The Magic in Listening

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My hands trembled as I gripped my phone.

I called my friend. I was blowing a problem way out of proportion.

I desperately needed her advice and wisdom.

“I need to vent. Can you talk?”

“Sure,” she said.

The words poured out of me.

When I’d finished, I let out a sigh.

My friend started to say something. But then she paused.

"Wait -- I'm not going to give you advice on this," she said.

I felt a flutter in my chest.

Wasn’t she supposed to tell me what to do?!

“I’m just going to listen.”

My eyes widened. I gripped the phone.

But, I took a breath and spoke again.

And this time, I spoke about what I was feeling. I dug deep. I slowed down.

I curled up on the corner of my sofa with a soft blanket.

My friend didn’t interrupt. She let me talk.

My jaw relaxed. I started laughing throughout our convo.

Not a fake laugh.

But, a laugh that indicated I was gaining what I needed -- perspective.

And with each sentence, I surprised myself with what I was feeling about the situation.

You know when you need to let the words pour out? To know what you're feeling? It was like that.

And by the time I was done, I got up. I stretched my arms out in a yawn. I felt a wave of calm rush over me.

The "OMG, this is such a big deal" moment had passed. And I hung up with my friend, thanking her for listening.

I went to get ready for work. A small, relaxed smile on my face.

Turns out, I didn’t need advice after all. I needed to let it all air out.

No advice. No quick fixes.

You’ve probably had that experience. You walk away from a talk with a friend.

You might not have the specific answer or tool kit. But you feel seen, heard and loved.


You feel like a weight’s been lifted off you.

You know The Golden Girls? It’s why they spent so much time talking around the kitchen table.

And eating cheesecake. And making fun of Rose. Poor Rose.

I know it's SO tempting to want to give or receive advice. I'm guilty of this. Like, very, very guilty.

"Just tell me what to do!" I've said to my dad 1,000 times.

Sure, there’s a time and place for advice. i.e. How to file your tax extension and how to change a tire.

But, so many times I want to jump to "fix-it" mode with friends.


And family. Especially family.

But when you pause and listen -- you give the biggest gift of all. The power of your presence.

Try it out as an experiment. See what happens.

Ask:

  • “What’re you feeling?”

  • “What’s that like for you?”

  • Listen (no speaking required) – this is my favorite

It might take getting used to. I know it did for me. But, you have the power to change someone's day.

When you “simply” listen you’re giving people space to be, which in this fast-paced world – is priceless.

You give them your heart and attention -- what matters most.


From my heart to yours,


Devon McLeod, LCSW
Holistic Psychotherapist
www.devonmcleod.com



PS My friend did such a good job of listening, I actually don't remember what my initial "problem" was haha ;) Otherwise, I would've told you. Listening FTW!

"What Was That Noise?"

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My hands gripped the steering well.

Sweat gathered on my brow.

Cars packed the gas station.

They were all facing different directions -- itching to get a spot at the pump.

One guy got out of his SUV and started yelling at a woman in her car.

It would take us at least 20 minutes to get close to the front.

I wanted to get back to NYC and crawl under my weighted blanket.

This crowded gas station was not part of the plan.

I looked at the dashboard. Red light blinking. LOW GAS. LOW GAS.

I did a quick calculation. I’d be able to make it a few miles before filling up.

I pushed on the pedal. Hard. And bolted out of the station.

“What're you doing?” my husband asked.

“This one’s too crowded. I said, feigning confidence.

"I’m going somewhere else.”

I ignored his concerned glance.

I had a job to do: Find a gas station with less people.

But, a wave of uncertainty hit me the second we left.

I brushed it off as tiredness.

I didn’t have time for second-guessing.

I focused my gaze on the road. I stifled a yawn.

And all of a sudden...

BAM...BAM...BAM!

My husband and I looked at each other.

What was that noise?

My heart started beating out of my chest.

Small beads of sweat gathered on my forehead. Eyes glancing at my husband, the road and then back again

As we drove, I felt myself losing control of the car.

Beep, beep. The alert on the dashboard went off.

We'd gone over something.

*Check Tires* popped-up on the dashboard.

Ugh, we'd gone over a pothole. A big one.

My husband and I carefully exited the highway.

We pulled up at another gas station. Sure enough, there was no line. And yes, it was open.

But – we had a flat tire.

We weren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

All hopes of getting back to our apartment fast -- out the window.

I felt a heavy feeling in my chest.

The early stages of guilt about attempting to shave minutes off our time were settling in.

To distract myself, I went on an Instagram binge while my husband called for help.

Scroll...Scroll...Scroll.... anything to avoid the inevitable feeling -- I'd messed up.

My impatience got the best of me.

I sunk into my seat.

As I sat in the car, I thought about the obvious.

If I'd waited, we wouldn't be in this position - tired, stressed and sans tire at 10 pm.

Is this scenario like my favorite Alanis Morissette song?


Isn’t It Ironic....

When you leave the gas station
To save time -- only to get a flat....

Alas, Alanis was not going to swoop in and save us. We were stuck at a gas station. No tire.

My plan to shave off minutes -- failed.

My husband and I made the best of the situation. We laughed at the absurdity.

And sooner than we thought, a tow truck company came to help and we were on our way home.

A wave of calm washed over me. A smile crept on my face.

Ah yes, a beautiful lesson revealed itself.

Okay, universe. I got it.

Patience.

Patience is something I have a relationship with and I’m cultivating every day.

Like a surgeon, some days I'd like to cut the impatient part out of me.

But, our so-called negative traits are here to teach us.

Yes, even impatience is here to teach us about self-compassion, letting go and coming back to our center time and time again.

We don't have to be perfect at mastering our "thing" -- whatever it is -- patience, anger, communicating our needs, etc.

Some days are good, other days, not so much. But we keep coming back to our center and loving ourselves along the way.

Can you relate? You might tap your foot in the coffee line or wonder why the person in front of you can’t hurry along.

Or you might feel impatient about hearing back from someone about a job. Impatience can come in so many sneaky forms.

My Biggest Reminders:

  • Breathe

  • Count to 10

  • Focus on your exhale out (make it last 4 seconds)


And remember that if you try and rush – you end up stressed and creating more chaotic energy in your life.

At least, that’s what happens for me. I’ll forget my keys when I’m rushing out the door. I’ll trip and fall.

When I try to shave off time, not only do I create more chaos, I miss out on the journey.

Breathe in….Breathe out…..No rush.

All about that progress, not perfection. And remind yourself to chill out, take it easy -- and enjoy the ride.


From my heart to yours,

Devon McLeod, LCSW
Holistic Psychotherapist
www.devonmcleod.com


PS Do you have your impatient days? What do you do to chill? Comment below let me know! Love hearing your tips! <3

When Your Phone Takes Over...

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8:00am

I stumbled out of bed. My feet hit the floor.

I had 30 minutes to write a work email and get out the door.

No problem. Plenty of time.

I poured myself a cup of hot coffee and sat down at the kitchen table

I reached for my phone.

25 new emails.

Intermix is having a sale. Let me check their vacation looks real quick.

I clicked on Instagram.

Dogist posted the cutest golden retriever. I have to send that to my brother.

I sipped on my coffee.

Suddenly, I looked at the time.

8:15am

Ughhh, I’d spent 15 minutes on my phone.

I now had 15 minutes to shower, write an email and get out the door.

It was a tight squeeze, but I knew I could do it.

I jumped in the shower.

"The fastest shower I’d taken in awhile,” I thought as I jumped out. I slapped some concealer on my face and bolted to the bedroom.

10 minutes until I had to leave.

After what felt like an hour searching through my closet, I settled on a dress I never loved. But, it was clean.

My heart started racing. Was it the coffee or stress?

7 minutes to write the email and get out the door.

Finally, I sat down to write the email. My eyes were glancing at the time on my computer, my gmail and then back again.

My hands felt tense on the keyboard as my mind fought to remember the exact reason I was writing said email. “Oh yes!” I quickly typed out an email.

The first draft had 5 typos. Ugh, delete, delete, delete.

"Hmmm, did I word that one part okay?” I thought to myself as I scanned the email.

I glanced over the email one last time. I looked at my phone.

3 minutes.

“Good enough,” I thought as I pressed SEND.

I got up, threw my lipstick and wallet in my purse and ran out the door.

My thoughts started racing as I walked down the hallway to the elevator.

