Episode 194: Well Woman Toolbox
You’re listening to Live Free Creative, an intentional podcast with practical tips for living your life on purpose. I’m your host Miranda Anderson. And I believe in creativity, adventure, curiosity, and the magic of small moments. I hope that every time you listen, you feel empowered and free to live the life that you want.
Hi there. Welcome back to Live Free Creative podcast. I’m your host Miranda Anderson. You’re listening to episode number 194: Well Woman Toolbox.
This episode will hopefully give you some insight into a couple tools to keep in your toolbox, your apron front pocket, to help you feel a little bit better a lot of the time.
I have to let you know that this idea for this episode came from a therapy session that I was in with my son. The counselor instructed him to draw a toolbox. And then throughout the session, as we talked about strategies and ideas and tools for overcoming stress or overwhelm or feeling a little bit better when your emotions start to run away from you, we would pause and my son would write down the tool in his toolbox.
Some of these tools were physical. Some of them were mental. Some of them were specific thoughts verbatim, written out. And I want to just introduce that exercise to you today.
This of course is not therapy. I’m not a therapist. I am a wellness advocate giving you a little bit of extra help to live your life more on purpose.
I originally was thinking about calling this episode: ten of my favorite thoughts.
And then I realized that my favorite thoughts actually are the tools in my Well Woman Toolbox that I pull out when I need a little bit of reassurance, a little affirmation, or a little clarity about what matters most to me.
Segment: Odd Jobs
Before I share all about creating your own well woman toolbox, I’m gonna share a segment called odd jobs.
The funniest part about this job is that I just remembered it and it truly is an odd job. It wasn’t like a long term employment. It was a job that my dad offered to Dave and me when we were first married and hungry for financial stability, which we did not have at that point in our lives.
In fact, when we first got married, I think I’ve shared this on the show. After we got home from our honeymoon, we were a little bit settled into our basement apartment, Dave and I had a family meeting, our first formal family meeting wherein he showed me a PowerPoint presentation of our goals for the month. And the first goal was to get a job and the second goal was to earn enough money from said job that we could pay our rent. The following month, we started truly at the beginning.
I should also mention that I grew up in a family where odd jobs were the norm. We are six siblings, all very capable and handy people. And we were given opportunities to make money from a pretty young age. My parents wanted us to learn about money and how to handle money.
And so we were given opportunities to work. We could earn money outside of our regular jobs by doing bonus jobs. When I was about 12 or 13, I started working, cleaning my dad’s office building as a custodian. My other siblings would help. Sometimes we took turns. We could earn a little bit of money doing that.
All sorts of opportunities popped up within my own family to earn money. And this one, I just remembered the other day because we’re planning some landscaping for our current yard.
Among the landscaping plans are a few fruit trees. We’re gonna plant a plum tree, which my daughter Plum is so excited about. We’re going to plant a fig tree. We may put in an apricot tree.
Looking over the landscape design reminded me of the apricot tree that I grew up with. So the apricot tree was growing in, probably it would’ve counted as my neighbor’s front yard, but where I grew up at the top of a cul-de-sac, there is a big pond that ducks would come and nest near in the summertime.
We would try to walk on the pond a little bit and sometimes fall through the ice. It wasn’t very deep, so it wasn’t super dangerous in the wintertime. It just was part of the landscape of my neighborhood at the top of the cul-de-sac in front of my parents’ house.
Next to the pond, there’s a few different trees. And when we moved in originally, there was this giant apricot tree that leaned out over the pond. Some years we would be timely enough to go gather the apricots before they all fell to the ground and created a juicy mess. And my dad would make apricot jam and apricot syrup. Part of the rhythm of our summertime for a few years was gathering these apricots and turning them into preserves.
After a few years there weren’t as many people gathering, there wasn’t as much interest, and this tree would just become heavy with fruit that would fall from the branches and rot on the ground. Just bushels of apricots that were not used. Eventually, it was time to cut it down because no one was using it. It was just causing a mess.
And now I’m a little bit sick to my stomach as I think about this, because there’s probably other ways that we could have preserved that tree or hired someone to gather the fruit, but it became my job. My dad offered my husband, my new husband and I, a hundred dollars to cut down the apricot tree and clean up all of the mess.
