Metaphors of Care

We’ve had a lot of weather here in New York the last few weeks. Snow storms have turned into freezing rain, then drops in temperature have turned everything into ice. This morning, I was walking across my frozen lawn carrying groceries in from the car to the house. As I stepped onto the grass, I felt my feet begin to go out from under me.

I’ll just keep going” I thought. “I won’t slip, I can handle this and push through.”

I made it to the door, but not without a lot of close calls. In hindsight, this seems like a silly thing, but I was cold, my bags were heavy, and I just wanted to get inside, so I chose to keep going. As I got inside, it struck me how much that walk was a metaphor for the last few weeks. We have started to figure out some framework for a routine over here. We are finding our paths, and while they may be slippery at times, we are forging onward. That said, we have also had to change directions quite a bit, and recognize when things are not working for us. There is a learning curve here, as with any sort of new life change, but this one has been interesting to me in it’s demand for consistent intentionality. I find myself questioning more why we are doing the things we are doing, and whether those things are actually working for us in the way we want them to, I am more willing to change direction and pivot when the moment calls for it, unlike this morning on the ice. But much like this morning, I have found a grounding within myself to push through, that struggles are transient – even struggles with a terminal/chronic disease. They are only pieces of a puzzle, and not defining pieces at that, but sit on the periphery to create a framework in which I can dictate my response.

My blog absence has largely been due to the fact that I have recently started making myself to sit with the newness of our life and our routine for a while. I have been trying to process everything in a way that just is, not in writing, or talking, or action, but in a way that allows me to more deeply understand the facets of my life as they exist right now. It sounds very existential, but it’s really just slowing down, allowing myself to say “not today” when I need to rest.

I am not someone who does well with rest. I like to stay busy, stay engaged, and feel productive. Recognizing the switch from “work now and rest later” to “the world will not end if it waits until tomorrow” (or the next day, or the next, or whenever I have the energy to take care of it) has been more challenging than I expected. I have drawn inward to center myself around the care that that my body and mind demand. The other day, I was feeling pretty lousy, so after I dropped Felix off at preschool, I came home and crawled back into bed. After resting for an hour, I made a cup of tea, filled the bathtub with hot water and some herbal bath salts, and took a long soak. I say this not to highlight the indulgence of it (although it certainly felt like one) but to further touch on the question I keep asking myself – I know these things are wonderful, nourishing, and help me manage all of the other pieces of my life. So why does it feel so difficult to engage in these small rituals, when they only add benefit to my life? Why does this act of self-care and self-love feel surreptitious and selfish, when it creates space for me that makes me a stronger, more functional person? It has been difficult to embrace the act of surrender, to recognize and channel my limitations into an ally instead of an adversary.

However, with this switch I have found a lot more joy in the process of little things. I have been making chicken soup lately, and have found a lot of comfort in this soothing, small ritual. I love the rhythm of the chopping and stirring, the creation of something wholesome and nourishing out of pieces of scrap, roots, water. It feels nurturing for myself, for my family, and for the new routines we are forging together. The process of engaging my senses while I work: the taste of the carrots, the chicken, the broth, the smell that fills my house, the hum of the simmering soup, act of straining the good from the used, the shimmer of the golden broth with a sprinkle of bright parsley over a white soup bowl. It feeds me on a holistic level, apart from the simple act of eating the soup. It’s a metaphor for so much of what I feel at the moment: what can I do that nourishes my life; how can I create something pleasurable out of that which seems sad and hopeless?

3 thoughts on “Metaphors of Care

  1. You might enjoy the book, “Peace is every step” -it is about mindfulness and just bringing yourself into the present moment – which is pretty much what you’re doing. Reading the chapters is a peaceful, reflective thing… its not really a how to book.

    Continuing to send you and your family lots and lots of love.

    Like

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