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May You Be Splendid

Thoughts on Grief, Self-Care, and Apple Crumble

 Adopting a new perspective is a bit like fishing. If you've ever been fishing you'll know what I mean. We really should call it "fishing for perspective." Just go with me here.

A new perspective or novel way of looking at an issue in one's life can seem like grasping at a thing you can feel at the end of a line, but you cannot see it. On the edge of one's consciousness, swimming about in the murky waters of ideology is a shimmering creature... As yet one does not know its name, or its anatomy. It is a prize to be caught and studied and appraised for its desirability. You must see and understand the thing, before a decision is made weather to keep it, or toss it back, and begin again to search for a suitable supper/perspective. Is that too weird? I’ve been thinking about this a lot… Maybe because this week is the THIRD consecutive week I’ve been sick. That and it’s the holidays.

Christmas time, more then any other time of year, makes me think about my life and the things I’ve learned/am learning. Maybe it’s the prevalent cheeriness in the air, which gives me the strength to tackle big and dangerous topics such as change? During the more humdrum times of year I feel far too energetically drained by this nonsense. Like, "I am just trying to get out of bed in the morning and take care of babies thank you very much. You may take your feelings about this great big long short life and put them somewhere I can’t see, please and thank you." #nannylife

Anyway, sickness and holiday cheer have brought me to list off things I have fished up in the past couple years. Perspectives (and some general helpful/happy/nice things) I have, or at least am attempting to, adopt and use daily.

Perspectives I have caught:

On Grief…

Grief does not have stages, it does not come with an instruction manual and it does not merely show up for deaths.

You can experience very real and genuinely traumatic grief over any number of losses and or pain. The perspective I have on grief has changed from a rather narrow minded idea about specific criteria, to what it is now, a boiled down two word definition: grief feels.

You simply and horribly have to feel it, be with it and in it, no rushing yourself, and no pressure to be "better now." Grief will come upon you in a great, unexpected wave, and only after a somewhat mysteriously appointed time will it begin to ebb away gradually. The comfort is in this, you don't have to go it alone, and you don't have to be "over it" at a certain time. We get to ask for help, and we get to feel the feelings for as long as we feel them, even if that’s not fun. And while there is always a time to move forward, I believe that if you are gentle with yourself, and aware, listening attentively to your own soul, you will know when that time has come. There is no prize for getting through loss in say, five weeks, three days, six hours, 52 minutes and 3 seconds. The only achievement in grief is to have allowed yourself to grieve in the way you need to. You decide the way, and you meet your needs with love and acceptance.

My best friend often deals with pain by putting her head down and working, carrying on and doing what needs done.

I, on the other hand, deal by crawling into my bed and crying my eyes out.

Neither of these ways is "right" or "wrong." They each of them allow us to process the painful events in our lives, in alignment with our natural selves.

In order to help myself, and anyone in need of a perspective shift on grief, below is a list of things one might grieve over:

  1. Pets die.
  2. Your health takes a hit, or maybe you're body is just getting old and that is hard.
  3. You move to a new home and you miss the old one even if the new one is totes fab.
  4. You're favorite person moves and ABANDONS you even though it was the "right thing" for them. Whatever *rolls eyes*.
  5. You're favorite person stops being you're favorite person.
  6. You fall out of love (and into hate, uhg).
  7. They fall out of love with you (shudders, the WORST!),
  8. A family member or friend is mean to you because of your life choices (gross, can we just not be doing this anymore please?!).
  9. You're growing up and you miss the way things were (beanie babies are now collectables?? Oh my lord I am old!)
  10. You leave a loved job. (Can I go back to loving to hate making waffles now?)
  11. You made a mistake and feel terrible about it. (I hate when I’m not perfect.)
  12. Netflix removes your favorite show/movie *coughdoctorwhocough*

Silly or serious, if you're sad, be nice to yourself. And if you are sinking into the deeper circles of grief, accept your strange and painful moments, notice the feelings you experience and let your loved ones know that you need kindness, not the move-on-pep-talk-speech-bullshit, at least not yet. Grief feels.

On Self-Care…

Self-care isn’t just bubble baths!

Self-care for me has become a far more tangible and doable action then it once was. No longer do these two words bring to mind a fuzzy vision of sitting crisscross applesauce with a pot of burning incense set before my deeply spiritual self.

(Although to be fair I do burn things in this manner, but that is mostly for witchy, anger releasing situations and is another story altogether).

Self-care is now a practiced recipe, and here is how it goes: I take several deep breaths and I ask this question:

“What does my body and I need or want right now?”

