Happy New Year! 2016 wasn’t so awful on a personal level for me, but I certainly shared the collective pain of losing an absurd amount of pop culture heroes and possibly losing our nation’s democracy in the coming years. I’m very anxious about what is on the political and social horizon, but overall 2016 was a year of visible personal growth. I have grown in mostly good ways, with the exception of my actual mass. The year was heavy, man. I was asleep when 2016 finally expired, but I woke up determined not to let my skepticism of a happier year deter me from making “resolutions.” Since New Year’s resolutions are usually canned before trees bud in the spring, I regard these promises as my annual renewal, necessary for survival. Some of these practices that I’m implementing might fade away, but I’m inspired right now and they’re useful right now. No matter what goes on in a year, the last few months are always particularly crazy. In November I had surgery, a long weekend away, and Thanksgiving getting in the way of taking care of myself. (Not to mention the horror show that unfolded on November 8.) In December I was frantically trying to be an adequate preschool mom, preparing for holiday gifts, managing every day life, and trying unsuccessfully to avoid the constant influx of cookies. My life isn’t the epitome of hardship, but if I fail to take care of myself, the small world around me will cave in.
I am worried about our country in a way that is new and scary to me. I am trying to understand where everyone is coming from and the blindness of privilege that so many possess, myself included. For the first time in my life, I made phone calls to help with the election because I wanted my daughter to grow up knowing that I did something to try to prevent this nightmare that we hopefully survive from unfolding. I set up my donations for organizations that are threatened by the coming administration. I made it my mission to learn more so I can do more to make the world better. I don’t feel persuasive enough to change minds, but I do feel passionate enough about fighting for justice to educate myself to do whatever I can to keep our society moving forward. I know I can do more, but I often feel guilty about the privilege of being in a relatively comfortable position when others are worried about basic human rights being taken away. I feel guilty about having debt but still being able to do most of what I want to do with my life. I’m afraid that these liberties will end, but if the worst thing that happens to me is having to actually pay attention to grocery store sales, I’m still in an enviable place compared to those who may lose their healthcare or marriage rights. Of course, we may all be doomed if war is declared, and I’m not confident that our President-Elect has our best interests at heart. I’m terrified.
Guilt and anxiety have been dominating the emotions of most people I know. It almost feels immoral to ponder resolutions right now. What kind of monster worries about losing 20 pounds when our world is filled with senseless violence and injustice? No one should care about your daily green smoothies when your black friends are still dealing with racist bullshit in the 21st century.
Today I am grateful for Audre Lorde. She said, “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” I am going to find a way to display these words in my home where I will see them every day. I have always believed that people must take care of themselves in order to care for others, but to call it an act of political warfare makes me feel deliriously empowered. Sitting in my bed, scrolling through Twitter, and crying about babies dying in ravaged cities is not helping. I need to stay informed, but I cannot will the earth to peace with anxious ruminations. Getting enough sleep, exercising, eating well, and feeling content seem to be luxurious, but giving yourself the gift of self-care enables you to charge forward with purpose and determination.
Tonight I did all of the “selfish” things I wanted to do. I know that sticking with it on January 1 is easier than some other days will be this year, but I feel the need to document how gorgeous it feels to have “indulged” in self-care. Some of it was as sexy as self-care gets. I took a hot bath with a Sunnyside Bubble Bar from Lush while reading about Carrie Fisher’s affair with Harrison Ford in her most recent book, The Princess Diarist. But before that, I had to give my four year old a bath. I let her play with her tub toys while I completed a ten-minute-yoga-routine-for-small-spaces that I found on YouTube. It isn’t easy to practice asanas in a narrow bathroom while keeping a keen eye on your kid to make sure she isn’t drowning during suspiciously quiet moments, but it worked out fine. Both bath times reflected a part of my resolution to take care of myself. I want to do yoga every day. I am capable of much more than a ten minute routine, but I can’t make excuses about time or space if there is such a thing as a ten-minute-yoga-routine-for-small-spaces video on YouTube. Reading and using the products that I buy to take care of my body are also resolutions that I honored this evening. My skin is so soft and I smell like citrus oils and happiness. This will not be the part of my nightly routine, but using my time creatively to fit moments like these in, must be a part of my daily process. When I wake up in the morning, I want to have a plan. When I go to sleep at night, I want to feel content knowing that I learned more about the world and did something to make it better. A bubble bath and some light reading are not going to change the world, but I used the holiday to rest for tomorrow where there is a plan and purpose that I am prepared to take on.
– Read daily. Get off of the dang Internet and read books! Read fun books, classic literature, poetry, history, and more. Never stop learning about different cultures and perspectives. It is so important to have empathy for everyone and an understanding of where people come from.
– Yoga daily. Strength training and cardio need to be a regular part of my life, but yoga is essential every day.
– Preparation. Meal planning, scheduled writing, getting things done in the early morning hours when no one else is awake and requiring my attention.
– Read news in the AM only. Treat news like coffee – none after 3PM or I will be up all night, unproductively worrying about things I can’t control. Trust that friends will let me know if there’s something I must know at later hour. If it isn’t life-threatening, the news will still exist in the morning, perhaps more accurately after facts have been filtered. (We should hope, anyway.)
– Be an activist. I will not tolerate hatred or injustice on any level. I’m not assertive or confrontational, but I will learn how to handle even the most subtle attacks on human rights. It’s going to take a lot of learning and bravery, but the safety and basic welfare of our society is worth the effort.