The Self in Self Care

My friend Anna bakes the most delicious confections. When we lived in Los Angeles, she’d arrive to the cookout or rooftop party with something extravagantly hand-crafted, like a Malaysian Seri Muka or artisan lavender shortbread cookies infused with a sprig of fresh mint from her garden. Once, she tackled an oversized butterscotch creme brulee for a baby shower and we all crowded around her campfire of sugar, cheering as it went up in a single flame.

Anna would immaculately display each creation on her enormous collection of cake stands, sometimes drizzled with honey or accented with flowers and twigs. Pretty things taste better, she’d say. She’d show up to your dirty house on a Tuesday afternoon carrying sugar-coated beignets stacked on a glimmering brass tray and waltz into your entryway to declare, It’s National New Orleans Day! Let’s eat!

(She is obviously a favorite of mine.)

Our circle of friends had long adapted to her culinary whims, but once, at a weekend picnic when everyone brought chips and salsa or boxed wine, she presented over 70 miniature gateau de rois from a gingham lined picnic basket. With tiny forks.

At the picnic, while kids ran underfoot and kickballs flew in the air, another friend made a comment to her. Anna! You’re making us all look bad. Can’t you just take a nap or something?

And Anna looked at my friend, puzzled, and said, simply, You don’t get it. Baking IS my nap.

I’m guessing you know an Anna. I’m guessing you follow a few Annas on Instagram, Annas that design extravagant handmade Halloween costumes for their kids or throw wildly beautiful parties on the weekend or spend their Wednesday afternoons re-decorating their house, #nbd.

I’m guessing you’ve airbrushed them in a certain light, and covered yourself in another. I’m guessing you’ve thought the Annas in your life have more energy than you, more time than you, more talent than you, more money than you, more drive than you.

I’m guessing you didn’t realize they’re just napping.

Self care is just that: care of the self.

It looks different for us all, and while the idea of packing 70 handmade French pastries into a picnic basket with miniature cutlery raises your blood pressure, it lowers Anna’s.

Can we think of this the next time we scroll through Instagram?

Can we see a freshly vacuumed living room with fiddle fig leaf plants in the corner and breezy gauze curtains swaying by the open window and think, Ah, that Anna sure napped well?

Can we see a kitchen counter full of homemade detergents and essential oil linen sprays in sparkling glass bottles and think, How was your nap?

Can we see the beignets, the artisan cookies, the Seri Muka and think, Sleep tight?

I think so.

And I think we’ll all rest better for it.

Sweet dreams and a happy weekend ahead, friends.

  • “…It looks different for us all.”

    This is at the heart of what at 42 I am trying to embrace for myself, as well as present to my daughters (7, 9, and 11) for their own spiritual health over the course of their lives. This one thing can prevent so much anguish.

    Thank you for so gently and compassionately leading us to this simple reflection.

    My own attempt a week or so ago…

  • Good point! I am going to look at other’s display of gifts as their private respite. And, feel joy for them.

  • A beautiful reflection. This removes any threat or competition and helps us celebrate the gifting of others – what gives them joy and refreshment.

  • This made me cry today, I don’t know why. But I’ve been judged several times for my Instagram feed and #makeitblissful community on Instagram, to the point that people call me and my community “fake” and trying-hard and other mean things. But you have encouraged me by this reflection: I am simply taking care of myself, and those in my community find the same pleasure in snapping those lovely moments as THEIR self-care. Thank you, Erin. Thank you so much for your big heart.

    • Oh sweet Martine, I can SO relate! Writing is my nap (but also napping is my nap, ha!), and I’ve been there. Keep resting and staying gentle with yourself. :) I’m proud of you!

  • Erin! I just loved this little peak into reality. I’m going to ask the question “did you sleep tight?” anytime I see something so overwhelmingly cute on Instagram. #perspective

  • What a great way to look at life. My nap is making a big, messy dinner from scratch, but only if it’s by choice, not necessity. Also, napping. = )

    • Ha, I just said on Instagram that my nap is my nap, too. ;) And I am SOOOOO WITH YOU on the big messy dinner from scratch, but only if I WANT to. We’re such interesting creatures. ;)

  • Woah, what a relief to see someone put this into words. I am an Anna of sorts. Spending a day on a project, in the kitchen, in the house, for the kids… I find flow there and it’s as recharging as a power nap. Thank you for this!

  • Wow. A beautifully written and motivating article. It shows once more that you should focus on what you love to do to have the most fulfilling life! And what that is, differs from person to person!

  • Yes, each and everyone of us has their own thing, their favorite task, hobby, self indulgent activity or time – and needs to be cherished and appreciated as such, possibly without labels. Not sure this is an easy thing to do though…

  • Sweet Erin, I did so love this post, the way you one the light upon your friend’s work, and how she does things – how what it looks like to us looks different to her.

    I’ve spoken with many people before – we speak negatively about social media, in particular the ‘curation’ of Instagram – and have touched upon a similar way of thinking in doing so…that often online spaces provide means of an escape – somewhere to dance to, to love creating for, to make pretty, or colourful (or however else they choose). Some can be quick to judge, but we all use our time and create spaces in different ways, and we should be respectful, appreciative, and commend for that. At least, that’s what I think! :)

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