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Language as Self-Care

“A walk to remember where you are . . . outside the inside of your mind.”

- Gina Hyams -

I’ve not been taking long walks as much as I’d like, being immersed in the long lists of details and choices required to build our home, and the daily maintenance of everyday life. Meanwhile, days passed by on the calendar. Now January’s blog is sharing this space with February.

I know overload on any level weakens my awareness, empathy, and self-care, leading to quick reactions, arguments (yes, I started one this week), misunderstandings, negative self-talk and a general malaise about the state of things.

Science gives us an insight into the surprising speed of reaction. It’s called “negativity bias,” the brain’s predisposition to register negative stimuli faster than positive stimuli and to also think about these events long after they have happened. Criticism takes us to our knees, while we brush away compliments.

When I use negative words, similar images or memories appear like a sudden storm cloud. “How could I forget to write the January blog?” has been a weight I’ve carried this last week. I remember “. . . outside the inside of my mind.” I read Mary Oliver’s poem Praying, an invitation to listen and speak through another voice.

It doesn’t have to be

the blue iris, it could be

weeds in a vacant lot, or

a few

small stones; just

pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try

to make them elaborate, this isn’t

a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which

another voice may speak.

Time slows. I choose to sit and write, conscious of how malaise fades, making room for lists and loved ones and walks, and the practice of this other voice filled with wonder, care, and gratitude.



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