I read this quote recently and it resonated with me. Since reading it I have tried my best to do as it says. It exemplifies radical self care. Everything you do should be an expression of self love. Take care of yourself like you love yourself.
In practice this is hard to do, well for me anyways. I have said and done some awful things to myself over the years. Since I’ve stopped drinking those awful things don’t surface in my head as much.
I realized this weekend that the only time I’m really able to achieve self love and self care is when I’m backpacking. It makes a lot of sense. You have everything you need on your back so you’re only going to bring the essentials. I think very hard about each item I put in my pack. How will it serve me? Do I really need it? How will this item make me feel? A non-negotiable for me are camp shoes, something to wear around camp after I take my boots off (which, by the way, is one of the best moments that occurs while backpacking). Camp shoes make me feel happy and comfortable.
Another non-negotiable is yummy, nourishing food. Cheese? You got it. Expensive beef jerky? Yes! Two Trader Joe’s breakfast burritos? Hell yeah. I don’t use backpacking as an excuse to overeat but I also don’t spend a single second feeling guilty about one morsel of food that passes by my lips. When you’re backpacking your body becomes a machine. Your muscles power you up hills, over boulders and across streams. Your brain makes important decisions about safety and direction. You need fuel and rest to keep going. You need to say encouraging things to yourself if you have any hope of completing your journey.
I am writing about this because a long time friend and hiking partner was on a backpacking trip with me this weekend. They said the same things they do just about every time we’re in the woods together. This friend will eat a light breakfast on purpose, follow it up with very few snacks, a light lunch and a light dinner. They talk about how they want to lose a pound over the weekend. They push themselves hard on the hike in. They obsess about what they have eaten and feel the need to share it openly. This makes me uncomfortable probably because I have my own food issues. But thankfully they fade away when I’m on the trail. I eat when I need to. The only concern I have about the number of calories is making sure there’s enough. I’m so grateful that these thoughts melt away and I wish my friend could find the same peace as I do.
On strenuous hikes I bust out my mantra. My left leg is strong and my right leg is able. I pat each quadriceps as I repeat “strong and able” over and over in my head until I believe it. I repeat it until I become it. I am strong and I am able. I can get up this mountain. I can stay sober. I can love myself.
View from our camp of Lone Eagle Peak, Indian Peaks Wilderness.