April 01, 2023

My Playlist

By Angela Kenyon Davis

Winter/Spring Track “Try a Little Tenderness,” Classic version: Otis Redding

New spin: Pip Millet

Some of you may know that I was in a car accident in November. My car was crashed into by a pickup who ran me off Highway 5. The impact was severe and I’ve been told by physicians I am lucky to be alive and functioning. This is a blessing. There’s no other way to look at it.

This blessing has come with its own set of lessons, teaching me how to always view the silver-lining even on days when pain is a strong, unshakable presence. In a functioning society, we’re demanded to have functioning bodies regardless of the emotions involved. Healing, in my experience, isn’t treated as a break away from expectation but a different manner of commitment. Yet I’m finding the longer my healing process takes the less patient the societal systems are. I used to think I was an impatient person, but I think now that perhaps some of my impatience may have been conditioning from the outside world.

As I have got older, and hopefully a little wiser, I’ve come to realize our bodies need ample rest to heal. We simply need time for our parasympathetic nervous system to repair damaged tissues and cells. No amount of external rushing can speed up that amazing process our bodies do for us. However, the rush to get back into the pace of life before we are healed and the stress it carries can actually create long-term detrimental damage.

I share this because I used to believe if I took too much time to rest or nurture myself I was falling behind or not meeting an unspoken standard. Those ingrained pressures can come up with all kinds of cruel reasons to push us through the day. Luckily I have a more considerate mindset now and know that when I feel frustrated because of exhaustion or pain, that it is my body’s way of telling me that it needs more energy or rest to heal. Instead of giving in to stress, I know I need to slow down and rest.

Although slowing down seems easy, many of us may have experiences where hard work and grit got us through. That is something to be proud of. This mindset, as many of you know, doesn’t apply the same way to the healing process. As I put my playlist together for the month of February and again in March, I chose this song to remind myself to be tender. To be gentle. To show kindness and compassion to the body, to be thankful for the miracle of life and recovery. This amazing vessel is still moving, functioning, still mending itself. It deserves to be celebrated, honored, adored.

So, as I practice tenderness toward myself, I extend that invitation to you. Consider taking care of yourself as you would care for a loved one. Take yourself out for ice cream, or lunch with a friend. Find time to soak your tired muscles in the bath or leave the dishes until the morning. Listen to your body. It is truly your soul mate and has been there with you through everything—little league scrapes, childbirth, heart break and chickenpox. It heals you and takes you through life in the most glorious fashion.

When I listen to the words of the song, “When she gets weary, try a little tenderness.” I think this applies to everyone, really. We all are struggling with the state of the world, changes that categorize and polarize, and we may forget that we are all the same inside. Everyone I know is trying their best, and the love we have for ourselves is the same love that we can extend to others. Whether through compassion, kindness, patience, a gentle voice or a thoughtful gesture. I believe love is the most powerful tool there is and we each have access to it. We are all deserving of it. We all can be good stewards of it.

My personal journey has placed me in the middle of learning how to navigate life. With new pain and complications that I have picked up along the way. My story is no different from yours. Challenge is a universal issue. Choosing kindness toward myself and others—even when I’m in pain or frustrated—has changed my life for the better. Our community is stronger when we can help one another stand tall. I have seen and experienced the beauty of this firsthand. Just give it a try—try tenderness and see what magic happens.