Let’s talk about Poor Folks and Self-Care

If you missed the previous entry go ahead and read it here.

Now in my early published work about self-care, one of the unexpected results was deep and angry push back both regarding the content of my work and how I talk about self-care. Let’s talk about some of that.

The first level of push back from that piece in particular revolved around the idea that a poor person might have a nice or expensive thing. What kicked off this critique is the photo in that piece of a Clarisonic. Full disclosure I will be using some affiliate links indicated with an asterisk. I get a few coins for clicks and purchases.

I used the photo to show my little self-care bath time moment and it became a point of contention because I was talking about poor people and oh NOES I had an expensive thing. There were the expected trolly comments and folks didn’t bother to ask how I’d come by it, if I used coupons or saved up etc and it really boiled down to the idea that no, poor person you are not allowed to have a nice thing.

This is tied deeply to the idea that self-care is only for certain people. That self-care if you are poor in this case, cannot include spending money or time. This comes from the belief that our worth as humans is based upon what we can produce. Are we making money? There is a belief that if we aren’t doing something, we ain’t shit and obviously don’t deserve to be well taken care of by ourselves or anyone else.

I do not believe that and I absolutely believe that this mindset is abuse. And we cannot move past the basics of self-care if we’re abusing ourselves and others.

NOW my friends.

Here is why I reprinted that article.

Regardless of whether you’re poor or not, starting self-care can be small. It can literally be five minutes between buses, jobs, diaper changes, etc. You yes you, whomever you are can begin this process.

Now if you’ve been taking that time I want you to think about this before we get to some deeper level work.

Self-care as something you do intentionally, as something you model for your kids, for your partners, for your community can lead you to a point where you include the non fancy hard shit.

For poor folks this can be stuff like:

  • Getting your shit together to make hard phone calls.
  • Sitting down to get your budget right. (We’ll talk about ways to do this as well)
  • Finding resources to improve the quality of your lived life.

It can also mean, deciding to spend some time making yourself feel good in your body. Maybe that means dancing, or rolling through a nice park, maybe you need to figure out how to use your documentation strategies as we’ve been talking about, to manage your health. Maybe you need to figure out how to live in the life you have right this minute not the life you could if only something else changed.

What we’re doing here isn’t aspirational, I want us to work together to figure out how we inhabit our lives and doing it better.

I fully believe that learning these things, learning to care for ourselves as we are enables us to get into aspirational stuff.

I’ll use myself as an example.

I haven’t had great success in mental health services. I’m very anxious, very anxious and part of why I started doing work on my own self-care is that I sat down and realized I needed to figure out how to live with my anxiety and manage myself. I needed to figure out on my own, how to avoid triggers and how to care for myself during heightened anxiety without judgement.

What I started to learn was that I manage my anxiety by taking good care of myself. Shit y’all. I mean, I very literally have relied upon “surface” things like my skin and hair care to help me have a routine and have time to treat myself with love and that in turn enables me to look at myself with less judgement.

I was not taught to care for myself this way. I was not taught that building a foundation of or toolbox full of methodologies to take care of myself the way I was taught to take care of other people. I don’t want other folks to not have the resources or teaching or even someone to just say, this is for you too.

Back to push back.

I will say that at the time, the push back just annoyed and hurt me. I was so invested in the chance I had to have this stuff published, I didn’t really consider the audience at the time. I really took it to heart that my methodologies, ideas and advice was potentially harmful. I was told by comments, emails, tweeter dms etc that I was in fact doing harm.

I did a lot of soul searching and a lot of work on my approach.

And now we’re here.

I will say this about the push back:

  • I do not believe that self-care should or must be a privilege.
  • Nothing I say is sacrosanct or the One True Way and that is why this is beautiful.
  • You do you.
  • These are suggestions not rules.
  • My voice and experience is in fact valuable.

Now, I have heard from some folks that they miss some of my earlier style of self-care stuff and we’ll get there too. I’m feeling pretty good about what I’m doing here and I want to continue.

A few things-

I am going to make some pages with book suggestions. They will be Amazon affiliate links because coins and yeah.

I am toying with adding a youtube channel? I dunno.

Maybe a occasional q & a?

I legit almost typed T & A……

Last thing, I’m working on doing some slow expansion. I can’t afford to go all out so I HIGHLY suggest following the blog here so you don’t miss anything.

Thanks for visiting.

AND some homework homies.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do I have emotional/mental/other blocks surrounding how I care for myself?
  • If I called it something else would I be more comfortable?

 

 

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Self-Care For Poor folks- Reprint from XO Jane.

This piece is from some of my early published work about self care. XoJane is no more and I’d like to share this. For background, the ever lovely and one of my dear friends Marianne Kirby asked for this and we worked together for a time and did some good shit.

