Exquisite Self Care

I want to share with you a brand new thing I invented. I’m four weeks into the experiment and eager to share it.  And it’s hilarious, this experiment, because it’s so overexaggerated in its labeling and because it’s so obvious. But it’s delighting me, and it’s working for me, so I wanted to tell you about it!

I had a busy week, four weeks ago, and I came home exhausted from all of the driving and playing and PRESENCE I had to bring to the various gigs I did. I determined that for the entire next week I was going to prioritize taking care of myself over getting all of the busy work of life and business done. If that meant that I napped in the afternoon instead of getting into my email inbox, so be it. If that meant I didn’t practice one day, oh well. My priority was healthy food, hydration, and appropriate rest. 

I named this week in my journal, “Exquisite Self-Care.”

And for that entire week I didn’t FORCE myself to do anything. I let myself take action as I felt like it, and stop as I didn’t.

At the end of that week, it felt so good I decided to keep going. So for the last four weeks, I have fully allowed myself to WAFT through the days instead of PUSHING through them. I have checked in with myself at every juncture, and I have changed activities freely when the thing I was doing wasn’t working for me. When I was impatient with the task at hand, I stopped and took a walk. When I felt groggy and glazed over, I took a nap. When I felt the urge to practice the oboe, I did, but only the pieces that felt fun and interesting to play. 

Here’s the surprising thing. I had assumed that this Exquisite Self-Care would bring with it a corresponding dramatic dip in productivity. I had assumed that if I didn’t MAKE myself work I wouldn’t. I had assumed that taking beautiful care of myself would be in opposition to good work habits and practices, and that I would at some point have to go back to my old ways.

AND NONE OF THAT WAS TRUE.  I love my work. I love writing, practicing, recording podcasts, showing up for my students and clients and going to orchestra rehearsals. I love making reeds in the evenings while watching Grey’s Anatomy. I like connecting with people even in my dreaded email inbox. 

All of the things got done – but WITHOUT the added onus of staring at a screen hating myself for not working, or any sort of crankiness about dragging myself to the oboe. All of the things got done with no wasted time, because when I felt the time being wasted I knew it was time to do something else. Perhaps hydrate, rest, or read! 

I say all of this with full understanding that I have great privilege. I work from home, I work for myself. I have the ability to turn down gigs that are too far away or too ungratifying for the money.  I’m not under someone’s watchful eye in an office or a factory or a construction zone. 

But I wonder – what would Exquisite Self Care look like for you? What are some obligations you are DRAGGING yourself to do? Do you have to? Do they have to happen now? What IS your energy good for right now? Could you do THAT, instead of something that feels like a heavier lift? How could you pay just ten percent more attention to your own needs as you go through your day?

How can you bring Exquisite Self Care into your own life today?

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