There are 50 odd draft blog posts on my computer. There are 56784 draft blog posts in my head. I always have the best ideas when I'm about to fall asleep but I'm far too lazy to sit up and put the light on and record it in the beautiful (empty) notebook I keep by my bed.
I am so out of the habit of blogging - and taking photographs that it feels odd and uncomfortable to do it again. Yet here I am. The urge to write it down and perhaps get it out? Is insistent. I have 4 half read books on my bedside table beside that notebook. And a stack of unread, unopened magazine subscriptions. I have a queue of knitting projects I'd like to start before the kids outgrow the patterns. Baxter still doesn't have a quilt to call his own.
If this sounds like a complaint, it's really not. It's a bit of acceptance that I have more than enough to fill my days. And when I do get time to read or knit or sew or blog or take photographs it's a real treat. Sometimes I get everything on my mental to do list ticked off so I reward myself with some time to do one of those things. Sometimes I feel the need to ignore the to do list and let myself off the hook and pick up the knitting until the school run rolls around or the kids find me. (They always find me, I love it really).
The notion of 'self care' needs re-branding. It sounds so indulgent and unnecessary. But to quote a well used phrase, you simply cannot pour from an empty cup. I imagine you probably already know that but do you really live it? For me, it's taken me a long time to realise that my cup is sometimes empty at an inconvenient time. Maybe I have lots to do, everyone needs something from me, the weather would be perfect for a walk, the ingredients for a complicated meal are going off in the fridge. I've realised that part of the point of self care is that it needs to happen when you need it to happen - when possible. Some weeks things might seem easy - I might have some help at home from Greig, something to look forward to, a week when I should be feeling great. But it doesn't always happen like that. Sometimes those are the weeks I need to forget the washing pile, not empty the dishwasher, not plan fun days out for chlidren who are quite happy to play at home. And conversely sometimes the long hard slog of a week with no breaks don't weigh heavily at all.
I'm still working all of this out for myself. Experimenting on what makes me feel better when I'm worn out. I know that I need to eat a lot of vegetables and drink water. So boring but so true. It helps to exercise, sometimes to the point of sweaty exhaustion, sometimes more gently, sometimes with the heaviest weights I can lift. A bath with posh bubbles. A half hour with coffee in a quiet house. A cuddle on the couch with a little person all snuggled up. Phoning a friend. Cleaning out a cupboard. Finding a way to make an everyday task more efficient or just feel a bit more special. A face mask followed by a fancy cream. Abusing the husband's Amazon Prime to order a new book to add to the pile. A Pilates class with my friend P. A solo library trip - actually a solo anywhere trip, dentist, Tesco, Royal Mail sorting office................
I feel like I'd like to ask my real life friends how they recharge their batteries or fill their cup or (yack) self care. But that's weird isn't it? It's so personal to each of us. One person's joy is another's idea of a chore. But if you felt inclined to leave me a comment you'd be indulging this nosey parker.
If there was ever anyone to teach mindfulness it would be toddler. In pyjamas at midday. Wearing a cozy hat. Reading a giant pile of books in bed. Whilst your responsible adult watches but is not allowed to help. Nailed it.
I was taking these photographs of Baxter as he was busy. He was still busy so I set the camera on his chest of drawers, focused on my chair and set the timer. I'm not sure what I was hoping to capture - the world's least glamorous self portrait? Wet hair, no make up, mum outfit.
Baxter started to tell me a fantastic story with hand actions and my camera caught my reactions. There is something about these photographs I love. It's me as my children see me as of ten as I can be. Not being self conscious. Not hurrying or worrying. Just doing what we do. Taking care of each other and hopefully, at least a little bit, taking care of ourselves.