I practice self-care 11 simple ways every day, and it's not always pretty.

The bathroom is my special place. When I sit on the toilet and read articles about 100 ways to change my life, I feel empowered and ready to shake my world upside down.

Then I lock my iPhone and leave the bathroom … and I fall right back into wishing I could just sulk in a corner.

Especially as the adult child of an alcoholic, a lot of people advise me to figure out how to put myself first. Family, friends, and professionals want me to learn to love myself in ways that I didn’t learn during all the years when caring for an addict took precedence.


"Close your eyes in the steam of hot lemon water. Sink into your warrior pose while reflecting on the ocean’s tide. Just take deeper breaths and count to 10 to conquer the world’s pain."

Photo via iStock.

I know the authors of these articles mean well, but sometimes I don’t think they understand how hard it is to make self-care a priority. Most days, grabbing hold of my "self" feels like trying to grab fistfuls of air, not breathing as calmly as an ocean tide.

Instead of drawing a bubble bath or lighting a candle or writing down my thoughts and dreams in a journal, I’m more focused on making baby steps in caring for myself. Here are a few:

1. Getting up on the right side of the bed is a big deal.

Most days, I don’t want to cuddle a kitten. On the days when it’s easier to smile, it’s a really good day. Sometimes my self-care is cherishing those days.

2. Instead of dreaming of all the things I'll get around to in my next life, I have to pick one small thing a day.

Waiting for the next cymbal to crash wipes me out. In my next life, I’ll color 50 shades of happiness in my adult coloring book. And then I’ll hang it on my fridge to show off to all my cheerful dinner guests.

But in this life, faking Pinterest-style perfection is exhausting. Instead, I’ve started getting to know my personal energy levels and choosing my daily activities based on how much "gas" is in my tank. I want to be a hustler and say yes to everything, but I have to know if today is a day where taking care of myself also means taking a nap.

3. I'm great at telling someone else, "Go love yourself." Now I need to take my own advice.

I could have written those articles about 100 ways to change your life. I might even inspire you to learn to love yourself because I’m a champ at doling out expert advice. But taking my own advice is an entirely different game.

Whenever I feel like stuffing my emotions away with dozens of Oreos, I remind myself that I’m committed to living out what I write.

Photo via iStock.

I want you to read who I am on the screen and then meet the same person in real life.

4. I'm addicted to someone else’s addiction. I probably need to implement my own recovery plan.

Honest moment: I’m afraid of what my life would look like without the rush of implementing great recovery plans for someone else, like my dad who struggles with addiction.

But truthfully, I know that self-care starts with putting my whole self first. I’m learning how to make my own recovery plans, including a rush of adrenaline while working out to the perfect pump-up playlist.

5. "It is what it is" helps me move forward.

I picked up on this phrase as a little girl, and for me, it became one of those sayings your kid repeats in the backseat so many times you wish they'd never heard it.

Believing in change requires a huge shift in my stale and stubborn mind, but remembering that "it is what it is" allows me to recognize what I can’t control and then focus on what I can.

6. I will learn to trust that good things can actually stick.

This is kind of the idea that every good book comes to an end. I always wonder: Why should I fall in love with these characters when they’re going to leave me on the last page anyways? I think this has a lot to do with my dad’s story and growing up with an alcoholic parent.

Instead, I have to work on trusting in chapters of goodness, like when joining a book club is fulfilling and reading a book gives me happiness in the moment — it’s not just a countdown until our relaxing times together end.

7. I’ll figure out how I like my eggs or other little things about my identity.

In the movie "Runaway Bride," Julia Roberts’ character has a father who drinks too much. She lost her identity in the process of trying to save him, so she always just likes whatever kind of eggs her boyfriend at the time liked.

Photo via iStock.

Self-care requires knowing what would help me. I can’t love myself if I’ve never taken the time to figure out who I am. It turns out I like my eggs over easy. Like my grandma always said, "Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it."

8. Life doesn’t have to feel so serious.

I picked up a briefcase around the age of 10, and the weight of the world felt comfortable in my little hands. I made myself grow up too quickly, mostly so I could stay out of the way and not make any more waves.

But I think I missed the step where you roll down the hill and get grass stains, so sometimes it’s hard as an adult to kick back and get a good belly laugh. I forget that life is more than filing my taxes while sitting up straight in my leather chair. When I know I need a deep laugh, I go out to dinner with a friend who knows me to my core and can pull out a memory that leaves me sculpting those six-pack abs.

9. I've made it a habit to expect the worst. And, you know what they say: Old habits die hard.

I’ve come to expect disappointment to walk through the door. Hearts have this crazy power to shape habits. And broken hearts have this bad habit of wanting to stay broken.

Sometimes I think that stories about miracles and people overcoming adversities are only written about other people, and quotes that tell me to OVERCOME just annoy me. That’s just not me. Making it a habit to expect good things to happen will start with believing with my whole heart that I actually deserve good things. For me, I go for a walk and listen to audiobooks that encourage me and keep my mind from wandering to self-destructing places.

10. I’ll stop waiting for someone else to bring me flowers.

This past year, I had a roommate who nurtured her plants every day. This felt completely foreign to me. But when someone told me to go buy flowers for myself and make it a habit to care for those flowers, I started thinking about it differently.

Image via iStock.

In fact, this is one of those cliches that actually kind of works for me. I never realized how much I was sitting back and waiting for someone to knock on my door and deliver beauty on a silver platter. Inviting beauty into my daily life takes effort and patience and persistence. But one day at a time, I’m learning how to water these flowers and watch them grow.

11. Learning to love myself will require repetition over time to make it a new daily habit.

Over time, I’ve caught this heart bug where I tell myself I’m not worthy of a life where I love myself and love my life. I want to check off every single item on the list of 101 ways to change my life instead of trying to make one new self-care habit that I can actually stick to.

So my advice? Just do one thing. Because one small thing — not 100 — can help change one day. And one day at a time, that’s enough.

I want to learn to love myself and make self-care a priority.

I want to be addicted to love, like the good kind of habits and the real kinds of love.

For today, though, I’ll reflect on taking one little step at a time while reading on the toilet. Realistically, that one step for me is probably dancing to a new Katy Perry song: "I won’t just survive. Oh, you will see me thrive."

Don’t judge :)

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


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Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

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Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

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All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.