Although we as a nation are divided, after perusing social media on New Year’s Eve, it seems there’s one thing we can all agree on: 2016 was a dumpster fire and is cordially invited to go fuck itself. As relieved as Lindsey and I are to see the backside of the shitshow of these last twelve months, though, there are a lot of reasons 2017 is likely to be just as rough a ride, which is why in our first post of the year, we want to talk to you about the importance of self-care.
The late, great Lucille Ball said, “Love yourself first, and everything falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” This is, of course, often easier said than done; that’s why indulging ourselves can be an important and even radical act. And when it comes to indulgence, there is no place like Jeju.
Located just north of the city in Duluth, Jeju is a traditional Korean sauna boasting nine dry saunas, an indoor swimming pool, and sex-segregated wet areas (there has to be a less suggestive phrase than that) where you can lounge (fully nude–no clothes allowed!) in two hot tubs, bask in infrared light to increase blood flow (I guess, I’m not a scientist), get a full-body exfoliation, and experience the unique gift of a “hip bath,” more accurately dubbed “the cooch steamer” by Lindsey. But we’ll come back to that later.
I’ve been to going to Jeju for about a year now, ever since my beloved sister-in-law Michelle and a good friend both recommended it to me on separate occasions within the span of a single week. The universe was talking to me and I was listening, okay? I usually go with my husband, but I was really excited to take Lindsey for the first time and for us to be joined by Michelle, because in addition to being the ultimate in self-care, it’s prime lady-bonding time.
When you arrive at Jeju, you’re handed a pair of the ugliest shorts known to man and a matching T-shirt. We have no photographic evidence of ourselves in this getup–or, indeed, of any of this trip–because, well, taking pictures would’ve been rude and creepy, particularly in a locker room full of naked women, which is where we spent half the time. But trust me, the whole ensemble is fug af. Not that it matters, because it’s comfortable and everyone else looks just dumpy as you do. Anyway, after changing into our relaxation uniforms, we headed to the co-ed dry area. As mentioned above, there are nine saunas to choose from, all of which have walls lined with different materials that claim distinct health benefits. We spent most of our time in what Michelle and I agree are the best two: the charcoal and the salt. The charcoal sauna is extremely warm but not too hot, and the air is bone-dry and purifying. Charcoal is said to hold detoxifying properties, and I always feel cleaner and lighter when I emerge from this room, as if the grossness inside of me has been atomized and gently extracted.
The salt sauna is slightly more humid and much hotter than the charcoal. The description posted next to its entrance says that this is a good choice for removing impurities from the skin, and I have to tell you I believe this to be absolutely true. Within thirty seconds of lying down, you start to sweat, and all the crap in your pores rises to the surface of your skin and sits there in a film of nastiness, which is both gross and oddly pleasant. And after washing your face? GIRL. You will be glowing. No lie, no exaggeration.
We finished our time in the dry area with a fifteen minute rest in the crystal sauna, which is totally magical. Inside, an intricate landscape of trees and flowers has been formed entirely out of crystals like amethyst and jade – and you know how we feel about crystals.
We rode this wave of bliss back to the locker room, where the wet area is. There is no clothing or underwear allowed in the wet area, and there’s something beautiful about a crowd of women who are mostly strangers to each other being kind and loving to their bodies in their natural states–lounging in hot tubs, showering side-by-side, chatting and laughing or sitting in silence. This is not a place of shame, or judgment, and in a way I get the sense that it would feel stranger to have clothes on.
This was the day after Christmas, and the place was packed, so Lindsey, Michelle, and I hot-tubbed while waiting to be called for our additional services. First was the aforementioned cooch steamer, which none of us had done before. I’m not going to lie to you – it was the weirdest spa service I’ve ever received, but it was also relaxing as hell. According to a pamphlet handed out by the hip bath technician, benefits of hip baths include tightening of the vagina, relief of anal itching, and soothing of menstrual cramps. I don’t know about any of that, but I do know that the gentle caress of steam scented with nineteen different herbs against my naked vag for forty-five minutes almost put me to sleep, and Lindsey and Michelle said the same, so I’m definitely gonna do it again.
Lastly, Michelle headed to the steam sauna while Lindsey and I each got a body shampoo, which is a full-body exfoliation. And when I say full, I do mean full – the very businesslike ladies who perform this service WILL graze your labia a few times, and no one will be embarrassed, because you’re just a slab of meat covered in dead skin anyway. And afterwards, you will feel like an angel’s ass to the touch.
We finished our day with a fucking GIANT platter of sushi at Kang Nam on Buford Highway, and I have to tell you, by the time I got home that afternoon, I felt hopeful for the first time in weeks. Which is why self-care is so important.
Now, this spa day, including the additional charge for the body shampoos and hip baths and our sushi lunch, cost about a hundred dollars, and none of us has money for that kind of indulgence on a regular basis. So before I go, I’d like to share with you some much cheaper but just as effective methods of self-care that keep me going in tough times. These are just suggestions, of course, and your mileage may vary:
- Baths! Oh my god, BATHS. I like a bath with a glass of wine and a book, or a bath with candles and crystals and white noise so I can meditate/cast spells, or just a bath where I stare into space. Bath salts are essential to a good soak, in my opinion. I’m partial to the offerings from Mooncraft Emporium and Konadu Body Care.
- Netflix binges. Don’t let anybody make you feel bad for zoning out in front of a screen for hours. Sometimes you just need to check out and go somewhere else.
- Going outside. Living in Georgia, I’m lucky to be a short drive from many beautiful landscapes, and I try to take advantage of this as much as possible.But even if it’s just sitting on the patio in my backyard and drinking a Coke, being outside makes me feel better.
- Getting enough sleep. Anyone who knows me will tell you that sleep is basically my number one priority. Not because I’m lazy, but because I can’t function at my best, smartest, or kindest unless I’m well rested. Nothing and nobody fucks with my sleep.
- Eating well. This means both eating food that is good for me and allowing myself a treat when I’m craving one. I make choices about food by listening to my body. Sometimes (like right now, post-Christmas) my body
wantsis screaming for a pile of vegetables. Sometimes it wants potato chips. In either case, I’m not going to argue.
- Exercise. This can mean just about anything, depending on your interests and abilities. The exercise that works for me has changed several times over the years. Right now I’m super into weight-lifting because it makes me feel strong and gives me tons of energy. Past favorites have been yoga, Pilates, and kickboxing. But it can be something as simple as taking a walk around the block. Exercise is second only to medication in importance in managing my mental illness.
- But also important, perhaps more so depending on how much of an overachiever you are – is taking a break when I need it. Saying no if I don’t have the bandwidth to do something. Valuing my time and energy. I try to force myself to do nothing for at least an hour a week. This is often a struggle, but I never regret it.
- Reaching out when I need help or am feeling sad.
That’s it for this week, lovelies. We’re looking forward to sharing the coming year with you, and as always, we want to hear from you! Let us know on Facebook or in the comments how you like to treat yo self, what your hopes for 2017 are, what kind of posts you’d like to see, anything that’s on your mind. Be good to yourselves, and we’ll C U Next Tuesday.