So there I was, standing in front of a table of prominent casting directors and agents. I had just finished my “audition night” at the end of a month long theater class I paid for. I don’t remember all of the feedback that was given, but what I do remember was the moment that one of them looked me up and down and said “Now Sara, normally you look fabulous, but I don’t know what happened tonight”. He went on to comment about my “unsupported boobs”, how I looked like a Middle Aged Mom and that nobody needs to see that. I remember the others in the room gasped a little bit, some laughed and I just stood there still as can be in the center of the room. I had no idea how to respond other than to put a slight uncomfortable smile on my face and simply nod along. I remember walking out of the room, the other people who were waiting to go on asking how it went and I just kind of stood there, muttering something like “ok, I think but “blank” didn’t like my dress” even though it was so much more than that. My face was flushed and I couldn’t wait to get out of there, I was in shock.
Looking back now I want so badly for that 27 year old version of myself to look that person right in the eye and say “excuse me? Who do you think you are to speak so openly about my body in that way?” I wish I had walked out of the room and demanded my money back because I did not need to be paying for my own body shaming.
It’s taken me a long time to understand how wrong that was. It’s taken me a long time to heal from not just that, but years of body shaming moments. Like when I was told how huge I was at a beauty salon while 7 months pregnant. It seems that it has been always open season to comment on women’s bodies.
The hardest part however is that for so long, I accepted it as ok too. And in fact I am SURE I did my own fair share of shaming others simply through my inner judgement. It is a sickness in our society and none of us have been immune.
That still doesn’t excuse how pervasive this problem is, especially with those who have some power. That night standing in front of that panel, that casting director knew how badly I wanted to be liked by them. He knew how much I wanted to succeed in the business. Whether or not he knew at the time he was wrong (and I truly hope that he does now), he took that little bit of power and played with it in such a harmful way. But honestly, I am not writing this post to make it about him. He doesn’t get to have that much attention.
I am writing this for the girl who stood in the middle of that room and couldn’t defend herself because at the time she didn’t believe that she had enough power within herself to speak up and say “Nope, that’s not ok”. She didn’t know because from a very young age she believed that how she looked was a part of her currency and what she brought to the table. The girl who never wore the dress she wore that night again, even though it had been one of her favorite dresses. How I wish that I still had it so that I could actually put it back on, this time with my unsupported boobs that really are that of a middle aged mom who birthed and nourished her child with them. I also wish I could tell her then what I know now which is that your body, how it looks is never open for discussion and she is so much more than a body and how it looks.
In these last few years of deep self-care work, I have discovered an unwavering feeling of empowerment and passion that wasn’t present over a decade ago. I share this story with you, not to claim my victimhood. Nor do I look to “cancel” this particular person out. Quite frankly, I have some issues with the so called “cancel culture” and how it limits our capacity to learn from one another. I want to point out that it’s possible to go from the girl who stood speechless in that room, to the woman who feels strong enough to speak up, honestly share this experience, even if it is 12 years later. The truth is that I was able to give my power away in that room because I didn’t believe that I deserved to have any. I was in the constant practice of putting other people on pedestals above myself and allowing their opinions and judgement to mean more to me than my own. It wasn’t until I started to really get in touch with myself on the regular that I realized how valuable I actually am and that my voice deserves to be heard, especially when something isn’t right.
I wish this issue was a thing of the past but alas, just today I read about a high schooler who has been experiencing body shaming for being fat in her school theater productions. She was much more brilliantly able to stand up and speak her truth in the moment than I was and I was so proud to read that. I suspect however, that she is still one of few rather than one of many and so I want to say here and now as a mantra for us all “No one has the right to comment on your body”. Not your friend, not your parent, not your spouse, not your boss, not the casting director across the room, or the costume designer taking measurements. No one gets to take verbal ownership over the space that is literally YOUR container. You body, your bones, your skin, your muscle, all of it the packaging for something much bigger than what it looks like on the outside.
