Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

ROW80: Self-Care is Self-Preservation

Once again, I’m dropping back in to wave hello to all of my wonderful friends taking part in this season’s ROW80 challenge. I’m especially excited because it is NaNoWriMo time! Even though I’m not participating this year, there’s something so intoxicating about the energy that abounds throughout the writing world during this time. I’m hoping a little of that energy rubs off on me.

-oOo-

Back in August, I identified some of my major pitfalls when it comes to writing and productivity. I was hoping it would jumpstart me to get back on my research/writing/blogging game, but instead I realized something else that’s been nagging at me: my lack of self-care.

Splitting my time between my parents’ house and my boyfriend’s home has left my bedroom is shambles–half-empty suitcases on the floor, clothes strewn about, papers and books everywhere.  I wear stress on my body, visible in weight I’ve gained from a lack of healthy eating, and in the rashes that have sprung up on my arms in legs, partly from nervous habit, and partly because I don’t take the time to moisturize and apply the necessary medicine.

audre-lorde-selfcare

I’ve stopped writing, whether poetry or prose or silly blog posts. And I’ve stopped dreaming (unless you count regular nightmares). That lack of dreaming hurts the most, I think. The visions of the future that I used to entertain have morphed into something else altogether: fears about never finishing my PhD, or worse, that I’ll finish and never find a job that captures both my passion and expertise.

And so that is what I’ve been trying to conquer these last couple of months: to care for myself, to take time in the evenings to read magazines and journal and listen to music, to listen to my body when I need to rest, to give myself the space to listen to the stirrings of my heart. I’ve been reorganizing my room and eliminating the clutter, the better to give myself a sanctuary that will encourage serenity and dreaming.

After all, as the great feminist scholar, poet, and warrior Audre Lorde once said, self-care is self-preservation–a profoundly radical act. Because if I expend all that I have and all that I am for others, without taking the time to nourish and restore myself, there is no way I will ever be able to accomplish all that I’ve dreamed. More importantly, there will be precious little to support the happiness and joy I’d like to feel in my day-to-day life.

These are my challenges, then: to overcome fear, to recognize and tend to my needs, to rediscover my passions. I’ll be pinning this Audre Lorde quote over my desk to stay motivated:

When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

For this round of ROW80, I want to take steps to living  fully, deeply, and deliberately. Here are a few concrete ideas for how to get there:

Dissertation

To date, I’ve written an introduction + chapter one. My committee has been encouraging me to write about my findings, so I’m juggling a few things here:

  • Reviewing my data: I’ve got to identify the historical examples that help illustrate my overarching arguments, which involves wading through all my notes to figure out what to flag.
  • Reading secondary literature: I’ve got a stack of books that my committee recommended when I met with them in October. Getting through 2 per month would be phenomenal
  • Writing, writing, writing. There’s a chapter I’ve been dying to write which is already partly done. If I could buckle down and finish it, and then have an outline of that “substantive” chapter done by the end of this Round, I’d be really pleased with myself.

Blog

I’ve neglected my poor blog for way too long. I’ve got 7 unfinished drafts that I’d like to polish up and post, and I’d like to get back to reading everyone else’s posts. I’m aiming for 2 posts per week: 1 ROW80 update, and 1 non-ROW80 post.

Self-Care

This is simple, and also the hardest. I want to use my weeknights for myself, and to have time on the weekend to rest and recharge. Bottom line? The goal is to do the following: Journal. Clean. Read. Write. Sleep.  

-oOo-

And there’s where I’m at this week. I’m excited to put these goals into motion, and even more excited to catch up with everyone. Be sure and cheer on the rest of our ROW80 participants!

18 Comments

  1. It can be hard taking care of everything you need to and taking care of yourself too. Hope it gets a little easier for you.
    Fallon recently posted..Monday Mentions: Special New ReleaseMy Profile

    • Thanks, Fallon! I think the hardest thing is that I have to pay attention to self-care all the time, because if I let it slide, I completely forget and have to start all over again. Er, like now. But if I can just hold out 21 days, then I can make a habit and hopefully it’ll start getting easier. 😛

      Hope you have a great rest of the week!

  2. Good to see you back online, Lena. Of all that you mention, this message to take care of yourself is very needed, especially at this time when you are working on that PhD, digging deep past self-doubt. The picture you paint of living truly in two places shows how stretched you are. So, I’d add to that lovely quote from Audre Lorde hopes that the coming week will bring time to write AND take care of yourself. If you feel like it, I’d love to know what that PhD involves and what research you’re going to be reading. May the week be a good one.
    Beth Camp recently posted..Weds ROW80, WIPpet and NaNo Updates: What could go wrong?My Profile

    • Hi Beth, thanks so much for stopping by, and thanks for the encouragement. My PhD is in sociology, and the dissertation looks at Catholic religious orders in San Francisco, 1850-1925. So I’m reading a lot of historical books on nuns, along with a few sociological books on organizations, institutional logics, and a few other random things thrown in that my committee suggested. It’s fun…. but I’m definitely ready to be finished! Here’s hoping I can reach the elusive finish line by next summer. 😀

      Have a great rest of the week!

