The right time is NOW!

So last month, I started a podcast.  This has been a dream of mine for YEARS. Yet I just couldn’t get started.  If you asked me why, I would have given you some very compelling reasons for this, and you might have even bought them!  In reality, I was so focussed on why now was not the right time, I didn’t stop to think about why now was the right time.

Do you have something you want to start, try, explore, get off the ground?  How much time and headspace are you spending on why it won’t work?  What if you flipped the script and instead imagined how it could work?

Here are some ways to get started:

  1. Acknowledge your fears out loud, to someone who is a cheerleader and not a naysayer.
  2. Address the perceived barriers with your cheerleader friend.  Brainstorm on ways to overcome and push through areas.
  3. Just start.  You don’t have to take a massive step, baby steps towards your goal count too.  But nothing will happen without a little momentum.
  4. Let go of why it’s taken you so long, or the years you “wasted.”  These thoughts are not going to get you motivated.  Instead you might go down the rabbit hole and never act on your dreams.  (If you have a timeline in your head of when things were “supposed” to happen, I encourage you to google inspiring folks who found success later in life.  That’s a rabbit hole I encourage!)
  5. Visualize your dream.  Olympians do this.  NBA players do this.  They visualize getting to the finish line, making the game winning basket.  They let themselves feel all the excitement that comes with that win.  Use your imagination for good, and not for all the ways it could not work.
  6. Set aside regular time to work on your goal.  Make it a habit.  And don’t cancel on yourself.  Enlist others to hold you accountable.
  7. Don’t keep it to yourself.  You may discover you have more resources available to you once you say your dream out loud.  I found that once I talked about wanting to start a podcast with more and more people, I was in the company of folks who knew just how to help me!
  8. Don’t start or stop based on people’s approval.  While it feels great when everyone is on board, it also can’t be your motivation.  Approval comes and goes, and if you grow dependent on it, it will be the driving force which can be dangerous to your dreams.

I want to end by reminding you, that there is room for you and your dream/goal in this world.  Don’t waste any more time telling yourself it’s too late.  Don’t spend another minute comparing yourself to someone else who got to where you want to be, faster.  You bring your own unique “you-ness” to whatever you want to accomplish.  And we all can’t WAIT to see what you’ve got the courage to show us!

Take care of YOU.

P.S. You can find my podcast on Apple Podcasts, Anchor, Pocket Casts, and Overcast: Self-care with Esther


You don’t have to do this alone!

I’ve had a hard couple of weeks that have really forced me to practice what I preach.  Let’s be honest, I can talk about self-care all day long but if I’m not really having to test it, then it’s just words.  I’ll admit it’s been simultaneously humbling and exciting to have folks give my advice (or more accurately, the advice I’ve gathered from soooo many books) back to me when they see I’m struggling.  It’s humbling because I sometimes feel this self-imposed pressure to have it all together and I do NOT.  And it’s exciting because at my job we are starting to have a common language to help us through the rough times.  We no longer talk about self-care as an after thought, but a priority.  In my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have imagined a work place attempting a transformation like this, and that’s so exciting!

I have a couple of folks I have lunch with regularly and from day one, these lunches have been crucial to my health.  We talk out our frustrations but try not to dwell on them and instead remind ourselves of what matters, remember to be grateful, and leave the diner ready to handle the rest of the day.  Now let me be clear, we  don’t say, “Okay and now is the time in our meal where we say what we are thankful for.”  Instead, we just start to notice that it’s time to shift our focus back to the good stuff and we do it.  There’s no competition about who’s has it worse or who’s doing better.  It’s just a time to reset ourselves before we return to work.

Having a self-care buddy who checks in with you during a particularly hard time is crucial, it can make all the difference.  Do you already have one of those but never thought of them that way?  Do you want one of those?  Make sure they know and agree to having that role in your life and vice versa, because knowing that can help redirect you both during rough times.  Whether they are connected to you through work or your personal life, it’s so helpful to have someone who looks out for you when you are starting to drown and throws you a rope.  Also when you are not struggling share with them what’s are things that bring you back to life, so that they can remind you of those things when needed.

