I dance. I do it without judgment. Without fear or thought that someone will find my movements awkward. When I dance, I twirl like a child and jump around. I pretend I'm a master of modern dance, and I throw my body in whatever direction my soul is calling. I become a lady in red, waltzing to the tune of Frank Sinatra. I listen to my body, and hear what it needs. Sometimes this isn't to go to the gym, take a walk, or do yoga. Sometimes it needs to move the way it used to as a child. With abandon.
I draw. I throw my emotions into my arm and allow my fingers to draw what's in my heart, my head, my body. I release my frustrations onto the page. My crayons draw hearts, stars, soft curves, and angry zig zags, depending on the day. I stop telling myself that art has to look a certain way. I stop telling myself that I'm creating art at all. I just look at the page, and let my fingers move. The results are often childlike. And when I'm done, I feel at peace.
I write. I sit and I write until my hand can write no more. Until I must shake my wrist to get the tightness out. I admit everything I've been holding in, all the thoughts I've been too ashamed to say. All the judgments I've made and felt guilty over. All the confusion and fear that cause tightness in my chest. I also write to let happiness come and perch on my shoulder. I write poems, though I am not a poet. I write the beginnings of stories, knowing I'll never finish them. But they're not being written with a purpose in mind. I'm simply writing because there's something in me that needs a way out. Sometimes I write blog posts. Sometimes I publish them. Sometimes I erase them. In the end, it doesn't matter. It simply matters that I get the words out.
I take photos. I tune out the world and focus on a blur of green and blue, searching for a new angle, a softer light, a different way to see the world. I think for a moment that all there is in the world is what I see in front of me. My worries disintegrate. I don't try to take a great food photo. I simply play. I let time stop.
In order to take care of myself, I must be creative. And when I pursue creativity in the art of self-care, there is one thing I must do above all else. Let go of judgment. Self-care through creativity is not about creating art to display for the world. It's about letting yourself be in the moment without pursuit of anything. Without pursuit of perfection, completion, accomplishment. By letting go of the desire to produce something "worthwhile," I can let go of my fears. I can just be.
How do you nourish yourself? If you're not sure, put on some music, grab crayons and paper, or pick up your camera and talk a walk. Be with yourself without judging the results. Draw with the intention of throwing the paper away after, or erasing your photos. Dance as you might after having one too many glasses of wine. Be you. Without judgment.
Last month, I was invited by Valerie and Cheryl, creators of this virtual Self-Care Retreat, to be a host. They asked me to write a post on self-care through creativity and to post it on the 30th for the last post of the month. You'll notice that the 30th was yesterday. I missed my deadline, and I hate missing deadlines. But I have been stretching myself so thin lately that I haven't had time for any self-care, much less doing something creative. And in letting go of my self-care routines, I can feel my health slipping backwards, both physically and emotionally. So I'm using this post as a reminder to myself, as well as for all of you, that self-care is not like a vacation. It's not something we do when we have the time and money saved up. It's something we need to do every day, just as we brush our teeth or eat dinner every day. It's something we need to see as non-negotiable. We need to care for and nourish ourselves just as we would our loved ones.
Check out the rest of the posts for July's Self-Care Retreat:
Self-Care Through Movement
Self-Care Through Food
Self-Care Through Reflection
Self-Care Through Family, Friends, and Pets