During the past month of transition, in space outside of routine, “shoulds” and “have-to’s, something I have long known has become even clearer: I have a hard time practicing strong self-care. I often give more than I have. I often prioritize tasks (like work, cleaning, commitments to friends and family) over my own needs. And when it comes down to asking for help, man, is that a challenge for me.
At the Wandering Women’s Retreat two weeks ago Brooke and I spoke a lot about self care, self love, and women empowering other women through support and care. It was a challenge for me to speak about these topics when in reality, I knew I wasn’t doing the best job of caring for myself. In fact, as I spoke about them I realized I was drained. My tank wasn’t full. How was I supposed to hold space for these women when I was struggling to hold space for myself?
But the beauty in this moment… those women helped me to refill my tank, even if they didn’t know it. They helped me by allowing me to dance in the rain, by the fireside, bare-skin and beautiful. They provided affirmations of my worthiness, of my skill and talent without request. They helped me with their openness and love. And also with so many hugs (thank god - hugs are my favorites!)
So here’s what I know. Self care is hard as hell. I fuck it up all the time. But it’s about being intentional for me. If I can set a routine for myself and stick to it. If I can consistently do the things that make me feel good and alive..If I can be easy with myself…That is good self care.
And just as importantly, when my tank is empty, when I’ve dropped the self-care ball HARD and it’s shattered into a million pieces, and when I want to push everyone away…sometimes it’s worth letting in the ladies I can lean on (and yes, sometimes it is also good to hibernate and hide away if that’s what you need).
Anyway, these lessons carried over big time this past week.
Last Thursday I mentioned my childhood best friend called. When I asked her how she was, I immediately I knew something was wrong. She told me it was time to put her sweet kitty down and as we talked and cried I did my very best to support her! Just four days earlier I had called her crying and she had been there for me in just the same way. Three days later, we got together for a walk, drinks and food. And we leaned on each other. We talked about our lives, our loves, our losses. We drank wine and played with soap at LUSH like we had 10 years ago, we laughed without restraint, and we gave gratitude for one another. It’s not always easy for me to do the calling, to be the one who asks for help. But I’ve come to learn that when the give and take is equal, it feels beyond amazing, FOR EVERYONE INVOLVED!
This Thursday (yesterday) I danced up in Bellingham with another woman who I hold dear to my heart, my dance teacher. The class focused on giving and receiving. As I danced, I thought about how in my movement I gave bigger, but it was more painful. After all, when I give, I often give more than I have. I noticed that in my movements, I received smaller, more timidly, and it was uncomfortable, but a pleasant discomfort.
So, as I danced, I reflected on my interactions with my best friend, with out ease, love and effortless ability to give and receive. And I began to think about the women in my life that I have done my best to give to and receive from. As I thought, all the gifts I’ve been given this week came into focus. I have had so many women this past week give so effortlessly to me and in writing this post I want to finally receive all their care because it’s just sitting there waiting and I’m still learning how to receive AS BIG as I give!
So, in short…here is to:
My surrogate big sister who gives me her beautiful vulnerability, her love, laughter, food to fill my belly over endless conversation, and a safe place that always feels like home.
My Mamma, who gives to me…um everything. Enough said.
My little cousin who gives me endless support, and who became the first person to officially be a contributor for Empowered Wanderer’s Patreon!
A former Western Classmate who gave me the opportunity to put up business cards and flyers in her coffee shop and a super special handmade present for Luna!
My Aunt who gave me Luna and paid for the title transfer!
A sweet friend who I met ONCE at a Mariner’s game a year + ago and gave me a room to stay in, in Reno, and a future birthday celebration in Yosemite!
My photographing queen of a friend, who gave me pure love and excitement as she texted me freaking out about how much she loved Luna’s Car Tour
My sweet dance soul sister who gave me the gift of paying for my last class on Thursday and the women who came to share space on the floor with me
My pillar of light who gave me a free feast of buttered chicken and her deepest love
AHHH! So much love, so much to receive! But boy, these ladies have built a mountain of care and support for me to lean on during this transition. So, here’s what I have to say about that, even if it is new and uncomfortable for me to lean, I’m leaning in! And let me tell you, it feels GREAT!