This to me is far more sustainable then the aesthetically pleasing, ultra expensive candles, and bath bombs and books and weighted blankets being pushed all over Instagram… Usually by the millennial with “wife + mom life + yoga mermaid” in their profile bio, whose grid is full of twinkle light and wall tapestry backgrounds, yoga next to the “plant-wall” and the latest all natural blood-of-baby-fairies-skin-serum which may actually cost the same as a medium sized yacht. And hey, if that is authentically your life and you’re super-duper happy and meeting the needs of your “littles," more power to ya, earth mama! It’s just that… Well some of us cannot afford your lifestyle and would also like to experience satisfactory self-care.

To be fair, maybe self-care is those things sometimes, the bath bombs and dry brushes. However for myself, I have found that when I take the time to just breath and ask myself what I need in the moment, one of two things tend to happen.

First, the answer is just what I did, breathing and checking in on myself. Because recognizing that I am significant enough to myself to actually ask what my own needs are, is a HUGE step in terms of how I treat and value my own being.

The second answer is usually an action step, which is near by, in my own home or at work, something easy and free, or something that I’ve already arranged for in the past.

Food, water, a book, a show, a hug, a nap, baking something, creating, a conversation, some time spent with my beloved hula-hoop!

Easy stuff! Simple life-giving actions, often putting me back in the present moment, back into my own skin, and out of the exhausting hamster wheel renting space in my head.

Below find some unexpected self-care ideas:

  1. The sound of a crackling fire (virtual or not) goes a long way to comfort and sooth my body and soul. Find it on Netflix under “Fireplace for your home." There is a classic edition, which only plays the sound of crackling fire. And of course the Christmas edition! Which includes instrumental Christmas carols. Bless.
  2. Hula-hopping. It puts your mind and body to work. It will remind you to be playful. It will probably make you laugh, or be challenged to not let the hoop drop. And it’s generally easy to find a cheap hoop at local stores. I actually shed tears of JOY when I began to consistently keep my hoop from falling. I know this is not a difficult challenge, but for whatever reason it was hard for me okay!? Thus, when I succeeded, it was such an uncomplicated happy joy that I cried and it was childlike and lovely and you can feel lovely too. Get thee to a hula-hoop my good folk!
  3. Do you like apples? Do you like crumbles of brown sugar and butter? If you’re answering no, I will pray for you. If you’re answer is yes, below find a recipe I adapted from some Pin on Pinterest one time… It is easy, it is delicious and it takes minimal prep time. Add vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and basically you will be okay.

Comforting Apple Crumble

The apple part:

  • 4-5 little apples, whichever variety you’re fond of, sliced or cubed as you like.
  • ½ cup sugar (I use a course natural kind, and a little less if the apples are already sweet, but I am not in charge of your life.)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (Or more)
  • The butter-crumble goodness from heaven part:
  • 1½ cups plain (All-purpose) Flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of nutmeg… or more. I love nutmeg with a great passion
  • 1 cup rolled oats (Sometimes I do the oats, and sometimes not. If you choose to go without, just add enough flour and sugar to compensate for the oat-lack.
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted

Making the Goodness

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the apples, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and vanilla in a bowl they actually fit into (I have trouble with portion control or whatever) and mix to combine. Transfer to a generously buttered ovenproof dish… big enough for the apples and the crumble to fit into, of course. I use a soufflé dish, but that’s because I’m fancy and make soufflés. You can use whatever thy sweet little heart desires, as long as it is made for ovens!
  2. Place the flour, sugar, cinnamon, oats and butter in a large bowl and mix until just combined. Should be on the verge of biscuit dough, but still crumbly enough to make it past the doorman at the crumble-only ball (Crumbles are a very exclusive food group).
  3. Spoon the crumble mixture over the apple and place the dish on a large baking tray. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the crumble is golden and the apples are soft. PSA: Baking time may vary based on what you’re baking in and proximity to the seven seas.
  4. Serve with vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream. Enjoy. You made this fruit-thing by the labor of your hands. This is labor fruit crumble. You are mighty and you are loved. Eat your mighty love labor fruit and be of good cheer.

PS. The original recipe says “serves four” but like… It serves my love and I. Or just me… That’s okay too.

I hope a few of these perspectives are helpful or comforting to you in this, the wonderful and also difficult holiday season. You are doing an amazing job, please be kind to you and to others. Happy Christmas and fun times to you! May loved ones and splendid foods surround you.

Xoxo –H