Take Care Of Your Vessel

Earlier today I had a call with my girl gang. It’s called the Mistressmind.

We have a video call every two weeks to talk about our businesses — to troubleshoot problems, keep each other accountable, celebrate our wins and call each other out on our BS.

We’ve all been friends the better part of a decade, so there’s no getting away with anything.

Sometimes it’s as simple as whether someone is getting enough sleep. Sometimes it’s about a pattern of behaviour with clients. Sometimes it’s whether an opportunity is a good fit with our values.

Today it was about turkey.

See, after a phone call last night revealed the scope of the impending Christmas feast, I was feeling a little lackadaisical about keeping up my nutrition this week.

Why bother, when two fridges, an outdoor freezer and a whole pantry have been committed to the season’s comestibles? It will be, as one of us put it, a violent amount of food.

Of course, I want to eat all that glorious Christmas food with wild abandon and lounge around for a week.

But I also want to not hate myself, and to be able to write if the mood strikes me during the break.

Rosie, an accountability coach, fixed me with her best bitch-don’t-pull-that-with-me face and said…

“You know what you need to do.”

She was right, of course.

This week, I’ve gotta lay the groundwork.

Next week, I need to build on that foundation: eating mindfully throughout the festivities, paying attention to what makes me feel good and what lays me out. I need to choose what’s worth the indulgence, and what’s going to be a waste.

I need to keep on doing yoga and running around with Obi. I need to keep getting fresh air, meditating and making time to journal.

It might not be obvious, but taking care of your physical self is so critical for doing good work.

Carline Anglade-Cole, whose book I worked on this year, calls this ‘taking care of the vessel.’

Carline, whose age I will not reveal but who does have four grandkids, alternates between running six miles one day and hardcore workouts involving weights and pull-ups the next.

She’s also one of the most prolific writers I know. She does TEN projects a year.

Coincidence? I think not.

Physical health does not get the air time it deserves when it comes to creativity.

The human body is not designed to sit in a chair for 8 hours at a time. The brain stultifies when the belly is overfull. The blood slows to a sludgey pace and the joints start to resist action when the air around us is too still and warm.

Such inertia does not make for great work. It’s hard to catch the bright spark of creativity when you’re feeling groggy.

Sometimes a run-around or a green smoothie is all that’s between us and a breakthrough. Sometimes a walk in nature or a meditation is enough to get us unstuck.

I don’t say any of this to moralise or to be prescriptive.

I just know that we only get one vessel each, and if we’re going to make good art and do good work, we gotta take care of that baby.

So this week I’ll be eating my veggies, drinking water instead of wine, and sprinting up the hill over the way with my little land shark in tow. My body will be better for it, and so will the book.

Next week, I’ll be eating a balance of naughty and nice, pacing it on the booze, and making sure we’re all out for plenty of exercise every day, safe in the knowledge that I set myself up to navigate the food bonanza smoothly.

So I’d like to invite you, if you’re feeling a little lackadaisical yourself, to join me in taking good care of the vessel this week.

Do what makes you feel energised, what gives you clarity. Get the rest you need to allow your brain to surface something fresh. Nourish yourself so that any upcoming holiday indulgences feel good instead of guilty.

Enjoy your vessel, and let’s do some good work.