How to Be Strong

The Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver BC

The Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver BC

I sometimes describe my body as a precarious ecosystem, and the more I give myself permission to be a little quirky, the more I find my way into somewhat elaborate self-care rituals. I have a list (yes, a list) of foods that I avoid, I go to bed every night at 9:30 and rise around 6am. There are morning yoga poses, without which my joints bother me, and so many other things.

In general, these things have made me feel weak, and I'm gonna go ahead and say it: high maintenance. My limits have made me feel less-than people who can go to late shows every night or eat whatever they want without their digestive systems and complexions exploding. Sometimes I hear the voice of my father, who liked to say (to his three daughters), C'mon, be a man.

I imagined that strong people didn't require rhythm and care, but lately . . . well, I have to confess: I'm feeling really strong. This morning I was stretching and thinking that for me, the quirks and self care rituals aren't a sign of my weakness but a prescription for my strength.

I'm writing myself this reminder before I forget--perhaps you could use it, too.

How to Be Strong:

Learn what you need. For your physical health, and emotional health. For those moments when you need to be flexible and more patient than you dreamed possible. To keep colds at bay and your energy steady. To be at your best and to stay there.

Then do it. Even if it feels like a pain, or hard to imagine. Do it without apology, as consistently as you possibly can. Feed yourself good things (body and soul), get good rest, spend time staring out windows, get out and see your friends face to face. Consider the things you most need non-negotiable to your well-being.

Keep your reserves full. You know how it is when you've depleted your reserves--one cross look or piece of bad news can instantly undo the paper clips and scotch tape that are holding you together. It pays to be like the farmer, who knows that hard winters and bad storms come, often when least expected, and keeps the reserves well-stocked. Operating at the margins is about survival; operating with reserves is about strength.

What's your prescription for strength? I'd love to hear it.