The holidays. That time of year when it is so easy to become completely caught up in the in-your-face drama and busy-ness of the season.

When we are so caught up in the pressures and obligations (or even the joys/delights) of the holidays, self-care is often the thing that is forgotten or pushed to the side.

Taking a moment to remember that self-care is what allows you to be the best possible parent/sibling/co-worker… can go a long way to helping your self-care practices return to the forefront of your life.

To that end, here are 5 self-care tips to help you not just survive, but perhaps even thrive, this holiday season.

1) Get out – spend time in nature (even if, especially if, you think you don’t have the time for it).

Dress for the weather (comfort first!), go for a walk, tune into your senses, practice your Owl Eyes, and allow yourself to discover the natural beauty and wonder of this time of year.

Bonus tip: cultivate gratitude and connection to the natural world through reading the Thanksgiving Address while you are out.

2) Read this article and do the exercise it contains.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and as if there is simply too much to do (some of which you may even be resisting), the exercise in this article will help. I promise!

3) Commit to 15-30 minutes a day of You-Time…

Don’t know what to do during your time? Do some free-writing (write whatever pops into your head for 2-5 minutes – a timer is helpful) using the following questions as prompts:

  • What would I really love to experience right now?
  • What sounds/feels extra nourishing and supportive in this moment?
  • What do I need now?

Then, give yourself the gift of something you uncover through your writing on a (fingers crossed!) daily basis throughout the remainder of the holidays.

4) Use Stephen Covey’s 4 Quadrants for Time Management.

I’ve recently been reintroduced to this method and am finding it a very useful visual tool to help me determine my priorities throughout the day.

It seems I’ve been spending a lot of time doing things that feel urgent but that aren’t really that important when I might actually benefit a lot more from doing the things that are important but not currently urgent.

And yes, this approach can most definitely be applied to all things holiday related!

5) Carry a small object with you that reminds you of the qualities you wish to have infused into the remainder of your holidays.

For instance, during the holidays a couple of years ago, I carried a small rock in my pocket to remind me that I was enough.

Every time I felt it in my pocket, I was reminded of what that rock symbolized and was able to consciously sink more into the present moment and out of the sense of overwhelm and stress I had been experiencing. It was a powerful experience for me.

Bonus tip: on solstice night (Dec 21) do a releasing ritual.

While this ritual can take many forms, a simple and powerful thing to do is to write out everything you wish to release on strips of paper and then ceremonially burn them, allowing the fire to purify, cleanse, and release all that you are ready and willing – including any holiday stress or overwhelm you may be experiencing!

Then, the following morning, in the light of the returning sun, symbolically breath what you would like to receive into your life throughout the new year into a natural object (perhaps a pine cone or twig or a seed) and ceremonially plant it in your garden or under a favorite tree or even simply in a potted plant in your home.

Finally, above all else, know that you are not alone this holiday season.

There are many, many, many of us who find this time of year stressful, isolating (even if surrounded by family/friends), and overwhelming.

Sink into your self-care practices, reach out if you need support, and keep in mind that the holidays don’t last forever. With solstice will come the return of the sun, the days will gradually begin to lengthen, and we will have the opportunity to begin anew in the new year.

For now, today, I’m sending you the ability to know what you need as you need it (and to be able to ask for it or give it to yourself) this holiday season.

much love,

The Thanksgiving Address – Greeting the Natural World

Today, as I sit here typing, my heart is elsewhere.

It is walking (silently) with a group of 100+ people along the banks of the Sandy River in Oxbow Park.

I hear the leaves rustling underfoot, the sound of the waters of the river swirling over and around rocks just off to my left, the lilting song of a Pacific wren to my right. I see the frosty exhale of my breath mimicking the mist rising from the trees across the river, feel the coolness of the air and the occasional drop of rain falling from a tree limb above me.

There is a feeling of profound sacredness that seems to gather and deepen with each step along the path winding beside the river.

Eventually, we arrive at our destination, a clearing alongside the river. We stop, and gather into a circle 5+ people deep. We wait.

My friend, Dan, steps into the center of the circle where a fire ring has been prepared, where a teepee of sticks is waiting.

The teepee is ringed with ferns, cedar boughs, cones and other offerings from the forest gathered by participants as they walked.

Dan kneels down and unrolls the cloth bundle he is holding.

Within it, dry and warm, is a bow drill and tinder bundle.

In silence, he sets to work, drawing the bow back and forth, back and forth, until smoke begins to rise from beneath the spindle.

With slow, careful movements, he collects the live coal that has been created and places it within the dry tinder bundle. He begins to blow, first carefully, gently, and then with more force as the tinder begins to catch.

More and more smoke pours from the bundle and then, in one miraculous moment, the entire bundle bursts into flame!

