“Understanding is the first step to acceptance,
and only with acceptance can there be recovery.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Sometimes life comes along and says, “OK, luv, it’s time to hibernate for a little while and do some work in that precious soul of yours. It’s going to be hard and hurt like blazes, but you’ll be OK and it will be worth it. I promise.”
What life doesn’t say is that it’s going to involve a rather large mirror that forces me to see me, all of me, for quite some time. This would be rather cheering if the mirror only reflected back all the good and lovely things about me. Alas, it doesn’t. It shows everything. And those first glimpses can be rather jarring. Selfishness, impatience, unkindness. It takes a lot of courage to keep looking.
That’s what I’ve been doing these past few weeks, summoning up all my bravery to Keep Looking.
Others it’s looking at the ways I’ve hurt others or behaved badly.
Neither of them feel good. Horrible, in fact, and I need time to grieve, be angry, feel shame, be sad. But the Horrible doesn’t last. As I’m able to Keep Looking, I start to gain understanding about how and why these things happened. Gaining understanding fills me with mercy towards others and myself. And as the mercy comes in, acceptance follows, and the power those things had over me is gone.
Understanding, mercy, acceptance, peace. They all start with Looking. And the Looking starts with Courage.
Sometimes I find the courage within myself, standing there brave and tall, ready to take on the world.
Others I need my courage ignited by kindred spirits.
This post by Wild Rain.
This one by Melody Ross.
This book by Sue Monk Kidd.
My inner dialogue is changing. I’m learning to cheer myself on in goodness:
“Way to face that unkind reaction of yours, luv. Well done saying sorry. You’re going to do so much better next time.”
“Good job biting your tongue when that person hurt you and you wanted to lash out. And great job standing up for yourself and letting them know in a kind and respectful way that it’s not OK for them to treat you like that.”
“Proud of you for owning up to what you did wrong there and taking the first step in restoring the relationship.”
We are all so messily, beautifully human, trying our best to be kind and generous and loving but messing up thoroughly now and then, usually because we’re stressed, exhausted, sick, and not taking time to care for our very precious selves.
Through all this Looking, I’ve observed that I behave so much better when I proactively care for myself every single day.
For me, self-care is doing the things that help me be the very best Me I can be. Spending time with kind, loving people, reading books, posts, and articles that support and inspire me in the things that I value, writing just for me, getting enough sleep and enough water, going outside for exercise each day, doing special things for my loves, eating good things, doing something creative, indulging in little things that make me happy: a book that makes me laugh, breakfast out with my hubby, a square (or 3) of dark chocolate with sea salt.
Our front veranda is my self-care mecca at the moment. The winter sun comes through first thing in the morning, filling it with warmth and light. I bundle up, brew my tea, tuck in a cozy red blanket, and spend as long as I need to writing in my journal and gratefulness book, reading, thinking, resting until I’m ready to face the day with courage. It’s become such a happy place for me that just glancing at it throughout the day brings me back to that feeling of peace and assurance.
I always get a bit scared when these hibernation times arrive, but I’m learning to welcome them as dear, trusted friends who truly have my best interest at heart. I’m learning to give myself the time and space I need to work through whatever I need to. I garden and cook, herd the goats in the bush, work on projects with Bear, sew and study, quiet things that allow my mind to process and heal. It’s good.
How about you, luv? What does self-care look like to you? xo