As you may know, this year has already been a hard one for me.
Visas denied. Plans changed. The end of a five-year relationship.
There have been a lot of endings. A lot of stresses. A lot of unknowns.
So, when I landed in Croatia and tucked myself away in a studio above a vibrant, cafe-lined street, I promised myself that I would take care of me. That whatever I needed, be it 10-hour nights of sleep or a good midnight cry, be it Indian takeout or homemade spinach wraps, be it sunshine hikes or quiet time indoors, I’d do my best to take care of myself without judgement. No “I should be working instead of sleeping in” or “I should cook a meal instead of ordering sushi for the second time this week.” Just: Whatever I need is okay.
One of the things I discovered that I needed in this little two-month recovery space I set aside for myself was to fix the small things that felt undone. The threadbare clothes not replaced during the pandemic. The neglected bicycle. The things that needed fixing and patching and cleaning, the ways in which I’d started feeling like nothing was quite right even in day-to-day life.
Because there were plenty of things far outside my control: I can’t make the visa process here in Croatia go faster. I can’t make vaccination happen here in Europe at a pace that suits me. I can’t control when (or if) a publisher wants to publish my fiction. Those are outside my sphere of influence.
But there are things I can control here, and in April and May, I needed to focus on them, however small they might be.
So, I bought myself a well-rated, sharp kitchen knife. No more Airbnb knives with their dull edges. No more sawing through meat like it is wood. Every day, I use my knife, I hand-wash it, I hand-dry it, and I smile because my life is just a little bit happier, a little less frustrating, with knife in hand.
I also found a tailor. She fixed Luna’s dog backpack (which had lost the little strap across the front). And then I picked out extremely soft fabric and had her make two new cushions for the dog’s carrier (because Luna recently dug through her current one and it was torn and ratty and gross).
It’s foolish how utterly giddy it made me to bring home the new cushion and put it on the floor and watch as Luna plopped her little butt down and refused to move from that extremely soft spot. How much joy I got from such a small thing.
Then, it was time to tend to my bicycle, something I’m glad to have since covid numbers here are high and I’d prefer to skip public transit when possible. I paid for a tune-up and cleaning. It brought me joy to have it done and it brought me even more joy not to have to do it myself. Especially at the cost of just about $30.
I bought new makeup, started wearing my jewelry again, marathon watched TV series without guilt, and sat in the sunshine on my balcony every time the sun peeked out between the rain. I ate my weight in Indian food and sushi, had fresh-squeezed juices at the fancy juice bar. Finally took myself to a national park that’s been on my bucket list for years.
I slept in for the first month and got up at 5:30 most days in the second, finding my way from recovery back to routine.
And the bottom line is that I’m okay.
Sun-kissed and rested, taking each day as it comes, strong and thoughtful – and okay. Still dealing with big changes. Back to going solo. Still without much of a plan.
I hope after a year that has shaken so many of us in so many ways, that you’re okay too.