By Oui We contributor Sam Spahr
For as much time as I spend looking at the world around me, trekking across its landscapes and meeting its people, I surely do not spend enough time with myself. Do any of us?
The term self-care is thrown around like confetti lately, but what does it really mean? I’m not providing an answer here, just genuinely asking. Is it a cute excuse to buy some thing I’ve been pining after? Is it a reason to stay home on a Saturday night glued to my latest Netflix binge? Is it motivation to take up a new hobby or practice that is truly just for me?
Probably all of the above. For me, I’ve been thinking about what’s ahead of me: career, family, personal goals. So naturally, this involves much self-reflection, you know, some good ol’ conversations with me - mind, body, and spirit.
I know for many self-reflection is often an unattractive activity, but I’ve grown to enjoy it quite a bit. I guess it helps if you tend to be a tad introverted and someone who likes thinking . . . and thinking about thinking. (Surprise, it’s me.) However, I could never have learned to take a good look at myself (and like it) without the help of some truly fantastic authors who also happen be novelists, doctors, musicians, etc…
Even if you don’t see yourself as “that type” of person, I promise it’s less scary - and not as weird as it seems - to really get down and get to know yourself. I think you’ll find it may have been a while since you really checked in.
Allow me to introduce you to two of my favorite books (and a bonus podcast). Each has served me a different purpose, all equally necessary and completely refreshing.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
While reading, I’ve learned that I’m an idea person. I have lots of them, or as Gilbert would say, many of them find me. They choose me to bring them to life, but I’m not very good at seeing that through. Thankfully Gilbert talks extensively about the follow through and what happens to those home-seeking idea fairies when we don’t appease them. Spoiler alert: someone else will.
If you have an ounce of creativity within you or even just a desire to complete something you’ve been working on - anything - then you need to read this book. Gilbert uses her own lived trials in writing to lay out an rather interpretive map of advice. Even if some of her wisdom seems obvious or common, it’s not . . . because you aren’t doing it! This book is like a kick in the pants from your loving (and funny) older sister.
The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
The very first chapter smacked right between the eyes, and I haven’t looked back since. Singer immediately addresses the “voice in your head.” Yeah the one that is reading this to you right now. You hear her. My voice keeps me up at night often sending me into an anxious spiral that has no business existing. Talk about useless and unproductive . . .
Right from the start, Singer helps you acknowledge that voice and realize that it is not you. Simple, yet damn effective. I’ve already been falling asleep faster. And that’s only Chapter 1, you guys. Singer and The Untethered Soul take you to confront your consciousness, to understand your emotions and habitual thoughts - good, bad, and neutral. If you ever feel like your energy is being wasted or misdirected, crack open this read for some knowledge and validation.
Podcast: Conversations With Alanis, by Alanis Morissette ft. Special Guests
So, I found The Untethered Soul through Alanis and her insanely smart and curious podcast. Full disclosure, I consider her to be my soul mother - is that a thing? So, everything I say oozes of bias, but this podcasts features guests who are experts in fields that range from sociology to neurobiology, and beyond. Each episode is not only interesting but completely thought provoking. You will honestly look at the world, your peers, and your past, present, and future selves in a different light. Go have a listen!