This week one of my friends did just that, he brought me out of my downward spiral and reminded me of things I love doing.  *Reminder: when you are in the “red zone” it is hard to remember what gives you joy.  So make sure you have a list to refer to or a buddy to remind you so that you don’t spin out completely.  I actually have a notecard in my wallet that I look at when all I can see in front of me is frustration.

One last little note, having a hard week does not necessarily mean you are burned out.  It may just mean that a lot happened all at once and it was a lot.  Also we are going to have times when it’s easier to let things slide off of us and when it’s not.  Don’t judge yourself.  I’m always surprised by what really gets to me and what doesn’t.  Allow yourself to explore that when the dust settles, but in the stressful moment practice love towards yourself.

Take care of YOU.


Lead with love not fear.

Every day we have the option to live a life lead by fear or by love.  I recently listened to Oprah’s podcast with Marianne Williamson and had a bit of an epiphany as they talked about this.  I thought back to the times in that week alone that had been particularly hard and wondered what my reactions had been rooted in, fear or love?  Turns out they had been fear based.  I took myself too seriously or took things too personally, or let negativity win.  But that’s not a way that I want to live.  That doesn’t mean that the actions of others were no longer hurtful, but I was reminded that I get to control how I want to react to them.

It’s clear what many people in power would have us do.  Fear everyone and everything.  But I warn you that if you follow suit, you will miss out.  That is a promise.  You will stop seeing the beauty that is all around you.  You will become cynical, closed off and fearful.

Beautiful moments don’t stop just because you aren’t in the mood to see them.  They are all around you.  Look up.  Look up from your phones, meet people’s eyes, greet the cashier, show them you see them, acknowledge the ignored.

I had to give a self care talk at work yesterday but was feeling a little anxious so I decided to run around the corner to grab an espresso (because anxiety and caffeine are a great combo…said no one ever).  While on my way, I saw a baby in a stroller kicking his legs with his grinning face basking in the sunlight.  I was under the same sun and yet experiencing it completely differently.

“Love is what we were born with.  Fear is what we learned here.” -Marianne Williamson

If even this small group of blog readers, decided to lead the rest of the week from a place of love rather than fear, imagine the ripple effect it’d have. I dare us.

Take care of YOU.


What are you already doing right?

Sometimes when I talk about self-care I see guilt show up on people’s faces.  And then come all the “shoulds.”

“Yeah I really should be exercising.”

“I shouldn’t eat fast food as often as I do.”

“I know, I really should go on a vacation.”

So let’s take a different approach today.  What are you already doing right?  What could you build on?  I’ll get us started.  Lately I’ve been feeling frustrated with not exercising like I used to.  So while I do want to get back on that wagon, I need to remind myself that I do have an app on my phone that counts my steps.  Apparently 10,000 steps is a recommended daily goal, and I seem to average that, being a New Yorker.  I also make sure I reach 10,000 on days I’ve been a little more stagnant.  Also I take a multivitamin every day (full disclosure it’s the gummy kind, I can’t STAND swallowing large stinky pills).  I keep my dentists appointments (have one next week) even though I HATE going, so that my teeth won’t rot out of my head.  I wear sunscreen.  This weekend I bought myself flowers at the bodega for a meager $7.99.  This is just a start, and you’ll notice these aren’t necessarily massive things but they still count!  Take a moment to appreciate and acknowledge where you are killing it in the self-care department, even if you hadn’t really noticed.

Additionally, we all have areas where we could improve our self-care rituals.  Chances are you take a shower regularly, but how often do you luxuriate in it?  Allow yourself a few extra minutes, get some fancy soap, light a candle, make something you already do special.  My friend went to Paris and gave me the gift of some fancy fruit jams.  I got in the habit of saving them for the weekend when I knew I’d have time to make myself an espresso, look out my window and appreciate and savor this gift brought to me from Paris! When you are new to the self-care journey, building on what you already do is a less overwhelming place to start.

