Self Care Sunday
This past two weeks I have had incredible highs and lows in my life. I went from the high of having my family all reunited for the first time in 4 years, to the low of my father having a terrible fall and ending up in hospital.
I am going to exercise some self-care here by not detailing any of the terrible lows associated with that but I am sure you can imagine! Suffice to say the emotional toll combined with the hours of travel back and forth and trying to get answers from the hospital (and more importantly — a release for my father) was also physically exhausting.
Dad has been home for a couple of days now and I am still utterly exhausted. He can’t walk much further than his front gate right now (because thankfully he is taking it very easy) and as I do not drive, I walk to his place and back to see him (an hour and a half return journey) and the universe thinks it’s fun to bring back our torrential rain just to add a bit of extra to my already pretty full plate. Yes I know I sound whiny, don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the universe for looking after my Dad, but I admit it — I would like some nice weather just occasionally too!
So this week I have been giving myself grace and permission to look after myself.
• to sleep when I feel like it.
• to eat when I feel like it.
• to do my household chores if I feel like it.
• to write if I feel like it.
• To not answer my phone and not reply to an email or a text — you got it — unless I feel like it.
More importantly — I have given myself permission to not care if anyone has an opinion about me doing, or not doing any of those things.
I listen to Brené Brown from time to time when I need a bit of a kick in the behind and I recalled one where she was speaking to Oprah and was talking about writing permission slips for herself — I found a snip of the video (about 2 minutes):
I have never felt any need to write myself a note, but the act of giving myself explicit permission to do or not do something just because ‘reasons’, actually works. Initially I had little arguments with myself about it, but in the end, me owning my own time and my own space and respecting my own capacity to carry anything extra at a given time, felt fair and reasonable to me. So I did what I told myself I would do, I took heed of the permission I gave myself and carried on regardless of anything anyone else may have thought. I am the boss of me.
As a poet, if I go a day without writing I don’t feel like me. However, if I force myself to write and then am not happy with my efforts, then I actually feel worse than if I didn’t even try. I write and feel like what I produced is not ‘good enough’. I really have no idea what ‘good enough’ is to be honest. This past week I have been sleeping when ever I can and still feeling tired in between. I tried a few times to write something for the Move Me Poetry weekly Battle and was not finding anything. I was going to give up (but that is just not me) so I allocated some time and made a conscious effort to put words on paper. I completed them and found images and did my usual thing. By submission time in my head, I decided they were not okay and that I would not submit and I went to sleep. 7 hours of restless sleep later I had a stern conversation with myself about why I write, which is for me, just for me, so what on earth was I thinking. So I submitted and went back to sleep less restless.
This is the simple lead in, to the main theme for this week:
Why do we care so much about what our critics think about us or our creative endeavours?
I would hazard a guess that not one of us is kinder to ourselves than our critics. Surely we are all pretty much our own worst critics — case in point, my silliness over the battle submissions? So how do the external critics get a look in?
Today I thought I would share a longer video of Brené Brown, “Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count”. In it she references that “there is nothing more vulnerable than creativity”. She describes vulnerability as not being about winning or losing, but about showing up and being seen. some other messages from the video:
“If you are a creative, you will get your arse kicked/so, if courage is a value that we hold/getting your arse kicked is a consequence/you can’t avoid it/if you are not in the arena, also getting your arse kicked I am not interested in your feedback”
She also refers to a Theodore Roosevelt quote:
I really like that concept — that the credit belongs to the person who is in the arena, who strives valiantly, who at the worst, if they fail, they at least do so while daring greatly.
So this week’s self-care message is simple:
As writers we are hard on ourselves, we criticise ourselves for failing to meet our own standards and we take feedback from others as an estimation of our self-worth. We have to stop doing that.
We need to give ourselves grace as writers. Grace to make mistakes. Grace to not impress every reader. Grace to take breaks when we need them.
So to finish off the week, here is a wonderful inspirational song from ‘The Greatest Showman’.