Hannah Drake

Self Care

Self Care Is... Owning Your Emotions

Self CareHannah DrakeComment

In the last year or so, I’ve been trying to focus on self care and what it looks like in my life. I’ve decided to start a new (semi) regular blog series called Self Care Is, but I’m not entirely sure what it’s going to look like yet. Self care means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, many of whom know a whole hell of a lot more about it than I do. But I view it as a journey and since I’m inclined to share my life in this space, I figured I’d invite you along in the journey as well.

One of the most powerful self care tools I have in my arsenal is the idea of owning your emotions. It wasn’t taught to me in a self care context, but it has positively transformed my life from the jump. I learned about this idea at my church, first trying it at a weekend retreat here or there, then taking part in a weekly small group I was a member of, and eventually implementing it into my daily journaling routine.

The concept is quite simple. First you take a moment to explore what you’re feeling in your body. Are you feeling butterflies in your stomach or maybe tension in your shoulders? How are you carrying yourself today, even as you just sit with yourself, eyes closed? What follows is called a check in that you can do by yourself, with a partner, or with a group. You can check in with the following emotions: sadness, anger, fear, joy, excitement, tenderness, shame, peace, hope, gratitude. To check in, you say “I’m [Hannah] and I’m checking in X, Y, and Z.” Name every emotion you’re feeling and even name the reason, if you so choose. The only thing you can’t do is add a condition to it. You can’t say “I’m checking in a little angry today.” Instead, own your anger. Don’t minimise it by saying “I’m a little frustrated today.” Frustration falls under the category of anger. Own that. (By the way, I consider tenderness to be something like “my heart really goes out to this person/situation”. Like I’m tender to this person because they’re sick or I’m tender to these people because of this event.)

Learning it at church also included looking to the Bible for the times Jesus felt those emotions. And he did feel those core emotions, which means it’s okay for us to feel them too. All of those emotions are healthy and part of life and owning that you feel that way keeps them healthy. When you ignore your anger, you can lose control of it more easily. It’s like trying to hold a beach ball under water. You can’t control when it will pop out or what direction it will go. It’s an inevitability that it will come back up.

Owning my emotions has transformed so much in my life. Like I said, it became part of my daily journaling. I used to write out what I was feeling and why, but now I just track it on a colour-coded chart in my bullet journal. Luke and I would check in with each other over Skype and later over dinner when I moved, but that’s kind of fallen by the wayside. Still, I’m more careful with my words when I’m communicating my feelings to someone else, especially Luke. (I’m not perfect, but I’m better than I was.) I don’t have as much fear in telling Luke if I’m angry at him or about something. I don’t downplay it with a “little bit” or a “kind of” as much and I’m less likely to say “I’m irritated” or “I’m frustrated” because what’s irritation and frustration but a nicer way to say angry?

At the suggestion of my counselor earlier this year, I started tracking patterns in my check ins. I tally up how many times I month I felt each of the ten emotions and consider what was causing me to feel those things. I’ve noticed that I have one of two baselines: sadness or joy. On rather uneventful days especially, I usually check in one of the two. So I can note if I spent most of the last few weeks being sad or happy. (From November until about February it was more often sadness, but the last few months it’s been more often joy.) I also credit check ins to helping me discover more about my anxiety in the last year. I was able to pick up on a pattern of checking in scared and dive into what’s causing that and make moves to deal with it. Without a check in, it might have registered as a prolonged feeling of dread, but maybe nothing even notable enough to explore further.

It’s a powerful thing when you take ownership of your emotions. It teaches you a lot about yourself when you track the patterns of your emotions on a daily basis. It will bring things to the surface that you might not have known were there, but it might also empower you to make adjustments to be more in control of what you’re feeling as a baseline and how you’re reacting to the things around you.

What does self care look like to you? Let me know in the comments and remember there is no right or wrong answer!

2019 Summer Bucket List

Self CareHannah DrakeComment

I’m oddly excited about summer this year. I prefer spring and autumn to summer, which is maybe why I moved to England where the summers are much more mild than Colorado. But this year I’m looking forward to it!