Jun 22, 2014

0614ShannonBathSupplies

[image description: items on the side of a bathtub. From left to right- a very large pinky orange slurpee, a pink Clarisonic brush, a black bar of soap and a bath bomb sitting on a grey handtowel]

Hey, poor folks.

Hi, I’m poor, too, and right now I want to talk to you about self-care.

Wait, let us have rules first.

First: Everybody deserves to self-care and everybody can do it.

Every. Body.

Yes, including poor people.

Second: There is no right and wrong when it comes to self-care. You do what makes you feel fancy.

Third: While self-care is vital for survival and sometimes to get us through a metric ton of proverbial (or literal depending on your life) poop, it can still be fun and weird and silly.

Ready? OK, let’s go.

Now, poor folks, for most of us budgets are tight, time is limited and thinking of ways to care for ourselves that don’t cause us guilt or other bad feelings is a very exhausting and hard thing.

Using myself as an example — I love to crochet. I love books. I love makeup. I love clothes.

Even though I am not quite as poor as I ever have been, often money is tight and I have difficulty justifying buying something like a book or some makeup for myself.

There are deep and heavy emotions involved. I am pretty confident in saying that, for a lot of us who have dealt with poverty for a long time, it gets complicated.

The first big hurdle is learning to be okay with your self-caring in whatever form it takes. It is important to give yourself some time and space to breathe when life feels like it is choking you out. If nothing else absorb this:

You are worth it.

You deserve it.

You can do it.

Go ahead and tell yourself that a few times. I’ll wait. Let it soak in. If you have an angry or scared inner voice, tell it to shut it because Shannon said it is OK and it is.

I know it’s hard, but I believe in you.

And, friends, here I am.

Self-care for our purposes today can be anything. We are going to focus on figuring out what makes you feel fancy and how to go about engaging in the fancy thing without breaking the bank or freaking out.

Let’s start with some stuff that is way low cost and an excellent way to get into the habit of self-caring.

image

[image description: treats from walgreens. A bottle of Orange mangy Nice brand sparkling water and an open bag of Nice Brand gummy cola bottles]

After a long day at work, some pocket change and a little stroll later. Snacks on the cheap.

If you have about five bucks, I urge you towards the travel-size section of your local drug store — or the dollar store if you have one. Pick up some lotion. Doesn’t matter what kind or what it does. Sniff until you find one you like. This goes for dudes, too.

Next, grab a pack of nail files.

When you get home, give your hands a nice wash. Then sit down with your favorite show, music or whatever. Open up those nail files and smooth the edges of your nails. You don’t have to make them a neat shape, just smooth it out. When you’re done, run them on something soft. If you hit a snag, file it out.

When you’re done, take your new lotion and moisturize your hands.

When you’re finished, I want you to sit there for a minute and think about what you’re doing. You are doing it. That is self-care. You just did something nice for yourself because you’re awesome. It didn’t hurt, the world didn’t end — and best of all you have fancy smoothed-out nails and hands that feel and smell nice.

Holy crap! You are doing it!

The real purpose here isn’t the mini mani.

image

[image description: a brown hand with long unpainted nails]

The real purpose is to start you, poor person, on your way to working out self-care that is budget friendly, low stress and that makes you feel fancy. I want you to start the process of getting comfortable with self-care, of owning it and — as we go on (if xoJane will have me back, naturally) — I want to help give you some ideas and tips for how to find yourself some small fancy or shiny things without so much cost.

We live in a world that can be very particular about who should and should not engage with self-care type behaviors. Especially those behaviors that involve looking good or things that are purely for our own pleasure. For those of us who are marginalized in a variety of ways and are also poor, this pressure mounts until a lot of us believe we have to go without — or should go without.

Now, before we end.

Try this for a few days. Lotion your hands, put sunscreen on your pretty face, drink a lot of water. Read a good book while you poo, make yourself an extravagant cup of coffee or tea, sit in the sun, curl up with your kidlet or pets and watch terrible tv shows.

If you don’t care about the nail filing, please take this as the real lesson and most important thing: Being poor does not make your value as a human being automatically less than. Being poor does not mean that you are not allowed to treat yourself well. It does not mean that you are disallowed from participating in things that make you feel good.

People who say outright or by their actions that if you are poor you are unworthy are complete buttholes — and, frankly, screw them and their nonsense.

OK, so now, my new friends, go forth and do some self-care. I would be really excited to hear about your adventures or how you’re feeling after experimenting (or even just thinking about) self-care as it applies to you.

~

OKAY my friends. I want y’all to think on a few things.

What do poor folks deserve?

Just that. Next post I’m going to talk about some of the pushback this article got, how it impacted my work and what it means.

 

Self-Care Documentation the Health Edition.

Okay loves.

