I could talk for days about the importance of self-care. We each need to develop tools and tricks to take care of ourselves, no matter what our profession may be. My background in social work helped me figure out the best ways of looking after myself- crucial for that line of work, yes. But crucial for me to be the best version of myself.
I have general self-care routines but in times of loss or high stress, I make conscientious choices about it. I kick those routines up a notch. I grieve and mourn in specific ways and my self-care routines reflect that.
This time around, previously planned travel wreaked havoc on most of this. There's not much I can do about the grief-related insomnia or appetite changes, other than wait them out. I tend to sleep poorly when I travel and this only intensified. Eating out most meals two weekends in a row after the funeral made me feel not like myself, mostly because I could not attack the dishes with my usual gusto. As such, by the time I arrived home from Austin a week ago Sunday, my exhaustion knew no bounds.
I did something shocking: I went to bed early. Sunday night I went to bed at 10 and in the week since, my typical bedtime has been around 10:45. 11 at the very latest. This may not mean anything to you. I put myself on a sleep schedule after my grandma died five years ago. The usual insomnia kicked itself up into high gear and I was a mess. The sleep schedule got me on track and I try not to deviate from it. The last week and a half I've gone to bed earlier and risen earlier and feel more rested overall, even though I still wake up a few times in the middle of the night (normal for me).
My body is still weary. I'm considering getting a massage to help relieve some of the stored tension. I'm not doing anything to mess with this new sleep pattern: no regular coffee, no caffeine past noon, no alcohol. Zut alors! Ah, but sleep is worth it.
Do you see what the pattern really is? Being kind to myself.
That's what this first weekend home in a month was all about. (Interestingly, this sweater post was about my only completely free weekend in a 10 week span. I didn't have any idea how badly I would need it.)
This past Saturday I woke up at 6:30, refreshed. I read Shadow of Night in bed for an hour. Then got ready for a relaxing day. Your idea of a self-care outfit may vary from mine. This weekend, self-care was all about honoring fall, comfort, and me. This meant a cute light sweater, jewelry I adore, and the option of boots.
I even got out my curling iron to fancify my pony tail. It made me feel like such a Southern girl. I'm low maintenance during the week but I don't mind taking a few extra steps for a special occasion. I suppose finally being home was special occasion enough.
I met friends for coffee at Crema. I ordered a decaf Bourbon Barrel Sorghum Latte, which is as interesting and wonderful as it sounds. They only have it in the fall and their lattes are worth ordering, even if only to appreciate the design in the foam. Should I brag about how it was 70 degrees and we sat outside? Beautiful, beautiful weather. My friends and I talked about everything and nothing, just what I needed.
I went grocery shopping. I baked Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip muffins and prepped French Toast Casserole for Sunday brunch. I dusted the living room. I should have continued cleaning the rest of the house, which moans about the last month's accumulated dust and grime, but I worked hard last week and it's perfectly fine to clean one section of the house at a time when you're in the throes of grief.
I read. I watched a cheesy Hallmark movie. I drank tea. And yes, I cried. The grief lurks under the surface and I am doing my best to let it out.
This is one facet of self-care for me and I am relieved to have had a chance to live it out again.
When I first envisioned my weekend attire, boots played a role. Given the balmy weather, in the end, I switched the boots out for my purple flats. Similarly, I thought I might need a cardigan or a scarf at the very least but the sun was shining so the scarf stayed at home, too. All winning combinations though, yes?
sweater with lace detail, Forever 21 (I was an unwitting beneficiary of an impromptu clothing exchange while in Austin)
tami, Old Navy (possibly the worst name for a tank top/camisole hybrid but I love these shirts)
jeans, Old Navy
Intyce boots, Steve Madden
bouquet necklace, Noonday Collection
earrings, Ike & Co.
scarf, Rachel Zoe
dress for the day you want to have . . . not the one that's trying to have you.
P.S. My new obsession is Stitch Fix, an on-line stylist program which sends 5 clothing items or accessories upon your request. I got my first "fix" on Friday and I'm in love. More to come soon.