070 The Art of Saying “No”, Interview with Christy Tending
Christy Tending shares her special position, healing on both the micro level, with self care, and on a macro level, as a climate justice activist. She also discusses how, as a highly sensitive person, she manages her commitments and obligations, in order to be fully present.
To read further about self-love, check out this post.
REad the full interview transcript
Christy Tending: Hi this is Christy Tending. I'm a self-care mentor and you're listening to Just Stay Curious.
Gillian Rose:OK dreamers it's time to get curious. Today we are hearing the story of Christy Tending an amazing woman I'm excited to introduce you today. Christy is a self-care mentor, healer, and climate justice activist. She helps people who want to change the world. Developing amazing self-care practices so they can do their work more effectively and with more joy. She teaches online courses in a variety of healing modalities including meditation, breathing and coming soon poetry. All right Christy, thank you so much for joining us. Now that we know a little bit about what it is that you're doing professionally and in your work life if you don't mind taking one or two minutes and filling in some of the details of how you got here.
Christy Tending: Sure. Absolutely. So as you can tell from my bio, I have a pretty wide variety of interests and things that I do in ways that I define myself and really I would say my personal journey has been all about integrating my healing work on the self-care kind of level alongside my activist work. So I see my work and my journey as being sort of syncing up these two forms of healing. On the micro level on the individual level with self-care. And then on the macro level in terms of healing our world. And I've been an activist since I was in high school. I have been a yoga teacher and a meditator and a healer for many many years now. And so my journey is really all about bringing those two sides of healing together into one cohesive journey and life.
Gillian Rose: Awesome. And as a self care mentor I know there's some discussion of self-care and self-love being a little bit different. But can you share with us why you believe that self love is important?
Christy Tending: Yeah I think self-love is, self-love is complicated and self-love is, I think really a lifetime process of continually showing up for ourselves in a compassionate empathetic way. And I think one of the reasons I think it's so important is because we don't necessarily always live in a world that is reflecting back to us our own brilliance and sacredness. And so I think self-love is really an act of reclaiming and redefining and owning that for ourselves and in the context of a world that isn't necessarily as kind to us as we would choose to be to ourselves. And I see that in my activist work all the time. People and communities who are enduring great suffering but when they have a sense of community, a sense of support this spiritual practice, this sense of self-love, it gives them the courage to move forward even in the face of enormous adversity.
Gillian Rose: And if you could give us a small example of how you apply this into your daily life?
Christy Tending: Yeah. I think, I think for me my-my journey of self-love is really somebody who, I was giving a speech at a at a company where they were trying to make a big difference internally within the company as part of my environmental work. And somebody asked me whether I am an optimist or a pessimist. I just given this 45 minute talk and everybody's crying and we're talking about environmental destruction. This woman asked me whether I'm an optimist or a pessimist and really because I believe in my own power and my own ability to be a force for good in this world which is really how my self-love manifests. I am able to go forth into the world with this incredible level of optimism. Because I know what is possible for us to do collectively. And I through self-love also experience our kind of interconnection as beings and people who are looking to build a more compassionate world. So it allows me to be really hopeful in the face of it, and in some cases very dire circumstances. Even on a daily level I think we're recording this episode earlier in the fall so perhaps your listeners are feeling some of this too. But I think there's a lot of negativity right now in the news and it can be really easy to be disheartened. And my self-love and my spiritual practice is what I fall back on when I feel disheartened.
Gillian Rose: And I love that it's able to help you out. Because that's something that we all go out there. I mean turn on the news turn open your computer and there's something there somewhere. Exactly. So now I actually want to talk about the time in your journey when you didn't have this self-care practice, like a low time in your own story when you know the self-care practices wasn't built up. And if you can tell us what was going on at the time? How were you feeling and how did it affect you?
