Self-care offering

During the month-long Slice of Life Story Challenge on Two Writing Teachers, fellow Slicer Leigh Anne Eck decided to host a virtual Spring Fling party. The price of attending: Three of your best self-care tips for enduring this time of sequestering (my word of choice, as I am already weary of “social distance” and “quarantine,” even “shelter in place”… more on that later …).

Thanks for the invitation, Leigh Anne! Here’s my tripartite offering.

Self-Care Tip One: Remember, revisit, relive.

Think back on the happy moments of your life. Maybe in childhood. Maybe connected to a place you love. A person you love. The moments don’t have to be major ones like weddings and personal victories; they can be simple, really happy moments. A time you felt safe, secure, at peace; it may be laced with laughter or wonder. Then go back. Recall the setting—the lighting, the season, details of the surroundings, smells, objects, who was there, motions, words, thoughts, and why you felt happy. If you stay there a while, the scene will fade in clearer and clearer. Write it. Write your memory. Bring it out of the attic of your mind. Dust it off. Let it breathe. Write it in present tense, because you are actually there, living it; the moment is now.

Self-Care Tip Two: Write a letter of gratitude.

Think of someone who’s been a guiding influence or great inspiration in your life. Maybe someone who believed in you when you needed it most, or someone who’s encouraged you. Write a letter to this person to say “thank you” for impacting your life for the better. It could be a person who’s been part of your life for a long time, or one who appeared for a short but important while. Tell this person why you’re so grateful for what he or she has given you. Then … call this person and read the letter. Or send it in written form. And, if your person should happen not to be living now: Light a candle this evening and read your letter aloud. Or find a favorite place outside to read your letter aloud; maybe take a gratitude walk at your favorite time of day and read it aloud.

Variation: This could even be a letter to a favorite pet. Or to God.

Self-Care Tip Three: Abide.

I can’t take long walks at present because of a broken foot, but when it’s healed, I’ll resume walking around the churchyard with my youngest son. Many times we talked and I got to hear the innermost workings of his mind and heart. Other times we walked in silence, and I absorbed the images around me. The gardenias budding and the waft of their sweet perfume (impressions come with images). The sparkle of quartz in the little rocks scattered along the pavement, the tiny wild violet growing in a crack. The long limbs of the weeping willow, whispering and dancing in the breeze, the setting sun turning the white steeple to fiery rose-gold … you get the picture.

Just walk. Abide in nature, in silence. Take a notebook to capture what it shows you. Write what you see. These are abiding images. Listen to their whisperings, stirrings, songs. Write (and sketch or photograph) what comes to you, and abide.

Bonus Hostess Gift: Leigh Anne, I’d have brought the precious request of your heart—toilet paper—but as you know, alas, “there’s not a square to spare.” Instead I bring the board games of my childhood: Parcheesi, Monopoly, Life, Chinese Checkers, Backgammon/Acey-deucey, as well as Yahtzee and jacks … jacks! Do kids know what jacks are anymore? Give me a while and I’ll remember all those cool tricks I once knew…

Enjoy this rare time with your families, my friends.

Take good care.

31 thoughts on “Self-care offering

  1. Fran, these are wonderful ideas for self care and you taught me a new word as well–tripartite! And look at you, bringing along a bonus hostess gift! I’m sure we can all dust off some memories just remembering moments with those tried and true games from our childhood. Thanks!

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    • Why thanks, Molly! Leigh Anne had kidded about a hostess gift of TP and so I couldn’t let it go unremarked; I decided that was a good spot to recall those games we loved as kids, that families can play together (probably all available on Amazon if needed). Now, of course, I am on a mission to recall the variations of jacks I once knew – I was a formidable competitor! Haven’t thought about that in forever. When one writes, one thing ALWAYS leads to another, doesn’t it?

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  2. “Bring it out of the attic of your mind. Dust it off. Let it breathe.” These words take my breath away. This is what happens for me when I sketch, or copy a painting. The process of seeing, or making the picture my own is like rummaging through the attic of my mind! I just might do that today! Thanks, as always, for sharing, Fran!

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    • Thank you, Dawn – what a great parallel to the pictures in your mind. It’s a great attic, a storehouse, of so many things filed in so many compartments … tapping in and finding that right picture, or pulling up that memory like a video, is indeed the creative process. I so appreciate YOU and your words (and your sketches and paintings).

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  3. These are wonderful gifts for self care. I love how you describe walking and hearing both the innermost working of your son’s mind as well as the images that abide in silence. It’s why I walk, lots, in silence.

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    • Thank you – I love to hear him talk freely because he’s very reserved. When we walk in silence, or when I walk alone, I hear nature “speaking” its innermost secrets, too … that was a great surprise to me once I started writing regularly and being more focused on things around me. I discovered this affinity with nature, which we’ve lost a lot, since we don’t live as close to the earth as people in times past. It renews the spirit, walking in silence, doesn’t it, Anita. 🙂

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  4. I joined the party today too! It’s a delight to see who’s showing up and what they bring. Leigh Anne definitely knows how to throw a party. Your tips are perfect and your writing is exquisite. What wonderful invitations you’ve extended to us during this time of sequestering! I hope it’s okay if I share your first one with our memoir writing group’s padlet.

