Archives for posts with tag: self-care

Every choice we make has a result. An outcome. A consequence. The things we seek in life come at a cost, even when the cost is “only” time.

I am drinking a lot of water today. Tap water. Canned scented fizzy water. Iced tea. It is a warm day, and staying hydrated makes sense as basic good self-care. I definitely don’t want to let myself become “dried out” on a warm summery day immediately after getting tattooed; it’s not ideal for healing skin to become dehydrated.

I’ve spent much of the day, rather unexpectedly, sleeping. Sure, last night was a late night (for me), and I didn’t get to bed until sometime shortly past 2 am, but today is Sunday and I could sleep as long as I needed to… and somehow still woke up at 6:30 am. I went back to bed. Got up at 8:30. By 10:30 I was feeling like I could nap… and I “laid down for a minute”, which resulted in waking up sometime past noon. So the day has gone. Between naps, I have meditated. Showered. Tended the container garden on my patio. Done dishes. Read. It’s been a full day, and I am content, but there is nothing to argue with when I say I have spent most of the day napping. lol

The tattoo is gorgeous, although not yet finished. I feel more me, when I see it in my reflection. It builds on a much older tattoo, adding context, size, and a suggestion of greater-than-obvious depth of meaning. The colors are vibrant. The work is a collaboration of visions; mine, and that of the tattoo artist doing the work. There are unexpected moments of discovery for me, as I examine the color work more closely over time. Here, too, self-care matters (for all I know, I’m sleeping so much today because my body wants that for healing time after being tattooed for more than 4 hours). Drinking more water, getting more rest – those are only part of the basic self-care involved in this tattoo being gorgeous a really long time. I keep it clean, cool the modest amount of inflammation with ice packs now and then, and keep it moistened gently (and hygienically). I never ever touch it with unwashed hands while it is healing. I keep it covered from the sun. Small things that all matter. My shoulder is a bit stiff from the small amount of inflammation caused by being artistically “attacked” with a tiny needle for hours, and that’s to be expected. The surface of my skin stings a bit, but mostly only immediately after I’ve cleaned it and re-moisturized; like any abrasion sort of injury, it doesn’t like being touched. The price I pay for this beautiful art is a small amount of discomfort, and some time spent caring for it. (And money; an artist’s time is worth paying for!) Seems worth it.

Hilariously, the big driver of getting this particular work done was primarily to balance the considerably larger tattoo on the other shoulder. Fail sauce is liberally poured over that notion at this point, as the new work is quite a bit larger than the piece I sought to balance. LOL I’m not even bothered by that; I already know what is needed to make that right. (Yes, for me, the balance and hint at symmetry do matter. 🙂 Other things may matter to you.) 😀 The other reason to get this tattoo is simply the experience of being tattooed, which I have notice tends to provide me with some fairly profound pain relief for a couple days – no Rx required. 🙂 Feels good, today, to feel good.

The day has been entirely spent on self-care. I notice at some point it is also Mother’s Day. If you’re a mother, well happy day to you, then. 🙂 I’m not, and the awareness of the day comes and goes.

I notice I am already feeling rather inclined to nap, again, but it is past 7 pm, and tomorrow is a work day. I make the necessary mental adjustment in my approach, and hold onto the awareness that what is needful, now, is to stay up until it is properly bedtime, based on my own needs, and then call it a night at that time, to get the best shot at a good night’s sleep before work. My sleep has been disturbed since the last party weekend down south. I yawn and laugh at myself – it’s only taken a week, but it looks like I’ll be back on track tonight… unless of course, I wake up at 2 am. LOL

I see the new ink reflected back at me in a mirror, coming back from getting yet another delicious cold water-y beverage. Grapefruit scented fizzy water tastes very much like summer, somehow. It’s gone quickly. The tattoo, of course, is still there. It reminds me of new beginnings, and longer journeys. It reminds me that beginning again is largely a matter of will (my own) and choice – and there are verbs involved. It reminds me that the journey itself is the destination.

I smile contentedly, unconcerned with whether this post is sufficiently meaningful, insightful, or “worthy” by any measure but my own. The evening sun through the window warms me gently. Tomorrow is soon enough to begin again. There is time tonight to take care of me. 🙂

It’s been an interesting morning, so far. Yesterday’s appointment wasn’t particularly telling, and it’s enough to say that I don’t know more than I knew yesterday, and have received further confirmation that medical professionals will go the extra mile to pacify someone in distress, but actual answers are not necessarily in their mandate. lol

A change of perspective on a misty morning.

A change of perspective on a misty morning.