Let’s level up some stuff. Slight CW: bodily functions, ED mention, illness, poop. Periods.

I want to be very specific about a couple of things before we get started. My perspective on health is that there is no bar or measurement or moral goodness in being/feeling/trying for better or good health. Health is not a single thing. My view is this. Healthy is relative. For me healthy means that I am in less physical pain, I am managing my chronic issues and have a better day to day experience being human.

What is health for you? I don’t know.

I don’t need to know because your health is none of my business on that level. I’m just here to offer up some tools to maybe improve how you do health and managing your bodily vessel.

Spoonies, I’m talking to you too. For us learning to effectively document stuff in terms of our health can be deeply empowering in learning to live in our bodies.

OKAY.

Let’s talk about what I mean when I talk about documenting health. This can be as detailed or general as you need. I personally need to be careful with things like metrics regarding what I eat, my step counters and quantitative data about my body. Part of my anxiety and my eating disorder history means that I can very easily get bogged down in caloric content or not being able to finish my steps goals and that is detrimental to my mental health.

For you, that could mean that you can get obsessive about keeping precise lists, or feel shame about looking back at what you’ve done or not done. For folks like us, this documentation needs to be carefully done and as I always say, we have to be honest with ourselves. If we realize that one method is contributing to X bad shit, we have to do the work to say okay this is not for me.

If documentation is not for you that’s okay!

Part of the work we’re doing is learning how to let ourselves not do things in a way that is harmful to us, and figuring out other methodologies.

So, I want to talk about body stuff first.

I use a combination of digital and paper tracking to help manage being in my body. I use my paper planner and tend to make quick notes in the weekly spread about what my body is doing. I note if I’ve taken vitamins/supplements, did I poop, did I have a migraine? One of my notes from 9/1 was literally, “OH SHIT LIMP”. In Shannon parlance that means, I was extra limpy that day.

I use those notes to see if I’m having a problem more often, I congratulate myself for regular pooping with glittery poop emojis stickers. I really rely on being able to go back and get a general glance at what was happening. I also do this to track periods. A note for period havers who don’t want to use tracking that is very gendered.

Options for y’all for period tracking:

  • Search blood drop stickers on Etsy. I bought several packs of plain blood drop stickers for perioding.
  • Red Pen and a symbol you like.
  • No stickers just PERIOD START/END etc type notes.

When I also remember to note extra pain or other things, I can also check to see if my period is coming or started and BOOM I know what’s happening.

You can also do this on you digital media. I use my google calendar to mark things as well.

Let’s talk about “fitness/wellness” trackers and apps.

I use my samsung health app to keep track of things like my resting heart rate, stress levels and whatnot. An issue I’ve run into is that a lot of these apps are heavily gendered, rely on fat shaming and health as some arbitrary goal.

Nah.

In order to combat that I have found that apps that let you remove things like weight trackers to be the most useful to me.

I suggest trying out some free apps. And give feedback. I have made a point of letting developers know that sometimes their language or ideas about weight are not awesome for a lot of us.

One of the keys to using documentation this way successfully is that you learn to recognize and either avoid or have a plan to deal with potential triggers. That is not always a simple thing.

This work means as I’ve said before that we have to be the most naked honest with ourselves. It is hard work. It is often unpleasant and hurts but, in the end doing the work is worth the improved quality of life later.

I don’t give specific methodologies for dealing with triggers for a few reasons.

  1. I am not a professional.
  2. My brain doesn’t necessarily work like your brain.

I can suggest this. Chart your triggers. If keeping track of your steps makes you panic, feel bad about yourself etc, note it. If you’re not ready to deal with it, start with having a record of it.

For me, I have enough notes to know usually if I’m doing something that is triggering me in a weird or new way and I’ve been able to sit down and get to why I feel some type of way when it happens. If you have a therapist or other mental health care help, talk to them about it.

If you’re on your own with it, be gentle with yourself. Remember that if you’re reacting to something, it is probably for some reason and it won’t be forever. Part of how I think about self-care is very uncomfortable and I don’t want to do it but, I know there is a pay off.

Now here is your homework friends.

Try using your chosen documentation method to track something. Maybe you’re feeling extra snotty, have a weird headache whatever. Now, also note if the weather has changed, if your period is in action, med changes, did you eat something you don’t normally? Try it for a few weeks. We’ll come back to our results.

 

 

Self-Care In Action- Personal Experience from your host.

Hi folks.

Today we’re going to talk about how my self-care work functions for me and what the long term benefits have been.

Way back when, I sat myself down and wrote a list of things that were causing me anxiety. It went something like this:

  • MY FUCKING FACE
  • What do I do with my hair?
  • Gosh I feel gross, what do I do?