“Did I forget my sunglasses?” I asked myself as I pressed the elevator button.

I looked at my phone and let out a sigh – 8:30am.

I’d made it.

So much for a calming morning routine. I remember when I taught 2nd grade. The morning routine in the class was of the utmost importance.

I’d play classical music as the students came in. We’d have silent reading time while they got their homework out.

Setting the tone matters.

I just wasn’t doing it for myself.

I notice I’m edgy and distracted when I spend too much time scrolling and not enough time um, you know being. And it's so easy to do.

Even if I’m “on time” and getting everything done, I feel tense and rushed. Not great.

I knew I had to make a change.

Even 3 years ago I wasn’t on my phone so much. I blame Instagram stories. Why are they so satisfying?!

And the polls. Don’t even get me started on Instagram polls.

Spending so much time on my phone, especially in the morning impacts my day.

Don’t get me wrong. I love sending memes to my friends, texting and looking at cute dogs and cats.

But, I’ve found that especially with my morning routine, time can get sucked out of my day before it’s begun.

I’m all about making small changes to your life that give you big returns.

Why take baby steps? Because if anyone tells me to do anything extreme i.e “Give up your phone for a week,” I shut down.

Tell me what to do and I'll want to sleep with my phone in my arms. I’m a stubborn Taurus, after all.

I’m such a work in progress with this.

And don't get it twisted, I still go on google hunts to discover the personal lives of all the Golden Girls.

Did you know that Bea Arthur and Betty White weren't super close?! I mean, I need that information in my life. It's important.

But, little tweaks – however they work for you – can make a big difference

Here's what's helped me the past month

  • Wait 30 minutes after waking up to check my phone.

  • Keep my phone in my purse while I walk. So I’m not tempted to check it after 15 seconds while I’m waiting at a streetlight.

  • Switch to airplane mode when I’m working or doing anything where I want to be present.

  • Go on airplane mode after 8:30pm. Why? So I’m not tempted to google everything related to murder/crime mysteries.


What I’ve noticed:

  • Calmer mornings

  • I fall asleep faster.

  • More time to let my mind wander – in a good way. I think about things as opposed to googling everything under the sun.


In my opinion, it’s also totally normal to go through times when you use yourphone more. i.e. I’m on my screen a lot when I travel, at airports, etc. I’m not going to judge myself for it.

I’m committing to not checking my phone first thing when I wake up.

But, don’t be surprised if you see me scrolling in an elevator. All about those shifts when we’re willing.

What do you do to keep your phone use in check? Leave a comment and let me know! Seriously love/need your advice.


From my heart to yours,



Devon McLeod, LCSW
Holistic Psychotherapist
www.devonmcleod.com

What You Can Read and Watch Right Now…

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When I was in middle school, I was obsessed with the TV show:

Beverly Hills 90210.

This teen soap of the 90s held my attention with the scandalous stories of Dylan, Kelly and Brenda.

Would Dylan choose Kelly? Or Brenda?

Would I have as cool a high school experience as these teens?

I loved every minute of watching the show and eating my "healthy" diet of Cheez-its and Diet Coke.

I wanted to wear my hair in a braid like Kelly. I wanted neon biker shorts like Donna.

By the end of season two -- I was invested.

But without a fresh episode, I'd have to wait months to know what happened next.

Then -- something happened that made me leap for joy.

Keep in mind, this was pre-Netflix so most shows didn't have anything new coming out June - August.

The show started airing brand NEW episodes in the summer.

And I could enjoy the drama of the Beverly Hills gang, uninterrupted.

POOF, I was transported to the beaches of LA for the summer.

Green and white beach umbrellas.

Beach volleyball with all the cool kids. I could feel the sand on my feet as I watched the scandals unfold.

Is there anything better than finding something you love?

Especially when you're a kid and it doesn't involve leaving your couch?

I don't have fresh episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 --- although word on the street is there's a reboot?

But, what I do have is a few things I'm loving right now.

Here's what I'm loving right now <3


// Do Less by Kate Northrup (book)

This book shifts the way you think about productivity. Less stress and more value in the world. Super thought-provoking and freeing.


// Killing Eve (TV Show)

Two women. One's an assassin. The other's hired to track her down. There's loads of tension in every scene. Can't. Stop. Watching.


// Tracy Anderson Dance Cardio (work out)

This workout = FUN and sweaty. You can even dance around your living room and get funny looks from your dog like me. What I love most is you can do it practically anywhere.


// Pen15 on Hulu (TV show)

Middle school is challenging for well -- pretty much everyone, maybe? The show takes place in the early 2000s.

It centers around two best friends navigating clothes, make-up, parents and puberty.

It's hilarious and surprisingly tender. And it can actually help tend to those inevitable wounds that come with adolescence.


// This Liz Gilbert Quote

I always invite fear to stay with me. Because as soon as I say, 'It's okay for you to be here. And you can stay with me and we're going to do this together.' It just relaxes and it goes to sleep like a toddler in a car seat. - Liz Gilbert

The big takeaway: If you feel scared over doing something new, cut yourself some slack. It's part of being human.

Let go. You'll be fine, better than fine -- moving along toward your dreams and your beautiful life.

What're you loving right now? Books? Podcasts? Beverly Hills 90210 reboot?

Comment below and let me know! Love hearing what you're up to and what you recommend!

From my heart to yours,

Devon McLeod, LCSW
Holistic Psychotherapist
www.devonmcleod.com

PS Also just finished the book The Beautiful No. So good. The author worked for Oprah and then quit her job. Yep, she quit to discover what she really needed in her life. Highly recommend.

PPS Okay this book, too: Maybe You Should Talk To Someone. It’s technically a “therapy book,” but it’s so much more. The author writes about her own struggles while she’s seeing clients. And she keeps it real. Entertaining and heartfelt. Highly recommend.




The Power in NOT Being Perfect

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I squeezed my eyes shut and prayed no one would come in.  

I felt tension in my chest and adrenaline coursing through my veins. 

My eyes widened as I surveyed the room.

Good - no one was there, yet. 

And then I heard footsteps.

Not scary footsteps like from a horror movie. But the gentle tips toes of women's feet in cushy barre socks. 

Yep, I was there to teach my very first barre class. 

I felt shaky in my legs. My throat was dry. My eyes were darting around the room nervously. 

As several more women entered the class, the clock struck noon. It was go-time. 

Ready or not, it was time to start the class. 

I hit play on the sound system. 

Music blasted from the speakers. I started leading the class in the warm-up. 

As I moved through the planks and push-ups, my shoulders relaxed away from my ears.

I even got a couple of women to crack a smile.

So far, so good. My first class was going according to plan. 

About 15 minutes in, we arrived at the most important part of the class -- the "thigh section." Think lots of ballet-inspired moves and lunges. 

I took a big breath. This was the most important part of the class. 

The make or break section. 

If the warm-up was the appetizer, the "thigh section" was the meat and potatoes. 

I adjusted my microphone, cleared my throat and stared cueing.

I knew this part cold. 

Or so I thought...

But, when I looked around, my eyes widened. 

All the women at the barre were facing different directions. 

Legs and arms were flying wildly everywhere. It looked like absolute chaos. 

This was not what I envisioned in my months of practice leading up to this moment. 


One woman was facing the wall. Another woman was facing the back door. 

One woman huffed, rolled her eyes and started doing a different type of exercise from the rest of the group. 

Another glared at me when the person next to her almost smacked her in the face. 

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw two women look at each other with concerned glances. 

I nearly fainted watching people's legs bump into each other. 

Sweat gathered on my brow. I felt panic in my chest. 

The train had left the station and it wasn't looking pretty. I had cued people to face different directions. A classic rookie mistake. 

I tried to resolve the situation by throwing a Hail Mary and saying, "Hey, everyone let's face this way," pointing vaguely in one direction. 

No one listened. 

Next, I tried turning the music way up.

It only made things more chaotic. No one could hear what the heck I was saying. 

You know when you know you're bombing, but you're trying to save your pride? It was like that.

My voice was high-pitched and shaky throughout the rest of the class.

And my thoughts were racing with ways I could redeem myself. 

But, what was done was done. The minutes dragged on.

Finally, after what felt like hours, the last song on the playlist ended. Thank God. 

The class was over. Sigh. 

The women left the room one by one. Some of them gave me sympathetic glances. Most of them kept their heads down. 

And when I was alone in the room once again, I let out a deep exhale. 

