THEBATHTUBPROJECT

exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Self Care

Hope Arthur

 

Date of Interview: January 5th, 2018

Name: Hope Arthur

Age: 30

Pronouns: She/Her

 

If you were an underwater creature, real or mythical, what would you be?

I probably would be a real one. But there are two that popped in my head right away. Well, no, three actually. So, the first one would be a sea anemone because I got really obsessed with the way they move for a while and I would only dance like a sea anemone. And then there are sea urchins because I think it’s really cool that they’re really spiny and crazy looking on the outside and they’re really soft on the inside. And then seahorses because I’ve been dreaming about them [laughing]. I don’t know. I just recently was dreaming about seahorses. Really gigantic ones flying outside my window and they’re floral. They were seahorse skeletons, but in my dreams they are not the typical exoskeleton you see on a seahorse. My dream seahorses have ribcages which are hollow. They’re gigantic floral skeletal seahorses. I’ve been thinking about seahorses a lot, so I would want to be one.

How often do you bathe or shower?

Several times a week. Yeah. Several times a week. I shower several times a week and I bathe several times a week because I love baths.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about music and art, I’d say. I started taking piano lessons when I was eight years old. And I fell in love with classical music when I was a child, but my brother would listen to heavy metal and rock and roll. So I was into both [laughter]. And I knew when I was really little that I wanted to be a musician. By the time I got to high school, I had already figured it out and wanted to do that. So I joined every possible music-related thing I could even if I hated it. I was in jazz band. I was in marching band. I was in theatre and choir. I was in– I mean, I didn’t hate any– probably I disliked marching band the most. But I mean, I did all those things because I was like, “Well, if I’m going to be a musician then I need to know everything I can about it.” So, yeah, I guess it was just an intuitive thing I knew when I was a kid. And then I went to really conservative schools. The conservative schools I went to weren’t as liberal in their artistic expression as I personally wanted to be. It wasn’t until I got out of high school that I really got to explore the arts fully, the artistic side. And I started meeting new people in college and going from there.

What type of art do you do now?

Well, so it’s mostly music. I play classical piano, but I also perform in a ragtime band, and I perform in an electronic band, and I have a solo project. And then in terms of art, I’ve been dabbling in visual art because I have strong impulse towards it and it’s a medium I’d like to explore. I do feel intimidated by it though, because I don’t know what I’m doing, so I don’t spend as much time on it. But I have a long-term project where I’m working on a series of large-scale sculptures, which are a physical representation of my own spirit. Initially, I was wanting it to be a general representation of a human spirit, but I think the more I get into the project, I’m realizing it’s my own. But I want it to be a thing where it’s sort of like a playground but it’s an art piece, and you can climb on top of it and through it, and there’s tactile stuff on the inside. I have a prototype of it. It’s made out of styrofoam and wood, so you can’t climb on it. But anyway I sort of do large-scale sculptures, but I need a lot of help when I’m doing them because I don’t know what I’m doing [laughter]. If that answers the question [laughter].

What does the term artist with integrity mean to you?

Artist with integrity. What does that mean to me? I guess I think it means… When I meet people who I believe are artists with integrity, I feel like they ultimately value the purest form of expression. So it’s not like a hierarchical thing or a judgey thing. The people who I respect and the person that I try to be is seeing the first moment of expression. Like when a person wanted to express something or process the world around them, and how they let it travel through their body and then manifest. And allowing space for that, and not judging the manifestation, and just allowing it to be. It’s not to say there aren’t skills or mastery involved. With classical music, for example, there are ways to do it, right? So if you’re a professional at it, there are accepted standards for how to do it because there are established styles within that framework. But at the same time, somebody who felt an impulse to create a really wild classical piece, that’s just coming from the same place as a child who is drawing stick figures in kindergarten. And seeing the oneness of those things, to me, is an artist with integrity.

What are your thoughts on relationships, platonic, sexual, and otherwise?

I’m all messed up about relationships right now [laughter]. I’m really all over the place. I don’t really know. Okay. For my personal choices, I have a lot of trouble because of past baggage. But in terms of other humans and their choices, I just feel like everyone comes with their own life experiences that built them up to why they’re choosing to do things the way they do in the present, so I’m not there to judge. Same with me. I hope no one judges [laughter] why I would have some trouble forming relationships.

