On Demands and Self-Care

I miss bread.

I’ve written a little bit about my… erhm… contentious relationship with my body and health over the last two years, but I haven’t talked a lot about how the pain I deal with has had a positive impact on my life. I have never been one to slow down. I am ambitious to my very marrow, and if I set my mind to doing something by a certain day or time I’ve been known to will more hours into the day before I blow through that deadline.

I regularly pushed my body well past its limits by staying up too late, eating poorly, working out too hard or not hard enough, and on and on. FFS, I’ve nearly always had AT LEAST two jobs since I turned 18. But when I got sick, I had to slow way the hell down. There are days when I can’t get out of bed, can’t type, can’t do anything but rest.

Luckily, over the last two years, I’ve gotten a lot better at figuring out how to take care of myself, despite the whole still doing two jobs and trying to keep up with a million other tasks thing.

  1. Sleep. I prioritize sleep above most everything else. I used to be a “go to bed at midnight, get up at six” kind of person. Now I’m a “go to bed at ten, sleep until the dogs force me out of bed” gal. This means sacrificing some things, like that last episode of Broad City or taking my time with my hair and makeup in the morning, but sleep is pure gold for feeling good.
  2. Eat well. Now, this is different for everyone, and it took some serious time, effort, grumbling for me to figure out what works for my body. My diet is 99% fruits and vegetables and grass-fed meat at this point. I eat a tiny bit of cheese, but otherwise, avoid dairy, gluten, legumes, most grains, and sugar. Now, I’m not going to tell you that I don’t miss those things. I’m a baker! I can’t tell you how much I miss good bread and beautifully laminated pastry. But the last time I indulged, my pain levels skyrocketed, and that was no fun at all.
  3. Excercise. For a lot of the last two years, I avoided exercise when I was feeling bad, because I was afraid it would make me feel worse. But this year I’ve decided to lean away from that fear, and I haven’t once been sad about it. I am careful about giving my body time to recover between workouts, but otherwise, I’ve started treating my workouts the way I treat everything else: a way to challenge myself to be better, stronger.
  4. Forgiveness. This is the hardest one for me. I set lofty goals for myself. Writing goals, reading goals, self-care goals, even. And sometimes I just don’t hit the mark. I skip a whole weekend of writing to hang out with my husband and our dogs. I watch crappy TV instead of reading. I eat the piece of cheesecake I know will set my joints and guts on fire. And I have to find a way to forgive myself.

It’s all simple stuff, I know, but it’s what I’ve got. Some people have baths and wine, some people have taekwondo, some people have painting or running or climbing. The last two years have been tough, but they’ve helped me hone in on the simple things I have to do to take care of me so that I can keep creating worlds for you.

 

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Kaitlyn Sage Patterson

Kaitlyn Sage Patterson grew up with her nose in a book outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After completing her M.F.A., she moved to South Korea, where she taught English and started writing her debut novel. THE DIMINISHED will be published by HarlequinTEEN in April 2018, followed by its sequel in 2019. When she's not staring off into space and trying to untangle some particularly troublesome plot point, she can be found in her kitchen, perfecting the most difficult recipe she can find; or at the barn, where she rides and trains dressage horses; or with her husband, spoiling their sweet rescue dogs.

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