practice what you preach: community builder self care edition…

Okay universe. I hear you loud and freaking clear… Noted.

The universe, it totally gets that message. It knows what I’m talking about, but let me expand a bit for the rest of you while I preach and also practice. You can’t effectively care for others when you’re not taking care of yourself. You can’t continue to build and support a community, a project, a business, an event, a movement, or a human if you’re not supporting and caring for yourself.

It’s still mental health awareness month so let me continue on a sanity theme here. We’re all human. All of us. If you’re reading this and you’re not human please reach out via my contact form. I’d love to chat. Perhaps interview you and find out more about your species. But until that happens I’m writing under — and we’re working under — the assumption that you’re all human and so am I.

Yesterday I had meetings with people. The day before that and the day before that I had meetings with people as well. With at least half the people I needed to chat with the topic of taking care of yourself first so you can take care of others came up.

I wasn’t looking to say it. I wasn’t on a soapbox. It was just part of the conversation. In one conversation, I didn’t get to it because a person shared that they were taking care of themself. So there was no need for me to tell them what to do.

I don’t know about you but I’ve been tired. I’ve been run down. I’ve gotten hives for no diagnosable reason. And even once my body literally rebelled with screaming itchy burning hives I still pushed on as hard as I could with work, and life, and family. Until someone else told me to take a break.

And let’s be honest, that break was sleeping off an antihistamine haze and focusing on not scratching my skin raw. That’s not even self care. That’s base survival.

So last night after a long day of work I started in on some chores. And one chore led to another and then to another and I was on my knees scrubbing some gross sticky goo off the bottom of the refrigerator and I hadn’t had dinner and I wanted to scream and I was so frustrated and I just stopped everything and went and took a shower.

Because it was the evening and I had been working all day, and parenting, and doing chores and I still hadn’t taken a shower, the one nice thing I should do for myself every damn day regardless of anything is shower. Showering shouldn’t even be considered nice for me. It is just a human need.

I remember when my kid was a baby and then a toddler when showers were nearly impossible to time and the ultimate in luxury and so last night I stood in that damn shower for an extra ten minutes just because I could. And I talked to myself and I super conditioned my hair. And as I stepped out of the shower I began the lecture.

“Cami” I said to myself, because me and I aren’t so formal as to use my full name or triple name myself unless I’m really in trouble with me, “You can’t take care of other people when you feel this stressed out. And you have lots of people to take care of. How are you going to fix this?”

The answer, last night, was to do a 25 minute deep relaxation yoga video. And to remind myself that I should be making the time to exercise daily because it relieves stress and makes me more able to sleep. And that makes me less likely to snap at people.

The answer this morning was supposed to be to sleep in but my brain was wide awake and wanted to write this post to all of you. So the answer this morning is sharing what I’m feeling in the hopes that it will help someone else. Specifically I want it to help you, I’m pretty sure you know who you are. But if you’re not sure feel free to check in with me.

So, as I said at the top, message received universe. I see all the people hurting. We’re in deep shit as a culture right now. Everything is urgent. Everything needs to be done. And community builders, founders, organizers, activists… you’re the ones who are getting things done.

So instead of telling you one at a time to take care of yourself I’m telling you all right now. Please take care of yourself so you can continue doing the amazing work of taking care of others. Growing your vision. Leading by example. Of protecting, building, and speaking out for your community, your project, your passion. Of making this place more livable for us all.

Okay? Okay.

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