Self-Love: Surround Yourself With Good

Egads. It never fails. I plan to post every Sunday and Wednesday, and yet, here we are: Thursday. Forgive my lack of social boundaries and utter disregard for organization. I try. I really do try.

As I was thinking of things to share with you this week, I remembered – vaguely – that we aren’t quite finished with our journey through the Rules of Self-Love. It seems appropriate, though, since I’ve been beating myself up for not staying the course with my writing.

I vowed to get back to my novel. Delaney and Jake need me to figure out their future. But with an imbecile still in public office (take your pick…I’m not speaking of just one…) and goofy-ass ‘Mericans doing the thing they do best (cause dissent), I just can’t focus on a torrid love story between a young man and a woman old enough to be his mother. Nonetheless…stay tuned. I’ll get revved up at some point and start rewriting the smut that makes me who I am.

So. Self-Love. Where were we?

Ah. Yes. Surround yourself with good. Hmmm. How appropriate. Let me take a swig of the goodness in this glass and enlighten you on this.

“Surround yourself with the dreams and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.” – Edmund Lee

In my journey, I realized I had been consumed by non-stop long term commitments. Even then, I was lonely, closed off, anxious, and never quite sure when the other shoe was going to drop. Some of my hippie friends would say that I was the cause of my own relationships ending because of these feelings and emotions. I agree, but picking the wrong partners in the first place might have had a significant bearing on the outcome.

So, in August, I took a break for a while. I’m not really sure when I mustered the strength to say ‘Fuck it,’ but I did. I spent 90 days with no relationship, and I spent those days finding out what good things brought my heart joy. It turns out I’m not really that complicated, and I’m easily amused, so there is that.

I’ll share today with you, dear reader, six ‘things’ I did to surround myself with good during that time.

  1. I spent as much time around water as I possibly could. It started with a 9-day trip alone, landing on the beaches of the Gulf Coast. I got sunburned as hell but managed to make time every day to get near the waves. Once back home, I was at a lake, beside a creek, or seeking out waterfalls any chance I got. For me, large bodies of water are as close to Heaven as I can imagine.
  2. I chucked the past. I can’t do much about all those memories in my brain except ‘pivot’ when I start thinking about the past. But, I did spend some time learning to build a fire, and with that new skill…well…I emptied boxes of memories dating back to 1989, including two wedding albums and a shit ton of crap I shouldn’t have been carrying around anymore anyway.
  3. I made new friends. You know, it’s a hard thing to face – but sometimes, the people you hang around with are people that don’t always have your best interests in mind. Some of them aren’t even really all that nice. And me, doing nothing half-assed, I just cut, cut, cut. And it was glorious.
  4. I kept my best old friends. I made a list of the ten people who always raise my vibration levels when I’m in their presence, and I vowed to spend more time with them. If they lived too far to see regularly, I scheduled Face Time / Zoom sessions with them. My life is so much richer because of these people, and I love seeing their faces.
  5. I lowered my expectations. Please note…I did not lower my standards. Standards and expectations are completely different. I lowered my expectations and allowed myself to go to bed sometimes with dirty dishes in the sink. I don’t expect everyone I work with to give 100% all the time; I’m only responsible for my work ethic and standards. I stopped coloring my hair and decided to see what I looked like with naturally greyish hair (still not sold on this, by the way). I decided to cut myself some slack in so many ways. And I am so much more relaxed and content.
  6. I stopped attending church. I can conveniently thank COVID for this, but in reality, I realized that the only ‘good’ I was getting out of church was the message – and we’ve proven as a nation that sermons can be effectively delivered via the internet. As an introvert, I don’t really enjoy the ‘seen and be seen’ aspect of attending services in person anyway. Additionally, I can’t explain it, but every time I would leave the church building, I felt like there was this ‘ick’ I needed to wash off. I started to hate the bigotry (How ironic, huh?), the subtle forms of manipulation, and dare I say: the outright disregard for human life (“Hey…save the babies…but don’t adhere to the mask-wearing mandates.”) Anyway, my pastor and I meet each week while I listen to his sermon as I’m working my ticket queue. He may not know that, but then again, it’s not really about him, is it?

I hope these six things can help you. One I didn’t mention is: I put on my favorite playlist to begin feeling better. No sad songs allowed. If you have other suggestions for surrounding yourself with good, please do share them. In light of the shitshow America faced yesterday at our Capitol building, I could use some good ideas.

