Take it Easy on Yourself

Saturday, September 19, 2020
A glimpse of the wildfire smoke from earlier last week.

I wish I had advice for you. I wish I had the key that would unlock the ability to write despite every storm going on around you (or within you). Yet, this past week has been a doozy and I thought, "Why offer advice that I can't even follow?" 

In case you haven't seen the news, Oregon underwent a wildfire that has burnt about one million acres. Communities just an easy drive or bus ride away from me received warnings of possible evacuation. People all over the NextDoor app who live near me asked whether our own city would be evacuated (I live in a suburb of Portland). 

Luckily, that immediate threat of possible evacuation has passed, but lately, we have dealt with hazardous air here. As I sit typing out this blog post, it's now at "very unhealthy" levels, and I hope by the time this post goes live, we're somewhat close to normal air. In the meantime, the windows remain tightly shut. 

 And this year has had a number of these moments for so many people. In fact, maybe this year is one of many for you. Maybe your threat isn't external, but entirely internal. 

The thing is I can't say that I am able to shelve these experiences and write anyways. I'm lucky I can even focus enough to read. 

This is when advice like self-care comes in. Yes, it's an absolutely 100% overly used word. Sometimes we don't even realize we are NOT taking care of ourselves. It's not until we lose our temper, cry at an inopportune time, or have zero energy for something we usually can do with ease that we realize that we haven't been treating ourselves with care. 

So, in times of incredible stress, whether it's a fire burning your community, or an illness, or anything else that railroads your life, make sure you are kind to yourself. Give yourself some breathing room. Give yourself care, but make sure it's the right kind of care. 

As a writer, I'm naturally drawn to things that are creative, especially when I eliminate the things that can suck in my time in a negative way (such as too much social media or, embarrassingly enough, mobile gaming). Lately, I have limited social media and removed Lily's Garden (if you have to ask what that is, you're better off not knowing), and let myself be drawn to things that are of better substance. 

I ended up getting drawn back into blogging. I write for two of my blogs lately, one post was for LadyUnemployed and the other post was for World of My Imagination (I actually bought the domain recently!). Sometimes when I put on the blogging hat, I tend to take on the informative side that's a bit more concerned about results than just writing. But for these posts, I donned the creative side that uses blogging as an outlet, and just...talked. 

And you know what? It felt good. It felt like I was more myself than when I attempted to pretend I was some expert. 

 So, today, if you find yourself in a spot where you battling fires in your life, first and foremost, take care of yourself. Give yourself a moment of quiet, even if it's a few moments in the bathroom (hey, we've all done that). Breath. Center yourself. 

 Next, let your creativity flow. Let it rise up in unexpected places, even if it's for your blog. I'm a huge believer in the fact that one creative outlet helps another. Consider bugging a friend to do a writing challenge or respond to a writing prompt with you. Get out the coloring books and crayons. It's totally possible to feed your creative outlet without feeling the burden of success (even if it's the idea of success; that alone can weigh heavy). 

Basically, like Jeanine DeHoney said recently in her post, have fun. And you know? Sometimes I forget to do that. 

So, if you are facing something really difficult, remember that your creative side can still help you get through the rough days. Ditch the idea that it needs to be perfect or even seen by anyone else. Most of all, take it easy on yourself. 

Happy writing! Nicole Pyles is a Blog Tour Manager and freelance writer. Check her unemployment blog, LadyUnemployed.com for informative and inspiring posts, and WorldofMyImagination.com for her thoughts on writing and books. Say hi on Twitter @BeingTheWriter.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Nicole--A dear friend of mine lives in the Berkeley, California area. She left a phone message saying the "world was orange... and now it's white." I thought it was some political reference, until I thought about it some more.

I think our creativity and our energy has low tide and high tide times. I think sometimes we need to go with the flow. However, I've been too low-key and sloth-y for too long.

I recently enrolled in a class, and will be writing one essay a week for six weeks. I wondered if I would be the bad student and not turn in my work, or be late with it, but the teacher has a taser... and I don't think they're afraid to use it. ;) So, write I will.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Nicole I pray that you, your family, friends and community are safe and the unhealthy air levels become normal again very soon. Self care is such a necessity at this time for all of us, and when we are creative even if it is coloring in a coloring book instead of writing, it does help us get through these difficult times in our life. Thanks for the much needed reminder to take it easy on ourselves .

