These past few weeks have been filled with a series of synchronicities that have reminded me of the importance of self-care. The first thing that happened was that after an amazing (and incredibly busy) first week back teaching, I started the long weekend feeling under the weather. I had every intention of doing all the things from attending wine festivals to dancing late into the night, to any other shenanigans that came my way. But I had only just been saying, in light of my fuller-than-usual schedule this term, that I needed to be sure to make self-care a priority. It seemed life took over so that I had to follow through with my statement. There was no doubt about it--I felt a cold coming on and the only thing I could do was rest and relax until it went away. I literally had no choice but to take care of myself!
So I rested. And I took long naps and did gentle yogas and drank copious amounts of tea. And it was...delicious. It was three whole days of cooking healthy meals inspired by farmers' market finds and indulging in afternoons reading my trashy books. It made me realize how little attention I had been paying to my internal life. With all the excitement a new school year brings and the enjoyment of my extroverted new literacies I'd been cultivating, I'd neglected to nourish my yin energy.
...and then the universe kept speaking to me in synchronous code.
The first synchronous event came when I learned that the first Sunday of September was World Goddess Day. Trust me. It's a thing. The more I read about it, the more I loved the idea of devoting the day to goddess energy so as to cultivate it year round. In such a male-centric society that values extroversion, logic, and concrete accomplishments, goddess energy reminds us of the equally important need to nourish introversion and tend our emotional and psychic lives.
The unfolding work weeks were spent in equal measures of sleep and homey nourishment simply because I had no energy for anything else. During this dormant time, a funny thing started to happen. I was seeing goddess wisdom everywhere. In my newsfeed. On TV. In books. Even in my tarot deck. She was everywhere. I began to think the universe was trying to tell me something. I was being reminded of the power of the feminine, the power of quiet and simple pleasures, the power of home as medicine. Such is the way of synchronicity.
After I tuned back into my own magic, I realized that it is too easy to forget to care for ourselves, too easy to lose track of the big picture as we navigate our day to day, too easy to dismiss pleasurable things as unimportant. We all have things we have to get done, after all. But the Goddess Within reminds us that we can be a boss in our outer daily lives and still nourish our internal lives. I needed tender things these past few weeks, gentle things and beautiful things to restore myself. I needed to read fun books and lighten my energy. And I needed to imbue my home with the delicious essence of divinely beautiful living.
So who is the Goddess Within? She is the one who rises above the daily debris that might weigh us down--she sees the big picture of life so we don't get stuck on the small mundanities. She is sensuous and beautiful, at home in her body. She loves to indulge in the pleasures of life. She doesn't hesitate to care for herself--as we so often can in the world that seems to demand more and more of us. She is at home with her emotions and the psychic world. In short, she is pure magic.
Now that I'm no longer sick, I want to maintain the blissful feelings of goddess-inspired self-care--minus the scratchy throat. I've found that there are five easy ways to nourish the Goddess Within, even when life might seem hectic. Find her and love her with these tips:
1. Invite the goddesses into your home. As you know, I'm a huge proponent making a home a sanctuary, not just a place to crash at the end of the day. One of my favorite decor books, The Goddess Home Style Guide, reminds us of the power of invoking the archetypal forces of goddesses like Aphrodite, Athena, and Demeter as you decorate your space. Take Aphrodite's lead and make your bedroom a sensuous space for dreaming and delighting. Make your bathroom reflect the sea-kissed shores she was birthed from. Allow Demeter to fill your kitchen with the harvest's abundance, and Athena to make your writing desk a celebration of imagination and intellectual curiosity. The more you cultivate goddess wisdom within your space, the more you feel inspired to make each act within those spaces deliberate and joyful.
2. Love your body. Each curve, each scar, each freckle. Love it all. And treat it right. Exercise and do yoga and wear clothes that fit well. Enjoy the sensuous pleasures of satin jammies. Slather it in body butter and soak your locks in honey. We are inundated with images of airbrushed bodies on magazines and other media about how to reshape ourselves into an ideal form of beauty; it's important to remember that healthy and happy override a certain dress size. I mean look at Botticelli's Aphrodite: big hips, small breasts, round belly. Hardly fulfilling today's beauty ideals, but she's THE GODDESS OF LOVE. Take your cues from her and recognize that beauty comes in all different shapes and sizes.
3. Protect your you time. The Goddess Within is tender and playful, sure, but she's a warrior too. It can be hard to say no or be done working for the day. We live in a culture that can slowly start demanding more and more of us. As women especially, we can struggle to draw important boundaries that lead to a more balanced life. So invoke the warrior! Say no to things. Carve out space for what brings you joy and get comfortable establishing limits. Loving the Goddess Within doesn't mean your energy is limitless, it means that you know how to replenish yourself and create space for simply being.
4. Stay connected to everyday magic. Okay, so this one is probably a no-brainer considering I pretty much write about everyday magic ALL THE TIME. But even as I write about it and firmly believe in its power, I can still sometimes find myself disconnected from it. And when I am, the world is a lot less wondrous, and a lot more gray. The disconnection happens when I'm overly tired and get a little numb, hence the gray. I've found that creating more space in my day to breathe and focus on being receptive to the beautiful things around me--like the synchronicities that lead me back to my magic--goes a long way to keeping my magic strong. Remember there is more to this world than checklists and schedules.
5. Make every routine a ritual. You're tired. You want to put on some pajamas and veg out in front of the TV, but there's laundry to do and dinner to cook. Celebrate those chores, rather than dread them by turning them into rituals that help you unplug from your workday and reconnect with yourself. So I have to turn my compost--good. Dirt in my fingernails grounds me and feeding the worms connects me to nature. So I don't know what to cook for dinner--I'll start with sauteeing an onion and let my farm fresh ingredients speak to me. Taking the extra time to cook a healthy meal allows me to nourish my whole being and enjoy the sensuousness of sauteeing vegetables. It allows me to slow down and reconnect to the deliciousness that is life. Throw in a jazz record and a glass of wine, and you've got the makings of a divine evening.
...and I'll leave you with one last bonus tip for nourishing the Goddess Within, she who is abundant and powerful and infinite in her joy: leave time to dream. Dreams, after all, are seeds that eventually sprout.