Again, with great care, Dan crouches and places the now flaming bundle of tinder into the pyramid of sticks, once again blowing, at first gently and then with more force, until the sticks as well catch fire. He gradually adds more and more (larger and larger) sticks until the fire is burning bright, crackling and sparkling… alive.

He stands and as he does voices begin to ring out from around the circle, one at a time, giving greetings to the natural world.

I feel chills running up and down my spine, my heart opens and I want to kneel and weep with the beauty of it all.

Yet, I remain standing, feet firmly on Mother Earth, and receive these words, the words of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, The Words Before All Else.

This address was given to us by Chief Jake Swamp and modified for the general public by John Stokes of the Tracking Project.

The Thanksgiving Address, Greetings to the Natural World, Words Before All Else

The People.

Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People.

Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother.

We are thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It give us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our Mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Waters.

We give thanks to all the Waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms – waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.

Now our minds are one.

The Fish.

We turn our minds to all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Plants.

Now we turn towards the vast field of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.

Now our minds are one.

The Food Plants.

With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting and our thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Medicine Herbs.

Now we turn to all the Medicine Herbs of the world. From the beginning, they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.

Now our minds are one.

The Animals.

We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.

Now our minds are one.

The Trees.

We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many peoples of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and Thank the Tree life.

Now our minds are one.

The Birds.

We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. EAch day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds – from the smallest to the largest – we send our joyful greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Four Winds.

We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help to bring the change of seasons. From teh four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.

Now our minds are one.

The Thunderers.

Now we turn to the west where our Grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.

Now our minds are one.

The Sun.

We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.

Now our minds are one.

Grandmother Moon.

We put our minds together and give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the nighttime sky. She is the leader of women all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.

Now our minds are one.

The Stars.

We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to all the Stars.

Now our minds are one.

The Enlightened Teachers.

We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring Teachers.

Now our minds are one.

The Creator.

Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.

Now our minds are one.

Closing Words.

We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have names, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.

And now our minds are one.

Driving home, I feel enlivened, uplifted, and deeply connected to the natural world around me.

Everything is somehow a bit clearer, a bit crisper, the edges more defined. And yet, there is this underlying sense of peace, joy, and unity that is rather indescribable.

Today, in lieu of being at Oxbow myself for this yearly gathering, I offer this experience and these words to you.

May gratitude fill your heart this holiday season. May you remember and give thanks not just for home, family, and food, but also for all the beauty and gifts of the natural world.

May the words of this address sink deeply into your heart and into your life.

May our minds truly be united as one.

Coming Soon! Sacred Self-Care – the guidebook

larisa-3If you’ve spent much time here, it has likely became obvious that self-care is a very sacred and transformative practice for me.

However, what I call ‘self-care’ might be different than you think.

For me, self-care is a system based in Core Skills. Skills that anyone can learn and that lead to ever-deepening and evolving insights and self-understandings. Skills that lead you (safely, gently) into and through both the joys and the challenges of life.

In January, I will be publishing a guidebook that will teach you the Core Skills I use both in my own life and with my clients.

Through text and audio you will be guided into a deeper relationship with yourself. A relationship based on self-awareness, inner tracking, knowing what nourishes and supports you, and having skills that allow you to DO the things that nourish and support you.

Want to know more?

For more information and to be notified of pre-release specials and bonuses, sign up here. I’ll see you there!

Updated: the home-study is now available. You can access it here!

What Does Self-Care Mean to You?

IMG_0566Do you have a clear sense of the things that nourish and support you through both the joys and the challenges of life?

With the holiday season already underway, now is the perfect time to pause and center deeply into those things that nourish and support you on a daily basis, into self-care.

It wasn’t that many years ago that I really didn’t know what self-care meant.

For myself, at least. It seemed that some of the people I knew had it figured out. They would talk of long baths, of going to the spa, of taking a weekend at the beach, of hours spent in meditation, etc, etc. I would kind of look at them, eyes glazed.

For one, I typically didn’t have money for a visit to the spa or a weekend at the beach.

For another, I found things like long baths and long meditations boring, not nourishing.

When asked what I did for self-care, I really didn’t have an answer.

Yes, I tried to eat well, I exercised, I was aware of the necessity of good sleep. That was about as far as it went. Other than going on long hikes (not possible on a daily basis when living in the city), I was clueless regarding what nourished and supported me.

Then, abruptly, I entered a time of extreme emotional upheaval.

Literally overnight, all the anxiety, panic, overwhelm, fear, terror, and grief that I had spent the first 29 years of my life avoiding at all costs became unavoidable.

I had no skills for handling any of the emotions, any of the pain.

