Category: nurture

The Conundrum of Cancer: or, redefining self-care

Radical self-care doesn’t look like a spa day—it feels selfish and awkward, although I remain unapologetic in this practice.

It is sitting still on a boat for one, in an ocean of emotion and unknowing, with no land in sight. I peer into the water, scrying for glimpses of my future, and into the sky to find navigation. The fish, reflections, sun, and constellations remain silent. I do not know when I will reach shore or what I will find.

As I rock in my boat, I start to say yes to serving the world. I feel the gentle hand of My Muse on my shoulder, and in a quiet voice says, “No, not yet. You have to learn to serve yourself before you can return to serving others.” 

My Muse is a jealous muse, demanding that I honor her before all others. In the commandments she has placed into my hands, my writing comes first. I will not be dissuaded from this belief, no matter how hard the boat rocks.

An hourglass sits on the edge of the boat, but the sand doesn’t move. Loved ones on the shore leave footprints as they drift away, and I let them go. In solitude, I hear the story of my heart.

There is a wildness that hums and throbs where my womb used to be. I do not know its name or nature, but I must feed and protect it through gestation. When we reach solid ground, this wildness will birth, then we will burn together in the boat, meld into one and fly.

The Conundrum of Not Enough Time… or How to Nurture Yourself in 15 Minutes or Less

If you don’t have time to read the entire post, skip to the suggestions.

The Story: I was contemplating my current stress level and its effects on my body (exhaustion), and how I never “seem to” have time for me anymore, even the little things. I know that I am not alone. As busy parents, spouses, workers, students, and just people in general, we take time to make lunches and dinners, fold laundry, and scoop the litter box, but how often do we take time for ourselves and no one else? For myself, I seem to hit a point of “critical mass,” then spend two days exhausted and incapable of anything other than “stealing” away some quiet time and letting my inner child have some breathing room. As I pondered, I realized that giving oneself the gift of nurturance doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. Here are some suggestions that take 15 minutes or less.

The Suggestions: Remember, nurturing yourself and/or spending a little time with your inner child isn’t about taking care of anyone else. This is about you and only you. For those consumed with schedules and deadlines (self-imposed or otherwise), set a timer for 5 to 15 minutes. This way you can devote the entire time to being present with your “activity” without looking at the clock every 30 seconds. The timer will let you know when to stop. For those not consumed by timelines, skip this step.

Grab your favorite book and read, Color or finger paint with your children (instead of cleaning house while your child is being creative); don’t have children—color or finger paint with your inner child

Read a poem

Play with your dog or cat

Plant seeds or pull weeds (this is also very grounding)

Write one morning page (Julia Cameron recommends writing three, but for hectic schedules, it may be easier to write for 15 minutes and throw out the page count)

Don’t like to write? Fill a page with drawings/doodles<

Grab a glass of wine, cup of tea, or just yourself and go outside to look at the stars and moonWork on a jigsaw puzzle

Read or write a blog

Play a game of solitaire with real cards

Read your favorite children’s book to yourself

Admire the flowers in your yard (better yet, pick a few and put them in a vase)

Look at a picture book

5 minutes or less (if you just can’t give yourself 15 minutes)

Write half of a morning page (or however much you can write in 5 minutes)

Light a candle or two in your bedroom; change into your bedclothes by candlelight

Use your favorite, special cream after your shower instead of waiting for a special moment to use it

Wash up for the night by candlelight

Light a few candles before your morning shower

Sing in the shower

Play your favorite song from childhood while brushing your teeth

Pet your cat or dog

Wear mismatched socks (I highly recommend Little Miss Matched: — they have women’s and men’s lines, as well as children’s)

Look at the moon or stars

Admire the flowers in your yard (better yet, go smell them)

Savour a small piece of chocolate

Put on your favorite, most comfortable pajamas long before bedtime

If you have ideas, please post them. These suggestions are mostly more in touch with the “feminine” side, because I’m… well, a woman, and to be honest, most of the men I know aren’t the self-nurturing-inner-child types. I don’t know if men nurture themselves or not, and if the more enlightened ones do, how they do it. However, for any men reading this, please post your thoughts–I’d love to hear them.