I’m back with another self-care Sunday series with Nicole Lemaster of Coleyology. She is the creator of a consciousness podcast, where she interviews healers, seekers, and anyone interested in exploring and self-help. On the podcast, you’ll hear a lot of organic, personal stories and reflections on how to grow and heal holistically.
I met Nicole (Coley) when I moved to California four years ago. I was attending grad school at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, but was living in the East Bay and commuting (driving to a bus stop, taking a bus to the Bart for an hour train ride, and then taking two more Muni buses and walking to get to my school). I was looking to live closer to my campus, and ended up moving into a two-bedroom San Francisco condo with a girl in one of my writing classes… and about seven other people. Nicole was friends with one of my new roommate’s sisters, so I got to know her and her beautiful story through dinner parties and adventures in the city.
She’s a certified yoga instructor, theta healing meditation practitioner, somatic experiencing practitioner, and studier of chakras. Nicole has her degree in Holistic Counseling Psychology with an emphasis on Transpersonal teachings, which you can learn about on some of her recent podcasts.
Here’s what she has to say about her self-care journey.
Allie: Tell me a bit about your health and wellness journey.
Nicole: My more conscious journey started at 15, oddly enough as a raver… Yoga and meditation entered my life at that time. From there, over time, wellness has been a compass in my life. It has been easier at times and super difficult too. I can definitely say the journey has been worth it.
There was a particular turning point for me when I got really serious about my health journey, years back. I was not feeling well. I had a similar feeling when I was 15 and had Epstein Barr. I was exhausted and lethargic. I have struggled with exhaustion on and off for most of my life. There were many times where I would push through the feeling of weakness to the point where I would almost collapse. After I had my son, I started feeling tired like that again, among other things that I had a history with, that were overlooked by the medical profession.
My symptoms continued to get worse. I would hear high pitched tones in my ears randomly, but because of my history with raving I was told it was probably hearing damage. I would see black spots in my vision, I was told that some people see them, they are called floaters. My gums would bleed often when I flossed, I was told I just needed to floss more. I was getting really bad dry spots all over my body and was sent to a skin specialist who gave me topical medicine. I tried several medications with not much success. I experienced some numbness, that could be explained from past trauma. I was getting frequent UTI’s. I was short of breath, but being a 1990s woman, I would socially smoke so that was a probable reason.
I often would stand and feel as if I was going to black out. I had fainted in the past, doctors said everything was “ok and normal.” Finally, I started bleeding when I had a bowel moment. I called my mom freaking out, crying. I flew into AZ to see her homeopathic holistic doctor that was also a conventional M.D. He saw me immediately and was able to give me a proper diagnosis of Bartonella (Cat Scratch Fever). In my youth I saved stray cats.
The doctor said he thought with my symptoms, I was carrying it for a long time. My organs were being affected. I was treated and finally on my way to feeling good, for the first time I could remember. That was the moment heath and wellness was no longer a hobby, but a life choice and priority. My body feels healthy and strong and I am able to participate in all the activities I want to be part of. I am so thankful!
A: What is ONE thing you think everyone should be doing for his/her health?
N: I think this questions answer is — it depends on the person, their needs, lifestyle, life goals, commitment, etc. For me personally, if you asked this 5 years ago, vs last year and now — you would have gotten 3 different answers that were all very important at that time. Right now, being deeply honest about what I need daily guides me. Sometimes that’s sitting in the sun, other times a hike or yoga, sometimes being alone in reflection, sometimes dropping everything thats planned to laugh and play with my son… Cultivating a relationship with my truth and honoring that daily is my #1.
A: Do you have a quote or motto you try to live by?
N: I have several that inspire me but the one that I live by and I keep coming back to is something I have said for years now – I want to be the best version of me, everyday. I want clarify the term “best version.” It does not particularly mean happy, or all the other positive words that are commonly related to the word “best.”
Best, in context to my motto, means handling the shadow aspects of life as well. When the hard stuff comes to the surface, be with myself and others in most loving compassionate way. Befriended grief, sadness, anger, anxiety to name a few, share the story of my wholeness and my humanness and choose in those moments to show up, as the best version of me — in the face overwhelming and sometime intolerable experiences.
A: Tell me about a big WIN you’ve had in your health/self-care journey.
N: I really believe in health and self-care. I have made it a current career as a therapist. I am about to embark on a journey to get my Ph.D. because the knowledge I have learned this far has been life changing and I want to continue to be the best human I can be (for myself, my son, and mankind).
A. How do you practice self-care? And WHY?
N: Self care, I now refer to as resourcing myself. I used to think of it in the traditional sense: yoga, walks, dance, hikes, bike rides with my son, meditation, eating well, sitting at the beach listening to the ocean and reflecting. I still think of these things as self care but it has deepened for me.
As a single mom, a therapist that works with children and trauma, currently an intern studying for the licensure exam, preparing to start my Ph.D., also a momtrepreneur that does a podcast and youtube channel, Coleyology, my time is extremely limited.
I now find that self care means my circle of friends is smaller. My intimacy shared is special and only with a few. That going to random functions, that my extroverted self would have loved in the past, my interest to attend all the things has diminished. That staying home and choosing an easy healthy meal is a huge act of self care. That going to bed early is self care. That spending time alone is self care. That one-on-one time with loved ones doing chill things feels nourishing and a huge act of self care. That self care is not something I do every morning or night but it’s throughout my day.
I take small breaks outside between clients and look at flowers, connect with my breath or go for a small walk. The food I buy at the market is all acts of love and self care. The music I listen to is an act of self care.
I do still have a daily meditation practice and I often do yoga at home. I love to go on hikes and ride my bike. Listening to the birds in the morning before I wake. Sitting in the sun when I get home, getting my feet in the grass. Getting outside to play with my son as much as possible. Eating well, going to therapy and having a good chiropractor. All important and a gift of self care. Setting boundaries, even though difficult, with my schedule and sticking to it, because my time is valuable and my health is important = self care.
I feel that resourcing myself is a lifestyle. Self care support the best version of me and in return my son and my vision as it pertains to helping others and my professional trajectory.
A. What would be your ideal self-care routine, if you had the time for it daily?
N: Honestly, If I my life allowed I would work part time. I would wake up go to work, get off around noon, then go do an activity like yoga, hike, meditation, or try a new dance class and then sit in a sauna. I would also get a bi-weekly massage. I would pick my son up from school and enjoy an evening of fun and a delicious homemade, organic meal! OMgoodness that sounds so heavenly.
A: What are your favorite SHORT self-care techniques a reader could try, if he/she only had 5-20 minutes?
1) Yoga sun salutation, total staple.
Thanks so much, Nicole!
I love the idea of self-care as “self-resourcing.”
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