So we went out there, having no idea what we were doing, and lopped off the branches starting at the top. I think I climbed up the tree during this process to chop off the branches and then we sliced off, sliced down the trunk. I think we may have hired someone else to actually dig out the stump part.
I don’t remember that part. I do know that by the end of a very long day, we had finished chopping down this old apricot tree and we had a pile of sad branches and then a big pile of beautifully cut apricot wood that I think my dad still may have some of in his garage that he has used for barbecuing and grilling.
This apricot wood can give a nice flavored smoke, I think, to the different meats and things that you may try to grill. I should ask him and see if he still has some around.
So my odd job was cutting down my family’s apricot tree. And I feel like I’m finally gonna come full circle and maybe emotionally recover by planting some other fruit trees in my current yard that hopefully will grow tall and wide and be harvested and thoroughly enjoyed by my family. That is today’s odd job.
Main Topic: Well Woman Toolbox
Let’s talk about building your Well Woman Toolbox. I actually really liked this exercise as a physical writing exercise. So I want to encourage you to listen to the episode. And if you are somewhere in a circumstance that you could pull out a piece of paper and a pencil or a pen, go ahead and do that and draw right along with me. Create your notes in this episode, as I walk you through the steps.
If you aren’t in that situation, if you’re walking or driving, or you simply don’t have things nearby, if you’re washing dishes or sitting by the pool, plan to come back to this episode and do this exercise for yourself when you have space and time for it.
I just think it’s such an incredible exercise and visual to have available, creating a toolkit for yourself that you can. write down and hang up on your mirror or in your closet or on the inside of our cupboard to remind you of all of the different tools that are available to you at any given moment.
It’s All You
Something I really love about this Well Woman Toolkit is that it doesn’t require anyone or anything outside of yourself. Everything that you need in order to access these tools depends on you. It’s all inside of you.
These aren’t tools that you have to necessarily use in combination with anyone else, or that have to be determined by other people’s actions or reactions. You can choose to dig deep in your toolbox at any time and pull out the tools that serve you in the moment and the circumstance that you need.
I want to share three sections of your toolbox today.
So the first step is to draw yourself a toolbox. You can be as creative or as simple as you want. It can be just a rectangle. It can be one of those cool, like old flip top World War II era toolboxes.
When I think of a toolbox, what comes to mind for me is one of those big black drawer rolling like garage style toolboxes that’s massive. And maybe cuz I grew up with a dad who owns a construction company. I think of a toolbox, not as a little thing you carry around, but like a big thing that’s full of everything you can possibly need.
So draw for yourself on a piece of paper what your toolbox looks like and make sure it has at least three sections.
Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual
I wanted three sections because we’re gonna talk about physical, emotional, and spiritual tools that you can pull out at any time.
Once you have drawn or imagined your toolbox, separate it into three layers, three sections, three drawers, however you choose to do it.
Section 1: Your Body As A Wellness Tool
I want you to first think about physical, so you can label one of your drawers: Body.
Your body can be an incredible tool in your wellness. It’s an essential part of our wellbeing because our physical and emotional and spiritual states are so interwoven, it’s really nearly impossible to separate them out.
But let’s think specifically about how your body can be used as a tool in your wellbeing, or another way to say that would be: what tools your body may need in order to be or feel a little bit better more of the time.
I wanna start with a couple really obvious ones that we’ve talked about in previous episodes of the podcast.
Body Tool: Sleep
First is sleep. Getting more sleep is a huge tool that so many of us leave in the box and we don’t actually use. Getting an appropriate amount of sleep, having good sleep hygiene, even something as simple as taking a nap in the middle of the day, can rejuvenate, replenish and restore our wellbeing.
The other day, one of my children was so grumpy and almost inconsolable. After going through all of my regular negotiations and motivations and talking and snacks and everything I could think of, I finally recognized this child needs a nap.
This child simply needs to sleep.
And so I tucked him in and four hours later: a different child. Completely different child.
Adults are the same way. When you don’t feel well, when you’re snapping at people, when you’re just on the verge or you’re feeling emotional or you’re having a hard time feeling stuck, sometimes your body needs you to physically lie down and take a nap.
