Self Care Benders


Grey light brushed my eyes on a Tuesday morning with soft severity. An exhausted snooze button met my hand for the sixth time, and I rolled over a dark mass of pillows to find my round tabby cat, Pumpkin, staring at me with an exceptionally annoyed look. I know that seeing, “Get up you lazy bitch,” in the facial expression of an animal who spends twenty hours a day sleeping is probably some telling form of reflective psychology, but I knew that little guy could see right through me.

It was my third morning in a row of abandoning a long list of summer intentions that included waking early to write for an hour every day, exercising, eating healthy, painting an impressive collection of blank canvases, adopting a zero waste lifestyle, gardening, and investing myself more wholeheartedly to my work. I’d been postponing all of these endeavors until the looming summer season, when I anticipated the strife of my personal life to calm, the stars to align in my astrological favor, and a sudden torrent of energy to mobilize my convictions.

As my feet hit the hardwood floor to begin my day, I felt a weight attached to each choice designing my rehearsed routine. Embarrassingly tedious battles surrounded the simplest tasks. Brushing my hair, washing my face, cooking my meals were movements easily pushed aside. The apathy touched on memories of my younger melancholia, leaving tastes of failure that were abnormal to my recent nature of hustling independence and well-documented well being.

I met these feelings first with despair and then disgust, cycling between coffee shake highs and cereal for dinner (and lunch and breakfast) lows. I scolded the tired reflection I saw in the mirror, then downed a glass of water and wrapped myself in the fuzziest blanket I could find.

“If I’m going to mope,” I told Pumpkin, “I’m going to mope good and hard and until I’m finished with the matter. ”

This began my three day self care bender. It wasn’t a glamorous affair to be quite clear, but it did bring me closer to my pink bathrobe and the corners of myself I’d been neglecting. Three face masks, two bottles of wine, a real good cry and a few fierce friends later; and it became just a little bit easier to get out of bed each morning. I don’t mean to say that everyone’s ruts can be fixed with just a few days of wallowing. But I do mean to say that if we all pencil in a few days of the year (month? week?) for those ruts, maybe they’d feel more like a necessary structure of checks and balances.

Thanks to Pumpkin’s RBF and some quality time with my shower, my summer to-do list has calmed to an approachable enterprise of ambitious self care rituals and modest DIYs. Take out the compost, write something honest, drink a glass of water, call Mom. Use coconut oil, call my representatives, finish emails, read ten pages, breathe. Walk outside, stretch, take vitamins, save the world, laugh at myself.

Writing and photos by Mara Strobel-Lanka.


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