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The Art and Adventure of Self Care

Oh the art of self care, sometimes I wish it were easier to take care of oneself. Lately I’ve been struggling with it in small ways. A little thing I missed here or there and later I’m a wreck because the absences pile up. The simple fact that the season shift affects me so much more these days is still a struggle to make sense of after years of soldiering on nearly oblivious.

And what I need seems to shift from day to day and week to week and drastically from month to month and season to season. I’ve been off of my birth control for over two years now and I’m still making sense of the ebb and flow of how the seasons really do affect me and my moods.

Last year was the first time that I really noticed that I wasn’t able to just keep doing what I’d been doing when the seasons began to shift in earnest. About when the days become shorter and then longer are the times I most feel the lethargy, sometimes hopelessly so.

This month, February, seems to be my nemesis in finding a rhythm with my goals. I make all these grand plans, I’m excited to see how my life will grow and change. And it does in some ways regardless of how well I keep to my grand plans but I want to find a way to make room for all the things I think about doing and then tend to forget after a few weeks or months. I want to make habits out of art and writing. I want my life to be full of creativity and beauty.

With room for ALL the feels, the light-hearted and the heavy-hearted. No feelings should feel wrong and there needs to be space for it all. I know that a life of beauty has its struggles too.

That is where self care comes in, especially the hard, uncomfortable brand of self care. The kind where you insist upon yourself to do the things you know will be good for you even when you don’t feel like it. Because you know that it is self care to keep up with your writing and or art practice. Or, really the simple things of hydration or listening to your body.

Sure maybe the quantity or quality of art and writing will slow but that isn’t the issue. We are not meant to be productive every moment of every day. And we don’t even have to be good at it either. We simply need to do the things that both bring us joy and, when the joy slumbers, the things that will bring us joy to have done. Sometimes those things can be the same things, sometimes not.

Resting is as much self care as anything else. And I’ve been needing a lot more than I’d like to admit this month. My gentle schedule is stretched but it is holding. It can be the hardest thing to sit down and rest when your brain is whispering haunting things about how you’ll not get anywhere if you sit around all day.

But what does it know? I mean, really, I get that it can be trying to “protect” me, but from what? And why? I’m tired and I need to rest but our society and culture tell me that I must carry on, only rest when I’ve finished. But finished what? There is always something else, where will it end?

This last weekend I got roped into believing that I didn’t need to rest, that I could push my way through a lot of extra activities and then be totally fine getting back into work on Monday. I was wrong and I didn’t allow myself to feel or process it well either.

I’m still learning what my self care should look like. When I’ve gone out and seen the people there needs to be a plan of action for helping myself acclimate and process all that happened. Both as an introvert and an empath I’ve begun to find this extremely important…and I often still forget because it doesn’t come naturally.

Self care is really an art, it doesn’t always look the same and it must adapt to a myriad of situations. It comes in all shapes, sizes and crazy colors. No one’s self care will look the same, and that is ok. Mine often comes in the form of reading, or processing my feels out loud.

But sometimes it is also journaling. Journaling is something that I try to do every day, it keeps me grounded in my own mind especially on days when I take trips to other people's thoughts and emotions when I see them in proximity. I’m still working on how my abundant empathetic nature works and how to still be me when I feel the feelings of those around me. And learning that when someone doesn’t emote the same way that I do, big, loud and out loud (I have a hard time hiding any of my feels) that doesn't mean that I’m too much, or that I’m at fault.

Really, at the end of the day, self care is the adventure of becoming unapologetically you, and allowing for our rest and relaxation to become as important as our productivity and our care of the other wonderful beings in our lives. You deserve to take care of yourself, in what ways make sense and work for you.

PS. This is the piece that I've been excited to share, I finally posted it on the socials this last week. It's been a favorite prompt and my favorite piece I've created to date. This dryad in springtime is stunningly beautiful and a wonderful example of what beautiful, joyous creativity can bring. I think this new blending of styles, of the line-heavy and the semi-realistic I've dabbled in, has been the answer I've been seeking artistically. I love the linework and comic style of what I've been creating but this, now this feels alive and full of joy in a way my art hasn't in the past. I am still proud of what I've accomplished in the past and I'm excited to see where it takes me in the future.

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