How do you Nourish Yourself?
Or do you Nourish yourself at all? I’m currently by the beach, coming to the end of 10 days of self imposed solitude. Apart from a lunch and a visit to the cinema with new friends, I have spent my time walking along the beach, sleeping, doing a little yoga, meditating, preparing a compilation of blog posts called Oh Crap – I’m 50! A Journey from Fearful to Fabulous (Sometimes) for publication next month, and writing.
The last is, ostensibly, my reason for being here. There’s been a story in my head for the
longest time and I knew it had to be written – if only to make space for something else! I used to make a reasonable living as a fiction writer, but it’s been the longest time. I’m rusty and it took several nail biting days to ease myself into the flow. I also don’t have a publisher – my former agent has retired and I no longer have any contacts – but re-establishing those is a separate story!
I say that writing is “ostensibly” my reason for being here, because I have reminded myself of something far more important in the process, and that is that I can trust myself. Why had I forgotten that?
On the first day, I took off my watch. On the second, I put down my phone. I wish I could say I stayed off social media and disconnected from my world completely, but that would be a lie. A large part of running my business happens online and I’m not quite at the stage where I can outsource everything!
However – I began to eat when I was hungry, without checking it was “lunchtime”. I go to bed when I’m tired and I’m up and out of the door to watch the sun rise across the Atlantic. I stand with the waves lapping over my bare feet and open my arms wide to embrace the warm breeze and care not one jot that I probably look like a loon.
And I’m writing. The words are spilling out of my head and my heart, through my fingers and onto the screen. I’ve stopped staring at the blank page in panic and relearned how to trust the process. One day, I might do more walking or sleeping than writing. Another, I might forget to eat because what was actually happening the day before was the next chapter fermenting in the darkest recesses of my mind. (and boy, is it dark in there!)
Here on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, they have a program of “beach nourishment“. This involves dredging sand from out at sea, from sandbanks or inland areas to widen the beach, repairing the damage caused by erosion and hurricanes. The idea is to protect the beachfront properties on the shoreline and preserve the 200 mile (320km) coastline.
My self-nourishment needs a little less effort, but is no less important to my mental and physical infrastructure! I need time and space to think, to rest, to write and to simply be. And yet I don’t allow myself this essential maintenance on a day to day basis. Crazy.
It’s only when we stop and consciously pause all the busyness and the routines and the rushing about of the every day that we tune in to our own heartbeat and are able to nourish ourselves. As I breathe as deeply as my body needs me to breathe, my head clears and I reach a level of clarity that, if I was able to maintain it, would make my life so much more comfortable.
Apart from getting the first draft of my novel well underway, I’ve reached some unexpected decisions, about letting go of certain projects that haven’t worked out quite the way I planned and making way for fresh ideas and energy. I’ve realised that I need to focus more on my health and my fitness. And I’ve relearned the simple pleasure of allowing myself to feel joy. Joy when I breathe in the ocean air, joy when pictures and messages from my grandchildren ping unexpectedly into my inbox. Joy when I think of The Midlife Movement and all the women I hope to serve.
You don’t have to spend time alone on the beach to reconnect with and nourish yourself, (although I’d highly recommend it!) A few minutes every hour to stretch, walk around, check in with your breath, that might be all it takes. It might be something as simple as a walk in the park that brings us back to ourselves. Just so long as we get there, day by day. We’re worth nourishing, all of us. Don’t you think?
© Jo Blackwell