I do believe that the path to finding this power to stand up and speak up is directly connected to how we care for ourselves in the first place. If we are taking the time each day to love and nurture and cherish who we are, as we are, we will be much better equipped to handle the tougher more adverse moments of our lives. We won’t be so willing to hand over the reigns of our personal power to those who would use it to cause harm. I recently read a quote that said “Every next level of your life will demand a different version of you”. I don’t continue to shame myself for what I wasn’t able to do back then because I was not yet the version I am today. But I do use it as a reminder often of how far I have come and the work that it has taken to get myself here. I am immensely proud of it. And I believe so strongly in taking this kind of action that I work every single day to support more and more women in their ability to cultivate unwavering self-love and worth so that no one person’s ignorant comments can penetrate that which they can create for themselves, a deep rooted power of self love. This kind of thinking wasn't being taught or talked about back then as much, but thankfully it is now. My hope is that we are currently in a time of major upleveling, in all directions.
On March 1st I will begin leading a group in a 31 day meditation challenge. This is that practice that has become the foundation of my daily self-care and self-love rituals. It is how I connect to the part of me that no one can see or take ownership of but me. I hope that if this story resonated with you in some way that you will join me. You can sign up HERE.
And just because I can, here is a picture of me in THE dress.
Giving YOURSELF more time and attention will NOT be taking away time and attention that you have to give to others...it will give you MORE.
I spoke about this on my Instagram stories last week because this kept coming up a lot in my sessions with coaching clients. Although I don’t believe this is only an issue that women have, I do hear it a lot from not only my clients but from other mama friends. This idea that if we give ourselves any amount of attention, it is selfish and taking away time that we NEED to put on the daily tasks at hand or the people we care for in our lives.
While yes, there are only a certain number of hours in a day and we cannot actually create MORE time, we can create more within ourselves to give by actually taking some time to connect to our self. We seem to be plagued in this society with the idea that more is more and if we aren’t spending every waking moment in action and in the doing, we aren’t actually being a productive and valuable human. This is such a harmful mindset and one that is the cause of so much burn out and stress and anxiety. Not to mention the obscene amount of expectations that are placed on women, whether at home or in the workplace, mental load or physical load of daily life. That being said, we have to take back control of our own burn out around it all. We have to step up and step in to a new way of existing and make it NON-NEGOTIABLE each and every single day in order to make it clear that which is no longer acceptable.
I know the moment that my daughter is in burn out. She all of a sudden stops listening, she gets punchy and can’t seem to focus on anything. When this happens, we know that she needs to power down and really, get quiet with herself. If it isn’t actually time for bed, we offer some options to be safely alone in her room for a bit of time. Sometimes it means she lies down and listens to a story, sometimes it means that we simply put some soft music on while she plays and sometimes it’s non-messy art time. We leave the room and she spends time alone, tending to herself in any way that she feels fit. In fact, as I write this, she is in her room coloring mandalas, listening to stories with oils diffusing! All of it her choice in how to care for herself. As her parents, we have made this kind of time non-negotiable for her for now, while it's our job to help guide her along and read her signals. However the older she gets, the more she takes this time voluntarily and hopefully it is something that she will carry with her for the rest of her life.
As adults, we seem to forget that we still need this every day too. We don’t outgrow the need for this kind of time, care and attention. And yet we so quickly and readily give it away as if we can just keep on plowing through without any consequences. What is even worse is that even when we start to feel and notice the consequences, we STILL don’t allow ourselves the option to slow down and get more deliberate with our own attention. We have gotten so good at normalizing stress and fatigue and mental overload that we simply carry on, business as usual. Whereas if we were to just stop, take a bit of our time and sanction it off for ourselves, we could relieve some of the pressure.
To dive into the deep end a little bit here, this issue when it comes to women is so prevalent because we often don’t value ourselves enough to take the time. Much of that is because we have been told that giving to others is the most important thing to do and should always be first on our list. We are programmed to think that our love must first be constantly projected outward both in how we give it and in how we pursue it.
So how radical would it be if we decided that today, we were going to begin giving ourselves 5-10 minutes each day (longer if you can) of your own undivided attention? What if you made it non-negotiable and actually put it at the top of your priority list or even added it to the calendar? And I do not mean to stop doing whatever you are doing and go scroll social media or watch something. I mean that you sit with yourself, you breathe, you journal, you do something that is the opposite of distraction because it is actually cultivating inner connection. I am willing to place money on it that if you did this for the next several weeks or months you would notice a drastic difference in the overall quality of the time and attention that you give to others. You would actually notice that you have so much MORE to give of yourself, because you are first and foremost in the nurturing of yourself. It would change the way that people interact with us, the way that we interact with people and most importantly for me, finally teach our daughters that self-care is not selfish. Self-Love is not arrogant and that Self-Worth does not come from an outside source.
