It’s easy to experience daily comforts without much thought. I turn the heat up to 67 degrees, and don’t think about the beauty of modern heating in a month were 28 degrees is an average outdoor temperature. Although I live in a basement, a visit to Salem’s Witch House illuminated me to the fact that my apartment has more light than the richest of Puritans in those early New England days.
There is one trapping of the modern life that I think about daily however – and that’s hot water.
Shortly after my marriage, my husband and I took a five week trip to Guatemala. We stayed in a variety of accomodations – but nothing that could be considered upscale, most costing about $10-12 US per night for the two of us.
Because we went in December, it was somewhat cold at night and this chill lasted into mid-morning. Unfortunately for us, what we hadn’t realized before visiting Guatemala is that most of the water in these hospedajes would be solar heated in a rooftop container before being pumped through the shower. Due to the not-so-warm nighttime temperatures we took, at best, a lukewarm shower each day that we decided to subject ourselves to the cool waters. Also, quite a number of days the shower did not work at all where we were staying.
I’m a girl that loves to take a bath, and let me tell you, the first thing I did upon returning to the US was take a very long, very bubbly one in a Marriott Hotel located outside of Washington during our snow-stranded extended layover. And since then, I’ve looked at hot water with whole new eyes.
This month we’re talking about self-care. Perhaps when you hear “self care” you think first in terms of the physical, your body. I do. I often hear the phrase and first think of maintenance, or the clinical sounding hygiene. – Eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, sleeping eight hours, get a haircut every three (or more) months and staying clean.
But of course, there’s a long difference between washing to erase body odors and dirt, and soaking in a tub for an hour. So the idea of self-care can also encompass actions that may rightly be categorized as “pampering” – monthly manicures, a Spa day (DIY perhaps?), and shopping sprees.
How do we arrive at our self-care ideas of what is “maintenance” and what might be “pampering?” Is it even important to make that distinction? Are these ideas cultural dictated or are they handed down to us by our parents or friends?
There are other ways you can interpret “self care.”
Perhaps you’re more likely to connect with the idea of emotional or psychological self-care Mental fitness instead of jumping jacks. Just as there are “best practices” for the body there are also best practices for the mind and psyche. Dark winter days depress many people, and weeks with sub-zero temperatures coop you up like a chicken – frantically scrolling through the Facebook news-feed hoping for something to liven up the day. (Okay, maybe that’s just me?) Maybe self-care is more like meditation, stress reduction, or a night out with the girls?
As a group blog written by three college-educated women with young children, we also recognize how fraught with cultural implications and pressures the idea of self-care can be. Unpacking the phrase can lead you along the path to considering the standards of Beauty which are imposed in magazines and by photoshopped models. It can lead into endless debates about “having it all” as a mother and how much “me time” you can carve out when attachment parenting is a la mode. What’s the right balance between caring for yourself and caring for you child?
Join us this month as we look at all the different ways we interpret “self-care” and what it looks like in our lives, and on the North Shore.
– Beth Melillo
PS. This month’s theme relates to one of our previous themes – Beauty. Check out all those posts by clicking here.