Margo Dill said...

The fires are scary, and I didn't realize you were so close. I'm so sorry. You have had a very difficult year! I like how you started out telling us that you weren't going to give advice that you yourself were having trouble following. That's so true sometimes, right? We put on a brave face, but I also think it's better when we are honest, like you were with this post.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Nicole, today is the first day the weather hasn't said "smoke, unhealthy air" when I looked at the temperature. And I know it's worse in Portland than it is in LA. We also had an earthquake this morning and 121-degree weather earlier this month! That was the highest temps I've ever been in, and I lived in Vegas. Good thing global warming doesn't exist... (!)

I'm glad you were able to be yourself instead of always being on as an expert. Life is too short, and no one gets out alive, so we might as well do what we can to find happiness. :) I'm also glad you're finding ways to nurture yourself.

Your blogs are GREAT. I'm super excited about what you're doing at LadyUnemployed, and I'll have to check out your new site for World of My Imagination.

And I need to catch up with our Muffin posts! I missed Jeanine's and I'm going to check it out now.

Oddly enough, my muse has been calling lately. I just wrote an essay in one sitting, and I'm getting ready to send it to my critique partners.


Wendy Brown-Baez said...

Even those of us not next to the fires have felt the impact of loss, from homes to wildlife. I couldn't sleep...especially as the implications started to sink in of changes on our planet. I also felt my creativity got stuck in the beginning of the pandemic. It was the first time in over 30 years that I had to push myself to write and especially the creative work of the poetry and fiction had dried up. Truthfully, I was completely exhausted from the pace I had been keeping. Self-care was essential. Not only the typical ways of yoga or walking in nature or massage or eating well but letting myself be fallow for a time. To know my love of words and creative urge had not gone away but my brain and body were overwhelmed with a tsunami of emotions, from grief, rage, fear, hope, disappointment, frustration, caring, and after years of giving myself to others in facilitating workshops and promoting my work. I am glad that it came back, the plug has been removed from the flow. I had to learn that it is important to just let myself be and not beat myself up for what I was experiencing.

Nicole Pyles said...

@Sioux Your friend's experience sounds so close to mine! We went from orange to white. I love how you fought against sloth-y-ness! I am now ready to do the same. Your teacher sounds awesome too :)

Nicole Pyles said...

Thank you Jeanine! The air quality is somewhat normal and we were at least able to enjoy a couple of days of "good" air. Taking care is so important these days!

Nicole Pyles said...

Thanks Margo! It's been such a challenge this year and I've been realizing just being candid in my posts helps me far more than trying a brave face.

Nicole Pyles said...

I heard about that earthquake!! I keep wondering what on earth could be next for this year. Yikes. I'm glad your muse is calling you! I actually feel a nudge from my own to work on a piece I left half-finished so we'll see! These last couple of days have been good air and I've loved it!

Nicole Pyles said...

Oh Wendy I know what you mean! It's so overwhelming when I think of what the planet is experiencing and how we're all feeling the effects of what has been ignored so long. I'm so glad you were able to take care of yourself. I took a huge step away from news and social media lately and it's helped, although I can't stay away too long. I tend to have a hard time letting myself just let go but I'm glad when I can.

Renee Roberson said...


I can't even imagine what you all have been going through out west. It makes me think of that one story you wrote that was so prophetic--I can't remember the name of it! The one about the two shopkeepers and everyone had to wear masks--eerie. I'm glad you are trying to focus on taking care of yourself and going where your muse takes you. I've been doing some similar things this week and creating some much overdue content for my blog, just because I finally have time and that's how I want to spend it. :-)

Cathy C. Hall said...

Oh, Nicole, my heart breaks for what's going on around you and so many thousands around you! But there's a reason why self-care is overused...we need it so much! Yes, go easy on yourself!

Nicole Pyles said...

Thank you Cathy! I'm so glad that the air quality is finally normal and I can breathe easy!

Nicole Pyles said...

Renee, so true!! Weirdly I would have loved to have an oxygen mask during those days! Love how yo uare spending your time :)

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