From deprivation to ease: Pagan parents taking care of ourselves

I had the great privilege last month of attending the  #femfuture retreat at the Omega Institute in Rhinecliff, New York.

Zerlina Maxwell wrote after the retreat that

“The key takeaway for me and others was that the notion of self care being selfish is woefully misguided and unproductive. No longer is deprivation and sacrifice a source of pride.”

She was writing about feminist activists, but she could have been writing about all kinds of folks who chronically put their work before themselves – like parents or Pagan leaders. If we accept that self-deprivation is not an appropriate source of pride, then how do we go about really nourishing ourselves?

I got one beautiful answer from the amazing facilitator of the retreat Adrienne Maree Brown (who also happens to be a doula!) when she said “What is easy is sustainable.” 

So true! If I commit myself to immediate and total transformation of how I treat my body, mind, heart, and soul, I’m setting myself up for failure. If I commit to something easy, I can succeed and I then I can layer on the next change. Plus, taking the easy path just sounds like yummy self-care, doesn’t it?

Toasting a marshmallow at the retreat, because sometimes self-care looks like indulgence.

What’s easy for you won’t be the same as what’s easy for me. But here are some ideas, including self-care practices discussed at the retreat, elsewhere in this blog, or that I incorporate into my own practice:

  • Eat truly nourishing food.
  • Quietly walk a labyrinth weekly or monthly or whenever you stumble upon one.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Sit in silent meditation each day.
  • Let yourself play in piles of crunchy leaves or mud puddles or snow drifts.
  • Book a massage or other body work.
  • Pause to express or just experience gratitude for something every single day.
  • Journal, or write a five-year diary, or write morning pages.
  • Form an agreement with a self-care buddy and check in on your self-care practices via text message every single day.

Does one of those sound easy? Sustainable? Which one could you commit to right now? Which one sounds yummy?

PS. Here are two other lists generated by other participants in the retreat. There’s overlap between all our lists, of course, but they’re also pretty different because what works for each of us as individuals can be so different.

About Sarah Whedon

Sarah Whedon is founding editor of Pagan Families, the author of Birth on the Labyrinth Path: Sacred Embodiment in the Childbearing Year, and former Chair of the Department of Theology and Religious History at Cherry Hill Seminary. Sarah’s teaching, research, and advocacy work center around topics of spirituality, feminism, and reproduction. She makes her home in the Boston area with her partner and their children.


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