Sleep is a huge tool that you can put in your toolbox and take out and use at any time.
Body Tool: Drinking Water
Another physical tool is drinking water. It is such a simple act. And sometimes we forget about how important it is. It sounds too good to be true, but staying hydrated will help every area of your life feel better.
You’ll feel better physically. You’ll have more energy. Your brain will function better. You’ll be able to regulate your emotions more easily.
Make sure that you keep a water bottle nearby, that you’re drinking water and hydrating regularly in order to be able to stay as well as possible.
The way that I do this, because I’m not naturally just like a huge water drinker, is finding a water bottle that I love and can keep on hand. It has been key for me.
And I’ve mentioned this one before, but I will link it in the show notes again, because I absolutely love it. The Stanley Flip Top Water Bottle.
I know people are obsessed with the one with a handle and a straw, but I can’t do that one because it spills. I’m not always holding it upright. The flip top that I will link in the show notes is spill proof.
I flip down the top. I toss it in my bag. I carry it with me. It has a great handle on top that I can use when I’m hiking. I keep it in the car. I have it with me right now, as I’m recording this show.
Having a great water bottle makes a huge difference in your ability to stay hydrated easily. So water and a great water bottle. I’m sure that there’s a hundred other great ones that you may have already in your cupboard.
Body Tool: Have A Snack
You know what comes next after sleep and hydration, we’ve gotta just mention having a snack, a healthy snack to keep your blood sugar regulated, to make sure that you are able to maintain baseline energy levels.
I love food. I think that it has healing properties. It has relationship healing properties, the way that we celebrate in community and celebrate our cultures. Food is intricately woven into our lives.
With my history as a diabetes educator and nutrition specialist, I recognized how impactful our food rhythms can be in our overall health and wellbeing.
This is another one that I notice a lot with my kids and with myself. If I’m feeling a little dysregulated, oftentimes I need a snack. I need a snack, a drink of water and a nap. If that’s not true for most people, I don’t know what the same thing is with your kids. If they’re a little grumpy, try a snack, try a drink of water, try a nap, making sure that we’re staying physically regulated helps our ability to stay emotionally regulated as well.
Body Tool: Exercise
Next in our physical toolbox comes movement. I’ve talked about a walk a day and the importance of just getting out in nature, being outside and walking. I’ve done episodes about physical exercise and working out in a way that feels good to you. Just moving your body for a specific purpose.
I want to bring this around again and remind you that moving your body is also an incredible way to close your stress loops, to overcome burnout, exhaustion, and overwhelm, and to just get clear on the things that matter. When you are feeling that tightness that comes with stress or frustration or sadness moving your body helps to move around that energy.
Physically moving, going on a walk, going on a run, doing some pushups, doing some jump roping, really anything that moves you can help you regulate a little bit.
Also, I just wanna note that I loved the therapist that we were working with mentioned that swinging–the motion of swinging–on a hammock or on a swing at the playground. If you can move your body on a swing, that rhythmic back and forth really helps to regulate your emotional state as well.
Your body likes moving back and forth. Just like when we were being rocked as a child, it helps us to come to a great level place of emotional stability.
So consider moving your body. Going on a walk, going on a jog, doing some, dancing it out in the kitchen, like turning on your favorite dance music and just busting a move for three minutes that can help move through and be a tool in your toolbox for moving through some of your tough emotions.
Body Tools Recap
Now, these things are also simple. But think about how powerful it is to recognize when things are feeling a little off, that you have some tools in your toolbox that are so simple, that can help you feel a little bit better. Take a nap, drink some water, move your body, have a snack. These simple tools can apply to anyone at any time and they can increase your ability to cope, to manage and to move through whatever difficult time you’re facing.
Section 2: Your Mind (Thoughts) As A Wellness Tool
Let’s move on to the second section of your toolbox, your mind. The main tool that we want to put in this section of the toolbox are some thoughts that we can think that help us feel clear on the things that matter that help us feel affirmed in our beliefs and our choices, and that give us a little bit of space for other people to handle their own emotion while we focus on handling our own.
Here are a couple thoughts that I like to keep in my well woman toolbox when I’m feeling a little bit off.