I would love to guide you into this new, radical way of being. The entire month of March is going to be all about meditating each day. You may be surprised at what this means, and if you are someone who has never even considered meditating before, I highly recommend you signing up! All month long I will guide you and help you create some sacred time for yourself each day through the art and practice of meditation. The entire cost is $25 which means that you will be spending less than $1 a day on yourself, but I promise you that it will pay off as if you spent millions! So are you ready to be the radical, feminist (and I don't just mean female), most empowered self-care/self-love/self-worth advocate you have ever been?
Be able to give more of yourself by first giving more TO yourself.
Audrey and I made these yesterday for her to bring to her classmates today! They were super simple and fun! We used this super inexpensive kit from Amazon that came with a mold, sticks, wrappers and twist ties.
We used Lemon Essential Oil as the recipe suggests, but you can use any doTERRA oil that is made for consumption. Quick Tip: You will know if a doTERRA oil is OK to be ingested by looking at the bottle, if there is Supplement Information listed, it is OK to take internally. Also ONLY use doTERRA oils for internal use, not all oils are created equally!
1 cup sugar
⅓ cup honey
2 tablespoons water
5 drops Lemon oil, or oil of choice
Please forgive me, the entire concept and idea of this post was stolen from Ange Peters and a recent post she put in her Instagram Stories. I believe she even talks about them on her podcast, though I have yet to listen. But still these three barriers resonated with me so much, that I wanted to write about them from my own experience and point of view. So here are the 3 Barriers that people must cross before they decide to purchase doTERRA:
#1. You're doubtful that the oils will work for you.
There is so much information and misinformation out there about essential oils that it can make our heads spin when it comes to wondering whether or not they actually work and will work for us. We live in such an evidence based society that we often need to know exactly why and how something will work for us, before we even venture into trying...well...at least when it comes to natural remedies. A funny thing I have noticed is that the majority of people don't actually question the drug that their doctor writes them a prescription for. Now I know, "but they are a doctor and your doTERRA Wellness Advocate is not." That's true and I would never directly encourage you to go against medical advice, so long as it aligns with your own feelings of comfort and trust in moving forward with things. But the issue is that we don't usually even get to the point where we are questioning how we feel about what is being told about our bodies and the best way to help them heal. We tend to put our medical professionals on pedestals and believe that whatever they have to say, is complete and utter truth, even going so far as to ignore our own intuitive knowing. We put our own healing in the hands of someone else and that, to me, is a very serious issue. I am NOT saying that we shouldn't seek out the support, advice and wisdom of professionals. I very much value the study and effort that has gone into honing their skills. I come from a long line of them and have a deep respect for anyone who enters into the field of healthcare. But I do want to call out the very serious imbalance that has been present in learning how to care for ourselves in the best way possible vs. simply looking for a quick remedy that can be handed to us by someone else. And medicines don't work for us all the time. How often do we hear that we need to change to a different dosage or that there have been major side effects due to a new pill being taken. As much as we hate to hear this, Science is an imperfect practice. It ebbs and flows with the rest of life, with new information being learned every day and old ideas and truths being changed or even dis-proved.
All of this to say, it's ok to wonder how oils will work for you, but please release the doubt, because the only thing it is perpetuating is a deeper doubt within ourselves around what is possible for us. It is very possible that a medication prescribed by a doctor will work wonders. I've seen it happen. It's also possible that using an essential oil to calm your mind, aid in digestion or clear your skin will work wonders. I've also seen it happen. It is my personal belief that our doubt is a powerful teaching to show us exactly where we could let go a little more and practice both willingness and trust. And if you are willing to try that pill they may cause damage to your kidney's or low libido, why not try an essential oil? (that will do none of those things btw).
#2. You question if there's any difference between doTERRA and what you can buy at the mall or health foods store.
