Some thoughts on self-care after 2016

Get a potted plant
water it regularly, track its growth
cultivate its roots
(cultivate your own)
cultivate kindness
cultivate care for other living things
(They’re having a hard time
Learn that nurturing
is difficult in this world.
(If your plant doesn’t make it
go outside, find a tree
hug it.
smile at it.
say something nice to it.
repeat this at least once a day
for a week)
Then get a new potted plant
and try again.

Stay hydrated
remember to drink water
but also do more than that.
Turn this simple act into
a small ceremony
a reflection of gratitude
remember that water is life
and all life is water
(remember Flint
remember Standing Rock
remember Palestine)
Never take a clean drop for granted.

Eat sustainably
cut down on meat if you can
cut down how much you waste
(Acknowledge that not everyone has these luxuries)
Eat mindfully
eat for energy and eat for pleasure
eat as an act of self love
eat as an act against shame
nourish the body and be gentle with it
be grateful to it
(You owe it everything)
so eat, and eat

Keep reading.
Read authors with perspectives that are new to you
that you might not think of, or agree with
(No, this doesn’t mean white authors
this doesn’t mean conservatives)
This means leftists.
This means Black radicals
Third-world academics
Muslim feminists
Latinx refugees
Native trans-femmes
Queers with disabilities
(There are so many voices we don’t hear
I could give names but this is a poem and
not a syllabus)
Read their truths, read their fiction
read their films and their songs
their museum galleries, their street art
(I’m not saying don’t read the news,
just balance that
by reading other important things too)

Your mind is a gift.
Think of it like a garden
and tend to it accordingly.
Gardening requires work,
maintenance is a constant effort.
Keep things out of your garden if they’ll harm it.
Remember that
anger is poison unless
it cultivates compassion;
sorrow is poison unless
it cultivates healing.
Fear is a pest, but strength will drive it away and
the strongest thing you can do is be gentle.
The best tools for maintaining this garden
will be your hands,
deliberate and forgiving.
And soon, your garden will be full
brimming with radiance, and gifts
to share with others.
(This is what you have earned
You deserve nothing less)