Hey. You. How’re you doing? Uh-huh. Sure. How are you really doing? Have you been taking care of yourself? How have you been taking care of yourself? Maybe pause a moment or two here for a couple of slow deep breaths and extricate your shoulders from your ear canals. My shoulders are so deep into my ears that they’re shaking hands deep in my cranium.
It’s important to care for not only your mental and emotional self, but your creative and fun-loving self as well. Yeah, yeah. I know. I know! I’m living in this hellscape too. Living, teaching, parenting, freaking out, breathing through the freakout, freaking out some more in this hellscape that defies description. Self-care has been bounced from important to vital if you want to still be functional when we get to the After Times. And we will get to the After Times, because so help me I am NOT suffering through this shit to miss out on the relief of the After Times.
There is zero willpower and motivation left in my tank for traditional self-care, so I’ve had to shake things up a bit. My winter break this year was considerably shorter than usual…a week and a half…and I needed to make the most of it so I could return to teaching somewhat rejuvenated. (Quick note: if you feel the need to make some sort of snide comment about teachers and their “breaks,” may I suggest you just not do that? Maybe instead go goose a hibernating bear? Because I don’t know a single teacher right now who isn’t struggling, and if you don’t grok why, just go away.) I knew that without a plan, winter break would whiz on by and I’d be that cartoon character spinning around in the dust, little birds and stars dancing above my head, wondering just what the hell hit.
Enter the humble bingo card. I wrote up a list of things I wanted and needed to do over winter break and chucked them onto a bingo card I tweaked on Canva. The list needed to be balanced between fun stuff and crap I’d put off all fall because remote teaching had drained me dry. I wanted to add things like thumb war with Sue the T-Rex at the Field Museum and bottomless mimosas brunch and do anything out of the house for the love of all things, but that pesky little pandemic had other plans.
Did I get them all done? Oh sweet summer child, you’re new here, aren’t you? No, not even remotely. But I did get about half of them crossed off, and a good deal of relaxation as well. Not bad for a week and a half. I deemed it enough of a success that I made one for January next.
Sadly, even less completion in January because teaching middle school band remotely is exhausting and (as of last week) hybrid teaching through double masks and a face shield is even more exhausting. Right now I’m just an exhausted wisp of a shell of a human, but it could be worse. I won’t go into detail how things could be worse as I have zero desire to tempt fate, but count how many times I just wrote “exhausted,” and then multiply that by infinity and that’s how much worse things can always get. I did manage to check off “try a new cocktail recipe,” so things are progressing as you might expect. And yes, I made another bingo card for February. Hope springs eternal.
On this one I added my phrase of the year; I need it in front of my face as often as possible and I passed on any kind of jewelry reminder again this year. February’s bingo card gives me hope, as it’s entirely possible I will get all these checked off. It’s also entirely possible someone is, at this very moment, completing a voodoo doll of me and will throw my month into the crapper. I just hope said voodoo doll maker gives my likeness a thorough back rub before jabbing the pins. My shoulders ache from their cranial travels.
Gamifing self-care is fun. It combines boring and miserable adulting with fun and creative adulting. Eventually I’ll include get the hell out of the house adulting activities as well. I’ll continue to make bingo cards for as long as they
entertain motivate me, and I’m hopeful that month to month do-overs drop off. At some point I may add in a prize for completing a line or clearing the board, but that probably won’t happen until summer unless I change all the squares to autonomic physical processes…or shoulder/cranium meet & greets.