I was mad at myself for the mess-up. I wished it hadn't happened. In fact, I'm pretty sure I beat myself up for a couple days after. 

But, let me tell you --  I never made the same mistake again of cueing people the wrong way. 


The bonus was that I bonded with my fellow trainees who said encouraging things after like, "Hey, that could've been me!" and "Thank you for making that mistake for the rest of us!"

Was it how I pictured my first class going after months of training?

Absolutely not. 

Plus, I was in full-blown perfectionist mode at this point in my life. 

But, there's power in doing something new and NOT doing it perfectly. 

You learn from it. You move forward. You realize you'll be okay no matter what. 

And all these years later, I love looking back at that now hilarious time I screwed up my first barre class.

I grew. And I developed the confidence that only comes with knowing you can survive your mistakes. 

It's a good reminder to my inner perfectionist to just go for it. 

These days I get scared doing stuff that may seem bigger than my first time teaching a fitness class.

Life, relationships, putting myself out there, making changes, etc. 

But underneath it all, the fear is the same. The fear of not being perfect. The fear of making mistakes. 

I'm a stubborn Taurus, after all. I can come up with loads of excuses around why I "shouldn't" do new things. 

But, it's important to remember that when you're moving forward on big and small things, you're making progress. Even if you don't do them "perfectly."

You can mess up and you're okay no matter what.  

So, if you're scared of doing something new: moving, changing jobs, putting yourself out there -- that's okay.

You're not alone.

Fear is all a part of the dance. 

Love it, own it, recognize it....and then go for it. 

And if you mess up? At least you'll have lessons learned and a funny story to tell :) 


From my heart to yours, 

Devon McLeod, LCSW
Holistic Psychotherapist
www.devonmcleod.com



PS I love this video of Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, talking about her perspective on failure. Her dad used to ask her what she FAILED at every day. Click here for her refreshing video.  

Your Sensitivity Is Your Greatest Strength

Have you ever been told you're "too sensitive" or that you're "being too sensitive?" 

Maybe it happened once when you were little. You cried over something you can't quite remember. 

Or maybe you have a tendency to get your feelings hurt when your friends leave you out of plans. 

You might even be like me -- I've been told I'm sensitive my entire life.

And yes, there have even been times where I've been told I'm "too sensitive."

And it just doesn't feel great. 

Why? Because it's a judgment and label and sometimes it makes you feel like all the feelings you have are WRONG. 

Being a sensitive person is a major gift. 

But, sometimes it takes unpacking self-judgment or criticisms you've absorbed throughout the years. 

Sometimes I've wished there was a magic pill that'd take away all my sensitive tendencies. 

Like how it takes me awhile to get over something someone said. Or how I like to process and talk to friends about stuff to get on the other side of them. 

If you're sensitive, you just can't help having feelings sometimes. 

You might even wish it was easier for you to not take things to heart and just dust stuff off. 

But, I've learned to love my sensitivity. It can be hard at times, but I've learned to love and accept the gift that it is. 

Today, I'm sharing a video on how your sensitivity is actually an amazing strength. 

Yes, strength :) 

And if you're in an elevator, walking on the street or can't watch right now, I feel you.

Here's the breakdown of the VIDEO. The Cliff's Notes, if you will: 

  • Give yourself time to process your emotions 

  • Journal, talk to a friend or therapist

  • Love your sensitivity. The word might've taken on a negative connotation. Not true!

  • The plus side of your sensitivity? It helps you have more compassion.

  • You just have to take care of yourself. 

  • Fill up your own cup so you can show up with more love to give. 


I know it's not always easy to love your sensitivities, especially when you get your feelings hurt or when you absorb the emotions of over. 

But, your sensitivity means your heart is wide open. 

It's your job to take care of it so you can show up healthy and whole with love to give. 

I hope you enjoy!!

Remember - if you're sensitive -- it's a beautiful gift. 

You can connect. 

You can FEEL. 

You can put yourself in someone else's shoes

You care about people. 

Your sensitivity keeps you open, with more LOVE to give. 

Don't ever forget it :) 


From my heart to yours, 

Devon McLeod




3 Quick Tips For Introverts + Extroverts

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A couple years ago -- a day after a big wedding - my husband woke up bright and early at 8am.

And after finding out that we were heading to a day-after-the-wedding brunch, he yelled out:

"God, I love people!" 

You'd never hear me yell out these words.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I love people. It's just that I wouldn't come at it with such gusto and enthusiasm, especially pre-coffee.

I'm married to someone who is an extrovert. Or as I sometimes call him -- he's approved this message -- an extreme extrovert. 

I'm more of an introvert. I need alone time before embarking on group activities.

And then once I'm at a party, I'll have a blast.

But, I'm ready to recharge by myself the next day before I go back out into the world again. 

I'm happy to report that we no longer look at each other like we're crazy.

But, it took some time to understand where the other person was coming from.

So how do you balance the differing needs for alone time and "people time" in relationships? 

And not just romantic relationships but with family and friends, too? 

I've found these 3 tips super helpful while navigating the waters of introverts and extroverts in relationships: 


// Ask Questions 

Studies show that when we approach others with curiosity instead of judgment, it lowers our cortisol levels.

Result? Less stress and rolling your eyes. 

So the next time you're annoyed about someone adding plans or canceling plans, ask some questions.

  • What's your perfect ratio of people vs. alone time? Three nights in? Four nights out? 

  • What's your ideal dinner party number? 5 people? 25? 50? 

  • What do you feel in your body when you know it's time to either cancel or add plans? Tired? Shut down? Ready for a 12-hour Netflix binge? 


You can't be in curiosity and judgment at the same time. So when in doubt, get curious about the person you love. 


// Take Care of Yourself 

If you need alone-time (Hi, introvert!) plan out at least 30-minutes of quiet time before you're going to a wild or not so wild party.

And if you feel guilty, remember you'll show up way more engaged if you've charged your batteries beforehand. 

And on the flip side -- if you're an extrovert, you need people to charge your batteries. 

But, what if your significant other needs alone time when you need people time?

Take care of yourself by doing what you need to do to feel filled up and energized - group dinners, concerts, travel, you name it.

After people time, you'll show up to your introverted partner way more present and fulfilled. 

Text some friends and put some group gatherings on the calendar.


// Get Outside Your Comfort Zone 

If you're an introvert, maybe you go to a concert mid-week. And if you're an extrovert, maybe you try out a few nights in.

I'm not saying to stop being YOU. But compromising and trying new stuff is sometimes the biggest gift we give ourselves. 

As much as you might dream about your partner being exactly like you, that'd be super boring.

When someone needs more or less alone time, you have the chance to grow and understand their perspective. 

You have a chance to open up your heart. 

Progress, not perfection. There are still days when my husband and I have different ideas about what makes a relaxing weekend -- and that's okay. 

Differences between all of us - one person needing more or less alone time - is what makes life interesting.

So stay open to the possibilities of learning and growing each and every day. 

And remember - when you take care of yourself, you show up with more presence and love to give the world.

You'll feel grounded, relaxed and inspired, with a lot more to give. 

Are you an introvert? Extrovert? Something in between?

Comment below and let me know! I love hearing from you!

From my heart to yours, 


Devon McLeod
Holistic Psychotherapist
www.devonmcleod.com


PS Famous introverts include: Oprah Winfrey, Amy Schumer, Audrey Hepburn and Albert Einstein.


PPS Famous extroverts...I actually had a hard time finding on the Internet (!) Maybe because so many "extroverts" are actually introverts? 


Here's a funny Buzzfeed list instead -- 25 Frustrating Things About Being An Extrovert  :) 


Have a beautiful week! 



Want To Feel Courageous?

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I watched Brene Brown's Netflix special last weekend on a rainy Saturday afternoon...

And it's all I want to talk about. 

Brene is a Ph.D and researcher on shame and vulnerability. Her first Ted Talk went viral and has been downloaded like 39 million times. 

I also have to say that I feel a special bond with her because she's a social worker like me :) 

That being said, a lot of people feel they have a special bond with her no matter what their profession.

She has that kind of *real* and disarming personality that makes you want to open up your heart right away. 

During Brene Brown's Netflix special she's "simply" talking on stage.

But, it's much more than talking.

It's a powerful transmission of information.

She gets real and personal on the subjects of shame, vulnerability and courage. 

