Self Care by James Crews

Some days it feels like a foreign language

I’m asked to practice, with new words

for happiness, work, and love. I’m still learning

how to say: a cup of tea for no reason,

what to call the extra honey I drizzle in,

how to label the relentless urge to do more

and more as useless. And how to translate

the heart’s pounding message when it comes:

enough, enough. This morning, I search for words

to capture the glimmering sun as it lifts

above mountains, clouds already closing in

as fat droplets of rain darken the deck.

I’m learning to call this stillness self-care too,

just standing here, as goldfinches scatter up 

from around the feeder like broken pieces

of bright yellow stained-glass, reassembling

in the sheltering arms of a maple.

Self Care

Self care is a phrase I’ve no doubt you’ve heard often enough, whether you have practiced it often or not. This is a lovely, uncomplicated reminder from James Crews about its importance for all of us. It can feel like a foreign language / I’m asked to practice, learning new words for happiness, work and love. It really is a practice, something to consciously choose.

He speaks of the relentless urge to do more / and more and the need to label it ‘useless’, how to say enough, enough. It reminds me of a quote from Thomas Merton I read recently that speaks of the rush and pressure of modern life, the overwork, as violence that we do to ourselves. That shocked me into pause – why would I invite violence into my life?

So he makes his cup of tea for no reason, with an extra drizzle of honey, and stands in stillness as the rain begins. He watches as the goldfinches, those tiny magnificent birds, scatter around the feeder like broken pieces / of bright yellow stained-glass, then fly up into the arms of the maple to reassemble. This is how we can care for ourselves, honouring the moments that present themselves to us, gathering ourselves together again.

9 thoughts on “Self Care by James Crews

  1. That poem is like a welcome outbreath. “Enough, enough”. I find I’m breathing more deeply already. Thank you, dear Jan!


  2. Beautiful and great reminder, Jan. Thank you! I felt myself rise in that arc of the glimmering sun all the way to the fat darkening raindrops. I love such a strong poetic voice which gives such wisdom whilst also being masterful at showing us deeper realities, like how being with both light and dark all are part of self care.

    I love the Merton insight too!

    Thanks again. I didn’t know his poetry but recognize the name from that anthology of poems of kindness that he collected with Danusha Lameris.


  3. I love the idea of noting stillness as self-care. I feel it now, thank you, dear Jan! xoxo

    I read something recently about how self-care doesn’t always feel good while you’re doing it. When I get on my treadmill to do my daily 30 minutes, I am never charmed by the practice. But it is self-care, and I do feel great afterwards. A good reminder to me that doing an unwelcome task now will provide me with positivity later. Like shop-vaccing the cobwebs in the back of the basement yesterday. It looked so “pretty” afterwards. 😉


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