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    • Yea, Ramona! I will head over and celebrate with you on your post. Thank you for your words … by all means, take anything and share as you see fit. For that first idea on memory-writing – it should have said “write in present tense” (instead of “first person” which of course a memoir would be written in anyway). It’s writing in present tense – as if it’s actually happening – that makes it really come to life. I have now amended that part – so, it’s good to go and thank you so much! 🙂

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  5. These are great ideas, Fran. I have on my list of things to do some letter writing. I think everyone needs the joy of opening some “snail mail” these days. And the board games! Such fun to bring those back out!

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    • I think snail mail is a great idea (by the time it arrives, does it even need to sit the garage to kill the potential virus?! Is this really our lives now?!). It WAS such a joy “back in the day” to get a letter, though. And the games – the hours of fun they were. Thank you for these thoughts. 🙂

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  6. Thank you for coming to my party! Your words are always so gorgeous! And I love how they lead to writing! Your first tip is a writing prompt itself. I may need to practice this today in my notebook. My slice today is going to be about my kids playing a board game…well until they disagreed on the rules! I really need to get back here more often. You are good for my soul! 🙂

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    • It was the greatest idea, Leigh Anne! A joy! Thanks so much for the inspiration – and for your words. Kids -!! Hopefully by now they’ve got their rules straight and the game underway. Oh and I forgot to mention Battleship … hmmm… sparring kids may have jogged that memory …

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  7. Wonderful self-care tips! I’ll be writing my own self-care post tomorrow. Slicing has definitely been a mind-saver this past week, and I find inspiration from fellow Slicers more abundant this year than in the past. I will be revisiting a lovely, but not-too-distant memory of my daughter’s wedding party as I work on her in-laws’ photo album today. I am not much of a board-game player, but have spent an inordinate amount of time playing solitaire and mahjong on the computer this past week! A bubble bath will top off my evening as I head into this first “work week” without a library or students.

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    • I will look forward to your self-care post; sounds intriguing … on the topic of inspiration: It occurs to me, Chris, that YOU are a primary reason I am even in the SOLSC this year! I wasn’t sure I had the stamina for it and you were posting along those same lines; one day you said I’d encouraged you (somehow!) and that you’d decided to take on the challenge. At that time, I was still on the fence but your jumping in encouraged ME to do so. And now … what a blessing it’s been. So, thank YOU for the inspiration you are, always.

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      • Fran, I can’t imagine this month without your wonderful stories and insight. I am so glad you and I made the decision to stay the course. Maybe a Muse with the gift of foresight was niggling at us both, knowing how important this community would be, this year in particular.

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  8. My self-care gifts were all very selfish, the things I am doing for myself. Your gifts were selfless ideas for us to take with us. Thanks. I know there is some good coming out of this, but today watching church on live stream, I lost my composure and all alone cried. Deep breath. Quick recovery. But oh, this is not easy.

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    • Oh, Margaret. I have cried, too – and I don’t cry easily. All the pastors online (my husband included) are so encouraging. It was the footage of the hospitals in Italy that got me last night. But – I do those things for myself, too. We will all borrow from each other’s care of self. That is very different from selfish. It is not buying up all the TP … ❤️

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    • Thank you for your thoughts and well-wishes! I suppose I consider writing my greatest form of self-care … each of these activities at various times has brought me into a deeper and better place in myself, and left me feeling renewed and at peace.

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  9. I love what you have shared here, Fran. “Just walk. Abide in nature, in silence.” One of my very favorite things to do. I will have to think about a letter of gratitude or two, as well.

    As for my own self-care, I think the biggest thing I’ve been learning over the past months is granting myself permission to be human – to know that sometimes I will be a grouchy-and-spiteful-feeling, stress-eating, workout-skipping, obscenity-muttering kind of human. Because I am human. =))

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    • Writing letters of gratitude may not seem like self-care but it’s such a release. There’s power in it. I’ve found peace in doing each of these things at various times. Your description of your “sometimes-self” makes me smile- perhaps because it’s like a mirror? Forgiving oneself is one of the hardest things to do but guilt is too heavy a thing to drag around … permission to be human, yes (why do we try to be superhuman?). I think I will start calling this self-grace.

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      • Absolutely. I know for myself that forgiveness is a physical thing I carry with me – I’m not sure what I would do with my hands or arms if I laid down that burden.

        Hmmm. Perhaps there’s some writing waiting to be done there. I’ll think on that.

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  10. Fran,
    I needed to read your post today. I need self-care that takes the focus off me and returns me 1. to a memory of someone important, and almost immediately one entered my brain; 2. to someone who could use a note or letter, and I have someone in mind; 3. to nature and a reminder we have a new trail right by our home, and I need to explore it. Blessings to you.

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  11. What nice suggestions! I love the lyrical way you’ve written. I especially loved these lines from your first suggestion: “Write your memory. Bring it out of the attic of your mind. Dust it off. Let it breathe.”

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