Give Yourself The Gift of Compassionate Self-Care

I recently invited the Soulful Life Sanctuary Soul Guides to share their loving words here on Soul Speak. My dear friend, Shann Vander Leek, is the guide for the Loving Self-Care Sacred Space inside the sanctuary. I have known Shann for years, and she is such a loving soul who truly walks the walk in embodying self care and self love. I’m so grateful that she shares her heart in the sanctuary and also here on Soul Speak!

In this post, Shann helps shine light on some of the excuses that we give in place of taking care of ourselves. I hope it helps each of us see how important self care is and how important putting ourselves on our list of things to do truly is. 

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Shann Vander Leek

I haven’t always been the best at putting myself at the front of the line. For years it seemed perfectly natural to take care of others, take on loads of responsibility and work so hard that all I could do was collapse at the end of the day. My well was dry.

I remember the day that everything changed. I was a new mother trying to juggle my family and career. I was exhausted, maxed out and anxious about everything on my plate. About the time I reached my tipping point, the members of my sales force gave me a gift certificate for a 90 minute hot stone massage. It was the first massage I’d had in years. That one precious gift helped me realize how important it was to make body work a part of my self-care routine. Body work led to photography, Yoga, Martial Arts and so much more. I started practicing what I now preach, and over the last ten years I’ve become a compassionate self-care crusader!

As the Loving Self-Care guide at the Soulful Life Sanctuary, I invite our members to care for themselves by choosing at least one act of self-care each day. This might be something as simple is drinking an extra glass of water. Other times, it may be learning how to set healthy boundaries by choosing to say no thank you without feeling guilty. Sometimes it’s learning to give themselves permission to stop and rest.

All too often we put everyone and everything at the front of the line. We will start a new business when the mortgage is paid off. We will register for a photography class or Yoga retreat once the kids finish school. We will work on getting healthy and fit when we have more time to care for ourselves. These are societal excuses that must be faced with loving kindness.

“The trouble is, You think you have time. -Buddha

Recently I asked Soulful Life Sanctuary members who are part of the Loving Self-care Sacred Space to share excuses that get in the way of their self-care. The top three obstacles were: no time because of work, family responsibilities, and feelings of guilt or unworthiness.

No matter what your excuse is, if you really want to make your self-care a priority, you have to start somewhere. Let’s begin by addressing each one of these common excuses.

Excuse #1 No Time Because of Work Schedule

Most of us live in the real world and don’t have access to an unlimited trust fund or bank account. We work in order to keep a roof over our head, clothes on our back and food on the table. However, working is not a valid excuse for blowing off self-care. What you can do is carve out time for self-care before, during or after work.

Back in the day when my calendar was overflowing with appointments and work-related responsibilities, the only time I had to myself was evenings and weekends. Or was it?

I discovered an untapped oasis on my lunch hour! I made it a priority to get out of the office at lunch to visit a local park and watch the Lake Michigan waves roll in. Some days I’d walk a couple of laps around the local civic center trail. Sometimes I’d go to the museum or public library. This oasis of time allowed me to step away from fluorescent lights and the needs of others to get some fresh air, spaciousness and perspective. Can you see how carving out some time at lunch helped me balance my energy and recharge my batteries before getting back to work?

Excuse #2 Family Responsibilities

I have a small family that I enjoy nurturing. My husband and daughter are my entire world. I am responsible for taking care of them through the many roles that I choose to play in this lifetime. I’ve learned that the best thing I can do for my loved ones is take excellent care of myself!

We forget that we can give the most when we are living lives we love. We can be the best partners, mothers, wives, fathers, business owners, when we are feeling nurtured, fulfilled, inspired and self expressed.

Excuse #3 Feelings of Guilt and Unworthiness

If you feel guilty or unworthy when you think about doing something sweet for yourself, chances are this old programming. We often learn to feel unworthy through some sort of psychological osmosis received from our parents or caregivers. If you were raised by someone who thought it SELFISH to care for herself, the thoughts that come up for you now may not even be your own!

You can break the chain of old programming by becoming aware of negative self-talk and in that moment of awareness, make the choice to overrule your mind. It takes practice, but eventually you will prevail! You are worthy. You have nothing to feel guilty about.

Even if you haven’t always been the best at putting yourself at the front of the line, there is hope for you yet. I Invite you to choose and commit to one act of self-care today and notice how you feel. You deserve to receive the gift of compassionate self-care.




Shann Vander Leek is a Transformation Goddess, lifelong media expert, published author, celebrated podcaster and voice over talent. She is the author of Life on Your Terms and co-author of four more best-selling books for women. Shann is the Loving Self-care guide at the Soulful Life Sanctuary. She blogs at Transformation Goddess and produces the Divine Feminine Spotlight podcast series. She is also co-host of the popular Anxiety Slayer podcast celebrating 1.5 million listens. Shann loves to teach women to walk in beauty by practicing compassionate self-care. Connect with Shann at Transformation GoddessFacebook, iTunes and Twitter

Come Join Us!