I cried throughout certain parts. I don't want to spoil it for you. That would be annoying :)

But, I walked away feeling a little more courageous. Courageous about what? Being vulnerable and real in my own life.

My biggest takeaway from the special: Courage comes from vulnerability. 

I had a hard time with this at first. 

Here's a peek inside my brain when she says stuff like this:

What do you mean I need to be vulnerable in order to feel courageous? 

For me, this can be a toughie.

I’d rather skip the feelings of:

"Ugh, I don’t want to do this," and all the other uncomfortable emotions that come with stepping out of my comfort zone. 

I’d much rather envision myself crossing the finish line with a gold medal in hand. 

The image of brave warriors heading into battle also pops into my mind.

Don't they just need straight up courage and lots of cortisol? 

But, she talks about how there's no living a brave life without opening up your heart first. 

Even if that means you're opening yourself up to potential "failure." 

Even if that means not getting the outcome you want. 

Ugh, the perfectionist in me (I'm working on it) sometimes wants to do risky stuff, but only if there's a guaranteed outcome of A++ on my test. 

I also related to her talk when it comes to pulling back the layers and showing people my flaws and imperfections.

That stuff can be hard. Sometimes it feels scary, "What will they think of me? Am I still lovable?" 
 
Brene breaks down why this isn't the way to live.

She talks about how you can open up your heart, connect more with others and show up for yourself when you put down your armor. 

Here's one of my favorite quotes from her: 

"Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen." - Brene Brown 

I highly recommend watching her Netflix special, especially if you've ever struggled with perfectionism (raising my hand here). 

Click here to watch her special on Netflix. 

Click here to watch her viral talk on Youtube. 

She tells lots of stories, makes you laugh and reminds you we're all in thistogether :) 

Remember, if you're taking a risk and doing something that makes you feel vulnerable or scared -- you're on the way to a courageous life. 

You don't have to do things perfectly, you just have to show up one day at a time :) 

Have a beautiful week!

From my heart to yours, 

Devon McLeod, LCSW
Holistic Psychotherapist
www.devonmcleod.com


PS Have you watched or read any of Brene Brown's work? What do you think? Comment and let me know! I love hearing from you! :) 




Why It's Okay to Feel Scared.

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The early days of sending out my blogs I'd freak out before pressing SEND. 

I'd look at what I'd written over and over again.

I was desperately worried about a stray typo (gasp!) 

I felt tightness in my chest. Sweaty palms.

And I had racing thoughts like, "What if someone doesn't like what I wrote? What if I mess up?" 

I'd think, "Who am I to be doing this?" 

For me, I was doing something against my nature.

You know what I mean if you ever get butterflies in your stomach before you do something new — asking for a raise, moving cities, giving a big presentation — and have fantasies of backing out last minute.

You see, I'm not a natural at "putting myself out there" person. 

I'm more of a "let me hide in bed instead of putting myself on the internet" kind of person. 
 
For years, I searched for quick fixes before doing something outside my comfort zone.

I wanted to get rid of the nervous feeling.

Should I meditate more? Try visualizations? More flower essences?

Sure -- these helped. A little.

Meditating helps with racing thoughts. Flower essences can help with the last minute "Omg, this is scary" feeling.

But, I'm still a little nervous some days. I'm not as nervous as I was with sweaty palms and racing thoughts as I was in the early days.

But, I still get nervous when I write a blog, post a video or give a speech. 

Am I doing something wrong? Is there a tip or coping skill I'm missing here? 

I've come to this realization...

Feeling nervous and scared is okay. 

It doesn't mean I shouldn't do something.

And it doesn't mean I'm lacking in the skillz department. That "z" feels important to lighten the mood - not a typo- here ;) 

The "trick" to doing scary, putting yourself out there stuff is to just do it. 

Now, out of fear of sounding like I'm preaching at you - let me say this: 

I'm the last person who wants to come across as preachy when it comes to "putting yourself out there."

Because I get it.

And there have been times when I've delayed doing stuff out of fear.

The most recent thing that comes to mind is when I had to promote a workshop I was running.

And I actually had to talk about it and pass out flyers. To real live people (!!!) 

You might be thinking, “What’s the big deal about flyers.” I totally get that.

They’re only a little sheet of paper. But, for me it was about what the flyers represented. It was me putting myself out there.

Plus, they had my face plastered out them. Double eek.


I was so resistant to talking to people and passing out flyers - "Isn't that cheesy? What if they don't take them?" 

My mentor asked me/made me email him at the end of each day with the number of flyers I'd passed out. 

Because when we met in person I was all, "Um, I'm scared. I don't think people will care. Maybe I shouldn't pass the flyers out." 

And he called BS. 

He thought I'd back out. And he was probably right. I'd already delayed passing out said flyers for like 3 weeks. 

So I passed out the flyers. 

And I emailed him at the end of the day. 

Hi xx, 

I passed out 3 flyers today. Thank you. 

Best,

Devon


Totally forced, right? But, definitely needed on my part. Even if they were only flyers, it was really me taking a risk and doing something outside my comfort zone.


At the end of the day -- the feeling scared part is part of the dance.

It's part of the human experience of feeling ALIVE. 

You might not get nervous passing flyers out.I hope you don’t, by the way! I hope you pass flyers out about yourself with reckless abandon! haha.

But you might do something new that causes you to have a little case of the freak outs. And that’s okay.

You're doing something outside your comfort zone. If you feel nervous right before? That's living. 

I'm not perfect at this, but I'm learning to ride the nervous feeling out and have that be okay. 

It's okay to be nervous. It's okay to feel scared. 

It might be the clue that you're busting out of your comfort zone. 

If you're thinking of doing something new -- starting a new business, having a difficult conversation with a friend, moving cities -- it's okay to be nervous. 

It's okay to be freaked out. It's normal. You're human. 

And when in doubt, remember you’re born to shine in whatever form that means for you.
 
Take a step forward. Notice if you’re having self-doubt. Ask what’s the worst that can happen.

Move right and bravely along.

And when in doubt - email someone right after you did the scary thing. 

Hey So-and-so....I did it :) 

Sometimes you just need a little nudge and encouragement in the right direction.

You're perfectly human if you feel scared when you do something new.

"Feel the fear and do it anyway." - Susan Jeffers


From my heart to yours, 

Devon McLeod, LCSW
Holistic Psychotherapist
www.devonmcleod.com



When You Need a Reset

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Last month, I flew from NYC to Dallas. 

I was booked to fly back to NYC on a Sunday morning. 

Or, so I thought...

But, when I didn't get my boarding pass Saturday via email, I called the airline to see what was up. 

Turns out, they'd canceled my ticket on accident (gasp!) 

Not a big deal, right? Let's book another flight and move on? 

But, there were a couple of problems.

First, all flights the next morning were booked. 

And second, in the middle of the call, the airline's computer system went down for 20 minutes. 

And third, it was 2am and I was super tired. 

Also, I'm the type that gets to the airport two hours early and I like to have my boarding pass out and ready. 

So this scenario was potentially stressful and bringing up all my "I like to be in control" issues :) 

"Ugh...I don't have a flight" played on repeat in my tired brain. 

But, long story short -- everything worked out. 

After about an hour, I got my boarding pass and went to bed. 

I got a few hours of sleep.

I was a happy customer. 

All's well that ends well.

And, the airline mix-up is SO not a big deal in the grand scheme of life.

It can definitely be filed under the "small stuff" you're not supposed to sweat.

In fact, it was probably an opportunity from the universe for me to practice letting go :) 

But, I'm not going to lie...

I was tired and cranky the next morning. 

And when I'm tired and cranky, I know it's going to lead to a domino effect of me not feeling great all day long. 

So when I settled into my seat on the flight, I knew I had some options. 

Option #1 - Binge-watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

But, as much as I love my Real Housewives, I knew that it wouldn't shift my perspective all that much.

Option #2  - Listen to something more inspiring that would put me in a calm and peaceful place. 

You know when you need a reset?

You can chug all the coffee you want, (I do!) but you need a little something extra to shift your perspective. 

Sometimes you need to listen to something uplifting to shift your mood -- fast.

For me, that's an inspirational audiobook that can drown out any grumpy thoughts :) 

Here are 3 audiobooks I listen to when I need the reset: 

1 - The Secret 

If you're looking for something about manifesting and creating the life you want - this is for you. It's about the power of positivity and creating your own best life. 


