Every now and then, a month like February makes you sit the fuck up. And within a month like that, there always seems to be a set of days when it's lockdown for 48 hours and you have to plan out every single minute. It's been a bit bananas.
I'm in a new flat, using a borrowed phone and recent times have been filled with more goodbyes than I care to mention. I have been feeling emotionally out of whack but I am starting to work on finding new routine, new air. Just in time for spring, I guess?
Most of all, in these tempestuous weeks, I have realised just how important self-care is.
In the past, I was a bit sceptical of the concept of self-care. It seemed to me you could take any vaguely indulgent activity, whack the label "self-care" onto it, et voilà, you're absolved of any real, adult responsibility.
As recently stated with The Toast 's characteristic painful accuracy,
[YOU] CONFUSED "SELF-CARE" WITH "SELF-INDULGENCE" AGAIN; YOU ARE INCAPABLE OF EXPERIENCING GENUINE REFRESHMENT OR RESTORATION BUT YOU DO SPEND A LOT OF MONEY AT NAIL SALONS
Seems that self-care, when you put it that way, is a fast-track to poverty, loss of friendships and a dwindling patience for nails in shoddy condition.
But let me tell you about some things I have been doing this February to put off completely losing the plot.
When you're feeling sad, you may be tempted to eat badly or to not eat at all, or even to spend lots of money on food due to laziness, thinking, "Fuck it". I'm here to tell you, please don't do this because that causes more problems for later (no money, bad skin, iron deficiencies, etc.)
Instead: make a simple dish of broccoli and rice (boiled together to save time), get some chickpeas or whatever pulses you like the most, cook 'em in soya cream, put in whichever spices you like. You'll get all the nutrients you need.
As a snack or for breakfast, coat a banana in peanut butter and cover it in chia seeds. Yeah, I know I sound like a weird #cleaneating blogger, but this tastes so good and actually fills you up. Chia seeds aren't hard to come across in Berlin and in certain places you can procure them for a reasonable price (hint: avoid the Biomarkt). They're a great thing for vegans to have in the cupboard, as you can sprinkle them on anything, they taste of nothing and they're rich in Omega-3, which you can otherwise only really find in fish oil.
Now you're all filled up, you'll be wondering what to do next. Well, here are some albums that I always find very comforting and soothing to listen to (pref. in bed while doing some sort of distracting craft activity):
- The Middle East - The Recordings of the Middle East;
- Kings of Convenience - Riot On An Empty Street;
- Belle and Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister;
- Beach House - Teen Dream;
- Mount Eerie - Lost Wisdom.
I also have more than a few albums (and playlists) that I mope and emote to; however, I don't want to encourage you to do that at the moment. There absolutely is a time and place for that and you need to do that, too - for me, that's going on a long walk with headphones.
Recently, I have been getting back into listening to Modest Mouse. There was a time when I was quite obsessed with them and I always seem to forget quite how good they are. A few times, I've felt like getting the words EDIT THE SAD PARTS tattooed somewhere (and been glad I didn't). Quite a few of their lyrics resonate with me at the moment, but the other night I was cooking and put on Good News For People Who Love Bad News and these lines from 'The World At Large' particularly struck me:
You don't know where and you don't know whenThe kind help of friends who expect nothing in return has what's powered me through this month.
But you still got your words and you got your friends
Walk along to another day
Work a little harder, work another way
Being a solitary person, someone who hadn't settled anywhere before Berlin, I had thought the "friend group" phase of my life I'd developed at uni had now evaded me; that I was doomed to have friends in dribs and drabs, but not really any social base.
The dribs and drabs suit me, in a way, but I also know that these are people who, in each of their ways, get some part of me. It wouldn't be a disaster if they crossed paths. For that reason, it doesn't feel like I have to put on 20 separate faces in my day-to-day life.
Anyway, when I have all my ducks in a row I am going to go back to writing exciting things on here. Look forward.
P.S. If things suck at the moment, I also cannot urge you enough to purchase this book. Changed my life and it's small enough to have with me always, for bursts of inspiration when it's really needed.