On wanting both

I'm trying something new - for those of you who, like me, find it tough to sit down and actually read a blog post, I've recorded myself loosely reading this one for you. It's a little awkward, and not really how I talk, but it's a first try so whatever. Let me know what you think! xo

The YOSC: Entry #13

So, here is the thing about self care. When you fall off the wagon, you kinda can’t be like, ah well. Too bad. Guess taking care of myself isn’t for me! Onward and upward! Because a more likely truth is that it will be not so much upward, but more like, uh, the opposite. Bleary-eyed ball of anger and tears, eating gas station chips and drowning all thoughts and feelings in a hundred thousand million episodes of Friends. Or something.

I went to the gym maybe 4 times in the past two months. Let my external brain evolve into a purse colouring book for my kids. Definitely didn’t meditate again. And it didn’t feel good. So… hi again! I have a YOSC post for you. Lucky 13. 🙂

This one is kind of reflective. Something that’s been on my mind lately, and I count it as self care to think about these things, because being honest with myself and resolving conflicts is good. Finding peace is healthy.

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On finding your calling

The YOSC: Entry #12

I’m doing something a little different this week, in honour of The 100 Day Project. This year’s project is fast approaching, set to start on the 4th (tomorrow)! The 100 Day Project is a great, big, global art project and celebration of creativity, shared through social media. It’s as simple as this – pick a creative action, any teensy, tiny action – write something, draw something, take a picture, knit a row, dance a letter of the alphabet – whatever you please, do it every day for 100 days, and share it with the rest of the community. Everything you need to know to participate can be found in delightful hand-lettering here.

It’s fun, but beyond that there is something really special about the community of people rallying together to live creatively. This will my third year giving it a go, and I really like it. Actually, to be honest my first project two years ago kind of changed my life.

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Small acts of self-care

The YOSC: Entry #11

Last week Achim had a deadline so I had to pick up the slack at home, do bed-times, and even skip the gym once. I wasn’t feeling the best, health-wise, and neither was Alida – lots of crying and needing to be held. It could have been a pretty shitty week, but to be honest, it wasn’t. Joni had a few good playdates, I managed to accomplish a couple satisfying illustration-related things, and the laundry even got put away (!!!). I coulda used a little more face time with humans above the age of 4, but overall, it was a decent week.
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The YOSC #10: A follow-up (and a name!)

The YOSC: Entry 10!

WELL I have done this now for 10 weeks straight! And my radical self-care project finally has a name. It isn’t brilliant or hilarious, but it is sticking. I named the file on my computer where I am keeping the illustrations “YOSC” (for Year Of Self Care), and it sounded kind of funny to my ear, made me think of a Dr Seuss-ish abbreviation of Yas Queen. And then when I googled it and found I would share the acronym with such esteemed organisations as the Ypsilanti Otters Swim Club and the Yakota Officers’ Spouses’ Club? I was sold!

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The External Brain

The 2017 Self-Care Project: Entry #9

Achim is a pretty techy guy. I nerd-brag about what a good modern handyman he is. He fixes our broken screens himself, even took apart a ricemilk soaked laptop and was able to revive it. He always knows about new geeky things well before I do and he’s pretty good at optimising tech to make life easier.

But for the last year or so his top brain organising tool has been a little paper notebook which he has dubbed his “external brain”. I know a lot of people consider their phone a kind of extension of their “brain”, but the thing is that while phones are awesome tools they are also pretty fantastic playthings. Even if you don’t use your phone for fun stuff, I think they are just inherently distracting, what with all the notifications and this app linked to that one connected to this service and that social media platform, etc. Altogether, it just doesn’t lend itself well to calm, collected, single focused thought.
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I guess what I’m saying is, I think I meditated

The 2017 Self-Care Project: Entry #8

I cannot count the number of times meditation has been recommended to me. I think it’s one of those things that makes such a big difference for some people that they tend to become big evangelists of the practice. That and the fact that my personal grievances basically read as a litany of antonyms for the benefits of meditation, particularly all the stuff about improving concentration and attention, easing stress and anxiety and boosting immune function. I read this stuff, and I’m like GIVE ME THAT.

