Soul Homework

The Care and Keeping of Me

I’m currently reading Meredith Heller’s book Write a Poem, Save Your Life. It wasn’t on my library list, which is also known as my to-be-read list, also known as a TBR list.

I discovered this book as I was meandering the aisles of my local library. Meandering the aisles of my local library has become a post-pandemic-lockdown hobby of mine. This new hobby of mine means so much to me because it was during the lockdown that I used my library and its interlibrary loan system the most. During the lockdown, my library saved both my sanity and my soul.

I didn’t realize how much I missed browsing through the aisles of the library until it was taken away during the lockdown. But now that it’s back, it feels like a guilty pleasure. Stuffing book after book into my rainbow book bag. Inhaling the scent of paper and old book leather. This act has become one of the ways I take care of myself. It is how I show myself compassion.

The author of the poetry book I discovered gives prompts to urge the reader to write; mostly poems but my poetry is blog posts, so here we are. In one of her prompts, she mentions writing an instruction manual if someone were to take care of you. Consider yourself to be a new car or a plant on the nursery shelf.

These are the things that are required to help me grow. To nurture me. So I can thrive. This is the care and keeping of me.


Creativity in the form of writing

I become irritable if I don’t write in some manner every day. This is most noticeable when I am sick or on vacation. I require writing like I require oxygen or water.


Be directly in touch with nature

I am not myself unless I touch the grass, a tree, or spend at least 15 minutes a day in nature. So if you’re in charge of me, make sure you take me outside.


Reading and learning

I am learning on a daily basis through my daily reading, and I don’t feel well if I don’t get the time to do so. I’ll be will be cranky, irritated, tired, and negative. Every day, I need to “water and feed” myself with my reading time.


Photo by Elviss Railijs Bitu0101ns on


I spend at least six hours a day listening to music in some manner. In my car, on my television, and on my phone. Music makes me joyful and allows me to be productive while also feeling good on the inside.




When I spend time with my plants, I feel as if I am serving something other than myself. They are beneficial to my home, and their presence eases my anxiety.


Family and friends

I used to believe I required a great number of friends and family. Since the pandemic, I have tightened my circle a bit, and it has changed my life. I wish I could explain it better than that, but it’s been beautiful. It’s less about quantity and outside appearances and more about quality and involvement, if that makes any sense.



I would have animals in every square inch of my house if I could. Animals are essential for my survival and well-being on this journey.


What would your instruction manual look like?

39 thoughts on “The Care and Keeping of Me”

    1. Yes! This isn’t generally a book I would choose but I’m so glad I did. There were many writing prompts throughout her book that I am still working on. Some I intend to publish, while others will remain in my private notes.

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  1. You have pretty much nailed it on the list. I would add painting/drawing/sewing one or all of my crafty items daily also cooking something new at least once a week. The pandemic has brought out the chef in me. Good to really consider what is necessary in life and what is not. Thanks.

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      1. My best friend gave me The Artist’s Way as a present and said it would change my life. I started blogging and landed a weekly parenting advice column after that!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I share much of your list, and would add “non-boring physical activity”, as in not a treadmill at the gym. Golf and pickleball work for me. Pickleball is my favorite- a weird name for a sport, it is a cross between racketball and tennis, played on a small court. Perfect for the mature exerciser.

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    1. Iโ€™m not a fan of the treadmill either. I get bored very easily with exercise, so I need to find something that holds my interest. Iโ€™ve never tried Pickleball but Iโ€™ve heard itโ€™s a lot of fun.


  3. At the moment on the daily reading affirmations, reading blogs, going to the gym, doing something remotely creative, reading magazines of all types at lunch, listening to music and podcasts. On the weekend, doing as much art as possible, taking day trips, recording multiple podcast episodes, going to the gym

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  4. I definitely need time in nature and sunshine (when it can be found!), time with my family and friends, and lots of good books and good food. Whoever is taking care of me better force me to exercise because, while I hate it, I always feel so much better after a workout.

