Confab with Noelle and Sofia, two girls under the sun

Cebu Bloggers, Best Cebu Blog Awards, self-care tips
Noelle and Sofia

Welcome to the first conversation on A Woman of Letters (#AWOLconfab). Our first exchange features two women who advocate in their own way the value of self-care under any circumstances while sharing the things they like to be surrounded with and the activities they love to do. Meet Noelle and Sofia, the owners of the dreamy blog called Two Girls Under the Sun. Apart from their website, you should also check out their soothing Instagram Stories. They are Theresians making admirable collaborative strides in advocating their cause under the umbrella of their special friendship. In 2020, their blog post titled “Growing Closer While Miles Apart: 8 Ways to Keep the Friendship DuringQuarantine” won in the Best Quarantine Blog category of the Best Cebu Blog Awards. With a grateful heart, I engaged in a discourse with them on the topic of self-care, and here’s what they think.

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Nancy: What is your concept of self-care? Is there such a thing as good self-care and bad self-care?

Noelle: For me, any intentional act you do for your well-being, big or small, is a form of self-care. It’s allowing yourself to rest, to grow, and to enjoy life the best way you can. Sometimes, it’s also about accepting that you won’t always be “perfect” and that’s okay. The things we do that make us feel good inside helps us treat our outer world better.

Sofia: It's really about anything that allows you to spend time doing activities that feel natural and easy—simple things that give you a sense of calm, warmth, and healing. I don't think we should label any type of self-care as bad. People like to spend their time differently and what works for me may not work for others. Though we should share the same goal to truly take care of ourselves, (we should) reflect on our intentions while honoring each other's preferences and choices, too. There's no one way to practice self-care!

N: Do you think self-care is more important now than ever? Why?

Noelle: Yes. There are just so many things going on at once and we often forget that it’s okay to take a little break and take it all in. Self-care is like a reset for our mind, body, and soul. It’s a time when we get to listen to ourselves and to choose ourselves first before we can listen and help others. I read somewhere that when we work on our inner world, it allows us to treat our outer world better.

Sofia: For sure! The past year has been difficult for everybody in many ways. More time in isolation pushes us to face our problems, but I also like to think of it as a time to look at ourselves with kinder eyes— that we can always show grace no matter what. This pandemic taught me tons of things (from acknowledging our privilege and making an effort to help people in need to continue advocating to fight for our rights), but also, even though time marches on, some things can wait! Not everything NEEDS to be urgent. I remind myself and everyone close to me that we should celebrate our wins (especially personal growth we want to keep safe/hidden) despite the hard parts of life. Self-care means taking your sweet time to build the courage and begin again.

Cebu Bloggers, Best Cebu Blog Awards, self-care tips

N: How do you balance self-care with duties and obligations? How can you tell you're already practicing self-care?

Noelle: I balance self-care with duties and obligations by planning my day. Listing them down really helps and sometimes, I even put an allotted time in each task so I stay on track. I practice it by paying attention to small details. I try to be mindful of what bothers me so I can pull myself away from that situation. I observe what makes me happy, and I do more of that. In dealing with problems, I choose the ones I have control over and fix it. I let go of the ones I can’t do anything about. In other words, self-care is like a filter that let us go of the unnecessary things to have space only for the good things worth keeping. 

Sofia: There's a time for everything; the things we need to do (work tasks, chores, or errands) should be scheduled. Some may neglect rest especially when we pressure ourselves into thinking we only have to drown in productivity to feel accomplished. It's important to know that our drive to succeed by doing all the work and our body's call to take a breather are separate things that can still bring peace if it is well-managed. I like it when people get to rest! We tend to be nicer and more patient towards anything (lol!). 

N: Did you experience negative impressions of other people's concept of self-care?

Noelle: No, not really. There are a lot of ways we can practice self-care—mental, emotional, physical, etc. And it’s up to the person which aspect they want to focus on more. I think the people who use it as an excuse to get away from something don’t truly understand the concept of self-care. However, there’s beauty in discovery. If maybe, you’re not yet sure what works for you, I hope you take time to really get to know yourself in all aspects so you know how to take care of yourself better.

Sofia: No. I actively remind myself to respect everyone's self-care rituals, and it helps to only share energy with people you align yourself with. I try not to call anybody lazy! It may be frustrating as we won't always be on the same wavelength with who we're close to, but we still need to be careful and not judge. This opens an avenue to always consider mental and emotional health. We go through life on our own terms while carrying the weight of our worries. We shouldn't be quick to put ourselves on a pedestal just because we function differently than others. It's not always going to be about you. Caring for others, having space for understanding, and showing patience can shape our well-being. 

N: Have you met people who have chronic stress and find self-care another pressure point for them? What was your experience like?

Noelle: Fortunately, no. I have noticed that a lot of people naturally have their own self-care routine even if they don’t label it as one. And I think it’s amazing how taking care of ourselves is innate. It’s just that we become too busy to remember that we deserve a little TLC (tender loving care), too. I guess we just have to keep reminding each other about it and that’s why we love writing or sharing our experiences with others. 

Sofia: Another no! I'm very grateful to be surrounded by the best people, like my family and friends! We all know how to unwind, simply enjoy life, and find happiness in realizing our small dreams. We respect each other's space, and when we can, we reconnect! The people in our life keep us grounded. When we let them in, they can help us feel less anxious, more real, and also be the most you, however you choose to define it!

(Photos of Noelle and Sofia were provided by the Two Girls Under the Sun)

Cebu Bloggers, Best Cebu Blog Awards, self-care tips, Nancy Cudis

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