This morning, I am pre-occupied with words in a different way; I don’t understand everything the same way everyone else does. (You don’t either, that’s just a thing.) This morning, an article shared by a friend revealed that some people think the advice to ‘work on yourself’ rather than frustratedly seeking love is communication that if only we are not too broken, we’ll somehow be more worthy of love! 😦 Wow. What a crappy perspective on self-care, and self-worth. I wasn’t viewing the common suggestion to work on oneself rather than chasing partnership as anything other than a very practical suggestion that life is finite, and that wasting time yearning for what we don’t have is… wasted time. Live! Live, for fuck’s sake – and do so in spite of the lack of day-to-day physical affection and contact in our electronically connected, emotionally disconnected, society! Perhaps most importantly then. Your life may literally depend on it (or at least its quality will.) It’s not about ‘being better so someone will love me’! It’s also not about ‘improving your relationship worth’ by having or being more than you are today. It’s about not wasting precious lifetime mourning what isn’t, when there is so much that is! Sure – troubleshoot the hell out of your issues! Fix what you find to be truly “broken”, or make something new and wonderful of the wreckage left behind! (A process, I’ll point out, that is often most efficiently managed solo.) It’s not about what anyone else may value in who you are – or who you may become – it’s about YOU, what you want of that human being in the mirror, who you choose to become. It’s about living life, having your experience, investing in your own heart, lavishing yourself with authentic affection – your own high regard – and investing in good self-care. When we treat ourselves well, treating others similarly well becomes a natural thing, and although there are no guarantees in life, it does seem to be a thing that when we are not desperately earnestly heart-wrenchingly focused on forcing love to happen within the context of our existing experience, it sometimes happens quite unexpectedly on its own… and if we are truly caring for ourselves, living authentic deeply rewarding solitary lives, it may be less painful to be alone. Mostly. (I can at least confirm it has been my own experience so far that enjoying my life without specific regard to pursuing physical or romantic affection seems both more enjoyable generally, and also more likely to result in satisfying sexual and romantic relationships. Mostly. You would not believe the verbs involved – and my results do vary.)

Being alone more than I want to be, going without physical affection, sex, romance, and intimacy in moments when I would greatly prefer to be enjoying one or more of those things, being alone for an event or holiday which is generally celebrated among family or loved ones; these are emotionally difficult experiences. That’s one truth. It is what it is. Making the best of the life we live may not mitigate that truth, may not be helpful specifically in that matter at all in some one desperately lonely moment – but it beats sitting around getting fat on the couch and crying about being lonely. (Which I have also explored; as strategies go, it seems very unlikely to produce better results than enjoying my life – even if I am doing so alone. 😉 )

Now – having covered that, the rest of the morning seems to be pre-occupied with figuring out why, 13 weeks ago, my WordPress posts started posting to Google+ to me only, instead of ‘Public’ – where they can be read. lol I don’t recall changing a privacy setting on either side… but I also have a brain injury, and sometimes lose track of small actions I didn’t necessarily notice. (There is some occasional right side/left side weirdness for me, moments in which I literally took an action with one hand, that I wasn’t aware I was taking while my attention was focused on what the other side of my body was busy with. Oh yeah. The fun never stops. LOL) So, first things first – is there a setting? Did I know that? Have I changed it? If it doesn’t appear to source with me (it doesn’t) – is there a software change on one side or the other? (Both.) Did that affect security settings? (It seems so.) Can changing those settings restore order? (We’ll find out today!) Is there help available? (Hahaha! Fix it yourself, we’re busy, thanks. ~The World) (…And actually, by the time I finished writing this one, help had been provided, so… yeah. Assumptions. lol)

Funny that this proved to be such a distracted morning. I woke gently enough, started the day easily, and shortly will make my way downtown to share the morning with a friend, and visit the farmer’s market, which sounds much more engaging than futzing with computers and blog posts and security settings and all manner of modern-day bullshit – how is it that this takes so much more time than changing a light bulb? (Get off my lawn, ya damned kids!! 😉 )

Today is a good day to take a step back from assumptions, from complacency, and from what I think I know. Today is a good day to explore the world from another perspective. Today is a good day to smile at my frustration with small details, and embrace the moments in life that actually matter most; the time we spend in the company of our friends. 😀

I spent the weekend relaxing quietly, and taking care of me. I considered writing more, once or twice, and even had the occasional worthy notion to reflect upon. I chose differently. Instead, I took care of myself gently, and spent the weekend relaxing, recovering from the long week, and building emotional resilience for the week to come.

In the middle of autumn, a rose blooms.

In the middle of autumn, a rose blooms.