What is something you still struggle with?

In general, in life? Probably the relationships thing? [laughter]. Probably that the most. I’ve been really on top of my self-care game. Part of what got me into trouble in the first place, was that I had never really looked at myself and developed enough self-confidence or learned to set boundaries. That created a channel that allowed me to get into some really scary situations, which then created some traumatic experiences for me, which now play into why I’m having trouble forming relationships. So that’s probably, honestly, the biggest thing I struggle with. Otherwise, I feel like I’m pretty good [laughter].

What is something you feel accomplished with?

Something I feel accomplished with? So far, I feel really good about my career. Of course, I can always go further with it. I feel accomplished in my career because I didn’t compromise anything with that, regardless of the bad, unhealthy situations I found myself in. And if I died right now, I would feel pretty successful, even though I know I have a ways to go.

What does self-care mean to you?

Just being really generous with myself when I’m feeling confused about something. Being really generous with myself and allowing myself to feel all—absolutely everything. I used to definitely make myself so busy that I wouldn’t have any time to process my emotions, and I would find myself practicing piano and I would just be bawling my eyes out, because that was the only time I was alone and I could have any moment to process. And so at the bare minimum level, it’s for sure just giving myself time and space to let myself sort it out however I need to, even if people don’t like it or it doesn’t make sense to them. It’s just who I am and what I need to do. And then other things, like nurturing myself. I really like taking baths. That’s a big deal, right? Physical self-care. And then eating healthy. And then, also, if I have a wild idea, just going for it instead of being afraid or letting other people make me feel stupid about it. That kind of stuff.

Annabel Wheeler

 

Date of Interview: July 3, 2017

Name: Annabel Wheeler

Age: 26

Pronouns: She/Her and They/Them

Location: Chicago, IL

 

How often do you bathe or shower?

I try to shower every day, and I wash my hair as needed [laughter]. And baths? When I’m sick or feel like I need to relax.

If you were an underwater creature, what would you be?

A living organism [laughter]. Oh, gosh. Maybe a starfish. I could regrow all my little ends [laughter]. Haven’t thought about that. That’s a good question.

What are you passionate about?

I believe I’m passionate about a few things, like that Sylvia Plath kind of thing where it goes, “If you have too many figs, they’ll die.” And I’ve realized this year – mainly over the past six months –I’ve needed to weed out some of those. And I’ve narrowed things down to two, which are basically education and self-care, which go a long way. It’s not just me here [laughter], but the world at large, whether that be in hospitality in coffee, or working with children and people with disabilities, both are art and language in the community at large. I think there’s a lot going out there needs to be done, and there’s not only one way to do it. Guess I’m trying to figure how I can give [laughter]. My parents are both architects. And so when I was growing up, people would always be like, “Oh, Annabel. You can draw. So you’re going to be an architect, right?” And I, of course, being the little bitch I am [laughter], would reply, “No, I’m not.” And so I grew up saying, “No, I’m not. No, I’m not.” And now I’m thinking, “Maybe I should have gone with those [laughter], ‘You’re going to be architect.'” But I do appreciate growing up in that way because I learned a lot about the city, started drawing right away. And it’s one of the only things that – one of the few things that – gives me some kind of point of relaxation as well as a point of reflection. I do a lot of illustration internally, not necessarily caring about what the drawing “looks” like. More for myself in time. And if I don’t draw one day, it tells me that I was either really busy, sick, or really happy and just forgot.

Does art go into mental health for you?

Totally. Also. I think about art and educational system within STEAM.  With art programs being cut left and right, STEAM allows students and educators to implement art in history classes, or mathematics, etc  AND not everyone is learning the same way!!

What is something that you still struggle with?

Struggle is a hard word for me, but in 2008 I went to my first AA meeting. It was not until about four rehabs, institutions, and, detoxes later that I got some quality sober time. It was me who had to want it though. Now sober since February 17th of 2015. Still – almost two and a half years later – on a daily, hourly, second basis I have to make sure I have reasons to be places where drinking or drugging is going to be happening and that I have a plan B. Not the other Plan B. I don’t think I need that one. Yeah, it’s something that I’m proud of, as well as it’s a good reminder to myself and my growth.

