Poetry as self-care can break open our hearts and pull us into something greater than ourselves. Bringing us closer to the most worthy of relationships - with ourselves.
“...Pain pills swirled in the purse along with a spell for later.
It’s taken a while for me to admit, I am in a raging battle
with my body.... Invisible pain is both a blessing and a curse.
_You always look so happy...”_
Ada Limón’s poem Wonder Woman first hit my ears through the voice of Pádraig Ó Tuama on the podcast [Poetry Unbound](https://onbeing.org/series/poetry-unbound/)_._
I’ve turned often to poetry for my own self-care, and currently Ada Limón’s words are balm to my soul.
"...Like she knew I needed a myth."
This poem breaks open the strong exterior that I walk around with. It pulls at the moments where I too _need a myth_. Something greater than myself. Something...powerful. Something that shows me that I can be strong and soft - one in the same.
How is poetry self-care for us?
For me, it allows me a pause similar to mediation. A moment to step out of my day and into beauty. Whether that beauty be light and fluffy or tragic, deep, true.
I've been playing around with writing some myself and while I don't foresee publishing any of my poetry I was empowered by Eloise's words to Benjamin during an early episode of Bridgerton, scoffing at his burning of his sketches;
"I write in my diary which is not the same as writing in my novel."
Indeed it is not the same. Poetry allows freedom to me. I can choose a limerick, haiku style if I find the structure supportive. Or I can just run free with prose and free form. The point is not that I am creating something beautiful, but that I am allowing myself to do something simply and solely for the purpose of enjoyment.
What would change in life if we allowed more moments of shear enjoyment?
Could we bake in time to our busy lives to simply enjoy? To quote a friend, "I can ask for time away for an appointment, but it's much harder to ask when I have nothing to do." How can we shift from pleasure being "nothing" to "worthwhile endeavor".Yes, we are busy.
Yes, there is too much already to do.
Yes, it may not get done if we don't do it.
But…does it need to get done, and right now??
If you didn't need to accomplish anything, what would you do?
How much of your life is from your own design and how much have you been swept away in the currents?Where can you employ structure to serve you? Is it a haiku today? A Limerick perhaps?
Some phases poetry may be the only self-care
When I had babies, whether through lack of community or otherwise, I did not have time for the self-reflection that I am privileged with these days.On our recent spring break trip I brought a library book. I scoffed during the drive at the 7-day rental period, “I can’t read any book in 7 days!!”. But! I finished it on our 4-day trip.
While I erred in my idealistic vision of reading a book while we went to the beach, I found other pockets. Many other pockets, away from the threat of the surf.
You don’t have to wait for self-care
I couldn’t tell you the last time I read a book so fast. And I’d never read while my kids were awake on vacation.Not long ago a “vacation” with kids was anything but. It was doing all the same hard things but without the comforts and routine that supported those difficult days. My kids are 6 & 7. Not easy in the scheme of life, but compared to 1 & 2…a breeze if I’m honest. Sure the struggles have changed and we have new challenges that are more complex than before. But, I have more freedom in my day, in my schedule.
So if you’re in the baby or toddler daze, trust me when I say that it gets easier. Hold on, build your community, and take what you can get now. Don’t wait for that time to do something for yourself, but also know that if what you have now feels inadequate - then it probably is and you’re not the inadequate component here. Maybe you just need a myth. And bite-sized self-care moments for now.