Mind Tool: It’s All Going To Work Out
Number one is this: it’s all going to work out. I don’t use this one from a place of toxic positivity because I totally understand that we are not meant to be happy all the time and that some things feel really hard and really heavy. It’s okay for them to feel that way.
I also can look back over my life and recognize that, even when things have not gone exactly according to plan, they do work out. They work out in some way somehow, sometimes very unexpectedly.
So when I’m in the middle of things, feeling very off kilter, I can remind myself things are going to work out. I don’t know how. But they will.
Mind Tool: It’s Okay
Another thought that I really like to use all the time is: it’s okay.
That’s so simple. But having the thought it’s okay after whatever thing I think is wrong, helps me to recognize that there’s a little bit of space for the unknown.
Let me give you an example. My teenager wants a smartphone. We have discussed this on the podcast. In fact, he did an interview with me a few weeks ago talking about teens and technology.
He really wants a smartphone and every few days he comes up with new arguments for why he should have one. And he’s continually disappointed that he doesn’t. And I keep reminding myself that it’s okay for him to be disappointed.
It’s okay that he doesn’t have a smartphone, even if his friends do. It’s okay that sometimes he’s frustrated about it. And that sometimes I feel frustrated by his frustration.
All of those things are okay. Nothing has gone wrong. The state of life is that sometimes there’s conflicts or disagreements and it’s okay for us not to always see eye to eye with everyone. It’s not like a real problem.
Sometimes just having the negative emotion feels like it should be a problem. And I love the simple thought that it’s okay. Our feelings are valid. Our different perspectives are both okay. They’re both fine. And we don’t need to solve this problem right now.
Another example is that we’re still settling into our house. We moved in January and it’s going to be a really long process. I feel a little bit overwhelmed by it from time to time. Some days are worse than others. And I remind myself that it’s okay for me to be unsettled.
It’s okay that we haven’t moved in yet. It’s okay that there are still boxes in places. It’s okay that the paint is not on the walls yet. It’s okay that I haven’t made all of these decisions. It’s okay that my ideas far exceed my capacity, energy and budget. It’s okay.
Being okay with even not being okay is a really helpful tool for my toolbox.
Mind Tool: I Have Everything I Need
Another thought that I like to keep in my mental section of my toolbox is that I have everything I need.
In order to make the next right decision, I don’t have to wait on additional resources, additional ideas, additional time I have, in this moment, all of the things that I need in order to make whatever right decision comes next.
This helps me when I think that I get a little bit of ahead of myself down a road of goals or plans or ideas. And I see the gap between where I am and where I’d like to be as this huge chasm. And I remind myself that I have everything I need right now in order to make that next decision.
I might not have all of the information or resources that I need to jump to the end of the story. I do have everything that I need right now to make the next choice.
I also love the thought that I have everything that I need right now in order to feel the way I want to feel. This is a basic principle of abundance. And I talk about it a lot in my book, More Than Enough, is enough is a decision. There’s not a goal post that is static out there for all of us.
This idea of when I have X, then I will feel Y, is something that we all make up in our heads. I can feel all of the feelings that I want of success, of enjoyment, of satisfaction, of presence, of motivation, of financial security. I can feel all of those things right now without changing anything about the circumstances of my life.
This is such a powerful thought. It’s an incredible tool to have in your toolbox. When you start to feel that sneaky sense of scarcity that tells you that you don’t have what you need, or that you are not smart enough or rich enough, or pretty enough, or in shape enough, or dynamic enough to do the things you want to do or to feel the way you want to feel.
When these thoughts pop into my head, I can use this tool: I have everything I need right now to be fulfilled today.
I wanna share one more example, and then I will invite you to think of some thoughts that are beneficial for you. Some things that you might not even totally believe yet, but if you continue to think them, they can turn into a belief for you.
Mind Tool: They Can Make Decisions For Themselves
This last one I wanna share is the thought: they–meaning the other person who is not me–can make choices that are best for themself. This thought comes in handy for me when I start to want to micromanage people, when I want to make decisions for others, or when I think I know what’s best for someone who isn’t me.
This may be my spouse. It may be my children. It may be my sisters. It may be my friends.
