Autumnal Actions: Taking Care of Self + Others

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Fall is always a time to get cozy, comfy-down, settle-in, and snooze a lot. For me, these are all ways to take time to myself, to nurture myself. This quiet settling in is how I return to a semblance of being, reconfiguring how I move in this world and the direction I'm heading. Even as the cold tears my skin, my self-care rituals in these sunless days comfort my bones and still much of my jitters. Caring for myself means multiple things: yes to having long luxurious baths, yes to lighting candles and reading beloved books, yes to Netflix binges and all those things are detailed here. But taking care of myself, especially as the world gets dark and dreary and my mental health teeters ever-more towards the edge, taking care of myself means other things too: setting phone alarm reminders so I pay my bills on time, actually saying no to things for once, carving out time to cook food even though its painful on low-spoon days and I don't feel the benefits until even lower-spoon days when the food is ready for me. It's all a balancing act, which is maybe why I try to learn it as much as possible in Fall--the leaves change, the ground turns, the sun disappears and light flips us all on our heads, but she balances it so brilliantly. 

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So I've been taking notes by walking in this beautiful place--how blessed am I that this is my front yard and also I live rent free? That's a tale for another day, but in the meantime, checkout that Sun. Being here has allowed me to feel connected and steady, like I'm finding home for the first time in a long time. The unseasonably warm temperature means that I can do laps around the lake near dusk and still not freeze. 

I've been spending time with my rabbit who is the absolute love of my life--Andrea Tegan Gertrude. She named after Andrea Gibson, Tegan Quinn, and Gertrude Stein aka Queer Icons. She loves mustard greens and raspberries and chewing everything she's not supposed to. We've been through a lot together and I love her to the moon and back. 

I also binge-watched Netflix's Mindhunter and if you haven't yet you should. (I mean, there are no shoulds in life, but you should.) I️ love Criminal Minds and it was wicked to see historicized BAU at its origins! (TW: overt sexism and brutality against women, murder, sociopathy.)

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I've taken care of myself by getting a little Lush haul after the bills were paid for the month. Above features all my buys (from left to right): Sparkly Pumpkin bubble bar, Razzle Dazzle luxury bath oil, Ectoplasm bath jelly, Secret Arts jelly bomb, Cheer Up Buttercup bath bomb, Shoot For the Stars bath bomb, Snow Fairy jelly bomb, Rose Jam naked shower gel, Monsters' Ball bath bomb, Melting Moments luxury bath oil, Twilight shower gel,  The Big Sleep jelly bomb. 

I've also been cooking when I can, even when it means pushing my limits. I've joined a CSA and therefore have had to learn what to do with celeriac and rutabaga. While I cook I listen to Gaby Dunn's Bad With Money or Aaron Mahnke's Lore and while not in the least bit similar, they both give me a good-down-under spooky sensation. 

  A week of produce from my CSA. I get it through work, so incidentally, I also grew some of this food. 

 A week of produce from my CSA. I get it through work, so incidentally, I also grew some of this food. 

In my dwindling other time, I've been reading WTNV's new novel, It Devours, and Rupi Kaur's Milk + Honey, at last. Getting lost in their worlds by filling my brain with their words and then having long conversations  with friends that make me want to write more postcards.  

And one more little thing I've done for myself (that's actually pretty big): put they/them pronouns in my e-mail signature and casually asked my coworkers to use them. I spoke up about my pronouns at a conference where I was terrified of everyone, and another non-binary attendee came and gave me a pronouns pin, which I've been wearing, and it feels so so good. Gender is exhausting, and there's definitely been some negative lashback to these baby steps, but being real about myself with others feels fine for a change. 

Lastly, I take care of myself by attempting to take care of others in the ways that they ask to be taken care of. As I head into the 'holiday season' (whatever that means for a disenfranchised estranged individual like myself) I'm trying to put my money and my labor where my heart is at by: 

  • Finding reputable orgs doing groundwork in Puerto Rico and donating to them. (Suggestions heavily welcome.)
  • Making more room in my schedule to go volunteer at local orgs. The reality is that I cannot currently give a ton of money to revolutionary and healing work, but I can give my brains and my hands. 
  • Making sure that trans women of color have housing, food, and their needs met by giving directly to them

So that's where I'm at for now. I appreciate everyone's patience and support while I juggle life and this love project of mine. Please comment with how you're taking care of yourself as the seasons change and what, if anything, holiday giving means to you. <3