That was pretty much where self-care started for me. For many years, I have had a trouble relationship with my face. From when puberty slapped me in the face with buckets of grease, to my continuing battle with a face that is easily and darkly scarred to just having uncomfortable itchy skin, I have gone through it with my face. Once upon a time, I experimented here and there with caring for it and failed.

I did so much damage to my face, usually through anxiety fueled hardcore experiments in drying up the oil, bleaching the darkspots, etc.

At one point I gave up and just started with the most basic things. Remove make up, wash face well, use sunscreen.

Because I know that a lot of my anxiety can be tied to my face for various reasons, a large part of my self-care is caring for my skin. You can read about what I do these days in my kind of neglected personal blog here. I am enjoying the fruits of my labor, my skin is clearer, more supple, well hydrated.

The more important thing for me, is I’ve learned that keeping up with my skincare as well as I can, means I am less inclined to feel anxious about my face. Being that I am a highly anxious person, learning how to prevent some of that anxiety has been a deep relief.

It took me a long time to make the connection. I thought it was pure vanity. Sometimes, it is. On a deeper more long term basis, things like my skincare and learning how to take care of my hair has in a very real way, mitigated sources of stress in my life.

Dealing with these particular anxieties hasn’t been all sheet masks and feeling cute. It has taken a lot of work and inward looking. For me, I had to start out by myself. I didn’t have access to mental healthcare so, I started with a lot of basic documentation. I wrote in my journal about my experiments with my face, I started tracking my moods in relation to the stressors of my face/hair.

So how does this apply to right now?

I would like not to say this but, we’re keeping things 100. I started with the skincare out of pure vanity. I just wanted to look better and feel like I could present myself to the world and not feel fucked up about it. I got very honest about my bad habits. I’m a struggling picker. I had to deal with how I felt about my facial hair and inexperience with decent make up.

I got very raw and very honest with myself and I decided to stop fighting myself about something “frivolous” and admit to myself that I needed to do this for myself.

And there my homies, is the basic framework of how I do and talk about self-care.

I don’t believe it matters where or how we get started. You don’t need fifty dollar planners, you don’t need a special pen. All you really need, is some time, the ability to be bucky naked honest with yourself and the desire to some work.

Self-care as important as it is, is not a cure all.

I am still deeply and terribly anxious. As I write this my anxiety fueled facial tics are on fleek and I feel weird because I need to eat. I still struggle with picking my face. I still hate my face sometimes.

As I said in this entry, this isn’t a race from point A to B. It is more a tangly trip down holy shit lane and if you go astray, it is fine. This is why I recommend documentation. If you see that you’re not really drinking enough water or you see that you haven’t done X self care thing and feel extra anxious, you can provide yourself with a resource that says, YO ME DO THIS SHIT RIGHT HERE.

So your homework my darlings.

Make yourself a quick and dirty list of self-care stuff. Don’t think about it a whole lot just, go. What things make you feel better or make doing life easier?

Here’s mine:

  • Staying hydrated
  • Keeping my stock of OTC pain stuff on hand.
  • Don’t punish self for being human
  • Write down unpleasant/anxiety inducing stuff on my digital AND paper calendars.
  • Don’t do anxiety inducing things on an empty stomach.
  • Use my good skincare.
  • Lotion self from scalp to toes.

That’s all I got for the moment. Feel free to share yours, tag in a friend if you need to.

Go GO GO GO GO!

Not A Journey, not a competition-wtf is we doin?

Hello my loves.

Buckle in babes, we’re going in.

Self-care as I talk about it and practice it is not in line with the ideology of a journey or a social media show.

This is real lived life. Being that it is lived life, shit is going to get messy and weird and sometimes it is going to be pure suck. Let’s talk about it.

One of the things that folks have said about my work around self-care is that it seems to be very treat yoself level stuff. Some of it absolutely is, I believe that regardless of your socioeconomic status, you deserve a nice thing as well.

If we look back at some of my self-care work at XOJane, a lot of the pushback was based on this idea. Something I think was missed, was that there is a deep value in doing some superficially simple tasks to open up a way to some deeper harder work.

For instance, my example of taking time to lotion your hands. The point isn’t to do something that most of us know how to do, the point is to start learning how to sit for two minutes and do something for yourself. A moment.

Something I struggle with is maintaining treating myself with kindness and love. I have a problem slowing myself down from hustling to survive mode, and caretaker mode and worker mode to treat myself nicely. I have had to learn through things like doing my nails, lotioning up, facial masks etc that I do need to slow myself down sometimes.

I emphasize a lot of basic things because, I believe that if we can figure out a baseline (you’ll see I say foundation a lot) of self-care, we can go deeper and do more.

Next thing. This is not a race. There is no One Twoo Way. I will not sell you a version of self-care that is based in some notion that there is ONLY my way. My aim here isn’t to become a lifestyle high dollar leader. I’m here to give y’all some ideas. I’m here because this is something I am passionate about and believe I can share some knowledge.