When I can see someone making choices that I would not make, that I would make differently, sometimes I can be tempted to think, oh, they should actually do it this way. Or it would be better if they handled it like this.
Sometimes I don’t love the choices that other people are making, and it’s really helpful for me to think they have got it. They can handle their own choices. They know what’s best for them. And even if they don’t, even if the decision is going to end in heartache or frustration or some other outcome that isn’t necessarily desirable, that is the experience necessary for that person.
The choices they make and the consequences they face are their own manual for life, their own lessons, their workshop. My workshop is allowing other people to experience their own lives and to trust them to do what’s best for themselves. Even if it doesn’t feel like it’s the right choice for me.
So as you’re writing down in your own Well Woman Toolbox, I want you to think of a couple very specific thoughts that are tools that you can use to help you feel a little bit better or give you some clarity or perspective when things feel tough, and write them down verbatim.
So you remind yourself: it’s all okay. Or it’s going to work out. Or I have everything I need right now. And you can think about how to validate that. How to justify that thought, which will help you rehearse.
What do I have right now? What are the resources I have available today that can help me feel the way I want to feel? Specific thoughts can be incredible tools to pull out of your toolbox when you need them.
Section 3: Spiritual Tools
The third section I wanna cover in today’s episode is the spiritual section of your toolbox.
Now you don’t have to be religious in order to use spiritual tools. In fact, I think a lot of people confuse the two and they think as long as I am religious and I go to church and I check off these boxes of things I’m supposed to do, then I will feel whole or I will have that spiritual connection, where in reality, they’re entirely separate.
You can be really religious and not be very spiritual and you can also be spiritual and not be religious at all.
The research shows that spirituality greatly increases people’s emotional wellbeing, where religion doesn’t necessarily. It can, but it doesn’t necessarily. It’s the spiritual aspect.
The definition of spiritual in this case means feeling a connection to something greater than yourself. That can be recognizing God or a life force energy, or the power of the universe, the power of humanity.
When you feel deeply spiritually connected to something beyond yourself, research shows that you’ll be better off not only spiritually, but you’ll also be better off mentally and physically. Spirituality infususes life with meaning. It helps you feel connected.
Spirituality and religion can also give you some guidelines for basic interactions with other humans, with family members. It shows how relationships can be positively created and how to take care of your body.
If you see your body as an important tool in your mortal existence, it can help guide you in the decisions that you make.
Spiritual Tool: Meditation
One spiritual tool that I like to use is meditation. The Headspace app I’ve shared before is an app that I’ve used for several years now. It basically taught me how to meditate so that now I can do meditation on my own very comfortably. And I still turn it on often for a guided meditation beyond having a specific guided meditation.
The idea of meditation itself is simply allowing yourself to be with your own thoughts, to quiet those thoughts, to find some connection deeper than the thoughts in your head and the world around you. It gets you to a place of quiet where you can sense who you are below it all, underneath the titles and the relationships and the clothes and the house and the job and the roles and relationships that you have.
Who are you and why do you matter? And who are you connected to? And you can feel that light that is inherent to you, that divinity that cannot be added to or taken away, that connects you to others, that connects you to the earth, that helps you feel at peace, even when things are not peaceful.
Spiritual Tool: Time In Nature
Spending time in nature is also a spiritual practice that I consider spiritual. It also probably counts as physical to be out in nature.
One of the greatest tools that I love to use for connecting to my spirituality is to connect to earth. Taking off my shoes and exercising is a practice that’s called grounding, actually walking on the dirt, like with bare feet on the grass or the dirt or the mulch or out in the forest, imagining myself connected to this planet that we live on, imagining my rhythm of my heart and my breathing. Feeling in connection and in sync with the rhythms of nature, with the rising and setting of the sun and with the turning of the stars and with the birds, nesting and growing and flying away.
When you feel yourself a part of it all, it feels a lot easier to see the things that are going on your life from a place of perspective. From a vantage point where you have some clarity about what matters.
Spiritual Tool: Prayer
Another spiritual practice that I love to use that I pull from my toolbox is prayer. Prayer to deity, prayers of gratitude, prayers of invitation for help, or simply pouring my heart and mind out helps me feel connected and also gives me some clarity with what I am thinking about and what is happening right now and what matters.