2 - The Four Agreements

A wonderful reader emailed me about this last month. It's about living your life with 4 agreements in mind: 1) Be impeccable with your word 2) Don't take anything personally 3) Don't make assumptions 4) Always do your best


3 - Louise Hay Positive Affirmations 

You can listen to this if you're beating yourself up about stuff. I can be hard on myself and this always helps me. She's about self-love and forgiveness. 

On my flight back to NYC, I listened to The Secret. 

And when I got off the plane, it was like I was starting the day anew. 

Sometimes I forget that listening to something inspirational can shift my day. 
 
You might get flustered by situations, too. And that's okay.

We're all human.

It's all about how you reset, forgive yourself and move on. 

Sometimes you need something that will help you leave whatever happened in the past. 

The power of sound, music, and words are so powerful in shifting your perspective. 

Now, I'd love to hear from you!  What do you listen to when you need a shift in your perspective? 

A podcast? A beautiful classical song? Your favorite audiobook? Cardi B? :) 

I'm all about guilty pleasure songs that can help you shift, too. 

From my heart to yours, 

Devon McLeod, LCSW
Holistic Psychotherapist
www.devonmcleod.com

"Wow, I'm Being Hard On Myself"

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I have a long history of beating myself up.

When I was in kindergarten, I went home crying.

Why?

Because I didn’t get all the buttons as rewards for things I could do.

Like what?

Counting to 100 and tying my shoes.

Tough stuff.
 
And it wasn’t that I was competitive with everyone else, I don’t think.
 
It’s just that I wanted to do everything *right.*
 
I didn’t want to make mistakes.
 
I wanted 100% on everything.
 
I wanted to do well.
 
You could say I’ve always had a harsh inner critic.
 
Can you relate?
 
You might be like me if you’ve said any of the following to yourself:

I can't believe I sent that email with a typo.

I'm feeling "behind" in my career. 


Why can't I get my act together and do my taxes early? 

Negative thoughts can feel like background music to your life. You’re not even aware you’re listening to them.

For many years, my instinct was to beat myself up whenever I made a mistake.

And then, when I realized that wasn't the way to go, I'd beat myself up for beating myself up. Ugh! A vicious cycle. 

Whenever I’m hard on myself, it just makes me feel worse.

Plus, it doesn't work!

It’s like the athlete who makes a mistake and then gets in her head about it and makes more mistakes – a domino effect.
 
So over the past couple years, I’ve tried a different approach whenever I’ve messed up.

I've been nicer to myself when I make a mistake, instead of super harsh. 
 
So when you make a mistake, notice if you’re starting to beat yourself up.
 

Name it. Label it. Bring your attention to it with kind awareness.
 

Say something like this to yourself instead:

“That’s my inner critic.”

“Wow, I’m being hard on myself.”

“Is that a perfectionism thought?”

“Do I need to be THIS hard on myself?”


Even as I write this, I'm super skeptical.

Don't you need to take mistakes seriously and get in your own face about it? 
 
True story -- after I wrote this, I checked an email I sent and it had TWO typos. Not one. TWO. Ugh.

I'm someone who reads emails over and over again, so this was particularly painful. 

My inner critic desperately wanted to come out. It was ready and willing to put up a fight!

Also, my inner critic is like a gremlin that's been fed after midnight. So it's kind of intense. 

But, instead of beating myself up, I took a breath. I realized I was about to go down my "inner-meanie" spiral.

And I said, "Okay, you're being hard on yourself." 

I didn't try to STOP the thought.

Can I be real with you? I didn't think this would work.

It's one thing for me to write an email to you about my inner critic. It's quite another when a real LIVE mistake happens in my life. 

But, I noticed the inner critic voice. I took a breath. I tried my best to relax my body. And I moved on with my day. 
 
And guess what? I let it go. Am I stoked that I sent an email with a typo? Nope.

But, I had compassion for myself. I didn't obsess about it. And I got other stuff done throughout the day. 

When you notice an inner critic in your head - Pause. Take a breath. Notice the thought. Breathe again.

I’m so not perfect at this.

You might find me being hard on myself on some days and that's okay.

Progress, not perfection. 

But, when you let the thoughts come up with curiosity and gentleness, you meet yourself with loving awareness.  

Be patient with yourself.

Breathe when you notice your inner critic. 

Do whatever feels good for you. 

Release what you don't need. 

Simple, yet powerful. 

I'm all about baby steps that are actually a really big deal. 

How do you handle your inner critic voice?

Say something nice to yourself? Ignore it? Give yourself 10 minutes to stress out? Talk to someone?

Comment below and let me know! I love hearing from you! 

Bye-bye inner critic.... :) 


From my heart to yours, 



Devon McLeod, LCSW
Holistic Psychotherapist
www.devonmcleod.com



PS "Letting go of your inner critic can feel uncomfortable but it's in the discomfort that the new patterns are born." - Athena Laz


Have a beautiful week!  <3


 

5 Things I'm Loving Right Now

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Hi! 

I'm writing to you from Palm Springs, CA. I just love it here. The palm trees, the vibe - everything. 

The trip's also given me a chance to slow down my normal pace of wanting everything done in 2.5 seconds.

Patience is a virtue, right? I'm working on it :) 

Anyway, I wanted to say a quick hello and share 5 things I'm loving right now. 

Here's the stuff I've been texting my friends about and the stuff I won't stop talking about with my mom and dad during my CA visit.  

Here you go! <3 <3 <3 


// This Inspiring Quote

"I did my best and my best is good enough." - Hannah Beachler; from her Oscar speech.

My jaw dropped when I heard this (!!) So good for the perfectionist within me. 


// Palo Santo 

You can use Palo Santo to cleanse your space. It's similar to sage and I love the smell. 


// Lynden Layne 

My wedding planners. You can check out their Instagram here. I credit them with helping me keep my sanity during the planning process. Plus, they're hilarious, reliable and have the best style. 


// Maha Rose

If you're in the NYC area they offer in-person reiki, astrology, crystal healing and lots of other stuff. You can check out their retreats in Mexico, too. 


// Rescue Remedy 

It's a blend of flower essences that comes in a little bottle. You can take it when you're stressed or you're about to lose your temper.

A couple drops under your tongue as needed. It chills me out fast. Last taken for me - @ JFK airport security line :) 


What's the stuff you're loving right now? Any books you're reading? Podcasts you love? 


Comment below and let me know! 


Wishing you a wonderful rest of your day! <3 


From my heart to yours, 

Devon McLeod, LCSW
Holistic Psychotherapist
www.devonmcleod.com


PS Here's a pic of me with my two awesome Grandmas from a couple weekends ago in Dana Point, CA. How amazing are they? 

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Do You Know This About Me?

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Today I'd like to share some stuff you might not know about me.

You know that Facebook challenge that happened 10 years ago?

Where you or your friends wrote about your favorite meals and where you'd like to travel - and then tagged a bunch of people? 

Kind of like that. Only back then, I was way too nervous to post anything remotely personal on Facebook. I was scared. 

This was also the period of my life where I'd anxiously text my brother, "Can people see this picture? How do I tag? Is it up?" 

The "Social Media Figuring Out Period" was real and long for me. 

Anyway, I'm in your inbox right now so it feels a little more personal :)

Plus, I just want to hear all about you, too! 

I think it's cool whenever you connect with someone over *seemingly* random stuff. 

So without further ado...

Some Stuff You Might Not Know About Me:

  • I love flower essences and I make blends for my family, clients and friends. 

  • My favorite show is The Golden Girls. 

  • During grad school, I was a probation officer. The highlight was connecting women with jobs.

  • I'm trained in Gestalt therapy - it's more about the mind-body connection vs. traditional psychotherapy.

  • I have a 3-year old Scottish Terrier named Patton. He's feisty, independent and secretly sensitive. 

  • I didn't know I wanted to be a therapist in college. I graduated, did Teach For America and realized it was something I loved. 

  • My first concert was The Beach Boys. It was the Full House episodewhere the Tanners get "stranded" on a desert island and find their way to a Beach Boys concert. 

  • I love astrology - I'm a Taurus Sun. Capricorn Rising. Aquarius Moon. 

  • My brother and I watched Silence of the Lambs way too much when we were young. 

  • I was the Assistant Director at a weight loss clinic in midtown Manhattan. We'd take our clients on field trips to the grocery store. It was awesome. 

