Sunday, July 31, 2011

Self-Care Retreat for July: Nourishment Through Creativity

This virtual self-care retreat is to inspire you all to make July a month of reflecting on self-care and the many ways to nourish ourselves.   We encourage everyone to participate in this event in a way that feels appropriate to them, whether through personal reflection, journal or other self-care.  If you would like to share your experience with self-care, we would love to include you in the experience, whether you join us for one week or every week.  You can write generally about self-care, or focus on one of the themes (movement, food, family/friends/pets, creativity and meditation and mindfulness), or write every week about each of the themes.  We ask that you link back to this post so that more people can learn about this retreat, and leave a comment for the weekly theme host, too!  If you would like to be included in our  roundup, please email a link to your post, along with your name and blog name, to us at selfcareretreat at gmail dot com by July 31, 2011.  Feel free to use the badge in your posts.  Non-bloggers who would like to contribute, please email the full text to the same address and it will be included in the roundup.

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


Cheryl Harris said...

Iris, your photos are stunning! Each one made me pause and appreciate. I, too, love to draw and find it totally therapeutic. I'm glad you missed the 'deadline'. It shows you're more committed to your health and self care than an arbitrary date!
Thanks so much for hosting and joining us.

gfe--gluten free easily said...

Fabulous post, Iris! I loved every part of it and the irony of it is that I sometimes do these things to consciously de-stress (e.g., put on favorite music and can't help but dance to it--LOVE to dance!), but if I did them on a more frequent basis, I wouldn't have the stress buildup to begin with.

I agree on the coloring, too. There's a reason they have adult coloring books. Some folks just are not "free" enough to draw or color on their own. That whole judgment thing again. But some will use coloring books that have lovely quilt designs you color in with colored pencils or a multitude of kites to get creative with. I admit I haven't seen any in the stores in a while (and the stores themselves are dwindling), but it's a great idea to color freestyle or within the lines. ;-)

I admit I've always been inhibited by journaling. Sometimes writing down raw emotions makes them more real for me and instead of letting them out, it makes me hyperfocus on them. Blogging (and some closeted writing of poems and short stories/beginning of novels LOL) is the closest I've come to sharing my thoughts, etc. But writing is definitely a great outlet.

I do like taking photos especially of nature. Even if I never share all of them, just looking through them is wonderfully relaxing and makes me appreciate my efforts.

Love this one, Iris--thank you! Great ending to our Self-Care retreat!


Stephanie said...

Beautiful post Iris. I don't take enough time to focus on my creative side. Thanks for the reminder.

PS: I think you did a great job capturing yourself dancing :)

Heather (Life, Gluten Free) said...

That is wonderful. I love it!

Cheryl Harris said...

Hi Iris,
My post is up! Better late than never.

Farty Girl said...

Dancing in the bedroom is such a great release!!! Thank you for reminding us how important it is to take time to express ourselves, and let our fire out into the universe. :-)


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