Side A

I’ve been on a tear. I’ve been tearing through creative pursuits, work projects, new albums, favorite recipes, and self-help innovations. I’m riding the wave with the ducks I have in a row for the first time of my twenties (and it’s about damn time): a balanced brain, a happy relationship, a decorated home, a great job, at least $100 in my bank account right now maybe (unclear). The thing about waves is that they crash, and for me this happens when I’m required to sit still. The other night, after exhausting all the creative work I could do, I cried because I was bored, because I was hungry, because it was Sunday, because life is expensive, 🎶 because because BECAUSE – because of the wonderful things I’d done 🎶and had left me listless.

There’s no one self-care experiment I’m trying right now, so here’s a post as mixed up and energetic as I am. Lately I’ve been up to some:

Listening

I got the idea early (can’t sleep past 5 am club!) yesterday morning to create a playlist of songs about loving yourself. Obviously it’s mostly Lizzo and Beyonce, but also some Santigold, Amber Coffman, and Avey Tare. I’m opening up this playlist to everyone! Please share with me your power songs.

Reading

I lose the term “reading” loosely here – perhaps scrolling would be more apt and honest. Out of the thousands of memes, I plucked an amazing thread on free/cheap self-help that I found really helpful and I want to keep as a lifeline during harder times.

Experiencing

We all know I love #bossbabesATX, especially their fantastic meets where you can mingle and share projects. Lately they’ve been crowdsourcing answers to discussion questions and posting some of the answers on their blog. I found the conversation about self-care right up my alley, and laughed out loud at some of these cute and honest answers.

Striving

I find myself working through health and fitness goals and being so discouraged by my setbacks, which spawn new and harder setbacks. After some soul-searching, I’ve found a coach who can help me through some of these tougher hurdles (the frequency and consistency of my exercise; drinking; mindless eating). She’s something of a life coach, a dietician, a motivational speaker, and a personal trainer (easy on this aspect). So far, one of the greatest things is telling her some small victory for me and having it be celebrated and claimed, like a mountain climbed. I’ve learned that asking for a little extra help can do wonders. I’m sure some of her wisdom will spur future posts.

Showing up for myself

In an effort to harness some of my creative energy for good, I created an Instagram just for my paintings. This puts all of my (admittedly poorly documented) work in a single place I can point to when people ask what I create. The results have been astounding to me. People have been loving my work and dreaming up custom painting orders. I do my paintings for little profit – I spend a good deal on monthly supply orders and charge about $35-$60 a painting – but I decided that some of my extra cash would be used to help my neighbors in Houston, through the Houston Food Bank. Painting orders are open now – just shoot me an email at martin.emmamarie at gmail dot com!

• • •

That’s my self-care mixtape for right now. It didn’t require too much rewinding or hitting record at the exact time a song came on the radio. It wasn’t given to me by a high school boy in the 1990s. There are no Promise Ring songs about it. Nevertheless, I’ll hope you’ll submit your own tips for me to explore and songs for me to sing along to in the shower. Don’t leave out Hüsker Dü.

Anatomy of a sick day

Some people have perfect pockets of the week where self-care easily fits in: Wednesday night yoga or early Sunday aromatherapy or Thursday afternoon therapy. The soothing routine of it is a big part of its healing properties. When things get tough, that Tuesday lunch meditation session shines like a lighthouse in a sea of (pardon my French) bullshit.

I have some of my own routines: Sundays, Sam sleeps in and I listen to soft music, light all the candles, and paint. Every other Wednesday, I get a half-hour table massage and chat with my massage therapist Lee Ann. Every other day, I take a walk or a jog before work. But some of my most potent self-care moments are unexpected or or out of the ordinary.