  • The first time I saw a therapist was in college and I was SO nervous. "What am I supposed to say?!" But it was the best experience. She was so kind and real. 

  • I once asked a famous director how to spell his last name when I was a 20-year old entertainment industry intern. Eek! He was gracious and I swiftly realized I was in the wrong line of work. 

  • I love following your intuition and doing whatever feels right for you, even if it doesn't "make sense" in the moment. Life always has a way of guiding you in the right direction!


What's one thing people might not know about you?

Not the thing that people might guess, but the thing that's a part of you - a little random and a little fun - it can be from the past or something happening right now. 

Your favorite food? Your guilty pleasure TV? A random job you once had? 

Example - I was a cocktail waitress at a bar in Grand Central! Not a really good waitress, btw. Lots of spilled drinks and people walking up to me with their credit cards because I was slow. 

Or maybe you have a strong intuitive side or you've always known you were an empath / sensitive person? 

Maybe you've traveled somewhere and did something cool like learned a different language or went sky diving. 

You have things that are unique about YOU. And you might just forget about them from time to time. 

I know I forget. I'm busy thinking about the future and where I want to "be" that I forget about what I've done. 

You don't want to stay stuck in the past. But it's fun to reflect on some of the stuff you've done or things you do when you're not busy adulting. 

So hit reply and let me know something about you!

You have a story, special gifts, and history that are all a part of your beautiful life <3 


I love hearing from you!


From my heart to yours, 


Devon McLeod, LCSW
Holistic Psychotherapist
www.devonmcleod.com


PS "Treasure the things about you that make you different and unique." - Karen Kain


PPS Another Fact: My parents put me in "Golf Camp" when I was 12 years old. I ditched and started a Pog Tournament in the women's locker room. But, I *think* I still know how to putt. 


PPPS Here's a pic of the day I met my Scottish Terrier, Patton. My lovable little feisty guy :) 

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I Didn't Take It Seriously

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The spring semester my senior year at USC I took this speech class. 

It was a class taught by an adjunct professor who you could tell had one foot in the door of academia and the other out in the working world.  

I'll be honest - I didn't take the class super seriously. It was second semester. It was senior year. All I wanted was a passing grade and I wanted to move on with my life

And yet, one of the assignments at the end of the class is something I can't get out of my mind. 

The professor said:

You're going to graduate. You're getting to get a job. And you're probably not going to like the first one you get. Most people don't.

So I'm telling you now, to think about how you want to live your life.


Think about how you want to feel. What time do you want to get up? Where do you want to live? What do you want your days to look like?

I think we all collectively rolled our eyes at this "assignment."

We were ready to finish senior year, get a job and move on to the adult phasing of life. Check, check and check, please! 

But I did the assignment anyway. And here's what I wrote: 

"I want to wake up at 8 am and get coffee at Coffee Bean. I want to live in Santa Monica and walk to work. I want to work in an office with people. But not too many. I want to feel relaxed, yet energized and I want to be able to take breaks during the day to regroup. I'll end at 5pm and have a chance to walk outside before the sun goes down." 

Boom. I had a smile on my face as I envisioned this magical life of living in Santa Monica doing work that felt good.

I turned the assignment in and never thought about it again. 

That is until this past year. 

I can't STOP thinking about it. This awesome professor knew what she was talking about. She knew to plant a kernel of truth in our minds for the long-term picture of life. 

Her focus was to get us thinking about how we want to live our lives in a sustainable way - not just in a way of checking off life's boxes. 

And man, I thank her for it now. 

Because I did the assignment again this week. I needed a reset. 

I wrote at the top of my page for my NEW assignment:

"How do you want your life to look and feel?" 


And here's what I came up with:

  • Vacations to warm places

  • More quality time with friends - not just texting

  • Space for creativity 

  • Community with other people - workshops, retreats

  • Time outside in nature with no agenda

  • Boundaries with technology 

  • Belly laughter

  • Asking myself, "Does this feel good?" when I make a decision

  • Playing with my dog more

  • And yes, more Coffee Bean :) 


Ahhhh, it felt so good to even just write this stuff down. 

For me, I had to take a pause and decide what I wanted a little more of in my life. Otherwise, another day rolls around, it's 6pm and I realized I haven't done the stuff I like or value. 

Your life might not look exactly like your "What I Value and Love College Assignment" list 100% of the time - mine certainly doesn't - but you'll have a compass telling you when you need to reset. 

You can add a little walk outside today, sprinkle in a little cozy snuggle with your dog tomorrow or wait until you feel something just feels right - and then add it all in. 

And you don't have to do any of it perfectly. I mean, I didn't necessarily get to all the things on my list. I followed the path that was meant for me at the moment - moved to NYC, went to grad school, etc. 

But, I'm guessing that somewhere it was embedded in my mind, even if I only started consciously thinking about it over 10 years later. 

And as for my updated list? Some days I still rush through the day and think to myself, "I didn't take a break or do anything FUN today." 

You can just slowly take things day by day and infuse more of what you value, whatever it is - hip-hop classes, trips to comedy clubs, long lunches with friends where you belly laugh, trips in nature - whatever YOU'RE craving more of. 

And you can do it in big and small ways: Schedule a yoga retreat in Mexico or take a walk outside without your phone in the middle of the day. 

I wish I could turn my updated assignment into my professor.

She really knew what she was talking about. 

Maybe I'll look her up and send her an email? So much of what she said didn't resonate until now. 

It's never too late to shift your perspective on how you work, live, relate, have fun, vacation or just feel. 

The biggest step might just be asking: 

What do you want your life to look like?

How do you want to feel? 



From my heart to yours, 

Devon McLeod, LCSW
Holistic Psychotherapist


PS You can close your eyes right now and just ask yourself, "What do I want a little more of in my life right now?" See what comes up! You just can't go wrong when you follow your intuition <3 

My 10 Tips For Your Greatest Winter Yet

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How's your winter going? 

I live in NYC and the past couple weeks have been SUPER cold. 

I've found myself having a case of the "Januaries." 

The "Januaries" is a VERY clinical term that describes racing home to be in indoors as much as you can ;) 

You know what I'm talking about if you get in a funk when the days get dark and the temps drop. 

You want to be in bed watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel under a weighted blanket. 

As exemplified as when my friend and I texted each other to bow out of plans this week:

"Let's not do anything. It's cold and dark." 

Yes, it IS cold and dark in NYC right now. 

It can be so hard to want to motivate to *do* things when it's cold. 

This year I'm determined to be more pro-active in taking care of myself during the winter months. 

I find that when I do, I'm a much more centered and energized person. 

Check out my tips for thriving in winter!

Disclaimer - I don't do all of this perfectly 100 % of the time. How boring would that be? :) But I try to do what I can when I can. 

And if you're in a warm climate, you can even use these for the days you're in a funk if it's cloudy or rainy.

Even a subtle drop in temps can affect your system!
 
My 10 Tips For Your Greatest Winter Yet: 


// Dance Around

You can play your favorite song and MOVE the second you get out of bed. Or after coffee. Whatever suits your needs. Just press play and GO.

Sometimes I'll even do Tracy Anderson's "arm dancing" workout for about 10 minutes. 


// Discover Your Ayurveda

Do you get super annoyed when you're hot and sweaty? Or do you tend to run really cold i.e you're freezing when all your friends are fine? You might want to check out your Ayurveda type. 

Take this quiz to discover your dosha. The three doshas - vatta, pitta and kapha are the energies that make-up a person. From there, you can do certain things like dry brush, eat at a certain time of day and avoid certain foods and eat others to feel your best. I highly recommend!


// Check Out A Happy Light

Sometimes the sun doesn't peek out through the clouds until mid-day and it can really affect your mood. Check out his happy light to give yourself a dose of sunshine first thing in the morning. 

Warning - do NOT stare at this thing straight on. Think peripheral vision. I noticed my energy was higher throughout the day. 


// Practice The Power of Now 

I love Eckart Tolle's book The Power of Now. I read it 10 years ago, but I definitely need a refresh because I can get out of the moment really quickly, especially in winter.

The book is all about appreciating what's happening in the present versus thinking about the future.


// Read Your Books 

Winter is a time I like to curl up with lots of books. My most recent favorites are Love Warrior and Many Lives, Many Masters.

I'm also reading Educated which has won a gazillion awards and I love it so far. 


// Connect, Connect, Connect

Even though I wrote about books and staying in, you might also need more connection with family and friends. 

