Also: winter magic and herbs for support ourselves through the darker, colder times. I’m celebrating spring on the way with snowdrops, birdsong, trees budding and even violets and primroses emerging. But still – the ground is icy, it’s snowing intermittently and still feels a lot like winter here. I’m supporting my body accordingly.
Do you recognise a biopsychosocial model in illness? This is a new term to me and I’m still exploring it, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Mindfulness can be misused by medicalisation and individualisation of health struggles. I love and adore mindfulness and that’s why I believe we need to guard it carefully against misuse.
In difficult days, self-care can feel like a luxury that we cannot afford, delicious journals or artful altars can feel ever-so-far away. But it doesn’t have to be this way. And painful times are when we most need compassion.
I believe self-care is a way of including ourselves in our compassion (credit: Karuna training)
My favourite self-care activities are non-aspirational, they are in the moment, accessible for those of us on the front lines, those fighting to help or suffering at the sharp points of this world.
A challenge for many of us is making self-care accessible. I don’t know about you, but I have spent far, far too long scrolling through the #altar tag on Instagram. And while there are some beautiful creations there, I am literally never going to make an ombre mandala of roses and then meditate in front of it.
And my journal looks far from the gorgeous pages I see displayed online. And I’m ok with that, because my journal is sacred and it’s mine. A space in this world I can tend to without expectations. A space I can tend to myself, without expectations.
For those of us who need assistance, have carers or are living in shared spaces, setting up a physical altar space can be difficult to improbable. Small children, rambunctious animals (I’m looking at you, Doris), or overly interested/critical family members can make it impractical to set up a physical space for our dreams and devotions.
I’ve had altars on window sills, bookcases (no candles – fire safety!), on dashboards while driving over the darkening mountains. I’ve built altars on a hotel dressing table, over a bathroom sink (hot-pink lipstick prayers on the mirror and feminist postcards NSFW), on my hospital table and…in my journal.
Yes, our journal can be our altar – let me show you how…
Elizabeth Cooper is the founder of Queer Body Love, a coach, artist, guide and queer performance artist. She holds a vision with us of feeling alive and free in our bodies. She has a BA in anthropology, gender and sexuality studies and performance from Princeton, and has studied coaching, yoga training at Kripalu and has explored her own personal journey with healing too.
In this interview, we talk about:
What we mean when we are talking about queerness
Elizabeth’s journey with her queerness
Intersections of disability and queerness
Body love for those of us with marginalised identities
Body shame and systems of oppression
What we can do today to incorporate a queer body love practice into our lives
[Vintage Post: While I’m on a wintery writing retreat I’m sharing this updated vintage post. Thank you for your patience while I write, I’ll be back with new articles soon. Thank you for being you, being here and wishing you warm days and good things, Grace xx]
I’m writing this by the fireside, I’m wrapped up, wearing my almost-pyjamas (hint: check out what to wear all day instead of pyjamas.) It’s a grey day, too dark even to go outside properly yet. But when the bad weather, dark-days-doldrums kick in, I have an antidote. And I’d like to share it with you here…
I used to love winter, it was the time of year when I finally felt like I fitted in. The illnesses I was struggling with meant that I spent most of my time tucked up in bed and was often wearing earplugs (with ear muffs over them for stylish camouflage), and lots of layers to keep my sore, tired bones warm. Naturally, winter was when my lifestyle was the one everyone wanted to follow. In the coldest times, everyone yearns to be warm in bed or resting in an armchair by the fire.
But winter was also the time when the grey, dim days seemed to stretch forever. It never got light, it seemed, until the drear days blended into one another and I lived in a dark world – rising in darkness, going to bed in the dark, and my whole world artificially lit in between.
Winter also tends to bring more coughs and colds, and infection is something I do my best to avoid. Having had two pretty difficult lung infections in previous winters, I was very nervous about this winter. Summer felt bittersweet as each warm, easy, sunshiny day felt like another day closer to the coldest times.
So I decided to flip that script, and shift my fear, I set myself a challenge. I made it my mission to learn to LOVE winter. My tools? A manifesto, a winter love list and allies to adore the cold days with me.
All through the summer, I put together a list of wonderful things about winter. Everything I could look forward to. I got ready, gathered my kit for a sustained winter joy campaign. I’m very serious about this, I was ordering ski wear on eBay in August! But now I have warm clothes, and a list of joyful smiling-worthy winter delights I’d love to share with you here.
Inspired by my dear friend Gala Darling, I’m taking my love lists out of my (midnight blue, star-spangled) journal and sharing them with you.
It’s been so misty here. I’ve been enjoying our woodburning fire, essay writing for college and puppy cwtching time. I am truly grateful for every beautiful day and for all the safety and support I have in this time and place.
Here are some more things I’m grateful for…
Little Things I Love:
* Crunchy leaves under my wheelchair wheels.
* Finding two marvellously iridescent feathers and trying to imagine what bird they could be from (what birds have rainbow feathers?).
* My peace lilies blossoming.
* Switching from a smartphone to a retro phone.
* Getting a pencil torch (metallic scarlet) to replace my smartphone torch and playing with it ALL the time ‘Do you need a torch? I HAVE ONE HERE!’ <-- me, constantly.
* Watching the dogs be amused/bemused by pumpkins.
* Drinking tea from a beautiful handmade teapot.
* Making up gorgeous and delightful ethical self-care subscription boxes
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