Behind the Scenes of Self-Care

Many people who scoff at “self care” as being tree-huggy nonsense suffer from the misconception that self care is all about waking up, stretching and languidly announcing to the world that it just has to take care of you as you then simply swan about in an unending stream of bubble baths, Gregorian chants on Spotify, and moony talk of spirit animals and chakras.

Nope. (Although if that is your way, good on you.) Self care takes work, dedication, and quite often, a level of planning that borders on scheming.

Consider this: on the Saturday of the long Thanksgiving weekend, I had an amazing day. I had large chunks of time to read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, which had been on my “to read” list for ages; I planted a bed of winter pansies; I made homemade vichyssoise from Julia Child’s classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking;  and I pulled down a few boxes of Christmas decorations, which is weeks early for me.

I am no Martha Stewart. I do not have a staff of twenty (or of any, for that matter). So let’s look at what was involved in having this happen.

I love reading and my “to read” list is quite eclectic. It currently includes biographies of amazing women such as M.F.K. Fisher and Sonia Sotomayor, nonfiction like Erik Larsen’s Dead Wake and Gretchen Rubin’s Better than Before, and fiction ranging from graphic novels to Sue Monk Kidd. I used to be a little sheepish about having so many books in the house that I hadn’t read, but that’s the only way I’ll start what I want to start when I have time to start it. Ready Player One has been described as “Willy Wonka meets The Matrix” and while that’s too simple, it was completely and totally to my taste this past weekend and I had it close at hand.

Those pansies? I bought them two weeks ago and hadn’t had a chance to plant them. I kept them watered, knowing that I’d finally have time over the holiday.

I love homemade soup. It makes me feel as if I’ve cooked all day, when in reality, I’ve spent less than 20 minutes doing prep work, and then I just let things simmer. I had purchased the leeks and potatoes with the Thanksgiving groceries. And vichyssoise sounds impressive, but it’s actually nothing more than leeks (you can use onions, if you prefer), peeled potatoes, a little garlic (Julia would disapprove, but I love it and it’s my kitchen), and simmer gently. Puree it in a blender, store, then serve it (warm or cold; this soup does it all!) with a little cream. (You can use milk, but again – Julia would disapprove.)

I didn’t try to “Norman Rockwell” Thanksgiving. Some things weren’t made from scratch and some sides weren’t even made this year. (We went pie-less, for instance.) By having a laid-back Thanksgiving, I wasn’t exhausted and had some energy to pull down those boxes and consider where things might go.

Trust me, this takes planning. Lots of it.

The point is that I had to plan these self-care activities and I had to delay engaging in them until after the big holiday. But I kept gathering the necessary materials so that, when the time was right, I’d be ready. Remember that – self care doesn’t just happen and if you wait for the time to be exactly right for you to do the things you need to do to take care of you – well, you’ll always be waiting and you’ll never be doing. Repeat after me – there is no perfect time!

You have to plan. You have to build tiny steps toward self-care into your day. That’s what the Diva Drills are for, so head over there and start with Week One RIGHT NOW!

You can do this. And you will be better and healthier for taking the time and effort to take care of yourself.

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