Schedule a call with a friend or get together at each other's homes for a cozy night in of talking and hanging out. 


// Explore A Class

Lately, I've been really into taking classes and workshops around NYC. The Alchemist's Kitchen is awesome and has workshops on crystals, herbs and much more.

You can also explore stuff online like this astrology class. Do something that piques your interest and energizes your soul. 


// Get Seasonal Support

I LOVE this natural cold and flu remedy. It came highly recommended by three different health stores in NYC. It has echinacea and elderberry and it's carried me in good stead for tons of winters. 


// Body Work 

If you can do it, schedule a massage or some sort of bodywork - craniosacral, reiki, acupuncture - whatever works for you! My favorite massage in NYC is at Ohm Spa. 

I've also heard spectacular things about this acupuncturist in Downtown LA. Your body might need more love and TLC during the colder months. 


// Go With It

Ride the wave of winter and ask yourself what you need during this time. It's amazing what posing a simple question can do when it comes to accessing your intuition.

In fact, ask yourself right now:

"What do I need more of in my life?"

It might be weather-related. It might be a relationship, connection or self-care related. 

Your only job is to take a breath, listen and take care of yourself. 

Remember, you don't have to be "perfect" at taking care of yourself, just incorporate what feels good and true when you can!

:) 

Wishing you all my best throughout winter! 



From my heart to yours, 

Devon McLeod, LCSW
Holistic Psychotherapist
www.devonmcleod.com


P.S. "Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is time for home."

- Edith Sitwell


P.P.S What are your tips when it's rainy, cold or you're just in a funk? Comment below and let me know! <3 

Love Where You Are

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Hi! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season!

I just got back to the East Coast after some time in California and Texas. 

Side note - Both CA and TX are ginormous and you can drive for 6 hours and still be deep in the heart of Texas haha.

My holiday was filled with love, laughter, sarcastic comments from my brother, too much chocolate, driving and lots of Mexican food. 

Did my holiday go according to plan 100% of the time? 

Nope! How boring would that be? 

That's the beauty of life right? 

You might have your expectations and then there's reality. And it's all about going with the flow and seeing the beauty in it all. 

I just wanted to throw the idea out there of loving wherever you are. Right now. In this moment. 

I know this time of year can be all about New Year, New You, but sometimes I get overwhelmed.

Maybe it's all the extra pressure this time of year regarding self-improvement? 

And you might have goals for yourself: more Soul Cycle classes, reading more books, spending quality time with friends - and that's awesome. 

I'm ALLL about goals and making positive changes for yourself. The new year can be a fresh time to set intentions and get clear on what you want to experience. 

But you can make these changes while still recognizing how far you've already come and giving a big dose of compassion to YOU. 

You can still have big goals. You can still have big dreams. You can also love yourself BIG time along the way. 

Being nice to yourself with resolutions/goals looks something like this: 

"I know I want to work-out more in 2019 and I'm going to love and accept myself where I am now, too" 

"I want to be more patient, but I'll have compassion for the part of me that's trying my best while I'm on my way." 

The icing on the cake is you'll make more strides and more gains when you come from a place of compassion and love for yourself. 

So if you need the reminder, you're doing beautifully wherever you are. Take a moment to appreciate how far you've come. 

"You, yourself as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." - Sharon Salzberg

Be kind to yourself. Show up with love.

Notice the shift in your body and how it feels to be in acceptance of yourself as you move forward. 

It's so much better when you're nicer to yourself, right?!

Wishing you all the best as you move on to the awesome things you'll do in 2019...with a whole lot of love. 


From my heart to yours,


Devon McLeod, LCSW
Holistic Psychotherapist
www.devonmcleod.com



PS In honor of being nice to yourself wherever you are, read this blog I wrote about that time I totally messed something up. Remember if you're ever made a mistake or been less than perfect - you're never alone! 
 


Happy New Year! xoxo 

The #1 Tip For a Blissed Out Holiday

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I'm getting ready to head to California for the holidays in a couple days. 

And I'm SO excited. I love California and 75 degree weather (yes, please!) but I also love the chance to hang with family, slow down and be reminded of traditions. 

My mom always puts out this kinda scary Joker Christmas doll that we love to tease her about. 

And my dad without fail brings out a trash bag the SECOND we start opening up presents. He likes things neat and tidy. 

And my brothers gets me a vanilla scented candle every single year. 

It's the funny, familiar things that can make you pause, laugh and appreciate the people in your life. 

But sometimes, the holidays can bring up a lot of different emotions. You might feel sad at certain points or nervous or stressed. 

You might be working on balancing family time with self-care time. 

You might feel excited one minute and overwhelmed the next. 

And I've been there. I feel like the holidays can bring up a 1,001 different emotions all at once.

That's perhaps what makes them so beautiful - all of our human emotions come up to be seen. There’s just more going on.

My #1 Tip: Practice a TON of self-care around the holidays.

I find that when I don't, I can become a stressed out mess and I wind up not being fully present with the people I love. 

It's a tough lesson at times for me to remember, but when you take care of yourself, you show up with more love and compassion to give everyone. 

It's like Oprah says, "You don't have anything to give, that you don't have. So you have to keep your own self full. That's your job."

Click here to watch her saying it. 

So in case you need a gentle reminder, you're worth the time to take care of yourself in whatever way works best for you. There's no right or wrong way to go about it. 

But when you show up for yourself, you show up with more LOVE to give. 

Here are some of my favorite ways you can take care of yourself during the holidays: 

  • Baths (yesss, with epsom salts, please) 

  • Alone Time if you need it (simple - a walk around your neighborhood)

  • Lay on your floor - spread out and pretend you're making Snow Angels on your carpet. 

  • Netflix comedy specials

  • Meditation - Headspace is awesome

  • Call or text a friend 

  • This breathing exercise - breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale out for eight seconds. 

  • Watch this video of golden retriever puppies 

  • Journal - check in with yourself 

  • Place one hand on your heart and breathe (simple, but so good)


Remember - When you take care of yourself, you show up with more love for everyone else. 

I wish you the best over the rest of the holiday season, however you're celebrating.

You're worth the time. You're worth the self-care. 


From my heart to yours,


Devon McLeod, LCSW



ps Here's some delightfully relaxing piano music to listen to if you need a moment of calm right away. <3 <3 <3 

How To Stay Calm When Traveling

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Do you ever feel SO exhausted after getting off a plane?  

You land, grab your bag, but then you get hit with a wave of "I need to crawl into bed for 12 hours." 

You might need silence. 

You might need alone time. 

You might need an oat milk latte the size of your head. 

Maybe the security lines were long. The person next to you hogged the armrest. 

Or maybe you just weren't in the mood to be around 1,000 people that day and now you're wiped out. 

And I'm not just talking about the logistical stuff you already know about like long lines and delayed flights. 

I'm talking about energy. 

You might get overwhelmed by crowds, loud noises and cramped quarters.

In the case of flying, which includes all these things, it can leave you feeling completely drained.

You might even be a sensitive person or empath - someone who picks up on the energy or vibes of others. 

Let's get one thing straight. Being sensitive is awesome. 

It helps you feel. It helps you empathize. You might even feel like you intuitively just know stuff. 

But without proper support, you can totally feel exhausted by something like travel. 

I know this firsthand because I used to land from flights in LA and wanna crawl into bed with a bucket of Red Vines for like three days. Seriously. I felt so drained and it felt like I’d spend the first part of my trip recovering and feeling “off.”


So after years of "research" aka feeling cranky after I travelled from NYC to LA, I've put together a list of things you can do when you travel to help you feel more calm. 

Here are my favorite travel tips if you're a sensitive person or empath: 


: Take a Minute Before You Go

I used to run out of my apartment on travel days, obsessing over whether I turned off all the lights or forgot my curling iron. 

It was like the Home Alone scene where the parents overslept and have to run around like maniacs.

Remember that one? They're so frazzled they forget their son. 

Now, after my clothes are packed, I do this thing... 

I sit on my couch. 

I sit down on my couch and take a minute before I run out of my apartment and jump in an uber.

Why do I do this? It sets a tone for my day and helps me feel more anchored in my own energy versus frantically running out the door wondering if I forgot my toothbrush. 


: Find Some Airport Alone Time 

Once I get to the airport, I like to find my gate right away. It's just a habit. But after that, I like to wander around and find a location that has less people.