As always, here’s your song. I wish you peace, happiness, and above all else…I wish you joy. Until next time: Go out. Do good.

Self-Love: Self Care

It’s 9 am on a Sunday here in the Ozarks, and I’m still in my pajamas and cuddled into my bed. The holiday weekend has been glorious. Some are complaining about being unable to see family over Thanksgiving due to the pandemic. I get that, but I am secretly hoping I never have to go back to a holiday filled with chaos and unmanageable expectations.

I am taking Monday off, too, so I’m indulging in some self-care over these five days. Some much-needed self-care, for sure. Mostly, I’ve napped. And for those of you who don’t really know me, I don’t rest much. This has been an unexpected request from my body, and I’ve listened to my inner-self. In fact, I’ve napped every day so far since Thursday. Can’t wait to see what today brings. The cat is already nestled next to me, and if I didn’t have company coming over, I’d just stay right here in bed. I’m not prone to laziness, so this slothful nature of mine is definitely my body and soul telling me to chill the fuck out. My child is with his father this holiday weekend, and my inner-self is saying, “Take advantage of this time.” So…I have.

We are continuing our series together on Self-Love, and, yep, – you guessed it – self-care is next on the docket. I’m a huge proponent of self-care, having neglected myself for most of my life but definitely over the last nine or ten years. The thing about self-care is that it doesn’t have to be complicated or financially indulgent to be helpful.

When most of us think of self-care, we think of massages, facials, beachy vacations, and weekend retreats at high-end resorts. Yes, those can be forms of self-care – I get massages and facials regularly – but self-care doesn’t have to be economically draining or time-consuming.

My favorite form of self-care is coming into my own bedroom with a glass of Barefoot Chardonnay (see…I told you it didn’t have to be expensive), picking up a book, and reading for as long as I can before I can no longer keep my eyes open. My next favorite is the Gentle Yin Yoga class I participate in each Thursday night. It’s yoga by candlelight; it’s relaxing and also very spiritual for me. I find I am closest to my Higher Power when I am on that mat breathing in and breathing out than I am any other time during the week.

Of course, all the ideas mentioned above and activities can be forms of self-care: massage, facials, vacations, reading quietly, but there are so many other forms of self-care. As a single mom, it took me a very long time to realize that if I didn’t fill my cup first, I couldn’t pour into my child the love and attention he so deserves.

So, what really is self-care if it doesn’t have to be expensive or indulgent to make a difference?

It’s activities we do to keep us as our best selves. Practicing self-care is an action-oriented way that we can show ourselves self-love. … It means loving all aspects of yourself by accepting your flaws, weaknesses, the things you don’t always like, and holding high standards for your own well-being and happiness.

What is self-care to one may not be self-care to another. My friend, Machell, is one of the best seamstresses in the county, and she designs and sews the most beautiful quilts. She engages in self-care each time she turns on a football game and begins to bind together pieces of colorful fabric so that they can live on in the form of comfort and warmth. For me, making a quilt would be self-torture, not at all fun in the least bit. Definitely not a way I’d express self-love. But, I find drinking a cup of black coffee while a cat is nestled near me as I write this blog to be quite delightful – and some of you may disagree with me. And so, proving my point of what is self-care to one may not be self-care to another.

You can type in ‘What is self-care?” into a Google search bar and get all kinds of ideas on how to engage in self-care, so I won’t bore you with a list of ideas. (In fact, here’s a good one for you!) What I will tell you is how essential it is to show kindness and gratitude to yourself. You are fearfully and wonderfully made…even if you don’t feel like it sometimes. It isn’t easy in this ‘season of COVID’ to find joy in the simplest acts, but I implore you to do your best to try. I think it is essential to recognize your mental and physical state when considering ways to practice self-care. For example, if you are physically and mentally exhausted, then forcing yourself to go for a run or a hike in the name of ‘self-care’ may not be the best route for you. Maybe a nap is better. Or perhaps merely sitting by a fire counting your blessings would refill your soul in a much better manner.

So, I’m curious – what are your ideas for self-care? What is the most expensive ‘self-care’ experience you’ve had and the least expensive? Do you regularly engage in self-care, and if so, what brings your heart joy?

Here’s your song for the week ahead. I would love to hear from you, so drop me a line. I’m always up for ideas to love myself.