This morning I scroll through my feed noting the pendulum swing of opinion in action; French flag overlays disappearing quietly in favor of newly outraged articles about terrorism elsewhere in the world, other deaths, other wounds, other pain, accompanied by reminders that all these lives matter as well and… where was everyone then? I see articles wisely counseling the use of language that refrains from honoring terror groups with dignified titles, and asking that we not culturally dignify terrorists with honorifics or titles crafted to convey legitimacy. That makes sense to me, language has power. The reactive articles from pundits on the opposite end of the political spectrum reflexively spit back resentment that any change is asked of ‘the righteous and justified’, seemingly unaware that being one of ‘the good guys’ requires acts of goodness, not just a naming convention. What a mess we’ve made. Certainly, it is at times like these that it is most apparent we are very fancy monkeys; we do not easily agree on what is ‘good’ or most suited to our kind.

It’s strange how little part politics has to play in the life of any one individual human being. It’s a choice. One choice among so many, and we make tons of small choices every day. Treating each other well, truly, and without regard to our origins, our politics, our lifestyle, our beliefs, or our circumstances, is something to aspire to. People who successfully treat everyone quite well are a joy to be near, to stay connected to – to love. Behavior is chosen. What choices must I make differently to be that person – someone who treats everyone quite well, and is a joy to be near? How do I change the world when I make choices based on whether or not the outcome fits into ‘treating others well’? I reflect on these things most days.  It isn’t enough to consider, to think, or to wonder; there are verbs involved. There is a need for balance; among all the people I wish to treat well is one person I am often most likely to overlook – myself.

A busy work week begins soon. How will I choose my actions to ensure I treat myself, and those around me, truly well? What choices will I make to secure a comfortable experience, pleasant, fulfilling, and content? What choices will I make to provide that experience to others? How can I do better by the woman in the mirror today, than I did yesterday?

Blue sky between rain showers.

Blue sky between rain showers.

I turn the thoughts over in my head somewhat fretfully. I notice I am picking at the edges of my cuticle, left hand, index finger. I smile, and recognize that as small as it is, I could start with not tearing my hands to shreds with fussing and worrying. It’s a start. However small, as starting points go, each moment I choose to stop something damaging, and continue with something helpful, I begin again. Each new beginning holds the power to change the world.  Perhaps it isn’t ‘everything’ – but it is more than nothing, and it is enough to choose, and to choose again. It is through our choices that we change the world.

This morning I woke with some effort after a night of fractured sleep. I crashed early, and indulged my fatigue and sleepiness by allowing myself to stray from my routine. Once in a while that’s not a big deal, but each and every time I can make such a choice it is a certainty there will be consequences. This is how choices work, generally. 🙂 I started sleeping easily in my new place, then a very fatiguing week drove some choices to sleep at times I wouldn’t typically choose sleep…and now my routine is disrupted such that I’m not actually sleeping well during the night. Oops. It’s a bit of a beginner’s mistake with regard to good self-care, but being a proper grown up, and living alone, I’m the only one here to remind me to take care of me well and consistently. I’m very fortunate that I learn best from my mistakes. I make quite a few.

Last night I crashed so early that I had likely gotten a full measure of restful sleep by the time I woke sometime after 1:30 am. I meditated for some time. It was nearer 3:00 am when I checked the clock. I found sleep again at some point, and I know this for certain because the alarm woke me…I was dreaming that I was awake. (One of my least favorite sleep experiences is dreaming that I am awake.) This morning I am enjoying my coffee gently and giving consideration to self-care practices that I may be more inclined to let slip than others, and what steps to take to ensure that I do not, and wondering how realistic it is to attempt to manage my self-care through awareness and intent alone (which is something I am trying to learn) – the practices reinforced with calendar reminders, sticky notes, and habit are more likely to be reliably maintained. One limitation my TBI places on me as an individual is that habits sometimes just…fail. I wake up one day and have simply ‘forgotten’ somehow some key habitual behavior. It’s quite frustrating sometimes. Add to that my unreliable memory – things that are habitual sometimes don’t leave an impression on my consciousness, and I don’t remember having done them, or lack awareness that I have not. I have occasionally been startled to realize (in some cases weeks or months after the fact) that I simply abandoned some very helpful practice without any particular cause or decision-making – I just forgot. Rebuilding a favored, forgotten, practice or habit is no easier than it was to build in the first place. The importance of a given habit, or practice, has no correlation or apparent causal relationship to the potential I may wander off and forget about it – it seems pretty random.

This morning I am very much aware that living alone requires me to be quite mindful of my self-care practices. In the excitement of making myself at home, and exploring this whole ‘who I am now’ thing, habits are very much at risk of being extinguished without intent. Small things like a ‘bed time’ that nurtures my long-term good cognition and physical health actually matter – making exceptions for this circumstance or that one is ‘high risk behavior’ from the perspective of managing my PTSD, and treating myself well. Details that are very much part of my sense of ‘being at home’ are easily pushed to the side in favor of something more fun, sometimes, especially if I am excited or fatigued, with the result that I may find myself unexpectedly not feeling at home in my own environment – because I have failed to take care of me.

