Lyrics from an old, old song are running through my head: “Take good care of yourself, you belong to me.” I’ve been concerned about a dear friend of mine and the song has been on “Repeat” for three days!
The tune, however, does have me thinking about taking care of ourselves. There are so many aspects to that phrase. Does it mean eating right and exercising, not texting while driving, seeing our doctors regularly, getting enough good sleep, finding time to relax, and learning to say “no”? It’s all of the above and more. It’s a BIG job. Taking good care of ourselves requires mental awareness of that task.
After spending last week with two friends in Ohio, I’ll vouch for the fact that just spending time with friends is self-caring. They change our routines, expand our minds and our hearts, bring laughter and sometimes tears, and open our minds to new thoughts and knowledge. Sometimes they both lead us astray and arrange wonderful caregiving activities.
Day 1: We went lavender picking and learned about culinary lavender. I had thought of lavender as a great scent for relaxing, for massages, for my linens or closet. I’d never thought about lavender in lemon shortbread cookies(1). I would never have imagined adding it to a chicken(2) recipe! Yet, in her garden, the owner had us taste the unopened buds of two different varieties and my mouth could imagine both of those things. Granted her suggestion was in my mind, but I’m going to try it. My first task, however, is remembering which lavender sprig was for which. I believe my tongue will tell me.
Day 2: We had a lazy morning of conversation, plus some joint time catching up on our personal social media. Then into the college district of town and healthy lunch at a cute little café. We followed that with a walk down the street in 90+ temps. But, we had a purpose! We were headed for a place recommended to us called Duck Donuts. Make that DO/NOTS. They’re a totally unhealthy treat, except they’re soooo good! I came home and did some research. Wouldn’t you know they were started as beach food in Duck, NC!
Day 3: This day was totally one of my favorites. We went to a hammam. If you’re like me before I went to Morocco, you may only have a foggy idea about what that is. A hammam often called a Turkish bath, is a collective cleansing steam room and ritual. Ideally, the routine is:
- Dry hot room to start your journey and get accustomed to the heat.
- Hot steamy room to sweat away all body’s impurity.
- Bathing room to get the traditional hammam treatment.
- Resting room to have mint tea and relax.
- Optional massage room to really relieve you of all remaining stress and worry.
That’s the version I LOVE, but it’s hard to find the whole thing in the United States, mostly because, . . . .
Privacy goes out the door.
You undress and put on the provided disposable thong. Dressed in that and a comfy robe, you’re ushered to a quiet room to warm up and relax. Just as you’re approaching mellow, you’re asked to remove your robe and join other nearly naked ladies in a steamy room to lie down on either an individual warm shelf or one that borders the room. Warm water is poured over you, then you’re lathered with a special soap. After being rinsed again, you’re scrubbed (and I mean SCRUBBED!) with a course loofa until you have nothing but an essential layer of skin left. A clay paste is smoothed on your body and you’re left to totally dissolve into the warmth of the room. After the clay has dried a while, more water is poured or sprayed over you to wash away the clay and toxins. Finally, you are soothed with oil, usually argan oil, to seal in the moisture and give you wonderful smooth, moist skin. After totally getting wet and messed up, your hair is washed, conditioned, rinsed, and left feeling wonderful. When your legs will finally work again, you walk out feeling totally soft, smooth, relaxed, calm, peaceful, and spoiled. In ideal locations, you can follow all that with a massage. Don’t plan to accomplish much in the next few hours.
We stopped at a nearby joint to have Greek food. Revived a bit, we stopped at the famous Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream on the way home. I had two scoops in a cup: Darkest Chocolate and Burnt Butter Almond Brickle. As I said, sometimes our friends arrange wonderful caregiving activities AND lead us astray!
In our busy world, it’s often difficult to manage three delightful days like this. Plus, your “delightful days” may be totally different. They may be at the beach, on a sailboat, in a mountain cabin, or perusing city sights, museums, and restaurants. Whatever it is, take good care of yourself.
One thing to consider for self-care is attending a W.I.S.H. meeting. Our whole intent is to take good care of each other and our community’s needs. That feeds our hearts and souls, which is Step 1 in taking good care of yourself.
(1) A recipe is on page 15 in Nancy Baggett’s little recipe sampler.
(2) Try “Lacquered Orange Lavender Chicken Thighs” also from Baggett’s Let’s Cook with Lavender: A recipe sampler.
Nancy Baggett’s little recipe sampler.