Interview with Julia Hogan

As promised, here is my interview with Julia Hogan. Julia is the author of It’s Ok to Start with You which I reviewed here last week. I enjoyed this book so much and was so honored to be asked to be part of this blog tour. You can go back and see the previous posts of the tour here, on Julia’s website. Or you can click on the links at the bottom of the interview.

My interview with Julia focuses primarily on the spiritual element of self-care. Enjoy!

Hi Julia! It is so refreshing to hear about self-care that includes a spiritual dimension! Can you share a story or two that demonstrates why having spiritual self-care is so critical to a whole self-care plan?
When we hear the term “self-care”, I think the physical side of self-care comes to mind easily. We think of getting enough sleep, eating properly, exercising, etc but you are absolutely right that your spiritual life requires just as much self-care as your physical, emotional, and relational life. Why? Well, when you make the time for prayer, the sacraments, and spiritual reading, you are spending time with the one person who knows you best, Jesus. I think that when you are strengthening your relationship with God, you gain a deeper understanding of your priorities and direction in life and this knowledge has a spillover effect into other areas of your life. When you recognize and embrace your worth as a woman or man created and loved by God (as you are right this moment), you want to take better care of yourself, you are more courageous in your life, and you are more confident in who you are and what you need to be at your best so that you can be whatever your are called to be in this season of life.
For so many people, the idea of self-care comes laden with all kinds of stereotypes, buzz words, and even guilt. It was so good of you to very clearly define what self care is, and what it isn’t. So often when it comes to prayer, it is easy to become either 1. Discouraged if you feel like you aren’t seeing “results” or 2. Distracted by life and loose the routine. How would you encourage someone feeling either of these emotions about their prayer life?
I think that it’s helpful to think about your prayer life as time spent deepening your relationship with a friend. Just as you will make it a point to schedule time with friends, send them a quick text, or give them a phone call, in order to deepen your friendship with that person, you can do the same thing with your relationship with God. Think of prayer as keeping the lines of communication between you and God open and as a way to deepen your relationship with Him. And when you feel discouraged, remember that when you spend time with friends, even if you aren’t discussing some incredibly deep topic or doing something amazing and adventurous, you are still enjoying your time with that friend. I can think of many times where my friends and I went for a walk around the block and it was so refreshing. We didn’t have any earth shattering conversations but it helped strengthen our friendship. It’s the same thing with prayer. Not every prayer is going to amazing and you won’t gain some deep insight every time you pray. Set aside those expectations and see prayer as a way of keeping the lines of communication open between you and God.

Thinking about the spiritual element of self care specifically, it can be hard to know where to start. As Catholics, we are blessed with some built in spiritual practices like the Mass and the sacraments. What have you found to be an effective place to start for someone just embarking on a conscious, intentional, spiritual self-care plan within their daily routine, rather than only on Sundays?

I’m a big fan of signing up for a daily email Gospel reflection. I personally like Bishop Robert Barron’s reflections and Blessed is She. They don’t take long to read (5 minutes max) but they help to get you thinking about what the Gospel means for you and your life. I recommend reading it first thing in the morning so that you can reflect on it throughout the day.

I think the most critical lesson for me to take away from the spiritual section of your book was “Don’t aim for spiritual perfection, but commitment.” What would you say to encourage those of us who get so wrapped up with the “right way” that we lose sight of simply following “the way”?

I think that our quest for perfection holds us back from even getting started when it comes to so many things in life but especially when it comes to self-care. We get stuck on finding the “perfect” spiritual practices and quickly become discouraged when we aren’t perfect at them. So instead of aiming for perfection (because it will only leave you feeling disappointed), try instead to start spiritual practices that work well for your season on life. Maybe you can’t go for an hour of adoration but you can make a quick stop in the chapel once a week. Maybe you can’t make it to daily Mass but you can make time for a novena. The point is, let go of the expectation that you have to be perfect and instead find little ways to bring God into your day whether that’s making a short gratitude list, praying before starting to work, or listening to a spiritual podcast on your way to work. When you find what works best for you (and not for someone else), it’s incredibly freeing and you’ll find that it’s so much easier to dive into your spiritual life with this mindset.

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Here are my take-aways from Julia’s interview. Isn’t she so good?!

  • God loves me and wants a relationship with me. But, this relationship is most often built in little ways.
  • Not every prayer is going to amazing and you won’t gain some deep insight every time you pray. Set aside those expectations and see prayer as a way of keeping the lines of communication open between you and God.
    • Find what works best for me, not someone else, and be open to trying things out (but also be willing to change my routines if self-care needs to take greater priority)

    When you find what works best for you (and not for someone else), it’s incredibly freeing and you’ll find that it’s so much easier to dive into your spiritual life with this mindset.

    • I’m not perfect! (No matter how many times I think about this, write about this, it’s still so hard to let go of). I will not be perfect in my efforts for greater self-care. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.
    We get stuck on finding the “perfect” spiritual practices and quickly become discouraged when we aren’t perfect at them. So instead of aiming for perfection (because it will only leave you feeling disappointed), try instead to start spiritual practices that work well for your season on life.
    ***********

    MONDAY – Physical Self-Care with Barb from FranciscanMom

    TUESDAY – Mental Self-Care with Laura Mary Phelps

    WEDNESDAY – Emotional Self-Care with Erika Marie of Simplemama

    THURSDAY – Relational Self-Care with Sarah of Snoring Scholar

    Also, be sure to enter Julia’s contest to win a free copy of Its OK to Start with You

    Contest details: For a chance to win a copy of It’s Ok to Start with You, visit Julia’s Instagram blog tour post and comment with the new self-care practice you will try. Contest ends Friday, September 14th, 2018 and the winner will be chosen at random on Monday, September 17th, 2018.Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

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