Be Kind to Yourself, Dammit!
My life is full of contradictions: I like to make fun of absolutely everything and pretend I don’t take things personally while at the same time being a sensitive crybaby. It’s a delicate balance between my outer cool-kid and my inner weepy-hippie. I’ll admit I am not always good at self-care and am willing to bet you are not always good at it, either. But I do love to do rituals for myself. (If I do enough rituals, I don’t have to quit smoking or cut back on coffee or actually start exercising, right? Right!). Rituals don’t have to be religious or traditional or anything specific: you make the rules. I use rituals to center myself, find answers to difficult questions and to simply slow down and relax. These are my favorite rituals for self-care. Try them yourself, tweak them, or ignore them completely, it ain’t up to me to say how you care for you.
Get Thee to a Beach
Yeah, yeah, this seems simple and possibly cliched. But I don’t mean go to the beach with friends to sunbathe, drink and/or surf. Go by yourself to reflect. There’s something calming about staring out at the ocean and trying to comprehend its vastness. And the cold Pacific rushing around my ankles feels almost as good as sex (I said almost). I do this for myself every Tuesday at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. After completing my weekly Wear Your Voice events article in the morning and before prepping for my radio show in the afternoon, I bury my toes in the sand and write in my journal. Then I run around in the surf for a few minutes. Sometimes I find pretty rocks and shells. It’s the most reflective and invigorating 45 minutes of my week and you should try it, too. Pick any beach. Bring your journal. Or just bring yourself.
Dates are fun, and they don’t necessarily have to involve another person. Be sweet on you and take yourself out. Have a fancy cocktail at your favorite bar. Read a book while enjoying a meal at your favorite cafe. Walk around Lake Merritt. Go to a movie. Go shopping. Take a day, a night, an hour, just carve out some time to be by yourself out in the world. It’s not actually embarrassing. I recently had two drinks by myself while writing in my journal and listening to music at my favorite Oakland dive Heart & Dagger. It was a busy Saturday night but no one bothered me and it didn’t feel [that] weird to be at a bar alone. It was nice to have the chatter of bar-goers as white noise. Having trouble figuring out where to take yourself? Come up with the most romantic date you can think of, then subtract the other person and take yourself. The odds are good you’ll get lucky when you’re dating yourself, too!
Candles & Poems & Spells & Things
This is my most “traditional” ritual, in the witchy-hippie sense of the word. There are several great magic shops in Oakland but my favorite is The Sacred Well on Grand. Dress a candle for whatever you’re wishing for/stewing over, whether it be love, money, power, loss, any of that heavy stuff. My rituals change each time but there is usually a goal in mind, like saying goodbye to the past year on December 31st and welcoming the new year on January 1st. Or seeking strength and perspective before a difficult talk with your partner. Or maybe you are looking to fall in love. Or get laid. Or make a big life change. My rituals usually involve some combination of the following: dressed candles, un-dressed candles, sentimental objects, Edna St. Vincent Millay poems, other poems, pictures, journaling, dancing, laughing, crying, wishing, wine. Find what works for you. These are my favorite and rarest rituals, I only do them for special occasions, and they are always rewarding and grounding.
Take a Bath
Baths are sacred, and I say that with 100% conviction. Some people don’t like baths because they’re inefficient and you sit in your own filth. Well, the point of a bath is to relax, so efficiency is not part of the equation. And if you don’t want to sit in your own filth, take a shower first. Boom, I just destroyed your excuses. If you’re going to bathe, do it right. Get a bath pillow for your neck and a a tray to hold your book and glass of wine. Put on relaxing music. Light candles. Go to Lush and splurge on fragrant handmade bath bombs and bubble bars. If you are more into DIY, put a few drops of your favorite essential oils in the tub, and a few tablespoons of olive oil to soften your skin. Leave your phone in the other room (to be free of distractions and so you don’t risk dropping it in) and let your mind wander and your body un-tense in the hot, softening, yummy-smelling water. And take pity on bath addicts like me who live in tiny, bath-less studios and only get to take a couple baths a year. So if you won’t take a bath for you, take one for me. Wait, this is about you. I don’t know, do whatever you want, just stop rubbing it in my face that you have a bath and I don’t. It’s mean.