Fruit ripens in its own time.

Fruit ripens in its own time.

This one is not such a complicated puzzle; I will choose to practice the practices that work for me – even those associated with keeping me on task with practicing other practices. 🙂 I don’t find any particular need to be embarrassed or critical of myself on this point, either. I feel pretty capable of taking care of me; I spotted a weakness, and I am considering how best to shore it up, improve upon it, or solve for X.

Tonight I will spend time learning life’s lessons about taking care of me, while also enjoying the company of another. There’s quite a lot to learn there. Today is a good day for continuing education.

I’ve got a solo weekend. I slept well, and comfortably, and even slept a couple more hours after waking at the usual time, taking my morning Rx, and returning to bed. It isn’t always  possible to return to sleep, and this morning it was lovely to wake slowly, much later, and enjoy the slow unfolding of body and mind as my consciousness booted up for the day. My coffee is delicious – a medium Americano, at 203 degrees, no sugar, no milk – just hot, smooth, and rich. No headache this morning. Rain pouring just beyond the partially open window; I love listening to the falling rain and smelling the freshness of the air outside. It is a very nice Saturday morning so far.

Oregon winter, stormy, and mild.

Oregon winter, stormy, and mild.

I am alone this weekend. This is not significant, it simply is. I enjoy solitude, generally, and I am feeling content and satisfied with my solitary state.

I am in a lot of pain. This is significant, not because it is unusual, but because it is an element of my experience that is pretty typical, day-to-day, varying in intensity far more often than ever really going away. This morning, I am in enough pain that at other points in my life the entirety of the first paragraph could not have existed side-by-side with the pain, itself. I’ve learned a lot more about taking care of me, and over time I am building self-care practices that even stand up to the departures from routine that sometimes result from things like … having a weekend alone. Oh yeah. It wasn’t so long ago that having a solo weekend would result in over-indulging on favorite treats, not sleeping well due to staying up late to read, watch movies, or wander, overlooking timing on timing-sensitive medications… just generally completely letting myself down with regard to actually taking good care of myself. Wallowing in self-indulgence is not self-care. That’s a pretty important understanding.

I love, for example, gummy sweets. I don’t much care if they are bears, drops, fish, worms, fruits, or healthy… I love gummy candy. They are now what they must be (for me) – a rare treat, in very very small portions. I don’t respond well to quantities of refined sugar. (Your results may vary.) I also tend to overdo it on gummy sweets – I know that first hand. I also know that even casual use of refined white sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, or any similar sugars quickly increases my emotional volatility, sometimes correlates to unexpected tantrums, moodiness, and a basic feeling of not being ‘well’.  Good self-care means I continue to avoid gummy sweets when I am enjoying time on my own, just as I would en famille – accountability can’t be the sole driver of self-care (at least for me; it just doesn’t work.) That was a hard lesson to learn.

I practice good practices, even when I am enjoying a solo weekend, these days; I am capable of learning from my mistakes. Last night, feeling restless on a mild night, I walked 5 miles in the evening air rather than walking the aisles of the nearby grocery store looking for exotic treats for an evening nosh. Instead of indulging in a rich meal of favorite treats that do me no good, I enjoyed the healthy simple fare I generally do these days. I meditated. I did some yoga. I did more of the good things that care for my body and spirit, rather than fewer. Isn’t that really the thing? Investing in my own needs when I have more time to do so is an effort best spent on what really nurtures me – rather than childishly revolting against the sensible limits and restrictions I have chosen to place on myself to meet my needs over time, simply because ‘no one is watching’.

I wish I were so perfectly perfect that I didn’t need reminders, or could simply rest gently on what I have learned, confident my good practices would never fail me… I am not so perfect. I start fresh each morning, and do my best each day. I acknowledge missteps along the way, dust myself off when I stumble and keep on walking. I got here, because I make progress over time – and the journey isn’t finished. I invest will and study in gaining perspective, finding balance, and learning good self-care practices that nurture and heal me, over time. There are verbs involved. There is no ‘easy’. There is no ‘finish line’. There is no ‘win’ that amounts of finality and acknowledgement. Those aren’t criticisms, or something to be blue about; they are my endless opportunity for change, and for improving on what is, to become the woman I most want to be, and to find wellness and meaning along the way. Choices are right there to be chosen…choosing well, and following through on intention with will, and action… well… sometimes that requires a sticky note, or an alarm, or a calendar reminder, or something planned with a favorite friend. That’s okay too; this weekend, I am practicing my best practices for taking care of me.

Brunch with a friend; a very nice way to stick to a self-care routine. :-)

Brunch with a friend; a very nice way to stick to a self-care routine. 🙂