Here at Peak and Valley, we have been interested in topics surrounding self-care/wellness. The term ‘self-care’ specifically is starting to become an overused buzzword in marketing and news outlets. Separating out what self-care means for you personally means ignoring a lot of marketing jargon and messaging. We all have to remember that self- care doesn't have to be expensive or exclusive. Given that, we are introducing an interview series where we ask people what self-care and wellness mean to them. Here, we interview Chef Tara Thomas, a chef and foodie from Portland OR, living in New York City.
How do you define self-care?
Self-care is caring for yourself. It’s taking the time to be present, realize how your body feels, and how you can feel the best in the moment. It’s the opportunity to not be a victim of the stress of the things that tug at us daily. It's realizing that right now, you are abundant, successful, enough, and strong. Always.
How do you start your day? If it differs from day to day, describe your ideal morning.
I’m an early bird, I wake up between 5 and 6 am every day, but not at ease, popping up with glee. Usually, I have a lot of anxiety running my own business and manning many - maybe too many - projects at once. But I’m dedicated to executing everything, so I have to realize that I can be still, I’m not obligated to work all the time, and I am abundant. So, my morning looks like:
What measures do you take when you feel off-balance/stressed?
When I feel off-balanced/stressed, I stop. I breathe. I realize I am not my work, that work is an expression of me. The work needs me, I don’t need the work.
Taking a walk, stretching, eating fruit and focusing on what I’m consuming centers me so much. Being aware that I am taking care of myself is the best measure that I can take.
Do you have any bedtime rituals that help you sleep well?
Not at the moment. I’ve actually found myself not sleeping as much. I'm trying to have a schedule for when I’m on screens, make sure I’m drinking water, meditating before I lay down, and setting the intention to sleep. I think it’s helping!
What is your idea of beauty? Internal, external, or both?
Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. My idea of beauty is you can emit it internally and externally if you’re sure that your divine energy is beautiful. Know you’re beautiful, do what makes you feel beautiful, and the world becomes beautiful!
What is your philosophy around wellness?
The bottom line is that you’re always going to be changing. There is no right way to be well, and you can’t always be well. Stress is healthy, you learn a lot about yourself when you’re in it. It means you’re challenging yourself. However it can also be damaging just knowing what your limits are and how you can recenter yourself is key. Know when you need to pause, what allows you to pause, and how you can maintain you chi. Wellness is when you feel balanced, accept that balance means having control over your experiences.
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
I live in Northwest Arkansas - I specifically call out the region because it’s a distinct part of the state, unlike the rest. I love it here - it gives me the progressive nature of a larger city with the comfort of community. There’s still opportunity for growth and change, so I’m happy to be a resident who can play a part in its future.