250 faces with flower updated with textured background copyShann and I would love to invite you to join us (and over 100 others) in the Soulful Life Sanctuary! Membership is on sale through the end of the year, and the next 18 to join the yearly option will receive over $1600 in welcome gifts (all donated by current members)!

The sanctuary is such a loving community, and we would love for you to give yourself the gift of connecting with your soul and also connecting with others who are doing the same!

Click here to learn all about it and join us!


And Then The Walls Came Down

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I’ve been learning more and more how important showing up in the world from an open, loving space is.

And I’ve noticed that it’s not as common as one might think to find others who are bravely living this way.

I get it. I definitely didn’t used to be this trusting and this open and this heartbased and this warm and fuzzy.

I was when I was very young, and then – like many of us – I got hurt over and over again and quickly realized that being open and sharing my heart with the world didn’t always feel so good. Sometimes it felt like it was being trampled into a million pieces, actually. And sometimes, it felt like it was literally being broken in half from all of the pain. Definitely not fun feelings to feel, and so – like many of us – I decided to put walls around my heart to protect myself.

I even dressed the part. As someone who used to wear pink almost daily when I was young, I started wearing mostly black and even bought a pair of combat boots that I wore with almost everything. I stopped being approachable and started giving off the vibe that I was hardened to make sure a wall stayed between me and everyone else. I shut people out and became cynical and skeptical.

But dressing the part and acting the part doesn’t mean that I was the part or that I became the part. I was still me. I was still heart-centered and loving and sappy – I just no longer felt comfortable sharing this side of myself with others. It was too hard. I didn’t want to get hurt. I couldn’t go through another heartbreak. I didn’t want to be sad anymore.

And what I slowly started to realize is that by closing my heart off to almost everyone (including my connection to the universe), I was more heartbroken than if someone had trampled all over my heart. I felt completely lost, disconnected, and alone.

And that felt pretty terrible.

It’s true that by shutting out almost everyone, I kept myself protected in many ways. But in doing so, I ended up shutting myself off from the universal flow. By building a wall so high around my heart, I managed to just about seal off any connection with the divine for many, many years.

And that felt pretty terrible.

And I didn’t like feeling terrible. I wanted to feel good, amazing, joyful, trusting, and loving. I wanted to share my true self with the world – my pink-wearing, completely sappy, oozing love self. And I didn’t want to be afraid to of getting hurt. I didn’t want to be afraid of getting my heartbroken.

I began to believe (and really feel) that if I showed up as my true self, my connection with the universe would love me up enough to be brave enough to get through any heartache that happened here on Earth. I began to trust that no matter how hard things seemed here, I was never alone – I was always loved – and coming from a loving place always felt better than shutting myself off to love.

And so I began to bravely let the wall come down. Slowly – so very slowly. Baby steps. Just a little at a time. 

Until one day, I looked around and felt around and noticed that my heart was wide open. Completely open and completely connected. And that felt amazing. Truly amazing.

It felt a bit scary, too, to be perfectly honest. And I have been hurt since my heart has opened up this wide. I have been betrayed and had to learn how to handle hurt feelings from such an open state of being.

But I got through it. Because I know that my connection to my soul and my connection to the universe is stronger than any heartbreak I could ever, ever, ever, experience here on Earth. And I know that living from this heart-filled and love-filled space feels SO amazingly good. It’s who we all are at our core – when we dig down deep enough, we’ll only find love. That’s all.

And knowing this has changed how I look at myself, at others, at everything in this magical world. My heart is open, and my walls are down. And it feels wonderful.

If you have your walls up in order to protect yourself, I really do understand. But I wonder if you would be willing to bring them down just a little bit right now and let just a little bit of love in. And then maybe tomorrow you can let them down just a little bit more and trust that you’re already protected by the universe – you don’t need to add extra protection. We’re here to feel and to experience and to love. And letting your walls down is a great start into doing exactly that. 

I promise that while it’s not always easy and it doesn’t always feel amazing, it will change everything – absolutely everything – in the way you see the world. It will open everything up for you in such beautiful ways. And all it takes to experience this is to choose to bravely start opening your heart – just a little bit.

I love that so much.



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P.S. – Membership to the Soulful Life Sanctuary is on sale + the next 18 people who join will receive over $1600 in welcome gifts (donated by current members) – including intuitive readings, numerology readings, business coaching sessions, and so much more!

You can learn all about the sanctuary, see the gifts, and join us here:



Finding Calm + A Special Announcement!

want nothing copyI realized something today. It’s something that I’ve known for quite awhile. It’s something that seems so obvious.