There is no finish line. There is no good and bad here. I believe that our ability to self-care, that our engagement with it, that how we feel about it is gonna wax and wane. Just like sometimes we’ll be feeling ourselves, sometimes we ain’t fuckin with ourselves. That is human and this is a relationship. Relationships can be hard and I don’t want anybody here to ever feel like they aren’t doing it “right”.

I also don’t believe that there is a finish line. As the title of my book suggests, this is self-care for life and life gets weird and messy.

My goal here is to not only share some of the things I’ve learned through trial and error, I want to share my own fails and wins. I want eventually for us to teamwork this shit out.

One of my other goals is to keep this work as accessible as possible. Can you learn about this stuff in therapy? Yes. Do we all have access to that? No.

I don’t believe that we ALL know stuff. Even what seems like basic stuff. Sometimes, we need to see these things written down and then say, hey this applies to me too. That isn’t a weakness that is being human. And being human is weird and messy and y’all, we don’t have to be weird and messy alone.

I’m not here to lead y’all down the primrose path of Ultimate Self-Care Success!!™. 

I’m here to offer some suggestions, share experiences I’ve had with self-care and maybe open up your brain so you can find your way to getting through.

SO to wrap up here is the take away.

  • This isn’t a win/lose situation.
  • This isn’t a point a to b situation.
  • I don’t have any major super secrets.
  • We’re in it together.

Your homework y’alls.

Before we go on, I want you to really think about a few things.

1.) What beliefs do you hold about self-care not only in terms of yourself but other folks? Good or bad or whatever.

2.) How have those beliefs limited your ideas about what self-care can be?

3.) Are you ready to question those beliefs and get to work?

 

Using Your Tech

Hi friends.

Today we’re going to talk about ways to use the tech we have at hand to help us not only document our self-care but, to help us keep up on doing the things.

What do you need?

You can use your phone, laptop, tablet etc.

Whatever works for you.

For me, the things I use are my google calendar, email alerts, phone alarms and often my memo feature. You can use those, apps or whatever. I use these because my memory sucks and often when I’m anxious or depressed or not feeling well, I don’t have the spoons to remember to do ALL the things.

Let’s go over calendar usage first.

I tend to look at my calendar not really as a concrete guide but as a way to make sure I’m on task. I take time once every couple of weeks to make sure that I have things like bill due dates and amounts, appointments on my calendar. For me, this also provides a way for me to be able to see if I need to do something that’s hard or anxiety inducing and prepare myself.

Part of self-care as I do it, means I care for myself enough to make sure I do even the shit I am scared of or that freaks me out. For instance, I am starting the process of getting new teeth. I have a very bad dental trauma history and phobia so I put dates and places to call on my calendar. Part of my daily routine is to check my calendar and seeing that those are coming up has been great at easing my anxiety.

I also can see that I’ve scheduled a day for balancing my checkbook, for going over my budget, I have days set aside for house cleaning and errand running. It is not fancy. I’ve used different apps for this and for me, just the basic google calendar is enough. You might have to try a few different things before you find something that works for you.

For me, it is all about ease of accessibility. I have most of my notes and reminders associated with one account and it is easy.

I also use bookmarks. I have a special folder for finances, banking and bill paying.

The first step is to sit down even if it freak you out and do the thing. Take some time out to figure out what you need to manage and document it. Medication refills, doctor appointment, therapy appointments. Be as vague or detailed as you need to be.

This is also part of foundational self-care. Documenting and using your tech gives you the opportunity to have a solid base to work from. For some folks, you will need to figure out when to pump the brakes.  I know I can get bogged down in minutiae and details. Knowing that, I purposefully restrict my notes to the basics of the task.

I always say we have to be honest with ourselves. Honestly, I know that part of how I experience anxiety is that I will get bogged down in the details, get overwhelmed and whatever needs doing won’t get done. I’ve had to teach myself how to work in manageable chunks of time and notation.

I did this for years. I’d make hugely elaborate lists and wind up too overwhelmed to act. So I simplified.

For those of us who can suffer from any level of executive dysfunction documenting when we have the spoons can be a huge boost. Let’s do a list style example.

Let’s say your days off or days you need to do stuff are Tuesday and Wedsnesday.

Tuesday-

  • Wash underwear and pants
  • Do dishes
  • Pay cable
  • Balance checkbook

Optional if spoons are ready:

  • Clean toilet
  • Vacuum
  • Paint nails
  • Wash dog butt

Weds-

  • Wash shirts
  • Wipe down kitchen
  • Check budget

Optional If spoons:

  • Call friendo
  • My show is on tonight
  • Go out

You see what we’re doing. If you know you aren’t able to work out what to do when you have spoons, give yourself options to look at. If you know that you look at the bathroom or kitchen and kind of blank out, write down individual tasks. If home cleaning is a challenge for you I really love the teachings of Unfuck your habitat. Just like what I say here, take what you can from there and apply as needed and able.

