[seattle] take heart, take care.

so, while i'm in seattle, i meet up with a friend, and we talk about a whole lot of things, one of which is self-care. i feel like self-care has become this trendy word, this idea that's being thrown about casually — or maybe not so casually — it just sometimes feels that way because it usually leaves me wondering, okay, so what the hell is self-care?

what does it look like?

self-care is important, though. it's important and crucial that we learn to care for ourselves, that we nurture ourselves and are kind to ourselves, but words are words, and theories are theories, and the question comes down to, how do we practice that then?

again, what does it look like?

we exist in a culture that's all about constant motion, one that likes to chart progress and success like they're quantifiable things. we should hit certain milestones in our lives at certain ages, and we should always be moving forward, always going on to the next thing, always moving up and up and up. we should always be running; to be still is to falter — it is to fail.

it's a pervasive mentality. there was this horrible ad i saw once on the bart in SF, and it had something to do with being a doer, and being a doer meant that you never slept, drank coffee for lunch, were aways on the hustle. the ad made all this sound positive, like it was desirable, like, if you weren't a doer in this crazed sense, then you would never amount to much — you were already a failure; you weren't a doer; you were a nothing, no ambitions, no drive, no potential.

and i thought how stupid that was, how inane, how damaging. i thought how stupid it was that we live in a culture that's so fixated on the go go go, so obsessed with the idea of motion that it'll willingly and masochistically fester in this deception that motion is the same as productivity, that motion is some kind of measure with which to determine someone's skills or passion or determination.

it irritates me because it feeds into this idea that there is one way to be. success must look a certain way; ambition must exhibit in a certain way; and we must fit into our assigned narratives and hit all the milestones that will lead us on the path to a good, meaningful life.

the fundamental problem with that, though, is that there is no such thing as one way to be. there is no one life to live. there is no one "good" and "meaningful."

the more fundamental problem with that is that there is no one kind of human in the world. we're all different, and we come in different shapes and sizes and styles with different ambitions and dreams and passions, and we come in different bodies.

we come with different brains.

that means that we come with different limitations, different priorities, different wants, and that further means that we come with different skills, different abilities, different strengths. like, my weaknesses might be that i’m shit with organization and ascertaining the most direct route to any task, but my strengths are that i can think out of the box, have a strong visual eye and creative perspective, and am flexible, able to adapt and change and run with it, whatever “it” is. i might have issues with maintaining strict order (or, uh, following it), but i can solve problems and come up with creative solutions. if my weaknesses are others’ strengths, then my strengths are others’ weaknesses.

and that is crucial, i believe, and that is where i’ll always argue against the idea that there is one “right” or “best” way to be. there are many “right” and “best” ways to be, and there are so many ways that we all contribute to society. we can’t all be hyperactive “doers,” just like we can’t all be corporate ladder climbers or artists or stay-at-home parents. we can’t all be planners, and we can’t all be accountants, and we can’t all be musicians.

however, we all need each other for society to thrive, and we need to respect that we are all different, that we have different needs, that we have different ways of hustling and struggling and persevering — and i’m feeling kind of blah about this post so far because i feel kind of preachy, but i don’t know — this has been sitting on my chest, and i wanted to get it off.

in seattle, we eat really great sushi.

a few random things, then, i suppose:

i like staying at the w because i like that their toiletries are sourced from bliss. i love the smell of bliss products, how clean and not cloying the scent is, and i love the quality (except for the conditioning rinse; that does nothing for my hair) — but, more than that, i like that i can sample bliss products because, body butter withstanding, i still can’t commit to purchasing any of them.

i always hate that hotels give you bars of soap, though. who uses a whole bar of soap? unless it’s during a super extended stay? it feels like such a waste. can you recycle soap?

seattle is supposed to be a coffee town, but i don’t drink a single cup of seattle coffee there. or maybe i do — i’m not sure where little oddfellows in the elliott bay book company sources its beans from, but i don’t go to any “iconic” seattle coffee shops, nor do i try any of their roasters, nor do i have any coffee that blows me away.

part of that is time and laziness. part of that is also that i’m still thinking about the beans i brought back from reykjavik and wishing i could find those again … those were damn good beans.

next time i go to seattle, i’ll drink more coffee.

i think it’s adorable how frequently animals seem to factor into the names of eateries in seattle. you’ve got the fat hen, the wandering goose, general porpoise, the walrus and the carpenter, etcetera etcetera etcetera. i love it.

going back to self-care, though — i’m still working on it. i’m still working on figuring out what it looks like — and, specifically, what it looks like for me. i’ve figured out a few things, like, that learning to be kind to myself is learning to be okay with myself, to remind myself that, hey, i’m okay right now as i am, flaws and all. that taking care of myself means listening to my body, my brain, and knowing when to take an easy day and when to be more ambitious. that self-care ultimately means balance; it means trial and error; and it means having bad days and having good days and not attaching more to either than necessary. a good day is a good day, and a bad day is a bad day, but they are all days to get through, to survive, and that is what we strive to do — to get through, to survive, and, hopefully, to thrive.