Roses and Balance

I never expected my “year of roses” to be quite so — interesting.

The last few weeks have been hectic as my small residential university prepared to re-open in a traditional face-to-face format in this incredibly challenging time. We’ve had our first full week of classes and we know we’re in for some unique challenges as we navigate the fall semester. Frequent sanitizing of classroom furniture and equipment is the “new normal,” and masks are the hot accessory of 2020.

Without a doubt, it’s very strange.

And we’re not alone – parents, teachers, and students of all ages are trying to figure this out.  To my mind, that makes focusing on kindness and the basic principles of self-care all the more crucial – you can only take care of other people for so long before your own tank runs dry and it’s clear that mental health can quickly become a casualty of living in the deep adrenaline bath that is 2020. Many resources for coping during this time are available – this is a good one for families. Three simple techniques with an assortment of strategies can be found here.

As I have said before, self-care is not frivolous and it’s not a matter of insisting on bubble baths and harp music. (Although if that’s what works for you, by all means, go ahead!) The idea is to create a life where running away from it is not necessary and (for me, at least) that requires some serious work. I’ve spoken before about the benefits of meditation, even if your brain spins like a top when you first begin it. I’m also a fan of journaling and, every now and again, screaming 80s song lyrics. (Hey, what works, works, right? And what works for me isn’t always Chopin nocturnes.)

It is absolutely crucial to take care of yourself in these times – I blocked out today to do just that. Yours may vary – and I really DO think you should take a look at the “Diva Drills” in the Resources tab – but let me tell you about mine.

I slept in, which is a luxury in and of itself. I then put on my fluffy robe and bunny slippers and had my first, strongly-brewed cup of coffee, then enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of homemade toast with honey and set up a simple slow cooker dinner before leaving to meet a couple of friends for tea at a local B&B that is cautiously hosting small, single-party gatherings. What would have been completely unremarkable a year ago was astonishing today. Fresh-baked scones served with homemade clotted cream, lemon curd, and raspberry jam, along with two different teas and tea-infused ice cream – just heavenly! (Click here for details about White Rose Manor – and remember, being “in the sticks” doesn’t mean you can’t live well!) When I got back home, my slow cooker dinner  of chicken with jarred artichokes served over couscous, with a quickly-tossed salad was ready, but my dishwasher was running, so — well, I guess it’s time to use the good china! Afterwards, my Best Beloved engaged in his own form of self-care and I moused around with a watercolor painting of rosemary (“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance” for those of you who remember Hamlet) to practice some background washes and brushstroke technique. It’ll be an early night, since my Monday starts very early with classes – and I’ll be better off for taking today to tend to my soul.

Roses may be harder to find during frantic days, but if you slow down – justabit! – you’ll see them. And the slowing down is, in its own way, a rose.

Roses.

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