Christy Tending: Yes I think one of the reasons why I'm so committed to sort of integrating both of these pieces, both the change making work and the self-care practices into my life sort of in equal measure is because I definitely when I was in college in the couple of years right after college went really all in on my activist work. And I was working a bunch of different jobs. I was going to meetings every single night working on a ton of projects. And what I didn't realize at the time with that was just how sensitive I am as a person and just how deeply it was affecting me to be around and to be talking about constantly really the deep trauma that's happening to our planet. I think a lot of people are attracted to this work because they feel very deeply in their hearts that things need to be different. I'm very similar to that. So I definitely went all in on that work without really balancing it with any of this self-care and found myself, my lowest point was probably a point where I came home from work one day and just laid down on the floor of my apartment and just cried. I mean we're not even talking like I took off my clothes and got in bed like I just laid down on the floor because I just couldn't stand it any longer and I couldn't withstand that really deep emotional pain that I was feeling any longer. And it got to the point where like I went through a very serious depressive episode and all of that. But that point where I couldn't even make it to my own bed was a pretty big wake up call where I was like "I think things need to change. I'm not sure how but I think things need to be different from what they are." And I think having been at that low point is what allows me now to have the perspective that I do on this work. So.
Gillian Rose: I think that this is a very common problem especially for like healers and empaths and highly sensitive people. So for those people listening, if you can look back can you think of some warning signs that might have alerted you if you'd been more conscious of them before you got to this moment?
Christy Tending: Yeah I think I think one sign for me is when, I mean I had people in my life sort of tell me that they were seeing changes in me in terms of I didn't look particularly well. And so when people in my life who loved me were reaching out to me and telling me that you know they were seeing this, that could have been a warning sign. But really I think for me the two ingredients that are really necessary for me and weren't happening at the time were that I wasn't sleeping well. I didn't see that as being a problem. But I wasn't sleeping well I wasn't really sleeping through the night. I had a tough time getting to sleep. And then I wasn't eating particularly well either. And I noticed sort of after this experience that I wasn't sitting down to eat. Which is a very like hyper vigilant kind of practice that I would stand up at my kitchen counter to eat my food that I didn't even take the time to sit down to enjoy a meal. I think that could have been a pretty big warning sign for me that I was always eating on the run that I wasn't sleeping particularly well. And I think food and rest are two of the greatest self-care practices that we have access to. And it really wasn't leaning on those in the way that I needed to. So.
Gillian Rose: And now that you went through that experience and you went through that depressive episode, what is the biggest lesson that you learned then that you still apply to your life now?
Christy Tending: I think saying no is a gift to myself. When I'm able to say no to projects, when I'm able to say no to appointments or engagements where if I said yes it would be dishonoring to my needs. That's the biggest gift that I'm giving myself these days is being really selective about what I take on and making sure that it's meeting the criteria that it needs to. It's either a really healing practice it's nourishing me in some way or if it is hard work that in the process it's also really inspiring me. And I don't think hard work is bad. I think hard work is great. But I think it needs to be feeding us at the same time in order for it to be sustainable.
Gillian Rose: So this is something that I'm sure I'm struggling with is saying no and thinking and thinking that I'm being rude. So, what are you, What did you do to, maybe you didn't even struggle with it. But for anyone like me who thinks that saying no is rude, what can we tell ourselves to honor ourselves?
