[Read at a quick pace, breathless almost]

My alarm goes off at exactly 4:15am. 

This gives me precisely two full hours to take care of myself. 

I scrape my tongue and brush my teeth using a toothpaste with no fluoride and all natural ingredients. I then take my vitamins – all chosen specifically to help with adrenal health, migraine support, and Vitamin B12 deficiency due to my veganism. I’m also taking a few for increased immune support. 

I write exactly 3 pages in my journal, ending each entry with a list of affirmations. I then read aloud an affirmation I pull from a “How to Love Yourself” deck of cards. I create a collage and post it to my instagram. 

During this time, I am sitting in front of a Vitamin D lamp. It’s on high because I need as much artificial sunlight, no matter the time of year. 

I enter the bathroom to take a shower. I turn on the speaker and put my clothes in the hamper – things that can go in the dryer on the left, things that must be hung up on the right. I choose the podcast for this morning and use a fascia brush to brush my body – I read it’s good for circulation, but it’s at least helpful to keep the dry skin at bay. 

I step into my shower and wash my face and body. I put on face moisturizer and body lotion – different products to help with different areas. I apply the natural deodorant which has no aluminum but also has no anti-perspirant. 

I brush my hair and put on my clothes. 

I head downstairs in order to meditate and do some spiritual work. I sit quietly and remind myself over and over to return to my breath. 

I turn on the himalyan salt lamp and fill the diffuser with water and 12 drops of my favorite essential oil blend and set it for four hours with no light on. 

I pull from the fridge the ingredients for my smoothies – a container of spinach, chia seeds, flax seeds, maca, green powder. Then I pull the ingredients from the freezer – frozen bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and protein powder. I put just the right amount of each ingredient into my Vitamix and then add water. I watch it blend into the sweet smelling concoction and pour the smoothies into Green Glass Ball jars. I repeat this process so I have 5 smoothies made for the week. 

I insert my metal straw into the smoothie glass for the day as I pull another glass from the cupboard. As I return the smoothie ingredients to the fridge and freezer, I pull a container of homemade kombucha from the top shelf and empty into the glass I took out. 

I walk over to the couch and sit and drink my smoothie, attempting to enjoy the quietness of the morning, instead mindlessly scrolling through instagram. 

I move over to the computer to check my twitter timeline and scroll mindlessly there as well. I check my email for work in order to anticipate the kind of day I will have. 

I share these routines with pride to others. I share how it’s prioritizing myself each day before I spend a day in education running around answering other peoples’ questions and supporting the work that is so necessary. I return home after a day and begin to make my dinner. I have been tired lately so I debate with myself if I should just make my favorite easy meal of buffalo tofu and sweet potato fries or if I should make something healthier. Buffalo tofu it is but I make an extra smoothie to have for dessert. I decide that I need to pump some extra veggies into myself in order to help with the lethargy. 

The sun is beginning to set and the time is getting closer to 8pm. I head upstairs and wash my face – this time with a special silicone face brush and use a jade roller except it’s a rose quartz roller. I have no idea if these things are even doing anything but the coolness of the roller across my eyes each night grounds me back into my body. I move into my bedroom and check my alarm that is still set for the same time. I apply the lavender lotion to my face and hands as I pull on my pajamas. I sit on my bed as I recount the day’s events in my logbook, taking note of the weather, my mood, my mental state, the activities, the medication. I lay in bed with the lamp on and read for a while until I am sleepy. I pull on my facemask and roll over. 

I get nervous. I get anxious. I get depressed. I get happy. I get overwhelmed. I get tired. I get angry. I get elevated. 

I am not a machine. 

I keep adding to my self care routine. Each tiny element seems so insignificant as I research what is best for taking care of myself. Which herb should I add to my daily pills? Which tea should I add to my morning meal? Which method is right? How many more vegetables can I put into my body each day? 

If I could just figure out the perfect balance of inner work and outer maintenance then I will no longer be sad, no longer have this chest pain, no longer want to ignore my alarm. I will no longer have the shoulds yelling at me as I lay in my bed until 10am. I will no longer have the shoulds about staying up past 9:00 pm. The confines I have put around my life are chains that I carry.

If I just have the most perfect self care routine I will no longer need to be fixed, right? If I can just create the best routines, I will no longer be sad? If I can go to bed on time and have the most ideal amount of sleep, I will no longer feel the need to stay in bed all day. The way in which both my brain and society has warped me into thinking these things rather than just listening to what my body both wants and needs and knowing that I don’t need to be fixed, rather I need to love myself, is just alarming. The fact that I only realized this today, after 37 years of participating in these routines and structures, is unsurprising to almost everyone surrounding me. And yet, for me, I realize that I have been attempting to control each moment in order to not have anyone realize that I am filled with cracks, filled with unease, filled with anxiety, filled with sadness. And none of these things has tricked anyone, except myself, into believing that one more ingredient will fix all of this pain. 

[Take a deep breath]

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