“Self care is any action you purposefully take to improve your physical, emotional or spiritual well being […] When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. Self care isn’t selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” ― Eleanor Brownn
“Solitude is where I place my chaos to rest and awaken my inner peace.”
― Nikki Rowe
I’m pretty sure my own particular blend of perfectly orchestrated, uber curious, Type A rambling looks a lot like chaos from the outside. I’m happiest when I’m busy. I’m happiest when I’m helping. I’m happiest when I’m active, off on an adventure or learning something new.
I like to do things. I don’t really like to be still and reflect. I’d much rather be planning my fall trips — you guys, they’re so exciting! — heading off on book tour or creating something new.
It’s taken me years, but I’m finally (very, very slowly) accepting that I can’t create my best work if I don’t take care of my instrument — my mind, body and spirit. (Good grief, I feel New Age-y and ridiculous just for saying that, but it’s really true.)
For me, self care comes easier in the fall. As I look back on my posts and old journals from the last five years, I see that I naturally get more introspective during this season. Something about autumn makes me want to slow down and sit a while. So now instead of fighting the urge to be more “productive” (whatever that means), I just give in.
I cook more in the fall, not because I have to, but because I want to. I bake cookies and stir slow-simmering crocks of applesauce on the stove and roast vegetables from the garden. I’m slowly cooking my way through Ina Garten’s entire repertoire, mainly because her cookbooks are as enjoyable to look at as her food is to eat.
I nap when I need to. I seem to need to more often in cooler weather — and especially on sunny Sunday afternoons.
I’ve noticed I don’t write as freely when I’m not reading, so I just read whatever strikes my fancy. I’ve learned about architecture, German history and the Italian artist Modigliani. I’ve read early novels by some of my favorite authors, a little poetry (hola, Neruda) and a whole lot of great travel writing by writers I admire.
Sometimes publishers send me brand new books and they rocket to the top of my must-read list. Susan Cahill’s “The Streets of Paris” was one of those. Any book that combines walking and history and one of my favorite cities on earth in a win for me! (I have an absolute weak spot for stories about Paris.)
I drink warm beverages — coffee in the morning and peppermint tea all day — because I seem to think and daydream better with something in my hand. (And they’re delicious.)
I browse bookstores. I pick up and put down pretty little items designed only to bring pleasure by pleasing the eye. I take myself out for a fancy pastry for no reason at all. I curl up in the sunshine at the library.
I commit to practicing yoga at least twice a week, because even though I fight taking the time to do it, every minute I spend on the mat increases my focus and calm tenfold. The change it’s brought to my work (and to my life in general) has been extraordinary.
I decided that getting stronger on my mat requires a stronger body in general, so I started circuit training and was shocked to discover that I love it. It’s an endorphin rush I might be getting a little addicted to.
I take walks in the park, walks to window shop and stroll through my favorite boutiques, walks to pick up my son from preschool. I take walks to clear my head, to take photos and with no goals in mind at all, just to wander.
I invest in the little things that make me smile and touch my senses. Little details like warm wool socks, pretty lingerie, fresh flowers on the table and coffee in a perfect cup make my life more beautiful.
I take long, luxurious baths, sometimes with one of the books I mentioned above and sometimes soaking in pretty, scented Epsom salts because when you’ve been walking and doing yoga and discovering you like circuit training in your third decade on the planet, your muscles need a little soothing occasionally. A beer always helps too. It’s usually a sour or an IPA, but sometimes a Märzen because I’m a sucker for Oktoberfest styles when the season changes.
I light candles from local makers and Shopbop.com, since I’m an affiliate and their selection of mellow, not too girly scents work for me.
I read somewhere that Isabel Allende lights a candle when she sits down to write and I’ve always liked that. Writing is a craft, something I approach with a practical kind of determination every day. But it’s also a slightly mysterious thing, even to me. Lighting a candle is a way of honoring that mystery and my part of the process and taking care of myself in the process.
What about you?
How do you practice self care? (Seriously, I need tips and ideas!)
What are your favorite soothing rituals?
How does the change in seasons influence your life, mood and routine?
What are your favorite fall experiences?
What little details make your life richer and more enjoyable?
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