Christy Tending: Yeah I mean I think this is big and I say this because no male friends I have have reported this phenomenon. So I think that this is kind of cultural conditioning that we received. Often as women that are being asked to do something is really flattering that it's, you know, a nice thing and that in order to be nice in return and therefore liked we should say yes to everything. And that other people's kind of happiness is our responsibility, which it isn't. I mean I do have some criteria for what I take on. I sort of tend to cap things in terms of I look at my week ahead and if that week looks full then we're moving on to the next week. And I really try to build in. And this is something that's really necessary for me as really a highly sensitive person, as an empath, as a healer and as somebody who aims to live a creative life. But I really need a lot of blank space and unstructured space where I can integrate and digest and fully process things. So if I'm not seeing that kind of space on my schedule then it's a no because I need to carve out that space.And really I've gone through a process, a process that I now actually teach where I set goals and priorities and then things that aren't supporting those goals and priorities. I'm much more selective about what I'm saying yes to. If it falls outside the boundaries of supporting what's most important to me in my life then it's probably a no at this point. I think that way because that way I'm saying yes and I'm able to show up fully for the stuff that's really important to me. And that's I think really the flip side of know is choosing to show up fully for the things you do say yes to. And we say and I say no in order to be fully present in my family, in my work as a healer, in my climate justice work in my community of like friends and loved ones. And then I show up for myself in my creative work in my own learning and spiritual process. And then that's it. Anything that falls outside of those bounds is an iffy maybe and probably a no.
Gillian Rose: I like that you say I love that you say that to set your priorities because if you know what your priorities are it makes it so much easier.
Christy Tending: Yeah.
Gillian Rose: So now transition into another time if you can think of. You have had quite a journey and going through all of your various interests and and doing a fantastic job of integrating them, which I love. Was there a time in your life like a moment of clarity that made you realize what path you were going to take?
Christy Tending: Yeah I think, I mean I-I definitely don't want to make it sound like I got up off that floor from crying my guts out and had that moment of kind of awakening and that everything was fine. I was thinking a lot about this-this idea as I was preparing to talk to you today and the story that struck me is, I have a very honest relationship with my husband. And at one point I had been in sort of my healing path for a while. I was still doing activist work but I was also teaching a lot of yoga and offering massage and also really advancing my education as a healer. A lot at that point and found myself not at the same level of burnout but definitely like really exhausted. And I turned to my husband one night and my the man who is now my husband we were partners at the time we were living together and sort of rhetorical. Just asked like why do I keep doing this to myself. And he looked at me goes I don't know why do you keep doing this yourself. I was like man if other people are noticing this is probably a trend. And I what I realized was that in the pursuit of healing and a strong spiritual practice and still maintaining my activism, each individual thing in my life felt really good individually, but all together it was still way way too much. And and that was really where I started this process. Practice of sitting down and I now do it at the beginning of each year and I'm like OK, what are the five things I'm doing this year and each month I sit down and I say OK what are the three things I'm doing this month. And they really only allow myself that many things though. And obviously other things come into play. But what are the very things that I'm focusing on. At a time. And if something comes across my radar no matter how much fun it may seem like it will be, again it's probably a no because I already have what's important to me sort of lined up. And but really that moment of clarity where Dan looked at me and goes I don't know why you keep doing this to yourself, really woke me up in terms of I am the one who has the power to make these choices for my own life and for my own self. And now it's really my work to put this into practice.
Gillian Rose: And how did it feel to get that response from him? Because.
Christy Tending: I totally cracked up. It was it was so hilarious because we know each other so well and it was said with great humor and great affection and enormous compassion. But really getting feedback getting feedback from my husband is hilarious, almost always. Because it's said with such levity and with such love. But really it was it was such a gift because I, I as I said earlier you know, I have really been diligent about building a community and a family of people whom I love and want to prioritize and who have supported me through you know numerous phases in my life. And so if I value them to that extent I really need to value their feedback and I think feedback is a gift. And feedback being a mirror for someone is a gift. And so I was really thankful for that moment. Because again not that everything changed immediately, but it was a pretty big wakeup call that that really shifted things in a really positive way in my life. So.
Gillian Rose: Alright CHRISTY It's time for our daily insights the Q&A part of the show. Sounds good?
Christy Tending: Sounds like a plan.
Gillian Rose: What was the one thing holding you back from accepting self-love?
Christy Tending: That I thought it had to happen all at once and that seemed scary.
Gillian Rose: Who is one person who has changed your life for the better?
