The sun is shining bright outside as I sit down to write on this Wednesday afternoon. I'm wearing a summer dress covered in pink and green flowers and have been prancing around town all morning in my impractical-yet-very-cute platform sandals.
I feel a deep urge to take advantage of this perfect weather before the humidity rises too high and my pregnant feel swell up too much to enjoy being outside. The beauty of the day is upon me and I so very much want to drink up every last drop of spring.
And yet, even within this perfect weather, I am still deeply in resting mode. After filling up my spring Self Care 101 program, I made a commitment to myself that I was going to take it easy for a while. Lately, there's been a lot in my life to integrate -- leading a group to India, being 20 weeks pregnant, and getting ready to move in with my partner this June.
Giving myself time and space to process everything that's happening is perhaps the ultimate form of self-care right now.
Logically, I understand everything. I know how one thing leads to another, that life is temporary and why it is that fear only lives in my mind. With determination and logic, I tell myself to put on a brave face and keep going.
But emotionally, I am struggling to keep up. These changes feel too big to properly name and I don't always know how to connect the dots between the emotion I'm feeling and the life occurrence that caused it. Do I feel sad just because I am losing my single lady identity? Am I joyful only because I am growing a new life in my womb?
This morning, as I got ready to go, I felt all these emotions spinning in my head. At once, I was overwhelmed by how much there is to do and how afraid I am to fail and also still oddly euphoric to be, once again, emerging into the day. The more I tried to make sense of all the feeling, the further the meaning slipped from my grasping finger tips.
I pet Poncho goodbye. His soulful eyes always bring me back to myself. Sighing, I remembered that I don't need to figure myself out (as if I could!). I don't need to have a perfect response to the many stresses of life. Thinking that I could is my perfectionism creeping back in, once again.
Instead, I am allowed to approach myself -- and all of life -- as a mystery. I am allowed to not understand. I am allowed to be soft and teachable. Perhaps I am even allowed to celebrate this joyous ball of creation and grief that I get to call my life today.
The only thing I feel sure of is that I still must take care of myself. Today, self-care means eating a bowl of oatmeal with coconut butter and cacao nibs before leaving to volunteer. It means getting outside with Poncho for a walk in the spring breeze after I hit publish on this message. It means calling a dear friend during our walk and letting myself be extra messy within the compassionate space of our conversation.
Mostly, it means letting myself be myself, and loving whatever arises. I can do that. I do it often and it gets easier every time.
And you, sweetheart? What is self-care for you today? Where can you let yourself be a big, beautiful mystery? With whom can you fall apart and feel stronger afterward?
Ask yourself these questions. Listen to the answers. You know what you need. Make these self-care touchstones as important as any work deadline or commitment to another. Practice them often and imperfectly. Your life will transform as a result and, as a bonus, you will begin to help others.
This can be how we live or perhaps how we come back to life. This is the self-care that could never be superficial or harmful. It's the rebirth that spring promises and what keeps us going through our days, even if we can't name it outright.
Self-care is how we celebrate the simple birthright of our own unbreakable beauty. Truly, it's the one thing that can never be taken away from us.