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.
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, and have a short list of some stuff that actually makes a difference with me.
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.
2. 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.
3. 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, along with the bigger things that need doing, fixing, maintaining. Or, like children, rearing.
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!
4. Get Respect
My mom said though that 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.
5. 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 #4), then I’ve got to start telling my story differently, right? And since everything only becomes real after we believe it, and since a belief is simply a thought we perpetually think, then I need to string together a thought that will achieve what I actually want.
Who gives shit if it’s not “true” or it’s not “real” right now? Because it WILL BE REAL after I start thinking it all the time. It WILL BE REAL after I believe in it. It WILL BE REAL when I set it in motion on the merry-go-round.
I think that’s it for self care because all of the other things – like figuring out how to take time for myself, getting a pedicure (!), etc – all come easily once this harder stuff is done. Telling a new story, getting connected to Source and getting exercise – those are the big ones. The rest falls into place when those are in motion, BUT I have to keep it in motion!
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 in my brother’s attic). I have to keep on with it, it’s never over, it’s never finished, it’s continual, always moving.