We’ll talk more about that later but I highly recommend checking it out.

What about daily stuff?

Documentation can help us get an overview of how we’re livin. If you say forget your midday meds on the regular, set an alarm on your phone. Always forget what you actually need at the store? Take two minutes and write a memo on your phone to have open while you’re in the store.

We live in such an amazing future, we have accessibility tools at our fingertips. There is no shame in spending some time to figure out what you need and how to do it. A lot of folks spend a lot of time complaining about laziness and ignoring the fact that we are all different and some of us need help and we deserve to get that help.

If you need help figuring out how to document or keep yourself on task, tag in a friend. TEAMWORK THAT SHIT OUT.

A teamwork idea. Get a friend, show them this entry and you two sit down in meatspace, get on a chat program just get together. Help each other work out two weeks of self-care. What days you need to pay bills, what days to wash your hair, days to accomplish household tasks. Bounce ideas off of each other, remind each other of stuff.

This is also how we start doing some community and group care.

SO your homework my friends.

  1. Take some time (can be as little as ten minutes) to use a calendar or whatever you need to make notes for two weeks of self-care. This can be task related, bill paying, call the cable company whatever.
  2. Take part of your day to check that out and see what you did or need to do.
  3. See how awesome you are and heckin celebrate!

Level up?

Teamwork it out. Get together with some folks and group work it out. Support each other, remind each other about things, congratulate each other.

Next time, we’re going to talk about why self-care isn’t a competition or a straight line, why I hate using the word journey for this and some ways to start changing your thinking about what you deserve, what you need, and what you want.

Until next time my loves!

Self-Care how To get started documenting your strategies.

Today we’re going to focus on starting to document how self-care works for us and look at some of the many methodologies to do it.

First, let’s talk about why this can be helpful. Documentation as we’re working with it can help a lot of folks. Especially:

  • Folks with memory problems.
  • Folks who for any reason, are unable or have difficulty maintaining schedules.
  • Folks who need to track things like but not limited to: medications, diet changes, health changes, periods, hormone changes, etc etc.
  • Folks who sometimes need help remembering how self-care impacts their lived lives on the daily.
  • You.
  • Me.
  • Probably not your cat.

For our purposes when I say documentation it is a wide open field. There are no requirements here. There are no absolutes, no ONE TWOO WAY. It might take fiddling, it might take telling your inner Asshole to stfu. It is worth it in the end to me.

To get started we need to ask ourselves a few basic questions. Feel free to bust out your phone memo, blog, notebook, passion planner, bullet journal-whatever feels most natural to you and you have access to get it.

Question number one- What do I need in a basic way to live day to day. When I say basic I mean it. We not getting fancy yet. And when I say live, I don’t just mean not die. I mean what are the basic things you need to help have a decent day.

Here are my answers:

  1. My meds and vitamins.
  2. On work days, I need at least one serving of my preferred food types, some available protein, my immunity drinks, tea.
  3. My OH SHIT alarms/reminders on my phone. The OH SHIT eat now, the OH SHIT NO REALLY IF YOU HAVEN’T EATEN PLS DO ALARM
  4. My I’m a gross human supplies.

As you can see, this is very basic. This is lowest level, I just need to function for the day type self-care check in with myself.

Strictly speaking, logically we all know how to be alive. For me, the use of this most basic list can help on bad days. The way my brain works, sometimes I get too focused on just maintaining that I forget to care for myself. I can dive straight into some intense shame spirals and anxiety attacks and wind up deciding I don’t deserve anything.

Part of my basic list means that I have a concrete thing to look at to remind myself not to be an asshole in that way.

This is also why, I say we have to be honest with ourselves. I know how I can be. There are reasons and I know them and I KNOW that I can be a hugely abusive asshole to myself and I know that I need concrete tools to help combat that.

Next question:

How do I level up?

Now this list can be the things that you find soothing if you need to stim, are in a panic attack/the aftermath, are having a high pain day etc. The things that can tank your day. These are things that can make a decent day, a better day.

For me, I break this out into seperate things. My lists are labeled, soothing, don’t cry, feelin good, ain’t shit. My more general list is as follows and usually is for dealing with my general high anxiety. I have discovered that for me, collecting and organizing data is very soothing by itself.

Now, y’all. I want to say again, this does not have to be fancy. You don’t have to use complicated planner systems, you don’t have to use symbols and special pens and bullshit.

You can make a note on a sticky pad that just says, YO TAKE YO MEDS.

Dassit.

