Gratefulness Challenge Day 11

I planned for Monday to be busy and productive. Then I woke up all sniffly and decided that a day of rest was much more important. Therefore today’s Gratefulness Challenge entry has become about taking care of the most important person I have in my life: myself.

1. My home: I think this one is so important to me because for most of my childhood my family moved houses a lot. Also, I live very far away from where I grew up therefore have had to create my current life largely from scratch. There is a big difference between a house and a home. A house is just a building, but a home is somewhere where you feel comforted and at ease. There is something there worth coming back to: memories, belongings, people. Moving so much has really made me value that sense of home and made it a priority of mine to create that feeling when I move somewhere new.

The first two places I live in when I moved to Toronto never truly felt like home. The area wasn’t ideal, the furniture wasn’t all mine and I always felt like I was in transition. I have been in my current apartment for almost 3 years now and I really love it. My building is in a great location within an fantastic neighbourhood, my unit is quiet and well laid out and after three years I truly feel like I can call it my own.

Sure it isn’t perfect, but the quirks are all a part of the charm. They have forced me to be creative with my decorating and that just makes the place all the more unique and mine. Everyone that walks in here comments on what a great place I have and yes, they are right. The truth is though that it has as much to do with the way I have organized the place as it does with the actual space. I love coming home at night to my oasis of an apartment.

2. Days off: I remember in my last semester in school that one artist said to us to be sure to take days off. They are just as important for your health and artistic growth as an extra class or extra grant application. I’ve always been pretty good about taking some time to rest when I need it but after finishing school I realized how much harder true days off are to have and how valuable that simple piece of advice was.

As an independent artist I am constantly going from one thing to the next. A lot of my work I set the schedule for. So it’s pretty easy to keep myself up until 2am working on an application and then expect myself to get up at 8am to make it to a class. I get on a role and I just don’t want to stop. There’s no end of shift I have to abide to or boss telling me to go home, so I just keep going and going until I realize that Ihaven’t truly taken a day off in months.

Usually for me days off aren’t really planned. Generally what happens is that I have scheduled all this stuff for the next day and then I wake up and realize that I just can’t seem to do it. I need to recharge. So I cancel it all and just sit in bed all day catching up on all the tv shows I’m behind on and drinking tea. Sure it means I have less time to get stuff done that week, but I tend to be more productive once I’ve had a break. We all need to relax from time to time and just trust that what needs to get done will. We create better product when our bodies are taken care of.

3. Being in tune with my body: Our bodies are constantly telling us things. As busy individuals though we are often really bad at listening. I remember reading an article once where someone asked why dogs sleep so much and the doctor’s response was to explain that dogs fully listen to their bodies so, unlike humans, when they are tired they just lie down and sleep. How often are you absolutely exhausted and would love to just lay your head down and rest, yet you fight the urge? I bet it happens more often than you’d like to admit.

And truthfully, we can’t all go through life lying down every time we are tired. There would be piles of people lying on the sidewalk napping. That doesn’t mean though that we should ignore our body all together. I think that because I am a dancer I tend to be very aware of the feedback my body gives me. I can tell the difference between muscle pain and injury, or exhaustion versus sickness. It is really great to be so aware of what my body is feeling as well as actually being able to understand what exactly the feedback I am getting means. But it is also important not only hear what my body is telling me, but to take action to help bring it back in to balance. It is easy to get caught up in all the tasks we “must do” but I try and remind myself that if I don’t take care of me, then there will be no healthy body available to get the the work done.

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