Last week, I got a bug. Something was going around, something very rude to the tummy, and I caught the fever and exhaustion of it – but my iron stomach resisted the rest. I powered through most of the week but found myself completely unable to get out of bed on Thursday. After calling in as the next victim of whatever jerk germ had taken hold of our agency, I saw the opportunities ahead of me: I could really rest, hydrate, and catch up on the lower-impact activities that sometimes fall by the wayside during the five-day, eight-to-five work week. I found myself pondering what would heal me the most in mind and body. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. I’m a strict three-liter-a-day kind of girl, but when I’m sick I tend to not want to go back and forth between the sink and the bathroom. Thursday, I gave myself permission to crack open sparkling water after Topo Chico after ice cold tap water.
  2. I busted open that dog-eared Soup Box Cookbook and made some really nourishing food. My mood lately is to cook two things at once, that way I can have food for lunches or for a second meal. This time, I made low-fat, veggie-heavy cream of chicken rice, while roasting chicken and artichokes in the oven. The smell itself was a miracle worker for my headache. Plus, vegetables are supposedly very good for you? Huge if true.
  3. I got a little fresh air before it got extremely hot out. It was just a quick walk, but it cleared my head and tired me out enough to go back into my nap coma.
  4. I found a calming, easy listening podcasts, a bit by accident. A podcast I listened to occasionally about (a show I do not watch) The Bachelor, Rose Buddies, converted into a podcast about enthusiasm, Wonderful! No, that wasn’t just me exclaiming – that’s the name, punctuation and all. Every week, wonderfully sweet Rachel McElroy and Forbes 30-under-30 media luminary Griffin McElroy talk about one thing each of them is pumped about. Examples include the phrase “no worries” and the notes Carly Rae Jepsen sings before the chorus in “Cut to the Feeling.” The podcasters talk just above a whisper as to not wake their baby, which was just the volume I needed when my head was pounding.

By Friday, I was well-rested, enthusiastic, and nourished, ready for the last push before the weekend. I avoided the pitfalls of a sick day: sleeping the entire time and being just as tired the next day; eating junk food; and feeling unproductive. Being away from a screen for most of the day helped most of all, though perhaps it was second to Carly Rae Jepsen appreciation.

What are your best sick day sanity home remedies? How do you push through a fever without ODing on Gatorade or falling into a Netflix shame spiral – or is that your cure?

Keeping up with the Scorlazys

Twitter is a scary place to a lot of people. Even people whose entire career and ~brand~ was built on Twitter routinely tweet things like, “this website is a trash fire lol” or “logging off forever.” People take year-long Twitter breaks. People do log off forever. For me, Twitter has been a lifeline. After a big falling out with some of my IRL friends in Chicago, people I met through my most Twitter-savvy friend became my closest pals – some even became like family. I find that a lot of my self-care gurus are irreverent, silly folks from that “trash fire” of a website, from @imteddybless to @yayfrens to @emilyvgordon. Just this week, Chance the Rapper tweeted some of the best advice and encouragement I have heard in a long time:

canceling plans to read is ok. skipping a party for the gym is ok. staying home to cook is ok. lets encourage it & respect self improvement.

In the spirit of Chance, world’s cutest Chicagoan, I’ve embarked on some Twitter self-help. I’m ready to share it with y’all, perhaps as a little encouragement for the long trudge coming out of a three-day weekend. Last week, someone retweeted the brilliant @alliewach’s unofficial endorsement of the Google app Keep as a mode of self-care into my timeline. Always game to improve my self-care routine based on the advice of total strangers, I checked it out. Part Pinterest, part Notes, part alarm clock, Keep gives you one button to click to access your inspiration, your calendar, your grocery list, your self-care reminders, etc. etc. forever.

What am I keeping in Keep?

  • My dang grocery list, which I now actually keep up with (har har)
  • A picture of that girl who pulled a sword out of a Cornish lake
  • Chance’s great tweet
  • A reminder to run (“you ding dong”)
  • A reminder to drink 3L of water at the end of the day if I haven’t yet already
  • Blog ideas
  • Things I need to buy eventually (a couch, Malört, printer ink – the essentials)
  • Notes from events like BossbabesATX

So far, Keep has become a good friend, something I look forward to hearing from throughout the day, something I enjoy looking at in my downtime, and something that sets me on the right track. Adding another app to the mix has proven a great way for me to stay off Notes and alarms and also saves me hours searching “girl sword England” every time I want to send it as a funny (arguable) response.

Now that that’s all out in the open, logging off forever.