This is not for show or instagram or whatever. There is zero pressure to do it like I do it. All we’re doing here is starting up with some ideas. A few things to get you started.

The other part of documentation of what I need is for me to mark doing the things I need. Sometimes for me that is quite literally just an all caps in my planner to say I moisturized my hair or did a face mask or took care of a bill.

For some of us, this will be really hard. Some people with eating disorders, OCD, ADD, who have anxiety surrounding accomplishing tasks might need to not do this for their own good. For me, I have a history with eating disorders and a habit of being a mega asshole to myself if I don’t do what my inner asshole says I’m supposed to do.

To mitigate that, I make the effort to identify what has triggered my problem. Let’s use food tracking.

When I get too specific, start calorie counting etc I stop. It is often a big battle, but an absolutely necessary one.

I make an effort to stop the verbiage and stop any moralizing or shaming I do to myself. A lot of the time I have to roll things back to just make notes like:

  • FUCK YEAH YOU ATE!
  • EAT THAT FOOD!

Etc.

A large part of documentation as part of our foundation of self-care is involved in also managing ourselves during problem moments. Nobody needs a self hate bender and part of self-care means, sometimes you gotta shut yourself down and say, NOPE.

To wrap up here is your homework if you want it.

Ask yourself a few questions:

What do I need to make it through a day?

What do I need to make it through a hard day?

What do I want to make either of those type of days, better?

That’s all. From there, if you are ready you can start figuring out the best way for you to document. We have so many tools and you can do anything from using a dollar store notepad to a super fancy journal. It is up to you.

As always, if you need help, want to talk about what you’re doing feel free to comment. Let’s teamwork it out.

 

Foundational Self-Care. Let’s Get This Party Started!

Hi folks.

While I’m rearranging life here at SCLAB, I’ll be putting up more blog posts as we go along.

AND….

Big announcement I forgot to announce previously. After some folks had questions, I decided to republish the OG SCLAB that I wrote and published in 2012.

Over at my Etsy shop you can snag yourself a copy of the OG material with a whole new intro. Get that here. Also check out I have a whole new piece about self-care up along with other lit goodies.

Okay y’all ready?

Let’s talk about self-care in action and how that looks and feels for me.

The situation currently is this. Since the start of our move way back in March my stress levels and anxiety have been, to put it nicely off the fucking chain. I tend to experience anxiety in a very physical way, increases in my general chronic pain, my sleep disorders are exacerbated, my body goes haywire.

For me, a lot of the foundational self-care I engage in looks like this:

  1. Take as good care of my body as I can. That means- care for my skin and hair. Stay hydrated. Eat as well as I can afford to utilizing a loose intuitive eating framework, have my walks/play Pokemon. Limit my coffee intake. Poop regularly.
  2. Document my status. I do this in my passion planner. I note periods, high pain days, panic attacks, etc. This doesn’t have to be complicated or pretty or difficult. Sometimes I literally just make frowny faces or put in stickers of poop. We’ll talk about that more in depth later.
  3. Respect, acknowledge and not punish myself for having bad pain or bad feelings.
  4. Stay the course.

That is my foundation. I have this list written down in my planner and when I feel like I’m faltering or failing, I look back at it and put myself back onto this path.

I highly suggest taking some time to set up your own foundation of self-care. This is the method I used.

First, I figured out what things help me feel more stable, what things contribute to my anxiety and what things make day to day life easier. My thoughts were that if my skin and hair are fucked up, my self-esteem is going to take a big hit and my skin in particular is a big trigger for me. Through many years of journaling, notes in my planners etc, I also have a terrible habit of being punitive towards myself when I feel like I’ve/am doing wrong because feels.

Second, when I’m lost or upset I go back to the list. Think of it as instructions for your humanness and personal operating system. Every human has the basic human operating system. However, we’re all overclocked and modified so our individual OSs need instructions. This is where your foundational list comes in.

Keep it simple. Literally sometimes the list I refer to looks like this:

  1. Eat some fucking food.
  2. Drink water.
  3. Calm the fuck down.

Some days it be like that and we need shit broken down into easy simple parts. You can write one like this, write fourteen on post it notes and put them where you’ll see them.

This is all you need to give yourself something to lean on. A little work figuring out a few things that make even bad days livable, is huge. You can return to it time and again. And shit will change and that’s okay.

I encourage y’all to give this a shot. If you have a therapist, talk it over with them and see what you can come up with together.

There are a few rules.

Be honest. This isn’t about an idealized self. This is yourself as you are, right now even if it is fucked up. Maybe you need to start at, what makes me feel less fucked up? This isn’t about a straight shot to being okay. Some of us will never be okay and that is just what it is.

Second rule, don’t shame yourself or others for what may seem superficial or silly to you. That is shitty asshole behavior and we can all do with some less assholeness in our lives. Don’t be an asshole.

