Holding space for self-care

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice  ~ from ‘The Journey’ by Mary Oliver

Summer can be frenetic. The ongoing urge to pack in as much as possible, while the sun shines, while the kids are off school…. I used to think this was formed by the cult of busy that pervades parts of our culture. The idea that the more busy you are, the more productive, and productivity being a mark of success.

But I have come to see how this frenetic busyness is mirrored all around us in nature, and wonder if it is an evolutionary hang-over from our many generations of living as hunter-gatherers, when our lives depended on harvesting and storing as much food as possible during the abundant months.  The thing about evolution is that is changes very slowly, our mammalian brains haven’t had time to catch up. For most of us reading this, the bottom physiological rungs of maslov pyramid have been fulfilled. We have created a world when food is plentiful all year. It’s time to let our nervous systems know that, and devote some energy towards creating space for self-care before we burn out. Time to move up the pyramid.

Self care is so much more than a fashionable hashtag, it is a way of life. And holding space for self-care is about loving the body you live in and honouring the life you are creating for yourself, without judgement, without shame. And that might need to include some self-forgiveness.

little by little,
as you left their voices behind, 
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,

When I found this voice inside, underneath the flotsam and jetsam of the inner critic, I found my jewel, precious and unique to me. My voice bemired beneath rubble for too long. I now feel determined to help other people shift through their own rubble to find the jewels within themselves. I believe everyone has these. Maslov saw it in the highest part of the pyramid, the idea of self-actualisation, the realisation of one’s potential. Then beyond the pyramid itself our souls soar onto transcendence. This pull towards something beyond the mundane,  a call to work for the good of something bigger than ourselves, either physical or esoteric. Whether alone or with others, doing this kind of deeper work has ripple effects, like the power of butterfly wings.

as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do –
determined to save
the only life you could save.

art credits:

Featured image by David Hewson

Circle of Love by Joyce Huntington

Young woman by Isabelle Bryer

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