Meet Natalie, a higher-ed professional who opens up to us on how she sets boundaries to maintain healthy relationships and how she chooses to self care. 

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  

I moved to Georgia a few years ago and to Atlanta about a year ago. I work in higher ed in academic affairs, and spend a majority of my time absorbing the anxiety of our students while coming up with ways to help them succeed. I’m an audiobook addict lol, listening to 2-3 per week: everything from romance, to autobiographies to self-improvement. I plan to start Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” as soon as I wrap up my current trashy romance series and “You Are A Badass” (for the third time; isn’t Jen Sincero just awesome?!). I’m an endometriosis survivor and believe that society needs to teach girls and women to put as much thought into their reproductive health as they do into their appearance. 

2. What does a healthy relationship look like to you?

To me, a healthy relationship is one with open and tactful communication. A few years back I started noticing how stress was affecting my body. Not just in my shoulders and neck, but also in my womb, and especially in my “gut”. Whether in a familiar, occupational, and especially in a romantic relationship it is imperative that all parties involved have total transparency. When I can be myself and speak my truth (and hear the truth of others) and exist within a safe space of acceptance, flaws and all, the relationship can thrive. Trust can live there.

3. Was there a time when you needed to set boundaries? Why and how did it make you feel?

My relationship with my immediate family has always been rocky until recently. I was the youngest of two, the only girl, and my mother and brother continued to see me as a 12 year old child well into my late twenties. There was constant interference and they operated from a place of privilege when it came to access to me and my resources. I had to learn to say “No!” and stand firm. It took some time, but my mother came around. My brother and I are still strained. It’s my hope that we’ll be on better terms someday. I’ve since successfully established boundaries in the other areas of my life. Not learning to set boundaries earlier in life caused me to allow undeserving individuals access to my life. I’m more guarded as a result of the hard lessons learned.

4. What does your self-care routine look like?

Self-care to me is doing good for myself, and that good coming from a place of “knowing I DO deserve it” no matter how badly I might feel or how badly I might have messed up. No matter what I’ve done or what has been done to me, self-care is like therapy (heck, sometimes it IS going to therapy) in that it shouldn’t be seen as a luxury only afforded by those who are financially wealthy or who have proven themselves good enough. Self-care is honoring your presence and the one who created you (if you believe in a creator; I do). Self-care is refusing to withhold good things from yourself. It’s feeding and bathing yourself. YES, when you don’t see it as a chore you intentionally give yourself the vitamins, minerals and nutritionally dense foods you mr body needs to function at its best. When you shower/bathe as a means to relax and revive (and not as a task to rush through), beautiful things start to happen.