That is about it.

Now, I invite y’all to do some of this work and please report back! Come drop a comment and let us know how you’re faring. If you need help figuring it out, we can do it together. SO YES YOU! YOU! You can come comment.

Now, stay tuned my friends. We’re just getting started and this is gonna be great.

PS,

PLS pardon any blog weirdness I am rearranging things and shit might be ugly every now and then.

An update and explanation..do overs.

Hi folks.

It has been a while and y’all, I have been struggling to work out what I want to do here.

On one hand I sort of want to continue being in my feelings about this.

On the other hand I run chronically low on spoons and I frankly am not sure what to do.

To be most real, what I really want to do is create an inexpensive membership thing. That would grant access to writings, maybe some community based pages, eventually some offers of video talks and maybe personal consulting.

Unfortunately, my fave url I had to let go because I couldn’t afford to keep it. Also I can’t really afford to do it through wordpress because starting costs are a thing and I’m poor.

That was my grand idea. Sort of the “lifestyle” thing but not as expensive as most and far less uh….shiny I guess.

I had a site plan, had started creating content/planning content and frankly, reality cracked me in the feels.

The things that are prohibitive so far: (these are notes from my SCLAB notebook)

  1. Cost. At last budgeting, I’d need about 400$ to start with for bare bones. Additionally, I’d need some new software, a new camera. These costs included 2 years of a particular domain, membership management software, a few odds and ends. Extra costs would include an LLC etc.
  2. Like most of my non dayjob work, there is a struggle to get support and membership. I would need to sustain paid members which, could be an issue.
  3. The failure of #2 would make the project unsustainable. Currently in the context of other work I provide to the world, I’ve had to cut back what I provide for free because I don’t have the time to spend on giving when I need to eat.

I’ve spent years at this point studying the data in terms of engagement with work I provide and what does and doesn’t provide enough of a financial return to continue.

My cost to consumers is low. This isn’t really about being paid what I am worth, philosophically yes, I want that. In reality, I don’t get it. I have on offer things that will provide some income that don’t do well at all regardless of my frequency or method of promotion.

My Etsy store has been reopened. It costs me about 4$ a month to keep it open. I am offering literature right now (I will add some stuff later on I think) that costs from $2-$5. In the past year I have had 170 views of items and sold 4 items for a total of $10.00.

I also have pieces available to Medium members exclusively. Basically folks pay I think about 5$ per month to view unlimited exclusive items. I have six pieces there (you get paid as a writer for “claps”) and have made a total of $4 in 2018.

These are my profits from my indie hustling for 2018 not counting my Patreon account. Frankly, Patreon is the only thing I do that actually pays for itself.

On average between my blogs, medium and Patreon I create almost ten thousand words per month. Hours of work. But, like a lot of things in my life most of it isn’t really sustainable in the long term except for Patreon and that is low key borderline.

Most of the indie artist stuff I have studied says that, this could be for a few reasons.

  • I am not doing any of it right. That is possible. Maybe, I’m not engaging my audience as well as I think I do. Maybe, I am addressing the wrong audience. I dunno.
  • No one wants what I got.

I think it is mainly the latter. But not in the absolutely no one wants it way, more the some folks want it but not enough to pay for it.

That has been traditionally true of much of my work for lots of reasons.

A word about my low costs.

In the attempts to help me a lot of people have suggested raising my prices on some things. I have thought about it and for some of my work it just doesn’t fit in with why I am doing it. To  use a thing that lots of people say:

If it’s inaccessible to the poor it’s neither radical nor revolutionary

Part of the work I want/ed to do with SCLAB is to keep this material easily accessible. This includes:

  • Keeping the language more plain. No woowoo or overly fancy language.
  • Lower costs. Not much per month with higher prices for privileged people to volunteer to pay.
  • Centrally located easy to read non super fancy website.
  • Non gendered advice assuming that the consumer is a human being.

With those goals in mind, I have done the maths and yes I could save up the money and spend it monthly which is what my heart says to do because it fulfills my soul to be of service and to use my gifts to make the world better. My bank account says, bitch you need to eat and make a living.

I don’t like capitalism but I gotta play.

In the past there have been some other options.

I’ve had some tickles for books. Not the ones I wanted to write. Book publishers have flirted with me but it always boils down to, we LOVE YOU AND WANT YOU but……at like 40%.

For the effort and cash involved, it has never been worth it to sacrifice this thing in that way.

I’ve been asked to contribute to some other sites but, I cannot work a second full time job even if it is virtual and doing stuff I am already doing/love to do. I just can’t.

That’s what it is.

Right now I don’t know if I will just turn this into an archive and write about self-care when I want to or if I will do new posts as the spirit takes me.

That’s where things stand for now.