A year ago, this week, I was getting ready to talk about self-care with students at “Table Talk.” I’ve taught workshops and classes on self-care. I trained student leaders how to find rest and how to have something to give to others when they are in a role that involves giving of themselves. We’ve eaten popcorn and read children’s books, journaled and savored chocolate. I’ve taught about living in the present and handed out sheets with idea after idea of how to slow down and rest, enjoy and create. But yet when it comes to doing it myself, I feel like anything but a master.
There’s so many reasons why self-care is hard for me. But I think today there are two significant factors:
- What refreshes me and is life-giving doesn’t always look the same in a new season.
There have been seasons where there is ample space for cooking and baking. This is one of my areas to enjoy and create. I love to try new recipes or to substitute an ingredient with something I have on hand instead of running to the store. Making things that are gluten free, but don’t taste like it feels like a fun challenge (most of the time anyway.) But I’ve also had seasons (including the one I’m just coming out of) where there wasn’t the same kind of space for that. My pace was fast. Rest came in tiny patches of minutes here and there. It wasn’t realistic to expect making food to be restful very much of the time. I still could make time for a few trays of warm cookies on a weekend, but that was by far the exception, not the rule. In that season, I had to discover what did fit and was still refreshing to my heart. Sometimes it was just sitting at my desk for a few moments, not doing anything but breathing deep and praying. Sometimes it was taking the long way to get to a meeting or walking home, stepping over some leaves and looking at the sky. As much as I wished for what worked in a different season, I wasn’t there and wishing for it was simply unhelpful. I had to find what worked in the season I was in, sometimes by trial and error.
2. It is hard to rest when there are things left undone.
Oh man. This one is always true. It is so hard to rest and do something that breathes life into me when my to-do list seems to shout at me. This summer, I slowly worked on a coloring page while working on packing our boxes. Packing and leaving life as we knew it already felt like an act of trust. It was all I could do some days to go through one or two things, feeling overwhelmed by transition and change and exhaustion. In the midst of that, I chose to work on something small for a few minutes that reminded my heart of what is true and beautiful. Sometimes I would literally color for two minutes, shading a tiny flower before getting back to work. But those few minutes of a colored pencil in my hand were a gift, a tiny rest in the midst of some chaos. It was a lot of work to rest intentionally. Instead of escaping on my phone and scrolling through photos, I had to consciously choose to give a few minutes to something that would feed my soul. It is hard to rest when there are things to do and hard things to face. It also seems like the time we might need it the most. Rest and self-care are things worth fighting for.
There are so many “right” ways to rest, and they don’t need to wait for a week’s vacation or the next Saturday there’s nothing going on. Rest requires intentionality, but it doesn’t need to require hours of time. It can be sitting with a cup of coffee for a few peaceful moments, writing a gratitude list, talking to a friend, being quiet, coloring or reading a children’s book.
If you’re struggling to find new ways to rest in the season you find yourself in, I would like to suggest something I recently discovered. The Time Garden combines TWO of my favorite ways to rest as it is a coloring book that also reads like a children’s book. The first few pages set the stage with some introduction to the girl and her fairy friend who adventure together into a cuckoo clock, which leads into page after page of magical illustrations (sans words.) These illustrations are absolutely beautiful and fanciful. It is a treat to look at them, let alone color them in! This book is meant to last for hours and hours, as each page contains a great deal of detail. I’m grateful to have discovered a way to combine two of my favorite self-care activities, found in one beautiful book. Hats off to Daria Song for her gorgeous artwork and creativity!
The Time Chamber (the sequel) is like its predecessor but offers the alternative experience of the fairy girl entering her friend’s world instead of the other way around. The illustrations are equally as beautiful and slightly more familiar, although from a fairy’s perspective. Another enchanting option for coloring.
I like what Sarah Seltzer says about coloring in her article, “Are Grown-Up Coloring Books the Future of Publishing?” about the recent trend in adult coloring books, “The coloring craze isn’t just a way back to childhood, but a path back into a state of creation where process trumps results.”
I think that is what the best self-care does. It reminds our hearts that process trumps results. We slow ourselves down to remember what is really important. We have space to live the way we were made to live. We invite the Lord into our mess and ask him to help us trust. We say okay to rest.
*Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of The Time Garden in exchange for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255