Take Care, Darling

Wow.

It’s been… I don’t even have the words to describe it.

Horrific will have to suffice.

I think it would be an understatement to say that people everywhere are hurting. Scenes of appalling violence have been described and even shown everywhere on our facebook news feeds. Racism, terrorism, and homophobia turn lethal. A now irrelevant, jobless politician is calling for a “figurative” war, our social media is awash with sorrow, rage, compassion, bigotry, love, binary thinking, and Pokémon . We’ve been called to love one another, but that gives me pause because I have to wonder, do we really know what that means?

I don’t have an answer for that.

I do, however, have a suggestion. Take care of yourself. It may seem trite given all that’s happened, but it is vital. The emotional toll of recent events, specifically for several communities – LGBTQIA, Muslim, Black, and Latinx, has been devastating. Self-care is an important part of loving yourself and replenishing so that you can face the world with strength and clarity.

Here is a great guide to understanding self care in the long of it. The short of it, as told by my therapist, is that our emotions are like water (or in my case, a good malbec) in a cup. When that cup is too full (ie a person becomes overwhelmed by emotions and stress), the cup overflows and that nice malbec will spill all over the place. I need to take a moment to sip my wine (take care of my body, relieve stress, acknowledge my feelings… also maybe drink actual wine) every now and then or it will spill everywhere! Which means in real life I might start crying in the middle of a work meeting (true story). What a mess!

I guess I should state here that I am NOT a mental health care provider. 

Our metaphorical cup runneth over these days and we need to take care, darlings. Below is an incomplete guide to self-care, just to get you started. I’ve asked a few friends to contribute their self-care practices and what self-care means to them because it is so different from person to person. Mine mostly consists of eating store brand pizza rolls and playing with my cat.

First things first, however, are some resources for anyone interested or in need of a mental health care or are looking for a provider:

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Mental Health America

No Stigmas

Artwork by Michaela Heidemann

Artwork by Michaela Heidemann

Christian:

26, New York City

“For self-care I go to yoga, more importantly I go to therapy, I try to get 6-to-8 hours of sleep, I try to get 6-to-8 hours of sleep without drugs or alcohol, I read like it’s going out of style (and it IS), I limit how often I stare into a screen

“It’s really important to get out of the fantasies in my head, out of my neverending lists of to-dos, forget my responsibilities, and get the fuck out of my apartment and out into the world and pay my dues to Dionysus. The club is essential. It adds context to my life. If I go too long without doing drag, I crumble. I need to be assaulted by human company, disco and revelry. The ancient Greeks sanctified wine, mania & transvestism for a reason! Control is also about letting go (black swan)! When all is said and done, nothing can get me back on the rails like a pair of heels—they just tighten me right up, they come off but the CUNT*THREESNAPS* remains!

“My favorite thing really is to take my dog for walks when she allows it (she’s a diva and she’s 10 so…) and watch The Real Housewives with my actual wife. We’ve solved so many problems in our own lives and histories by watching these archetypal ladies go through it. And Omg going to dinner with my wife and enjoying sustained eye contact, sustained eye contact pretty much anywhere we can get it. The bedroom being the greatest altar for this practice.

“I think the most important aspect of self care is having a real relationship with yourself. To know yourself, all the good and all the bad (recognizing that they each have as many hang-ups and baggage attached); you have to catalog your perceptions. Figure out how the perceptions inform your motivations and your choices. Figure out how to step out of these perceptions and see the world and yourself through as many different lenses as possible. And then learn how to trust your intuition, how to actually trust yourself (even though you aren’t perfect! Will never be perfect! Only art and artifice can be perfect!). Know what your true intention is with every motion you make.”

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Artwork by Michaela Heidemann

Melanie

26, Houston

“Everyday is a Reset Button: The Mantra Mirror”

“It’s important to leave certain days behind you. Inevitably, we’re pitted against momentary states of chaos; Something or someone has offset our balance and we carry those burdens into our sleep and into our new day. We let our “Life-train” derail off the tracks, consumed by social media and the daily grind of the bs offered to us on our platters.  However, what I have found to be most effective for myself is to envision a red reset button in my mind’s eye.

For me, it looks like the proverbial Staples “Easy” button and before I roll out of bed, I see myself hit it and then take a good look in the mirror.

“What I have admired from a few friends of mine were their what I like to call, Mantra Mirrors. The concept is simple enough and I’m sure you’ve seen them before. Post-It Notes or Index cards taped and written on a mirror that serve as daily reminders of who we ‘hope’ to be and that somewhere in the madness, we have gotten off track.

“They can be as intricate as quotes from our free world thinkers and leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Ghandi or maybe fictional Leslie Knope once offered a quote of what’s important in life: ‘Friends, Waffles, and Work. Or waffles, friends work. But work has to come third.’  And I know for a fact that Bill Nye our Science Guy and Neil Degrasse Tyson have said some profound things that boggled our minds and reaffirmed how we may see the world. Though truthfully, it’s just the little kitten, his front paws from the branch reminding you to ‘Hang in There’.

“There are days that I do not want to roll out of bed but whatever the cause, it’s important to reset myself back into the things that I can control and to take care of my domain that I worked hard to build. I hit the reset button, I look at myself in the Mantra Mirror and say my mantras out loud. And since I do love Parks and Recreation, my favorite mantra comes from Donna and Tom, ‘Treat Yo Self’.”

 

The Little Things:

Cooking a meal for a friend.

Buying donuts for a group of people

Take a walk outdoors, preferably where there’s a good amount of greenery.

Sing and dance alone in your apartment where no one can judge you and you can go as hard as you want.

Take a steamy shower and end it with a mask and a yummy lotion, making sure to get every inch.

De-clutter your apartment/home/hovel

Stream of consciousness writing exercise

Remake your bed and go to bed early

Keep an art journal

Meditate

And much, much more!!!

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Artwork by Michaela Heidemann

BONUS

Recipe for a bath that will feel like Lin Manuel Miranda wrote you a sonnet:

1 cup of milk, coconut milk, or almond milk

3 tbsp of honey

2 cups of Epsom Salts

1 tbsp of lavender (or you can use 2-3 drops of lavender oil, OR buy lavender epsom salts)

Music by someone who gets it, whatever it may be. Think Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, or Nina Simone

Light as many damn candles as you can find, you deserve it. (mild or no scent is best)

Let your mind wander or do reflective practice on your actions of the past few days/weeks/months

K, now treat yoself.

Candlezz

Artwork and Article by Michaela Heidemann