What do you think of relationships? Platonic, sexual and otherwise?

What do I think of them? You know, I’ve only been in monogamous relationships and I have never been in a poly relationship. I’ve dated cis men in the past. My first year of college, almost ten years ago, came out as queer.  Also – dating? It’s hard. It’s really hard, you know? I’ve tried dating multiple people at once. That’s exhausting. Don’t do it. Tried it. If it works for you, great. Seriously. I feel like once I have a better grasp of who I am and what I can bring to a relationship, I can be a better partner – I want to be my full self. Platonic relationships? Love my friends. Family is kind of included I guess, in a way. I think that within social media and stuff like that, we see people moving across the country or internationally it’s hard to stay in contact. But. I think that even a letter, message, anything can just bring back something so great. Just say you had seen a leaf on the ground with a friend 15 years ago, and you found a picture from that moment and you just…send it off to them. You haven’t talked to that person in 15 years. And even if they don’t respond, it’s not about that.  They’ll receive it – perhaps – and that feels good. Just into space. I don’t think platonic relationships are just with people. I think relationships are being one within this crazy fucking universe and learning how to exist with the people walking down the street or buying a cup of coffee.

Liz and Abrina

 

Date of Interview: June 12, 2017

Names: Liz and Abrina

Ages: 20 and 21

Pronouns: They/Them and They/Them

Location: Chicago, IL

 

How often do you both bathe or shower?

Abrina: I shower usually every three to four days, just because I grew up with acne issues and stuff. Skin care is a really, really big part of my life and I also use it as a self-care thing. Obviously, I don’t always enjoy showering. It feels more like a job than I want it to. But I feel like it’s important to shower more often, for myself at least.
Liz: I’m usually like two, and maybe if I’m feeling extra cleanly, I’ll do it three times a week [laughter]. But that’s about it. And I’m a bath fan over showers, always. Like baths over showers, forever. So, that’s just for me. I took only baths until I was in fifth grade and people thought it was very weird.

Is bathing a self-care act for you?

Liz: I think so. Yes, it’s a lot more relaxing for me. And it’s also, you just get to sit down [laughter]. The idea that I’m standing up just makes it feel less relaxing for me, and then once I’m sitting in the bath I’m like, “Now I can chill [laughter].” But when I’m in the shower I’m like, “Oh shit. I’ve got to go.” I don’t know. Just the body language of showering vs. bathing.
Abrina: So I have major depressive disorder, and I have anxiety. And when I was 12 I experienced a really traumatic episode. So I was diagnosed with PTSD really early on. And it was always really hard for me to deal with my mental illness, and just find effective ways to handle it and cope with it. So I think that, with also struggling with acne issues, got me into makeup and skin-care. So I started using makeup and skincare as a way to not only help my skin, and make me feel better, but also as a way to make me feel better about myself.

If you were an underwater creature, mythical or real – whatever it could be – what would you be?

Liz: That’s a good question. I have to think about that. Probably a turtle. A sea turtle. I feel like they just live forever, but then they also have their own thing going on. They know how to form a group effectively, and travel well. And I respect that. I’m a social person. I’ve got my own thing going on. Also, they live a very long time, which I was always like, “Fuck that,” but now I’m interested [laughter] to live a long life.
Abrina: I think that I would be an octopus. I just really like them. I think they’re really weird and I just really like very weird looking animals [laughter].

What are you passionate about?

Liz: Everything? I feel like that’s cliche to say, but I feel like there are so many things that I love and care about. My friends, the people that I love. And creating things. Helping other people. Love. I could go on. But I’m not going to [laughter] because that would take forever. I would be here listing things that I love and it would just be midnight immediately.
Abrina: I agree. I definitely am passionate about people that I love and my relationships and kind of bringing good energy to the world and always trying to keep a really positive outlook. I’m really passionate about Andrew W.K. [laughter] because I really love his Facebook status post because he’s always– I don’t know, he just has this idea of partying, but partying in a way that’s positive and just bringing good energy and vibe to the world and like loving people and taking care of yourself. I just really, really love that and I really respect that. And I think that’s a big motivation for me.

Do you think social media and community are intertwined?

