Self Care: Not a Luxury, a Necessity

Caren b&w.jpg

In the latest episode of Retrospective, meet my long-time friend Caren McLellan Gazley, who is the author of Ritual & Rhythm: A Guide to Creative Self Care. One of the biggest obstacles to taking good care of ourselves are the internal conversations we have about being selfish/being of service and more. You'll love hearing Caren's story, which has taken her all over the world, and her deep but pragmatic wisdom about how to sustain a life of passionate contribution.

I remind myself so often lately that the more work there is to get done, the more intentionally I must rest. It's a new way of life to learn, but for me it has meant the difference between burn-out and endurance, between feeling despair and a life that always holds space for joy.

Listen to our conversation, and check out our books for more in-depth guidance on creating inside environments of care:

We'd love to hear from you! Tell us in the comments section: What self care practices are a necessity for you?

Novelist Diana Spechler on Retrospective

I was thrilled to interview Diana Spechler for the Retrospective podcast. Diana is the author of the novels Skinny and Who by Fire, and the truth is: I just plain like her. We met through storytelling here in New York, and last fall had the pleasure of sharing a Moth GrandSLAM stage.

In this episode of Retrospective, Diana talks about:

  • fiction, nonfiction, and where your secrets come out
  • dealing with being seen during a very personal book release
  • "punch and get out" --lessons learned from storytelling
  • keeping ego untangled from the creative process, and
  • wrestling projects into submission.



Listen here, or subscribe to Retrospective in iTunes. You can find previous episodes here.

Diana Spechler is the author of the novels Who By Fire (Harper Perennial, 2008) and Skinny (Harper Perennial, 2011). She has written for the New York TimesGQ; O, The Oprah MagazineCNN Living; EsquireNew YorkParis ReviewSelf;Details; the Wall Street JournalSalonSlate;NerveSouthern ReviewGlimmer Train Stories; and elsewhere. She is also a four-time Moth StorySLAM winner and has been featured on NPR. She received her MFA degree from the University of Montana and was a Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University and the writer-in-residence at Portsmouth Abbey School. A 2012-2013 LABA Fellow, she teaches writing in New York City and for Stanford University's Online Writer's Studio.

Amelia Shares Her New Book


In this summer edition audio interview, we hear from Amelia (age 8), the author and illustrator of "Love Never Comes Without War", which was published as part of her third grade curriculum. (Not available for sale.) Amelia reads an excerpt from her new work, gives her advice on writing and more.

An Evening of Stories with Jolie Guillebeau

All photos by Bella Cirovic, whose generosity feels completely other-worldly to me.


Arriving early, waiting for dinner.

When you live far from people you work with and people you love, being together feels like waking up into a dream that keeps on dreaming you even after daylight hits its screen. Disbelief is your constant companion as you shake off the thoughts that this is all too good to be true.


It IS true, you tell yourself. You are here, right now, together. You found one another—in the great sea of the world, you recognized some kindred light in water or in sky and you found a way to meet. And this is your reward: these soothing souls who help you decide what to wear, who drop into your afternoon routine with the little girls, who help you carry the load and host and take pictures that make you look beautiful, who drive and ride for hours to share a table and a drink and receive your stories as a gift. 


I'm not sure there's any better medicine for the soul than stories and togetherness. Gatherings like these are physical manifestations of the truth that runs like a current, always, beneath our feet: no matter how alone we feel, no matter how particular and specific the details of our struggles and sorrows, the minute one person shares her story all the separateness falls away and we remember that our stories touch places in the stories of others. They run parallel, they ring out in the same key, they chart a way through the common frontier that is the human experience.


We are not alone, this we know whenever stories and togetherness are present. It all matters, we all count, and as someone I know would say, it's beautiful.

To hear some of the stories from the evening, check out this podcast interview with Jolie. (You can now subscribe in iTunes.) My deepest gratitude and thanks go out to all the dear ones who came from near and far to join us. The whole evening was a dream come true, and it wouldn't have been the same without you.

Jolie's book, Beauty Everywhere: A Portable Gallery, is available for a limited time.

