The Summer of Self Care

I only listen to country music when I miss South Dakota.

Usually, I start to long for my home state in the fall with those fiery early autumn sunsets and those brisk nights that are so endearing that you forget about the six months of winter they prelude.

This year, though, the start of summer is causing flashbacks of home. I think about the smell of freshly mowed lawn in Steamboat Park or the sound of gravel road under my tires on the way out to Farm Island or how the entire town smells like a campfire for 12 weeks. For years I longed to be in a city, and now that I am, I am a bit heartbroken each night because I can’t see the sun setting between the tall buildings. So, instead I listen to country playlists on Spotify because music is the closest thing we have to a time machine.

We live just a block from Lake Michigan, and on slower mornings, I will walk the dog over to the beach. This morning, she scampered through the sand looking for anything edible and I watch the soft waves lap against the shore. For months, that lake has raged as if it was the ocean, but today it was quiet. Water is centering. Its gentleness is reassuring that maybe I am OK, and today as it was trying to wash out the demons living in me, I laughed. Lately, I’ve been longing for forests and to disappear into the trees, but here the water was welcoming me. It was funny because I have had forests before and I wanted water.

I’ve always wanted what I don’t have.

As I’ve written about lately, I am constantly haunted by what’s missing, and thinking about all that I don’t have brought me into a deep depression for the first half of the year. I tried combating it with self care and gratitude lists, but it’s not an easy voice to stop.

The summer is bringing a pause in my schedule. I am only taking one class and working one job, and I want to use this simpler schedule to really attend to myself and my needs. The summer of self care, I am calling it. I want to try and get to know myself better, follow curiosity instead of anxiety, and find more joy. I want to address my perfection, my resistance to vulnerability, and my commitment to other’s opinions. I hope to drink less, spend more time away from screens, and honor my own desires and wants. I know that I can’t completely fix myself over a summer, but I have to get back to me before I head back into another full semester. If I don’t, I am not sure I will make it.

Mostly, I just want to enjoy where I am with what I have. I want to stop longing, or at least try to stop. Because I worked really hard for what I have, and I should be able to enjoy it, and I can do that while being grateful for what led me here.

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