Rules for a sisters-only getaway

1. Stay up late ranking the names of Kim Kardashian’s children, from least awful to most awful. (In case you are curious: North (but go by Nori, obv), Saint, and poor lil’ Chicago is last.)

2. Sleep in late and eat kettle corn and coffee for breakfast. (Doubles as a colon cleanse?! Lol)

3. Chuckle to yourself every time your spouse calls to say how much he appreciates you.

4. Buy four kinds of chocolate candy and share amongst yourselves.

5. Wear your new silk pajama pants you got on clearance from and slide around the bed laughing so hard you nearly pee yourself while your sister jokes about your Bangkok-inspired sleepwear choices. (They were a steal at TEN DOLLARS and worth every silky penny!)

This is definitely the first annual sister-getaway of many many more to come. So gimme the scoop ladies—any fun sister getaway traditions you can share?

. . .Oh, and we MIGHT go parasailing. We’ll see.

Now might be a good time for some self-care.

Some lessons are worth learning over and over (and over and over and over) again.

This past weekend I thought, here we go again. It was my semi-annual, perhaps quarterly (at least!) reminder that my essential self-care needs cannot be messed with. To mess with them is to create an imbalance that ripples throughout the whole household. As the saying goes, if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. 

I’m talking about sleep, time alone, and writing.  My three essential self-care items that keep me from turning into Cruella Deville.

IT SEEMS SO SIMPLE, RIGHT? And yet, there I was again, yelling like a shrew at my family this past weekend. All sleep-deprived and self-righteous. (I always become the self-righteous martyr when I’m parenting from an empty cup…look at me, sacrificing for ALL OF YOU, NONE of you whom seem to appreciate my greatness! LOL. NOT A GOOD LOOK FOR YOU, SARAH.)

After a long and difficult weekend I finally faced the music that I was spent. Done. Overcooked in fact. I needed to fill my cup, and fast. I collapsed and slept. A LOT. So much that I took a day off of work to keep sleeping. (It turns out I was really sleep-deprived from short nights with a sick kid last week. Huh.) I sat and watched some old Will & Grace episodes. (Season two, amazing 90s sweaters and longish boy hair cuts. But I digress.) I felt better. I created some art, something that I hadn’t done a lot of recently, spending most of my energy on administrative tasks for my Etsy shop.  (Note to self: balance those tasks with the actual creating of art!)

I was finally back to the woman I was always meant to be! Rested and replenished and once again liking the people in my household.  How had I let this get away from me, once again? Well, over-dependence on caffeine was most certainly one culprit. (I started weaning off coffee last week and this weekend I felt the full extent of my tiredness, no longer masked by delicious highly caffeinated Cuban coffees.)

Coffee aside, you know what else I blame? The damn patriarchy. This idea that somehow demanding time for myself on the weekend is indulgent or not becoming of a mother who works all week and only has weekends to really hang out with her kid. What, you are paying a sitter to watch your kid on the weekend TOO? What kind of monster are you?!

It’s all rubbish of course. Once again I’m back to reminding myself that not only can I not pour from an empty cup, but little eyes are watching me. What do I teach my daughter about taking care of herself, putting herself first, when I don’t do the same for me? And when I DO take time for myself pursuing my passions, I can show her what it means to be a nuanced, multi-faceted woman. Powerful stuff.

You may have heard other speak of self-care as a radical act, and that it most certainly is. I’m thinking it might be so radical that it goes beyond the idea of mere replenishment and recharging (though it is those things, too). I’m beginning to view it as a form of embracing the divine feminine. JUICY I KNOW!

I don’t have time to dive into those thoughts today, but I will tomorrow. After a full night’s sleep and with time to myself to write. Win-win-win!

What’s on your essential care list? Extroverts, I’d love to hear what your list looks like! 

Honoring My Urge to Clean

I recently took a day off of work to clean. Spontaneously, with gusto, and with more love for cleaning products (stainless steel appliance cleaners! fancy sponges!) than, well, ever before probably in the history of Sarah.

I am not a neat freak. I used to be a slob. I am a recovering slob. Let’s just say I lean toward being a tad like one of my favorite law school professors. His office had stacks and stacks of papers, so much so that he refused to move offices even when he received a promotion. He knew exactly where everything was in that chaotic mess, thank-you-very-much.

I’m not that bad, but I definitely lean in that direction.

My husband is the neat freak. He gets a little too twitchy about it sometimes for my taste. But it is ok because he balances out my lackadaisical tendencies.

So back to the day off to clean.

It was glorious.spring_clean_with_cc

Lately I had been feeling unmoored. Things in my life that should feel steady and constant hadn’t felt steady and constant.

My solution to all of this was to clean. To assert some order in the chaos. To rid the stagnant and stale energy of October and usher in the gloriousness that is this November.

This is not my usual solution. In fact, my brain was trying to talk me out of it. (“What a silly way to spend a day off” “Why is this bugging me so much, shouldn’t I be able to let it go?”)

I overrode all the negative chatter and I went to my happy place: T.J. Maxx. I slowly wandered the store with my short cart, no child in tow, no husband, just me and a coffee, sniffing candles and perusing sale racks. I realize it is consumeristic and a bit ridiculous to claim that T.J. Maxx is my happy place. And I assure you, when I was in labor with my daughter I was not envisioning the quiet, fluorescent-lit aisles as I breathed through a contraction.

But T.J. maxx and its aisles of storage bins, linen sprays, and laundry baskets was just what the doctor ordered. I got handy-dandy containers to organize my pantry. Bins that hold canned goods! A cute little container for your sponge and scrubber that suctions to the side of the sink.

And when I got home, I cranked up the NPR, put on scrubby clothes and got to work. IT FELT SO GOOD. I cleaned, I organized, I argued with political commentators on the radio.

It totally and completely renewed me.

It turns out that a day off to clean was exactly, precisely what I needed. It wasn’t my typical “self-care” regimen, for sure. I love yoga, meditation, a walk in the woods just as much as the next gal. But this time when my soul spoke, it told me it wanted to scrub dirt. And watch Strange Things on Netflix until too late into the night.

Yesterday, the day after my cleaning-day-off, I got an email from the writer/retreat leader Jennifer Loudon entitled “The Spiritual Importance of Watching TV” and gee, talk about timely. She writes:

Forget the spiritual ideal of trying to be awake and aware all the time. Or doing only “healthy” things to recharge. Let alone always pushing yourself to be “better and better.”
I see too many people, especially women, holding themselves to some spiritual ideal or some productivity guru’s ideal of what life should look like.

Self-improvement all the time!
Striving to be awake and aware 100% of the time.
Working 8 hours a day without a break. (You can’t do it, but you may think you should be able to – so draining.)

It all becomes another way to terrorize yourself with some impossible ideal.

You end up settling for crumbs, for what I call shadow comforts: things that don’t truly nourish you, but because you think giving yourself what you really want is lazy or even dangerous, you end up starving yourself of real rest and relaxation.

And then you rebel. Maybe by binge watching 10 hours of Netflix or eating food you aren’t hungry for or by giving up working on your creative dream.

By listening to my body’s weird request to clean and categorize, I found deep satisfaction. I can’t tell you how much it recharged me.

(And my husband, well I told him not to get used to this or anything. Unless it turns out I’ve been hiding an inner-neat-freak all these years!)

I leave you with this: what if you listened to your deepest desires and needs without judgment. What would that look like? And if you rebel against it, why might that be?

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