Beauty Everywhere: A Portable Gallery by Jolie Guillebeau

Jolie Guillebeau,

We all have stories we are born into, stories we are handed along the way, and many of them aren't easy.

But some people rise above the hard stories, some become more than the stories other people started for their lives. Jolie Guillebeau is one of these people, which makes her one of my personal heroes. I've said before that the story you are writing with your life is the most important thing about you, and the story Jolie is writing every day with her life is a story of resilience, courage and hope. I'll be honest: witnessing her do it sometimes takes my breath away.

Jolie's work, her friendship and her life are living proof for me that there is another chapter after this one, and that even the stories that others start and we are given are stories that we have the opportunity to end however we choose. That we can rise with grace and even sometimes with frailty, but in the rising is our strength. In the rising is our courage.

Now you can have a whole collection of Jolie's stories, which come alive through her words and paintings, as your daily companion as you bravely write your own.


This is a limited edition collection, signed and numbered by Jolie. When they're gone, they're gone, so order yours while you can.

BONUS: Order before next Wednesday, 5.2.12, to receive one of Jolie's 5x7 fine art prints FREE with your order.

Beauty Everywhere: A Portable Gallery by Jolie Guillebeau

*100 Daily Paintings and the stories behind them

*8.5 x 5.5", Full-color throughout  

*92 pages, Double wire bound

*Unique easel-style back allows for easy display

$45 USD, ships free worldwide

Update: Listen to Jolie's interview on the Retrospective podcast (Released 5.15.12), where she talks about rewriting the stories we've been given and her journey as an artist.

Ritual & Rhythm by Caren McLellan Gazley

Many people probably dream of someday writing a book, or have some version of that aspiration on a list somewhere. Caren McLellan Gazley has dreamed of many (other) things, but she wrote this book for one simple reason.

I asked her.

It's been my delight and honor to introduce people to Caren in retreat and workshop settings, where her no-nonsense, candid manner endears her to all. I hope to gather again many more such times in the future, but in the meantime I wanted people--near and far--to be able to hold some portion of her story and her hard-won wisdom in their hands.

Caren at a Brooklyn Patisserie in December

From leading faith-based communities to their current humanitarian work in anti-human trafficking, Caren's partnership with her husband, Phil, and their journey together have taken them all over the world. She’s cultivated tried-and-true, practical-as-your-mama’s-good-advice wisdom about how to stay sane and even thrive in the midst of passionate work, parenting, community, and even devastating loss.

"Many years ago I had a decision to make: pack up and quit, or figure out a way to maintain my energy for the long haul." --Caren in Ritual & Rhythm: A Guide to Creative Self Care

In Ritual & Rhythm, Caren chronicles her self care journey, sharing her struggles, challenges, and all she's learned along the way. She reminds us that body care IS soul care, and that all we do for ourselves benefits everyone around us. Through the practical examples she shares, we learn how to craft our own daily or weekly rituals for taking care and find nourishment as our everyday living unfolds inside their rhythm.

at The Integrate Retreat in The Rockies

"When my self care journey began, what I most needed was some deliberate time apart for myself. Time that required nothing of me emotionally or mentally. Time without expectations from others. And so I created a safe place in my kitchen."--Caren in Ritual & Rhythm: A Guide to Creative Self Care

Caren playing with color after dinner in Berkeley

In a world of Do More and Go Faster, and in the face of human need that can stretch like a bottomless ocean before us, this book is the permission we've been waiting for and the guidance we need to find our way into a lifestyle that goes beyond surviving, into a realm where things like thriving, sustaining and flourishing carry the day.

Special Bonus: Everyone who orders Ritual & Rhythm before next Wednesday (4/11/12) will receive a full-color printable pdf featuring four of Caren's most-requested recipes, designed by Liz Kalloch and written in Caren's own handwriting.

We are thrilled to officially release:

Ritual & Rhythm: A Guide to Creative Self Care

by Caren McLellan Gazley

Photography by Andrea Corona Jenkins, Design by Liz Kalloch

Paperback, 48 pages

$28 USD, ships free worldwide