Each year, on or around my birthday, I create a list of small goals I hope to achieve over the next year of my life. They’re often small, sometimes vague, frequently ongoing, and I never hold myself so strongly to them that they become more hindering than a helpful tool. Heck, sometimes halfway through the year they change completely or half the list becomes irrelevant. But it really helps me cement what is important to me as I enter that new chapter of my life, and helps me envision where — and who — I want to be at the start of the next one. It’s a way to hold myself accountable to this vision and hope for my future self, but without the same pressures as a New Year’s resolution, for instance.
This fall, self-care especially has been increasingly on my mind — and not just in the relaxing, rejuvenating, taking baths and allowing yourself that slice of pie kind of way.
And, I mean, there’s nothing inherently wrong with taking a bath and allowing yourself to indulge in a slice of pie now and again, or reading a good book and sipping a latte. But there is a difference between this genre of caring for and nurturing yourself, and some of the more boring or reflective practices that are also necessary to truly allow yourself space to grow and flourish.
A lot of this line of thought has been really influenced and initiated by starting my clinical practicum field placements, and what has been coming up for me in the readings for both my Trauma and Seminar courses, as well as clinical supervision. There’s also the small piece of my body getting really mad at me for not eating or sleeping properly for a few weeks, but I digress.
As a counsellor and art therapist in training, and as someone who is working alongside humans who have experienced trauma, it is really damn important for me to be taking care of myself right now, and going forward. Not only is it of vital importance for me to be taking care of myself — emotionally, physically, spiritually; in all those boring and kind and reflective ways — to ward off vicarious traumatization, but it is also important so that I have the presence of mind to hold space effectively and be present with my clients.
These amazing people who have opened themselves up to me in such a unique and special relationship, and in such a vulnerable way, whose stories and sharing have become in many ways the foundation of my learning… It would feel unethical and ungrateful for me to take even a moment of that for granted.
With that in mind, this year’s list of goals skews heavily towards self-care practices. Some are really specific and time sensitive, like numbers six to nine, two and ten. Others focus on cultivating more kindness, compassion, and acceptance of myself, like numbers twelve and thirteen, fifteen and sixteen. There’s kind self-care; there’s boring, financial self-care; and there’s reflective self-care. The plan for year twenty-five is to take care of myself, nurture myself, and show myself compassion.
To make myself a priority, so that my other priories can flourish, too.
- Make a serious commitment to self-care
- Complete my master’s
- Go white water rafting
- Start to exercise consistently
- Go to another dance class
- Visit Stanley Park
- Visit Bowen Island
- See the gardens at UBC
- Visit Lighthouse Park
- Go on a mini post-MCPAT vacation
- Complete at least one large painting
- Have our third anniversary in Quebec City
- Commit to journalling more
- Go rock climbing again
- Practice more gratitude
- Complete (at least) three self-compassion meditations
- Attend Taryn’s wedding
- Visit Emily, in Hamilton
- See Rockcliffe Park in the fall
- Declutter, downsize, + simplify
- Start being (mostly) organized again
- Throw an unbirthday gathering once home in Ottawa
- Read eight books for fun — not just blogs + articles
- More commitment to living sustainably, both in life and at work/practicum
- Add (at least) another month’s worth of $ to the “fuck off fund”/emergency fund