The other day I walked past a super fancy chocolate shop, that I have walked by many times before.  However, I have rarely ventured inside, because it just smells expensive.  And it is.  But turns out buying three little chocolates is not.  And that’s what I did, I treated myself to 3 different kinds of indulgent, decadent Belgian chocolate.  Who says you have to buy a pound and then blow your budget?  Not me!

So this week, allow yourself to savor, appreciate and embellish what you are already doing for yourself.

“Do small things with great love.” -Mother Teresa

Take care of YOU.




Creating and celebrating extraordinary moments.

Picture this:  You’ve had the worst day ever.   Your job had multiple call-outs, so you’re super short-staffed, you’ve wanted to scream and/or cry more times than you can count.  Just when you are ready to throw in the towel, you get an email from management that there is an all-you-can-eat ice cream sundae bar waiting for you in the staff lounge, with every topping you can imagine.  (If you are lactose intolerant, please imagine something that you can enjoy…without  the gas).  On top of that, they are throwing a puppy party where you get to cuddle and play with the cutest puppies you’ve ever seen!

After filling up on ice cream and getting your overdue dose of puppy cuteness, how do you imagine you’d feel as you leave? Would that day stick out for you?  A year from now what would you remember, being short-staffed and overwhelmed or…PUPPIES!  Even the most negative person among us, would still remember the puppies and forget the chaos after time had passed.

Every day we have the opportunity to make our day (and the day of others) special and unique in some way.  In fact, I highly encourage you to make this challenge for yourself, or if you are in a position of power at your workplace, make that a goal for your team.  We can’t always afford to do things like plan a huge puppy party, but sometimes the best things require you to think outside the box and use your creativity in a way that perhaps your job doesn’t usually tap into.  In fact, encouraging employees to use these strengths is another way to make employees feel valued and want to stick around.

In the book, “The Power of Moments,” Chip and Dan Heath write about this very concept. “Transitions should be marked, milestones commemorated, and pits filled.”  They describe “pits” as, “negative defining moments, moments of hardship or pain or anxiety.”  A “filled pit” could be a committee at a workplace who makes sure that people going through a loss in their life, have meals taken care of, childcare help, and support from the job.

What would have made your first day of work spectacular?  Transitions are never easy even if you are looking forward to the new job.  Can you imagine a scenario where your first day would remain a positive moment that you looked back on fondly?  Perhaps you are taken out to lunch, or the head of the company makes a point to stop by your desk and introduce themselves.  None of these actions require much money or time, but they are enough to make a person feel seen during a transition that usually is overly stressful.

Why should we work to create these moments?  Because that’s where we find the beauty in life.  When we make room for joy, gratitude, silliness, healing and beauty, we are waking ourselves up from the mundane and reminding ourselves of the miracle of being alive.

Take care of YOU.





The art of a healthy venting session.

Who doesn’t love a good venting session?  It can be sooo therapeutic.  Unfortunately, not all venting sessions are created equal.  Why is this?  Venting sessions often require some boundary setting ahead of time.  Does that seem extreme?  Have you ever been on the end of a venting session where the vent-er told you something so traumatic you felt icky and possibly even a little triggered?  You were ambushed.  My guess is the venter didn’t set the stage first, see if it was a good time for you, or think about what gory details they could omit before they opened their mouths.  (FYI in this post when I refer to “venting sessions” I will be more focussed on ones where potentially sad/traumatic info is being shared, not so much a venting session about traffic, the subway, or a bad haircut.)

I’m not even going to pretend that I’m an expert venter.  In fact, I have witnessed the face of the ambushed vent-ee following a story I was processing and thought to myself, “Yeah I think I just gave them nightmares, crap….”  Regardless of the field you work in or how you spend your days, you are going to be exposed to some rough stories and experiences.  Some of us need to process by verbally working it out, and if this is your mode of processing I’m right there with you.  However I think us verbal processors could do with some reminders with how to respectfully process with one another.

There are times when you may not be able to wait for supervision, or a coffee date with your BFF or an evening catch up about the day with your partner.  So when a difficult story presents itself you may suddenly rely on the person who is around you in that moment to help you work it through.

Francoise Mathieu, author of “The Compassion Fatigue workbook” has a list of questions to as yourself before you lay into the gory details of a traumatic story.