It’s much harder to find calm in the midst of chaos than to find calm in a state of calmness. 

Duh, right? It seems so simple, and it is so simple. But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean that we always easily embody and live this truth.

Here’s an example: For the last several days, I’ve been feeling extra stressed. I’ve been feeling tightness in my chest. I’ve been having a harder time taking a deep breath in. I’ve been resisting doing my daily meditation – thinking that I just didn’t have time. I’ve been feeling the weight of a too-long to-do list. I’ve been feeling scattered, overworked, and overwhelmed.

And then, just now, as I was logging into my computer to get some work done, I saw a wonderful visual that feels like the perfect metaphor for this state that I’m in. My computer desktop was filled with icon after icon – taking up the entire screen (and even going beyond it). Each icon related to work and represented something that I needed to do, projects I am in the middle of, things to remember, etc.

Underneath all of these many, many icons was a picture that I could barely make out. It’s a photo of a beautiful beach, which is my symbol for calm, serenity, and peace:

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This was such a perfect visual glimpse into my mind and into my life. Without even realizing it, my priorities have gotten way out of order. I have allowed work to consume me and take precedence over my own self care, my own needs, my own well being.

Instead of the expression, “The writing’s on the wall,” I can say that the icons are on the screen!

It was so helpful for me to see this in full color. It sunk in deep within my soul and helped me see that I’m just not okay with having my own inner peace be buried underneath all of these tasks.

My inner peace should take center stage. It should be at the forefront of my mind and my life and of everything that I do. Everything else must, must, must come after that. 

So I immediately began to rectify this chaos by cleaning up my desktop. And while I still have the projects that I’m working on, and I still have the long list of things to do, just seeing my beautiful beach uncluttered and front and center helped me breathe again:

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It’s my hope that this reorganizing will move off of the desktop and into my life. If nothing else, it will serve as a wonderful reminder for me to make sure my priorities are in check each time I open my computer.

I want to feel calm. I want to feel at peace. I want to feel like I am putting my own wellness and happiness at the front of the line in this life of mine. And seeing this beautiful beach front and center each time I go to work is a great way to make sure I continue doing exactly that.

How about you? What are some ways that you can remove some of the clutter so that you, too, can embrace a calm, peaceful life?

We all deserve that and so much more.



sale 250 copyP.S. – I have some VERY exciting news! Membership to the Soulful Life Sanctuary is on sale through the end of the year! And the next 20 people who join will receive over $1600 in welcome gifts (donated by fellow sanctuary members)! These gifts include intuitive readings, coaching sessions, numerology sessions, and so much more! You can see all of the gifts, learn more about the sanctuary, and sign up here:


Pulling Ourselves Up

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I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately.

I would love to say that it’s because I’m not sleeping well or because I am entering my third month of spending almost all of my time on the couch while recovering from adrenal fatigue. I would love to be able to sort of blame this funk on something outside of myself.

And while I’m sure these external circumstances are contributing to it, I know that it wouldn’t be accurate to point the finger completely at them.

There’s a reason why I’ve been moving fast for so many years. There are feelings that I’ve long been avoiding. I’ve known this, and I did my best to outrun them. But it seems that all of this running just made me extra tired and less resistant to feeling them.

I know that I’m not alone in this. So many of us are moving so, so fast: running away from one pain or another. And, now that I’ve had all of this time to slow down and sit with my feelings and really explore them, I’m seeing that it’s not all that fun, to be completely honest. There’s a reason why we run. Who wants to deal with mountains of hurt and anger and sadness? It’s normal to want to push these emotions aside or try to plow through them or attempt to ignore them completely.

I get it. I really do.

I’ve tried each of these methods for many, many years. And what I’m finding is that the only way to release them is to be brave enough to be with them. To slow down for long enough to allow yourself to feel them. To explore them and find out what you are meant to learn from them. To see how you can expand because of them. To love yourself extra as you move through them – one by one.

What we resist truly does persist. And this pain that I’ve been resisting goes back years and years and years. I feel like I’ve gotten myself into quite a dark place in many ways. And I’m realizing (as a result of all of this stillness that I’ve been practicing) that I’m the only one who can pull myself into the light.

I have the most loving husband, the most supportive mom, amazing friends, beautiful angels and spirit guides, and an entire support system who wants nothing more than to lift me up and help me soar. (And I’m so grateful for each of you – truly!)

But I am seeing that this is my pain. These are my emotions. And there are some things that I’m meant to move through on my own. At least for the first few steps. At least for now.

I want to feel whole again. I want to feel light again. I want to feel joyful again. I want to feel free again.

And I know on such a deep level that this stillness will bring me back home. I can feel it. And in order to get there, I have to actually be still, be silent, and be open to feeling whatever feelings come up. I have to be willing to explore them, to love them, to honor them, and to release them.

