I am old enough to be reminded of an ad campaign that showed a frazzled woman, fed up with her miserable life, complaining about the traffic, and the boss, and the baby, throwing her hands up in the air and finding an escape in her “Calgon” luxurious bath. Finally, she had a moment of happiness. The tag was, “Calgon take me away!” As a child, I remember thinking that the bath looked really good, but the rest of her life did not. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a woman in the world if it meant you only had those few moments of joy. And you had to escape your life to get them. Caring for yourself meant running away.
I’m feeling a little of the same lately with all of the talk and emphasis on what I perceive is a very narrow definition of self-care. Haven’t we come a long way baby? Aren’t we beyond being relegated to lives we didn’t choose, from which we need to get away from in order to care for ourselves?
Shouldn’t self-care be about creating entire lives we want to inhabit, instead of pining for the moments we can get away or shut it off? Is modern marketing putting us back into old female roles? Of course, we all need down time and special moments for ourselves, but isn’t a woman’s true self-care much more complex, richer and more important than bubble baths, spas, and scented candles?
I’ve been asked about my self-care rituals a lot recently in interviews and I am happy to share them, but most recently after listing my personal rituals, I responded with this:
I am really interested in exploring the deeper levels of self-care, what it really means to care for yourself, beyond just the physical body. I practice self-care by stepping into my place in the world, opening a shop even though it’s hard and scary, because it is a dream. It’s about having the courage to pursue my destiny. Allowing myself to feel valuable, and that I am contributing to the world, feeling worthy of taking up that space, staking that claim. Even the act of speaking my truth and feeling worthy of letting my voice be heard right here on this page is a form of honoring and caring for myself. Or learning to not say “yes”, when I mean “no”, thereby eliminating resentment and negative emotions from my life, and being more authentic in the world. Or caring for my conscience by living by my values and being mindful of the products I buy or don’t buy, or what I put in my body or mind.
I am really trying to look at the bigger picture of what it means to care for myself in the world. Not that I don’t love a good vacation or massage, don’t get me wrong, but for me it doesn’t end there.
So, how can we open up the aperture on self-care to include a more holistic view of our lives beyond the mere physical?
Shouldn’t we try to imbue every moment of our lives with self-care and not be stuck in a 1970’s version of what it means for a woman to care for herself?
I am writing this blog while looking out at trees from the living room of a cabin that I rented so that I could spend a few days writing and creating content for our Simples followers. I am on the central coast of California in one of my favorite towns that I have been coming to for over 25 years and where my husband and I once had a home. I am not escaping right now, I am smack dab in the middle of my life, and my responsibilities, and this is one the greatest acts of self-care that I have ever done for myself.
My hand is hurting as I type this because I slammed it raising the Simples tent at last weekend’s Farmer’s Market, but regardless, I am still in full self-care mode. Sitting and writing is something that I wanted to do and made a commitment to do. I’m scared, I’m working against all of the judgments that come up for me, what if people don’t like the blog, am I making any sense, who am I to have an opinion, why does anyone care what I think? And on and on…but, the self-care is in the writing and sticking with it even though my hand is killing me and I feel a little insecure. I am going for it, I am doing something I want to do even though it can be painful and scary. I am giving myself the greatest gift of love right now because I am pushing past my comfort zone and I am being my authentic self for all the world to see, (or actually just my subscribers!) This my friends, is how I care for myself, owning my value, letting my voice be heard, giving an opinion, going for it. Sometimes self-care is uncomfortable.
Now I also spent two hours harvesting pine needles and resin at a favorite spot and plan on looking for sea glass and abalone shells when I sign off, but for me right now there’s no differentiation. This whole day is self-care, even the painful scary bits, maybe especially the painful scary bits.
So my lovely readers, go out and say yes to something that inspires you, especially if it’s scary; no to something that drains you, let your voice be heard, or take some silence if that’s what you need, honor yourself and your place in this world. Care for yourself…deeply. And if you want to take an awesome bath at the end of the day, let me help you rock it.
1 part Epsom salt
1 part magnesium flakes
1 part Himalayan or dead-sea salts
½ part baking soda
Optional: several drops of your favorite essential oil (s), fresh or dried flower petals (they do require a cleanup though, I’m not going to lie.)