An Obligatory “Self-Care” Post. Pizza Is Involved, So…

“Invent your world. Surround yourself with people, color, sounds, and work that nourish you.”
– Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy

I’m really pretty good at inventing my world; with surrounding myself with people, colors, sounds, and works that nourish me. However, I am also guilty, at times, of falling victim to letting the world invent me. It is not a simple giving-into. Rather, it is a slow blindsiding; an incremental yielding-to that unknowingly suffocates. It is, perhaps, a lack of intention where one’s own nourishment is concerned. This has been especially true of late as I’ve found myself running the ever-warned-against rat race often mentioned in today’s busy 21st Century.

A place I really enjoy is the intersection between intention and ritual/tradition. In fact, the latter can’t exist in the absence of the former, and one could argue that an act of intention is, itself, ritualistic. Moreover, what would self-care look like if not for ritual? An article published in the Scientific American, titled “Why rituals work: there are real benefits to rituals, religious or otherwise,” helps to outline some of the importance behind leading a life inclusive of ritual and tradition (Gino & Norton, 2013).

Our family takes no exception. One of our most beloved family traditions is our Friday Family Pizza Night. I told you pizza was involved! For a term of years, this tradition, for better or worse, involved hurriedly navigating Little Ceasar’s for some Hot-n-ReadyⓇ pizzas during the course of a numbing commute home from the city; only to arrive home in the nick of time.

Late last Spring, I rearranged my schedule in order to use Friday as an administrative day. Still, throughout the summer, we enjoy a home full of vibrant children and all that entails. That made today, Friday, August 17th, my first administrative day at home in an empty house…like…ever! Yesterday, it dawned on me that this was the perfect time to get intentional. Before returning home yesterday, I had secured all of the ingredients necessary for making homemade pizza for this evening’s Friday Family Pizza Night (the first since last school year ended). I’d like to extend a huge “thank you” to my esteemed colleague, Dr. Christy Reeder, for shuttling me from HEB back to our office as I was on foot and found myself with more than I could carry.

While the house was still my own today, and in preparation of the kids’ arrival home from school, I had a glorious time making a mess of our kitchen as I made homemade pizza dough that required time to rise. This experience was absolutely {wait for it} kneaded. It was a quiet, reflective, tactile rich, and meaningful time of preparation. Intention.

Shortly after the kids, as well as some of their friends, arrived home, the dough was ready to be rolled into pizza crusts. Thereafter, fun was had by all as a collaborative effort was put forth to create pizzas to suit all likings. Stated simply: it was a delightful time together. The kids paid their complements to the chef as they exclaimed “wow…this is so much better than Little Ceasar’s!” Truthfully, the betterment was in the experience.

As our family tradition took on a new form, I too found my way into a new ritual. There was something deeply satisfying about both having a personal time to create and having a time of shared experience reveled in by the whole family. Someone may have even parroted The Dude and uttered, “ahhhhh. far out, man.” (Cohen & Cohen, 1998). There was meaning found in giving pause long enough to take pleasure in a time centered around enjoyment at the exclusion of all other distractions/stuff.

There’s an interesting relationship between sacrifice and meaning making; enough so that it is a topic that bears its own discussion in some other blog post some other time.

Maybe it is this: there is not sacrifice made without intention. There’s also seldom self-care without intention.
[Forgive me as we now leave the thought-out and formulated for the abstract and exploratory…].

The Abstract & Exploratory

Given the seeming ties to intention, might sacrifice be involved in self-care? At first glance, these certainly appear contradictory. After all, self-care is a discontinuation of sacrifice, right?  What, if anything, do we sacrifice in order to care for self. For starters, I suppose we must identify which self we’re talking about. I’d like to think that when it comes to one’s own care and nourishment, we’re talking about the true, core, or even rudimentary self.  And if we are, then are not parts of our more exterior selves sacrificed to allow us to tend to our interior selves? What parts? Maybe the parts that keep up appearances. Maybe protector parts that guard us in some manner. Maybe parts that whisper rumors of unworthiness. Maybe parts that feel shame and, in turn, undeserving of care. Do not these parts need be let to fall away, even if momentarily, such that we might be able to care for self? The very presence of such parts suggests they serve some purpose, though. How vulnerable must we make ourselves to exist for a period without them?

There is no lack of discussion on the need for vulnerability in our relationships with others. In this sense, vulnerability is sacrificing some of the parts of us that keep us safe but preclude relationship. Based on that thought, is there not also a degree of vulnerability required to be in relationship with one’s self?

So, I suppose there is a degree of vulnerability in identifying need within one’s self (i.e., to have need). And to build on previous thoughts, can need be recognized without the sacrifice of parts that might shroud it? The need must be met (intention). In an attempt to conclude for now, I’ll simply submit that self-care is the practice of sacrificing the parts of us that preclude us from seeing and meeting the needs within ourselves. It is exercising enough intention to care enough about ourselves to care for our self.

Really feels like I rambled through that last part…

Coen, E. & Coen, J. (Producers), and Coen, E. & Coen, J. (Directors). (1998). The Big Lebowski [Motion Picture]. USA: Polygram Filmed Entertainment and Working Title Films.

Gino, F. & Norton, M.I. (2013. May). Why Rituals Work: There are real benefits to rituals, religious or otherwise. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-rituals-work/