It’s a Tuesday; I did my morning write in my notebook this morning, which felt very good — me, the candle, the pen, the blank pages filling up (just three to start, and then I ran over to four). No music, but the sound of snoring from the next room, which was good and soothing. As I do more of my morning writes directly into the computer, sometimes I forget how good it feels just to be on the page with no direction. Being in that space–just writing, no other goal–is good self-care for me.
Here’s a prompt from last night’s last Summer ’10 Write Whole workshop:
First, take a couple of minutes and write down the things you do to take care of yourself (or the things that your character would do to take care of him/her/hirself, if you’re working with fiction) — include the things you do every day and the things you do only sometimes.
Then, take another couple of minutes and add to your list the things you wish you did to take care of yourself: are there self-care practices you wish you could afford more often, or had more time for, or…? Write those down, too.
Now let yourself choose a few of these — at least three — and describe the day in which you or your character get to do all of these things for and with yourself (and in the workshop, we each wrote a couple of our own ideas onto 3×5 cards, and then each picked one without knowing what it was, so we got to add a surprise-practice to our write) . Let yourself imagine, and then write out, the day when you (or your character) do several things that are really good for you (or them).
Here’s my response to this write:
We are all learning radical self care. I don’t mean just in this room. I mean all through our communities — we apologize over and over and then we radicalize fiercely, we claim space and silly television shows and bad food, we claim thick sweaters and soup-making with friends and laughing on our backs in Dolores Park grass —
This is what my self care looks like: writing every day, taking the stairs at work, turning the computer off on the weekends. That’s the bare bones. But that’s not this self-care day I’m thinking of.
I want a writing retreat at the oceanside, with private cabins and communal kitchens with morning writing prompts and then yoga and then time to write and hen time to swim. I want to feel the water move over my body after the words have moved through it. I want other people there only sometimes.
I want a couple of massages (this is my self-care week!) and I want to let the tears come while the pressure is on and I want that to be ok, for the masseuse to be comfortable working with traumatized bodies; I want for hir not to shut down or encourage the tears but just let us both be present with great sorrow and release.
What about a full day of quiet: silent writing, reading-on-the-beach time (reading some excellent or excellently-trashy novel I pick up off the cottage’s shelves), then time to prepare a delicious meal just for myself, alone in the kitchen, listening to some public radio, familiar and surprising. I saute onions and garlic and spices, I stir in rice and red lentils and water, bring the water to boil then cover and simmer while I chop tomatoes, jalapenos, what else, maybe cooked sweet potatoes — mix all that into the lentils with a tablespoonful of fresh berbere — then dish my meal into a handthrown pottery bowl, take up my stained wood chopsticks, pour a glass of water, open my book again, and fill up lush and ripe with time and emergency, read and eat and look out a quiet evening window — hear humans somewhere, hear the ocean throb in its consistency, hear my own heartbeat, and let myself feel drawn toward bed only and yet exactly when I am tired and ready to go, knowing I can get up tomorrow in quiet and reckless solitude and breathe in exactly the right sort of day again
Here’s an invitation to you to do one thing today (at least one!) that’s just about self-care– what would that be for you?
Thank you for your words and your work in this world. You make a big difference; you’ll maybe never know how bit, but you do.