The last two years, I’ve done both an Autumn Bucket List and a Christmas Bucket List. This year, for the heck of it, I decided to do a Summer Bucket List for the first time. I’ll admit I mostly do these lists for myself. I like to set goals for myself and making a public declaration helps me keep them. (It doesn’t always work, but often enough.) It probably seems silly for someone nearing 30 to list ten things they want to do each season, but I really enjoy envisioning what I want my season to look like, whether that be summer, autumn, or Christmastime.

HOST A GARDEN PARTY

My friend Taylor and I have been dreaming about hosting a garden party for over a year now. We were hoping to do it in 2018, but our schedules didn’t allow for it to happen last year. Right now, we’re in the throes of garden party planning and I truly cannot wait to see it all come together next month! We’re envisioning a quintessential English garden party—or as close as two Americans can get—complete with floral dresses, pastel hats, and all the makings of a proper English tea. Plus prosecco, of course.

VISIT ENGLISH HERITAGE SITES

Earlier this week, we joined the English Heritage with a 15-month membership. We got a booklet of all the sites we have access to and I’m very excited to explore so many of these places across England. We don’t have any plans to leave the country this summer, so I’m hoping this will motivate us to do plenty of travel around England to dive into the rich history surrounding us. The #1 English Heritage site I want to visit this year is Stonehenge!

TAKE A ROAD TRIP

What better to see all those English Heritage sites than a road trip?! With a map of all the locations at the front of the booklet, it will make it easy to plan a trip around the sites or to add sites to an already planned trip. Of course there’s nothing like an American road trip, but I haven’t really done something similar here. We’ve driven a number of places in the last two years, including Wales and Scotland, but it wasn’t quite the same. We didn’t stop overnight anywhere or even make a special playlist just for the trip.

GO WALKING

I guess this is the English version of hiking? I’m not really sure. All I know is that I suck at hiking up mountains, so I’m hoping I’ll fair better in the rolling hills of England. I’ve spend a lot of time thinking about what I want my ideal life to look like and one of the things I frequently see is us walking through the English countryside in our waxed jackets and walking shoes, umbrellas in hand as needed. Though I won’t say no to a nice sunny day!

MAKE AN AMERICAN FLAG CAKE

I usually make an American flag cake every year for the Fourth of July and have even done so the last two years while living in England. It never fails to impress people, which I especially enjoy doing with my baking. We don’t currently have plans for any sort of Fourth of July celebration, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make the cake regardless! This year, I’m considering using a red velvet cake for the red layers instead of dyed white cake. I’m curious how it would turn out!

HOST A BBQ

Last year we hosted a First of July BBQ (hence the sign above), but it could possibly be a crazy time at our house by July, so we haven’t made any decisions yet. Still, it’s always nice to have some friends over for grilled meat in that famous British sunshine! I find the differences between American and British BBQ so be very strange indeed, though. Unless my family is strange for Americans, they seem quite different. In the States, you might have the option between burgers or brats/hot dogs and the guests might contribute some sides or desserts to the BBQ. In the UK, a lot of the BBQs I’ve been to, especially those not put on by an American, are usually BYO meat and have very few side options. I mean, where are the half dozen options to eat potatoes, Brits?! C’mon!

SPEND SATURDAY MORNINGS AT THE FARMER’S MARKET

I had hoped to start this in May, but the month proved to be a bit too hectic for us to manage. So we’re hoping to start in June (tomorrow, in fact!). It’s a really great way to support local agriculture and sustainability. I’m baffled at how often fruits and vegetables come packaged in plastic at our grocery store, so even though we have reusable produce bags, we don’t get to use them as often as we’d like. We’ve also been eating increasingly more plant-based meals, so a farmer’s market would be a great place to help with that. I’m terrible about shopping and eating in season, so it’ll be great to be in the market looking at what’s currently available and talking to the people who grew it all. I even got a new bag for all our shopping!

HAVE A PICNIC

I’m a huge fan of picnics! There’s no doubt about that. In fact, Luke and I did picnic-themed engagement photos. (See!) I think we’ve only had one each of the last two summers, so why ruin the streak now? We have a gorgeous picnic basket (albeit a heavy and inconvenient one) and we have to put it to good use! I kind of wish we had one of the lighter, easier to carry hampers that are available in most stores in the summer, so maybe I’ll look into selling ours and upgrading.