Sometimes going for a run or (very) long walk would help. Mostly, though, I spent more time than I like to admit on the floor, in a fetal position, shaking and crying, completely falling apart.

My friends would tell me to take care of myself, to do some self-care.

I didn’t know what that meant. I knew hot baths really didn’t do much for me. What else was there? What worked for me?

Fortunately, with the help of several mentors, colleagues, and wise friends, I began to learn what did (and does) work for me.

Plus, I began to develop an approach to self-care and to meeting my own pain that is flexible, sustainable, and that evolves with me as I grow and evolve.

Further, as I became more and more skilled at meeting my own pain and overwhelm, I also became more and more skilled at meeting the pain and overwhelm of others.

And… at helping them to also develop an approach to self-care that nourished and supported them on a daily basis.

Now, nearly 10 years following the ‘breaking apart’ incident, I have mad self-care skills.

I use the word ‘skills’ intentionally.

What I call self-care isn’t a to-do list.

Rather, it is a set of skills that grow and deepen as I grow and deepen.

Skills like deep-listening (to my body, to nature, to spirit). Skills that help me shift my perspective when I’m overwhelmed or in pain. Skills that are constantly being refined; that are evolving and deepening as I learn more about myself and the things that nourish and support me.

Yes, I do have a list of things I know nourish and support me.

But, that is just the beginning. And, I have arrived at this list through the skills of deep-listening, knowing how to connect into my body, and through paying attention throughout the day to the people, places, situations, events… where I feel connected, relaxed, and calm.

In no particular order, here are some of the things that nourish, feed, and support me today:

  • being in nature, wandering, sitting with a tree, listening to water, watching the clouds move across the sky, listening to birdsong…
  • being in ritual and sacred space, especially with other women
  • spending time at my altar, meditating, listening, singing
  • snuggling with my husband
  • having one-on-one conversations with people I love
  • writing in my journal
  • making soup; baking pumpkin bread
  • noticing and meeting sensations (of discomfort OR comfort) as they arise in my body

So, I ask again, what does self-care mean to you?

What nourishes and supports you though both the joys and the challenges (and the holidays!!!) of life?

I’d love to hear what works for you; leave a comment below!

Celebrating the Return of the Rain and Last Spring’s Tree Ritual


It is gray and misty and almost raining outside. After what was, for me, an unbearably hot summer here in the Pacific Northwest, the return of the mist and rain is unbelievably relieving.

With a  final (fingers crossed!) 90+ degree weekend behind us, the Autumn Equinox of yesterday has ushered in fall in a big way.

Therefore, today, I am celebrating!

Welcome Fall! Welcome Rain! Welcome cool days and cooler nights! Welcome snuggling on the couch with a blanket and a good book (or my husband, or a movie, or sudoku puzzle)! Yay!!!

2014-05-08 13.41.43As I gaze out at the gray, misty loveliness, I am reminded of another very gray, and much, much rainier day.

A day last spring.

A day when a small group of intrepid adventurers braved the pouring rain to spend time in sacred space with a tree – listening, feeling, sensing for wisdom, magic, healing, and guidance.

To celebrate the return of the rain, today I am sharing with you some photos from that magical rainy day not too many months ago.

May they touch or re-enliven something deep inside, something that may be dormant, waiting for the spark of the forest to bring it (you) back to life.

The day began in front of a cozy fire in a lodge along the Sandy River.

After spending the morning settling in to our bodies and our senses and fine-tuning our deep listening skills, we ventured out into the wilds of the forest. We walked through swirling mists, water streaming from the sky and dripping from the trees surrounding us.

Eventually we arrived at a massive tree where we constructed our altar and called in the Spirits through word and song. When the time was right, each participant wandered out through the forest until they stood before their tree, the tree that contained exactly the wisdom and medicine they needed.


While it is not my place to speak about what transpired within the ritual itself, I can say without doubt that everyone received exactly what they needed.

In the weeks following the ritual, I heard stories of transformation, of deepening into purpose, of renewed connection with the aliveness of nature, and of gentle awakenings into more authentic versions of Self.

2014-05-08 15.57.50

For now, for today, as I continue to celebrate the return of the rain, I leave you with these words from my mentor, Malidoma Somé:

“Maybe we would become candidates for some serious magic if we would enter nature with a little more curiosity, a little more openness, and even a sense of a quest, a quest to commune with and to be with a realm that is far more sophisticated than its physical ruggedness reveals.”

Comment Magic:

For me, opening to the magic and teachings (the wisdom!) of nature is both profound and sacred.

I feel the most myself, the most at ease, and the most capable of living my life in a good way when I take the time to commune with nature.

What connects you to yourself, to your true nature? Have you had an experience in nature that has led to transformation, healing, or insight?