Over the past several months I’ve had multiple people tell me that I should do more self-care. I’ll be honest; I cringe whenever I hear the word mindfulness and I generally think of self-care of something other people do who are kind of woo-woo. (That’s the technical term.) But those “other” people seem to enjoy it, so who am I to judge? If it works for them why couldn’t it work for me?
I looked into what self-care can mean for different people. I checked out multiple websites and books on the topic and found most of it was either too woo-woo or too much work. I asked Leili Khalessi, someone I had met through the July 2015 #NPCommPix challenge on Instagram, if she had advice for people who don’t like self-care, but evidently need more of it. I asked Leili because a few of her posts seemed to focus on self-care and she seemed like she might be a good balance of woo-woo and real talk. She asked me…
How would you FEEL if you practiced your own brand of self care? And let the answer of how you look forward to feeling be the guidance for what you do.
Cue light bulb moment! Reading this, I literally said “huh!” out loud. I’d never thought of it that way; I just figured I needed to do self-care because people I respected were telling me that I needed to do it. I started my self-care journey by turning off email and social media notifications on my phone. This was surprisingly liberating, but I still needed more.
After a few weeks of thinking about what I wanted to change and how I wanted to feel, I decided I needed to take a solo trip. Just myself, a book, and a sense of adventure with a notable lack of schedule. I’ve taken trips like this before and enjoyed them immensely. I hadn’t taken one this year, even though I have traveled quite a bit for conferences and weddings. Here’s what happened on my weekend of induced self-care.
I got caught in a rainstorm that turned into sideways hail and made me look like I wet my pants.
In the course of that sideways hail storm, I realized there was absolutely nowhere that I could go for cover and I just had to deal with it. What else could I do? It may have been raining cats and dogs but it wasn’t the end of the world. It may have felt like it, but it wasn’t. So I just walked along, sharing smiles with strangers who were enduring the same fate as me. When I walked into the lobby of the Norblad Hotel I calmly said to the front desk staff, “I think it’s raining outside,” and they commiserated with me because they are nice people and care about my comfort. Or they made fun of me as soon as I returned to my room because I was a tourist who didn’t bring the right rain jacket. But again, it wasn’t the end of the world. The best part about it was that I bought new socks because I foolishly only brought one pair of socks, which were so soaked I had to wring them out in the sink.
Lesson: It’s okay to get caught in a rainstorm. Just make sure you have a change of clothes. Or, as Benjamin Scheuer says, “it’s not how long the rain falls… it’s the way that we weather the storm.”
I listened to the advice of strangers.
One of the front desk people at my hotel suggested I go to a cafe called Coffee Girl. It was about two miles from where I was staying and I had passed it the previous day when walking to Alderbrook Lagoon. I remember liking the sign immediately because of the name and the fact that it was orange (my favorite color). I took Front Desk Guy up on his suggestion. I didn’t check Yelp beforehand, but I did check the website to make sure it was open when I was on my way over there. I walked into the coffee shop and it was small and out on this old cannery pier next to the Bumble Bee Cannery Museum. Everybody was so cozy in the warm coffee shop but I knew I wanted to sit outside. I was on the pier with my feet up on the edge looking out over the water. It was cold, and a pigeon kept trying to eat my bran muffin (it was delicious so I don’t blame the bird). But the cold was worth it. I was the only one out there and it was perfect. Front Desk Guy also suggested going to Fort George Brewery for live music on Sunday evening. I did, and it was awesome.
Some other advice I took from a stranger was when I was at the top of the Astoria Column. I was talking to this guy from Long Beach and he told me there was a ship coming under the Astoria-Megler Bridge and that it would make an amazing picture. He had noticed that I was taking pictures and thought I would make a good shot. So I snapped a few pictures and they turned out to be a pretty nice. Score two for talking to strangers.
Lesson: Sometimes it’s good to listen to the advice of strangers. They have interesting experiences that may help you on your journey.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my weekend of self-care, coming next week!
Have you had a hard time with finding your brand of self-care? Let me know in the comments.