MAKE S’MORES IN THE BACK GARDEN

You can’t find graham crackers around these parts, but we make do with digestives. Luke built a fire pit one night last summer, which allowed us to toast mallows whenever we wanted! (BTW, let’s just all agree that Reese’s are best with peanut butter.) Now we even have beautiful adirondack chairs that Luke built last summer to sit in while we roast them!

ADOPT A PUPPY & A KITTEN

Okay, this is a big one. And maybe this summer is a bit ambitious, but this is one of the only things I even want this whole year! We’ve been itching to add a puppy and a kitten to the Drake household for months now. Well, perhaps since I moved two years ago. It’s closer than ever now and it may actually be time to start looking! We’re really set on getting them at the same time or at least around the same time so we can hopefully foster a good relationship between them and neither is too territorial or unsure of the other. Obviously we already have the names picked out, we just have to find the right ones! I’m hoping that at the very least, we get them both in the autumn. But of course hopefully sooner.

What's on your list for this summer?

Engagement Photos by Brianne Haagenson Photography.

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Self Care Is... Building A Life You Don't Want to Escape

Self CareHannah Drake2 Comments

In the last year or so, I’ve been trying to focus on self care and what it looks like in my life. I’ve decided to start a new (semi) regular blog series called Self Care Is, but I’m not entirely sure what it’s going to look like yet. Self care means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, many of whom know a whole hell of a lot more about it than I do. But I view it as a journey and since I’m inclined to share my life in this space, I figured I’d invite you along in the journey as well.

I wanted to start with the concept of “self care is building a life you don’t want to escape”, which is really the idea that sparked this new series. A friend shared this on Instagram and a few days later, one of my favourite “influencers” shared it as well, calling it bullshit (which I’ll get to). However, it really resonated with me, so I wanted to share it with you today.

Let’s start with the woman who called it BS. If I remember correctly, her reasoning was that you never get there. You’ll never have a perfect life and self care can also be small things you do for yourself or routines that you create for yourself. There might always be something that you want to “escape”, no matter how big or small. So this concept could be seen as perpetuating the idea that some people have perfect lives, but you don’t and you never will.

I see her point and it’s valid, but I instead focused on the “ing” in “building”. To me, that implies continued work throughout your life. Kind of like how doctors practice medicine and lawyers practice law. Common sense says they’re practising for something, but in reality, they’ll never do more than practice. In this concept of building a life you don’t want to escape, I choose to see the building as continued work throughout your entire life. I’m not naive enough to think that you’ll one day arrive at some sort of destination of bliss or enlightenment or zen or whatever.

In my opinion, building a life you don’t want to escape is about creating routines, habits, and mindsets that will set you up for success today and down the road. What are you doing today on a good day that will help protect you on a bad day? You can’t build a guardrail while you’re already careening off the side of the road. You can’t build in good habits and systems to take care of yourself when you’re spiralling. You need to build them beforehand to protect you when conditions get bad.

When you build these structures of habit, routine, mindfulness, and even indulgence into your life, you aren’t escaping your real life when you need to unplug or reset. You’re instead taking advantage of things you’ve already set up beforehand and retreating to an area of your life that you’ve created to recharge and rejuvenate you. That could look like taking a 30 minute bath once a week to give yourself a moment rather than waiting for the stress to build up until you need to escape for a spa weekend and ignore what’s going on in your life. Or maybe it looks like creating a safe place for you to express your feelings—whether that be in therapy, through journaling, or in conversations with someone you trust—so it doesn’t show up in a way you can’t control.

Building a life you don’t want to escape is work. It’s a continuous process and at the end of it, you won’t have something you created beautifully wrapped up in a bow. Life is messy and it’s going to be messy, but you can control how you show up in your own life. You can do things every day to take care of yourself and you can make choices every day to create the life you want. Just don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re not going to arrive at any sort of destination and you probably won’t know what the road ahead looks like. Do your best to set yourself up for success along the way. That’s all you really can do.

What does self care look like to you? Let me know in the comments and remember there is no right or wrong answer!