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  5. Your list is my list! Ok maybe not the writing part but otherwise *kisses fingers* parfait! Just a few adds:
    1) country soundscape (vs. city or suburb soundscapes – in the country, sometimes you can hear your neighbors but mostly you just hear nature.)
    2) a kitchen table/breakfast nook area surrounded by big windows with a relaxing view of nature. I adore working on a project, items sprawled out across the table with expansive views of nature around me. The best!
    3) beautiful things every day. Pottery, linens, tea in a pretty mug or teacup, hand made afghans…. Iโ€™m not a clutter bug but I can now admit I like my pretty, frivolous, use them every day objects. Breakable *and* hand wash only? Sign me up!
    For years I lived without nature, pets, etc and I was so unhappy. A few years ago I began consciously adding back all the things I loved as a kid (your whole list!) and now life has so much more joy. And it is so much simpler.
    What a lovely idea to get people thinking about what makes *them* happy & not what makes their peers or family or resume happy.

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    1. Kisses fingers…I LOVE THAT.

      Country soundscapes. Yes. I’m in Central Illinois for a few days visiting Anna, and the GPS took me off the interstate at one point, which I didn’t mind. I rolled down my windows and drove down those back roads, listening to those country soundscapes, and thanking the Universe for the detour. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Yes to the windows and nature! I can picture all that you described.

      Oh, I adore how you added in everything you were missing. I’m crying happy tears for you.


  6. All the same, Kari! I don’t necessarily have to write every single day, but at least several times a week. I do have to read every single day though. I also need to stretch and/or do some yoga every day. My friends have definitely saved my sanity during the pandemic. Even when we could only meet outside at first and sit far apart, it was still always worth it.


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    1. Yes to all of this! I love that we have all of the same things in our instruction manuals!
      I forgot to include exercise in my manual. I’ve been exercising five to six days a week since May, and it’s been very fulfilling even if it doesn’t always feel that way in the moment. Ha!


  7. I chuckled at someone needing to take you outside if we are in charge of you. I can lose time in a bookstore (particularly the used one by my home) or the library. I also get tightening the circle. I have less time for nonsense and demanding types.

    Hmm. This is a great topic. Sorry I’m so late to the discussion. Life refuses to slow down. I would say good GF food, something funny to watch or read, time and weather appropriate for working out outside, a good night sleep, time for my rosary podcast, a daily meal with my family when we have time to enjoy each other and share many laughs, and a clean house that was not cleaned by me. Asking for the moon on that last one.

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  8. I love this post! Yes to every single thing on your list–especially the library browsing. I have missed that so much. Our libraries are just now opening back up, and I can’t wait until I can go and browse the shelves. I have often felt that the universe speaks to me through the new books shelf. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  9. I love this post! Yes to every single thing on your list–especially the library browsing. I have missed that so much. Our libraries are just now opening back up, and I can’t wait until I can go and browse the shelves. I have often felt that the universe speaks to me through the new books shelf. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As a precaution, when our libraries first opened, they would only let us be inside for 30 minutes at a time. Nonetheless, it was glorious. I am happy your libraries are also opening up. I know how important libraries are to you too. By the way, both of your comments came through this time. ๐Ÿ™‚

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      1. I don’t trust that it’s gone through unless I get the message that it’s waiting for moderation. So, if I don’t get that I submit it again. (I’ve learned to copy the comment before I click on the “post comment” button.) It seems to work differently with different devices, and I’ve got three that I use to read online with. Maybe I’ll have time to better figure this out now! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  10. I LOVE that pic of Buddy and Biscuits; it’s everything!
    I also require music.
    Family and close friends; I need to hear, text, see them every day. But also like you, the circle is tight and small. Just perfect for me.
    My dogs. Oh how I love them. I’ve not mentioned it lately, but I’m still totally obsessed with Lillie; she’s MY heart dog!
    I also love some comfort food daily and some good wine here and there.
    Also, butterflies and flowers. You knew that.
    I’m glad you are doing well and enjoying your library!

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    1. I love it too. I’m getting more pictures of the two of them closer together. I love that.

      I can’t exist without music. I get very grumpy if I don’t have it. Hence, why it is on my manual.

      Aww. I love that. Heart dog. I might steal that term.

      Comfort food and BOOZE. Holy hell, how did I not add that??

      Butterflies and flowers. YES. I visited Anna at her college town for a few days, and when I got back, my flowers looked so much bigger. So did the dogs and Ella! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I am doing really well! I hope you are doing well too! Xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

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