It's been a crazy three weeks, hasn't it? An eclipse, two major hurricanes, massive sunspot activity, and half of the western US is on fire.
I sat down on Monday to write this, but was distracted by the Deep Creek fire, less than 10 miles from my house. I spotted the smoke at 3:30, and by 5:30 pm could see open flames licking the hillside. We spent the evening making a run to a friend's house--not for us, but because he was out of town and his place is only 2 miles from the fire. We watched the smoke rise only two ridges away and saw photos of naked fire, taken from a house above where we were.
Unfortunately, that's not an option for most of us. (For those whom it is, I am totally jealous of you right now. When did naps stop becoming a punishment and became a reward instead?) So what do you do when you're running on fumes and your cup is near-empty? What do you do when it feels like you can't take care of those around you, much less yourself?
- Stop and listen to your body. Are you hangry? Do you need a nap? When was the last time you drank some water? Feel like shit and having trouble listening to your body's signals? Try this interactive self-care guide.
- For god's sake, go play outside. Remember all those times whining to Mom when you were fussy and bored and fed up, and she--likely just as fed up, if not more so--told you to go outside and play? She was right - that whole sunlight/fresh air/vitamin D thing? Turns out it's good for you, both physically and mentally.
- Eat something good for you. Lay off the sugar, the fried food, the heavy processed carbs. Stop eating so much cra--I mean, comfort food--and have something that crunches when you bite into it. Tortilla chips do not count. I'm talking fresh food here, folks.
- Drink some water. It's easy to be crabby when you're even just a little dehydrated.
- Get some sleep, if you can. If you can't, try doing some meditative breathing. Inhale to a count of three, exhale to the count of four. Inhale to the count of four, exhale to the count of five. Slow it down and see how far you can comfortably go.
- Take a shower. Feel grody and not-quite human? Go shower. Feeling cranky and at odds with the world? Go shower. Can't figure out the solution to a project at work and your mind's in a tailspin? Go shower. It is astounding the number of the world's ills that can be improved by pouring a large quantity of hot water over one's head
- Spend some time around critters. If you do not have a critter of your own, Taavi will gladly step in for the lovin's. Or you can do as I did and visit my neighbor with ELEVEN NEW PUPPIES and pile them all in your lap. Best. Day. EVER!
- Get your groove thang on. Listen to some uplifting music you enjoy. Rock out and dance like no one's watching. Hide in the bathroom or stairwell at work and listen on your earbuds if necessary.
- Just move already! Even if you're not feeling up to taking a hike or going for a bike ride, get up and move as best you can. Or sit and move - chair dancing is totally A Thing. Just get your body moving, even if it's not very much or very long.
- Treat yo' self! If you're in the habit of putting yourself last, take a day and switch it around. Go do something just for you. It doesn't have to be big or expensive - shutting the door and curling up with a good book can be a wonderful gift to yourself.
- Be of service to others. And if you still can't get over feeling selfish by doing something just for you, try doing something nice for someone else, just because. Leave a kind note. Buy coffee for the person in line after you. Volunteer. Then soak up the feeling of knowing you just made someone else's day a little bit better, a little bit brighter.
- Be mindful. Slow down and savor the little things around you. Be grateful for all that you have. Greg and I once spent six weeks in winter with no propane--we couldn't afford it--and once the warm water came back and I no longer flinched in pain every time I washed my hands while cooking . . . well, let's just say the rapture and the glory did not soon fade.
It's easy to make the right mouth-noises about self-care, but sometimes (usually!) it's harder to follow through on that. I've been working on that a lot this year, starting with taking some more "me" time. I've also volunteered to massage the racers of Run Rabbit Run again; Chelsea and I will be there in the afternoon between 2-6pm. RRR is a charity race, we figure that ought to count as two good deeds, right?
The world is a hard and terrifying place sometimes. Take care of yourself the best you can.
PS. For those interested in Great Pyrenees/black lab puppies, please contact Michelle Sommerville at 970-871-5375.
PPS. For those interested in my experience with the eclipse, go here.