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The Habit of Love

Showing up for yourself even when it doesn't feel "good"

By Chelsea DelaneyPublished 3 years ago 3 min read
The Habit of Love
Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

Since November, I've been worried about myself.

My only roommate, The Venerable Marshall J. Mellow, passed away after ten years of cuddly cohabitation. My family is a dang mess, though that is not new. A job I really enjoyed, ended at the beginning of February. My favorite neighbor moved away. The COVID pounds, which I was still glib about last year, keep inching up the scale. My hormones are participating in a 24/7 dance party.

The resulting anxiety and depression slides between a light gray fog and a full-blown, Jane Austen level, English moor.

And yet, I'm still doing the work. What do I mean by that (don't worry, I get a little barfy too at the jargon of spirituality and arm-chair psychology)? It just means that I'm still dancing, writing, painting, moving forward on projects, setting an alarm to wake up to, and attempting to connect to loved ones and eat the occasional vegetable.

The only difference between pre-COVID and now? I don't feel the same level of gratification or joy that I usually do in these practices. Before my daily walks I think, "Can't I just lay on the couch and keep binging seasons of Broad City?" My daily figure drawing is boring. Before vegetables I think, "Can't I just order take out?" I'm tired half way through my online dance sessions. And before work on projects, "Shouldn't I just wait for one project to be done before I start the next one?"

In short, I'm having to use a strong hand to bring myself to the work of love. Those who are parents know what this is like--they have to continually perform the actions of love, even when all they get in return is eye-rolling, struggle, and a general 'meh' for their troubles. And it is damn hard to put that kind of love out there and not feel like the cycle is returned or completed. In fact, had I not made these things habit in times when I was feeling good and secure, I'm not sure if I'd be continuing them now.

But I left my house, grudgingly, for my walk this morning, and there was a whisper in my ear of 'thank you.' As I walked, actually felt the sun and heard the birds, my gratitude swelled to the levels that I'm used to. "Thank you for not giving in completely to the undertow. Thank you for believing that this time is temporary, as all times are temporary. Thank you for setting up multiple habits of love, so that when a handful fail to reach us where we're at, we are not left without resources. Thank you for trusting yourself, the power of our art languages, and the sturdiness of nature."

Don't discount the habits of love. Long after they're done being novel or ecstatic, they bridge the changing seasons in life. They allow us to embrace both ends of a spectrum--lost/found, inspired/deflated, certainty/chaos. I sit on my porch right now as I write. I don't feel great connection to or desire for the rest of this day, but I hear the birds sing and know that it is good. Life is always here, even in the parts we'd rather fast forward.

Love and show up for yourself today, especially in places where the habit feels insignificant. It may not be thrilling, or sexy, or Instagram worthy, but these habits are sustenance, the same as water and air. They are investments in the time where we will once again thrive under clear blue skies. We've got this, one habit at a time.


About the Creator

Chelsea Delaney

Life is weird, write about it, paint about it, dance about it, and sing about it too. Use every language in your arsenal to sculpt the world you want to live in. Writer, educator, artist, and creative midwife--this is what I do.

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