  3. I love that Audre Lorde quote and I hope you do find your way to taking care of yourself a bit more. You are so right that being able to nurture yourself is the essential underlayer to every other thing we do.
    jnfr recently posted..Back on trackMy Profile

    • Isn’t it a wonderful quote? At some point I’m going to just have to do a whole Audre Lorde post, because so much of what she’s written resonates with me.

      Thanks for swinging by and saying hello! Have a wonderful rest of the week!

  4. You have got a lot on your plate! My husband teaches ESL to foreign students, many of whom are grad students. He has volunteered to edit the dissertations of several of them, including one young lady who became a good friend. So we have recently walked this path with several folks now. It feels like that dang dissertation will never get done, but it does if you just keep plugging away at it.

    And you most definitely need to take care of yourself. I went to a conference years ago for feminist therapists. The thing that stuck with me the most was this: “The opposite of selfish is selfless –selfless is defined as having NO SELF.”

    So be a bit more selfish, my dear!! We’re all rooting for you.
    Kassandra Lamb recently posted..What Is a Psychopath? (plus a New Release & Giveaway)My Profile

    • Hi Kassandra! So nice to see you! I take heart from stories of others’ dissertation successes, so thank you. And that definition of selfless? It’s so true, and something that I’m going to keep at the forefront of my mind. Selfishness is NOT a bad thing. 😀

      Major congrats on the new release!!!

      • Thanks, Lena! I’m particularly proud of this book and the launch is going well.

        You hang in there. Someday in the not too distant future, the dissertation will be a memory and the PhD will be hangin’ on your wall!!!!

  5. I couldn’t agree more, and I love the Audre Lorde quote you shared. I worked three jobs for a while, and while I liked everything I was doing, I ended up with constant fatigue and a host of other issues. It wasn’t until I made my health a priority and started giving myself downtime that things improved. Our health is foundational, so it’s wise to take care of ourselves.

    Good luck with your dissertation, Lena!
    Denise D. Young recently posted..WIPpet Wednesday: “Goblins be damned.”My Profile

    • Denise, thanks for swinging by! It’s so funny–I am much better at reminding other people to take care of themselves, and terrible at remembering for myself. I’m so glad that you’ve learned to prioritize your health!

      Have a wonderful rest of the week!

  6. *hugs* Nice to see you again! And do take care of yourself. I know from experience how much work a dissertation is — and how easy it can be for self-care to be left by the wayside.

    Good luck!
    Ruth Nestvold recently posted..Many words, a story sale, and then off to France!My Profile

  7. Good to hear from you again, Lena! Yes, keep plugging away at the dissertation – it *will* get done – but you’re right in taking time for yourself. I’m glad you’re journaling because writing for “play” instead of publication feeds a part of our souls, and our lives would be missing something without it. Cheering you on,
    Jen
    Jennifer Jensen (@jenjensen2) recently posted..NaNoWriMo and Shimmer of Time 2My Profile

    • Oooh, Jennifer, you are so right: writing for play most definitely feeds part of our souls. I hadn’t thought about it that way before, but it’s so true.

      Thank you so much for the encouragement and cheers!

  8. Lena!

    I am so, so, SO happy to see you! =D

    Self-care is not something that I learned in childhood, or even well into adulthood. But, as I move past the midpoint of my 40s, and my children move into and toward their teenage years, and independence, whether they choose to live with us or not, I see more and more how much taking care of me, even in little ways, helps. Me, the kids (maybe especially my daughter, because there does seem to be this idea that women should give up to and beyond the point of collapse, with the collapse seen as weakness), and my marriage.

    Taking care of me means more of me to share- with others, and with myself.

    I think you’re far ahead of the game, learning this now. And the simplicity of your plan feels just right to me. Only, maybe you should add a few sloths to the mix, just because they’ll delight you!

    And, while reading your post, I remembered to put lotion on my chronically dry hands, so you have officially been an inspiration.

    A little work, a little play, a little self-care, a little rest….

    And lots of love out here in the world. <3
    Shan Jeniah Burton recently posted..A Nest Past 50K: November 13, 2014My Profile

    • Hello my friend, I’m so happy to see you as well! Thank you for swinging by and reading. 😀

      You articulate the double-standard of female self-sacrifice so succinctly and so well, and you’re right: the collapse is seen as weakness. More to the point, I have the nasty tendency to see my own fatigue as weakness, and that is a warped perspective that I’m trying to eliminate.

      I’m cracking up over your sloth comment, because I *just* scheduled a sloth post! It’ll go live on Monday. 😀

      Congratulations again on winning NaNo!

  9. “Journal. Clean. Read. Write. Sleep. ”
    Sounds like a great recipe to me. Girl, I have missed you! But I understand. You have so much on your plate. And stress is a killer. It kills our joy and robs us of pursuing our dreams. So good to see you here again. If you find a balance, please let me know. I am in a similar boat and just blogged myself for the first time is months. I am so not consistent. But life isn’t either. That’s why you must take care of yourself first. Love ya girl! ((Hugs)) 🙂
    Karen McFarland recently posted..Happy Third Blogoversary!My Profile

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