Prayer can look like kneeling down and speaking loud. It can look like laying in a hammock and watching the leaves above you russell, while you send your gratitude heavenward. It can look like visiting a friend who’s ill or needs dinner, or needs you to take her kids for a couple hours one afternoon.
Prayer can look like a written letter. It can look like a poem. It can look like a song.
Spiritual Tool: Journaling
And the final tool that I wanna talk about in the spiritual section of your toolbox is journaling. Writing down the thoughts in your mind and the feelings in your heart is a spiritual practice allowing you space to clear those things out of your body, put them down on paper, and then read them back to understand yourself.
Journaling helps us find meaning in the things that are happening in our lives. And if we can’t find meaning, it can help us have perspective. We will be changed or different because of the things that we’re experiencing.
What other spiritual practices would you add to your toolbox? You could read scriptural text or spiritual texts. I find my most oft turned-to piece of what I consider spiritual text is my Mary Oliver anthology. It’s called devotions. This is one of the most highlighted and tabbed books that I own right up there with my Bible. When I read Mary Oliver devotions, I just see the world differently through her eyes.
Mary Oliver is one of my own prophets and priestesses. I love learning from her life, from her perspective, along with all of the prophets of old and new age prophets.
I’d say Brenee Brown is another one of my current prophets.
There are so many wonderful spiritual leaders who write and speak and teach in a way that can also add meaning and perspective to your life.
Well Woman Toolbox Recap
Now take a look at your toolbox. You have some physical tools, some easy go-tos grab a drink of water, take a quick nap, go on a walk around the block, make sure that you have a snack. Some simple ways to use your body to manage your wellness.
In your mental section your idea/thought section you’ve written down some specific thoughts that can remind you of what you know, to be true or what you want to believe. Maybe some of them you’re still working on. Maybe you don’t quite believe that it’s all gonna be okay. What if you practice that thought? What if you use it as a tool, you pull it out and you think it, or you write it down or you say it aloud.
Then your spiritual section. Spending time in nature, getting quiet with yourself, finding a place of meaning and acceptance that can increase your ability to feel positive emotion in your daily life and in your relationships.
Of course, these are just a few of many different tools that one can use to increase their wellness in their life and to feel a little bit better. These are the most simple top of the list, easy, flip open your toolbox and grab one or two when you need them.
I hope this visual has been helpful for you even just the idea of drawing out your own toolbox and physically writing down some of the tools that you can use when you need a little bit of extra help, when you need to remind yourself of things that you already know.
If you’re like me, when something goes wrong in your life, or things feel awry, you know that it’s gonna be okay. You know how to stumble through or handle the different turbulence that comes your way.
And sometimes you just forget and you aren’t doing the things that you know will be helpful. Maybe you aren’t sleeping. Maybe you aren’t drinking. Maybe you aren’t rehearsing thoughts that you want to believe.Instead, you’re ruminating on thoughts that are not helpful.
Simply writing these things down and putting them out and available, not like: I don’t know this so I need to remind myself. But I do know this and I need to remind myself to do these things, to use these tools because they don’t rely on anyone outside of us. These are things that are available to us at any time and they don’t require input or change from anyone else.
These tools in our Well Woman Toolbox help us to be the best that we can be and to feel the best that we can feel regardless of the circumstance that we find ourselves in. So ladies build out your toolbox, make sure that what tools are accessible to you, and then hang it up somewhere that you can see it and remind yourself of all of the tools that you already have that can help you feel a little bit better as you live your life more on purpose.
Thank you. Thank you for tuning in today. I hope you’ve enjoyed this show. I want to invite you to head over to iTunes and leave a five star rating and a written review sharing a little bit of why you have enjoyed listening to Live Free Creative podcast. It is super helpful, and I truly appreciate those couple minutes that it takes for you to do that.
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And if you know someone who could use this episode, a friend or a family member who could use a reminder of the tools that they have in their toolbox right now, why don’t you send it to them? You can take a screenshot and share it on social media. You can copy the link and text it or email it to your friends and family members.
I love the chance to help us women feel as well as possible. I hope you have a super fun week plan with some adventures on your horizon. Have a wonderful one.
I’ll chat with you again. Next time. See you later. Bye bye.