Self Care Food
Self Care Socks.
I wore socks to work today. Self care socks, if you will.
I got these in Asheville. They’re like house-socks, or slippers that look like socks, or shoes that don’t do well in water. It was an extended stay in Asheville, NC. I also left with a nose piercing and enough temporary tattoos to disguise Chris’ identity if she ever needs to slink off a competitive comedy stage again.
That’s a great story. She basically challenged someone to a comedy dance-off and ended up hiding under my chair. This is why we’re friends.
When I tell her I think I hear neighbors outside and I don’t want them to hear that I’m home, and that I’m hiding in my closet with a Netflix line-up and a pound of Christmas Oreos and that I’ll slit my wrist if I have to pretend to be a perfect PTA parent right now, she’s all, “Say no to razors. Say yes to reviving inner unicorn with Chris.”
Friends don’t come better than ones who will help you revive your inner unicorn.
Which is kind of what these socks do for me. I slid into my therapy room like Tom Cruise in Risky Business and didn’t even bust my ass. I busted my ass later, while roller skating.
And then she sends me a meme. Like this one.
I hate being told to breathe. When someone tells me to breathe, I usually want to crack them in the jaw with my yoga mat. But I learned this one technique about 20 years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, Luke Francis.
I took a pregnancy yoga class, which was mainly a bunch of massively round women drinking tea and talking about episiotemies. This one technique, though, stuck with me. When I found myself using it at the dentist, to help me cope with the feeling of a needle jammed into my jaw, I realized I could use it anywhere. And I did. I still do.
4 to 8 Breathing
- Close your mouth. Breathe in to the count of 4. Fill your lungs comfortably.
- Keep mouth closed. Let that same air come out to the count of 8. Y
You’ll have to constrict your throat a little to control it so it comes out double speed. So it’s in 4, big breath, and out 8, long breath.
When I’m thinking about my breath, trying to keep it to this long-out-breath rhythm, my body relaxes without me realizing it. It just goes on autopilot. Something about those 8 breaths just makes pain of any kind tolerable.
I used that breath to cope for all 7 hours of labor. Luke was born, 9 pounds exactly. He was so fat and happy, he looked like a little buddha. We called him Buddha Baby.
Self Care Soup
Fruit Snacks For Self Care
Did you know that if you don’t shove them all in at once, each fruit snack has a different flavor? The lemon has a slight citrus note, the grape is kind of grape-y. There’s even a raspberry and a strawberry in here–slightly different reds. This is the revelation I had, while sitting on the dining room floor, eating my kid’s lunch treats.
The point of this exercise is not to pillage your children’s snack department, although that is fun in it’s own way, but to take the time to experience something in a more enjoyable way, by slowing down. Like way down.
It helps to have a six-year-old while doing this self care technique. I shared my discoveries with my son the next day, and he brightened up and sat down with me. We put them in our mouth, patiently chewed them, and compared notes. He was all, “I haven’t chewed mine yet, mom.” after I’d already bitten, tasted and swallowed my orange slice one. (Mindful little sucker. He shows me up everytime.) We compared flavors. He noticed the lemon-y-ness of the yellow one. I didn’t believe it tasted like lemon at all, but it turns out there was a sliiiight citrus taste if I breathed out of my nose. We agreed we both liked the strawberry one better than the raspberry one, the lighter red one.
It calmed me down, was pleasurable, and got me 20 minutes away from my crisis. Self care. Practiced. (Snack drop.)
Currently, I live in one of those neighborhoods where the neighbors are extremely conscientious about the appearance of the streets and sidewalks. Everyone keeps their yards neat, the sidewalks clear and we all chip in for annual neighborhood flowers.
The sidewalks in my former neighborhood, however, were hazardous—old, cracked, and covered with restaurant fliers and empty beer cans. There were so many broken concrete pieces that whenever I would put the kids in the stroller to go for a walk, they’d all risk whiplash.
Sometimes, our lives feel like the cracked sidewalk—nothing is stable or easy or predictable. The journey feels a little messy, frustrating and unknown. We want a smooth path of recovery. We don’t want to have to navigate the pain, loss and feelings of despair.
We want life to be easier than it sometimes is.
But pain still comes. We still face rejection and blocked goals and the loss of control.
One day, while walking on the broken, messed-up sidewalk in front of my old house, I tripped over a large crack. Looking down at the concrete, I saw something growing in the crack. A red flower had pushed its way through the concrete. I began to notice the other breaks in the sidewalk—each one of the cracks, large or small was filled with some kind of plant-life. Grass was growing, wild flowers flourished—the cracks had become home to tiny gardens.
Whiplash-producing sidewalks are not necessarily ideal, but they make room for a different kind of growth than sidewalks without any bumps. Somehow, even in imperfect circumstances, life is still pushing through. Grass shoots up. Flowers still grow.
We may not have chosen our circumstances, but we’re also not limited by them. Our lives and relationships may not be what we desire them to be, but hope and change and peace can stubbornly push through.
The goal of our recovery and our lives is not to fix every crack or smooth out the rough edges. The goal is to be open to the grace and new beginnings God is willing to give.
There’s no limit to what God is able to do with the cracks and bumps and jagged edges of our lives.
The God of our understanding doesn’t need smooth pathways in order to bring about the deep, life-giving peace we desperately need.
Don’t put limits on what can happen when you turn your life and will over to the care of God.
There is a saying from the Bible that reads, “Don’t keep holding on to the former things. Don’t let them mark your life. Stop living in what’s already happened. Look right here. I’m doing something new. It’s springing up. Don’t miss it.”
Don’t focus your energy on securing a smooth path—instead, be open to the life, serenity and love that spring up when you least expect it.
God is still at work. Love is healing wounds, hope is reviving despair, and flowers can break through concrete.
Chris Gibson is the Spiritual Director at an addiction treatment center in Texas, and Hadley Earabino is a life coach and massage therapist in North Carolina.
We’re kind of a big deal in the fun department. On our girls’ trips we stop and crank the radio and show off our mad Zumba moves in gas station parking lots. (Yes, we’re both certified.) On our last beach trip, we did yoga on the beach. Picture full-on tree pose in middle-aged bikinis. Sometimes we make each other laugh so hard that other people get uncomfortable, which only makes us laugh harder. It’s not fair to keep this sh*t to ourselves! And we can’t zip it up very well anyway, so here goes….