Flipping through magazines in the doctor’s office, I come across articles talking about “self care.” Stuff like having a pedicure, “because you are worth it!” Sing-song titles of “Take Time for Yourself!” accompanied by photoshopped, light-drenched photos of white women with symmetrical, attractive features doing something for themselves. Like having a pedicure.
That shit doesn’t work for me.
I mean, it’s not like I don’t like pedicures (who doesn’t?). It’s that this whole “taking time” for myself is going to happen… when? How exactly does one coordinate something like this? And how does a pedicure – however nice it might be – actually fill up my spirit with the sauce it needs to live the life I do?
Pedicures won’t cut it. Pedicures won’t give me soul juice or spirit drive. It’ll feel really nice for about half an hour, then it goes away and I’m overwhelmed again.
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To me, self care feels a lot like a merry go round.
After a while, it is spinning and it’s spinning SO. FAST – you don’t have to do anything, but sit back and watch the sky overhead.
Then it slows down.
And keeps slowing down until it’s not moving and the whole thing begins again.
Self care is like that for me.
I start off slow. Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally slow. Then as I push, I start to build momentum in the direction I want. After a while, I’m going FAST, baby! It’s awesome!
But then it slows down to a stop, and I have to start over again.
I think the trick to successful and consistent self care is getting the momentum going, and then CONTINUING it – not letting the merry go round stop. Maybe not having it fly super fast all the time either, but getting off the merry go round to push it forward again before it comes to a complete stop. I’ve got to keep the merry go round moving.
But how do I get it moving to begin with? Do I just go out and get the pedicure?! (haha)
I’ve thought a lot about this – how do I get the positive momentum rolling in the first place? How do I get the vibe flowing the right way in the spin-off?
Here is a short list of some stuff that actually makes a difference with me.
1. Get Fed Right
Everything around us nourishes us. The air we breathe, the water we drink. The thoughts we think, the words we hear or see, the food we consume. Everything that we move through and allow ourselves to be around or experience in this world is food for our bodies, minds and spirit.
We tend to be careful about what we put into our bodies these days, asking “is it organic?” Thinking about content that we put into our minds, hearts and spirits is just as important. Are we hanging out with negative people that are going to feed us their particular type of energy? Are we surrounding ourselves with content that’s soul-sludge?
You wouldn’t eat something toxic, nor would you live or work in a place with toxic air. So don’t be around toxic people or fill up your mind and heart with toxicity – set your boundaries.
2. Get Connected
If I get reconnected to Source (God, the Universe – whatever you want to call it) first, I’m going to have an easier time connecting with everyone, with everything.
I get reconnected by sitting still and working on my breathing, meditating (I use this guided meditation when I need help, which is usually). I pray. The right kind of yoga can also help me get connected (for me, that’s kundalini yoga – breath-focused with music – which I subscribe to on Gaia because they have a ton of yoga classes that I can stream before 8am).
Yoga, meditation, prayer: these are all tools for getting connected to Source Energy, and I think remembering that is important. The tools are a means to the end, not the end.
3. Get Exercised
Sometimes I literally have to force myself out of the house to get some exercise, but I MUST. I drag myself up the hill and then when I’m about 20 minutes in, I’m good. I’m okay with life. I can see the beauty again.
4. Get Practical.
I figured out that one of the most overwhelming things for me is just the chores.
All of the little things that have to be done out here (like the dishes), along with the bigger things that need doing, fixing, maintaining.
I know it’s impossible for me to get everything that needs doing by myself AND STILL BE a nice, happy, sane person, the kind of person that my family wants to have around. It makes sense to me to delegate out chores that they can help with. Chore lists. Incentives. Check marks – all the stuff I used to use as an elementary school teacher, actually! It works!
5. Get Respect
We teach people how we want them to treat us: I
want need to be valued and treated with respect.
Not to like totally point out the obvious, but this is hard!! And really important!
I’m teaching my partner, my children, how I want them to treat me. And what exactly am I doing? Is it effective? Am I teaching them to treat me in the way I need to be treated?
Those aren’t asinine esoteric questions for you, by the way; they are what I’m asking myself. I’m not terribly pleased with a lot of my answers.
6. Tell a New Story
It’s taken me a long time to figure out that we tell the story of our lives.
WE tell our own stories. WE come up with the words and perspectives and angles of our stories. WE choose who the villains and good guys (if any) are, WE set the spin of our stories. Our stories are exactly what we make them.
So… if I’m not happy with my story (see #5), then I’ve got to start telling my story differently, right? I need to look at it from a different perspective, one that actually helps me, not brings me down.
I have an arsenal of stuff to bring me down.
I mean, super-dark stuff about being sexually and emotionally abused, abandoned, cutting, etc. I know you have your arsenal of dark stuff too – it might not be the same as mine, but you do; we all do. So we can look at our dark stuff, giving it focus and attention and let it sink us.
Or we can focus on what was right.
My brother was shot and killed in a senseless armed robbery. The most precious person to me, gone. I can let that sink me (and boy, does it ever sometimes), or I can focus on the fact that I had the brightest, best brother for 43 years. Not only did I have the best brother anyone could ask for, I had him for FORTY THREE years. A wonderful amount of time, a lifetime for some people.
I have been blessed by having him, and that is what I’m focusing on.
I think we all have to focus on the blessed and bright that is in our lives (and we all have that too, just like we have the darkness), and focus on it so hard and long that it becomes what our story is about. It becomes what defines us. It becomes what makes the merry-go-round of our heart spin, it helps us fly.
I love pedicures.
I love pedicures but in terms of self-care, they are the cherry on the sundae: lovely but kind of useless if you don’t have the ice-cream. Things that are about pampering our bodies don’t mean much if our soul is hurting or if we are living in toxicity and allowing it to feed us.
Self care, as I’m learning, isn’t like a college degree – I don’t simply put the time in, earn it and keep it framed on the wall (or in my case, somewhere in the boxes of books stashed in our storage shed). I have to keep on with it, it’s never over, it’s never finished, it’s continual, always moving.
Like my merry-go-round needs to be.