looking back at self care

graffiti of a sacred heart with the words "+ amor" withinMornings sometimes are quiet, sometimes grey — but the noise inside the head can be a clamor anyway, can’t it? Outside I can hear the dripping of the rain. No owls out there that I can hear.

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There’s lots coming up, workshop-wise, at the beginning of 2012 — our survivors workshop  (Write Whole) begins in early Jan, and, too, I’ll be starting my new project/manuscript-focused group, Dive Deep! At the end of January, the Bayview Writers workshops will begin up in Marin, and on the first Saturday in February, you can join us for the first of this coming year’s ten Declaring Our Erotic Saturday Retreats. I’ll also be offering an online erotic writing workshop through the Transformative Language Arts Network (watch their website to learn more and to register). And, of course, there’s Writing the Flood every third Saturday — come dip your toes into the water or write all the way into the waves.

(whew!)

I’m looking forward to all these different opportunities to write with you! Please let me know if you’d like to join us for some writing, or if you just want more information about any of the offerings.

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As it’s getting towards the end of the year (let’s not just now get into exactly how close to the end of the year), I’m thinking about the commitment I made at the beginning of 2011 to make this a year of relearning how to be in my body, getting more dedicated to my creative life, and practice radical self care. I had a vision of pulling together my “team” of helpers — doctor, therapist, yoga instructor, acupuncturist, writing teacher, masseuse (perhaps I also planned to win the lottery) — each of whom would work with me in my project to know and be in my body more fully, to release old trauma and tension and sorrow. I wouldn’t be as alone in the work (this inner work) anymore — I’d externalize more of it. I’d let people help, let people teach me, let myself learn and unlearn, unfurl, grow.

From here at my chilly little candle-lit desk, I feel that I did not accomplish this task. Where’s my team?

But let’s look more closely:

– several months working with somatic therapists at the beginning of the year

– appointments with my primary care doctor at Kaiser for not just routine checkups but bloodwork and even a couple of visits for things I was worried about but couldn’t explain. I have very infrequently allowed myself to call the doctor when I hurt — but oh, look: she can be helpful!

– left somatic therapy when that particular practitioner didn’t fit for me (that’s radical self care! usually I stay for years).

– puppy. enough said about the radical self-care implications there.

– writing every morning, putting what I love first in the day.

– finding this weird and welcoming church community, and finding some comfort and engagement with spiritual direction.

– after researching for over a year and finally talking with a good friend, I made an appointment with a Jungian analyst and am beginning to dive into dreams and patterns and hard, good questions.

– here in the last several months, I’ve had lots of coffee-dates and get togethers with friends. this is (re)new(ed) practice, and is deep self care, and I’m feeling very grateful for the folks both here in CA and out East who hold me when I’m falling apart, who let me hold them.

-I did get one massage here a couple of weeks ago, and some sessions of acupuncture (finally) here at the closing of the year.

There were lots of writing workshops, as I go back through the blog posts of this year, a training or two, chances to talk about writing ourselves whole and the transformative/liberatory uses of writing practice, and then there was Tomales Bay.

But these listed above, they were the things that went differently. There’s been a whole lot of disassembling, maybe helped along by these new practices, by risking the reaching out, the asking for help: that means crashing an arm through the ego’s facade and hoping someone will clasp it even though I’m a bloody mess. And here’s the truth, over and over: people take my hand. I’m not alone here.

I’m frustrated with myself for not signing up for a dance class, yoga, zumba, something ridiculous, something fun — always reasons not to do the thing we’re most drawn to. Not enough money, not enough time. But there’s always time for more work, isn’t there? Up to and until we hit the wall because we’ve expended too much energy and not spent enough time refilling the well. It’s possible I went dancing only one time this year. Here’s an activity that brings me fully into my body, utterly, and I don’t give it to myself but once or twice a year?

Ok — let’s not berate the self. Let’s just try something else, and soon. Fun feels like a necessity in the new year.

I’m turning forty this coming year. There’re gonna be some changes around here.

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Want to spend a little time writing about the ways you’ve taken care of you this year? (Or ways that your character has been taking care of themselves?) These can be big or small things — eating a little bit or a lot better, having more fun, more sex, less fun, less sex, whatever ‘radical self care’ has looked like for you. Give yourself 10 minutes, stretch it into 15 if you really get going. And praise yourself, as you’re writing, for the good work you’ve done.

Thanks for all the ways, all the ways, you take care of you, that you hold others, that you let your hands do the gorgeous work they were meant for. Thanks for your healing. Thanks for your words.