Okay, so, let’s ignore the fact that I haven’t written here (or anywhere, mostly) for two years. I’ve been busy. I’ve had conversations with several people lately about what we’re saying when we say that word “busy” and I have thoughts on it. But that’ll be another post, which I might even actually write sometime. For now, I’m here and making this time.
And that’s what I feel moved to write about today. Writing is good for me. It makes me feel stronger and better and more productive. And I haven’t been doing it. I haven’t been making time. I have so much else to do. And too often, when I feel like I have other, more important things to do, acts of self-care get shuffled off to the side.
I haven’t been feeling very good lately, about myself, my life, my body. I haven’t been feeling okay with what I have to offer the world or with what I’ve been offering to myself. And a lot of those feelings can’t be solved easily. I can’t just decide that I want my life to be very different from what it is now and just make that magically happen. I can start taking steps in different directions but there will still be a long way to go. I can, however, change some things much more easily, in the short-term.
I don’t feel healthy. My body doesn’t feel healthy. I’ve come to learn that there are three components of physical health for me that I need to be going well, in order to feel well. I need exercise, my body needs to move. I need to eat in a way that fuels that movement well. And my body needs to eliminate waste efficiently (I’m not going to talk about poop right now but, oh, I want to. And I might some other time so brace yourselves). These three components of my physical health form a cycle of goodness and they depend on one another- my digestive system doesn’t function if I’m eating healthfully and not exercising; I can’t exercise if I’m sick; when my body hurts from inactivity, all I want to eat is refined sugar and highly processed fat. So I’ve found that if I’m doing all three of those things in good ways, I feel a whole lot better.
But so often, I don’t do those things in good ways. No matter how sluggish and wretched I feel, it doesn’t seem important enough to make time for. It’s almost like I’m not worth it, like caring for myself is not a meaningful enough task to devote my energy to. Being “productive” (another problematic word) or making myself available to others feels more vital. Maybe it’s because I think that those things will be more spiritually fulfilling. Maybe I forget that my physical well-being is really a component of my emotional health. Maybe I just don’t always remember the power of being loved.
You know how sometimes you can have a cold and it just makes you feel so much better when someone takes care of you? It’s not like you need serious medical intervention or anything. But someone shows up to bring you homemade soup and a carton of orange juice and suddenly, even if the cold is just as fierce as it’s been all day, you feel a lot better. Why? I think it’s because someone took the time to show you love. You’re being cared for, you’re being nurtured. And it just feels better. Yes, some physical needs are being addressed- the healing powers of soup and vitamin C are present. But also, emotional needs are being met. Someone is saying, “I love you enough to do this for you.”
It’s like that when we take the time to take care of ourselves, too. I’m tempted to feel like I’m wasting time as I’m doing yoga or chopping veggies for my dinner. A bowl of cereal as I reply to email would be quicker. A sandwich from a fast food place would leave me extra minutes to get other things done. But setting aside time to do these necessary, nurturing tasks for myself is an act of love. It addresses some very real physical needs- I know that exercise and proper nutrition are important to me. But it also meets an emotional need. It feeds the part of me that thrives when someone shows up and says “I love you enough to do this for you.” And that part of me is worth making the time for, too.