She writes,

“Is this conversation a:

Debriefing? Case consultation? Fireside chat? Work lunch? Parking lot catch-up? Children’s soccer game? Holiday party? Pillow talk?

Is the listener:

Aware that you are about to share graphic details?  Able to control the flow of what you are about to share with them?

If it is a case consultation or a debriefing:

Has the listener been informed that it is a debriefing or are you sitting in their office chatting about your day?  Have you given them fair warning?”

Why are these helpful things to be aware of ahead of time?  Because often when you have just been faced with a particularly traumatic story, your self awareness and awareness of what others are experiencing is thrown out the window.  I’ve been on the train listening to people loudly process a rough sexual abuse story with children within ear shot (and no doubt some sexual abuse survivors as well.)  Had they paid better attention to their volume, and those who could hear them, they might have limited details or even decided to find a better processing spot that was not the subway.

As caregivers we want to make sure we are not spreading trauma by not having an awareness of our surroundings.  Additionally, folks will be more prepared to help you process something if you set the stage a bit.  If you are grabbing an ice cream cone talking about your weekend with a friend, set the stage before you “slime” them with your venting session.  ASK them if they are up for processing something first.  Be deliberate about the details you share.  If it’s an awful story involving abuse of any kind, spare folks the details if they are not pertinent to the story. Pay attention to their body language and facial expressions.  Are they squirming and looking like they want to run?  Check in.  This might not be the right person to vent with.

Vicarious trauma is real, let’s try to not be the instigators of it.

On the flip side, if you find yourself suddenly getting ambushed remember you have every right to take control of the venting session and state what your capacity is in that moment.  You do NOT have to be a victim of a vicarious trauma ambush if you are not a willing or able listener in that moment.  Just like all boundary setting, in may feel awkward to do initially.  But go ahead and be awkward.  We often give awkward moments way too much power over us.  You can’t pour from any empty cup, right?

Take care of YOU.


What’s your kiddie roller coaster?

I went on a roller coaster a couple of weekends ago at Coney Island. My free spirited friend promised me it would shake me up a bit, in a good way. You know, dust off the cob webs, make room for new ideas, that kind of thing.  Always game for a good “shake up” I picked the kiddie roller coaster. Heyyy, I’m new to this. Baby steps. But it still did the trick. In fact, I screamed so loudly the two pre-teens in front of us felt the need to check in on me afterwards. Well at least I’d like to think they were concerned, I suppose they were mostly curious who sounded like a slaughtered pig on a kiddie ride. That would be me, young ladies.

I hadn’t felt that kind of adrenaline rush in a long time. I walked off that ride so exhilarated!  While I was certainly not ready to then tackle the upside down roller coaster I suddenly saw the appeal these rides had.

First of all, it’s totally ridiculous. It’s insane that we can be whipped through the air like that and actually be ok. It reminds us we are ALIVE.  It can (literally) shake us out of a fog. It can force us to let go and laugh maniacally!

Second, talk about practicing mindfulness. When you are riding a roller coaster it’s hard to think about anything else. You are present in that moment. Experiencing the terror and excitement of being flung around, but present in it.  Not thinking about the bills you have yet to pay or that awkward interaction at work.  Nope just in the moment exhilaration.

Third, when you do something that is out of your comfort zone, it’s so satisfying knocking it off the list of fears. In my case, most rides terrify me. So it was (dare I say) powerful, to be able to tackle a fear so quickly. This fear could be addressed, completed and done within less than a minute. Yes there was the time it took to convince me to go on the ride, but once the persuasion was done, it was go time.  Conquering fears like that, is contagious.  It makes you want to see what else you can overcome.  Especially after you get such a rush of endorphins.

My point is, take my friends’ advice and shake things up. It doesn’t have to be at Coney Island, although I recommend it. Whatever your version of the kiddie roller coaster is, go for it.  Surprise yourself.  But don’t overthink it.

One of the best things I’ve done this year is tell my thoughts to quiet down when an opportunity presents itself.  Opportunities are way more interesting than my fears or worries.  I’d guess it’s the same for you too.

Take care of YOU.