This post began as a note scrawled to myself on a post-it:
time to cook is a barometer for how well I’m taking care of myself.
It was a night when, for the first time in weeks, I found enough time to enjoy putting together a big pot of goat cheese pasta for dinner (with mushrooms, asparagus and a touch of lemon zest. NOM). Meals in the weeks before that night had been rushed—a quick batch of hummus, frozen pizza, whatever leftovers I could find—and finally being in the kitchen and being at ease again felt so comforting and completely natural. Like I was back in the routine I was supposed to have.
As I pondered this new thought, I realized this barometer I’d discovered was not only measuring time to cook…it’s all the things connected to cooking. Cleaning up immediately after the meal, so the kitchen isn’t a wreck. Making the time to slow down and eat, rather than gulping down one bite after another while plowing through a list of emails. Planning meals ahead of time, so I’m not frazzled every night at meal-time.
The times that I’ve been most stressed, stretched too thin and overwhelmed with everything are also—not coincidentally—the times you couldn’t spot a clean piece of kitchen counter to save your life, and there’s nothing but spoiled leftovers in the fridge.
In light of this, I’m able to step back and pull the pieces together of why I have always felt this tug to talk about home, and why it matters.
The condition of my home is directly related to the chaos or order in my life.
Manage my life….manage my home. Ease in my life…ease at home.
The way you keep your home is deeply connected to the way you are. That’s because your home is a mere tool. A collection of tools, really, that we all need to learn to use to our benefit, or they will use us to our detriment.
Your home is an extension of you, a tangible, physical representation of the way you express yourself. The way you structure your home (and your pantry and closets and laundry room) dictate the ease or dis-ease with which you can later use those structures to make your life easier or get frustrated that things are so hard.
Your home is a physical space you can use to show love in bigger, deeper ways than you could without it.
Toward yourself…by running a hot bath and pulling a favorite book off the shelf. By building a nourishing shelter and nest to return to, after any kind of day.
Toward your spouse…by cooking their favorite dinner, or surprising them with a candlelit massage.
Toward your children…by promoting their imagination with books and toys, and rocking them to sleep.
Toward family, neighbors and friends…by having snacks & cocktails ready when they arrive. By providing a slice of pie, a comfy porch chair and a listening ear after they’ve had a rough day.
The thread of you is woven throughout your entire home, of course. You fill the bookshelves, stock the food, buy the toys, and place the rocker in just the right spot. Whether you realize it or not, you’re pulling the levers that are having an impact on each soul that crosses through your front door.
And in doing so, everything you do at home can be a way to express who you are, and show your love.
A home is not
the same as anyone else’s.
made in a day.
It’s a process. It’s a practice.
At the beginning of this year, Tara Mohr asked a question that has been resonating with me ever since: “What types of care feel like self care to you (and not like a self care to do list)?”
I think this is where a lot of us get hung up—certainly I do. We all know we need to take care of ourselves, and the internets have millions of ideas for how to do it. Take time away. Take a bath. Make your bed. Keep the kitchen sink cleared at all times. Go to bed early. Don’t use an alarm clock. Take a walk after every meal. And that ever-elusive “eat better”. I could go on, but I’m starting to get exhausted.
After a while, all of these things start to feel like a to-do list…and they add to the feeling you already had, that you’re not doing enough. That you’re not good enough.
So when Tara asked this question, what feels like self care to you, my ears immediately perked up. That’s the difference. Chuck the list of what everybody says right out the window, and start with one thing that would feel good. Are you hungry right now? What does your body want to eat? Do you want to sit in a chair and look out the window? Do you want to take a hot bubble bath…or would a hot shower feel better? Or neither…maybe you want to stay in bed with pajamas and greasy hair and that’s okay too.
The thing I want you to take away from these two ideas is this:
Your physical surroundings and the things you do at home can clue you in to where you might need to take better care of yourself (and then, when you’re nourished, how to take care of others). Once you receive the red flag, remember to act with compassion toward yourself, so you can get your needs met without guilt or additional strain on yourself.
Here are a few examples of what this might look like:
It’s dinnertime, your stomach is raging with hunger, and there’s nothing edible in sight.
- Maybe you need to slow your schedule down enough to give you time to make a list, get some groceries and make a simple, healthy meal for yourself
- Maybe you need to make time for cooking…or maybe you need to plan simpler meals so you can get back to the things that are engaging you.
- Maybe you need to incorporate quicker, easier meals into your meal plan.
- Maybe you need to order takeout and not feel bad about it.
If you have closets or boxes of clutter that weigh on your mind constantly yet you can’t seem to organize them, maybe the problem isn’t that you need to force yourself to sort through them.
- Maybe you need to ask for help from a friend who loves to organize.
- Or cancel some commitments so you actually have the space in your schedule to attend to your own needs.
- Or maybe you need to give yourself permission to have those messes for a period of time, while you sort out some other areas of your life that are more pressing.
See where I’m headed here? I can’t wait to see what you think of this idea, and how you apply it to your own home.
Leave a note in the comments: what is your home telling you, about how you can take better care of yourself?