In case you’re in a similar place, I thought I would share some of the ways that I’m pulling myself up: 

1. I’m honoring where I am. I’m no longer resisting it or trying to sugarcoat it or mask it. I’m remembering that wherever I am is completely okay.

2. I’m making space to feel. I’m slowing down (not just physically, but also mentally). I’m allowing these old (almost forgotten) emotions to surface.

3. I’m giving myself permission to feel – really feel. I’m giving myself permission to explore what’s underneath all of the running.

4. I’m releasing these emotions – most of which are stale and outdated and are no longer a part of my present life anyway.

5. I’m remembering that I’m allowed to be happy. I’m remembering that I’m allowed to feel joy. I’m remembering that I’m allowed to be vibrant and at peace and completely elated about my life.

6. I’m allowing myself to return to the light – my home, my essence, my truest self. This is where I want to spend my time. And releasing these emotions is a beautiful way to get there. And knowing that feels really, really good.

I love knowing that I have the power to create my life. And it’s through this honest exploration that I am able to create a life that makes me happy and whole – that makes me feel alive. And that’s what I wish for all of us. We all deserve that.

By the way, I share so honestly and openly here on Soul Speak because it’s my hope that in doing so, those who are going through a similar experience will know that they aren’t alone. I also share this vulnerably here because I believe that if we’re going to truly connect, we have to connect from our truth – whatever that is. We’re all multifaceted, and we all go through phases of life – some more up than down and some more down than up. And I want each of us to realize at a deep level that each phase is valid and each phase is filled with so much wisdom. Each phase is meant to be embraced and honored and loved. Just as we are.



P.S. – I’m filling in the Soul Speak advertising calendar for 2015 and am offering more than ½ off a sponsorship package – there are just a few spots left! The great thing about this is that you don’t even have to have everything ready yet – this is just to reserve your space. And that gives you time to create a product or an event or an opt-in gift that you feel great about! Becoming a Soul Speak sponsor is a great way to spread the word about what you’re up to with thousands. You can learn all about it and reserve your space here:

Free Soul Clarity Message + 1/2 Off Soul Clarity Cards!

***Thank you to everyone who participated this month! I’ll be back with more readings on December 1st!***

Happy November! It’s that time again where I’ll pull one Soul Clarity Card for each person who leaves a comment below!

I do this on the first day of every month, and it’s always so much fun to offer these messages straight from my soul to yours.

Before we start the messages, I wanted to share this week’s Soulful Life Sanctuary shop special! (Each week, one soulful product/service is at least 1/2 off! Specials include intuitive/angel readings, soulful ecourses & ebooks, guided meditations, healing sessions, and soulful gifts!)

Weekly Special: 50% Off the Soul Clarity Cards!

Soul Clarity Cards

The Soul Clarity Card deck includes 48 cards to help you get clarity on what your soul wants you to know. They come wrapped up in an organza bag and include an amethyst gemstone (which helps you connect with your soul).

My soul speaks to me in concise phrases, and so I created these cards with that in mind.

Each card contains a guided action for you to consider – something to help you live soulfully and mindfully.

I believe that the answers are always within us, but sometimes our light gets covered up by life – all of the to-dos and the shoulds and work and errands and hurt and anger and all sorts of gunk. And it can be hard to sift through all of that and find our way home – back to our soul. These cards are a tool to help you on your journey back home.

Each card contains words that your soul needs you to hear. And whichever card you choose will be exactly the one you need in that exact moment. That’s just how it works!

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They normally sell for $17.95 per deck, and if you order them between now and November 11th they are just $8.95!

They make wonderful holiday gifts, so this is a perfect time to stock up!

Click here to order your deck(s)!

And now, it’s time for your free message!

Here’s how it works: I’ll pull one card for anyone who leaves a comment at the end of the post by 11:59 pm pst today (11/1/14)! If your comment is posted before then, I promise I will pull a card for you. Each month when I open this up, I receive hundreds of requests, so please be patient with me. (If you happen to miss this deadline, please know that I’ll do it again on 12/1.)

All you have to write is “Yes, please!” or something similar. Please don’t feel that you need to share what you are looking to heal or what you would like guidance for. You are more than welcome to, but it’s not necessary. I know that this can be very personal, and your soul and the universe already know what you need. (If you are reading this via a reader or email, please click here to be taken to the post.)

A technical tip for you: To be able to find your comment and not receive a barrage of emails by subscribing to comments, you can go to the comments page and do a search for your name. (On a PC, you press the “control” button + the “f” button.) This makes it super easy to scroll to your name and your reading. :)

Big hug to each of you.

Please spread the love by sharing this on Facebook and Twitter! 

P.S. – Remember that the Soul Clarity Cards are 1/2 off this week only! Be sure to stock up for the holidays by clicking here!

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