Christy Tending: I could say lots of people but really the group of climate activists I'm working with right now are a bunch of rock stars who inspire me every single day.
Gillian Rose: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Christy Tending: This was from my yoga teacher Elaina who said it just so you know no one ever asked you to be a martyr.
Gillian Rose: What is the self-care habit that you practice regularly?
Christy Tending: Breathing, walking and sleeping.
Gillian Rose: And do you have a favorite quote?
Christy Tending: My favorite of all time is from Audre Lord who is a poet and activist and she said caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.
Gillian Rose: Can you share in an app or resource that we can use in her own self-care practice?
Christy Tending: Yeah I've really gotten into watching the moon phases on my moon app on my iPhone and so always knowing what the moon is doing and letting that guide my energy in my practice.
Gillian Rose: That's so funny you say that because like this past moon cycle is I guess it's been 15 days, that's how fresh it is. I've been doing that. Have you noticed anything?
Christy Tending: I, I find it to be a really interesting way of confirming my own intuition about things. So if I'm feeling a little bit tired or if I'm feeling really raring to go that's often reflected in what's happening with the moon and and also it just feels like a really sweet way to be in touch with that element of nature. And so I'm enjoying it very much.
Gillian Rose: What book are you reading right now?
Christy Tending: I am reading Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur who is a Canadian Indian poet and feminist and spoken word performer.
Gillian Rose: So it's a book of poetry?
Christy Tending: Yeah it's. It's excellent.
Gillian Rose: And Christy, I've one last question for you today. What is the one thing you are most passionate about?
Christy Tending: All of us getting liberated together.
Gillian Rose: And what does liberation mean to you?
Christy Tending: Waking up to our interconnection and tearing down the illusions that maintain the belief that we are separate from one another.
Gillian Rose: All right all you dreamers out there, you can find links to these resources and everything else we've been chatting about in today's episode by going to juststaycurious.com/Christytending. Christy, I've enjoyed talking to you and listening to your journey. Can you give our dreamers a last parting message? Share the best way we can find you and then we'll say goodbye.
Christy Tending: Sure. So I make my online home over at ChristyTending.com and I'm actually hosting a FREE video series called "How to hold on to self-care at the holidays" which you can find ChristyTending.com/holidays.
Gillian Rose: Awesome. Just in time.
Christy Tending: Just in time.
Christy Tending: Perfect. Christy, our listeners can find links to everything of value we mentioned in today's episode by going to JustStayCurious.com, clicking the podcast tab and finding you in the archives or just entering Christy Tending in the search bar and the show notes will pop right up. Christy, thank you for being so generous with your time and your story. As always Just Stay curious!
What was the number one thing that was holding you back from accepting self love?
That I thought it had to happen all at once, and that seemed scary.
Who is one person who has changed your life for the better?
The group of climate activists I am working with, who inspire me every single day.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
“Just so you know, no one ever asked you to be a martyr.”
What is a self care habit that you practice regularly?
Breathing, walking, and sleeping.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Caring for myself is not self indulgence, it is self preservation. And that is an act of political warfare.” Audre Lorde
Can you share with us a resource or an app that we can use to help our own self care practice grow?
I have an app to watch the phases of the moon.
What book are you reading right now?
Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur a book of poetry.
What is the one thing that you are most passionate about?
All of us getting liberated together. Waking up to our interconnection and tearing down the illusion that we are separate from one another.
About This Guest:
Christy Tennery-Spalding is a self-care mentor, healer, and climate justice activist. She helps people who want to change the world develop amazing self-care practices so they can do their work more effectively and with more joy. She teaches online courses in a variety of healing modalities, including meditation, breathing, and (coming soon!) poetry.
Connect with this guest:
Free self-care workshops: http://www.christytending.com/workshops/
Free real self-care planner: http://www.christytending.com/realselfcareplanner/
Free meditation worksheet and instruction guide: http://www.christytending.com/lovingkindness/