There are a couple of ways that I could address this. Number one, whenever anything becomes trendy, people tend to want to capitalize on it. It makes sense and I don't fault that. However, there is so much information out there now that talks about "greenwashing" and how because something is labeled as using essential oils, or all natural, we quickly think well this must be good then and if it's cheaper than an alternative, even better! But we are now learning that just because the beautiful label says it to be true, does not mean that there aren't things inside the bottle that can cause harm. Here's the truth, there is no governing body for essential oils. The FDA does not approve or disapprove them (nor would I necessarily trust them if they did, hello they approved aspartame). This means however that inside your store bought bottle of essential oil, there could be, and often are, other fillers to help keep the price down but the oils moving off the shelf.
One of the reasons I stand so solidly behind doTERRA is that they third party test all of their oils. On the bottom of each bottle you find a number. Then from there you go to SourcetoYou.com and you can read the test results of each batch of oil. Not to mention that there have been numerous independent studies done now on all different brands and each time, doTERRA comes back clean as a whistle with no adulteration or fillers.
The other point I will make about purchasing oils at a store vs. through a wellness advocate is that you get more support via the latter route. Essential oils are potent and powerful and chances are, when you bring them home there is a moment of "Now what?". Part of the perk of going through someone you know and trust (and yes, there are untrustworthy advocates too), is that you get to learn about how to use the oils in a way that really works for you. Personally, I am here for all of my team to get their questions answered at any time, to provide free resources to learn more and to help them create rituals and routines around using their oils so they get the most impact out of them. And when the argument comes in to play that they are more expensive than other brands, I simply say that in this case, you really do get what you pay for both in quality and service.
The bottom line, there is a very big difference in doTERRA essential oils and those that you can purchase at the store...both in quality and structure. Speaking of structure...
#3. You're aware that doTERRA is sold through the network marketing model...doesn't that make it a pyramid scheme?
I am fully aware of the skepticism around this topic. In fact, in doing research for writing this post, I came across some comments and blogs that just spew hate and vitriol for MLM's and the people who work within them. It was actually incredible to read some of the things that people attach themselves to and choose to put energy towards, based on something they likely don't understand.
Let me begin with this, Multi-level Marketing /Network Marketing is not a scheme. Bernie Madoff was a scheme. But doTERRA has very specific reasons for why they chose to go the route of having their product shared via person to person vs. selling in the store. Much of it what I mentioned already above about the importance of continued education and learning for all who choose to use essential oils. But let me also un-demonize the model of network marketing for a moment:
I have a mentor and teacher from who I study with and learn from, Elena Brower.
She provides us with hours of content, education and resources to learn and study from to help support us in our own growth, as well as our desire to support others in their growth. When I do well, yes you betcha, she lights up and gets rewarded. But so do so many others, and that in turn inspires us all to continue to work and learn and grow and share. It is truly a network, mostly of women, who spend our time and our efforts learning how we can revolutionize health care while keeping our own health in our hands, rather in the hands of someone else. We are a network of teachers who light each other up, take our work VERY seriously and are committed to honesty, transparency and intelligent action. And yes, abundance because making money doing something you love, while helping people, is not a negative thing.
Not to mention, there is no get rich quick thing happening here. It takes a TON of work and I am learning to run my own business which means I have had success and failure all over the place. Schemes exist, in all areas of life, including health, wellness and traditional healthcare. But to paint a model that is simply different from what we are used to in this ever growing corporate society as a scheme, I believe is incredibly short sighted.
I am curious to know if you use doTERRA, were these barriers that you too had to cross? Are you possibly interested in what you see me constantly posting and writing about, but you resonate with some of what I addressed above? One thing you should know about me, if you don't already is that I am nothing but genuine and truly here to serve, support and inspire. I would absolutely love to help get more of your questions answered and help you break through the barriers that tend to keep us in one place. I certainly had to do the same thing myself, 4 years ago and I am so very glad that I did.
Email Me: Sara@oneOMatatime.com
Recently, an article in the NY Times was brought to my attention via an online Mom's group that I belong to. The article, entitled "Who's Afraid of Gwenyth Paltrow and Goop?" speaks to something that I have been wanting to talk about for a long time, which is how deeply ingrained Patriarchy is when it comes to self-care and wellness. And something that I want to be very clear about...it's not just an issue with men, but rather it is actually very much an issue that we as women have to face and acknowledge. Upon reading the above article, I couldn't help but think, what if Gwenyth were a man? Would she be treated differently? Would she take far less heat for trying these very outside of the box modalities of care? Would she actually be praised for getting in touch with her vulnerability and need to find spiritual healing? Would women judge her less and more men actually get on board? I, of course, cannot prove this (much to the chagrin of our evidence based society), but I would be lying if I didn't say that I think it's very possibly true.
