Getting ready for a cheesy one folks! Sorry I have been absent, to everyone who hangs on my every word (just kidding of course). Instead of talking about another spreadsheet I am talking here about self care because boy do I wish this was something I learned rather than rolled my eyes at a long time ago… and in the midst of hard weather and short harvest windows and storms literal and emotional it would have saved me a lot of tears.
So, letting go is not something that comes easily, naturally or pain free for me. It is something all farmers should learn to do. As a person and afarmer I am currently caught in a place where I am simultaneously learning to let go and accept and love life as it is, and to dream big and accomplish big goals like I always have. In this process I am learning the most important lessons of my life. It is sad to realize the richness in life I have missed, the ways in which I chose accomplishment over calm and happiness, and the fact that I literally forgot how to take care of myself because I believed that is not where human potential lay. To be fair self care is something most farmers are bad at. For years… and I mean like 10 years, I told myself that my farm work was my meditation, it was my art, it was my calm. And it was in so many ways. I actually cried happy tears (for the second time this month and the second time in my life) weeding in a hoophouse this week because I was able to embrace the level of love and thankfulness I have for what I get to do. But a life where self care and quiet and calm is always equated with work just isn’t sustainable. Just because farming felt like a break from nursing and caring for children all night, did not make it a real form of recovery. Doing more is not recovery and self love, not for women like me at least.
I am simultaneously processing a decade of emotional trauma and falling in love and I have been challenged to re-envision happiness in profound ways. I am able to be the best, the hardest working, the most accomplished but I can choose not to. I can choose calm, and a bowl of popcorn and a nature documentary, and a walk in the woods where I can laugh at myself when I fall down. I can choose to weed half the hoophouse to do yoga and then continue… or even more radically for me I can choose to not meet my insane arbitrary speed goals and just do the yoga because I want to. Because I have time does not mean I need to do more. Sitting the in quiet of life is a skill not a failing. Making my bed, and washing my face and putting on lotion and making a big breakfast are parts of living a simple beautiful life, not a sign that I need to fill my minutes with more. As farmers, especially in the sustainable agriculture movement, we are often rewarded for doing it all. Being a model family farm from the labor arrangements, to the beautiful bodies and children, to the photographs of animals smiling – that is what people want, even our peers, because it is what we should look like. In a conversation with a farming friend he mentioned throwing a giant fit last year after losing another lamb and kicking and screaming and pounding his fists on the ground in tears… noting that no one talks about that. There are many parts of the beautiful farms people don’t talk about. Not just grown men crying alone in the barn, but the levels of work demanded from women who in our liberation can now do 80% of all work, not just house and childcare, and still be asked to do more. I’ll leave these topics for a future rambling.
So what does self care looking like. I was so unfamiliar with the idea and resistant to it I spent hours of the internet trying to figure out what it looks like to have love and compassion for ones self… that’s a little depressing but here is what I am coming to.
I meditate – every day for 5-20 minutes. I use an ap because I am not good enough at quieting my mind yet. And as an agnostic Jewish woman I listen to the prayer of saint fransis.. because it is beautiful.
I do yoga- every day for 5-45 minutes. I am working with my wonderful friend heather at 5 koshas yoga because I need to take care of this body of mine if I want to farm for 30 more years… and I do.
I look into my kids eyes a lot when I talk to them instead of at my phone. I let them engage in the very funniest depth of potty humor and let them get wild with laughter because it is beautiful. I do mad libs and tickle time and we all sleep in a bed together. I let us all eat junk food some times and a million marshmallows cooked over the fire. I allow myself to enjoy my children.
I call people I love when I am sad. I seriously bother them and ask for love and pep talks and cry openly a lot. I am way better now but my poor sister and several friends endured hours of this a day. I asked for help and love because I needed it. I should have asked a long long time ago.
I write letters to people I love or know who need letters or appreciation.
I sit in my pain. I am a doer. I am learning not to always be one because it allows me an escape in a bad way.
I plan my future tiny house in insane detail from the porch swing to the wood stove. I plan my gardens and my vacations and the dreamy parts of the future.
I hike and hike and hike. I was afraid of the darkness and the woods at night until last summer when I somehow freed myself from that. I walk in the woods by myself or with a love or with my kids. I get wet and muddy and feel the world fully. I try my best to be Aldo Leopold instead of climbing Everest… enjoying the process and place instead of the goal.
I have 2 friend dates a week. I hope I can sustain this in the summer but friend-dates are freeing and fun and needed. At the least I am planning weekly potluck at my new farm/home and inviting lots of people I want to see. If I cant drive to the party at least I can have the party come to me.
I just kiss, like for hours. Three hours of kissing someone who just wants to look into my eyes is a form of self love even though it involves another person. While new relationships can just be an escape, they can also be fundamental in allowing one to ask for and receive the exact form of love they need. I fundamentally want kissing and judgement free beautiful laughter and someone who just loves me. And I am celebrating it a little bit.
And cheesiest and last of all I let myself feel all my emotions and appreciate and understand them all. There should be no guilt in joy, no needed escape from pain and sadness, and no disappointment in anger. The upside of this has been having new emotional experiences at 37 years old. Happy crying is incredible. Being emotionally vulnerable with friends, really honest and raw is freeing and supportive, and love can be so deep without fear.