I know this can be hard at times, especially during the holidays when any amount of free space feels like a goldmine.

BUT, I've meditated in a bathroom stall. I've wandered around listening to podcasts. And I've definitely sat at an empty-ish gate that doesn't currently have a scheduled flight.

Sometimes you just need 10 minutes to regroup without tons of people around if you're an empath. A little bit can go a long way. 


: Let Go of The Small Stuff 

I know it's not always easy - delays happen, security takes forever, the person in front of you orders a complicated Starbucks drink and backs up the line.

There are just more people around. And if you're sensitive you can be aware of every little thing that goes down. 

In grad school I learned this technique called the Buddha Half Smile. 

It's exactly how it sounds - you make a half smile on your face.

It's used in a therapy called DBT.

You can try it right now. Make a little half smile on your face. Not a full cheese grin. Not a scowl.

You can use it when you're waiting for your plane to board.

You can use it when someone unknowingly bumps into you in a crowded space. Ouch. 

I was skeptical, but it totally helps me feel a little more calm in a pinch. 


: Take Advantage of Mid-Air Time 

I know most planes have wifi, but I like to unplug for at least a little bit. If you're sensitive, you might relate if you get overwhelmed by too much tech time.  

I'll journal. I'll listen to mantra music. I'l sit with my thoughts. 

Some of my favorite journal prompts are: What do I want more of in my life? What do I want to release?

I also think I do some of my best processing planes? Maybe it's the being between worlds that gives me freedom to explore?


: Prepare With A Feel-Good Kit

I like to joke that when I have travel I have my makeup essentials and I have my empath essentials.

The stuff in my Empath Kit includes:

  • Impatiens, a flower essence that helps with patience. (Yes, please!)

  • Golden Yarrow, a flower essence that helps to strengthen your energy so you don't absorb other people's. 

  • Lavender essential oil is also a staple. 

  • In between journaling - I have movies that are gentle and soothing. No violent stuff. Now's the time when I watch soothing documentaries or one of my favorites, Pit Bulls and Parolees. 


Other fun ideas: 

Eye masks, organic dark chocolate, nature sounds, mantra music, stress balls, scalp massager, noise cancelling headphones, feel-good novels, ear plugs, and book of poems. 

You can throw in anything that makes you feel good and strengthens your own energy and sense of calm. 


Indulge In A Bath 

Once I land, I try to get into water ASAP. 

I use essential oils and epsom salts.

Water is sooooooo amazing for empaths and sensitive people. It cleanses the toxins and vibes from the day.

More than just the physical act, it's psychological, too - I'm washing away any energies and experiences from the day that no longer serve me. 

It's a fresh start for your trip. 

I hope at least one of these tips, hopefully more, is helpful to you or someone you know.

And by the way, I'm SO not perfect at sticking with everything on this list 100% of the time.

I consider it a good travel day when I've stuck to maybe one or two.

But it's all about progress, not perfection, right? And I find I'm constantly making mistakes and learning as I go, which is just part of the process of learning what you need. 

And remember, when you take care of yourself, you'll show up feeling way more calm and fully present for other people. 

What are your tips for staying calm when traveling?

That one thing you do that seems small, but makes a difference in taking your trip from blah to zen? Secret playlists? A juicy novel? Favorite snacks? 

You never know - you might do something that you think is totally natural and obvious, but is actually really creative and strategic when you travel. 

Comment below or email me at devon@devonmcleod.com and let me know! I'd love to hear from you! 


From my heart to yours, 


Devon McLeod, LCSW
Holistic Psychotherapist
www.devonmcleod.com



P.S. I love the book Positive Energy by amazing empath expert Dr. Judith Orloff. I highly recommend it if you're a sensitive person or empath. Check it out here.


P.P.S. When in doubt, I’m gonna channel the vibes of these golden retrievers, who are trained to help stressed travelers at the airport. Yessssss :)




Are You Trying To Be Perfect?

Are you ever hard on yourself for making mistakes? Even if they’re really small? Like, so small you know you “shouldn’t” beat yourself up?

I've been there soooo many times. I’m a - I like to say - recovering perfectionist.

Today I'm sharing about something that happened in 2nd grade and how it STILL helps me remember to chill out and take it easy on myself.

Here's the rundown on the video: 

  • I was a type-A perfectionist 8-year old. 

  • I made my parents drill with me spelling words every night. 

  • The first test of third grade I MISSED my FIRST spelling word (GASP!) 

  • And my reaction?! PURE BLISS! Relief. Tension melting release!!!

  • I didn't have to be perfect!!!

  • Moral of the story - live your life and make mistakes because it can be a relief when mistakes happen and everything works out just fine :)

Are you a recovering perfectionist? How do you handle? Leave a comment below or email me privately at devon@devonmcleod.com. Let’s talk about it!

Stuff I'm Lovin'

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I'm obsessed with Top 10 Lists.


I religiously watched David Letterman growing up and his Top 10 list was always my favorite. 


I like things in bite-sized portions and I like knowing what's the best of the best. 


So here's my very own Top 10 list of stuff I'm loving these days. Some of it's informational and some of it's just really fun :) 


I hope you enjoy the round-up!



1) Weather App - Dark Sky 

I'm obsessed with this app. It's made me a weather nerd andI'm NOT complaining. It tells you when it'll rain down to the second. For those of us on the east coast or anywhere where it rains a lot - it's pretty awesome. 


2) Flower Essence - Larch

If there's a flower essenceI've taken the most, it's probably Larch. Larch is for confidence and public speaking.I've taken it before speeches or whenever I'm doubting myself in general. You can buy on amazon or you can check out this cool flower essence and herb shop if you're in NYC. 


3) Debra Silverman - Astrologist 

I fell in love with Debra when I stumbled upon her impersonations of all 12 zodiac signs. The Taurus one is spot-on (I'ma Taurus.) Her new video on the planets is released every few days on Youtube and I find her break-down so relatable and easy to understand. I also just found out Venus is in retrograde, but I'm still trying to figure out what that means (?!) 


4) Moment App 

I spend way too much time on my phone. Anyone else? This app helps you track your screen time (!!).I've noticed a change simply by knowing it's there. 


5) Ozark- Netflix Show 

Even thoughI'man empath and some of the scenes are violent (okay, super violent) I still love this show starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney. Some people say that it's like Breaking Bad- same but different? Tip:I close my eyes during some parts. I also just think I would watch about anything with Laura Linney. 


6) Tracy Anderson Method

I love working out at home. I like the convenience of just putting on my sneakers and doing it.I've been doing The Tracy Anderson Method at home for almost year. It brings me back to my dancer roots and it's just fun to do stuff that reminds me of when I was little. 


7) Nutritionist Elissa Goodman

I found her on a random google search two years ago and now she's all over the place in a great way -being interviewed by Maria Menounous and filming her own holistic health and wellness show. I love her instagram feed. If you're in the LA area she also has a delivery soup cleanse. 


8) Hu Kitchen Dark Chocolate

I order this chocolate online or pick it up in person at speciality chocolate stores. It's delicious - organic with no GMOs, dairy or refined sugar. 


9) Sweats And the City - Instagram 

I love these two women (Elizabeth & Dale). I used to teach barre fitness classes and I remember when they were first starting out with their business. They keep it real, but positive and I always get something out of their posts/blogs even if it's not exercise related.I.e. They recently posted about the benefits of phone-free mornings and ways to manage anxiety. 


10) Elder Millennial- Netflix Special 

Iliza Shelesinger's stand-up special is straight-up hilarious. She focuses on the idea of being an "elder millennial" aka she's 35 years old and just on the cut-off. I was hysterically laughing throughout the entire thing and I now follow her dog on instagram.


What are you loving right now? 


Any books? Podcasts? TV shows? 


It's that time of year where I'm feeling myself want to hunker down with a good book and possibly binge watch stuff over the weekends.


Send 'em my way!


Reply to this email and let me know! love hearing from you!


From my heart to yours, 


Devon McLeod, LCSW
Holistic Psychotherapist
www.devonmcleod.com


p.s. I couldn't resist sending you this quote I came across from one of my favorite people, Brene Brown: 


"Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love." - Brene Brown. 


I know I can struggle with being hard on myself (recovering perfectionist life!) so let's promise ourselves we'll drop the whole beating ourselves up thing. Or let's at least be aware when it happens - and say something nice to ourselves instead :) 


Have a beautiful week!