Liz: Oh, yes. I think absolutely. Social media is part of how I maintain my sense of community. It’s very easy to keep in touch with people when they have social media, and I have friends that don’t and it is more difficult. Of course, I’m totally willing to do that, but there are certain things where I’ll be like, “Oh, I want to invite you to this Facebook event,” and then I can’t. But being able to share things like that on the internet, where I know that we can all interact with each other with such greater ease, it’s just easier to interface with the people that you want to interface with.
Abrina: Yeah, I think social media community is really important, honestly, because I think it gives us a wider range of access to people. And also, I feel like, especially if you’re a person who’s a POC or LGBTQIA or any combination of different identities, it gives you an outlet to see and meet other people who are like you and who can share similar experiences to you, whereas you might not always get that depending on where you are.
L: Yeah, if it wasn’t for social media, we wouldn’t have met.
A:Yeah, we wouldn’t have met, because we met on Tumblr.
L: Yeah, I followed Abrina on Tumblr for a long time.
A: It was a thirst follow.
L: It was a thirst follow [laughter]. But I realized how similar we were from the things that we would post, and the things that we would say and care about. Of course, that’s not all that there is to a person, but I got a really good sense of who you were.
A: Yeah they sent me– I reblogged this ask meme at night [laughter], and then it was like, “Oh, tell me something about yourself, but don’t be–”
L: On anonymous.
A: On anonymous, yeah. And they sent me something like, “I’m really bad at taking care of plants but I’m really good at smoking them,” and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I need to–
L: Now they were like, “Oh my goodness.”
A: –to talk to them in person [laughter].”
L: I was like 17. Oh my gosh. But yeah. And then I started Skyping with Abrina [laughter].
A: Yeah. And now we’re here [laughter].
L: Shit is so wild.

So the two of you are engaged?

Liz: Yes.
Abrina: Yeah
L: As of June 21st. Oh my gosh, what, a year ago? We took a vacation in Portland with my family, and that’s where we got engaged.
A: Yeah, we got engaged at a ramen shop because ramen is my favorite food. But their ramen sucked. But they gave us free alcohol, so it was okay [laughter].
L: That’s true. We’re doing long-distance now. It’s definitely hard sometimes. I remember just before you were here, I was like, “Okay, I have no physical touch outlet in my life, because you’re not here.” But then also, I don’t want some people who want to do that in their life. But also that you’re the only person I really want to touch, so then it’s like I just got to wait around until you’re here to sensually touch you. But it is hard though because I feel like– of course I’m an affectionate person, I get affectionate with my friends, but that’s not the same thing. And also, for my friends, I want just to have friendships. I don’t want to have a different element to that relationship personally for me. And, as much as I’d love to be like, “Monogamy is overrated. I hate it. It’s stupid,” I don’t feel that way. I want to be with you. I like being only with you.
A: I want to be only with you, too! And yeah, I mean, I’ve always been an openly sexual person and I have been in open relationships before, but they just never really worked out for me. And I feel like I can get affection from my friends, obviously not in the same way as I do with my partner, but I feel like that affection is able to hold me over, basically.
L: Right. And there’s a lot of power in a hug. Hugs are a powerful thing.
A: I think that, as a society, we are made to crave affection in a specifically sexual and romantic way and we demean affection in other ways. And I think what we need to focus on is how important just small acts of affection are from any person that you’re in a relationship with, whether it would be a romantic, or friend, or familial, or anything like that.

What are your thoughts on relationships – platonic, sexual, and otherwise?

Liz: Relationships are basically one of the number one things for me. And even a relationship with yourself is important; how you relate to yourself. Relationships, I feel like they’re one of my favorite things [laughter]. No, but I love people so much and I love sharing the experience of being a person with another person because that’s, I feel like, one of the most unique things we can do as humans, with each other, is share what it’s like for us to be a human because hey, we’re the weirdest animals there are [laughter].
Abrina: Yeah. I think that having a relationship with yourself is definitely the most important thing and should always be your top priority because I feel like it’s really hard to have effective relationships with other people if you can’t have a relationship with yourself. And obviously, I don’t mean that in a way to demean people who find it hard to have relationships with themselves for other reasons, but I feel like any effort you put into having a relationship with yourself, first and foremost, is really the most important.

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