But then I try it and the thing is…  I have this major, visceral aversion to it.
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When better isn’t best

The 2017 Self-Care Project: Entry #7

This week I am just taking a minute to refocus. I think I got a little off track there, at least in my head, and somehow all this thinking about self-care and learning to take better care of myself started quietly morphing into self-improvement and learning to BE BETTER. It came from a good place, eat better and exercise so I feel better, learn to meditate and plan and stay on top of the mess in the apartment and admin stuff, in order to mitigate my stress. But I lost focus a bit, and found myself just trying to pack in way more than I’m capable of, and feeling heaps of self-critical at the end of the day. One evening last week Achim came home and suggested maybe I could remember to close jars of nuts so we don’t get moths/turn off lights/not stack tons of shit on top of the key basket or something else reasonable and not laden with judgement and personal attack and I just kind of crumbled.

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Can a hat make you happier?

The 2017 Self-Care Project: Entry #6

Last week I got a new hat. I am so happy with this hat, that it stands out above all else when I think over the week. The thing is, I am perpetually dissatisfied with my clothing. I am conscious that this all sounds a bit materialistic, but my new sunshine hat has got me musing a lot about clothes, and I think maybe it’s not.
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Ok then, let’s talk

The 2017 Self-Care Project: Entry #5

Hey Guys.

Ok. So this week, I’m going to talk about something that I don’t really want to talk about. Because, that’s boring and self indulgent and such a downer, Elena. Because what if my mom reads it and worries about me? Because what if people think I’m whining? Because it’s MY problem, so I’d rather just recede into my own coping and nurturing strategies until it passes. Because I’m FINE and I’ve got it under control and I don’t want to talk about it so let’s just talk about something else, please. Please.

But last week was Bell Let’s Talk Day in Canada, and there was such an outpouring of support and kindness and honesty across social media, it seems right. So, well. Let’s do this. Let’s talk.
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So, I joined a gym.

The 2017 Self-Care Project: Entry #4

Yeah, I did. I am indeed a January gym goer.  And I already have two failed year-long memberships under my belt, so for real, I have no illusions. This time I paid the premium for a one-month contract, though. I realised it has been pretty well 10 years since I exercised regularly and I just have to stop ignoring that. I have this idea that I am actually quite sporty, because I kind of was, oh, half my life ago. An while these delusions are nice and all, make my life seem a little more colourful, it’s kinda ludicrous to keep blaming sugar and lack of sleep and cold feet and constant (so far false) suspicions of mould and various vitamin deficiencies for everything when there is a shit ton of evidence that exercise is like, the number one bang for-your-buck when it comes to health.

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Balance feels better!

I did it! It’s still Sunday because I haven’t slept yet!

Entry #2 of the 2017 illustrated self-care project. As was to be expected, I went a little over the top this week. They won’t all be this elaborate! It was my first real go at an autobiographical “comic” type thing (besides the Goal Guide), so I’m still figuring it out. Although it’s hard to turn my critical brain off (nothing is ever as clean and simple as I want it to be!), it was fun and genuinely helpful!

Without further ado, some thoughts on balance…

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The 2017 Illustrated Self-Care Project

“You treat your future self terribly.” Says my husband, as he grabs a bowl to catch the carrot peelings I am flinging around with abandon in the process of making supper.

He’s said this to me many times while I go about making my disasters, leaving expired passports until I can hardly sleep with worry, letting the chili crust up the bowls, staying up wayyy too late for the 3am wake-ups and 6am mornings of babies.

“Girl!” He pleads, exasperated, “be kind to your future self!”

It’s one of those Achimisms I tend to half-consciously dismiss, placing it vaguely, and okay, unfairly, in the category of “Things Achim Does Because He is German and Kind Of Anal.”
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