What I Learned About Self Care
I used to work for a luxury skincare company. One which possibly coined (or at least ignited the flame) of the hashtag #selfcaresunday. Sometimes Saturday. Because I was entrenched in that world for almost two years, I know all about the marketing value of encouraging women and men to set aside time for face masks and manicures and body scrubs. There were many pictures of claw-footed bathtubs in that company's Dropbox, trust me.In 2018, I discovered there was more to it than that. Part of my discovery came from being let go from said company and spending the first half of the year alone in my house as my husband worked all the hours he could. I attempted self care as they had encouraged me to. I fell into that clever marketing trap and took baths, face masked my hoard of goodies I had obtained from the job, and tried to listen to what I needed in my time of darkness.It didn't really work. I wasn't listening very hard.When I moved back to the city, self care started to come to me in different forms. It was no longer about making time for myself; it was about giving myself joy. Sure, that might be a pedicure but truly it was listening harder. I wasn't hearing what my body needed at a time it was screaming at me. Coming back to the city, my soul was asking for something different. It was asking for life. It was waking up, stretching, and asking me to hear it.I started listening, really listening. What did I want? What did I need? Happiness is always the answer but I needed to hear the details. It became required that I heard my body and gave it what it wanted. I had to treat myself but not with a shopping spree.I heard my body call for good food. Not just more vegetables and protein but food I loved and craved and gave me comfort. Food I wanted to eat alongside the vegetables. I started to cook more and meal prep. I actually mean meal prep not just pretend to meal prep which I am VERY good at. I fell in love with it. I started finding more recipes and creating my own. I found joy in packing lunches for my husband and myself. I was happy making dinner that left us feeling happy and satisfied. My body thanked me and continues to do so. I have lost weight, I have more energy, I have life in my limbs again.I needed to treat my anxiety. I had ignored it for so long and finally, I purchased CBD oil. I've been trying different brands, different strands and the journey has been rewarding. I had been using another herb but it wasn't cutting it and CBD filled in the gaps where it was lacking. It helped calm my anxiety, especially with the looming fear of working from home for the next three months. I was extremely concerned regarding my mental health and feeling trapped in my apartment as I did a year ago. It is quite different with a job and being outside the city, of course, but my anxiety doesn't know that. The CBD has been there for me and has worked wonders. I feel free, happy, and I have more spark. It is like a shield: when I feel the anxiety coming on, it blocks it and I experience clarity and can look at what I'm feeling with bright eyes. There is no fog around me. It's quite nice. Therapy is my next step that I look forward to exploring this year.Choosing joy is something I always said I was doing but I know now I wasn't. It is an active choice. I discovered I was choosing anger and the negative often. For example, if my husband and I argued or I was frustrated with something he did, I would immediately reach a level of furiousness that was uncalled for. My body automatically erupted instead of calmly looking at the most likely simple misunderstanding or issue. Now, I choose joy, I remain still and I assess in a slower fashion. We laugh at our arguments a lot more this way. With more listening and choosing to be happy as we enter a disagreement, it is resolved faster and we usually find something else to tease each other about. I try and catch myself saying negative things and stopping them, as I've written about before. It is something I have to keep working at but it feels really nice to be positive instead of negative, go figure.Not to be redundant, but going back to what made me happy as a child, young adult, 20 something has done wonders for me. I write fairy tales and read fairy tales more. I am writing a young adult fantasy novel. I love trees and nature so I look up more. I love taking photos of hidden gems people might not notice. I love witchcraft and crystals and Tarot and the moon. Sometimes I love eating a bunch of cheese and staying up late watching Friends. I did that the other night when my husband went to bed and it was familiar and safe as I used to do that on the floor of my first apartment in New York. I didn't consider it 'me time' back then but I certainly do now.I dove right back into all of that and am the better for it.Self care has become a beast of a marketing ploy. A monster, even. I think it is very important in a lot of ways. I am not trying to make it out like it is all evil. It has taught the masses to take time for yourself. However, I think it doesn't always encourage listening. The majority of the time, it encourages sales. I suppose it depends on where you are absorbing it. Maybe it is goop's Instagram or my old job's targeted emails. Perhaps it is your therapist or a light worker you respect. Whatever your source, listen and hear what they are saying. It is more than a luxurious bath tub overlooking the mountains. Yes, that is nice, too, of course.I have found that my self care is paying attention to myself and taking the next step toward the light. It is setting goals and achieving them. That is when I feel my most powerful and I am running towards that instead of away for the first time in a long time.I think this year is about checking off boxes for me. I hesitate constantly and procrastinate. I always have. However, through the painful last year and an ocean of change, I want to stop that habit. I put off buying CBD, establishing a real writing habit, learning to cook in a satisfying way, and quell my anger when it is unwarranted. I forgot to remember magic and wonder and let it slip under the waves. I'm checking off boxes on my treasure map this year. Self care is more than skincare. Self care is listening to yourself and remembering your happy thought to fly.