Even more honestly, I will share that I have often had the thought that if my husband were to decide that he wanted to jump into my business with me, not only would I garner more attention, but things would grow exponentially faster. We have had the candid discussion that if all of a sudden, the world started to see him talk about the power of essential oils and how they work for him, people would more readily dive into believing, rather than pass it off and spiritual "woo" (see one of my latest posts on why that word is no longer ok). This is not me saying "Oh woe is me" to be clear. My husband fully supports and backs me up in my work, his interest simply lies elsewhere in his own career. And I don't actually desire to have him as a business partner, simply because of that reason. He would have to be just as passionate as I am about teaching the art of self-care as I am, because in truth, while I wish to continue to grow financially, it isn't all about the money for me.
But I think the hard reality is that, we as women, have allowed patriarchal views to usurp the power we have over our own intuitive knowing. We look for things to be "knowable" or "proveable", when there was once a time when we were able to simply listen to ourselves and each other and create healing rituals and practices for both ourselves and those we care for. Instead, we have been programmed to turn towards doubt and skepticism and so quickly roll our eyes at those who wish to take a stand for alternative, out of the mainstream options.
I am not saying that Gwenyth Paltrow needs be the end all be all of wellness. And I am humble enough to say that while quick judgements based on her outward personae are easy, I don't, in fact, know anything about her, her life or what she has been through to want to be in the pursuit of such practices. But I do know that we have to stop judging women in wellness, especially among each other and we have to break down the walls that patriarchy has so widely built in our own points of view. And so I invite you to ask yourself this, "If Gwenyth Paltrow was a man, do you think she would take less heat?". Read the article and then I am open to an honest and respectful conversation about this in the comments below...
Today was the first full day that I lived without my grandmother in the world. It’s a very strange thing. Even when someone you love is sick and you know that the last time you saw them could very well be the last time you ever see them, it’s a very strange realization to all of a sudden spend that first day without them alive. She passed away yesterday morning at home, my mom by her side, tending to her with the most awe inspiring care. My grandpa there, whispering to her over and over again “I love you, I love you, I love you.” Today may as well be the first full day that he has ever lived without her as well after almost 70 years together.
Theirs was a love that people write about in the movies and I mean that with no exaggeration. They could have given Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams a run for their money. They met when she was 15 and he, 20. They were married shortly thereafter and she followed him around the world while he served in the army. Two of my uncles were born in Panama, the other three children in Virginia including my mom. Then they flew off to Japan for 5 years. One of my greatest inspirations is the story of my grandmother traveling by herself, with all five children under 7 in tow to meet up with my grandpa in Japan. I have only one child and that thought absolutely terrifies me, and yet to hear her tell the story with such confidence and “matter of fact-ism” always made me look at her as if she had some kind of superhero powers. I’m pretty sure that all other mothers will agree that she did.
But perhaps the hardest part of this first day has been really facing the realities of death through the eyes, ears and ponderings of my 4.5 year old daughter. We have decided to be very honest with her about death and so yesterday when we got word of her passing, we didn’t hide our tears or make up some story. I actually found out while walking home with her hand in hand from our favorite Saturday morning theatre class. I felt her little hand in mine as we walked together, silently, down the street. It was almost vigil like as we walked past people going to temple for Shabbat, other kids and parents walking/running by. We simply walked all the way home, saying very few words, which for a 4.5 year old is quite rare. She has witnessed me grieve and cry a few times since and has even been able to express that she too feels sad. She has asked questions like “But G-Pop is still here?” as if trying to figure out the logistics of it all, knowing that they go together. Then today she asked me the hardest question yet...just before bed this evening she asked me “Mama, why do we die?”. It was one of those moments as a parent when you totally understand why stories of a baby carrying stork get made up because the discomfort of the truth feels so big.
