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Self Care

What’s Your Verb & Why It Matters

You know how you feel when you [insert verb]? When the whole world falls away and you lose track of time and you don’t feel your worries or sadness or even your body? You just feel this steady hum of life, and everything is balanced and it’s just you and your soul? My verb is write, but for you it could be paint or garden or sing or ride a motorcycle or bake or swim or build model airplanes or put those little ships in the bottles. It doesn’t matter what it is, just that you know what it is. (If you’re not sure, look to what you loved as a kid and you’ll probably find it).

The point is: We all have a verb, and we all need to use it, because our lives depend on it.

Here’s how I know. At the age of 35, I found myself unemployed, with four kids, terrified about money, and waking up every day to my own mean question: What do you have to show for yourself? I was yelling too much. I was swearing too much. (Scratch that, I still swear too much). I felt like I would never find another job. I felt the stress, like an electric current, in my veins. And guess what swooped in to save me?

My verb.

I started to write. Every weekday, I put my youngest two down for a nap at 1:15 and until I woke them at 2:45 to get in carpool line, I wrote. (Mostly. Sometimes, because they were small, intractable humans, they did not nap). For those 90 minutes, I didn’t care what the house looked like. I blocked it out. I blocked everything out. Because all the dishes and cleaning and job searching and sleeping and worrying could happen in the other 22.5 hours of the day. This was my verb time. And it saved my life. I yelled less. I questioned my self-worth less. I despaired less. And sometimes, I even sang in carpool line.

Writing saved me because it reminded me of who I am, and what I was put on the planet to do.

So, back to reality. I now work full time and I still have four kids and nobody naps. But I can still find 45 minutes almost every weekday to write. And if I can do it, so can you. This isn’t about adding another thing to your to-do list or giving you something else to stress about or another benchmark to fail to meet. This is about carving out time for that one thing that makes you you, because you are absolutely worth it. Because it will nourish you and feed your soul and make everything better around you.

This is about carving out time for that one thing that makes you you, because you are absolutely worth it.

Otherwise, what’s the rest of it for? We all have to slog. We fold the laundry and make the science poster and clean the bathroom and work and we’re tired. Those things aren’t going away. (And thank God, because sometimes, in the middle of the science poster, you see divinity, but that’s for another day). But life is more than slog. And so are you. You are still that girl who loves to [verb]. And you will be so amazed by what 45 minutes of your verb can do.

Emily Blejwas is the author of Once You Know This (2017), The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods (2019), and Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened (2020). She directs the Gulf States Health Policy Center in Bayou La Batre, AL and lives in Mobile, AL with her husband, Andrew, and their four children.

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