Because the truth is that I don’t, in fact, know why we die. I know that everything has a cycle. I know that all things that live must eventually also die and that, to quote Elton John, this is the circle of life. I know that in nature, in order for things to become new again, they must go through a season of dying, much like this month we are in. But to have an answer to why we die, to me, is also to have an answer as to why we live. And I don’t have one for either. Even in all of my yogi, meditating, energy healing glory, at the end of the day I am humble enough to admit that I do not have an answer to this question and to fully entertain that there may never be an answer to this question. The only thing that I truly know is that I don’t know.
Perhaps this makes me the most spiritual agnostic on the planet. I believe so wholeheartedly in tending to our energy each day, in sitting with ourselves in meditation and using all kinds of tools to help ourselves through the daily challenges of being human. And yet, I am unable to commit to any belief that wraps itself in certainty. I would dare say that I am unwilling to accept that someone on this earth knows something more than the rest of us do about such an important question. I have things that I want to believe. I want to believe that we are all energetically connected. I want to believe that this concept God is an entity that lives inside each of us. I want to believe that there really is a light inside of me that is a reflection of the same light inside of you, and every person that I meet. And I want to believe that there is some purpose to all of us walking around on this earth for a period of time, making connections with each other and then one day, no longer waking up. But to know for sure about these things, I cannot and do not.
I want to be very clear, I do not have a bleak outlook on life. Quite the opposite. I am filled with joy and hope and intense love each day. I genuinely stand in awe and wonder what it means to be alive and have these incredible human experiences. And the way that I do that in the face of this immense void of not knowing is simple; I get supremely comfortable with the uncertainty of it all. I work so hard each day to accept the fact that I do not know when my last day on this earth will be, when the last time I get to kiss my daughter goodnight will be, or my husband, or when the last time I will get to speak to my mom on the phone will be. It is gut wrenching in a way and yet, I am committed to facing that uncertainty head on, not with fear but with the grace of trust. I refuse to allow the fear of what I cannot put an answer to, to carry me down a path of constant fret and worry and doubt. Instead, I dare myself to rise to the occasion in the face of uncertainty, to find ease and peace and comfort in all that I do not know. I dare myself each day to find freedom in this reality.
At the end of yoga, we practice savasana. Shava in sanskrit means corpse and asana means pose. The intention is to practice dying, lying there in stillness after so much living through the movement of our bodies and our breath and our sweat. And while you could certainly make an argument for how it is a practice on how to die well, for me, it is the practice in how to live well. Lying in stillness at the end of practice, is that reminder that one day we will be here for good, but for this day, while we are able to move and breath and sweat, we must do so with the greatest attention to the present moment. There is a quote from the song “Awake my Soul” by Mumford and Sons: “Where you invest your love, you invest your life”. That is what savasana reminds me each time I lie there, that I know who and what I love and that I am, in fact, alive now. Knowing that, is knowing enough.
I did not go into all of this with my daughter tonight. Instead I simply held her close, gave her a hug and said “I don’t know why we die my love. But I do know that our love for each other never will. Just like the love that Nene had for me and I have for her is still here and I can feel it, even though she isn’t. And one day you will pass our love on to other people in your life, possibly your own children and in that way, we continue on.” She seemed satisfied with that answer for now. We crawled into bed and I laid with her as she fell asleep thinking to myself how beautiful this life is, even in all the unknowing. Possibly even because of it. Perhaps the mystery of it all is what gives it such love. The kind of love that I feel for my daughter, that my mother feels for me and that my grandmother felt for us all. I believe that we are lucky to not know the answer to “why” we live and die. I don’t think we actually need to know. Instead, it gives us the opportunity to live now, to discover more each day and only increases the value of the love we all so fortunately get to give and receive from one another. And on this very first day, knowing that my grandma, my Nene, is no longer walking this earth, I am grateful for the investment that she dared to give to me, despite all that is unknown.
I loving memory of Yvonne Steverson 1935 - 2020
is a Mama, Wife, Teacher, Writer and Creator of One OM at a time. She has been teaching and studying yoga since 2008 and has taught at studios in Syracuse, Boston and New York City. For two years her hOMe was wherever she, her husband Justin, their daughter Audrey and pug Oscar find themselves as they traveled for Justin's job on the national tour of Matilda the Musical. This way of living has really taught Sara that yoga and mediation requires nothing more than some time and a space for your mat. You can find Sara teaching regular classes in NYC, workshops and retreats all over the country as well as in her very own online studio right here!